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6 hottest food destinations in Europe for summer 2019

written by Bex Shapiro February 28, 2019
Best destinations food Europe Italy

Think of Europe and there’s no doubt that cobblestone streets, historic architecture and that picture-perfect coastline makes an appearance. But the food (ah the food!) is sure to feature too.

As diverse as the continent is small, it offers something for every type of traveller – delicious eats included.

But where will your taste buds be delighted most this summer? What cuisine will have your Instagram glowing and your friends green with envy? Well, let us take you through the best European destinations for foodies, so you can stop wondering and start munching…

Macedonia

Chances are you know very little about this country, let alone the cuisine. But let us be the first to tell you: Macedonian food is the next big thing. We could write about it all day long (indeed we have, check it out) but it’s basically a delicious mix of Balkan, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean. Think an abundance of cheese, pastry and meat, alongside a much-needed selection of super fresh veggies and a less-needed but always-appreciated helping of local wine.

Ohrid, Macedonia

One of the best parts is the way in which this hearty cuisine tends to be served: with a warmth that comes from an awareness that tourists are rare in this part of the world; with a skill that comes from recipes passed down from generation to generation.

So, venture into this landlocked gem and you’ll discover lakes so clear they feel pretend (Lake Ohrid), riverside villages so far from civilisation you’ll be the only non-local (Janche), and, of course, a wealth of foodie wonders worth bragging about for months.

Macedonia food

Cooking in Matka Canyon

Our recommendation: This 10-day foodie adventure takes you through Macedonia and Montenegro i.e. some of the tastiest, prettiest parts of lesser-discovered Europe. Macedonian highlights include discovering the country’s up-and-coming wine scene, a pastry cooking class with local villagers, and a beekeeping masterclass and tasting session.

Greece

We probably don’t need to tell you why Greek food is so great. Equal parts healthy and fresh, staples that include olive oil, feta cheese, fresh fish and filo pastry are hard to fault. Neither is the history; the country’s culinary culture is considered to be over 4,000 years old and its rustic simplicity, combined with plentiful herbs (dill and mint) and the most tender meats (it’s all about the lamb here), are what food dreams are made of.

Santorini Greece

Stunning Santorini

Though you’ll find quality eats anywhere you go, our favourite region has to be the Saronic Islands, close to the mainland, filled with a rugged coastline and abundant olive groves.

Visit with Intrepid and you’ll explore places few people do: the beaches of Kardamyli, the fish markets of Aegina, and the charming seaside town of Nafplio. And that’s just for starters… (Drooling? Check out our guide to Greek eats and you will be.)

Greece feta salad

The quintessential feta salad

Our recommendation: Hop on this 9-day Real Food Adventure in Greece for cooking classes with locals, pistachio farm visits, a trip to a family-owned ouzo distillery, and a bunch more foodie fun starting in Athens.

Slovenia

Slovenia is one of those countries so pretty that you simply can’t take a bad photograph there. Known as ‘Europe in Miniature’, it really has something for everyone, from soaring mountain ranges like the Julian Alps to super cute towns by the sea. Accordingly, the cuisine is equally diverse – boasting everything from alpine stews to prsut (air-dried ham) to some sensational strudels. (Hint: full-on food guide here.)

The charming capital of Ljubljana is the ideal place to start your culinary tour, where we recommend taking a day or two to laze by the riverside cafes, sample some of the delicious cakes, and try out schnapps, a fruity liqueur that doubles as the country’s national drink.

Piran, Slovenia

Piran, Slovenia

Then journey onto Lake Bled for romance and adventure in equal measure, before discovering Slovenia’s many other gems. One of the nearby must-visits is Piran, a town near the border of Italy and Croatia. Known for its quality olive oils and wine, it’s also close to one of Intrepid’s most magical Slovenian experiences: a meal with a local family where every single thing you eat is grown and prepared on the property!

Our recommendation: Take a trip to supremely underrated Slovenia (and Croatia) on this 9-day food trip from Ljubljana to Split. Highlights of the Slovenian section include wine tasting at a coastal town and Lake Bled’s famous cream cake, kremna rezina.

Italy

Is there a European country with more iconic food? Probably not. So much more than just pizza and pasta, Italian food is regional, seasonal, simple and delicious. It truly is hard to go wrong here, but allow us to introduce some of our favourite regions anyway.

First off, Tuscany – a region known for vineyards, local ingredients and pretty much every foodie fantasy one might have. (Hint: Intrepid trips there let you stay in a genuine Tuscan farmhouse, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, where you can wine-taste and bruschetta-munch as much as you please.)

Best destinations food Europe ItalySecondly, we adore the southwestern coastal town of Sorrento. Colourful and cobbled, it’s pretty as a postcard. It’s also home to regional specialities like buffalo mozzarella and limoncello, a refreshing lemon liqueur.

READ MORE: A CITY-BY-CITY GUIDE TO ITALIAN DINING

Last but not least, Venice is a surprising culinary gem. Boasting rich risottos, creamy polenta and more wine bars than picturesque alleyways, it’s a perfect place to begin or end any food-filled visit to Italy.

