10 Cheap Muslim-friendly Destinations Beyond Asia For 2020

Always thinking of packing your luggage travelling to far away lands but afraid to break the bank? Travelling outside of Asia does not have to be painfully expensive if you thoroughly look for under-the-radar destinations which are just as magical as their more popular counterparts. All you need to do is bring with you your adventurous spirit and any destination would be perfect. Here is a list of 10 affordable and Muslim-friendly destinations you could consider flying to this 2020!


1. Cordoba, Spain

Image credit: maxpixels

Located in southern Spain, Cordoba is home to some of the most brilliant Islamic buildings including the breathtaking multi arched Mezquita. More than a millennium ago, Cordoba was also the capital of Islamic Spain and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With charming restaurants and incredible architectural wonders, you are sure to fall in love with this quaint city! Visit the Calahorra Tower to dive into the daily lives of Andalusians and head on to the top for a brilliant view of the Guadalquivir River, the Roman Bridge and the iconic Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba. 

Free activities you shouldn’t miss out:

  • Explore the city’s Old Town, one of the largest in Europe and famed for its patios and large interior courtyards
  • Stop by Plaza Tendillas, a classic Spanish square where you can find fountains and grand white buildings
  • Stroll through Juderia, the former Jewish ghetto, where you can find one of the only three Synagogue left in Spain

Restaurant you should go to: El Patio Andaluz en Cordoba

Image credit: restaurantepatioandaluz

El Patio Andaluz was first opened in the 18th century and is a Renaissance house, with a Cordovan patio and a central well which is adorned with flowers all year round! With a capacity of up to 200 people, you can enjoy an extensive halal-certified menu boasting Mozarabic cuisine. Dishes served here includes Salmon Fillet, Seafood Soup, Oxtail and more!

Local currency: Euro (€)

Backpacker hostel: S$14.56 – S$26.98

Three budget meals: S$15

Two public transport rides: S$1.46

Budget/day: S$31.02


2. Sofia, Bulgaria

Image credit: Phyllis Tuong

A city in the centre of the Balkans, Sofia is midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea. Sofia is also  built on the Iskar River and home to many mineral springs such as Sofia Central Mineral Baths. The inner border of the city is also home to three colossal religious sites belonging to three different major religions which are the Sveta Nedelya Church, Banya Bashi Mosque and Sofia Synagogue. This historic and dynamic capital city is also rated as one of the hippest cities in Bulgaria. 

Free activities you shouldn’t miss out:

  • Explore the Books & Crafts Market located around the iconic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral where you can find ceramics, antiques, jewellery and more
  • Relax in the oldest and best known park in Sofia, Borisova Gradina, named after a Bulgarian Tsar, Boris III
  • Catch a panoramic view of the city by climbing up the Vitosha Mountain located at the outskirts of the city

Restaurant you should go to: Turkish T&M Restaurant 

Image credit: TMclub34

Committed to serving authentic Turkish cuisine, Turkish T&M Restaurant boasts an array of options in their menu including a variety of kebabs and grills. This eatery is also the oldest Turkish restaurant in Sofia and serves complimentary homemade bread. The restaurant also serves a variety of coffee, teas and traditional Turkish sweets, perfect for afternoon tea during a break while exploring Sofia.

Local currency: Bulgarian Lev

Backpacker hostel: S$9.73 – S$23.98

Three budget meals: S$8.44

Two public transport rides: S$2.44

Budget/day: S$20.61


3. Istanbul, Turkey

Image credit: Moyan Brenn

Sitting between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Istanbul was founded around 660 BCE and is one of the most important cities in history. With a plethora of mesmerising architectural wonders, incredible sights and a scrumptious array of halal food, Istanbul is the perfect destination for the Muslim traveller. Marvel at the magnificent Hagia Sophia, one of the city’s most popular and iconic historical sites with the walls adorned by Byzantine mosaics. Walk like kings and queens inside the Topkapi Palace, primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for more than four centuries. Be completely enticed by the impressive 20,000 hand-painted blue tiles on the interior walls of the Blue Mosque, which is still a functional mosque where you can also perform your prayers.

Free activities you shouldn’t miss out:

  • Have a picnic in Yildiz Park, a charming park in the heart of Istanbul and home to old Ottoman houses, scenic paths and tree-covered hills.
  • Explore the Bomonti Flea Market on a Sunday where you can look for unique and wonderful finds in the over 200 stalls available for your perusal
  • Enjoy modern art and afternoon tea which is complimentary and served daily from 3pm to 5pm at the Dogancay Museum housed in a 150-year-old building

Restaurant you should go to: Emirgan Sütiş

Image credit: EmirganSutis

Emirgan Sutis is one of the most popular halal restaurants in Istanbul with 11 other branches. Here, you can find iconic traditional Turkish milky desserts prepared with buffalo and cow’s milk from their own farms. Using recipes that have been passed down since the 1850s, you can be rest assured that you will be served an authentic and good meal. The restaurant serves dishes such as Penne Arrabiata, Lamb Loin, Pastirmali Yumurta and more!

