For serious flavour hunters, going on a trip is a chance to seek out the next remember-it-forever supper. In Europe, farm-to-fork feasts are drawing a mellowed-out crowd in Ibiza, while next-gen bakeries run by ex-Noma chefs in Copenhagen are turning out trays of superior sticky cinnamon buns and buttery sourdough croissants. But foodie highlights can also be found in less expected places ¨C not just in San Sebasti¨¢n or the French city of Lyon but on far-flung Greek islands, quiet stretches of Spain¡¯s Costa Dorada and in tiny Scottish seaside towns, too. This is our pick of the best getaways and city breaks in Europe that will satisfy the eternally hungry traveller, plus the tables to book when you get there ¨C including the Michelin-starred restaurants to plan your next trip around and the low-key bars where the food is every bit as delicious and there¡¯s not a white tablecloth in sight.
These are the 15 best destinations for a foodie break right now.
Crookes and JacksonTHE DOLOMITES, ITALY
Best for: slow food
Forget what you think you know about pasta al limone and Aperol Spritz ¨C this corner of Italy, concealed in the north-eastern mountains, might as well be a different nation when it comes to food. Locals often don¡¯t even speak Italian, and the Alpine villages, backed by craggy mountain peaks, are simultaneously rooted in rural traditions while looking forward to a greener future. More than 85 per cent of energy-efficient-certified houses in Italy are in South Tyrol, and the region draws heavily on sustainable energy sources to power its exceptional hotels. Restaurants here were creating locally sourced, seasonal menus long before it was standard practice, while wine grown in the mountains is biodynamic and low intervention. At widescreen glass box Alpinn (
above), order plates of beef belly with a smoked hay glaze and South Tyrolean steak, or eat at tiny Gostner Schwaige for a wholly foraged menu of cheeses and meats, herby soups and slivers of beef.
Benoi?t LineroParis, France
Best for: the classics
It¡¯s not the most unexpected or unusual destination on this list, but Paris is a classic for all the right reasons. If you¡¯re looking for juicy steaks with impossibly thin frites, followed by retro cr¨¨me br?l¨¦e with that sought-after satisfying crack, we recommend the 2017 opening Le Cadoret. This is the quintessential local bistro in Belleville with a surprising craft beer offering. More contemporary, dramatic dishes are better sought out at restaurants such as Maison (order the pigeon), while eco-thinking diners should book a table at zero-waste Le Rigmarole. Pick up the perfect croissant at La Patisserie by Cyril Lignac and macarons at Pierre Herm¨¦. And the French capital is home to some of the prettiest dining rooms, too (see our edit of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris for proof).
Getty ImagesNaples, Italy
Best for: pizza-lovers
‘Naples has more in common with Mexico City than Milan,¡¯ one local told us on our latest visit to this gritty Italian metropolis. But despite its frenetic alleys and faded architecture, Naples is the epicentre of Italian cooking, where dishes are stripped back to their purest, most delicious forms, and often sold cheaply. The food here is more democratic than in Venice or Rome or the nearby but worlds away towns of the Amalfi Coast. Perhaps surprisingly, Naples has more Michelin stars than any of its glossier sisters ¨C at one-starred Veritas, order soul-food dishes of simple spaghetti with anchovies and butter. Seafood-focussed L¡¯Altro Coco Loco is Michelin-tipped for its sashimi and lobster linguine. And of course, Naples is the spiritual home of the world¡¯s best pizzas ¨C share one at every hole-in-the-wall you come across and make your ranking of the best of the bunch.
Getty ImagesSardinia, Italy
Best for: a unique perspective on Italian cooking
This island ¨C cast adrift in the Mediterranean ¨C is distinctly Italian and yet also unique. While Italy is known for its grand cities, Sardinia is more rustic, wilder. The stripped-back nature of the island is evident in its food culture. Pillowy fermented pizzas are topped with smoked salmon and cauliflower at Cagliari’s Framento pizzeria, while suckling pig is the dish to try at Su Gologone, one of the top hotels on the island. Sardinia¡¯s distinct landscape is one of its loveliest attributes, with mountains and forests giving way to the brightest white beaches. The food heritage charts the varying topography ¨C order seafood by the coast and mutton in the mountains.
