For travellers trekking across Europe, the Schengen area is a total godsend. Essentially a visa-free travel area, the Schengen zone allows for friction-free border crossings between 26 European countries.
The Schengen area takes a heck of a lot of stress and faff out of travelling around Europe – and now it’s gotten even bigger. As of the start of January, Croatia has joined the zone. This means that you won’t need a visa in order to travel not just between Croatia and neighbouring nations Slovenia and Hungary, but also further-flung countries such as France, Germany and Italy.
Even more excitingly, both Romania and Bulgaria are also set to join the zone in the near – but as yet unspecified – future, thereby making it much easier to travel around much of eastern Europe. While both Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled the criteria needed to become Schengen countries, a vote is required by the European Parliament before they can actually join.
Plus, Croatia hasn’t just joined Schengen: it’s also joined the Eurozone. From January 1 2023, the country has adopted the Euro and joined 19 other European countries which use the common currency. If you have any Croatian kuna left over, these can be exchanged for Euros at banks, post offices and bureaus de change in the country.
Of course, it’s worth noting that, if you’re not a traveller from a Schengen country, you’ll still need a passport to get into Croatia and you’ll still be subject to Schengen-wide visa rules (if you’re a UK passport holder, find all the details about that here). And, as it stands, you will also have to abide by the visa rules of Romania and Bulgaria, too. But this is all pretty exciting, right? Soon enough, travelling around much of Eastern Europe could get a whole lot easier.
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