22 of the best food destinations in Europe
The world is a giant kitchen. It’s the one thing that unites people from all over the world. For many, food is simply something to eat, something to stop you from feeling hungry. It’s one of life’s necessities. For the rest of us, food is so much more. Food is one of the greatest teachers I have found, and one of the greatest levellers as well.
These are some of the best food destinations in Europe but it is not an exhaustive list. Not by a long shot.
Understanding food culture
As we explore the world’s cuisines, it takes us to the back streets of cities we’ve never been to before, and into the homes of locals. It takes us to incredible Michelin starred restaurants with food that looks like art and into the noise and chaos of street markets.
It opens our minds and both soothes and shocks us. It teaches us to be brave and to push our limits and be experimental.
Food is an integral part of travel for us and whether we are learning how cognac is made in Cognac, doing a cooking class in Italy, talking to farmers or sampling amazing local beers and wines, you can be totally assured that we will be having the best experiences of our life.
Fortunately, we are not alone in our quest to learn more about the world’s foods. Food tourism and travel has grown significantly over the past decade, with many travellers including food experiences in their trip planning.
Even if you aren’t into food like we are, there’s no better way to enrich a travel experience than to include culinary activities. I’ve been on a tour of a mushroom cave in France, and I hate mushrooms.
I’ve done countless coffee classes and tours, yet I detest this liquid most people in the world crave. Why do I do them? Because they are all learning experiences and I have loved every one.
We’ve joined with other foodie travellers to bring you a snapshot of the best food destinations in Europe.
There are some age-old favourites here but some of them may surprise you. It’s a mix of countries and cities, but one thing is clear, they all have amazing food, and all of these people below have a story to tell.
We hope that they may in turn inspire you to take a foodie holiday to Europe one day.
France is synonymous with fine food. Think croissants, exquisitely designed and made pastries, steak frites, quiche lorraine and coq au vin. Then there are crepes, best sourced from a hole in the wall, confit duck, French onion soup, moules, frog’s legs and escargot.
There’s foie gras, boeuf bourguignon and pissaladière and souffles. On and on it goes, with each meal an icon for this country known for centuries as the centre of the world’s culinary industry.
French food is fresh, simple and regional, supported by the thousands of fresh food markets. Food shopping is a daily occurrence in France. Shopping for bread alone can be done three times a day.
It is a country known for making so much cheese that there are more types of cheese than days of the year. There are world-famous brands like Roquefort, a strong blue cheese but mostly, they are small, artisanally produced cheeses that you will only find in the region where the milk is sourced and the cheese is made.
Like Italy, food in France is very regional and some of it is controlled by very strict appellation. There is cassoulet in the Occitanie region, Daube Provencal and bouillabaisse in Provence, andouillettes and Lyonnaise sausage in the Rhone-Alps, Munster cheese from the Alsace, Charolais beef and Bresse chicken from Burgundy, buckwheat galettes, calvados and butter from Brittany. The list goes on.
Is it any wonder France is our favourite place to eat in the world?
Taking much of its inspiration from its Scandanavian neighbours, Estonia, and in particular, Tallinn is shining the light on modern cuisine in Europe. The UNESCO protected, walled city has a cutting edge modern dining scene, where fresh, local ingredients are used wherever possible. Foraging is also a method that is being used and encouraged by the local chefs.
Tallinn has several tourist food traps which should be avoided, but finding a restaurant that serves authentic, traditional food is still possible. There are several excellent modern dining restaurants within the walls, and more are now popping up in newer dining areas just outside.
More reading: 5 of the best places to eat in Tallinn
Italy is known the world over for pasta and pizza and rightly so. Regionality plays a strong role in all of Italy’s cuisine, and it can clearly be seen in the pasta dishes and the pizza that is served around the nation.
Each region has its own type or own way of making their food. Bolognese speciality tortellini won’t be found in the deep south of Italy, whilst the Roman carbonara won’t be found in the north.
However, to think of Italy as only having pasta and pizza would be incredibly short-sighted. Italy is home to incredible fresh produce, seafood, cheese, coffee and desserts. There’s risotto, truffles and who could forget gelato. The list is seemingly never-ending.
