New year calls for new year resolutions, and what better promise to make to yourself than to continue travelling the globe? ? Make 2018 the year that you discover unfamiliar places, forge new friendships and gain experiences that'll last you a lifetime!
First stop on your quest to conquer the world: Europe! Travelling from city to city in Europe may seem like a daunting task; lots of research is needed and time is of the essence. No worries though, we have your back ? We've compiled 4 mini itineraries - covering top cities in UK, East Europe, Portugal AND Spain (with some useful tips along the way!). All that's left is booking your plane ticket and accommodation ✈️
P.S. Arrive in one European city and leave from another when you fly with KLM! With open jaw tickets, it’s much easier to plan your (cost-efficient!) journey ? Book NOW till 31 January 2018 to enjoy these exclusive Dream Deals: Valid for travel from 1 February- 30 November 2018.This deal has ended. Check out KLM's new winter wonderland deals here.
Trip 1: UK
London – Leeds (via Settle-Carlisle Railway) – EdinburghLondon
- Welcome to Great Britain, the land of scrumptious tea, scones and of course, the birth place of everyone's favourite wizard, Harry Potter!
- #HHWT Tip: Save up to 50% on your transport expenses by purchasing the Oyster Card! This smartcard allows you to travel on the London Underground, Overground, Tram and those iconic red London buses.
Credit: Herry Lawford on Flickr
- Since it's your first day in a new city, spend half your day just relaxing and exploring the great outdoors! Located right next to each other, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are 2 of London's 8 Royal Parks.
- Visit the various memorials, massive fountains and statues scattered across both parks, have a picnic by the famous Serpentine or paddle your way across the lake on board a rented boat ?
- If you have little ones, bring them to the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, where you'll find a huge wooden pirate ship in the middle of the play area, just like the one in Peter Pan!
Swing by Hyde Park in November to witness its complete transformation into a winter wonderland! There'll be carnival rides, Christmas markets, outdoor theatre shows and more ❄️
Credit: Karen Roe on Flickr
- No visit to London is complete without a little shopping, right? Time to head over to the city's most iconic markets - each well-known for the unique goods sold there.
Credit: Garry Knight on Flickr
- Browse interesting bric-bracs and antiques at Portobello Road Market, snag awesome bargains on chic clothes and second-hand items at Brick Lane Market before heading to Borough Market to sample the fresh produce there! Treat yourself to freshly baked breads, cakes and patisseries ?
Credit: Tony Webster on Flickr
- Continue your quest for the cheapest bargains at shopping streets like Oxford Street and Carnaby Street! Find international brands like Topshop, Uniqlo, Zara and more, as well as other UK independent labels at Oxford. Carnaby is a shoe haven for any sneaker head or boot lover; being home to popular brands like Vans, Doc Martens and Cheap Monday.
Credit: @herzanhirn on Instagram
- Refuel at Muslim-friendly eateries like Poppies (perfectly battered fish that's fried in groundnut oil) and Stax Diner (halal beef bacon burgers and crispy chicken with waffles!) before leaving the city.
- Muslim-friendly eateries include:
- Tinseltown (Halal-certified)
- Handmade Burger Co. (Halal meat available)
- Wrap It Up (Halal meat available)
- Guanabana (Halal meat available, alcohol served)
- Time for a trip to the countryside! Hop on a scenic train ride on-board the The Settle-Carlisle Railway, one of the world's greatest railway journeys ?
To travel from London to Leeds, make your way to King's Cross and board the Virgin Trains East Coast line
(the journey is around 2.5-3 hours long).
Credit: Andrew on Flickr
Credit: Andrew on Flickr
- Operating since 1876, you'll rumble your way through the magical landscapes of Yorkshire Dales, whilst passing through 14 tunnels, 20 viaducts (the most impressive one being the Ribblehead Viaduct) and even the highest station in England - the 1150 feet high Dent Station!
