One of the questions I get asked is what are the best Muslim-friendly cities in Europe, and I have a list of my favourite countries here. However, what many Muslim travellers miss is that almost all of Europe is Muslim-friendly, and there are very large communities of Muslims on the European continent.
So I decided, and I can’t believe I didn’t do this earlier, to put the numbers down and show you the European countries with the largest Muslim population, which also might make the best halal holiday for you.
You know that if there are many Muslims in the country, you are more likely to find plenty of halal food restaurants, mosques, friendly faces, and not feel uncomfortable.
Islam in Europe Historical facts
As a side note, I advocate for Muslim travellers to travel everywhere simply because I want every country to become comfortable with Muslims. We are not going anywhere, and we have the same right as any other traveller, so we should go out there and show them how awesome we are regardless of the country’s population.
Islamic culture, heritage and ideas have contributed enough to the fabric of today’s society for us to feel any less than.
Islamic history in Europe is a fascinating topic studied extensively by scholars. It began with the expansion of the Muslim world into the Iberian Peninsula and continued to influence various parts of Europe until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. During this time, Islamic societies and cultures thrived alongside Christian and Jewish communities in Spain, Sicily, and southern France.
Through their interactions with other societies, Muslims introduced new ideas, technologies, and innovations that played a significant role in European culture. For example, Islamic thinkers made significant contributions to mathematics, astronomy, medicine, literature, architecture, and philosophy during this period. Furthermore, centuries of contact between Muslim and non-Muslim populations have affected many aspects of modern European society.
How many Muslims are in Europe?
The Muslim population in Europe is growing rapidly and is expected to continue this trend for some time. According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims make up about 6% of the total European population today, with estimates ranging from 4.9% to 10.2%. In comparison, Muslims only made up 4.1% of the total population in 1990.
This is an estimated number of Muslims, as there are no exact figures since some of them are immigrants who have crossed illegally and are not recorded. Still, according to estimates by the Pew Forum, the total number of Muslims in Europe (excluding Turkey) in 2010 was about 44 million, including 19 million (3.8% of the population) in the European Union. A 2010 Pew Research Center census reported that 2.7% of the world’s Muslim population lives in Europe.
This growth has been primarily driven by Muslim refugees and natural population growth due to higher fertility rates among Europe’s Muslim communities. While these trends are likely to continue, it’s important to note that Europe’s population is predominantly Christian, making up more than 75% of the population in most European countries.
Muslims can be found throughout Europe but are concentrated primarily in the south and east of the continent in Western European countries like France and Germany.
Most Muslims don’t consider Germany a top travel destination for their holiday in Europe. Still, they have the second-largest Muslim community, most of whom are of Turkish descent.
Many European countries have developed a good infrastructure and have national mosques, Islamic centres, halal restaurants and more. Even Athens, who opposed having a central mosque, recently opened one after years of struggle.
So let’s check out the largest countries in the European Union and the European continent because they differ.
The Largest Muslim Population in European Countries
The European Union includes several countries with significant Muslim populations. According to the most recent data, approximately 19 million Muslims live in EU member states. According to Statista, here are the numbers for the European Union.
- France 4.7 million
- Germany 4.1 million
- United Kingdom 3.3 million (although the UK is not European Union – add it here as we are in Western Europe)
- Italy 1.5 million
- Netherlands 1.2 million
- Spain 1.2 million
- Belgium 700,000
- Sweden 800,000
- Bulgaria 790,000
- Greece 620,000
- Austria 600,000
- Switzerland 500,000
- Denmark 310,000
- Norway 300,000
- Finland 150,000
- Romania 80,000
- Ireland 70,000
- Portugal 40,000
- Luxembourg 20,000
There are so many European Muslims that I bet we don’t identify them as such in many cases. Still, in reality, the European population consists of almost 44 million Muslims, and you are bound to meet them on your travels.
European countries with the highest number of Muslims
There are many countries with a majority Muslim population in Europe that are not in the European Union but are trendy travel destinations for holidays amongst Muslims, especially in the Balkans, as they also have a great Islamic heritage, like Bosnia.
Here are the countries’ Muslims as a percentage of the total population.
- Kosovo 93,5% (population 1.88 million)
- Albania 80,3% (population 2,88 million)
- Bosnia-Herzegovina 43,5% (total population 3,21million)
- North Macedonia 32% (total population 2 million)
- Montenegro 18,7% (total population 628,000)
- Bulgaria 13,7% (total population 6,82million)
- Georgia 10% (total population 3,97million)
- Russia 10% (total population 146 million)
As you have observed, numerous European nations contain Muslim populations. They can present an outstanding option for a halal vacation, particularly if you travel to some of the predominant countries such as Kosovo, Albania or Bosnia, which is particularly popular amongst travelers.
The fastest-growing religion in Europe?
The fastest-growing religion amongst the continent’s population is Islam. Over the past few decades, due to immigration and a variety of other factors, there has been an exponential increase in European Muslim. Additionally, a large portion of the Muslim population comprises of young people, making it likely that this trend will continue for many years.
The growth of Islam in Europe has sparked positive and negative reactions from people across the region, with some praising its increasing presence as a sign of cultural diversity. In contrast, others see it as a threat to traditional European values. Regardless, it is clear that Islam is here to stay and will continue to be an essential part of life throughout Europe for many years to come.
It is pretty uplifting to see that they are growing faster than any other religion, which has been backed up by all the research I conducted for this article.
Although I started this article mainly to encourage you to travel to various countries and because someone had asked me which countries have the most halal restaurants in Europe, it also provided me with insights into the growing trends. To answer this question, the countries with large Muslim populations will have the most halal restaurants, and it is safe to say Muslims in Germany and France, as well as the United Kingdom, have various options.
Of course, when it comes to halal food in these countries or feeling comfortable, every country will have halal food, some more than others, depending on the population numbers. Even Lichenienstecn, which I visited this Autumn and is Europe’s sixth smallest country with a population of 40,000, has 5% Muslims, two mosques, and several halal restaurants, which was interesting to discover.
I would love to hear if this gives you some more ideas of countries to explore next time you consider a Muslim-friendly holiday in Europe and are stuck with ideas of where to go.
For me totally added a few more to the list.