The northern region of Emilia Romagna is home to three of the world’s most famous brands: Parmigiano Reggiano (go on a food tour in Parma and you’ll learn that the cheese that everyone generically calls parmesan isn’t actually correct), Modena Balsamic Vinegar and Parma Ham.
More reading: Comprehensive guide to Bologna
The local markets in every city are the heart of the community and a visit to any market is a must.
Food tours in Italy are highly recommended, offering an opportunity to really see the authentic methods and traditions as well as behind the scenes food information. The learning to be gained from food tours is immense and really adds to any holiday itinerary.
More reading: The best food tours in Bologna and Emilia Romagna
So too are cooking classes, and in a country where food is front and centre, you’ll find cooking classes everywhere. The best cooking classes are those that are done with a local in their own home.
Katy Clarke – Untold Morsels
If you’re embarking on an Italian food journey, you must include Rome, which has some of the best food tours and experiences. In Italy’s capital, you’ll find well-known classics, unique local traditions and some of the best modern restaurants in the country. Rome is the home of much-loved pasta dishes carbonara ,cacio e pepe and amatriciana. You can go on a quest to find your favourite among the countless cosy trattorias across the city.
Street food lovers are sure to be tempted by pizza a taglio – pizza sold by the slice. If you’re very hungry a trapizzino or stuffed pizza slice is a modern take on the popular classic. You can try fillings like melanzane (eggplant) parmigiana and polpetta al sugo (meatballs). Or, another favourite snack is rice balls filled with cheese or meat (or both) called suppli.
Head to the Jewish Quarter for classic kosher Roman dishes like carciofo alla giudia (fried artichoke) and pezzetti fritti (fried battered vegetables). Or, for something more refined, there’s a recent trend for contemporary dishes that take the best local techniques and traditions and apply them to unexpected flavour combinations.
Roman cuisine is varied and fun. You could take a lifetime to find your favourite versions of dishes but you’d have a lot of fun doing just that.
Rosemary Kimani & Claire Rouger – Authentic Food Quest
After spending three months in Bulgaria, we fell in love with the rich gastronomy and amazing culinary heritage.
Bulgarian food is Mediterranean-influenced, rooted in local ingredients. We loved the fresh flavors, tasty vegetables and meat accompanied by millennia-old wines
While there are many regional specialties, these national and iconic dishes captured our stomachs.
Among the starters, the Shopska Salad was one of our favorites. Considered the national dish of Bulgaria, it is made with the juiciest and tastiest tomatoes we’ve ever had.
Sache, a large platter of sizzling meat and vegetables is another dish we loved. The combination of pork, sausage, and chicken accompanied with onions, mushrooms, and pepper was always exceptional.
The famous Bulgarian yogurt cannot be missed. Used in many dishes or eaten by itself, you’ll enjoy the health benefits of this creamy, mildly sour yogurt.
Banitsa, a signature breakfast food is a delicious pastry filled dough. The most traditional version is layered with eggs, Bulgarian white cheese and yogurt.
One cannot visit Bulgaria without indulging in their wines. As one of the oldest winemaking countries in the world, you’ll find incredible wines from indigenous grapes. The red Mavrud and Melnik wines are exceptional wines we enjoyed.
Bulgarian food is making its way onto the culinary world map and emerging as a must-visit foodie destination.
Amber Hoffman – Food & Drink Destinations
Austria is an often-overlooked corner of Europe, especially for food. Sharing borders with culinary destinations Germany and Italy, most travelers know Austria for its sweeping landscapes, classical music and Christmas markets.
But don’t discount Austria as a culinary destination. Some of the most popular dishes in the world were created in Austria.
At the top of that list and arguably the most famous of all Austrian dishes is Wienerschnitzel. A thinly pounded, breaded and fried piece of veal, chicken or pork, Wienerschnitzel is the national dish of Austria. Served with a slice of lemon, the signature Austrian twist, Wienerschnitzel is to Austrians, what hot dogs are to Americans
Speaking of hot dogs, Austrians are crazy for their encased meats. Throughout cities and towns across Austria, travellers will find “Würstelstands.” These are traditional Austrian street food vendors selling a variety of encased meats. Make sure to sample “Wiener Würstels,” Vienna sausages, with a cold Austrian beer, spicy mustard, and a slice of dark bread.