Credit: @lincolnshire_living on Instagram#HHWT Tip:
- Feeling antsy from sitting too long? Stop over at Appleby, an ancient market town that has faithfully retained its old-world charm over the years. As you venture around the town, you'll be transported to Medieval England - complete with quaint cottages and beautiful riverside walks.
- The surrounding Eden Valley is also home to lush green fields, pastures and rolling hills.
If you're heading to Appleby in June, stop by Fair Hill and partake in the Appleby Horse Fair! Honouring traditions that date back to 1685, you'll witness horses being washed in the river, horse sales and horses pulling carriages reminiscent that of olden day England.
- At the end of the line, awaits Carlisle, a border settlement that's steeped in history. Crumbling castles from the Middle Ages have withstood the test of time and are still around today for tourists to visit.
Credit: Vanessa Engel on Flickr
- Just a short 1.5-hour train ride away, Edinburgh lies on the outskirts of Scotland. Overlooking the calm open sea atop a bed of rocky hills, there's no denying that it's one of Europe's most beautiful cities ?
- Travel back in time and visit the following UNESCO World Heritage European sites:
- Perched on top of a now extinct volcano, this historic fortress offers the most breath-taking views of the city skyline, which explains why it's the most-visited attraction in Scotland!
- Forming most of Holyrood Park, this gargantuan grass covered hill is the remains of an extinct volcano that erupted over 350 million years ago. Tourists and locals alike hike to the summit to capture panoramic views of the city.
Credit: theleastweasel on Flickr
- Though the oldest part of Edinburgh, this area is incredibly well-preserved; lined with cobbled streets and narrow alleyways at every corner.
Credit: @sitidiananabilah on Instagram
- Fulfil your prayers and interact with the local Muslim community at the Edinburgh Central Mosque! Fun fact: Every year in August, the Islam Festival Edinburgh is held at the mosque, where Muslim and non-Muslims are encouraged to attend lectures on various Islamic topics.
Credit: @hmfc5hfc1 on Instagram
- Feeling hungry after prayers? There are tons of halal/Muslim-friendly eateries around the mosque for you to sample!
- Muslim-friendly eateries include:
- The Original Mosque Kitchen & Cafe (Muslim-owned)
- Palmyra Pizza (Halal meat available)
- Scoopz (Halal dishes served)
#HHWT Tip: Your intercity travels are much easier when you fly on KLM! With open jaw tickets, you can fly into one city and leave from another - without the hassle of flying back to the city that you arrived in ? Book NOW till 31 January 2018 to enjoy these exclusive Dream Deals: Valid for travel from 1 February- 30 November 2018.This deal has ended. Check out KLM's new winter wonderland deals here.
Trip 2: East Europe
Vienna - Kraków - WarsawVienna
Credit: Ben Snooks on Flickr
- East Europe is every art lover's dream, which is why Vienna, the City of Dreams, should be the first stop in your cultural journey!
Credit: Dennis Jarvis on Flickr
- Immerse yourself in Vienna's rich artistic landscape and history, by paying a visit to the city's many Baroque architectural buildings:
- Schönbrunn Palace
- This grand palace has over 1400 rooms, out of which 40 are open to the public. Enter the Imperial Apartments for a glimpse of how it was like to live as a royal; the 19th-century styled rooms are extravagantly decorated with swinging chandeliers and detailed frescoes
- St Stephen’s Cathedral
- Standing at 107.2 meters tall, this Gothic cathedral stands out from the rest. While the intimidating exterior of the building is enough to make your jaw drop, the elegant interior is a true work of art!
- Let out your inner child and have a fun-filled day at Wiener Prater! Said to be the oldest theme park in the world, the park has all kinds of rides; from thrilling roller coasters, swinging boats to bumper cars!
If you're doing quite a fair bit of intercity travelling, consider investing in a value-for-money Eurail Pass
. Explore 5 or more countries using just one pass!
Credit: Wiener Prater on Facebook
Credit: @zepta.dewi.anggraeni on Instagram
- Visit the largest mosque in Austria, the Vienna Islamic Centre!