Local currency: Turkish lira

Backpacker hostel: S$13 – S$22

Three budget meals: S$3.22

Two public transport rides: S$1.46

Budget/day: S$17.68


4. Amman, Jordan

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Considered to be the most modernized Arab city, Amman is the capital and largest city of Jordan. Bask in centuries of history atop Jebel al-Gala’a, Amman’s highest hill where ancient Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad ruins cover the area known as the Citadel. Down the hill, swe over the incredible second-century Roman Theatre! Stop by the largest mosque in Jordan, King Hussein Mosque which can be seen from most parts of Amman. Not only that this Ottoman-style construction is also pink and white in colour! Nearby, feast your taste buds with sweets from Souk Al-Sukar or sugar market. Just an hour away is the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea where you can have mud-slathered baths and float on top of mineral-rich waters believed to have healing properties.

Restaurant you should go to: Sufra Restaurant

Image credit: sufrarestaurant

Established in 2011, Sufra Restaurant is the first restaurant to serve a wide variety of traditional Jordanian home-made dishes. Dedicated to serving Jordanian food which captures the spirit of Jordanian mealtime and the hospitality of its people, this is one of the most beloved eateries in the city. Some of the dishes served here includes Lamb in Tomato, Kubbah with Yogurts, Spicy Lebnah Balls and more!

Local currency: Jordanian Dinar

Backpacker hostel: S$10 – S$22

Three budget meals: S$9.18

Two public transport rides: S$1.90

Budget/day: S$21.08


5. Zanzibar, Tanzania

Image credit: needpix

Zanzibar consists of many small islands and two large ones, Unguja and Pemba Island and is best known for its pristine beaches, enchanting buildings and charming alleys of shops, mosques and courtyards. The city is also made up of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city’s historical center, and Ng’ambo, a more modern area. Learn more about the village life here by joining an organised village tour of the many villages like Jambiani which is located on the east coast. Perform your prayers in the oldest mosque in the city, Malindi Mosque which is situated towards the north of Stone Town.

Free activities you shouldn’t miss out:

  • Experience a one of a kind shopping experience in Darajani Market located in the heart of Stone Town
  • Watch acrobatics and capoeira on the beach outside the Livingstone Beach Restaurant in Stone Town
  • Learn more about the history of the people and visit the old Slave Market and the Slave Monument 

Restaurant you should go to: Ma Shaa Allah Cafe’

Image credit: Ma Shaa Allah Cafe

Serving authentic and delicious local food, Swahili and Indian cuisine, Ma Shaa Allah Cafe’ is also an affordable and comfortable restaurant offering a plethora of halal-certified dishes like Coastal Seafood, Chicken Malai Tikka, Jeera Murg and more!

Local currency: Tanzanian shilling

Backpacker hostel: S$13 – S$35

Three budget meals: S$8.23

Two public transport rides: S$0.36

Budget/day: S$21.59

6. Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Image credit: Marco Verch

Nestled in the valley of Bosnia, Sarajevo is a fascinating city in the region of The Balkans offering immersive historical and cultural experiences. Best known for the beautiful and serene mountain scenery, the city is filled with historic buildings and medieval architecture. Learn more about the incredible history of the country by visiting museums like Gallery 11/07/95 and the Sarajevo Tunnel. Stop by the oldest bazaar in the city, Bascarsija, to have an idea of the local life and mingle with the people. Visit the older parts of town like the Barscarcija Square or the Pigeon Square where you can see the remnants and influence of the Ottoman Empire still around. 

Free activities you shouldn’t miss out:

  • Visit Vijecnica which houses the national library of Bosnia and Herzegovina for free
  • Perform your prayers at the Emperor’s Mosque, which is the first mosque built after the Ottoman conquest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, located across Vijecnica 
  • Go up to Zuta Tabija or the Yellow Fortress where you can view the city from above and during Ramadan, one of the cannons of the fortress shoots to mark the sunset!

Restaurant you should go to: Buregdzinica Sac

Image credit: buregdzinica

Enjoy the famous traditional baked filled pastries, burek, at this beloved small store Buregdzinica Sac. More of a to-go shop, have a little meal on the go from here and enjoy your snack as you enjoy and get lost in the charms of this exciting historic city.

Local currency: Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark

Backpacker hostel: S$9 – S$13

Three budget meals: S$10

Two public transport rides: S$3.26

Budget/day: S$22.26


7. Athens, Greece

Image credit: Christophe Meneboeuf

Best known as the hub of the original Greek culture, Athens is home to a number of historical sites including the magnificent Parthenon, a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also a number of incredible museums that charts the long history of the area including The National Archaeological Museum and The New Acropolis Museum. Take a hike up to one of the two of the highest points of the city, the Acropolis to get an amazing view of the city. 

