16 Best Foodie Holidays
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When many choose their next vacation destination, it may be historic castles, majestic mountains, or soft sandy beaches that influence their decision. When it comes to truly immersing oneself in a country's culture, however, the biggest way to its heart is through something we can all agree to love - food.
Whether you're a fan of decadent chocolate (bonjour, Bruges), rich sauces (mais oui, Provence), or fresh homemade pasta (ciao, Tuscany), each place you visit will offer a remarkable way of tempting your palate and feeding your soul with foods so delicious, you'll crave seconds.
Trying new dishes and experiencing different methods of dining - from eating food on the streets of Bangkok to enjoying a snack in the teahouses of Tokyo to seaside dining in the Greek Islands - is perhaps the most enjoyable (and appetizing) part of a trip.
Yes, appreciating the topography and learning about a nation's history are exciting, but it's the food that really seals the deal when it comes to falling in love with a region. You'll want to bring a healthy appetite while visiting the places on our list of the best foodie holidays.
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1. Tuscany, Italy
It's impossible to visit Italy without falling in love with its cuisine. A haven for lovers of olive oil (it's harvested here in November), tomatoes, basil, and pasta, the food served at Tuscany's best restaurants will leave your mouth watering in delight. Fresh herbs enhance the flavors and liven up sauces.
Panzanella is so simple, you'd think it would be boring. Instead, the ripe tomatoes and red onions mixed into a salad with bread, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and salt, will awaken your tastebuds. That's the thing about Tuscan food, the more basic it is, the better it tastes.
Tuscan dishes change seasonally, each new meal featuring fresh produce bursting with flavor. For instance, in winter, you'll find Ribollita soup, a delicious and tasty mix of beans, cabbage, and onions.
Speaking of soup, Pappa al Pomodoro is a dish that has traveled from Tuscany throughout the county. A blend of tomatoes, garlic, basil, and stale bread, you'll find it hard to stop at one bowl.
Whether you snack your way through a farmers market, dine al fresco with a view of the lush Tuscan hills, or eat in the shadow of the Duomo in Florence, you're in for a treat while eating in Tuscany.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Tuscany
2. Provence, France
Similar to Tuscany, Provence prides itself on farming its pastoral landscape for the freshest, most flavorful ingredients. That means its menus also change seasonally to feature the most delectable foods. Seafood is a specialty in this postcard-worthy region, which is situated in southeast France near the Mediterranean Sea.
Sun-ripened vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs are the stars of each dish. Salad nicoise is served the world over but will never taste better than it does when enjoyed in idyllic Provençal towns. The scrumptious ratatouille is another must try, featuring luscious veggies farmed from local fields.
The region's Herbs of Provence have received international acclaim. A mix of rosemary, basil, sage, lavender, marjoram, tarragon, oregano, fennel seed, savory, and bay leaf, they are sold in grocery stores across the globe.
Learn to cook these incredible dishes yourself with a weeklong course taught by chef and cookbook author, Patricia Wells, in her gorgeous 18th- century Provençal farmhouse. Or visit the local farmers markets to sample food straight from the source.
3. New Orleans, United States
The heart of America's Creole and Cajun foodie scene, New Orleans is a must-visit for gastronomes. Known as a destination for jazz lovers and revelers (this is the home of Mardi Gras, after all), it's the food that keeps visitors coming back to the Bayou.
A true mix of ingredients and cuisines can be found in this unique and lively city. Its chefs are known to get creative with foods of all genres - from Caribbean to African to European. You'll find flavors that make your mouth pucker in excitement and smells that entice you to dine in a courtyard bistro at sunset.
You can't leave New Orleans without sampling a bowl of gumbo or a po-boy sandwich, and one bite of a traditional jambalaya will leave you begging for more.
