So you’ve been dreaming of that solo trip to Europe, exploring the enchanting castles in Germany, take that dreamy gondola ride down rivers and sampling some tantalising Parisian bakes. But you keep having those inevitable second thoughts - solo travelling as a Muslimah in Europe can be incredible daunting and it’s totally normal to be nervous!
As Muslims, when we are researching for travel places we usually incline towards Muslim-friendly destinations. But that could mean missing out on a continent brimming with exciting experiences, interesting landmarks and friendly locals. Perhaps a century ago, there may not be as many Muslim-friendly facilities in Europe, but not anymore as of 2018!
The continent today is very much Muslim-friendly for you to have a trip of a lifetime. Let me share some of my personal tips and advice so that you'll feel confident enough to discover the charming continent of Europe alone?
1. Safety first
The ultimate reason why females do not travel solo normally boils down to safety issues, and it is always important to be vigilant when you travel alone. This starts right from when you leave your accommodation, taking the transportation, and even while you eat and shop.
Always be aware
This is probably the best advice for any solo traveller. It is wise to know what is going on around you, and pay special attention especially in confusing situations. Trust your instincts - if something does not feel right, it probably isn’t. But of course, don’t be too paranoid that you never leave your accommodation?
Act like you’re supposed to be there
Most of the time, pickpockets and predators take advantage of those who look scared and timid. Try to act like you know exactly where you are going – even if you are lost. The main thing is do not make yourself a target!
Use a theft proof bag/purse
A cross-body bag or purse will be extremely useful when you travel in Europe. Pickpockets and thieves in the continent are some of the most seasoned ones, so taking the right precautions to keep your valuables safe such as putting your bag at the front will help make your trip a worry-free one!
Credit: @fossil on Instagram
I almost made a mistake of putting my handphone in the pocket of my bagpack in Nice, France. While queueing up to get into a bus, I felt someone behind me trying to cut open my bag, but luckily I realised what was happening. So be smart and put your bags in front of you. Though it seems like a hassle, it is better to be on the safe side!
The most important thing to take with you is common sense. Practice the same safety precautions that you would anywhere else. By exercising some common sense, your travels will be a much safer one!
2. Plan, research and book in advanceFlights and trains
You scour through flights - deal after deal, and check the best discounts for train tickets and you finally found one with a good price. Then, it turns out you would arrive at your destination at 11pm? Many times the cheapest train or flight tickets are the ones which are timed either really early or very late at night. But don't compromise safety for a cheaper price.
As a Muslimah traveller, it is best to arrive at your locations in the day. There will be more people, help desks are usually still open and it will be easier to find your way around!
One of the best things you can do as a solo Muslimah traveller is to always research early and book your stay in advance. Check up reviews to see if the accommodation is in the city centre (or at least close to it) and know your neighbourhood if you choose an AirBnb. Do ample research if the neighbourhood you are staying in is safe for a lady to be travelling alone and avoid those you would feel uncomfortable in.
For starters, I’d recommend staying close to the main railway stations as there will always be people around!
Before you leave your accommodation, familiarize yourself with the route and the areas you are heading to. I always download offline maps and transportation route applications on my phone beforehand. It definitely comes in handy – especially when the hostels have weak WiFi connections!
There are plenty of Muslim-friendly accommodations all over Europe, and some are even run by Muslims with halal in-house restaurants.
Paris - Hotel George Washington
Located at the heart of Paris, this hotel offers halal food if requested in advance. There are also halal establishments located within 500 metres of the hotel and alcohol can be removed from the rooms as well. It is also within walking distance to the prime attractions of the charming city including Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower ?
Credit: @romainrio75 on InstagramAddress:
43 rue Washington, 8th arr., Champs Elysées, Paris, Île-de-France (Region), 75008, France
Other locations to stay with halal food nearby are Faubourg Saint Dennis not far from a main railway station, and Barbès which is an Arab district.
Barcelona - Splendom Suites, Central Station HostelSplendom Suites
is a beautiful apartment that's a home away from home, offering a halal holiday in one of the fashion capitals of Europe. Prayer directions are marked in the room and prayer mats are available upon request. It is situated in a good location of a cultural neighbourhood, and in the centre of the shopping district!
Credit: 11th Príncipe by Splendom Suites on Facebook Address:
C/ Valencia, 194, 08011 Barcelona, Spain
Just 200 metres from La Ramblas - one of the main landmarks of the city - Central Station Hostel
can offer a halal breakfast! There is also a sun terrace, bicycle rental and free drinks throughout the day ?