Credit: @1070er_boy on Instagram#HHWT Tip:
- With Muslims making up 7% of Austria's total population, you’ll be able to find Muslim-friendly eateries on your trip:
- Döner'ci (Halal-certified)
- Quicky's Burgers & More (Halal meat available)
- Apadana (Halal meat available)
Save money on a hotel by taking an overnight train on the ÖBB line
from Vienna to Kraków!
P.S. Arrive in one European city and leave from another with KLM’s open jaw tickets! Now, you can easily plan your journey around Europe without worrying about missing your flight ? Book NOW till 31 January 2018 to enjoy these affordable rates: Valid for travel from 1 February- 30 November 2018.This deal has ended. Check out KLM's new winter wonderland deals here.Kraków
Credit: Richardjo53 on Flickr
- Aside from being one of the oldest cities in the state, Kraków is also the ancient royal capital of Poland, with a rich history dating back to the 7th century!
- A physical embodiment of Poland's golden eras (both economically and artistically), Wawel Castle was formerly the residence of many of Poland's nobles. It has since been converted into the one of the country's premier art museums, housing several priceless collections of the century.
Credit: Viator.com on Flickr
- The product of generations of hardworking miners, the 700-year-old Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most revered attractions in Poland and is visited by 1.2 million people annually.
Credit: Herbaciarnia Artystyczna Essencja Sztuki on Facebook
- Wander through 20 magnificent chambers carved out of rock salt and learn more about the state's mining history. Remember to bundle up before entering, as the underground temperature can drop to 14°C!
- Located in the centre of Kraków's Old Town, the Main Market Square is crammed with merchant stalls selling everything from knick-knacks, handmade jewellery to woodwork. It's also not uncommon to see buskers performing for curious onlookers.
- Stop by the Cloth Hall and stock up on quality fabrics like leather and silk (basically their version of a shopping mall back in the day).
- Have a delicious slice of Poland’s famous cheesecake, Sernik Babci, for your tea break!
Though the cheesecake is not halal-certified, Muslim-friendly ingredients are used in making it. We advise that you consume at your own discretion.
- Once described as Paris of the East, Warsaw was said to be one of the most gorgeous cities in the world, before most of the city was tragically destroyed in World War II.
Take the intercity train from Kraków to Warsaw (less than 3 hours journey) for free with the Eurail Poland Pass
Credit: Krzysztof D. on Flickr
- Rich in culture and history, the streets of Warsaw are filled with creatively drawn murals, cobbled lanes and scrumptious Polish cuisine.
- The historic epicentre of Warsaw, Old Town is a symbol of the city's rise from the ashes. Though 90% of it was destroyed during the war, it has since been restored to its former glory and was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1980.
Credit: Dennis Jarvis on Flickr
Credit: Warsaw Islamic Center on Facebook
- Visit the reconstructed Royal Castle, stroll through the Old Town Market Place, be entertained by talented street performers and more.
- Drop by the Warsaw Islamic Centre for your daily prayers and perhaps even attend a lecture if you're lucky!
- Muslim-friendly eateries include:
- Heyoo Dubai (Muslim-owned)
- Fresh & Chili (Muslim-owned, serves alcohol)
- Sapko Kebap (Halal dishes served)
Trip 3: Spain
Alicante – Granada – Seville Alicante
- Conquer 3 of Spain's best cities like never before! First stop, Alicante, a Mediterranean port city known for its narrow shopping streets, colourful houses and palm tree flanked boulevards.
#HHWT Tip: We'd recommend flying to Alicante on KLM! With its open jaw tickets, you can easily leave from a neighbouring Spanish city or any other European city instead of flying back to Alicante ? Book NOW till 31 January 2018 to enjoy these exclusive Dream Deals: Valid for travel from 1 February- 30 November 2018.This deal has ended. Check out KLM's new winter wonderland deals here.
Credit: Victoriano Javier Tornel García on Flickr
- One of its most prominent monuments is none other than the Santa Bárbara Castle, a towering fortress with over 1000 years of history!