Whether you're searching for a laid-back take-out experience or a white tablecloth meal in an upscale restaurant, you'll find plenty of options to suit your tastebuds and your budget. Head to the French Quarter for a vast selection of eateries and a fun vibe you won't want to miss.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in New Orleans: Best Areas & Hotels
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in New Orleans
4. Tokyo, Japan
There are many reasons the Japanese live longer than others, but one of the biggest is due to their healthy diet. Rich in fresh fish and plant-based foods, the Japanese consume little sugar, fat, or animal protein. We should all take a page or two from their recipe books!
Instead of piling on sauces and serving massive portions, the Japanese favor smaller plates featuring seasonal fresh and local food, as well as steamed rice, noodles, seaweed, and tofu. Tokyo bursts with awe-inspiring restaurants, many of which are adorned with Michelin Stars.
If you don't mind parting with your cash, head to the upscale shopping and dining area Ginza for some of the best food you'll eat. Those looking to save a few bucks can head to the backstreets, where tasty restaurants feature a more palatable price tag.
While sushi is the most famous food (and super delicious), tempura (battered and fried veggies and seafood), sukiyaki (meat cooked on a table in front of visitors), ramen, and soba noodles are also popular. Wander through the Tsukiji Fish Market for a truly authentic eating experience.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Tokyo: Best Areas & Hotels
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
Open-faced sandwiches (a.k.a. smørrebrød) are a traditional Danish food, as are kanelsnegl (cinnamon rolls) and other tasty sweets, which works out well for those of us hankering for treats.
Fresh waffles, flodebolle (a round cookie topped with meringue or marshmallow dipped in chocolate), and pastries like wienerbrod (a.k.a. Danishes in the west) abound in neighborhood shops. Tivoli Gardens serves up candy apples and giant cones of cotton candy to thrill guests of all ages.
More than just a sweets capital, Copenhagen is known for its award-winning restaurant scene. You'll struggle to get a reservation at Noma, which holds second place on the World's 50 Best Restaurant list. The food is phenomenal, so keep trying.
Street food is the highlight of Reffen, a funky urban marketplace featuring a playground and food trucks in Refshaleøen. The area was created mainly from recycled materials, and stalls are housed in shipping containers. The main draw is the food, which is creative and diverse, representing more than 18 nationalities.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Copenhagen: Best Areas & Hotels
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Copenhagen
6. Bangkok, Thailand
There's nothing like a fresh Thai meal to delight your senses. Whether you buy it from a street vendor in Bangkok or a local restaurant on a neighboring island such as Koh Samui, authentic Thai food is easy to love.
While Bangkok may be crowded and noisy, its epicurean scene is the best in the country. The best curries, pad Thai, and pad see ew are found in stalls along Khao San Road. Not feeling adventurous? Try a restaurant. Gaggan, holds fourth place on the World's 50 Best Restaurant list.
Bangkok's markets are unmissable. The Ratchawat Market boasts everything you never knew you'd enjoy - like mango sticky rice, a Thai coconut pancake, and fried rice noodles. Thewet Market is located near Thewes Pier and sells everything from seafood to cooking utensils to fresh fruits and veggies. Floating markets are also popular in Thailand, and the Taling Chan Floating Market is the most visited in Bangkok. In addition to fresh fruits, you can try grilled seafood and other local dishes straight from the boats to your mouth.
Sign up for a cooking class, which are offered throughout the city, to learn the tips and tricks necessary to create your own authentic dishes back home.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Bangkok: Best Areas & Hotels
7. Barcelona, Spain
Visiting Barcelona without eating a paella is like touring New York City without seeing the Statue of Liberty - it's just not done. Once you've enjoyed a few mouthfuls of the traditional Spanish dish featuring rice, saffron, chicken, and/or seafood, you'll understand why - it's scrumptious!
Do not miss a visit to La Boqueria, the city's most famous market. Located in the central, Las Ramblas section of this Catalonian capital, the market offers travelers the freshest of fare, as well as food-related touristy kitsch (we're talking aprons, mugs, and spoons) from over 200 vendors.
