Do you travel to eat? It’s OK, I’m not judging. After all, my trips revolve around the question, “where do I eat next?” With everyone exhorting you to ‘eat like a local’, culinary tours have really picked up all over the world in the past few years. Most food tours are led by locals, so chances of you walking into a tourist trap are minimal. Also, it’s a great way to get a feel of the city, its culture, and its people. Plus, if you’re travelling solo, these tours give you a chance to meet fellow travellers. Here are some of my favourite food tours across Europe.
With food tours in 10 cities, Eating Europe is one of the most prolific tour operator in this space. And my favourite! I have tried their tours in Rome, London, and Paris. In fact their Taste of Testaccio tour in Rome (top and left) was one of the best experiences I have had. It takes you to what was traditionally the city’s slaughterhouse and where cucina Romana took shape. Read more about the tour in my blog post. In Paris, I had tried their Hip Eats & Backstreets tour where you trawl the 10th arrondissement and try everything from the croque monsieur (top right) to couscous. By the way, the latter is one of the top three most-eaten dishes in Paris! This particular tour is not available any more, but there are plenty of other Paris tours you can pick from.
Another fab food tour operator in Italy is Streaty, which specialises in street food tours. Delve into Sicilian cuisine in the markets of Capo, Ballarò, and Vucciria in Palermo. Sicily’s ‘nose-to-tail’ approach to cuisine is evident in some of the foods you’ll try – like frittola, a mixture of veal off-cuts that are boiled and fried in lard. Or try the arancina, (top left) a legacy of the Arab influence on the local cuisine that came about with the 10th-century Moorish conquest of Sicily. Read more about this tour in my blog post. I have also tried their Venice street food tour that includes a stroll (and food samples) through the Rialto market. I was introduced to the Select Spritz (top right) on this tour, the Venetian version of Aperol Spritz – instead of Aperol, it uses the aperitif Select, which is slightly more bitter and produces a more balanced cocktail.
Fork & Walk
On my recent trip to Berlin, I went on a food tour in the Mitte area with Fork & Walk and thoroughly enjoyed it. This award-winning tour operator offers a bunch of fun tours that give you a taste of the city – from currywurst and kebaps (left) to beer and coffee, and everything in between. I tried their Munich food tour last year and would highly recommend it too. I particularly loved wandering around Viktualienmarkt and sampling beer, weisswurst (white sausage, right), and schmalznudel (a kind of doughnut).
Another street food tour I enjoyed was with Hungry Birds in Amsterdam. My favourite bit? Trying the Dutch culinary icon haring or soused herring (top). Fish stands all over the city serve it deboned and brined along with onions and sliced gherkin. Hold it by the tail, throw your head back and eat it the ‘Dutch way’ (below).
Or perhaps it was the kopstootje (translated as head-butt). Down a shot of jenever or Dutch gin and follow it up with the beer — and try to stand still!
Taste & Tour
I ate my way around Belfast with Taste & Tour, a 4-hour fun walk beginning with the historic St George’s Market. Built in the late 1800s, this is the last remaining Victorian-era covered market in Belfast. It’s located on a site that has hosted a weekly market since 1604. Today, it features some 300 food stalls and traders. An Irish food tour is incomplete without some alcohol, so there’s a stop in a local pub for beer, cider, and champ (creamy mashed potato laced with chopped spring onions), as well as a quick round in a gin bar to sample the Belfast-made Jawbox gin.
Copenhagen Food Tours
Consistently ranked as one of the best cities in the world, Copenhagen is a treat for the gourmands. I took a deep dive into its burgeoning food scene with the four-hour Culinary Experience tour with Copenhagen Food Tours (now called FoodTours). We began with Torvehallerne (top), the city’s favourite food hall, sampling artisanal foods such as cheese, honey, liquorice, and caramels from small producers across the country. Another highlight was a gourmet smørrebrød restaurant (below) where the Danish staple of rye bread topped with cold cuts, cheese, pickled vegetables, and meat is elevated to a posh bite.
Make the most of your food tour
- Come hungry! Most tours ply you with enough food samples to make a whole meal (or two)
- Wear comfortable walking shoes and carry a bottle of water (and an umbrella)
- Schedule a food tour at the beginning of your trip so you also get a quick orientation to the city. Also, most guides are more than happy to give you local tips on where to eat for the rest of your stay
- Pace yourself as you will be eating a lot over a span of 3-4 hours
- Be adventurous and try a bit of everything; you never know what delicious surprise may await you
Have you tried a fabulous food tour in Europe (or anywhere else in the world)? Leave me a comment below.