Suzan GabrijanSlovenia, The Balkans
Best for: off-the-beaten-track explorers
Slovenia¡¯s food scene was on clever travellers’ radars long before the Michelin guide launched there in 2020. Hisa Franko, of
Chef¡¯s Table fame, had already made the World¡¯s 50 Best Restaurants list multiple times, but there are murmurs about the country¡¯s more traditional cooking and biodynamic wineries too. Six restaurants in the country were awarded a star in 2020, including Ana Ros¡¯s aforementioned Hi?a Franko and Dam in Nova Gorica, where people go for the best seafood. In 2021, it was named the European Region of Gastronomy for its emphasis on local produce and sustainable cooking. Fifty-two types of grape are grown here and Slovenia produces what¡¯s currently lauded as the world¡¯s best orange wine ¨C a Dolium Muscat Ottonel. This has long been an under-the-radar corner of Europe that¡¯s finally finding its space among the big players.
Best for: farm-to-fork eating
Ibiza is hardly known best for its food scene. But the White Isle¡¯s ravers have matured along with it, mellowing out and moving north to the quieter towns, far away from the mega-clubs and big hotels of the south. There¡¯s always been a rural edge to Ibiza: farmers here were harvesting almonds and olive groves long before the organic revolution spread to eco-warriors and zero-waste pioneers in London, Brighton and Bristol and beyond. The island¡¯s flavours can be found in its classic restaurants ¨C we like Es Ventall and Aubergine ¨C where colourful salads, fresh pasta topped with locally made buffalo ricotta and vegan puddings are dished up on rustic, shady terraces. Or head to farmsteads such as La Granja, a 300-year-old cottage set in a 24-acre plantation from former Design Hotels¡¯ CEO Claus Sendlinger, where homemade kombucha is served overlooking scrubby farmland and suppers are eaten communally in the laid-back gardens.
Now read: Where to eat in Ibiza off the beaten track
Best for: Michelin-starred dining
The Basque Country doesn¡¯t feel Spanish or French, although it straddles both countries. When it comes to food, it is its own entity, with an entrenched culture that draws on generations of knowledge. The epicentre is the coastal town of San Sebasti¨¢n, glittering with 18 Michelin stars, which puts it up there with Kyoto, Paris and Lyon in terms of density of accolades per square metre. Mugaritz, set in a traditional house in the hills, is probably San Sebasti¨¢n’s most lauded restaurant; 24 courses take Basque ingredients such as tongue and turn them into provocative and unusual dishes, so the menu could include loin of milk-fed lamb served in a ragout of its brains or snails in ceviche. An hour¡¯s drive inland, Asador Etxebarri ¨C a restaurant at the foot of the mountains where locally born chef Victor Arguinzoniz cooks everything over an open grill ¨C climbed to the third spot in the 2019 50 Best Restaurants list. And San Sebasti¨¢n institution Arzak, now under the helm of Elena Arzak, has held three of the city¡¯s Michelin stars since 1989. Seriously high standards are upheld all over the Basque Country, with a deliciously high-low mix: dine on pintxos (Basque tapas) from hole-in-the-wall bars in San Sebasti¨¢n¡¯s old town by day and go for a full white tablecloth supper by night.
