2017 Mar 26
One of the many unavoidable things that have always exasperated every one of us about society is the man-made constructs that we abide by – like time and borders.
Countries that don’t bother with high walls and fancy gates at their borders are highly admirable, which is why it is a pleasure to learn about The Schengen States. The Schengen agreement was actually signed way back when in 1985, but has grown throughout the years and now stands at an inclusion of a whopping 26 European nations.
Basically, the good news is that a traveler does not need individual visas to access these 26 nations. A Schengen visa will let you explore all these countries without the hassle of internal border control, granted you follow the common set of rules set within the state. The Schengen State includes 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, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and a world of experiences.
So without much ado, here’s 10 great places to visit in the Schengen States:
1. Limite Zero, Spain
Not many know, but Spain offers travelers the chance to ride the only cross-border zip line in the world. Limite Zero, David Jarman’s innovative project, allows thrill-seekers the opportunity to slide down a wire from the white Andalusian village of Sanlúcar de Guadiana to Alcoutim in eastern Algarve.
The scenic one-minute ride will not only get you across the Guardiana River to Portugal, but will also take you forward in time, considering the time difference between the two countries.
2. Mont St. Michel, France
Mont St. Michel is a tidal island. When the tide comes in it is surrounded by water and when the tide recedes it is surrounded by land. The island is located off the coast of Normandy, France. On the island is a historic Gothic Abbey that housed prisoners during the French Revolution and holds a truly fascinating past.
3. Icehotel, Sweden
Not afraid of a little cold weather? Located approximately 124 miles above the Arctic Circle, sits the Icehotel, but only in the winter months. The hotel is made almost entirely from ice. Here, guests sleep on beds made from ice, there is a church, main hall, and bar made from ice. Even the glasses in the bar are also carved from ice!
4. Verdenskortet, Denmark
At the Verdenskortet attraction, visitors can march across all the world’s countries in a matter of minutes and then have a cup of coffee and a pastry at the adjoining cafe. Amazingly, the outdoor atlas was constructed entirely from soil and stone. Even more amazingly, it’s all the work of one man.
Following a failed orchard grove venture in America, Søren Poulsen moved back to his home country and turned his attention in 1944 to the project that would consume him until his death at 81 years old in 1969.
5. Gozo Islands, Malta
A beautiful Mediterranean island that’s perfect for a long-weekend getaway with attractions such as:
- The Ġgantija Temples which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and consists of two temples dating back to between 3600 and 3200 B.C.
- The Azure Window which is Gozo’s iconic flat-topped natural rock arch over the sea at Dwejra. The stunning geography of the area was created thousands of years ago when two limestone caves collapsed. This and the nearby Blue Hole and Inland Sea are also popular scuba diving sites.
6. Nocti Vagus, Berlin, Germany
Your guide will be visually impaired or differently abled and will know more about the dark than you. Choose between themes such as Crime Dinner, Horror shows, Erotic Dinners, dramatic readings, Dark Theater and many more unique dining experiences at Berlin’s Dark Restaurant where you get to dine in a pitch black environment. Perfect for all you love-bird thrill seekers!
7. Vienna State Opera, Austria
The Vienna State Opera is a stunning architectural structure in the middle of Austria’s capital and quite possibly the most celebrated opera house of all time. The orchestra is recognized as one of the top in the world. While there, take in one of history’s most famous operas or ballets, offered in both classical and modern versions for viewers to choose from.
8. Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland
Playing an enormous part in world history, Auschwitz showcases 3 main concentration camps built by the Nazi regime in World War II. Although a terribly solemn and disheartening place, one gets to witness the chambers of prisoners and explore history by visiting the perfectly preserved camp
9. Butchers’ Bridge, Ljubljana, Slovenia
You’ve probably heard of the bridge of lovelocks in Paris that was demolished, but fear not, Slovenia has the same incredible attraction too. The bridge crosses the Ljubljanica River and has started collecting its share of love locks as of 2010. So grab a loved one and head down to Slovenia to make a promise
10. Park of the Monsters, Italy (Parco dei Monstri)
A one hour drive through northern Italy will literally transport you 500 years back in time, to the Italian Renaissance era, a period of great cultural change and achievement. The small town of Bomarzo hosts this unique monumental complex of giant sculptures dating back to the 16th century. Proteus – the son of the sea god Neptune, Orcus – a god of the underworld, Cerberus – a three-headed dog, Aphrodite – the Greek goddess of Love and Hannibal’s war elephant are just a few of the park’s main attractions.
The park came to life in 1552 and it’s the only kind in the world. The legend says that Pier Francesco Orsini, a noble man who ruled the area and was the owner of the park, ordered the creation of this strange park in love of his lost beloved wife. It is said that, devastated by her death, he put all his grieves into the birth of these sacred gardens.