Best destinations food Europe Italy

Al fresco dining in Rome

Our recommendation: Italy’s cuisine is just so mouthwatering that we couldn’t keep it to just one option. For an overview of food in the country, check out this 8-day trip which visits Rome, Bologna, Venice and more. Or hit up this tour of Southern Italy for a more in-depth look (and taste!) of the region’s cuisine with stops in beautiful Matera and Sorrento.

Montenegro

Montenegro is not well-known, but just give this Balkan country a few years and the secret will get out. After all, the landscapes speak for themselves here: all deep blue Mediterranean waters and charming small towns. Plus an array of traditional restaurants serving Turkish snacks, Italian staples and a ton of quality local beer and wine. If that didn’t whet your appetite, the coffee culture will.

And if you do visit (you should), the coastal town of Kotor is simply a must. World Heritage-listed and oh so dazzling, it’s set between towering mountains and a stunning harbour.

Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro

Wander through the steep-but-stunning alleyways and you’ll see why Kotor is a perfect example of the food scene’s diversity. You’ll find grilled kebabs, goulash, traditional bean soups, enough seafood to keep you happy for life, and so much more.

Our recommendation: This 10-day foodie adventure takes you through Macedonia and Montenegro, two of Europe’s coolest, undiscovered countries. In the Montenegro leg of the trip expect the following highlights: a visit to a a centuries-old smokehouse, a tour of an authentic olive farm, and many a drink at one of Kotor’s picturesque wine bars.

Croatia

Croatia is really hard not to love. Home to over 1,000 islands and nearly as many reasons to visit (sun, sea, good value, and waterfall-filled national parks, to name but a few), its culinary capital is Istria. This peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea is dreamy for foodies, mostly thanks to its truffles, olive oil, steak and prosciutto.

Croatia food

Croatian cheese and ham

Once you’ve gorged for longer than necessary, there are a multitude of other stunning cities to visit – try Pula, Zadar and Zagreb, for starters.

Of these, one of our favourites has to be the walled city of Zadar. Once the capital of the region of Dalmatia, this food lover’s heaven is known for its fresh seafood and locally-grown cherry liqueur that’s simply a must-try. Sweet. Literally.

READ MORE: WHY CROATIA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET IS ITS FOOD

Rovinj Croatia

The beautiful streets of Rovinj

Our recommendation: Do Croatia’s food scene justice on this 10-day trip dedicated to its cuisine (and neighbouring Slovenia’s). You’ll be able to enjoy oysters in the enchanting town of Rovinj, visit one of the country’s acclaimed boutique wineries, and try a cooking class in coastal Split.

Taste buds tempted by all of Europe’s foodie wonders? We have a whole range of trips dedicated solely to food!

Image Credits: All c/o Intrepid Travel.

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10 comments

Farah June 11, 2019 - 3:14 pm

Istanbul has amazing food

Reply
Susan May 4, 2019 - 9:09 am

In short, the best food in the world can be found in the republics of former Yugoslavia.

Reply
Karen Migliori June 23, 2018 - 9:18 am

On our last Dalmatian coast trip we had to have some papers notarized at an American embassy, then had to take them to a courier service for delivery to the U.S. The embassy in Podgorica, Montenegro was the closest. We asked the fellow at the delivery service for a recommendation for lunch. I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was a restaurant in a hotel near the airport. It was the best and least expensive meal we had from Split to Paxos. With enough leftovers to feed the 4 of us for 2 more meals!

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Anonymous May 13, 2018 - 7:41 am

Serbian food is the best in Balkan countries.

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Sarah February 21, 2018 - 10:38 pm

Slovenia sounds nice. Croatia is a great place to be and they have some nice specialities. I think that France is also a nice destination. I’d like to visit the French Riviera sometime this year. I’ve fallen in love with the cuisine after visiting http://www.saltflakeslondon.co.uk/ I think that Macedonia could also surprise me. I’ve never been there.

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Jay June 2, 2017 - 3:16 pm

San Sebastián is a must, made with fresh local ingredients and an obsessive knowledge of taste and texture. Truly the best foodie experience

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Joey May 19, 2017 - 2:30 am

If you put Italy, you kind of need to put France… just saying (and I lived in Croatia for 4 years, amazing country, but I wouldn’t say that the food is very distinctive).

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Marie-France @bigtravelnut May 12, 2017 - 12:14 pm

My memories of Croatian food are all about the calamari: the most tender I’ve ever tasted! Montenegro is currently high on my list. And it looks like I’ll have to add Macedonia (a.k.a. FYROM) too!

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Anonymous May 11, 2017 - 7:08 am

Loved Croatia,,,,,,agree, the food is fantastic and reasonably priced! The countryside, seaside and mountain regions stunning! Have visited twice, late summer and fall is best time. Waters are warmer, crowds are less! It’s friendly and safe!

Reply
Les Petits Pas de Juls May 9, 2017 - 7:09 am

Yes, please!!!!
drooling right now… ahahah

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