European Food Travel 101: Eating Your Way Through Europe

Are you a foodie dreaming of an epic journey through Europe? Eating your way through the continent can be the ultimate adventure. From classic Italian pasta and French pastries to traditional German sausages and Spanish tapas, there’s something for every palate. Europe is known for its diverse and vibrant culinary culture; from the seafood-rich coastal towns of Italy to the hearty, traditional recipes of Germany and beyond. Eating in Europe, no matter which country, is a great way to experience the different flavors, ingredients, and cultural influences that combine to make each country’s cuisine distinct.

This article will give you an overview of some of the best culinary experiences across Europe, as well as tips and tricks to help make your European food tour a success. Prepare your taste buds for an unforgettable journey!

Food to a large extent is what holds a society together and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences.

Petere Farb

Note: We realize that not all countries are listed. We tried to go into as much detail about each country a possible and will continue to update the article with more information on other countries.

Eating in Western Europe

Food is an integral part of any culture, and Western Europe is no exception. From the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, each region has its own unique culinary history and traditions that have been passed down through generations. Not only do these cuisines provide a great source of sustenance, but they also offer an insight into the customs and beliefs of the people who eat them.

Austria

Austria is a hidden gem of Europe! Visitors delight in its breathtaking scenery and classical tunes, but it also offers an array of delicious cuisine.

It often blends influences from nearby countries such as Germany and Hungary.

One must-try dish is Wiener schnitzel – an Austrian classic made with either veal or pork covered in breadcrumbs, fried until golden brown, then served with a lemon wedge. This is usually accompanied by potatoes or rice and a salad on the side.

Other popular dishes include Tafelspitz – boiled beef served with horseradish sauce – and Kaiserschmarrn – shredded pancakes dusted in icing sugar that come with plum jam. For dessert, indulge in some Sachertorte, Vienna’s decadent prized chocolate dessert.

If you’re more of a fruit dessert lover, Marillenknödel, a sweet apricot dumpling, is another common Austrian dessert.

If you’re visiting Austria around Christmas time, the Vienna Christmas Markets are not to be missed.

Belgium

Belgium is an often-overlooked country when it comes to unique and exciting cuisines, but its food should not be ignored. Belgian dishes are both delicious and diverse.

Moules-frites (mussels and fries) is a classic favorite of the country’s cuisine. The mussels are steamed in broth with herbs, onion, garlic and white wine.

Meanwhile, the famous Belgian fries (known as frites or frieten) are usually double-fried for extra crunchy goodness! This dish can be found all over the country – from Belgium’s largest cities to its smallest villages – making it one of the most popular dishes in the nation.

France

France is a nation known for its exquisite cuisine and delicious food. French food has become a global phenomenon, with many popular dishes now cooked all around the world.

When visiting France, visitors can expect to find a wide variety of traditional dishes as well as regional specialties. The range of ingredients used in French cooking creates the unique flavor and texture that sets it apart from other cuisines.

From fresh seafood to cheese-filled pastries, there are countless options available for even the pickiest eater!

No matter what type of dish you’re looking for, you can enjoy flavorsome meals at restaurants or bakeries throughout France.

Around France: Locks on the Seine: Love or Litter?

 

Insight: Coffee in Europe is a whole experience compared to the US’s grab and go culture

Germany

Germany’s cuisine has been heavily influenced by its neighboring cultures throughout the centuries, resulting in a mix between local specialties and dishes from neighboring countries.

German food is mostly centered around meat like pork, beef, poultry and fish as well as potatoes which are usually served in various forms: mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, fried potatoes or even potato dumplings!

As for vegetables, Germans enjoy them both cooked as part of a meal or raw in salads.

On the sweeter side of things you can find some traditional favorites like black forest cake and apple strudel.

German’s cuisine has been heavily influenced by its neighboring cultures throughout the centuries, resulting in a mix between local specialties and dishes from neighboring countries.

Fortunate (and adventurous!) enough to be there during Oktoberfest? Hosted every year in Munich, Oktoberfest is one of the world’s largest festivals, with millions of visitors from around the globe. For 16 days, folks celebrate Bavarian culture with traditional foods, music and plenty of beer. The annual event has something for everyone – from carnival rides to parades and more.

