European Union Travels: Visiting all 27 Countries

The European Union encompasses 27 countries, and is home to around 448 million residents. From the Emerald Island of Ireland to multicultural Cyprus, the EU covers a vast stretch spanning over 4.2 million square kilometers. With 24 official languages, the EU offers freedom of mobility for travel and work opportunities within the Schengen zone. It’s possibly the most idyllic vacation playground on the planet, albeit that comes down to personal preferences.

This past summer I visited the final four European Union countries I had yet to visit: Malta, Finland, Estonia and Luxembourg. The final chapter of Luxembourg proved challenging, with a weather delay and technical difficulties with Lufthansa that saw me spending two unplanned days in and out of Munich Airport, instead of exploring Luxembourg’s countryside.

Lubeck, Germany is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s among the many recent highlights of in-depth travels spanning all 27 EU countries.

While we’ve visited European Union nations like Greece, Italy, Germany and Spain many times, some countries had eluded us. Naturally, making it to 27 out of 27 EU countries had some minor challenges. It also spans 25 years of adult travels in Europe, including residing in the Netherlands and Ireland for six combined years. This 1 week Paris, London, Amsterdam itinerary is one of the most read articles on this website. Here’s some highlights of the recent final four EU nations visited!

Malta

Located in the central Mediterranean, Malta is located between Sicily and the North African coast. The unique island is a fusion of cultures. Historic sites span over 4,000 years of history reflecting the reigns of the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French and British.

Mdina charms visitors with picturesque pedestrian laneways. Mdina was Malta’s capital from antiquity through the 1500s.

Bellinda and I visited Malta at the end of May 2023. Late spring and early fall are ideal times to visit, outside the busy summer season, which can be scorching hot. Malta is an incredible island for sightseeing, history, picturesque landscapes, dining, lounging on the beach and nightlife.

Upper Barrakka Gardens in Malta’s capital of Valletta offers sweeping views of charming Burgu and beyond.

We especially enjoyed Valletta, Mdina, Gozo and Comino. Established by The Knights of St. John, Malta’s capital of Valletta offers an urban getaway with sweeping vistas, history, a fusion of cultures and nearby sandy beaches. Valletta and nearby Burgu offer especially ideal bases for a romantic couples getaway as they’re packed with beautiful architecture and great restaurants.

Mdina features one of Europe’s most exquisite ancient walled cities. It offers a fantastic blend of medieval and baroque architecture. Adjacent Rabat features grand churches and cobblestone laneways lined with charming cafes and restaurants.

Gozo is the largest of 21 islands in the Maltese Archipelago, offering more historic sites, tasty eateries and a fantastic day trip or getaway base. Comino is a tiny island paradise located between Malta and Gozo. It’s fantastic for swimming in the sea, and lounging over a cocktail filled pineapple.

The tiny island of Comino in Malta offers an idllyic paradise for swimming, kayaking and sipping cocktails from pineapples.

Finland

Finland has recently been ranking as the “happiest country in the world.” The reason? A largely equitable society both across genders and pay scales, there is not a massive disparity in wealth. The country is clean, well organized and people generally enjoy a high standard of living.

Helsinki Cathedral perched above Helsinki Marina, which is home to a market ideal for trying Finnish delicacies like reindeer meatballs.

Home to around 630,000 residents, Helsinki is Finland’s picturesque and tranquil capital. Highlights of Helsinki include Neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral, perched above its colorful Nordic marina. Helsinki’s archipelago consists of around 330 islands, with sandy beaches, vibrant green forests and wildlife.

Suomenlinna is a wonderful highlight of visiting Helsinki, spanning eight islands connected by bridges in the Helsinki archipelago. The sea fortress built in 1748, is an exquisite example of Scandinavian military history. Suomenlinna offers ample opportunities for scenic hikes, picnics and outdoor leisure. The island chain is easy to reach by frequent and inexpensive public ferry service departing Helsinki Marina, or on a small private ship.

