Have you always dreamt of a European escapade? What about an exploration of the Eastern region? From the gorgeous blue seas and whitewashed houses of Santorini to the cobbled streets of Prague, there’s undeniably much to be desired!
The only thing standing in the way of your Eastern European adventure is probably the pain of putting a hole in your wallet. But is Europe really that expensive? Perhaps this list will change your mind… ?
#HHWT Tip: Hostels and AirBnBs are often the way to go when it comes to scoring yourself cheap accommodation in Eastern Europe, with rates starting from 8 euros per night, especially in off-peak seasons! Each meal can cost as low as 4 euros.
Additionally, with KLM’s open jaw tickets, it’s much easier to plan your journey! You can arrive in one European city and leave from another when you fly with KLM ?
P.S. Save money on your flight tickets to Eastern Europe with KLM’s exclusive Spring Deals! Book NOW till 3 April 2018 to enjoy flight prices starting from as low as SGD$824 (all-in) when you fly to Europe from Singapore (for travel till 28 Feb 2019) ?
If you're flying from Malaysia and Indonesia, these offers are waiting for you till 23 March 2018: Kuala Lumpur to Europe from RM2,500 all-in (For travel till 30 Nov 2018) Jakarta to Europe from IDR9,000,000 all-in (For travel till 30 Nov 2018)
The country best known for Greek mythology is indeed as magical as it sounds. Rich with culture and steeped in Islamic history, Greece is among the most common destinations on travellers’ bucket lists! Visit in spring or autumn as it’s the off-peak season when most flights and accommodation prices are cheaper.
Did you know you could sign up for a free walking tour around Athens’ picturesque attractions? It’s the perfect way to gain an insider’s view on areas of interests such as the Academy of Athens, the Acropolis Museum and the Syntagma Square!
Be sure to stop by the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art too! This largest and oldest museum in Greece has an entrance fee of € 7.
Benaki Museum of Islamic Art
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#HHWT Tip: If you’re planning to travel around on the metro, we recommend purchasing a 3-day tourist ticket from the airport for € 22, which includes your train ride to the city centre and a few shorter rides in Athens.
You also needn’t worry about your meal in Athens! It’s home to a few affordable Muslim-owned eateries which serve up authentic Greek food. Visit Raja Jee Fast Food for Greek fast food and top it off with desserts from Milan Sweets & Bakers.
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Don’t miss out on the Greek favourites too! Try the Spanakopita, a filo pastry pie stuffed with spinach, feta cheese and eggs. There’s also a vegan version available and you can find it at Ariston, a bakery near Syntagma Square that has at least 10 vegetarian versions of this local delicacy!
Another Mediterranean dish to try is Dolmades (or Dolma), which are grape leaves stuffed with rice and fresh herbs. Stop by Sissifos in Plaka, a restaurant serving vegetarian Dolmades alongside a variety of other vegan-friendly food options.
Just a 45-minute flight away from Athens is the dream island of Santorini, known best for the glimmering whitewashed houses of Oia overlooking a vast rich blue sea. Alternatively, you can get to this beautiful island by taking a 30 to 45-minute ferry for €120! Once in Santorini, travel around in the K-Tel Public Bus – fares can only reach up to a maximum of €2.
Bust all myths of Santorini as an expensive getaway because if you prioritize well, you can spend close to nothing by sightseeing! Explore the black sand beaches of Perissa or Kamari, and hike your way to Oia Castle from Fira, just in time to catch breath-taking views of the sunset.
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#HHWT Tip: Visit from March to May and in October and November to enjoy cheaper hotel prices!
While there’s yet to be halal restaurants, you can opt for vegetarian, vegan or seafood meals. Try Taverna Lava near Perissa for seafood or Mediterranean cuisine – just remember to ask for no alcohol and meat! Other vegan-friendly choices include Meroula Restaurant and Mythos Grill House.
Acropolis Of Lindos
Exploring the island is a great opportunity to meet fellow Muslims in the local community. Did you know Rhodes is home to nearly 4000 Turks? If you stay near the Mosque of Suleiman, you’ll be able to discover more hidden halal eateries as introduced by friendly Muslim stall owners around.
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Rhodes is best explored by car or motorbike. You can rent a car for around €40 per day and a scooter for as low as €15 to €18 per day. Drive to the medieval city of the Old Town, marvel at the Palace of the Grand Master of Knights (€12) and gaze in wonderment at the greatness of the Acropolis of Lindos.
Credit: Zaytouna Rhodes on Facebook
Good news – with such a sizeable Muslim population, affordable halal food comes easy! Dig into authentic Mediterranean food at Zaytouna. You can also find a Muslim-owned food place called Lithos, which sells authentic chicken gyros for the foodies who really want a taste of authentic Greek food ?
