Islamic Spain tours are gaining more and more popularity every day. Reasons for this include Spain’s rich Islamic history, ease of travel, and stunning halal food of Spain. With more than 80 million tourists visiting in the year 2019, Spain is the second most visited country in the world. Similarly, halal tourism has grown significantly. Over five million people visit every year for an Islamic history tour of Spain. It is projected that halal tourism in Spain will continue to grow across the world. With the growth in tourism, local Islamic travel agencies have started a great job of guiding first-time Muslim visitors to Spain. So if you are a first-time visitor, you no longer need to worry about the hassles and difficulties of visiting Spain.
The country’s past directly links it with Islam, and many Muslims have significantly contributed to the nation’s growth and development. Islamic history of Spain dates back to the year 711 AD when a Visigoth king named Roderick was defeated by general Tarik-ibn-Ziyad. Moroccan Muslims played a very important role in Spain’s conversion to Islam and the expansion of Al Andalus. Spain’s Islamic past spans over eight centuries, and remembrances of it are still visible in different parts of Spain. Travelling to Spain is a great way for Muslims to reconnect with Spain’s rich Islamic tradition.
Why Spain is one of the best destinations for halal tours
Spain gives you everything that you can ask for in a halal tour. Islamic history, local Muslim tour agencies and guides, like the ones provide by Omeya Tours, the first local Muslim-friendly tour agency in Spain. You will find some of the best halal restaurants in Europe with a mix of Eastern and Spanish flavours. In the land of tapas and croquettes, you will never go hungry. Spain’s gastronomical adventures are one of the primary reasons behind its growth as a tourist destination alongside its breath-taking nature, culture and Islamic history. Some of the must-try dishes for your Spain trip are listed below:
- Tortilla Española – Made of eggs, potatoes, onions, salt, and black pepper, this dish is every Spaniard’s favourite. Also known as a Spanish omelette, this is a simple yet flavourful dish. It is comfort food made of simple ingredients that are found in every Spanish home.
- Churros con Chocolate – It’s a sweet fried dough that is flavoured with sugar and cinnamon. It tastes amazing in itself, but locals know the secret of making it heavenly. Order a cup of hot chocolate with your plate of churros, and dip it in the chocolate. Having it this way enhances all the flavours, and you might just discover your next favourite dessert in this dish.
- Gazpacho – Gazpacho is a homely, comfort food loved by Spaniards. It is a light and rejuvenating soup made of onion, garlic, tomato, olive oil, and bread. This soup is very effective in beating the Spanish summer. Have it chilled, and it will cool your body down. Packed with nutrients and a simple, rustic taste, you should not miss Gazpacho in your halal tour of Spain.
- Paella: Last but in no way the least, Paella is what Spain is famous for. People travel to Spain from all over the world to try some of the best Spanish Paellas. Paella is a dish primarily made with rice. Some form of protein goes into the rice, the best is with seafood, and then all the magical Spanish flavours go in. The result is an exceptionally delicious dish that balances all flavours perfectly. Even if you miss all the other dishes we suggested, you should not miss Paella at any cost. Coastal cities and Valencia are the best places to indulge in this culinary masterpiece.
Finding halal food in Spain can become a bit difficult if you are not well-acquainted with the place. The problem is not with the availability of halal food but with finding them. A local Muslim tour agency can ease your worries by arranging halal food for you. Since they are well versed with the places and their food, they can guide you to places that serve safe and delicious halal food. Tour agencies like Omeya Tours will even assign a knowledgeable escort to guide you through the cities and countryside of Spain.
Apart from food, Spain’s immense popularity as a tourist destination lies in two factors: the Spanish Islamic heritage and the Spanish countryside. Both of these give Spain the best of both worlds. Spanish Islamic heritage is so rich that merging with a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic environment makes it an unparalleled country to visit. The Spanish countryside, however, often gets ignored by many tourists. This is probably the biggest mistake anybody can make in their tour of Spain. Let’s see what each of them has to offer.
Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Granada are well known for their bustling culture. Madrid’s cheerful crowd, mythical nightlife, and amazing restaurants are the best of their kind. You cannot be bored even for a moment when you are in Madrid. Barcelona is a beautiful beach city that has some of the best shopping options anywhere in the world. Barcelona is also the house to some of the most stunning pieces of Spanish architecture, like the Casa Battló and most of Gaudi’s masterpieces. Granada is another important Spanish city that is a testament to eight centuries of Islamic rule in Spain. The mosques and minarets around the city will take you back to the times of Islamic Spain.
The Spanish countryside is a hidden gem. You will find some beautiful beaches tucked in some remote corners of Spain. Like Formentera, a 12-mile-long island off the coast of Ibiza. It is known for its white beaches, and people find the quiet and calm of this place to be a welcome break after the bustle of the cities. You will find remnants of Spain’s long Islamic history in many parts of the countryside. This Islamic glory of Spain draws many Muslims to the country every year.