For those with a sweet tooth, nothing says Austrian more than the famous Sachertorte. A rich, layered chocolate cake with an apricot jam in the centre. In Vienna, Cafe Sacher serves their famous Sachertorte in pure Habsburgs elegance.
Traditional Austrian food is certainly overshadowed by its neighbours. But for those with large appetites and a desire for something different, Austria is the place for you.
Food Editor’s tasty note: We totally concur with eating Wienerschnitzel when in Austria and washing it down with a local beer. Oh, and eating Sachertorte. We ate many wonderful cakes in Vienna. Here’s a tasty recipe for authentic Wienerschnitzel so you can make it yourself at home.
Lori Sorrentino – Travelinmad
The small country of Slovenia was never really thought of as a foodie destination, but that’s definitely changing. Sandwiched between northern Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia, how could the food in Slovenia be anything but delicious?
Following the break up of the former Communist Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, the country continues to rebuild and reinvent, and that includes honing their culinary prowess.
Today, Slovenia is coming into its own thanks to the abundance of natural food resources, the creativity and initiative of local chefs, and their recognition that a wealth of organic foods lie at their doorstep without the need for recreating the wheel.
Being one of the greenest countries in the world, Slovenia’s soil and climate is ideal, so fresh and organic ingredients grow in abundance, as do grain and cereal crops for staples like breads and dumplings.
Some traditional foods you shouldn’t miss are Pogača, a thick focaccia-like bread topped with salt crystals and caraway seeds which Slovenians serve as a symbol of their hospitality.
The ubiquitous Štrukli is ever-present on every menu though you’ll be amazed at the different variations. And Frika, a lightly-fried omelette unique to western Slovenia, is yummy any time of day.
With a driving desire to showcase their traditional dishes and abundant natural foods, local chefs throughout the country are positioning Slovenia as a culinary powerhouse whether they’re serving up local street food or high-end cuisine.
Corinne Vail – Reflections Enroute
If you are dreaming about or planning a trip for food Turkey must be on your list. Istanbul, the largest city in the country has some of the best places to eat.
When most people think of Turkish food, a doner kebab, is what probably comes to mind. Doner is definitely one of the best options for fast food in the country, but it’s not all they offer.
Sitting down in a restaurant, the first thing the menu offers is the appetizers or mezes. Many times they will bring a tray of mezes around to the tables for you to choose as well. This is my favorite part of the meal.
There are so many options, both with meat or vegetarian, that you really don’t have to order anything else. Some of my go-to mezes are cacik (yogurt with cucumber), acili ezme (spicy red bread topping), and yaprak sarma (stuffed wine leaves). However, it really doesn’t matter what you pick, it’s going to be tasty.
If you make it past the mezes, there are plenty of main dishes and desserts that will also keep you coming back for more. Take it from me, try Turkish food in Turkey and you will keep going back for more.
Food Editor’s tasty note: We loved the doner and ate them every day for lunch!
Jamie Italiane-Decubellis – The Daily Adventures of Me
Amsterdam is a fabulous foodie town, not only because of the delicious Dutch food, but also the Indonesian food.
There are many unique Dutch foods worth trying such as apple pie, poffertjes (mini-pancakes covered in powdered sugar), herring, Dutch pancakes smothered in fruit and cheese, bitterballen (fried meatballs), frites in mayonnaise or curry ketchup, stroopwafels (sweet syrup waffle cookies) as well as a unique liquor made from juniper berries called jenever.
Another thing The Netherlands does better than almost everywhere in the world is making cheese, and it is nothing like you have tasted elsewhere. If you have time, be sure to go to a cheese market where you can spend a considerable amount of your day tasting your way through the many types of cheese this country produces.
And lastly be sure to book a table for an Indonesian Rijsttafel, or rice table. During this upscale experience, you will be brought dish after dish of all manner of Indonesian delights.
The Netherlands is the perfect place to take a food tour, which is a way that I often start my investigation of new places and be sure to take a boat ride along Amsterdam canals while munching on some yummy Dutch treats.
Food Editor’s tasty note: We aren’t big pancakes fans ourselves, but totally understand why everyone thinks the Dutch version is amazing. We will confess to being a fan of frites. There’s just something about walking around the streets of Amsterdam with a cone of frites smothered in curry sauce.
In Australia, we have found a microbrewery that specialises in Dutch food and the famous bitterballen which are delicious.