Suomenlinna is a tranquil series of islands in the Helsinki archipelago. Dating to 1748, Suomenlinna Fortress offers interesting military history.

Finland is a wonderful destination for outdoor recreation, especially in summer. Finnish people tend to be fairly laid back, and in summer it’s easy to see why. During dark and cold winters, residents can still take solace in having ample space and living in a practical, well organized nation designed to be equitable.

Estonia

Estonia rests along the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland. Its beautiful capital of Tallinn is just 2 and 1/2 hours by ferry from Helsinki. This makes combining the two cities extremely popular and convenient for travelers. There are a variety of good hotels located walking distance from Tallinn’s ferry terminal, which is just a 15-20 minute walk from the Old Town.

The old town of Tallinn, Estonia is one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in Europe, making it popular with international tourists.

Tallinn

Estonia’s capital of Tallinn features one of the best preserved walled medieval centers in Europe. Its cobblestone streets are lined with rustic restaurants, vibrant brewpubs and cozy cafes. Highlights include its Gothic Town Hall and St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, which date to the 13th century. Tallinn is also a modern town, fancying itself as a European silicone valley as companies like Bolt (a popular European ride share app) were founded there.

Tartu

Tartu is Estonia’s second largest town. Lined with relaxed cafes, restaurants and trendy bars, Tartu’s Old Town features charming neoclassical architecture. The prestigious University of Tartu dates to the 17th century, making the town a part-time home for international students. Ample green space has been a feature for centuries, a product of enlightenment design. Tartu is an easy 2 and 1/2 hour train ride from Tallinn and well worth visiting during a trip to Estonia.

Tartu, Estonia features charming neoclassical architecture and has been a significant university town since the 17th century.

Narva

Narva, Estonia is the country’s third largest town. The Narva River separates Estonia from Russia, and is the largest NATO town on the Russian border. The opposing fortresses of Narva Castle and Ivangorad Fortress, with fishermen on both sides, offers an impressive landscape. Read my article on visiting this interesting, less visiting Estonian destination.

The Narva River separates Narva Castle and Ivangorad Fortress in Russia (pictured right).

Luxembourg

My visit to Luxembourg in August 2023 was the final destination in the European Union for me to complete the set. A delay on Lufthansa meant I had two unplanned days in Munich, cutting into my time to explore Luxembourg. So instead of having three days in the small nation, I only had one, before needing to depart to Paris by train. That’s travel sometimes, and I can’t complain.

Luxembourg City is a quaint European capital, with ample green space.

Luxembourg is Europe’s 7th smallest country. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is famed for its picturesque fortified medieval old town perched atop sheer cliffs. On a day with blue skies, Luxembourg City is as photogenic as Europe’s most charming destinations.

Surrounded by Belgium, France and Germany, its three official languages are Luxembourgish, French and German. Luxembourg’s predominantly rural landscape features the the Moselle river valley in the southeast, dense Ardennes forest and nature parks in the north and rocky gorges of the Mullerthal region in the east.

Luxembourg is one of the smallest and wealthiest per capita European Union countries.

Greece

Greece is a country I’ve made around 15 trips to over the years. My most recent trip came in May, 2023 for the TBEX conference in beautiful Kalamata. Greece hits all the pleasure spots for a vacation from delicious gastronomy to beautiful scenery.

Enjoying delicious fresh barbounaki (red mullet) on the beach in beautiful Kalamata, Greece, famed for its vast olive groves and storied history.

Sun kissed island hopping amid storied ancient sites leaves unforgettable memories for visitors to Greece. Athens is the oldest European capital and the birthplace of democracy. The Greek islands offer a beautiful vacation playground for everyone from celebrities to backpackers. Olympia was the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games in 776 BC. That’s just a small sample of what the storied sun soaked Mediterranean country has to offer travelers. Here are some Greek spa towns that offer an amazing vacation!

