I love to explore and write about food. I think it is something that’s just within me. To such heights, that I also sometimes plan my travels based on the food I am going to try there. I’m sure most of you must have been to some part of Europe, but have you wondered which are the best food cities in Europe?
I got in touch with a few of my favorite bloggers that have experienced some of the best food in Europe and were nice enough to share their recommendations with me. These cities are listed in no particular order as I feel they just cannot compete with each other. So, let’s get down to making a special European Food List, shall we?
19 Best Food Cities in Europe
- Gdansk, Poland – Holly from Four Around The World
2. Budapest, Hungary – Ruth from Tanama Tales
As an avid traveler, I did a lot of research before visiting Budapest. Most articles recommended getting deep into the food scene of one of the best Eastern European cities. So, we did exactly that!
We ended up experiencing rich, spicy and mouth-watering dishes. We are eager to return and try even more food!
If you visit, I recommend trying the following dishes: goulash (a soup or stew of meat and vegetable, seasoned with paprika and other spices), chicken paprikash (chicken served with a sauce of sweet paprika and cream), stuffed cabbage (ground meat, rice, and spices are used for the filling), langos (deep-fried flatbread topped with sour cream and cheese or rubbed with garlic or garlic butter, sweet versions exist too), kolbice (sausages in a whole-wheat bread cone), grilled duck, gundel palacsinta (crepe filled with ground walnuts, raisin, candied orange peel, and cinnamon, served flambéed in dark chocolate sauce) and kürtőskalács (chimney cake).
You can find Hungarian specialties at several restaurants in the central Pest area, street food markets (there are several in the Jewish District) or the Great Market Hall. For pastries and cakes, visit Café Gerbeaud, Café New York or Ruszwurm. See more here.
3. Sunderland, United Kingdom – Stuart from Go Eat Do
Sunderland is in the north-east of England, one of the United Kingdom’s emerging foodie regions. Long dismissed as part of the country that consumed stodge rather than gourmet produce, things are changing.
Twice a year, in springtime and autumn, Sunderland holds a restaurant that enables people to dine out for set prices in participating restaurants. That is helping to encourage locals to explore the university city’s restaurants and cafes. The Glass Yard, in the National Glass Centre, is an option if you enjoy well-presented dishes and riverside views.
Paul Clarke, of the George H Pickings Jr’s butcher’s shop, in the village of Boldon, has won several awards for his innovative sausages. Grill them and put them in a stottie cake, a type of flatbread that is a regional delicacy, and you have a delicious but simple meal that can be enjoyed at any time of day.
Overlooking the North Sea, Latimer’s Seafood Deli and Café is a good option for picking up freshly landed seafood for cooking at home or trying dishes prepared on the premises.
There’s a positive vibe in the city and plenty of tasty dishes for people to tuck into while in Sunderland. See more here.
4. Bologna, Italy – Michael from The World Was Here First
The northern Italian city of Bologna is undoubtedly one of the best food cities in Europe. In fact, for centuries, Bologna has developed the nickname of “La Grassa”, literally translating to “The Fat” which should give all travelers a hint about the fantastic food scene that exists here!
While many travelers to Italy make the mistake of only visiting Bologna for a day, typically as a stop from Florence to Venice, this city is definitely worth a longer stay for food lovers.
Bologna has an amazing restaurant scene where visitors can try traditional Bolognese food such as tagliatelle al ragu (flat pasta with a meat sauce that is widely seen as the inspiration for spaghetti bolognese), lasagne verdi (green lasagne made with spinach pasta) and mortadella (cured salume). You can try all these dishes at Va Mo La which is a cozy restaurant that also doubles as a library!
5. Lille, France – Jo from Over The Edge Of The Wild
Closer to Brussels than to Paris, the city of Lille is often overlooked by tourists who pass through the north of France, visiting Normandy, Calais, and Dunkirk before heading through to the Belgian capital. Those who hurry on in search of chocolate and waffles do their taste buds a disservice by failing to bid farewell to French fare, however, a stop in Lille would serve both purposes. With dozens of cafes and restaurants settled among the beautiful architecture of the Old Town, there is something to suit all tastes, but it’s really the juxtaposition of French favorites and Belgian specialties that make the city special.