Sabine De Gaspari – The Travelling Chilli
Spain has a very rich food culture making it one of the most diverse foodie destinations in Europe, because contrary to popular belief, the country has so much more to offer over and above the ever so famous paella, sangria and tapas.
Spanish cuisine is also very regional with a great variety of products and flavours. The northern regions are known for their fantastic seafood, whilst there is pintxos from the Basque country and the delicious cheeses from the mountain areas.
While Andalucia is known for fried fish and cold soups like gazpacho and salmorejo, the central regions in Spain are famous for their tasty stews and casseroles as well as their delicious clay oven-roasted meats.
Spanish food has flavours that are pure and simple, without having to add too many spices. In general, lots of the dishes are prepared with either olive oil, garlic, parsley, smoked paprika or saffron, thereby maintaining the rich flavours of the products themselves.
One of my favourite regional cuisines is Asturian food which is somewhat unknown to most tourists, however, it is definitely worthwhile exploring the region just for the food. Typical dishes are fabada asturiana (white bean stew), sausage cooked in local cider, and any dish served with a cabrales (local blue cheese) sauce.
Food Editor’s tasty note: We loved the simplicity of the food in Spain and spent hours in their wonderful fresh food markets.
Gemma Armit – Everything Edinburgh
Scotland may be known for its poor diet and alcohol consumption but in reality, Scotland’s capital is a culinary city you shouldn’t miss. The iconic meal that every tourist comes to try is haggis, neeps and tatties.
Haggis is a filling meal that looks, and sounds, horrendous but if you like rich meat, get over the ingredients and give it ago.
Historically, hunters used their prey’s stomach to cook what they could including the heart, liver and lungs. To give the meat some bulk, oats were added. To give the meal some carbs, you pair the haggis with mashed potatoes and turnip.
It’s common to have a few oatcakes served too. If, like me, you are not too hot for rich food, try the lighter vegetarian haggis which is a little spicy.
Since it’s Scotland, you have to try a glass of whisky, no ‘e’, during your visit. Why not take a whisky tasting tour which is one of the best things to do at night in Edinburgh
Over the past five years or so, another two tipples have infiltrated the hospitality and tourism market, craft beer and flavoured gin. So if you like booze, you’ll feel at home in Edinburgh.
Haggis isn’t the only meal on the menu. We’re proud of our seafood such as Scottish salmon and langoustine. Of course, it’s Scotland so there’s fried food but not just fish and chips! A novelty dish to try is a deep-fried Mars Bar. Brave enough?
Kathi Kamleitner – Watch Me See
Scotland is an absolute underdog when it comes to European foodie destinations even though the local food is so delicious! Scottish cuisine is best known for its fresh seafood, grass-fed Angus beef and its unapologetic use of ALL parts of a sheep.
If you’re squeamish, don’t look at the ingredients of Scotland’s national dish haggis or ask too many questions about black pudding. Provenance is very important in Scottish kitchens and the best restaurants make use of the beautiful local produce from all over Scotland.
Glasgow is a particularly foodie-friendly city. Expect imaginative modern Scottish cuisine, the best Indian cuisine outside of India, lots of restaurants with tapas-style sharing menus and bustling street food markets each weekend.
Surprisingly though, Scotland is also a fantastic destination for vegetarians and vegans. Most traditional Scottish dishes are widely available as vegan options. One of my favourites is a tofu-version of fish & chips, where the tofu is wrapped in seaweed before it is fried for that iconic taste of the sea. From the cities to the remote corners of the Scottish Isles, chefs love the creative challenge of putting together their own vegan menus.
Food Editor’s tasty note: I can hold my head high, I have eaten haggis, and neeps and tatties, although the latter wasn’t scary at all. I agree with the sentiments of our writers above. When it comes to haggis, it’s best left unknown. Taste it and you will be pleasantly surprised.
We also loved eating Cullen Skink, Cranachan (Scottish dessert) and some great Aberdeen Angus beef. We ate local venison which was fabulous and of course, we had to try their fish and chips.
Bec Wyld – Poland Travel Expert
Not many people consider Poland as a holiday destination and many are completely surprised when we tell them it is one of our favourite countries to visit.
The landscape, history, the people and the food. Yes, the food. Most Polish food is big, hearty and absolutely mouth-watering. There is no way you will leave a restaurant feeling anything but full and satisfied.