Now read: The best places to visit in the Basque Country
Best for: following the UK¡¯s best chefs to the coast
Cornwall is far enough away and difficult enough to get to from basically anywhere else in the UK that visiting it feels as though you¡¯re travelling abroad. Cornish beaches can be as clear and beautiful as the Caribbean and the subtropical vegetation supplies restaurants all over the country. Some of the UK¡¯s top chefs have deep roots here: Rick Stein put Padstow on the culinary map years ago and local chef Nathan Outlaw helms a two-Michelin-starred, ocean-front restaurant in Port Isaac. Meanwhile, London cooks have been quietly setting up on the Cornwall coast for a while now: Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell, of Newington Green¡¯s Primeur and Jolene, opened Fitzroy with a menu of local mussels and foraged vegetables, and North London favourite Prawn on the Lawn launched a second space in Cornwall, from where they were sourcing their fish. Plus, Cornwall is home to possibly the UK¡¯s most exciting food-focussed place to stay: Coombeshead Farm, where two of the UK’s top chefs, April Bloomfield and Tom Adams, are aiming to be totally self-sufficient, cooking up true farm-to-fork feasts for those checking in.
Now read: The best restaurants in Cornwall: 15 seaside spots to visit
Best for: next-gen Scandi suppers
Everyone knows about Copenhagen¡¯s foodie credentials. Noma, arguably the most famous restaurant in the world, opened in 2003. It first appeared in the 50 Best Restaurants List in 2006, when chef-founder Ren¨¦ Redzepi was just 28, and topped the list four years later in 2010. The ultimate Scandi city is no stranger, then, to the foodie traveller. But instead of sitting pretty, smug in its long-standing game-changing status, this is a place that¡¯s constantly reinventing itself. Many of Noma¡¯s ex-chefs now head up their own establishments in the city. Amass is a zero-waste fine-dining restaurant that was ahead of its time when it opened in 2013, helmed by Noma¡¯s ex-head chef Matt Orlando. Meanwhile 108, with its foraged, fermented menu, was opened by Redzepi¡¯s proteg¨¦ Kristian Baumann, and Mexican-inspired Sanchez is the project of Rosio Sanchez, one-time head pastry chef at the restaurant. Even the breakfast spots are headed up by chefs with serious CVs. Mirabelle, the relaxed all-day sister of Michelin-starred Rel?, sells ¨C among other next-level treats ¨C sourdough croissants in the city¡¯s coolest neighbourhood. And, of course, Noma itself finally reappeared in 2018 after more than a year¡¯s hiatus as Noma 2.0, coming straight back into the World¡¯s 50 Best Restaurants List at number two just months after reopening its doors.
Now read: Restaurants in Copenhagen
Best for: an under-the-radar experience
Visited by most as part of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, Galicia is Spain¡¯s insider secret ¨C a stretch of coast long-overlooked in favour of the Basque Country or the Balearic islands. It¡¯s made up of a handful of estuaries, sheltered by isles. The smartest of the Spanish style set have been visiting for decades. And the landscape here is brilliant for growing wines, which are made to match the local shellfish and octopus. Take weekend-long breaks in the region with North West Iberia Wine Tours, which visit some of the finest vineyards, or just slowly hop from one wine bar to the next, feasting on tapas of oysters, seaweed and sardines.
Now read: The Cond¨¦ Nast Traveller guide to Galicia and the R¨ªas Baixas
Best for: classic French gastronomy
Lyon is the original foodie city. It¡¯s where nouvelle cuisine was born, where top French chefs such as Paul Bocuse became famed for their fine-dining restaurants and where a new vanguard of young chefs are now putting their spin on centuries-old tradition. The food-obsessed flock first to the
bouchons, rustic restaurants that serve local dishes rather than fancy plates. There are only about 20 authentic bouchons, the loveliest of which can be found on rue Saint-Jean ¨C grab a table at any of them and order coq au vin and cardon au gratin (part of the sunflower family, it’s a bit like an artichoke cooked with cream and cheese). Next comes a visit to the city¡¯s markets. Each stall is stacked with gloriously wonky fruit and vegetables, ugly but delicious sausages and the freshest fish ¨C try Saint-Antoine for an old-school French market day and Les Halles for a smarter, indoor food court.