Walking around, you’ll find vendors of crepes, smoutebollen (Flemish donuts), and waffles facing out onto the street fronts, and all of these can be acquired covered in delicious local chocolate. Of late, when it comes to le chocolat, there are various chocolatiers around the city including Maison Benoit, Au Chat Bleu, and Guillame Vincent, which are in stiff competition for the best variety and quality of cocoa delicacies on offer. You’d better visit them all to decide for yourself. See more here.
6. Rome, Italy – Allison from Eternal Arrival
If you’re a foodie and you don’t have Rome on your itinerary — move it right up on your eating bucket list! Italian food is one of the best cuisines in the world and Roman cuisine, in particular, is quite delicious.
The pasta in Rome is a popular food in Europe, rich and delicious with simple ingredients that nonetheless taste fantastic. My favorite Roman pasta is spaghetti alla carbonara, which is made with raw egg, pecorino cheese, pepper, and guanciale, a kind of cured ham used in many Roman kinds of pasta — and never cream, unlike carbonara pasta in the rest of the world.
Other delicious traditional Roman pasta includes pasta alla amatriciana and cacio e pepe. While Rome is famous for its pasta, its pizza should not be overlooked. After all, Rome is only a few hours away from the birthplace of pizza, Naples. The simpler the pizza, the better: my favorite is made with prosciutto and fresh arugula on top. Finally, don’t miss tasting Rome’s unique Jewish-Italian cuisine, especially the Jewish fried artichokes when they are in season!
7. Malaga, Spain – Sarah from A Social Nomad
The food scene in Malaga is simply awesome, made even better by the fact that it’s primarily focused around the traditional concepts of food in the region. It’s not an expensive city to be a foodie in as decent portions of tapas can be had for 2-3 euros (and they’re enough to share) and there are enough regional specialties to have you eating something different for your entire trip.
The start of any good food city has got to be the market – and Malaga doesn’t disappoint. Free samples of olives, hams, garlic, fruits, and the local almonds will have you hungry for more. You will, of course, have breakfasted on good coffee at Café Central with specialties like the pitufo (it translates as Smurf, but for the vegetarians amongst us is a fresh small baguette with butter and tomato).
You could head to the Malaguena beach and try sardines, (in season only) grilled on an open fire. Or you could graze all day in Tapas bar after Tapas bar – there are hundreds to try. One dish you should try is the traditional white seafood soup of Gapachuelo – you’ll find a great option tucked away behind the Cathedral at Mesón Rincón Catedral. See more here.
8. Barcelona, Spain – Jess from The Longest Bus Ride
Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean Sea and is a city where any foodie can keep their belly absolutely stuffed for weeks on end. Patatas bravas is a popular homey dish. Seafood is fresh out of the sea and Catalan dishes invariably include tomato in one form or another.
The simplest dish is tomato bread which is simply a mash of fresh tomato and olive oil smeared onto bread as one might smear butter. Each restaurant has their own recipe and it is refreshing after a long day of walking around the city admiring Gaudi’s architecture.
After a tour of the Barcelona fisherman’s pier and auction, my guide offers advice on seafood restaurants in the city. I loved the small cash-only place packed full of people in the Barceloneta neighborhood. And, should you get tired of the hubbub of the city, just catch a quick train ride up north to Girona. It has a fantastic Old Quarter and is filled with wonderful restaurants in all price ranges including many Michelin starred places. See more here.
9. Paris, France – Katy from Untold Morsels
Brussels might not immediately come across as a foodie city as some other European cities – say Paris – would. But once you travel to this charming city, you will realize Brussels is one of the most underrated gastronomic destinations in Europe.
Belgians have created a unique culinary culture influenced by adjunct France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The results are mouth-watering delicacies, including moules frites (a.k.a. Belgian national dish), waffles, chocolates, and fries to name a few.
Take fries for example. The thick, crispy slices of freshly fried potato chips are one of the most popular side dishes in the world. Despite its name, French fries are originally from Belgium. Belgians consider these fries a soul mate of mussels; while eating by itself, they prefer to match with mayonnaise or other varieties of sauce rather than ketchup.