There are so many options for you to consider when you are in Poland. Polish street food is amazing with Zapikanka (a large piece of bread loaded with fillings like bacon, mushroom, onion and cheese then toasted), Gofry (loaded waffles), Lody on a hot day (ice cream in a cone), Kielbasa (Polish sausage) and a personal favourite Shashlik from a market stall with bread.
But eating out is where you will find the problem. Rosół (chicken noodle soup) is one of our favourites especially in the colder months but it is Pierogi that has our hearts. Pierogi are Polish dumplings and they are mainly made with pork or mushroom and cabbage. They are found everywhere and they are delicious.
If you aren’t sure about eating Pierogi, try some Bigos (cabbage-based dish), Goulash with potato pancakes or Kotlety Schabowy (pork schnitzel) with a side salad.
Oscypek is a traditional smoked cheese from the Tatra mountains that many people love but it can be very strong. Vodka is also a must when in Poland. You can try the original Zubrowa or you can have a flavoured one like a salted caramel Krupnik or a raspberry Soplica.
There really is something for everyone in Poland and vegetarians need not fear. While most of the dishes seem meat-based there are many places that serve meat-free dishes for you to enjoy as well.
Cindy Baker – Travel Bliss Now
Portugal is an underrated foodie destination, surprising given the rich abundance of fresh seafood, produce and luscious wines. While there are plenty of modern influences, Portuguese cooking is based on tradition, with a homestyle, “made-by-Grandma” quality.
If you want to eat like a local in Portugal, start with bacalhau, a dried, salted codfish, a staple at mealtime. During the summer festival season, the scent of grilled sardines fills the air. Enjoy fresh-caught seafood, from sea bass to octopus at local tascas (taverns).
In Portugal, everyday sandwiches are gourmet experiences. The must-try bifana is made with slow-cooked pork marinated in white wine and garlic. In Porto, you’ll need a big appetite for a Francesinha sandwich, which includes ham, sausage and roasted beef, smothered in cheese and sauce.
Portugal produces fabulous olive oils and artisanal cheeses, especially its gooey-rich sheep cheeses. You could easily dedicate a visit to the wines of Portugal, touring the vineyards of the Douro Valley and the cellars of Porto where the prestigious port wine is made.
My favourite is the famous Portuguese dessert, Pasteis de Nata. These divine tarts are a taste of custard heaven, reason enough alone to visit this delectable country.
Food Editor’s tasty notes: We fell in love with the food in Portugal when we visited in 2004! The simplicity and freshness are second to none. We always return for Piri Piri chicken, the fish, and the Pasteis de Bacalhau and of course, the Pasteis de Nata. I’ve also managed to eat a complete Freancesinha in Porto all by myself!
Heather Howell Trimm – Trimm Travels
A culinary adventure is a fantastic way to truly experience a destination like a local and I enjoy getting to know a location through its food. One memorable country that stands out for such an adventure is Greece.
My travels in Greece from the island of Santorini in the south all the way to Thessaloniki in the north saw me constantly eating. Just when I thought I had found the best food in one city, the next would blow me away. Among my favorites were souvlaki, fried meatballs with halloumi, stuffed calamari, cheesecake, and gelato.
However, the absolute star of the entire country was the feta or Manouri cheese in a phyllo pastry drizzled with honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
For souvlaki, my favorite was Lucky’s Souvlakis in Fira, Santorini. They have the best choices and you can even get the Tzatziki without cucumbers if you aren’t a fan.
Kappari in Athens is great for both the fried meatballs as well as the Manouri cheese in a phyllo pastry. We found this cheese appetizer for the first time in Santorini and loved it so much we began ordering it in every city we visited. One variation even paired it with a balsamic glaze. I can’t tell you how delicious this combination is!
The cheesecake at Skiza in Santorini is a must. It’s so creamy and moist. Ombra in Santorini has the best fresh seafood. Their grilled calamari stuffed with Greek cheeses, peppers, and tomatoes was quite flavorful.
I was surprised at the wide variety of food in Greece. I highly recommend trying all of these dishes, but if you are only going to pick one, let it be the Manouri cheese in a phyllo pastry!