Now read: Things to do in Lyon, France
Best for: a taste of island life
Sifnos has been thought of as Greece¡¯s foodiest island for more than 100 years. In 1910 islander Nicholas Tselementes started publishing Greek recipes and he quickly became the most influential food writer in the country ¨C his name, Tselementes, is synonymous with the Greek word for cookbook. These days, the freshest fish is served at seafront caf¨¦s such as Cheronissos Fish taverna, where diners eat just-caught, perfectly grilled lobster overlooking the translucent Aegean. Sandy beach Platis Gialos is backed by a string of relaxed restaurants where locals and tourists jostle for space on the stools and in the winding, polished back streets, tavernas dish up chickpea stews (chickpeas are a staple on Sifnos) and slow-roasted goat.
Now read: Sifnos: the most delicious Greek island
Galway City and the Burren, Ireland
Best for: trying local produce
The landscape of the Burren in County Clare is unlike anywhere else in Ireland, with a lunar-like karst-limestone coastline. And the surrounding countryside is making a name for itself due to its foodie credentials. Follow the Burren Food Trail of cheesemakers, farmers¡¯ markets and ice-cream churners to a remote hillside to find bean-to-bar chocolate factory Hazel Mountain Chocolate, which sells Willy Wonka slabs. While the Burren Smokehouse cures wild Irish salmon, rainbow trout and mackerel and Wild Kitchen runs sea-foraging classes on a deserted beach. Just north of the Burren, the boho city of Galway has been put on the flavour hunter¡¯s radar by dynamic chef JP McMahon. For an elevated taste of the region book a table at his restaurant Aniar (one of the city¡¯s two Michelin-starred addresses), which serves oyster ice cream and fermented potato foam, or Loam which offers nine-course tasting menus as well as a wine-bar list of cheese and charcuterie boards loaded with house-cured lardo and the best Irish cheese.
By Grainne McBride
Now read: Galway, Ireland: a foodie hotspot
Marie Louise Munksgaard
Best for: feasts in the wilderness
Reached by an 80-minute ferry from Copenhagen, Bornholm is technically part of Denmark, yet positioned way off in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Poland. Unusually for any slip of land this far north, the weather is quite sunny and warm; the coastline is made up of granite which absorbs the heat of the summer and keeps the island feeling mild into the autumn. That means there¡¯s a long growing season, natural, local produce is abundant and chefs are flocking here to find it. At Michelin-starred Kadeau, local feasts of shrimp, just-picked kale and fermented corn are served in the caf¨¦, which has enormous windows overlooking the waves below. Other spots on the island dish up more relaxed, unfussy meals ¨C Sommer Pony and Skipperkroen are among our favourites ¨C and there¡¯s open-to-anyone farmers¡¯ market Gaarden which also hosts cooking classes in hot-smoking or beer brewing.
Now read: Bornholm, Denmark’s beautiful Baltic island
North Berwick, Scotland
Best for: homegrown chefs
An hour¡¯s drive east of Edinburgh, the seaside town of North Berwick sits on a jagged bit of the Scottish coastline that sticks up and out into the Firth of Forth. In the past few years, Edinburgh¡¯s clued-up chefs have started to sweep east to this long-forgotten corner of the country, where once-struggling High Street stores are now being turned into independent bakeries and fine-dining restaurants doing a roaring trade. Catherine Franks, who started serving coffee from the back of an old VW camper van at Edinburgh¡¯s Stockbridge Market, is behind cosy caf¨¦ Steampunk Coffee Roasters, and Bostock Bakery gained so much attention for its pastries that Ren¨¦ Redzepi sent his assistant to learn how they¡¯re made. The harbourfront Lobster Shack serves super-local fish, while NB Distillery bottles dry gins, citrus vodkas and dark rums. All this, backed by wild sandy beaches overlooked by grassy banks, rolling into the chilly sea.
Now read: A guide to North Berwick, Scotland
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