If you want to visit a charming, artistic, cultural city that can also satisfy your palate, Brussels should be your next destination. Read more about 7 Things to Eat in Brussels here: https://
16. Galway, Ireland – Erin from Epicurean Traveler Blog
When you think of Irish cuisine, fish and chips, seafood chowder, and hearty beef and potato stews might come to mind. However, there is much more to the culinary scene in Galway, Ireland.
Certainly, the city’s coastal location makes it an ideal destination for visitors hoping to taste fresh seafood. Diners will easily find oysters on the half shell, Atlantic salmon, monkfish, prawns, and mussels at local restaurants.
One of the best places for seafood is Oscar’s Seafood Bistro on Galway City’s west side. There the seafood is sourced from local fisherman and fishmongers. But, if it’s a classic fish and chips you are craving, head to Quay Street for McDonagh’s. Serving fish and chips for four generations, at McDonagh’s your fish is cooked to order and fresh chips are made from potatoes peeled that morning.
The high quality of food in Galway is also seen at McCambridge’s. The family-owned food hall stocks local, artisanal foods. In the upstairs restaurant, that commitment to fresh, local, and high-quality food shines through dishes like the delicious open-faced, goat-cheese sandwich I paired with the special soup of the day.
Whether browsing local markets or dining at high-end restaurants, travelers will find Galway, Ireland, is a foodie’s destination. See more here.
17. Vienna, Austria – Gizelle from Vienna: 101 Facets
Vienna is a teeming hotpot of many cultures and food fusion. There are a lot of markets where the diversity of the food culture can be seen, felt, and tasted. There’s a variety of cuisines offered around the 23 districts of Vienna. French, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Turkish, Greek, and a lot more yummy cuisines are represented.
Yet, Viennese cuisine is still the most popular. In Vienna, Heurigers/Taverns (Gasthäuser) are known to own their own vineyards and serve homemade Austrian dishes. The usual dish served among taverns is the Tafelspitz. It’s a simple dish of the tip (of meat), more particularly boiled veal or beef in a broth of root vegetables and spices. It is usually served with a mix of minced apples and horseradish, also with sour cream and chives. The meat is usually very tender, that it comes off when you pinch it with a fork. Plachutta, a famous local restaurant was named to have been serving the best Tafelspitz in the city.
There aren’t many signature dishes originally from Lisbon, this is because of the majority of people from Lisbon, if not all of them, come from the countryside. There are some dishes the city has adopted like ‘bacalhau á Bras’ (cod with egg and fried potatoes) or the famous ‘pastéis de nata’ (custard tart). You can find them almost everywhere. There are hundreds of small traditional restaurants all over the city that serve bacalhau á Bras you won’t have to look too hard. For pastriés the nata Manteigaria or the famous Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belem.
With the Atlantic Ocean on its doorstep, Portugal is a great place to eat seafood. In Lisbon, Cervejaria Ramiro is famous for its shellfish, simple and fresh. During the summer months, sardines are a big thing and you will find them on the menu in most restaurants.
If you are visiting for the first time, I’d recommend a trip to the Time Out Market. A food court where you’ll find you loads of options from traditional Portuguese to gourmet burgers, sushi, seafood, pizzas and Asian. It’s a great way to sample some of Lisbon’s best restaurants all under one roof. See more here.
19. Slavonia, Croatia – Sarah-Jane From Chasing The Donkey
People have inhabited the fertile floodplains of Slavonia for thousands of years, and they have their own regional farm animals, and a killer baked goods offering.
The must-try food item to enjoy in Slavonia is Orahnjača. The uber-popular dessert is a walnut roulade, served as a treat for special occasions. With a filling of walnuts, homemade jam, and cinnamon, it’s both a savory and sweet dish perfect for filling up that last little space in your stomach after dinner. See more here.
That was most of our list, so should we say it’s safe to call Europe the food capital of the world? I’ll let you decide that.
Until then, happy eating! xx
P.S. If you want to save and read later, here’s a pinnable version! 🙂