Food Editor’s note: Ah souvlaki and gyros. Two of our staples when in Greece. Stirling loves the sardines and octopus too, which are always so very fresh. I’ve never seen so much feta cheese served on a salad in my life.
My love of feta increased dramatically after eating in Greece, as did my love of Greek yoghurt. Until I visited Greece, I never ate yoghurt at all.
COOK: How to make halloumi at home
Talek Nantes – Travels with Talek
Armenian cuisine is an integral part of the culture. So much so, that one of Armenia’s most popular dishes, lavash – a thin flatbread – and its preparation, was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2014.
The Armenian lavash accompanies almost every meal. It is cooked in a tandoor oven which is frequently located underground. Lavash can be prepared with all sorts of delicious sweet or savory sides like tomatoes and goat cheese or jams and herbs. The most common way to eat it is rolled up like a taco and if it is warm and fresh out of the oven, even better!
Another popular Armenian dish is the gata, a pastry baked with fruit filling or various meats. There is nothing like biting into a freshly baked gata. These can be found all over the country but are especially popular outside monasteries in tourist locations.
Armenian food is not highly spiced. Instead, chefs rely on the freshness of the ingredients for the flavor to come through.
The most common ingredients in Armenian food include lamb, cheeses -particularly goat, eggplant and cracked wheat rather than rice as a side dish.
Armenia is an amazing country worth visiting if only for the cuisine.
Maggie Turansky – The World Was Here First
If you’re looking for the ultimate foodie destination in Europe, you absolutely cannot go wrong with heading to the Republic of Georgia. Though Georgian cuisine has long been a favourite amongst former Soviet nations, it has just recently been receiving the international recognition it deserves.
Though you may be quick to assume the Georgian cuisine follows most of the usual Eastern European food offerings, namely, a lot of potatoes and sour cream, it is actually incredibly flavourful, diverse, and very delicious.
Some of Georgia’s most famous and iconic dishes include khinkali, massive, steamy soup dumplings that can be made with meat or mushroom filling and khachapuri adjaruli, an indulgent boat-shaped molten cheese bread topped with an egg yolk and butter.
However, Georgian cuisine includes much more than this. Some of my favourites include shkmeruli (chicken in a garlic cream sauce), lobio (a stewed, spiced bean dish), ajapsandali (a delicious eggplant and vegetable stew).
Georgian food is incredibly diverse and delicious and it’s really worth travelling to this amazing country if only for the food alone.
Amy Chung – Family Globetrotters
London is fast becoming the gastronomic capital of the world and giving New York and Paris a run for their money. Their contemporary dining scene has seen 67 restaurants in London being awarded the Michelin star in 2020. From the famous Gordon Ramsay restaurant in Chelsea to Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, you are spoilt for choice.
New to London? READ MORE >> Explore London on a pub and food tour
No trip to London would also be complete without trying all the British favourites. For breakfast, try a bacon sarnie or a full English breakfast. For lunch, grab some fish and chips at Poppies or a piping hot mushroom and steak pie at The Windmill in Mayfair.
On Sunday, head to a nearby pub for Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding, haggis or beef wellington. And let’s not forget all the markets such as Brick Lane, Covent Garden and Camden, places that continuously re-invent themselves with different food and concept. Who wouldn’t love to try the world’s first Cheese Train (like a sushi train) at Seven Dials market?
Going to Camden Markets? Catch a ferry from Little Venice to Camden.
A culturally diverse metropolitan city also means that it is a melting pot of different cuisines. A meal of chicken tikka masala is a must. Did you know that dish was created in Britain? London also boasts some really good Chinese roast duck in Bayswater or Chinatown.
Afternoon is synonymous with the UK. London has so many different places to attend high tea from the luxurious Ritz to the kid-friendly Peter Rabbit afternoon tea at Le Méridien Piccadilly.
More reading: An unusual afternoon tea in London
If you’re after something a little more contemporary, try The Gallery at Sketch in Mayfair. Submerge yourself in a world of pink as you indulge in caviar served by a man in a pink suit and tiers of finger sandwiches, gateau and scones.
London sure is a foodie destination that not only keeps to its traditions but also continues to re-invent itself in the culinary world.
More reading: Why you should visit the Borough Markets in London
Editor’s note: London is certainly a broad collection of different cuisines. We were first introduced to eating mushy peas with fish and chips on the Brighton Pier many years ago. The curries from the food market at Brixton stay in my mind, as does the duck confit at the Borough Markets. Mind you, anything at the Borough Markets is special.