Free activities you shouldn’t miss out:

  • Relax in the pleasant National Garden located right next to the iconic Parliament Building in Sygtagma where you can find a botanical museum, a cafe and even a zoo!
  • Explore Plaka, the oldest neighborhood in Athens located in the center of the city near the Acropolis
  • Get lost as you enjoy the vibrant street art scene around Exarcheia and Psyrri

Restaurant you should go to: O Thanasis

Image credit: othanasis

One of the most popular restaurants, O Thanasis, is located in central Athens Monastiraki where you can get Greek salads, hot roasted peppers, and of course their most famous kebabs. For a taste of authentic Turkish dish, come earlier as the lines are often long!

Local currency: Euro (€)

Backpacker hostel: S$13 – S$25

Three budget meals: S$12

Two public transport rides: S$4.20

Budget/day: S$29.20


8. Cape Town, South Africa

Image credit: Daniel Case

Colloquially called the Mother City, Cape Town is the quintessential melting pot, a city with diverse cultures and colors. Boasting incredible natural beauty, this city is home to mountains that rise from the ocean, forests and numerous beaches. One of the most popular attractions is the Table Mountain, a flat-topped mountain forming an iconic landmark overlooking the city which could be reached by cableway or hiking. Take a walk down The Canopy Walkway which provides an elevated spot which is perfect for bird-watching and to fully appreciate some 1,300 acres of botanical garden. Dip in the Boulders Beach or simply take a stroll along the coastline where you can find the colony of wild African penguins.

Free activities you shouldn’t miss out:

  • Explore Greenmarket Square, one of the oldest markets in South Africa, where you can find stalls selling everything from cheap trinkets to African souvenirs
  • Stroll down the V&A Waterfront where you can enjoy street buskers or look for seals
  • Head on to the Centre for the Book where you can relax with a book and enjoy your environment 

Restaurant you should go to: Bo Kaap Kombuis 

Image credit: bokaapkombuis

Experience tasting authentic Cape-Malay cuisines at Bo Kaap Kombuis which is located at the neck of Signal Hill. The food that is prepared is a reflection of the surrounding Bo-Kaap – its history, heritage and love for people. The restaurant is well-loved and serves dishes like Kombuis Speical Frikkadel, Sosati Chops Lamb Loin, Tomato Bredie Beef and more! 

Local currency: South African Rand

Backpacker hostel: S$13 – S$23

Three budget meals: S$16

Two public transport rides: S$2.80

Budget/day: S$31.80


9. Kazan, Russia

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Often referred to as Russia’s Third Capital, Kazan is a city which boasts a rich history and one of Russia’s oldest cities. One of the most iconic buildings in this city is the Kul Sharif Mosque, the biggest mosque in Russia. The semi basement level is also home to the interactive Museum of Islamic Culture. Visit the Palace of Farmers set on gorgeous manicured gardens right beside the Kremlin embankment. Kazan is also perfect for those who love the outdoors! Head out to Volga-Kama National Park where you can relax and spend an afternoon just enjoying nature.

Free activities you shouldn’t miss out:

  • Catch the sunset from the Kremlin Embankment 
  • Take a stroll down Bauman Street where you can find beautiful sights such as the iconic bell tower for the Epiphany Church
  • Marvel at the Temple of All Religions, a multi-faith place of worship 

Restaurant you should go to: Rubai

Image credit: rubai_restoran

Opened in 2005, Rubai served authentic Uzbek cuisine where all the dishes are prepared according old oreintal recipes. Menu includes dishes like Lagman, Veal Pilaf, Manti Tatar and more!

Local currency: Russian Ruble

Backpacker hostel: S$8 – S$19

Three budget meals: S$4.84

Two public transport rides: S$0.88

Budget/day: S$13.72


10. Meknes, Morocco

Image credit: Steven dosRemedios

Meknes, is one of the four Imperial cities of Morocco and is a city rich with Spanish-Moorish culture and home to many archaic monuments. Meknes became a capital city in the 17th century and within, you can find Grande Mosque which is closed off to non-Muslims. Stop by Bou Inania Madrasa, a former Islamic school and an eye-catching building with many intricate details. Marvel over one of the most beautiful gates in all of Morocco, Bab Mansour

Free activities you shouldn’t miss out:

  • Take a stroll around El Hedim Square where you can find a variety of stalls selling a variety of things, or simply just enjoy the atmosphere of this charming city
  • Stop by Sahrij Swani, an artificial lake built by Sultan Moulay Ismail and and a serene hang out place even for the locals

Restaurant you should go to: Restaurant Ya Hala Meknes

Image credit: restaurantyahalameknes

Located on the ground floor of a family home, Restaurant Ya Hala Meknes serves authentic home-cooked Moroccan food with pastilla and tajines. The food is made to order ensuring the freshness of the dishes served. Some of their popular dishes include Chicken Tagine, Moroccan Soup, Chicken Couscous and more.

Local currency: Moroccan Dirham

Backpacker hostel: S$12 – S$33

Three budget meals: S$7.02

Two public transport rides: S$0.72

Budget/day: S$19.74


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