5. Mykonos (Most expensive Greek Island)
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Yes, you read that right! Mykonos is the most expensive Greek island, but fret not – you can easily save on sightseeing by visiting places of interests with no admission fees! Of course, a trip to a Greek island is never complete without some beach hopping ? Note that the low season is in April, May and October!
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Arrive in Mykonos from Athens by ferry. The journey between Athens and Mykonos takes between 3.5 hours (€54.50/high speed ferry) and 5 hours (€32/economy ferry). Get a glimpse of Venice at their own unique Little Venice and explore the Chora Village – all for no cost at all ?
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For vegetarian and vegan-friendly food options, stop by Popolo, a café selling a variety of pastas, sandwiches and salads where you get to choose your own ingredients. Be sure to ask for their vegetarian menu! Alternatively, savour some Mediterranean food from Markos Falafel ?
P.S. Enjoy amazing fares to Eastern Europe with KLM’s exclusive Spring Deals! Book NOW till 3 April 2018 to enjoy fares from as low as SGD$824 all-in when you fly from Singapore to Europe with KLM (travel by 28 February 2019) ?
Flying from Malaysia or Indonesia instead? Hurry and book, because the following amazing fares last till 23 March 2018 only: Kuala Lumpur to Europe from RM2,500 all-in (For travel till 30 Nov 2018) Jakarta to Europe from IDR9,000,000 all-in (For travel till 30 Nov 2018)
Being part of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th century, Croatia is also steeped in Islamic history. Today, Muslims make up 1.47% of the population and with so many ways of keeping within your budget, this Eastern European gem along the Adriatic Sea will definitely keep your wanderlust at bay.
Game of Thrones fans will instantly recognize Dubrovnik as the King’s Landing! This place is best explored on foot – walk through the Old Town and replay your favorite GoT scenes at the Jesuit Staircase, St. Dominic Street and the Ethnographic Museum. Alternatively, you can buy a 24-hour pass with unlimited bus rides for under USD $5.
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Explore Fortress Lovrijenac for zero cost, before taking the cable car up to Srd Hill. Save on the round trip charge (USD$20) by walking down instead (USD$12)!
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And as with all Muslim-populated areas, halal food is easily accessible. For kebabs, check out Subito Café and Tutto Bene Fast Food, both of which have garnered lots of positive feedback from customers! For seafood snacks like octopus or prawn burger, eat at Barba. If you feel like splurging, prepare for a feast at Rixos Libertas Dubrovnik Hotel’s halal-certified Mozaik Restaurant or Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel’s halal-certified Leut Restaurant.
Zagreb has the highest population of Muslims in Croatia and is home to the unique Zagreb Mosque. Perform your prayers here before exploring the Upper Town (Gradec) and Lower Town (Kaptol) by foot!
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Visit during summer and enjoy free open-air musical events at Strossmayer’s Promenade! There are also free fairs throughout the year so make sure you ask for more information when you visit the Tourist Information Center in the main Jelačić square.
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Additionally, enjoy aerial views of Zagreb for free from behind the Klovićevi Dvori Gallery, atop the Medvednica mountain and in Upper Town, above the blue funicular connecting it to the Lower Town.
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A sizeable number of affordable Halal food is available around Zagreb! Specifically, check out Ali Kebaba for Middle Eastern food and Lokma From Istanbul for delectable Turkish cuisine. If you’re feeling thirsty, sip on some healthy fruit juices at Juice&Juice! They sell halal and kosher soups too. Try local Croatian cuisine at vegetarian-friendly La Struk – they serve Strukli, a popular traditional dish which consists of dough with cottage cheese and filling.
Known for its splendid architecture and the grim history of WWII, Poland will delight all photographers and history buffs. Don’t worry foodies, this marvelous country has its fair share of halal food for you to try out too. And all these at an affordable price range!
Straight off from Warsaw Chopin airport, you can already score affordable fares by taking the local bus to the city centre. Once there, walking is the best way to move around this beautiful city.
#HHWT Tip: We highly recommend staying in Warsaw’s central Śródmieście district as it is a good point from which to explore what the city has to offer!
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Alternatively, you can sign up for a free walking tour. Roam around the Lazienki Park, in which a 17th-century palace, a peacock sanctuary and a bronze statue of Polish composer Frederic Chopin reside. Here, you can enjoy free outdoor classical music concerts every Saturday and Sunday in summer.
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If you’d like to live your day like royalty, visit the Presidential Palace, wander through the Saxon Gardens and admire the intricate art within Royal Castle on Sundays when admission is free.