High teas at the Dorchester and afternoon teas with gin on a London Routemaster rate highly on my list of food experiences. Of course, a meal at an old English pub should never be missed either! Our favourite is the Whitecross Pub where the tide comes into the pub turning everything (including you) into an island.
Ellis Veen – Backpack Adventures
Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina has always been at the crossroads of different cultures. This not only makes it an incredibly beautiful city to visit with its historic old town but also one of the best food destinations in Europe. Sarajevo is home to a great number of traditional restaurants and is the best place to try Bosnian food.
Bosnian cuisine is as diverse as the countries history and its neighbours. First of all, there is the Turkish influence from the time Sarajevo was an Ottoman city. You will find it in the number of teahouses that serve not only tea but also Bosnian coffee and sweets like baklava.
One of my favourite Bosnian Ottoman recipies is Burek, a baked phyllo dough pastry filled with meat. There are also other varieties filled with cheese, spinach, butter and pumpkin. Another ‘Turkish’ fast food snack is Cevapcici, the Bosnian version of a kebab.
Bosnian cuisine has also been influenced by its neighbouring countries in the Balkan. This means lots of grilled meats and hearty stews. My favourite is muckalicka, a stew of vegetables and meat patiently cooked in their own juices and served in a clay pot. It is as delicious as it sounds.
Derek Hartman – Everything Copenhagen.com
Copenhagen, Denmark is arguably the best culinary city in Scandinavia and one of the best in the world. While you may not go out for Danish food in your home city, the cuisine of Copenhagen will amaze you.
New Nordic cuisine is one of the first things you should plan on eating in Copenhagen. It’s a culinary movement that originated in the city and has influenced chefs around the world.
Copenhagen restaurants that serve New Nordic believe in preparing meals using fresh, local ingredients. They prepare traditional Danish recipes with modern culinary techniques that make for a tremendous and delicious dining experience.
The national Danish dish, stegt flæsk (fried pork belly) is often deconstructed or replicated with duck. Pickled herring is another traditional item that New Nordic chefs will recreate with a North Sea scallop.
The traditional methods of smoking, pickling, marinating and salting are still used often in New Nordic cuisine. They also use traditional ingredients and prepare them in a way that highlights the flavor of herbs common to Scandinavia, for example using the herb ramson instead of garlic.
The whole New Nordic movement was a back to basics approach to gourmet food in Scandinavia. In 2004 the best chefs in Scandinavia met at Noma, a restaurant in Copenhagen to adopt a uniform approach to food.
They agreed to only use local ingredients and Scandinavian methods of preparation which would highlight the natural flavors. By 2010, Noma was voted the best restaurant in the world (and repeated the distinction three times since). Today Copenhagen has the most Michelin stars in Scandinavia with 23 among 16 restaurants.
Danish pastries and bakeries are also known around the world. From simple breads and rolls to sweet treats , you should make time to tour Copenhagen bakeries.
Copenhagen street food is another reason to make Copenhagen your foodie destination. There are several seasonal street food parks in the city that operate from April through October. There are also several food halls that serve street foods indoors all year long.
For a gourmet meal, baked goods or street food experience, Copenhagen will satisfy all of your culinary cravings.
Noel Morata – Travel Photo Discovery
If you are looking for amazing food destinations in Europe, look no further than Croatia. The country is a foodie haven that covers the gamut of amazing regional cuisine. Throughout the entire country, their own distinct traditions and culture are featured.
Areas from the islands, to the coastal regions and the mainland, feature different ingredients and food preparation. Historic references to Hungarian, Turkish and Italian heritage and rule also exist.
The coastal regions of Croatia showcase Mediterranean cuisine with Italian and Greek references using fresh seafood, olive oil and herbs like garlic, parsley and rosemary. Turkish influences add a plethora of spices including garlic, paprika and pepper and are delicious.
The capital of Zagreb includes many similarities with Central Europe including meat dishes, roots and vegetables like cabbage and of course potatoes.
Food Editor’s note: Yes we remember the seafood too, mostly eaten in the back streets of Dubrovnik and Split and the amazing charcuterie plates of Istrian prosciutto that we never expected to find.
