Why I decided to travel all the countries (and regions) of Europe!
Europe is not big geographically but politically and culturally extremely diverse. From Ireland in the west to Russia in the east and Malta in the south to Sweden in the north, Europe has a lot sandwiched in between. On the continent of Europe there are 50 countries officially recognized and 6 more that are either partially recognized.
At the outer extremes of the definition of what counts as a ‘country’ and ‘in Europe’, one could go as far to say that there are 56 countries, 6 dependent territories and 2 special areas of internal sovereignty in Europe. (These are listed at the end of the article)
So why decide to travel it all?
I worked for several years at the European Commission in Brussels and while there had colleagues from all the various Member States (28 at the time of publishing). Working with so many nationalities fueled my curiosity to visit each of my colleagues’ home countries at least once.
As Europe is not geographically large and has plenty of low cost airlines and developed train infrastructure, traveling the entire continent is not as daunting in terms of time or money as it might first appear.
Atheneul Roman in Bucharest, Romania
Having achieved my original goal of visiting all member states of the European Union, I decided to keep going by visiting all countries in Europe. However, I am not motivated to visit them simply as a goal in itself. If that were the case, I could just go to all of them one after another and tick off the list. Instead, I like to mix my trips by revisiting places I really enjoy and to discover a new location, be it a new city, region or country along the way.
Bois de Boulogne in Paris, France
So what are my favorite countries in Europe? I will be letting you that in an article after I have visited all the recognized countries of Europe. Further below you’ll discover how many countries in Europe I have left to visit.
So when will I have visited all 56 ‘countries’ in Europe? No idea! I am not setting myself a deadline as for me visiting somewhere just to have said that I’ve been there or to tick a country box would take away the joy and spontaneity of travel. I will update this article as I visit each new ‘country’ and aim to eventually visit not only each country but also every region in Europe.
Sometimes traveling off the well-worn tourist trail can lead to serendipitous reunions with old friends like here in Budva, Montenegro
Update: this list is current as of April 2016
List of countries that I have visited (53):
European Union: Ireland, United Kingdom (including England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Malta, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Cyprus (28 Member states)
Non-EU: Albania, Switzerland, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, FYROM (Macedonia), Turkey, Ukraine, Russia (including Kaliningrad exclave), Belarus, Georgia, Vatican City, Moldova, Armenia, Liechtenstein, Kazakhstan, Iceland and Azerbaijan (22 countries)
Not fully recognized: Kosovo, Transnistria and Northern Cyprus (3 countries)
Europe – a relatively small continent with a large number of countries
The last country in “Europe” that I had to visit: Azerbaijan (Update: visited Iceland & Azerbaijan in 2016)
List of countries that I still have to visit (3):
Not fully recognized: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno Karabakh (3 countries)
Dependent territories: Isle of Mann, Jersey, Guernsey, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Akrotiri & Dhekelia (British sovereign bases in Cyprus) (6 territories)
Special ares of internal sovereignty: Åland (Finland), Svalbard (Norway) (2 areas)
Regions that I have yet to visit and want to soon: Southern European Russia, western Belarus, Azores (Portugal), Lapland (Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia), Banská Bystrica (Slovakia), Saint Tropez (France), Mykonos & Crete (Greece), Canary Islands, Salamanca, Galicia and Marbella (Spain)
Possible timing of trips still to come in 2017:
Salamanca (March 2017)
Gibraltar (March 2017)
Banská Bystrica (April 2017)
Mykonos and Crete (October 2017)
If you are from or live in one of the places I still have to visit, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, to tell me why and when I should visit your country. Big thanks in advance for the travel info! 🙂