What are your plans this Ramadan? This revitalising time of the year is best enjoyed with close family and acquaintances, reaping the benefits of this sacred month. The days are long and the nights even longer, allowing for sunset feasts and busy evening schedules! Are you considering travel this Ramadan? Travelstart has discovered some of the best travel destinations to enjoy during this month, for every kind of traveller!
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Fall in love with beauty
The mosques of Abu Dhabi are unlike anywhere else in the world, with exquisite architecture, amazing domes and exteriors, and the most intricate designs you could ever imagine! The mosques have rich, traditional builds with super modern conveniences and features, bringing them far into this 21st century. Of the most astounding places of worship in the city, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre is the largest mosque in Abu Dhabi and the third largest in the world, with 82 domes. Did you know that it has the capacity to host more than 40,000 believers at once? Imagine doing your Ramadan evening prayers in such an amazing setting! Al Aziz Mosque is also a beauty, especially as the sun sets across the walls of the mosque, illuminating unique concrete that comes alight to show off the Arabic calligraphy inscribed.
Cape Town, South Africa
Find a different kind of tradition
Cape Town has a large Muslim community that enjoys sharing their customs and traditions to all who venture onto its doorstep! During Ramadan, the streets in neighbourhoods such as Bo Kaap and Gatesville are filled with the aroma of delicious treats in preparation for the sunset feast. Bo Kaap is home to the oldest mosque in South Africa, built in 1794! The night prayers are fully attended each night of Ramadan, with plenty of jovial catch-ups after the prayers have been completed. In Cape Town, with its strong Javanese history in the city, Ramadan even comes with its own lingo and you’ll often hear the older generation using words such as ‘pwasa’ (fasting) and ‘boeka’ (iftar) when speaking about the month. Celebrate Ramadan in neighbouring South African city, Johannesburg, and visit some of the most beautiful mosques in the country!
Sightseeing a once-great empire
Turkey is home of the once great Ottoman empire, the Islamic-led dynasty that ruled over Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. With such a great history, there is so much to see and do, especially during Ramadan. There are famous sights to see in Istanbul that are especially dear to the Islamic faith. These include the astounding Blue Mosque and the historically-rich Hagia Sophia Museum. There is also Topkapi Palace to explore and of course, you cannot visit Istanbul without shopping at the Grand Bazaar. As Turkey is a predominately Muslim country, most adults will be fasting and so you may find that restaurants and food stalls are a lot emptier. Be warned though, as iftar time approaches, you’ll have to make your way through the crowds to get something to eat! Istanbul has a wonderfully festive feel during this month.
Lanterns and colourful lights don the streets of Cairo during Ramadan! Make sure to plan all of your day trips for early in the morning until about 3pm, as most places will close at this time in preparation for the evening meal. Cairo comes alive after sunset, with an amazing atmosphere in the air. There are special markets that take place during this month and as you can guess, food is the main objective. On many streets in the city centre, join in the feast as long tables are laid out in preparation for iftar. Locals are known to stay up well after the usual bedtime and can be found enjoying sweet treats and drinks in and around the city’s many cafes and restaurants. Around dawn, life goes back to normal until the following sunset again. Visitors to Cairo always boast about the wonderful dining options during Ramadan, perhaps a bit of extra love is put into its preparation!
Cooler days to enjoy
If fasting for 19 hours a day doesn’t faze you, then for something different, add London to your Ramadan travel itinerary. The cooler weather (11- 21°C) will do wonders for your energy levels and you’ll be able to enjoy your days exploring this iconic city easily. For iftar, there are plenty of halal restaurants to choose from or, if you’d really like to immerse yourself into the London culture, then be sure to join in on the evening-time celebrations at mass sunset meets across the city! Like-minded groups of fasting individuals set up make-shift picnic spots in parks across London and share meals together. Nothing is as wonderful as a warm bowl of soup after a long day of fasting, so why not share this experience with others around you, and meet some great people while you’re at it?
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Treat yourself to a feast
If you’re an aspiring foodie then Kuala Lumpur is a wonderful destination to travel to in Ramadan! Specialty dishes are made especially during this month and the Ramadan night markets, known as ‘pasar malam’, are buzzing with activity. You can wander these markets and eat to your heart’s delight during the many hours that lead up to dawn, especially if you don’t have to get up for work the next day! Many top hotels in the city are also known to put up a large buffet for the morning and evening meals, with delicious sweet and nutritious treats to get you through the day. Locals often travel back home to smaller villages and towns around Malaysia, but the capital city is always abuzz with wonderful things to do, and eat!
Other great options for travel during Ramadan include the capital of the Philippines, Manila and shopping haven, Bangkok, in Thailand. Both countries have a large Muslim community and enjoy celebrating Ramadan with family and close groups of friends.
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