View of Athens with the Caryatides

Germany

Germany is another country I’ve visited well over 10 times. Most recently I traveled there in June, 2023 for Visit Germany’s 3rd annual Travel and Sustainability Summit in Lübeck, as a hosted journalist. Lübeck, Germany‘s historic center is UNESCO World Heritage Site and among the many pretty towns you’ll find across the country.

Lübeck is among Germany’s most underrated destinations. The former Hanseatic League capital is like a miniature Amsterdam.

It’s impossible to name a favorite place in Germany. Hamburg has more bridges than any other city in the world, and offers a picturesque center with lively nightlife in its entertainment district. Its capital of Berlin is known for its world class museums and infamous World War II history. Munich offers charming architecture and a world class pub scene, even outside busy Oktoberfest.

Germany is always a fun and interesting time, as highlighted in this 7 days in North Germany itinerary, featuring Hamburg, Luebeck and Travemunde.

Italy

Italy is a magnificent country with too many highlights to share in a few paragraphs. The country offers rich history, incredible architecture, world class art, delicious cuisine and scenic landscapes. One of the hardest parts of planning a trip to Italy is deciding on where to visit, since the country offers a wealth of highlights. Rome, Florence and Venice are among the most popular destinations.

Florence landscape with the Dumo and mountains

For visitors looking to sprinkle in some beach days, visit Sicily or the seaside resort town of Rimini. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and heat, plan to visit Italy outside summer. If you’re flexible, April and October are good months to visit for moderate temperatures, sparser crowds, and better prices on accommodation.

I’ve enjoyed many visits to Italy, from Lake Como to Sicily. Here’s my tips and recommendations for how to spend 2 weeks in Italy!

Canals with the gondolas parked and a dark moody sky over Venice

France

Drawing upwards of 90 million international visitors per year, France is the world’s most visited country. Its capital of Paris offers a wealth of iconic marvels like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Montmartre. The Cote d’Azur (French Riveria) is a vacation playground dotted with magnificent towns.

Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) is dotted with charming cobblestone laneways and postcard worthy terraces.

France’s rich culture, famous historical attractions, world-class restaurants and exquisite wine provide an array of highlights. We have visited France several times, and enjoy exploring beautiful destinations throughout the nation.

On our most recent trip to France, we enjoyed exploring the gastronomy capital of Lyon. The Foodie haven is the third largest city in France and capital of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Nestled at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, rich farmlands dot the region. History and architecture enthusiasts will appreciate ample highlights like the towering Basilique Notre Dame of Fourviere and Fourviere amphitheater, one of the best-preserved Roman archeological sites in France. Lyon is also generally one of the friendliest cities in France, as it lacks the superiority complex of Paris (an issue with many capital cities).

Spain

Spain is one of the most popular countries in Europe for several great reasons. Barcelona is a culinary haven dotted with the magnificent works of famed architect Antoni Gaudi. Its capital of Madrid is an art lovers paradise that hops with one of Europe’s best nightlife scenes. Galicia, in the north is famous for foodie towns like San Sebastian and the camino de Santiago trail.

Malaga, Spain, is a popular vacation destination in Costa del Sol.

Then there’s the vacation playground of Costa del Sol, which translates to “coast of the sun” in Spanish.. Located in the south, Malaga Airport is the largest in the region and a gateway for throngs of international visitors. It’s the entry point to visit the iconic Alhambra in magnificent Granada, or the resort town of Marbella.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a gem of a European destination for a variety of reasons. Prague is frequently regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Then there are charming towns like Pilsen (home to the historic Pilsner Urquell brewery) and the spa town of Karlovy Vara.

Prague Castle seen from the iconic Charles Bridge.

The downside to Prague is that its popularity make it especially busy on weekends. Time permitting, plan to have a meal or two outside the historic center, for a local culinary experience. These are some of my favorite hidden gem Prague restaurants and bars.