The heart of Oktoberfest is its beer tents: massive structures that accommodate thousands of people at once. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat inside one these tents, you can expect an authentic experience like no other. Traditional outfits are a must – lederhosen for men and dirndls for women – as are hearty servings of sausages, pretzels and plenty more German fare.

Where to Eat in Dresden: Savoring Traditional Saxon Food at the Heart of the German Renaissance

 

Countdown to Oktoberfest 2023:

 
 

Liechtenstein

The tiny principality of Liechtenstein is sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria. For such a small nation, Liechtenstein offers some surprisingly delicious food! You’ll find traditional Swiss fare, along with dishes from all across Europe.

Liechtenstein is home to some unique recipes that you won’t find elsewhere. Kasknopfle is a popular dish made with macaroni noodles served in egg-based sauce and topped with grated cheese. Another favorite is Muesli, which consists of oats and dried fruits cooked up with honey or sugar. Traditional dinners usually feature a variety of sausages alongside potatoes and vegetables.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg is known for its rich food culture, from traditional dishes to electric fusion cuisine. The small European country has a unique blend of French, German, and Italian influences in its cooking style.

For those who have never tried Luxembourg’s cuisine before, there are some staple dishes that are worth checking out. Gromperekichelcher is one of the most popular specialties – these fried potato pancakes come with a variety of toppings such as applesauce or creme fraiche. Another dish you should try is Friture de la Moselle – it’s an assortment of deep-fried fish and vegetables served with tartar sauce or garlic mayonnaise.

Monaco

With influences from France, Italy and Spain, Monaco offers a culinary experience that is both unique and diverse.

Local dishes to look out for are barbagiuan (a savoury pastry filled with spinach, cheese and other ingredients), brandade de morue (a creamy cod dish) and socca (a flatbread made from chickpeas). For those who have a sweet tooth, you’ll find delicious treats such as the local biscuit called fougasse monegasque or the gelato ice cream which is made using fresh ingredients.

For those looking to sample some of Monaco’s finest restaurants, there are plenty of options ranging from traditional bistros to chic eateries.

Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.

Mark Kurlansky

Netherlands

The Netherlands is renowned for its culture, art, and architecture. But it also has an enticing food scene that should not be overlooked. With influences from France, Belgium, and Germany, Dutch cuisine is more diverse than one might expect.

If you’re looking to explore the unique flavors of the Netherlands then start with the hearty stamppot. This traditional dish combines mashed potatoes with a variety of ingredients like cabbage or sauerkraut for a savory meal that will fill you up fast. Another popular Dutch meal is bitterballen – deep-fried balls filled with ragout sauce and perfect as snacks or appetizers. For something sweet try stroopwafels – thin waffles made of syrup and sandwiched together with caramel filling – they are truly delicious!

Homemade cheeses on the wooden background. Cheese background.

Switzerland

From the hearty fondue of the French Alps to the delicate pastries of Geneva, Swiss food has something to offer everyone.

There are countless regional specialties that reflect both local ingredients and culture, such as cheese-filled zopf bread in the Zurich area or Zürcher Geschnetzeltes in Zurich city itself.

Cheese is an integral part of Swiss cooking, with some saying it’s impossible to find a meal without it! Raclette, a type of melted cheese served over potatoes and vegetables, is one of Switzerland’s most popular dishes.

You can also enjoy rosti, which is similar to hash browns but made with finely grated potatoes instead.

Eating in Central/Eastern Europe

Hungary

Hungarian food is savory, comforting and filling. The national dish of Hungrary is gulyás (goulash), which is a spicy beef stew with potatoes, carrots and onions. Paprika also plays an important role in Hungarian cuisine – it’s used as both a garnish and ingredient in many dishes such as Chicken Paprikash and Stuffed Peppers with Rice.

Poland

Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

From pierogi and bigos to kotlet schabowy and zapiekanki, Polish cuisine has a lot to offer. Pierogi is one of the most popular dishes – dumplings filled with savory ingredients such as potatoes, cheese, meat, mushrooms and onions all cooked in butter until golden brown. Another favorite? Bigos, made from sauerkraut and various types of meat – it’s hearty and filling!

