The Schengen visa remains elusive to many Filipinos – thick pages of documents and bank statements, a personal interview, and quite a hefty fee are just part of the stringent visa requirements. On top of the cost of going to Europe, this dissuades many from going for their dream Eurotrip.
That’s why, when one finally gets the visa, part of the goal is to see as many cities as possible! Luckily, with the efficient European rail systems and hundreds of tours to choose from, jumping from several cities and even countries is possible on a holiday. The powerful visa can also be your entry to nearby, non-Schengen countries.
If you’re gearing up for your European or Round-the-World trip, you’d be glad to know that aside from the 26 Schengen nations, there are 16 more non-Schengen countries that your Philippine passport can carry you to, without the stress of fulfilling thick visa requirements!
Check them out below, and see where you can squeeze them into your itinerary.
Just a few general reminders for your Schengen visa travel:
– These apply to Philippine passport holders with valid Schengen visas.
– Contact the embassy of each country or visit their official website and clarify entry-requirements. While you may use your Schengen visa to enter these countries, they may require you to apply for an e-visa or a Travel Certificate before your arrival or for a visa upon arrival.
– Moreover, some countries do not have embassies based in Manila, so what you can do is obtain your Schengen visa from another Asian country (e.g. Japan, China or India).
– Lastly, ask the embassy about entry taxes (if any) and any travel advisories related to diseases or crime/violence.
Here is the FULL LIST and contact details of the embassies of these 16 non-Schengen countries.
Let’s get started!
1. ANDORRA – an independent principality between France and Spain.
Why visit: This mountainous mini country in between France and Spain doesn’t have its own airport, so if you’re driving or taking a train or bus around Europe it is well worth a day trip. It’s located in the Pyrenees mountain range, so you’ll find different ranges of slopes for skiing during the winter, and spectacular views for hiking, during warmer seasons.
Shopping here also comes with super-low taxes, but don’t expect designer duds – think sports brands (Adidas) and fast fashion (Zara).
Best time and way to go there: Andorra is an ideal stopover if you’re crossing between Spain and France, or vice versa.
From France, take a train or bus via Toulouse.
From Spain, take a train or bus via Barcelona.
Sample Route: Portugal-Spain-Andorra-France or vice versa.
It’s also possible to cross over from Spain to France and stop over at Andorra in one day.
2. CROATIA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, ALBANIA AND MONTENEGRO – four Balkan countries in South Eastern Europe with beautiful landscapes and Medieval architecture
Why visit: The Balkan Peninsula is one of the more unexplored corners of Europe, likely due to their war-ridden past and the fact that it’s harder to get to compared to other tourist spots in Europe. But with the recent addition of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to the Eurail pass, it’s now easier to make your way through this part of Europe.
See walled cities with terracotta roofs in Saranda, Albania; Kotor, Montenegro or Dubrovnik, Croatia (also known as King’s Landing to Game of Thrones fans) and inland cities in Mostar, Bosnia — all beautifully set against turquoise seas. This is where to enjoy the weather and scenery of Italian or Greek coastlines, for a much affordable price.
Best time and way to go there: Hot summers and extremely cold winters make Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-October) the best time to go.
If you’re going to do an Eastern Europe trip, you can add these 4 countries at the tail-end of your journey, to see more, and maximize your European Rail (Eurail) Pass. Click here for the guide.
To get to Albania (which is not covered by Eurail) from Montenegro, you can take a 2-3 hour mini bus ride or rental car drive.
Sample Route: Berlin – Warsaw – Krakow – Prague – Vienna – Budapest – Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro via Eurail, then Albania via bus or car.
Here’s a sample tour itinerary: Contiki Eastern Road Tour
3. ROMANIA AND BULGARIA – continue your grand tour of Eastern Europe with the medieval castles, coastal towns and UNESCO monuments in these two countries.
Why visit: Unlike the big 4 of Eastern Europe (Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest) this part has not been touched by mass-tourism yet, due to their shared history of being cut off from the rest of the world for decades, due to war. If you want to explore historic places and mountainous landscapes in this region without the crowds, this is the place to be.
Romania is best known for its intriguing history. Check out the birthplace of Dracula at Transylvania, or head to their most visited town, Brasov, for baroque structures and gothic churches. Take the Tampa cable car to the peak (3,000 feet high) for the best views of this old town.
When you get to Bulgaria, explore the outdoors by touring the city parks (with free wifi!) and garden beer bars in the capital of Sofia, trekking the world-famous Seven Rila Lakes, or hiking and biking in the Black Sea country side.
Best time and way to go there: Same with the previous route, Spring and Autumn are the best time to go, unless you’re after a winter ski trip.
Explore the Balkan Peninsula as a whole — the Eurail pass can be used up to Bulgaria. Click here for the full list of Eurail Countries.
Sample Route: Croatia – Montenegro – Bosnia & Herzegovina – Romania – Hungary. You can add Albania, but remember that it is not a Eurail country.
Here’s a sample itinerary: Contiki Balkan Discovery Tour
4. MONACO – an independent kingdom along France’s Mediterranean coastline, world-famous for glitzy casinos, yacht-lined harbor, and the prestigious, annual Grand Prix motor race.