Poland

Poland’s cities showcase some of Europe’s largest and most beautiful market squares, lined with unique architecture. The country offers some of the best value in the Euro zone for city getaways to popular destinations like Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan, Gdansk and Wroclaw. I’ve made a few trips to the country, including most recently in the past year to Warsaw, Wroclaw and Poznan.

Poland is one of Europe’s most underrated countries for visitors. Read my 10 day Poland itinerary covering many highlights.

Wroclaw Market Square. Poland’s central town squares are a magnificent highlights

Romania

Romania is an underrated European Union destination we enjoyed visiting in the past. Brasov, nestled in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania is among the highlights. Known for its medieval Saxon walls and bastion, it offers a great base for exploring the region. Rasnov Fortress, Bran Castle (known for its association with Dracula) and Peles Castle are all fantastic attractions to visit in Transylvania.

Brasov is a charming town nestled along the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania in Romania.

Romania offers a unique blend of medieval history and breathtaking natural landscapes. From the mystical allure of Transylvania, renowned for medieval castles and the legendary Dracula, to the vibrant cultural life of Bucharest, Romania offers a treasure trove of experiences. Visitors can explore ancient fortresses, relax in charming rural villages, or hike through the picturesque Romanian Mountains part of the Carpathian chain. The country’s rich folklore, combined with its scenic beauty and warm hospitality, make Romania an unforgettable destination in the European Union.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria is off the tourist radar for many. Its capital of Sofia has a variety of historic gems. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the largest in the Eastern Orthodox world. There are also excellent restaurants in Sofia, as Bulgarians, like all Balkan people, generally grill meat expertly. There are also several great Black Sea beach destinations Like Varna and Burgas.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Bulgaria offers some of the best value for European Union travel. It is generally worth visiting, but not for every traveler. I covered it, in an article on whether Sofia, Bulgaria is worth visiting.

Recap On Visiting 27 out of 27 European Union Nations

The European Union offers an abundance of incredible travel opportunities. Freedom of mobility between Schengen countries means not having to worry about border control when traveling between member states by train, plane, ferry and automobile. That saves time, money and hassle. Albeit, Ireland, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria are non-Schengen EU members that still have immigration checkpoints.

While visiting different countries is appealing, visiting every nation in the European Union only became a recent goal. I’m hard pressed to name a favorite, but I typically feel at home in many Mediterranean destinations. Al fresco family style dining over a carafe of quality table wine in a centuries old square or cobblestone laneway, is the perfect way to conclude a day.

As someone with multiple nationalities, including Greek citizenship, I consider Europe to be my home away from home. You’ll find lots of great articles on this website especially covering Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. Check out my article on how to spend two weeks in Italy or 10 unique Peloponnese experiences in Greece, among many spanning beautiful European destinations.

The Greek Peloponnese features world class resorts, history and cuisine, offering an idyllic vacation.

Need assistance planning a European vacation? You’re on the right website! We pride ourselves on offering authentic tips on unique destinations across the continent. Feel free to leave a comment below or email me at [email protected] if you have questions.

Author

  • Alex Kallimanis

    Alex Kallimanis is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner who has visited 67+ different countries, including all 27 European Union countries across all continents except Antarctica. He has resided around the world, living in countries like Australia, the Netherlands and Ireland for over 7 years combined. Currently residing in the Tampa, Florida, area with his wife Bell, he still spends much of his time in Europe as a dual Greek citizen. Alex is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor of arts degree in history, and was the president of Phi Alpha Theta (Honors History Society) during his senior year there. Alex is an avid enthusiast of sports, spas, delicious food, the outdoors, craft beverages, history and culture.

One thought on “European Union Travels: Visiting all 27 Countries

  1. I have only been to Finland, Estonia and Leicester. The last trip was the best. I and my family rented a 7-seater car, looked at the famous Leicester Castle, also saw the symbol of the city, the Clock Tower, which is nearby and the tomb of Richard III. We managed all this thanks to Rental24.co.uk . I also want Germany and Romania, very beautiful countries.

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