Rose Munday – Where Goes Rose?
Slovakia is a beautiful country with castles, mountains, friendly locals and delicious cuisine. I didn’t know what to expect when visiting Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, but I was pleasantly surprised by the foodie scene.
With a focus on ingredients like potatoes, cheese and meat, Slovakian food is hearty and warming. A meal costing a few Euros will keep you full all day. The national dish is bryndzové halušky or, in English, sheep’s cheese gnocchi. These potato balls are drowned in a rich sauce and topped with chives and fried bacon.
A similar dish is bryndzové pirohy, moreish potato dumplings filled with sheep’s cheese. If you need a break from potato and cheese, try goulash a hearty beef stew popular around Central and Eastern Europe. Soup fans should also try kapustnica, a buttery cabbage soup full of chorizo.
If you have room for dessert (doubtful!) after these hearty Slovakian foods, try bratislavský rožok, a pastry filled with sweet poppy seed mix. Wash it all down with Kofola, a cola flavoured drink that replaced Coca-Cola when the American beverage was banned during the communist era.
Ivan Tannenberg – Mind The Travel
It’s not possible to create a list of food destinations in Europe without mentioning Germany. Traditional German cuisine is savory, delicious, and best served with kartoffelkloesse (potato dumplings), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), spätzle (egg noodles) and, of course, a pint of beer.
Munich is one of the best places to try traditional German food. It’s also home to one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. The capital of Bavaria is mostly famous for two things – weisswurst (pork sausage made from minced veal and pork back bacon) and beer but this amazing region offers a lot more than that.
If you’re looking for a prime example of multiculturalism, you should definitely visit Berlin. There you can try the Turkish/German döner. This is a late-night and quick lunch favorite among Germans as you can find it almost everywhere. You’ll most definitely be licking your fingers if you try döner at a small food stand in Berlin, Mustafa’s Gemuese Kebab.
Don’t leave the German capital without a plate of currywurst. Invented in Berlin by Herta Heuwer in 1949, the currywurst is a grilled sausage topped with a satisfying glug of spicy curry sauce and a side of fries and a bread roll.
Editor’s tasty note: We loved German food and of course good German beer. It’s where I first developed my love of the liquid amber ale. We are also partial to a Schweinshaxe, the huge pork knuckles that are especially popular in Bavaria. We also love currywurst!!
Alex Waltner – Swedish Nomad
Goulash, or gulyás, as it’s called in Hungarian, is one of the quintessential dishes from Hungary, known worldwide. It’s a rich stew with a distinct paprika flavor, and it has been cooked for centuries.
It’s also the national dish of Hungary and it can be served as an appetizer or main course. As an appetizer, it can also be served in a soup version, known as gulyásleves.
Typically any Hungarian restaurant will serve goulash, made from an old family recipe. Kiadó Kocsma is a great restaurant with delicious goulash in Budapest.
The Hungarian cuisine is known for its heavy use of paprika when cooking, and other well-known dishes include Chicken Paprikash and Pörkölt. Hungarian food is hearty, with a rustic feeling and simple in its presentation.
Hungarians probably make some of the best soups and stews in Europe, and each region will have its own specialties and versions of traditional recipes.
Visitors to Hungary should also try Halászlé (Fisherman’s soup) and Lecsó, which is a savoury vegetable stew. For street food, the iconic Lángos is something that shouldn’t be missed. It’s a deep-fried dough with various toppings, such as sour cream, grated cheese, etc.
Editor’s tasty note: How we remember the food in Hungary! It was amazing. I remember a particularly cold night in Budapest where a steaming bowl of Goulash was our best friend. Lángos invokes more memories of a wonderful host making more of these than we could handle for breakfast!
Thanks to everyone who helped contribute to this detailed round-up of some fo the best cities and countries to eat in Europe. Whilst not an entire list of every country and every cuisine or dish, there’s enough here to whet your appetite and inspire you to mix a great food experience in with your own future travel plans.
Final editor’s note: Some of the content in this article has been written by me. Other content has been supplied by a variety of other writers. Where it isn’t written by me, it is clearly noted who the author is along with the name of their website. Similarly, all images should be assumed to be my own, unless specifically noted. In this case, copyright has been attributed to the owner of the image, that I have used with their written permission.
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