The Spanish favor eating smaller savory dishes (a.k.a. tapas) rather than one giant meal, which makes it easy to sample multiple foods in one sitting. Seafood tops the list, as the city lies on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Barcelona: Best Areas & Hotels
8. Greek Islands, Greece
A trip to the Greek islands is akin to stepping into paradise, especially if you add local flavors to the mix. They're famed for their sapphire waters, pristine landscapes, charming white-washed villages, and laid-back pace of life, but it's the remarkable food that keeps visitors salivating long after they've returned home.
If you want to enjoy an experience as magical as the food, dine on an outdoor patio overlooking the azure Agean Sea.
Whether you're eating fresh grilled fish in Crete, dining on a Gyro in Santorini, or tucking into a feta me meli (baked filo pastry filled with feta cheese and drizzled with honey) in Mykonos, adding a stunning view to your meal is unbeatable.
Foods you won't want to miss include tzatziki (a yogurt sauce made with garlic and cucumber), moussaka (ground lamb is mixed with tomatoes, cheese, and eggplant), baklava (a sweet baked dessert made of phyllo pastry filled with nuts and soaked in honey), and amygdalota (a tasty almond cookie).
9. Mexico City, Mexico
You might think you're a fan of tacos, burritos, and guacamole, but if you haven't tried these tasty dishes in Mexico City, you have no idea what you're missing. Once the vibrant flavors of the area's local foods touch your taste buds, they'll ruin non-authentic Mexican meals for you forever.
With a bounty of food vendors and restaurants lining almost every street, it's impossible to avoid trying something new (including fried insects) in this culinary hot spot. Favorites include meat-filled tacos, quesadillas, torta de tamal (steamed corn dough), and pan dulce (sweet pastries).
Mercadoroma is a funky gourmet market and the first of its kind in Mexico City. Guests choose their dishes from multiple stalls and sit together at community tables. Don't miss out on salsa. Whether you like it spicy or mild, you're in for a treat with the local variations.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Mexico City: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Mexico City
The food in Singapore is as diverse as its people, who hail from the West, India, Indonesia, China, and Malaysia. Home to a colorful and well organized Chinatown, vibrant Little India, and eccentric Arab Street quarter, Singapore is a lavish melting pot selling a little bit of everything at its markets and food vendors.
There's no shortage of high-end restaurants in this glitzy city, which is home to hundreds of thousands of millionaires. It's easy to lighten your wallet in the posh shops and eateries on Orchard Road, and a meal at the Raffles Hotel Singapore will set you back quite a few pretty pennies.
Great food doesn't have to break the bank, which you'll realize while mowing down flavorful fish curries, Nasi Lemak, Hainanese Chicken, satay, fresh fruit, or noodles in a street market. Head to Boat Quay or Clarke Quay for the best seafood.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Singapore: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Singapore
11. London, England
While England is known for its classic dishes: fish and chips and bangers and mash, you'll find so much more on offer in its diverse capital. From a full English breakfast to impeccable sushi to just-the-right-level-of-spicy curry, you'll want to sample everything this effervescent city has to offer.
That's made pretty easy since London boasts more restaurants than you could dine in during a lifetime. From quick takeaways like EAT or Pret a Manger to high-class spots like Mayfair's 10 Sketch and Le Gavroche, you won't be starved of choice when it comes time to nosh.
Real foodies favor the local fare found in the city's best markets. Borough Market is a must for those who like to meet the people who harvest and sell their treats. Enjoy freshly made paella from a giant pot, sip on a smoothie, or grab a burger or gyros from the outdoor vendors.
Don't miss Camden Market, a haven for vegetarians and vegans. You can find everything you never knew your mouth needed - like shawarma wraps, falafels, and Peruvian street food.
Complete your British foodie holiday with a High Tea experience featuring scones and clotted cream, finger sammies, and tea, of course!
Accommodation: Where to Stay in London: Best Areas & Hotels
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in London
12. Delhi, India
India is home to some of the most delicious and flavorful food in the world. Its capital, Delhi, gathers the most delectable recipes from across the country (including Punjabi and Mughlai meals) and serves them in its restaurants and street markets.