Why visit: The world’s second smallest country (next to the Vatican) may be a small pin on the map, but it packs a punch in attitude. Monaco is where to go if you want to experience the good life – exclusive designer stores, high-end car dealerships, casinos, and opera will fill your days here.
On a budget? It’s also home to one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, so you can simply do a walking tour of the sweeping Mediterranean vistas while you’re here.
Best time and way to go: Monaco has impeccable weather that neither gets too hot or cold, and it has nice sea breeze year-round. Visit in May if you want to see the Monaco Grand Prix.
Located on the French Riviera, it is literally within walking distance of Nice, France and biking distance from Italy. See sample routes here.
Sample Route: London – Paris – Barcelona – French Riviera – Monaco – Italy
Here’s a sample itinerary: Contiki London to Rome Tour
5. CYPRUS – an island in the Mediterranean with a Greek south and a Turkish north.
Why visit: Hostilities between the two parts of the country has thawed in the recent years, so it’s an ideal time to explore the two halves. Travellers say that despite the small size of the island, the two parts feel distinctly different. Even the currency changes as you cross its Green Border – Euro for the south becomes Turkish Lira in the north.
The south is the livelier, more developed part. Stay in Limassol, the country’s main port and center of the wine industry, for beaches, vineyards, and vibrant bar and restaurant culture. The north is the more traditional half of the island, without the resorts and international chains of the south. See the crusader castles, the archaeological site of Salamis and the wilderness areas around the Kyrenia mountains.
Best time and way to go: Greece and Cyprus best visited in spring and early summer (mid-Apr to mid-June) or autumn (Sept to mid-Oct). This way, you’ll avoid the summer season’s inflated prices, hordes of tourists and high temperatures.
From Greece, you can fly to Cyprus via Athens, but since they’re separated by sea, you’ll get to see more of both countries through a cruise.
If you prefer to drive and cross from south to north Cyprus, drive or take a bus via Nicosia.
Sample Route: Greece – Cyprus
Here’s a sample tour: Homeric Greece & Cyprus Tour
Turkey is usually coupled with Greece, but it requires a Turkish visa.
CARIBBEAN AND CENTRAL AMERICA
The Caribbean Islands and Central America are decidedly nearer and cheaper to get to from the US, Canada or Mexico, but assuming that you have only a Schengen visa and would like to proceed here after your Eurotrip, here’s how.
6. ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, DOMINICA AND GRENADA – lesser known than their Caribbean neighbors Barbados and Anguilla, these islands remain untouched but have enough comforts for tourists.
Why visit: In case you want to extend your Caribbean trip and have a valid Schengen visa, you can visit these three islands without having to apply for three more visas. They are the archetypal Caribbean islands without the crowds – blinding white sand, aquamarine seas, and long days.
Antigua and Barbuda has a long tradition of sailing due to its association with the British, but there are also a wide variety of beaches to be explored if you prefer to go on the outrigger. Dominica meanwhile, is known for its mountainous terrain and geothermal hot springs. It’s possible to end your hike with a bath at the bubbling lake or a dip in hot sulphur springs. Grenada, your last stop, is world renowned as “Spice Island,” being home to numerous nutmeg and mace plantations – it’s said that you can smell the nutmeg in the air as soon as you step off the plane of the ferry.
Best time and way to go: The best time is mid-December to mid-April when the weather is cool but still dry.
If you’re extending your Caribbean trip and want to include these three, a ferry is the cheapest, most efficient way to jump from island to island.
Sample Route: Antigua and Barbuda – Dominica – Grenada or vice versa
See Caribya for the complete list of ferry ports, schedules and entry requirements around the Caribbean.
7. GUATEMALA, EL SALVADOR, HONDURAS AND NICARAGUA – four adjacent countries in Central America popular among backpackers for the rich Mayan heritage, Latin American culture and great variety of activities.
Why go: Central America is a backpacker and budget traveler’s dream. There is simply so much to do at a much lower price compared to its more touristy neighbors Mexico and Colombia.
The region’s attractions are its lush cloud forests are filled with unexplored Mayan ruins and wildlife, clear, turquoise seas, coffee farms and busy, colourful markets. Sleepy but vivid colonial towns with relic churches and friendly locals make good bases as well. It’s also likely that you’ll come across a small town somewhere celebrating its patron saint with parades, bullfights, and dances – Latin Americans love a good street party!
For a more detailed guide per country, check out our guide to US Visa countries.
Best time and way to go: Central America is consistently hot and humid all-year unless you’re in the highlands. Rainy season renders some roads unpassable, so its best to go during the dry season of December to early April.
There are no direct flights from Europe to Central America. If you want to jump from a Euro Trip to a Central American roadtrip, the cheapest flights are from Amsterdam, Italy, and the UK.
Sample Route: Guatemala – El Salvador – Honduras – Nicaragua or vice versa
Here’s a sample itinerary: Intrepid Central American Journey
Main Photo from TheDarkRoom
Ready to go around the world now? Start working on your Schengen visa and experience this travel of your life.