You're sitting on the sofa at home, scrolling through your social media feeds when you see that globetrotting friend’s travel photos from Europe. We all know the frustration of wanting so badly to want to travel to Europe but being more afraid of burning a hole in our wallets to do it. But wait--who said you have to empty your pockets to have that Europe trip you've always dreamt of?
Whether it's Eastern European hidden gems undiscovered by the usual hordes of tourists, or even timeless and ever-popular Western European cities, Europe has plenty to offer to the budget traveller. If you're feeling lost and spoilt for choice, though, we've got you covered: here's a list of 8 budget-friendly European cities that'll definitely have you coming back for more!
1. Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Lovingly referred to as the "European Jerusalem", Sarajevo is truly unique in its rustic charm, harmonization of Eastern and Western cultures, and Islamic influences.
Credit: Sarajevo Baščaršija on Facebook
Stroll through the charming, narrow cobblestoned streets that are so reminiscent of old European towns, and you'll find Turkish-influenced mosques next to town halls built in the Spanish Muslim style, churches, synagogues and more!
Credit: floschen on Flickr
Since it's relatively undiscovered compared to other European destinations, Sarajevo is also one of the most wallet-friendly (AND Muslim-friendly!) cities to visit in Europe. A simple traditional Bosnian meal, for example, could cost you as little as €5 per pax!
Credit: Edward Reynolds on Flickr
If you're a nature lover, you'll adore the lakes, waterfalls, and green fields that dot this gorgeous country. Sarajevo also makes a perfect base to explore the rest of Bosnia from - you can easily make a day trip to the quaint city of Mostar, home to the stunning Stari Most bridge and gorgeous views of lush greenery!
#HHWT Tip: Best of all, all of these outdoor attractions are free to visit! If you're already wondering how to see as much of the Balkans as possible, why not check out our writer Syazana's 14D11N Balkans itinerary written from her own experience in this underrated European region?
Credit: John Copeland on Facebook
There's no doubt about it: Sarajevo is definitely THE place to go for your next European adventure. If we haven't convinced you yet, here are 7 more reasons why every Muslim should have a trip to the Balkans on their bucket list!
2. Istanbul, Turkey
Rich in Islamic history, radiant with the warmth of Turkish hospitality, and bustling with cosmopolitan crowds, the city of Istanbul will have you falling head over heels for it at every turn. If you're not just interested in Istanbul, check out these 7 other gorgeous cities in Turkey including the warm salt baths of Pamukkale and the enchanting hot-air balloon rides over Cappadoccia.
Credit: @jankatcapar on Instagram
Wander through the historic Sultanahmet Square, complete your prayers in the tranquil atmosphere of The Blue Mosque and go bargain hunting in the age-old Grand Bazaar. Much of Istanbul's charm lies in all the sights and sounds you can take in for free!
Credit: LWYang on Flickr
When you visit the Grand Bazaar, be sure to bargain - it's an accepted way of life at this ancient centuries-old covered marketplace.
#HHWT Tip: Though Istanbul may have a reputation as a pricier city to visit, we've compiled a list of helpful tips to help you save money on your trip there without having to sacrifice any comfort!
Credit: Ming-yen Hsu on Flickr
Trust us: once you've been to Istanbul, you'll fall so deeply in love that you'll be planning your second, third, and even fourth visits in no time! To get started, why not take a look at this 3-day itinerary idea for one of the grandest cities in the region!
3. Sofia, Bulgaria
As far as Eastern European destinations go, Sofia is one of the more underrated yet most affordable cities on this list, with one of the lowest living costs in all of Europe! Sofia also has centuries of Islamic history within its streets - it's definitely one of the cities you've got to visit if you want to learn more about Europe's Islamic history!
#HHWT Tip: Sofia is just an hour away from Istanbul by flight, so why not capitalize on it and pack even more value into your trip??
Credit: Graeme Churchard on Flickr
While you're here, it's almost a crime not to visit the Square of Religious Tolerance, aptly named because of the fact that a mosque, an Orthodox church, a Catholic church and a synagogue share the space amongst themselves.
Credit: xiquinhosilva on Flickr
Be sure to visit the Banya Bashi Mosque, which was built in the 15th century by the legendary Turkish Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan and is still used today by the local Muslims.
#HHWT Tip: Make your way to Simeon Street in Sofia, which is known as the local "Arab Street" as there has been an influx of Muslim immigrants there over the last few decades, and take your pick from the halal and Muslim-friendly eateries surrounding the area!
Credit: Hector Montero on Flickr
A shawarma wrap here will cost you as little as €2 (yup, it's THAT cheap!) So what are you waiting for? Visit Sofia before the rest of the world finds out about it!
4. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Known for its picturesque canals, cluttered traditional canal houses and classic windmills that look like they've just jumped out of a postcard, Amsterdam has a laid-back, friendly vibe that will take you in the minute you start exploring! We've even got a list of cost-saving tips to help you dive into this Dutch city without breaking the bank!
