10 Underrated (And Cheap!) European Gems That Will Blow Your Mind


Farah Fazanna •  May 17, 2023

Embarking on an unforgettable European adventure is a dream for many travellers. While popular destinations like Paris, London, and Rome often steal the spotlight, there are numerous underrated gems across Europe that offer incredible experiences and cater to halal-conscious travellers! Let's dive into the exploration of some affordable yet breathtaking destinations, highlighting why they are underrated, the key experiences they offer, and the ease of accessing delicious halal food ?

1. Zagreb, Croatia

Often overshadowed by its coastal counterparts, Zagreb, the vibrant capital of Croatia, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This city effortlessly blends history, culture, and natural beauty. Wander through the charming old town of Gornji Grad, with its cobblestone streets and stunning architecture. Visit the iconic St. Mark's Church, adorned with its colourful roof, and explore the fascinating Museum of Broken Relationships. Nature enthusiasts can venture to Plitvice Lakes National Park, a true paradise with its cascading waterfalls and emerald lakes. Muslim travellers will be pleased to find numerous halal restaurants and even halal-friendly accommodations, making it easy to savour authentic Croatian cuisine.

2. Porto, Portugal

Tucked away on the western coast of Portugal, Porto is a city steeped in history, renowned for its delicious Port wine and breathtaking views. Stroll along the charming Ribeira district, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and cross the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge to enjoy panoramic vistas of the Douro River. Explore the majestic Livraria Lello, a bookstore that inspired J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Admire the opulent interiors of the Porto Cathedral and the São Bento Train Station. Muslim travellers will be delighted to find a growing number of halal-friendly eateries and Muslim-owned businesses offering a range of authentic Portuguese flavours.

3. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a captivating blend of cultures and history. This city showcases a rich heritage influenced by the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian rule, and the Yugoslav era. Wander through the atmospheric Baščaršija, the old bazaar, where the aroma of Turkish coffee fills the air. Explore the iconic Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque, an architectural masterpiece dating back to the 16th century. Uncover the city's poignant history at the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum, a testament to the resilience of its people. Sarajevo offers a range of halal-friendly restaurants serving mouthwatering Bosnian cuisine, from juicy cevapi to flavourful burek.

4. Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland's cultural capital, often goes unnoticed in favour of its popular neighbour, Warsaw. However, this charming city is a treasure trove of historical and architectural wonders. Visit the awe-inspiring Wawel Castle and step back in time as you explore the meticulously preserved medieval Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Delve into the tragic history of the Holocaust at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, a powerful and humbling experience. Muslim travellers will find Krakow to be a halal-friendly destination, with several restaurants offering delicious Polish dishes like pierogi and obwarzanek.

5. Valencia, Spain

Valencia is a vibrant and dynamic city on Spain’s eastern coast. It has a rich history, beautiful beaches, and incredible architecture. Visitors can explore the city’s stunning Gothic Cathedral, the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, and the historic Central Market. Valencia is also famous for its delicious paella, which can be found at many restaurants in the city. Muslim travellers can find halal food at several restaurants serving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Valencia also has a mosque, the Islamic Centre of Valencia, which offers prayers for Muslims.

6. Zadar, Croatia

Zadar is a charming city on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. It has stunning sunsets, beautiful beaches, and a rich history. Visitors can explore the Roman Forum, St. Donatus Church, and the unique Sea Organ, which plays music as the waves hit the shore. Zadar is famous for its fresh seafood, which can be found at many restaurants in the city. Muslim travellers can find halal food at several restaurants serving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Zadar also has a mosque, the Islamic Centre Zadar, which offers prayer space for Muslims.

7. Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius is the capital city of Lithuania and one of Europe’s most underrated destinations. It has a charming Old Town, beautiful churches, and a rich history. Visitors can explore the Vilnius Cathedral, the Gate of Dawn, and the bohemian neighbourhood of Užupis. Vilnius is famous for its potato dishes, which can be found at many restaurants in the city. Muslim travellers can find halal food at several restaurants serving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Vilnius also has a mosque, the Vilnius Islamic Centre, which offers prayers for Muslims.

8. Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria and a hidden gem in Eastern Europe. It has a mix of Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Soviet architecture, along with beautiful parks and gardens. Visitors can explore the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the National Palace of Culture, and the ancient Serdika Roman ruins. Sofia is famous for its delicious Bulgarian cuisine, which can be found at many restaurants in the city. Muslim travellers can find halal food at several restaurants serving Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Sofia also has a mosque, the Banya Bashi Mosque, which offers prayers for Muslims.

9. Malta

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!

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.

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. 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!

10. Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck, nestled in the heart of the Austrian Alps, is a delightful destination that Muslim travellers should definitely visit. This picturesque city offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural charm, and a welcoming atmosphere. Surrounded by majestic mountains, Innsbruck provides a serene and breathtaking backdrop for exploration. One must not miss the opportunity to visit the iconic Golden Roof, stroll through the historic Old Town, and marvel at the stunning Imperial Palace. For adventure enthusiasts, Innsbruck offers outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and cable car rides, providing an adrenaline rush while embracing the stunning alpine scenery. Whether immersing in cultural treasures or embracing nature's wonders, Innsbruck promises a happy and unforgettable experience for travellers seeking both serenity and excitement!

Europe offers a plethora of affordable and underrated destinations for any kind of traveller. These cities provide unique experiences, stunning architecture, and easy access to halal food. From the medieval charm of Zagreb to the vibrant streets of Sofia, each destination offers a delightful blend of culture, history, and culinary delights. With mosques available for prayers and halal-friendly restaurants catering to diverse tastes, these hidden gems ensure an unforgettable and halal-conscious European adventure. So pack your bags, embark on a happy journey, and let these underrated destinations captivate your heart! ?