Have you ever wanted to go on a food-cation for the sole purpose of eating? We’ve thought about this a lot, and we’d love to visit the best food cities in Europe and eat our hearts out.
Funny enough, the first time I visited Europe, my family endlessly warned me about how terrible the food is there. “Pack granola bars – you will not like the food,” they said. Not sure if it’s a generational thing or what, but let me tell you that my experience with food in Europe could not have been more opposite to what I was told. The granola bars were definitely the worst thing I ate . . .
In fact, the food is fresher, less toxic, and more creative than most food that you’ll find in the United States. Not to mention the incredibly diverse options that you’ll have.
Europe is home to so many different cultures and cuisines that it almost feels impossible to choose the best cities for food.
Luckily, there are a few cities that stand out. Here are the 5 best food cities in Europe.
#5 Seville, Spain
Seville is the lively capital of Southern Spain’s Andalusia region. Here, the streets are vibrant with life and the culture is fierce.
In Seville, you’ll find flamenco dancers at the Plaza España and bullfighting at the downtown arena. And quite possibly the best part, you’ll find a tapas bar on every corner, or maybe two or three.
Seville is home to more than 3,000 tapas bars and is controversially considered the home of tapas. No one really knows where tapas originated but does it really matter when a city has thousands of options to choose from? Surely, you’re going to eat some of the best tapas here.
Make sure to stop into a traditional tapas bar where old photographs line the walls and drinks are served on an old, wooden countertop.
Not only is Seville the mecca of tapas, but it’s also the region where the world-renowned Jamon Iberico and sherry wine is produced and sherry wine. Take a day trip to visit a pig farm where Jamon Iberico is produced or go on a sherry wine tasting to the nearby town of Jerez de la Frontera.
If you’re looking for an incredible food experience in Spain (that’s not Madrid or Barcelona), then Seville should be at the top of your list.
#4 Lyon, France
Not only is Lyon considered one of the best food cities in Europe, but it’s also considered to be the gastronomic capital of the world.
With over 4,000 restaurants in the city, of which 21 are Michelin star restaurants, you are guaranteed to eat well in Lyon.
Due to its geographical location, Lyon is a melting pot of French gastronomy combining important ingredients from all around France.
To have the most traditional food in Lyon, you need to eat at a bouchon. An eatery serving typical Lyonnaise food that you can actually afford.
Bouchons aren’t like typical, stuffy, expensive French restaurants. Here, you can expect to find French comfort food like gratin, sausages, french onion soup, locally sourced pork and beef, and traditional salads.
With around 22 bouchons in the city, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
You can thank Paul Bucose for putting Lyon on the world food map. Known for his haute traditional French dishes, the most famous being his truffle V.G.E. soup. A chicken soup with hundreds of dollars worth of truffles.
The late chef owned several restaurants in Lyon, the most famous being l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges. A 2-star Michellin-rated restaurant that you can eat at today if you reserve enough in advance.
#3 Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is an unassuming destination for food. The city is often known for its minimalist style and for being one of the happiest places on earth, but it also has an incredibly vibrant food scene.
Have you ever heard of the restaurant Noma? It’s one of the world’s best restaurants located in the heart of Copenhagen. You may eat deer brains out of a skull or other odd parts of an animal, but we’ve only heard good things about it. You’ll want to reserve well in advance.
Speaking of meat, let’s talk about hot dogs. The best hot dog I’ve ever tasted was on the streets of Copenhagen from a place called DØP, an organic hot dog stand. The meat is extremely flavorful and the toppings were delicious. Apparently hot dogs are a popular street food in Denmark – who knew?
If you’re looking for something that is typical to Denmark, then you have to try Smørrebrød. An open-face sandwich typically served on rye bread and topped with fish (like herring), meats, or vegetables.
Smørrebrød is a great way to sample many different types of flavors and to get a taste of Danish cuisine.
Finally, our favorite part about Copenhagen is the pastries! The pastry scene here is next level. Danishes filled with cream and topped with an almond-flavored frosting. Cardamom buns and cinnamon buns topped with chocolate. You really can’t go wrong with the pastries in Denmark – make sure to save room twice a day to eat your fair share!
#2 Bologna, Italy
In the heart of Italy is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets: Bologna, Italy.
Bologna is the the city of lasagna, Parmigiano Reggiano, mortadella, and never-ending gelaterias. With countless trattorias serving up traditional pastas and wine cheaper than water, it’s no surprise that Bologna has been crowned as the gastronomic capital of Italy.
The Emilia-Romagna region, of which Bologna is the capital, is known to produce some of the most popular products in Italy. Ever heard of prosciutto? Or balsamic vinegar? And maybe parmigiiano reggiano? All three are classic Italian staples, which are locally produced within an hour outside of Bologna.
You can take a day trip to Modena for a Balsamic Vinegar tasting or to the countryside near Parma to see how Parmesan cheese is made. We’d recommend doing both experiences.
Walking around Bologna, you’ll discover many sfoglinas (women who make pasta by hand) making fresh made tortellini or tagliatelle. Egg pasta reigns supreme in Bologna.
Tortellini al Ragu and Lasagna al Ragu are two of my favorite dishes to eat in Bologna. The ragu is made with a mix of pork and beef and is cooked for hours with wine, vegetables, and tomatoes resulting in a rich, flavorful sauce.
Another favorite is tortellini in brodo. To make this dish you stuff tiny squares of egg pasta with a pork filling and shape it into a small, hat-like pasta shape. You then eat it with a meat-based broth and top it off with some parmesan cheese.
In addition to all of the delicious savory foods, you have to try gelato in Bologna. It’s some of the best in all of Italy. With over 100 gelaterias in the city, you have endless options to choose from. You can find our favorites here.
Whether you have one day or a week in Bologna, make sure to spend most of your time eating!
#1 San Sebastian, Spain
Whether or not you’ve heard of San Sebastian, the one thing you need to know is that this coastal city’s food scene is incredible.
Boasting 11 Michelin-star restaurants (three of which have three stars) and countless tapas bars, this Northern Spanish city is considered one of the gastronomic capitals of Europe.
One of the most popular things to eat in San Sebastian is Pintxos, an open-faced sandwich topped with a combination of local ingredients. Often topped with fish or meat, pintxos are eaten like tapas, paired with an alcoholic beverage at a pintxos bar. The variety of toppings makes this a delicious and fun dish to eat!
San Sebastian is located on the Bay of Biscay next to the French border where fish is aplenty. The city is known for its fresh fresh, as it is harvested daily from the bay. Cod, hake cheeks, and anchovies are common in many dishes.
On your trip to San Sebastian, make sure to take a trip into the Basque countryside and towns. From visiting the quaint French villages to wine tasting at a family-owned farm, you’re sure to have an incredible time in this region.