Tantalizing favorites include dishes you've likely tried at home - Murgh Makhani (a.k.a. Butter Chicken), biryani, kebobs, korma, and dhal. One bite of these in Delhi will cause you to drool excessively and beg for another serving. This food is so tasty, you'll never want to eat a Westernized knock-off again.
You can't embark on a foodie holiday in Delhi without enjoying the street food. Aloo tikki, jalebi pakode, and cardamon kheer are longtime favorites available in the numerous streets throughout town.
True food lovers time their visit with one of the city's famed food festivals. Grub Fest is a massive draw for gastronomes. The largest food festival in India, this mouthwateringly fun affair takes place each November with hundreds of stalls featuring food from around the world.
NASVI Street Food Festival is another annual event that takes place in late December and features foods from hundreds of vendors.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Delhi: Best Areas & Hotels
13. Porto, Portugal
A breathtaking star of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal knows how to romance its visitors. Yes, its views are spectacular, and the history seeping through its ancient buildings is intriguing, but it's the delicious food that makes us crave more.
Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, it's no surprise that fish ranks highly in the country's main dishes. Lovely, ancient Porto lies on the banks of the Rio Douro, enticing visitors to enjoy a meal on one of its outdoor patios.
Tripe and cod are two of the most popular ingredients, served in a bevy of ways - from fried to salted to drizzled with rich, delicious sauce. That said, one of the most popular menu items is the warm Francesinha Sandwich, which is usually surrounded by a circle of fries.
Remember, vacation is no time to watch your waistline! That means there's no need to skimp on Porto's incredible pastries. It's easy to overindulge in these sweet treats, found in shops and eateries across the city.
14. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Waffles and French fries and cheese, oh my! Sure, there are other yummy (and healthier) dishes in Amsterdam, but these treats are hard to turn down. They're literally everywhere. And be honest, when faced with stroopwafels (syrup waffles), proffertjes (tiny pancakes), and applegeback (apple tart), can you really say "no?"
Don't have a sweet tooth? No worries. Amsterdam's myriad of restaurants serve other, heartier fare, such as Broddje Harring (a herring sandwich), Bitterballen (breaded and fried meatballs), stamppot (mashed potatoes served over veggies), and salt cod.
You'll also find a bevy of eateries serving international cuisine including pizza and pasta, as well as foods from China, Indonesia, and India.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Amsterdam: Best Areas & Hotels
Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam
15. Melbourne, Australia
You'll never go hungry in Melbourne. Bursting with cafés, there are plenty of options to settle that rumble in your tummy before it gets out of control. If you're hoping for something more substantial than a "flat white" coffee and pastry, head to one of the city's numerous restaurants.
A diverse city, Melbourne offers a variety of cuisine to please visitors and locals alike. Chinatown is the place to visit if you're craving Asian cuisine, while Greek food can be had in the Greek Precinct. Hoping for something local? Head downtown, to "the CBD," as it's known by residents.
This is where you'll find a slew of great restaurants, including many serving up Australian fare. Expect to find seafood like barramundi on the menu and a burger with beetroot. For dessert, tuck into a piece of salted caramel lamington (sponge cake).
If you're out for breakfast, give Vegemite a try. A word of advice: have a juice ready to wash out the taste, it's pretty potent!
Accommodation: Top-Rated Places to Stay in Melbourne, Australia
Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Melbourne
16. Bruges, Belgium
There's a lot to love about the food in Bruges, especially when it comes to the city's signature dishes: fries and chocolate! Be sure to nab a chocolate swan (Brugsch Swaentje). Created in January of 2006, they've become a must-have treat for locals and visitors alike.
Belgians love chocolate so much they dedicated a museum to the tasty treat. Choco-Story takes guests on a sweet-smelling trip through the candy's long history, while chocolate stores line the ancient streets. Visitors can even embark on chocolate walking tours.
Not a sweets lover? No problem. There are plenty of rich, hearty dishes to enjoy in the vast array of restaurants in beautiful, canal-lined Bruges. Gruuthuse Hof is a town staple that's been serving stews, soups, fish, and chocolate desserts (of course) since 1751.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bruges