Credit: Jasmine Nears on Flickr
Cruise down Amsterdam's famous canals in a Canal Cruise, surround yourself with the most fragrant colours in every colour imaginable at the Flower Market, and visit some of the best museums in Europe.
Credit: @twomuchtogether on Instagram
When you take a breather to refuel for the day, help yourself to some of the best halal-certified chicken in town at Benny's Chicken or check out these amazing Muslim-friendly street food to keep you going!
Credit: Francesca Cappa on Flickr
With a sizeable local Muslim population and an open-minded, warm Dutch culture, Amsterdam will certainly make you feel immediately at home. If you need a break from the city, though, grab a bicycle and head out to the countryside to explore the quiet, sprawling lands just outside of Amsterdam. Ready to explore? Then take a look at our 9D8N Amsterdam-Paris itinerary to see the best of 2 of Europe's biggest cities!
5. London, UK
London's iconic picture-perfect sights, the huge local Muslim community, and a wide variety of halal food options make her an absolute must-visit that should be on every Muslim traveller's travel bucket list. Visiting the capital of England doesn't have to be expensive either - check out this 7D6N itinerary that shows you the best of the city for less than £30 a day!
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Pay a visit to London Central Mosque, explore Westminster and snap pictures of Big Ben, The Palaces of Westminster, and the London Eye without having to pay a single pence.
Contrary to popular belief, sightseeing in London is actually very much affordable, especially when you know all the best money-saving tips for your London trip.
#HHWT Tip: Save half of your transport expenses in London by purchasing the Oyster Card, which gives you access to London's double-decker red buses, the London Underground, Overground and tram!
Many of London's world-class museums are also free of charge, so you can pop in and out as many times as you like without paying a single cent. With so many grand palaces, museums, markets and attractions, there's no end to the number of things to do, see, eat and experience in London! Remember to grab some iconic Muslim-friendly London snacks as souvenirs before you head back home.
Relatively off the beaten path compared to major tourist draws in Europe, Malta is nestled quietly in the Mediterranean Sea south of Europe. With its inviting deep blue waters and picturesque views, it's no wonder that it's often referred to as the Jewel of the Mediterranean. Here are 7 reasons why it should be next on your bucket list!
Credit: Falvio Ensiki on Flickr
Saunter leisurely past the sunny bays, admiring the traditional Maltese fishing boats docked there or taking a refreshing plunge into the cool waters. With several UNESCO World Heritage Sites clustered together in Malta, too, it's truly a sight for sore eyes.
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal on Flickr
Drop by the Malta Islamic Centre to befriend the local Muslims here and grab a bite at one of the many halal eateries scattered around Malta, including Millenium Kebab on the main island, a Muslim-owned eatery which some of the best kebabs on the island.
Credit: Tobias Scheck on Flickr
From beautiful sea views to historic buildings and yummy halal food, Malta is the ultimate European hidden gem that you should visit at least once in your lifetime!
7. Rome, Italy
The city of Rome really needs no introduction: home to one of the greatest ancient civilizations in history, almost every inch of this timeless city is filled with jaw-dropping historical sights that have stood the test of time.
Several of Rome's most popular attractions are located within walking distance of each other, so you can take your time to walk from the famed Trevi Fountain to the Piazza di Spagna, and more. You can even see the best of Rome and Naples in just 5D4N with this Muslim-friendly itinerary!
The lively shopping streets in the area are also pleasant to walk through for some good old window shopping! Grab some of these Muslim-friendly desserts along the street and enjoy your gelato as you take in the sights and sounds of the city.
#HHWT Tip: You'll find several halal eateries clustered together around the Termini Station, Rome's main railway station.
It only takes one visit to this ancient city to see why American writer, Anotole Broyard, once said, "Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city."
8. Dubrovnik, Croatia
A growing tourist mecca in Europe thanks to its recently being a film location for the massively popular series "Game of Thrones", Dubrovnik in Croatia is not only extremely scenic but also wallet-friendly. It's also an amazing spot for couples and those looking for their gorgeous honeymoon getaway!
The first thing you HAVE to check off your to-do list here is to explore Dubrovnik's very own UNESCO World Heritage Site: it's Old City, which is also affectionately known as The Pearl of the Adriatic.
Credit: Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr
Walking through the city's gorgeous streets will make you feel like you've been transported back in time. There's no need to worry about where to get Muslim-friendly food, though: you'll be spoilt for choice from the variety of doner kebabs on offer here, as well as seafood, vegetarian, and vegan options!
Credit: Ivan Ivankovic on Flickr
With its terracotta roofs, sand-brown buildings and majestic old city walls caressing the aquamarine waters of the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is filled with an air of grandeur and history that's hard to replicate anywhere else in the world.
There you go: with a little bit of research (that we've already done for you), you really don't have to empty your bank accounts for that Europe trip you've always dreamt of! So what are you waiting for? Your ultimate European getaway is beckoning!