A confusing part of your gap year or backpacking adventure can be working out what visas you need for Europe. Here's a quick guide to help you out before you travel.
Europe has something called the Schengen Agreement. This collects together 26 European countries that have removed passport and immigration controls from their joint borders. So if you're a citizen of any of these 26 countries you can travel freely through the area.
Nationals of EU and EFTA (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Lichenstein) countries only need to bring a valid passport or national identity card. No visa will be required for a stay in Europe of any length. This includes UK citizens.
Nationals of non-EU/EFTA countries will generally need a passport in order to enter a Schengen country, and you'll probably need to get a Schengen visa before you travel.
Russia is not a Schengen country, so you will require a visa if you're travelling there. This must be arranged before you enter the country, or you'll be turned away from the border.
Citizens of the United States of America can enter Schengen countries without acquiring a Schengen visa, as long as they possess a valid US passport and don't stay longer than 90 days within a 6 month period,
Wherever you're travelling, we recommend always carrying your passport or ID card with you.