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And great news – there’s a variety of halal food options for you to choose from! Get your fix of Mediterranean food from Falafel Bejrut and Falafelove. You already know what to expect from these names ? If you’re craving some kebabs, you can stop by Kebab King and Amrit Kebab! For a taste of local Polish sweets, go to Blikle – one of the oldest cafes in Poland. Try a Polish donut or a sernik krakowski (rich Polish cheesecake from Krakow). Do remember to check if alcohol is used in the making of your choice of pastry!
8. Wroclaw (Venice of Poland)
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Transportation comes cheap in the Venice of Poland. Here, streetcar tickets cost between 1,50 to 3 zloty only, and you have the option of using the public bike system for free on your first 20 minutes.
#HHWT Tip: Wroclaw is actually pronounced ‘vrahtz-wahv’ and not ‘raw-claw’ as some of us might have thought. ?
Make your way to Ostrow Tumski, surrounded by chapels, churches and monasteries. Marvel at the blend of unique architecture for free before going on a dwarf or gnome hunt. (There are over 300 of them around the city!)
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When in Wroclaw, you must stop by the Market Hall, which showcases the city’s fresh produce of fruits, vegetables and cheese. You won't want to miss the Wroclaw Islamic Center too! Get to know fellow Muslims here and you might just forge new and everlasting friendships.
Credit: Sawara Gyros on Facebook
The good news is, you get to try halal gyros here! Stop by Sawara Gyros for a lip-smacking meal and if you need to fill your tummy further, Wroclaw also has Kebab King. You definitely can’t leave Poland without trying pierogis and the good news is vegan pierogis are available at PieRogi Vegan!
Krakow was part of the Polish Kings’ historical coronation path and served as the royal capital from the 14th to the 16th century. Trace the steps of royalty and walk down the very same Royal Route, which includes sights of Europe’s largest medieval city square, Rynek Glowny, Florianska Gate and the Wawel Castle.
Make sure you do your planning right as various attractions have free admission on specific days! The Rynek Underground Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK), for example, offer free admission on Tuesdays, while you can enter Schindler’s Factory for free on Mondays.
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Krakow is also home to the largest German Nazi concentration camps. If you’d like to pay your respects and gain more insight into the genocide that truly shook the world, we highly recommend gong to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.
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Another must-try is the street food in Krakow. Visit the popular farmer’s market Stary Kleparz for fresh, low-cost produce and try an Obwarzanek (Krakówian bagel) for only 40 cents (USD). For heavier meals, feast on Mediterranean food from EFES Kebab Grills Salads, fill your tummies with falafel from Sami Am Am and if you’re craving fast food, Quick House will satisfy with some burgers and kebabs.
The Czech Republic screams medieval with its long history and 9th-century Prague castle. Stepping into the enchanting streets will feel like you’ve entered a realm of the past!
This last city is definitely not the least bit underwhelming as compared to the rest. Prague has so much for your eyes to feast on with its rich baroque architecture and quaint cobbled streets. The best way to navigate around here is by foot!
Find the Charles bridge and admire the line of statues there before making your way to the Mala Strana district. You may find the entrance fee to the Prague Castle buildings a little pricey (£7-£9.50), but it will definitely be worth it! Otherwise, you can move on to the 14th-century Saint Vitus Cathedral for free.
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#HHWT Tip: Fly to Prague in June and if you’re there on the 9th, entrance to museums is free as it is the official date for the annual Prague Museum Night this year.
Foodies rejoice – halal food in Prague comes in a huge variety! From kebabs to pizza, there’s something to satisfy your every craving. Get yourself a slice (or more!) of pizza from Jordan, savour some Turkish fast food from Felfella or grab some kebab on the go from Kebab Star.
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Fancy some local favourites? Put Trdelnik chimney cake in your list of food to try! These chimney donut-like sweet treats are usually sold along the streets for under 60 korunas. Watching the process of making them will most likely be an eye-opening experience too!
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Other must-try delicacies include Buchty, a sweet bun with plum jam filling which you can find at several bakeries in Prague. Note: Do make sure to ask if rum or alcohol has been used in the making of the buchty!
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Plan a visit to Perníčkův Sen (translates to Gingerbread Dream) which, true to its name, is a haven of baked Czech goods and sweet treats – truly a sweet tooth’s dream come true! We recommend checking with the store to ensure that no alcohol is used in the making of sweets. Some gingerbreads are also made with rum, so be sure to ask for other variants such as lemon, walnut and sugar topping gingerbreads!
As you can see, you don’t have to scrimp and cut down too much on the best things to fulfil your dream of travelling to Eastern Europe! It can definitely turn into reality if you know what to prioritize while you’re there. So what’re you waiting for? Book your flight and happy travelling! ?
P.S. With KLM’s open jaw tickets, it’s much easier to plan your journey! You can arrive in one European city and leave from another when you fly with KLM!
This article is brought to you by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.