Christmas Markets in Poland

Eating in Southern Europe

Italy

Italy is obviously renowned throughout the world for its outstanding cuisine.

Italian food culture is based around fresh ingredients and time-honored traditions that have been passed down through generations. Whether you’re sampling a plate of pasta or indulging in a delicious gelato, it’s easy to see why eating in Italy is such an incredible experience.

The country’s classic dishes are heavily influenced by the regions they come from, with each area having their own unique flavors and specialties to explore. From rich sauces found in Tuscany to creamy cheeses hailing from Parma, there’s no shortage of options for foodies and cooks alike.

“Ci prendiamo un caffè?”

Portugal

Portugal is renowned for its rich, flavorful, and traditional cuisine. Every region has its own signature dishes, making it an exciting place to explore the country’s gastronomy. From heartwarming soups and seafood dishes like caldeirada or bacalhau, to scrumptious desserts such as pastel de nata or arroz doce, Portugal offers a wide variety of delicious food to suit every palate.

Olives, oranges and grapes that are used in many Portuguese recipes grow well in the country’s Mediterranean climate. Hearty stews such as cozido à portuguesa are popular with locals and visitors alike; typically made from pork, beef or chicken with potatoes, cabbage, carrots and other vegetables cooked in a traditional clay pot.

The Azores Islands

One of the best parts about traveling to the Azores is experiencing the unique and delicious cuisine. The islands are known for their traditional dishes, which utilize locally grown ingredients that come from their volcanic soil. From seafood dishes to sweet treats, food in Azores is sure to please any traveler’s palate.

The local gastronomy has its roots in Portuguese culture but also incorporates influences from around the world. One of the most popular staples is cozido das Furnas, a hearty stew made with grilled meats and vegetables flavored with wine and herbs. Other favorites include carne de cabrito (young goat meat), alcatra (top round steak), lapas (limpets) and outros mariscos (other shellfish). They all make wonderful dishes enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

See the top things to eat on my favorite of the islands, Terceira.

Spain

From the Mediterranean-style diet full of fresh seafood, vegetables, and olive oil to traditional tapas dishes like jamón serrano, there’s something for everyone in Spain. Whether you’re an adventurous eater or just looking for some good old comfort food, Spanish cuisine has got you covered!

When I was last in Barcelona a local chef told me “Add more olive oil than you think it needs.  Then add more.”

The most popular foods in Spain are paella and gazpacho. Paella is a classic rice dish that can be made with seafood, chicken, chorizo sausage or vegetables. It’s usually cooked on a wood fire over an open flame for an added smokiness. Gazpacho is a cold tomato soup that originated in Andalusia but can now be found all over the country.

BARCELONA, SPAIN- AUGUST 6: undefined people in the ancient and famous Boqueria market, where you will find any grocery on august 6, 2016 in Barcelona - Spain

Vegan? Even in the lands of cheese and seafood, there are many great options for vegan travelers in Europe.

Eating in Northern Europe

Sweden

UK/Britain

Eating out in the United Kingdom has become a popular pastime for locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re looking for traditional English fare, something exotic or just a tasty snack, there is plenty to choose from.

You may think that weren’t always known for their cuisine.

British cuisine has changed over the years and now offers an exciting range of options, with influences from all over the world. London is full of restaurants offering food from across Europe as well as Asia, Africa and Latin America. There are also plenty of pubs serving classic dishes such as fish and chips or bangers and mash. But if you’re after something more adventurous, then there are still plenty of places that serve up delicious dishes like curries, stir-fries and tapas.

Laughter is brightest where food is best. -Irish Proverb

Start the day with scones and

London is a great place for a food tour. Six Great London Food Tours

Scotland 

Scotland’s cuisine is steeped in history and tradition. Fish suppers are especially popular with locals – think beer-battered haddock or cod with chunky chips – while haggis is considered the national dish of Scotland. For those unfamiliar with this iconic dish, haggis consists of sheep heart, lungs and liver minced together with oatmeal, onion and spices before being cooked in a sheep’s stomach lining – it may sound strange but has become a beloved staple food amongst Scots!

 

How to prepare for a food tour.

4 Foods You Haven’t Really Tasted Until You’ve Tried Them On Their Home Turf