Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Almost any article, any conversation, and any post and very rightly so – there are so many interesting things that travelers can explore in these cities for both Muslim and non-Muslim travelers which inevitably makes Spain one of the best countries to visit during the summer.
Here are TOP 3 cities to visit in Spain as a Muslim Traveler
Barcelona: A city of art, culture, and of course football
Barcelona was my first taste of Spain. Barcelona is known for its art, culture and of course football! Travelers come from all over the world to see the iconic Sagrada Familia Church which is certainly one of the most unique buildings in the world! I, my sister, and my mum were looking for a city to visit and surprisingly us three had never gone on a trip by ourselves and we wanted to visit a place which was well known for not just being Muslim friendly but also female-friendly too. Barcelona was the perfect choice. Some of my favorite places in Barcelona (other than the La Sagrada Familia) was Park Guell. As a person with an immense appreciation for art, I was immediately was attracted by the colorful architecture and amazing views of the city. Other places would include the Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter (perfect for shopping too).
As three hijabi travelers, we felt so comfortable traveling in Barcelona. Even if this is your first solo trip you’ll find the city very tourist-friendly, and all the locations are very easy to locate. If any doubt, ask the locals and they’re always ready to help – I mean it is Spain, a country known for its pleasantness. There were plenty of halal restaurants too including Rajah, Bombay Spice, and Alhalal Asian restaurant. If you’re planning on going for a girls-only trip, Barcelona is definitely one of the most Muslim friendly places to visit.
Palma: Stunning beaches and limestone mountains
My next experience in Spain was Mallorca – literally going from the city to the sea. The Spanish island of Mallorca (we stayed in Palma, the capital) has become well known for its stunning beaches, limestone mountains, and popular nightlife in the capital city of Palma. Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit because you will get the benefit of great weather without hordes of tourists, but we went in August so it was full Summer and quite hot in this beautiful Mediterranean island.
Admittedly I was not too keen on traveling to Mallorca initially. The reason being I prefer sightseeing and discovering new cultures while traveling, however, Mallorca had always come across as a resort destination. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, when I started discovering remnants of Islamic architecture In Palma’s old town, in particular, the courtyards and the Arab baths. The arches and doorways were similar to a Turkish hammam and since I’d recently visited Turkey itself the photos from Istanbul were too freshly sketched into my memory to be able to overlook the similarities. As you travel into the old town, the figurines, statues, and the Moorish gardens itself look eerily similar to an ancient Islamic heritage city.
On our second day, we did a day trip to Formentor. It only takes about 35 minutes to get to Cap De Formentor from Palma. Cap De Formentor is on the northern side of the island and has some breathtaking views of the sea, and there is a really pretty look out over a jetty. Formentor Beach is a beautiful, pristine beach lined with pine trees and is perfect for taking all the Spanish palm tree style photos! I’d also highly recommend taking a trip to the coastal town of Soller. The Tren de Soller has got to be one of the prettiest and most memorable small train trips that I’ve had. When you arrive in Soller, you can enjoy the old town’s ambiance, architecture and café culture or head down to the pretty Port de Soller on one of its vintage trams. So if you’re thinking Mallorca only has beaches and sunshine to offer, think again.
Seville: Save the best for the last
So, I decided to save, what I think, the best till the last. Ever since I left Seville I’ve been dreaming about going back to Spain. Laid back, sophisticated, sunny, and romantic, Seville is pretty much everything you might possibly be looking for on a vacation. Perched within the Andalusia region, Seville is one of Spain’s more gorgeous places to visit. And, of course, being the capital of the region there are so many of the best things to do in Seville that are totally perfect for a city break.
My favorite place was the Plaza de Espagna which is one of the most famous landmarks of Seville. With mini fountains, canals, tiled bridges the place was just full of art. I visited just before sunset and the views were so stunning. The water lit up like gold in the sunset and each building just sparkled in the light. Take some time to rent a boat to row around in what looks like a mini Venice. Visiting during this time also meant the place was less crowded.
My second favorite place in Seville was the Real Alcazar. The Real Alcazar is a palace, which once belonged to the Spanish Royal family, is made out of some of the most amazing artwork I’ve ever seen. A combination of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque style, the palace is like Barcelona, Madrid and Seville put together. Depending on how much time you have you can wander through all the doorways and check out the beautiful tiles, gardens, sculptures, and fountains. The Cathedral is also very beautiful and makes sure you climb the Giralda bell tower for some amazing panoramic views of the city.
The architecture in Seville is highly reminiscent of Moroccan art, in particular Moroccan Riads. Moroccan Riads are characterized by their courtyards and windows looking into those courtyards. Historically, riads were created in this particular way to keep the inside of the houses cool during hot seasons and also to provide privacy for the Muslim women, in order to help them maintain their hijab. Seville is also characterized by a similar architecture as can be seen in the Real Alcazar.
Seville is the 3rd city in Spain that I’ve visited and certainly not my last. I’m planning on traveling back to Spain to visit a few more. Spain is one of those countries where each city is completely different from one another and is so unique you will find it difficult to believe you’re in the same country!
Spain is a country capable of accommodating all cultures, religions, social groups, tastes, and mentalities. From city breaks to resort holidays, from learning about history to taking in its breathtaking architecture Spain has it all. In terms of food, Spain is famous for the Mediterranean and Arab cuisines incorporating vegetarian and Halal food. I’ve traveled to Spain by myself, on a girls-only trip and with my family and have felt comfortable and enjoyed myself immensely during all my trips. Spain is a country that will always leave you wanting to come back for more.
Prayer facilities when you are traveling to Spain
Spain has a population of over 2 million Muslims and therefore access to Muslim facilities are abundant in most of its major cities. Naturally, one of the main concerns a Muslim will have when traveling is whether the destination they’re traveling to offers prayer facilities. Barcelona has nearly over a dozen mosques not to mention the grand Tarek Ibn Ziyad Mosque. Aside from this, the city offers several Islamic centers such as the Catalan Islamic Cultural Centre. Mosque Abi Ayoub and Islamic Centre of Barcelona all of which offer prayer facilities.
In Seville, I was fortunate to come across the Biblioteca Islámica Ahlul Bait which was located near the old city. Aside from this, one of the most common and easiest ways of searching for nearby Mosques is to use Google Maps – I admit this is my go-to app for literally everything when I’m traveling. Searching on Google Maps can bring up prayer areas in lesser-known places such as Islamic libraries or recently renovated houses which are being used as Madrasas.
Traveler Tip: Another quick go-to place is changing rooms in nearby shops, if you’re running out of time and there are no nearby prayer areas you can easily pop into a shop and pray there – just keep a Qibla compass handy or download the app!