Hospital, 93, Ciutat Vella, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Amsterdam - Amigo Budget Hostel, Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam Holy DoveAmigo Budget Hostel
, serving many in the backpacker community, is surrounded by supermarkets, halal restaurants and shopping stores. It is even located right in front of a tram stop, how convenient is that! Plus, the manager is Muslim so you can ask him for recommendations to find mosques or Muslim-friendly cafes.
Credit: @stancules on Instagram#HHWT Tip:
The staircase up to the hostel is pretty steep, so for those who are unable to climb or have big luggage, this might not be ideal for you.
Linnaeusstraat 199-201, 1093 EN Amsterdam, Netherlands
And if you're looking for an accommodation with halal breakfast, look no further than Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam Holy Dove
! Drugs and smoking are also strictly prohibited in the property, which makes it a safe place to stay as the city legalises sale of certain drugs.
Credit: Bedandbreakfast Amsterdam
This B&B is also conveniently located nearby Amsterdam's main railway station, Amsterdam Sloterdijk ?
Hendrik Dienskestraat 2, 1063 AP Amsterdam, Netherlands
3. Share your itinerary with your family
One of the most challenging challenges you can have is explaining to your family about your solo travelling plans. But ease your family's worry by sharing your travel itinerary with someone at home so they always know where you are.
Never underestimate the importance of letting your family know where you will be! If anything happens, at least there will be someone who knows your location, and it will also make you feel more safe☺️
If you'd like to take it a step further, share your locations with your loved ones. WhatsApp allows you to do this with just a click! It'll go a long way in assuring your family of your safety and whereabouts!
4. Visit the local mosque and meet the Muslim community
Being a Muslimah traveller, it will certainly make your trip a more enriching one if you meet some local sisters and visit the beautiful mosques! You could even get an invite to have a local meal at their homes, or meet a new travel buddy. When you are on the road alone, it is always nice and reassuring to see a fellow hijabi and a smile will go a long way in helping you to get to know the locals!
During my first few days in London, I made my first Muslim friend at the London Central Mosque where she showed me some places to get halal food. We even explored the city together! We also made friends with a Muslim revert sister in the mosque who shared her story with us. It’s all these heart-warming little things that we remember most from the trips☺️
It is not at all difficult to find the local mosque, simply search on Google or Facebook and Instagram. Some mosques in Europe host events at certain times of the year that they will post on social media. It is also easier to locate halal food as they are usually dotted around the mosque area!
Other than mosques, there are also small musollahs or prayer spaces in malls and tourist attractions where you can perform your prayers while you are out and about. In Europe however, there is usually no partition for Muslims and Muslimahs at the musollahs. Also, remember to bring along your telekung set and spray bottle with you!
5. Muslim-friendly Food
In some European countries, you will be spoilt for choice where there are plenty of Muslim-friendly street food and halal eateries literally side by side, such as in Paris
. However in other countries, there may be a lack of halal restaurants. But fret not, you can easily source for vegetarian or vegan food without alcohol with the right amount research. When drafting your itinerary and searching for eateries, it will be helpful to just email (or message on Facebook, which I prefer) the restaurants to enquire about their Muslim-friendly status.
It is not uncommon in Europe that there is a mix of halal and haram food in the eateries. When you are faced in such situations, try your best to put in a bit more effort to find another available halal option instead. Also, if it is difficult to find halal food, a good alternative is to opt for seafood!
It's also important to make a request to skip the alcohol. That’s how I managed to sample some authentic paella in Barcelona!
6. Avoid the scamsCredit: giphy
Europe is one destination that has it all – rich history, delicious culinary food and unrivalled beauty. It’s a reality however that there are many tourist scams in the continent, but you could come prepared by reading about it before heading to your destination! Avoid drawing attention to yourself, and do not give a chance for pickpocketing to happen. Read up about some of the most common tourist scams and how to avoid them like a pro
, before you go!
When we travel, we may face some trials and tribulations along the way and that is perfectly normal. It is during those moments that we discover more about ourselves and get an important learning experience. To ease all your affairs, always hold steadfast to your duas and prayers, and find a peace of mind with these powerful duas that every Muslim can remember when exploring the world
Most importantly, before every journey, pray to Allah SWT to guard you, and tawakkal wherever you are?
8. Ask people to help take a photo of you!
While exploring Europe, you definitely would not want to miss that perfect photo opportunity! But how do you get a picture-perfect shot with the gorgeous mountains and castle at the backdrop when you are on your own??
A trick that I’ve learnt is to ask someone with a camera around their neck to take your photo. Chances are better that he or she knows how to take a good shot. A good practice is to offer to take a photo of them before asking! Another alternative is to bring a mini tripod with you during your travels. It will help avoid the blurry and unsteady shots!
I hope that my personal tips will make your solo trip to Europe unforgettable! Always be vigilant, informed and assertive. And of course, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! You’ll find that this wonderful destination will bloom right before you?