There are so many amazing destinations in the world. However, European Muslims don’t think that Halal Holidays in Europe are possible, or think that halal food in Europe is difficult to find, which I find heartbreaking.
You can fly for 2 hours and be in a totally different country. I love the feeling of leaving the rainy UK and arriving in a sunny place. What I love the most is how many Muslim friendly countries Europe has. Honestly, I don’t think I have been to a European country where I have not felt at home.
In fact, there is no place you can’t visit in Europe as a Muslim. Seriously!
The only problem is that there are some destinations in Europe that are more Muslim friendly than others. This is totally understandable and I know how some Muslims feel stressed and anxious especially if women wear niqab. But you shouldn’t be, because there are still many destinations you can explore in Europe as a Muslim and find halal food, places to pray, and find plenty to explore.
I feel that with all this Islamophobia going around, now is the time to get out of your comfort zone and explore what the world has to offer to you as a Muslim traveller. Sitting at home and worrying won’t change things but your friendly representation of Islam will. You as a visibly Muslim traveller can change the way people see us in real life. So make sure you go and explore this beautiful world.
1. Sofia, Bulgaria
Did you know that Bulgaria was once home to countless Muslim empires? It is believed that the early Muslim settlers found their way to Bulgaria in the mid 9th century. Fast forward to 1382, Sofia, the nation’s capital was invaded and captured by the Ottoman. During this time, they installed as many Ottoman monuments as possible. In the present time, you will find the Banya Bashi mosque. The mosque takes you back in time to the Ottoman era.
Bulgaria has great nature and there are many trekking paths as well as the history that you can discover in cities like Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo as well. If you find yourself there, you can check out the local mosques: Dzumaya Mosque in Plodiv and Tumbul Mosque in Shumen. Bulgaria is welcoming, hospitable, and features a friendly atmosphere for Muslim travellers. Trust me, you won’t be alone on the street walking with a hijab or an abaya and even a friendly salam is lovely to hear.
I just came back from Bulgaria and on my way to Qatar, I saw so many Qataris and Muslims visiting that I was pretty impressed. So I started talking to the girls on the flight. They told me they loved Bulgaria and explored many places around the country. They found the locals to be very welcoming and happy to help. The lady even had a small tree as a gift from a Bulgarian lady.
If you are looking for skiing in Bulgaria as a Muslim, Bansko is great, and close by there is a local village with a mosque.
Halal food in Bulgaria is also pretty easy to find. Below are some of the best rated halal places:
- Punjabi Food Restaurant – 11 Ulitsa Profesor Atanas Ishirkov, Sofia, Sofia-city 1700
- Turkish restaurant- 34 Ulitsa “Yuri Venelin” , 1142 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria
- Avrasia – Bulevard “Hristo Botev” 42, 1606 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria
Mosques in Sofia can be found in the city centre and walking distance from many hotels. The closest will be the Balkan Hotel in Sofia which is 2 minutes walk. Flights to Sofia can be had for as little as £20 return.