- Perched at the top of Mount Benacantil, the fortress acts as a guardian of sorts, overlooking the city with a calm, unwavering gaze honed from centuries of witnessing wars and battles.
- Meander along the La Explanada de España, a sophisticated maritime boulevard with pop up stalls selling local handicrafts and palm trees shading you from the glare of the harsh sun.
On Sunday mornings, you can catch free concerts at the music pavilion!
Credit: Alicante City on Facebook
- In the heart of Alicante's Old town, sits the Basilica of Santa Maria, which is the oldest active church in the city. Fun fact: This Valencian Gothic styled building was actually built over the remains of a mosque back in the 14-16th century!
Credit: @hanmolave on Instagram
- Established in 1991, the Islamic Community of Alicante banded together to build the Mezquita de Alicante (Alicante Mosque), where fellow members of our faith could fulfil their prayers in a safe space.
- Savour yummy halal dishes at the following Muslim-friendly eateries in Alicante:
- La Casba (Muslim-owned)
- Aladdin (Muslim-owned)
- Mish Mish (Halal meat available, serves alcohol)
Credit: Jiuguang Wang on Flickr
- Formerly the host to a strong Andalusian community back in the 12th century, Granada was the final surviving stronghold of Muslim Spain. Though much has faded, the remnants of its Muslim settlement are very much alive and reflected in Islamic-influenced monuments scattered across the city.
- Immerse yourself in Islamic history and retrace your roots to Alhambra Palace, a legacy left by the last Muslim rulers in Spain.
- Named after its reddish walls, tourists flock to the palace complex's centrepiece, the Palacios Nazaríes.
Credit: @kaltham on Instagram
- Just a short distance away, members of the ummah can seek refuge at the Granada Mosque for their daily prayers. Designed with the intention of being a symbol of Islam's revival in Europe, it was the first mosque ever built for native Spanish Muslims.
Credit: Nicolas Vollmer on Flickr
- Spend your day walking through Alcaicería, also known as the Great Bazaar of Granada. This bazaar is bursting with humble local stalls selling Arabic spices, fabrics, craft-work and more.
Credit: @cascaisgourmet on InstagramSeville
- Savour the best of Spanish cuisine with light, Muslim-friendly bites such as Tortilla Española (Spanish omelettes) or Huevos Roto (scrambled eggs and potatoes)!
- Seville has retained much of its ancient Moorish heritage, as seen through the preservation of the Royal Alcazar, originally a Moorish fort with picturesque courtyards.
Take the bus instead of the train from Granada to Seville! Not only is it cheaper, buses normally reach their destination at least 15 minutes faster than trains.
Credit: Anna & Michal on Flickr
Credit: Edmund Gall on Flickr
- While most would recognise the Santa Maria de la Sede Cathedral as being the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the monument now occupies the site of the ancient Aljama Mosque.
- Another impressive architectural wonder is the Plaza de España, located in the Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park) in Seville. Row your way down the entire stretch of Gondola River with your partner - think of it as the Spanish version of the meandering canals in Venice ?
- Contributing to the efforts of keeping the Islamic faith in Spain alive, the Sevilla Mosque Foundation was erected to accommodate to the growing number of local Muslims in the city.
- Muslim-friendly eateries include:
- Alcázar Halal Restaurant (Halal-certified)
- BBQ House (Halal-certified)
- Aladdin Halal (Muslim-owned)
Trip 4: Portugal
Lisbon – Coimbra - PortoLisbon
Credit: @thediaryofanomad on Instagram#HHWT Tip:
- Lisbon is actually one of the more budget-friendly cities in Europe! It's not difficult to find fresh (and cheap!) seafood and affordable accommodation in this vibrant land.
Visit Portugal during the off-season (February or October) as it’s generally cheaper, as compared to prices during the summer months.
Credit: Shadowgate on Flickr
Credit: Marco Verch on Flickr
- As you make your way to another Moorish fortress, the São Jorge Castle, you'll pass through Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon. It's easy to get lost in this labyrinth of narrow, cobble stoned streets and cutting corners.