- The Tabernas beach is another surprising discovery for tourists. It is a desert in south-east Spain, one of Europe’s very few.
- Bardenas Reales National Park is another stunning destination in the countryside of Spain. It has bare charm with a terrain dotted with rocks and hills.
- Catalan Pyrenees and Galicia are famous for their mountain ranges. They are very different from the rest of the Spanish landscape. Catalan Pyrenees has over 200 lakes and many tall peaks. Galicia has a rich wildlife and thick, luscious greenery. It also has mountain ranges that are very popular with hikers and campers.
- A small town named Comillas in Cantabria is home to many masterpieces of the legendary architect Antoni Gaudi. This little town can rival Barcelona in terms of architectural superiority.
- The region of Las Alpujarras, in the nature reserve park of Sierra Nevada is a beautiful mountainous region spanning through the province of Granada, hilding the highest inhabited village in Spain. The place is marked by deep and beautiful valleys cut by the Guadalfeo and Andarax rivers. Las Alpujarras were the last stronghold of the Muslims in Spain, after the reconquest Muslim continued to live in these region for over 40 years. . Las Alpujarras is a living reminder of Spain’s Islamic glory.
What would a halal tour of Spain look like?
It is always good to have a plan before you travel somewhere. Not doing so can land you in uncomfortable or dangerous situations, and you may lose a lot of money or have a bad overall experience. Having ideas of what an Islamic tour of Spain looks like will benefit you greatly when you take that trip yourself.
We will guide you through what are the places to visit, how to time your trip, what transport to use, and food choices.
It would be useful if you make yourself aware of Spanish etiquette and norms. It will prevent any miscommunication or confusion from happening.
Decide the start point of your tour
You have multiple options when choosing which city should be the starting point for your journey. The city you choose will then act as the buffer point from where you take on to other cities. You can choose to land in Madrid or Barcelona, or even Granada. To simplify your woes, you can trust a local Muslim tour agency to decide a tour plan for you based on your needs.
The capital city of Spain, Madrid, is a cosmopolitan, modern city that has all the amenities you need. Your Islamic tour of Spain would not be complete without visiting the Madrid Central Mosque and the largest mosque in Spain, the Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid. There are also various Muslim-friendly restaurants serving halal food, do not miss them. If you face any difficulty finding halal food in Madrid, get in touch with a local Muslim tour agency for assistance. From Madrid, you can take off to Barcelona or Granada by bus or flight, but we recommend you hire a private transport service with a local Muslim escort guide/driver to maximise your time and travel safely.
Barcelona is one of the centres of sports entertainment in the world. It also has stunning works of architecture spread through the city. You will also find amazing halal restaurants here, where you can enjoy everything from middle eastern to French cuisine. Masjid Tariq Ibn Ziyad and the Islamic Centre of Barcelona offer you praying options. Your halal tour would not be complete without visiting these two mosques. After Barcelona and Madrid, you can go to Granada or Cordoba. In fact, your halal tour of Spain can exclude Madrid or Barcelona, but never Granada, Cordoba or Seville.
The tour of the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens is a sophisticated remembrance of Spain’s Islamic history. Located in Granada, Andalusia, visiting the Alhambra palace is an integral part of any Islamic Spain or Andalusian tour. The name of the palace literally means a pearl set in emeralds, and its beauty fits the name. It was built by Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, the Emirate of Granada, in the 13th century. Yusuf I, the Sultan of Granada, converted the small fortress to a royal fort in 1333. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has many Arabic inscriptions and signs of Islamic architecture.
Cordoba is an amazing mix of history and culture. The city has the best halal food in Spain, with many halal restaurants that offer their service with joy. Cordoba is much more than just food. A tour to the Mosque of Cordoba, Spain’s most significant relic of its Islamic past, is non-negotiable. Built in the 16th century by Abd al-Rahman II, this mosque is a testament of Islamic dominance in west Spain and the Islamic history of Cordoba. Its architecture includes distinct Islamic elements, like bold columns and horseshoe arches. For three centuries, this mosque has been the centre of religious life for many Muslims all over the world. The fortified palace city of Madinat az Zahra. It was built by the first caliph of Al Andalus Abd-ar-Rahman III in the 10th century. It served as the capital of Cordoba then. No Islamic tour of Spain is complete without a visit to the historical Madinat az Zahra. El Patio Andaluz , Qurtubah Cafe & Restaurant and Tetería Petra are two prominent halal restaurants near the mosque.
Sevilla has the royal Alcazar, which was originally a Moorish fort. The Royal Alcazar is famous for its detailed carvings and beautiful gardens resembling those of Muslim times. Apart from this, the Giralda Tower, Barrio de Santa cruz, Fundación Mezquita de Sevilla (central Mosque) and Torre del Oro are great places to visit for your halal tour of Spain. And a closure and magnificent example of the Spanish civil engineering don`t missed the emblematic Plaza de España, world film heritage site due to the numerous films that have chosen this location to be part of their sets.