Schengen visa was one of the best things to happen to us Indian passport-holders wanting to travel around Europe. Basically, it is an agreement between 25 countries to let people in on a single visa called the Schengen visa.
These countries (in alphabetical order) are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
So if you want to travel to any of one or many of these countries, you need just one visa – the Schengen visa, which can be accorded by the consulates of any of above countries.
What you must remember is that the countries, that we were taught in school to be a part of Europe, but do not form a part of the Schengen area are the UK, Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzgovina, Belarus, Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia. You will need to apply for separate visas if you want to enter or even pass through these countries via trains, buses or cars. To read, what may happen to you, if you enter these countries without a transit or tourist visa, click here.
Even when it comes to applying for a Schengen visa, we would advice you to apply through the embassies of the bigger countries: namely, France, Switzerland or Germany. There processing time is less, they have embassies in most metropolitan cities, and they are generally more professional. Unfortunately, that will mean that at least one of these countries should be a part of your itinerary. Its a bitch, but then again, they are great countries with so much to offer. Each time to you visit them, you will find something new to discover!
If you are confused about which country to apply from, here’s an official clarification from European Union authorities. And here’s an article on how to apply for a Schengen Visa through the French embassy in India.
If you have any tips, advice, experience, peeves or bile on the subject, the comment space is all yours. If you have any questions or stories you want to share with other Indian readers, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.