- Before attempting to hike up the steep hill where the castle sits, take a breather at one of the many hole-in-the-wall cafes in the neighbourhood and have a cuppa or two ☕️
Credit: @rena_desu on Instagram
- Take the Tram 28 to Lisbon's local flea market – Feira Da Ladraheld. Translated to Thieves' market, you can purchase unique trinkets like vinyl records, vintage soda cans and more at a steal!
- Do note that it's only held every Tuesday and Saturday, from dawn to dusk.
Credit: @abrantesvictor on Instagram
- The lip-smacking smell of freshly baked goods wafting out of Pasteis de Belém will draw you in!
- Munch on a plate of its famous (and Muslim-friendly!) Portuguese tarts during brunch ?
- Before heading to your next destination, take a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage-designated municipality of Sintra!
- The land of stunning pastel-coloured, ancient Islamically influenced palaces and ruins, it's the perfect place to brush up on Islamic history.
- Visit the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle ruins); once an unparalleled vantage point for Muslim armies in Portugal, the Sintra National Palace (former residence of the Muslim Portuguese royalty), and of course the whimsical Palacio Nacional De Pena!
- A well-preserved medieval Portuguese town, Coimbra is home to Universidade de Coimbra, the oldest university in Europe that's famed for its extensive Baroque library.
the Alfa Pendular train
from Lisbon to Coimbra – the journey is less than 2 hours long plus there's free Wi-Fi on-board!
Credit: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo on Flickr
Credit: Carole Raddato on Flickr
- Visit the ruins of the ancient city of Conímbriga, formerly the largest Roman settlement in Portugal. Though not the biggest Roman city back in the day, it's arguably one of the most well-preserved. The city walls are relatively intact, and the mosaic flooring of the olden buildings remain.
Credit: Rui Silva on FlickrPorto
- Travel back in time to the Middle-Ages by taking a day trip to some of the schist villages peppered all over Portugal! These hidden villages are usually located high up in the mountains, away from modern civilization and were left untouched for many decades prior to being discovered by local authorities.
- Hop on the high-speed Alfa Pendular train and you'll reach Porto in under an hour! Like its neighbouring cities, Porto is an alley-woven riverside port brimming with medieval buildings and sleepy streets.
- At the south hillside of Porto, lies the fascinating district of Ribeira, a UNESCO World Heritage site with traditional boats lazily floating along the quayside.
Credit: @sorokinaannaa on Instagram
- Make a stop at Porto's two most popular attractions; climb up 230 steps to the top of the colossal Clerigos Tower for unique panoramic views of the city or have a relaxing stroll by the Gardens of Palácio de Cristal, residing in the heart of Porto.
- Book lovers, once you step into Livraria Lello, you'll never want to leave! This jaw-dropping bookstore is an architectural masterpiece, from its alluring neo-gothic facade to its curvaceous wooden spiral staircase with glistening ruby red steps.
Credit: Matt Kieffer on Flickr#HHWT Tip:
- Fun fact: Remember the moving staircases in Harry Potter? Well, it's rumoured that JK Rowling was inspired to begin writing the series during her time in Porto during the 1990s and from her days sipping coffee at the second floor of this very bookstore!
- One just can't get enough of the unforgettable views in Porto! For a more unique experience, conquer your fear of heights and hop on a scenic cable car ride on the Teleférico de Gaia.
Hesitant to plan an inter-city Europe trip because you don’t want to make your way back to the city that you arrived in? Fly on KLM and enjoy the benefits of its open jaw tickets! Arrive at one city, and leave from another - it's much more convenient and you don't have to rush your holiday.
Book NOW till 31 January 2018 to enjoy these exclusive Dream Deals: Valid for travel from 1 February- 30 November 2018.This deal has ended. Check out KLM's new winter wonderland deals here.
The cities we've covered are just the tip of the iceberg, there's still so much to Europe that's just waiting to be discovered! Now that your itinerary's all settled, what are you waiting for? Book that next flight out and conquer Europe like never before ✈️
This article was brought to you by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.