Travelling and eating well go hand-in-hand and it’s part of the experience to try local delicacies in a country you’ve never been to before.
There are so many great foodie destinations all over the world and through food, you can experience a country’s culture, learn about the people and immerse yourself in what makes each place so unique.
If you’re heading on a world cruise, then you can try foods from a variety of different countries in one incredible trip. There are so many countries that are renowned for their cuisine and as a foodie, it can be hard to decide where to go, so to help we’ve gathered the opinions of some expert travellers.
Whether you’re visiting Barcelona or are heading to the Canary Islands on a cruise, the food in Spain is packed with flavour and character. This is why Annette White, the travel blogger and author behind Bucketlist Journey, recommends the country as a top foodie destination:
“I can never get enough of eating my way through Spain. Last time I was there we embarked on a gluttonous tour of Barcelona - equipped with an itinerary that had us eating fresh Mediterranean seafood in the Barceloneta, travelling farther north through L’Eixample for trendy dining at award-winning restaurants, and on to the heart of the Barri Gòtic quarter to indulge in traditional Catalan tapas. We would break bread with the locals, sip sangria with new friends, and learn the art of creating paella, always planning our dinner while still eating our lunch."
Cat Gaa, who lives in Sevilla, Spain and is the blogger behind Sunshine and Siestas, agrees that Spain is a great destination for food lovers:
“It's hard to say exactly what makes Spain a great destination for people who love good food, good drink and the culture of eating. Perhaps the variety; the only ubiquitous Spanish dish is tortilla de patatas, or the age-old Spanish omelette, but regional dishes depend largely on climate, what's available at the time of year or in the agricultural yield or often what's in your fridge. "
“For that reason, you may find goose barnacles from the north don't make it into an arroz along the Mediterranean coasts. Even my husband's puchero campestre, a stewed dish of garbanzos, vegetables and sausages, is wildly different to its cousin, a cocido madrileño (much the same but without the veggies). This makes eating in Spain an adventure.
“Further, Spaniards aren't afraid to think outside of the box or experiment. It's now de rigeur to cook de mercado, or to base a rotating menu on whatever is available at the market. Spaniards - particularly the older generation - shy away from big box supermarkets and prefer to go from vendor to vendor. This translates into not just variety and quality when it reaches your plate, but often something imaginative.
“Finally, the social aspect of eating in Spain transforms it into something to be shared. There exists a concept of sobremesa, or that lull in the afternoon after a full meal. This is about more than letting out another hole in your belt loop - people relish in that hazy, post-meal state to talk, to ponder. Those lunches that stretch into brandy and then dinner? The Spaniards do it best.”
Food to try: Pintxos
Annette White, who is also a Restaurateur, says one of her favourite things to eat are pintxos (or pinchos), which are small snacks typically served buffet-style in Spanish bars:
“They are particularly popular in Basque country, yet pervasive in Catalonia too. These finger foods have an array of toppings placed on a piece of crunchy bread, spiked with a toothpick and displayed on the bar tops of restaurants for easy grabbing. The system was easy enough: grab a plate, pick the snacks you would like to indulge in, and then return your barren toothpicks to the register to be counted. The number of empty skewers you turn in determines how much you will be charged. My first time, I ended with nine toothpicks!”
Peru’s food scene is finally getting the recognition it deserves and its mix of flavours represents the country’s history. It has been developed over a long process of cultural exchange between Spanish, Africans, Chinese, Japanese and Italian, to name a few.
Keith, who runs EatPeru.com which promotes Peruvian cuisine, says there are many reasons why the country is a top foodie destination:
“Peru is unique in South America as a melting pot of Inca, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese food cultures.The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards every year usually have two or three Peruvian restaurants in the top 10 and many more in the top 50. Peruvian food is innovative, fresh, and exciting, and foodies arebeginning to realise this. The World Travel Awards organization has selected Peru as the leading culinary destination for every award since they began in 2012.
“Peru's culinary scene is booming. In 2017, the WTA also voted Machu Picchu as the world's leading tourist attraction. Add the beautiful city of Cusco, the spectacular Lake Titicaca, the Amazonian jungles and towering mountains, and you have anamazing backdrop for your foodie trips. Lima is one of the most interesting foodie cities in the world and as the gateway to Peru, is well set up to accommodate tourists.”
Food to try: Causa
Causa is a native Quechan dish that is popular all over Peru in countless variations based on European cuisine. It is mainly served as a cake roll, a casserole or a terrine and is a dish that is highly recommended by Eat Peru’s Keith:
“Ceviche is the most obvious choice but causa is another simple dish with many variations. The smooth, creaminess of the potato mash with avocado, lime, mayonnaise, and chilli will have you asking for a secondserving. Causa is usually served as a starter but can easily be made into a main course.”
During a voyage to South America, you are likely to come across this iconic dish.
Until fairly recently Danish food was associated with potatoes and bacon and its fine cuisine was barely known outside of the country. Over the last decade this has changed with the New Nordic Cuisine revolutionising Danish gastronomy and classic dishes from the country making a renaissance.
Kim Nielsen writes about Danish food on her popular Nordic Food & Living blog and she tells us why she thinks Denmark is now a top foodie destination:
“Denmark is the home to a large number of well-known and the best-ranked restaurants in the world. The best restaurants are not only limited to the capital, Copenhagen, but also spread across the entire country. No matter which part of Denmark you are visiting you are able to find local and fantastic food. If you are going to visit Denmark you are guaranteed one of the best dining experiences in the world.
“If your destination is Copenhagen, make sure to visit Nyhavn which is one of the oldest parts of the city. This place has a fantastic food scene and a cosy atmosphere.”
Food to try: Danish pork roast
“Of course, most fish dishes are a good and popular choice when visiting Denmark. Denmark is literally surrounded by water which means that it is always possible to get delicious and fresh fish. If I should recommend a traditional Danish dish it should be Danish pork roast with crackling served with potatoes and a white parsley sauce. For lunch, I would recommend some open-faced sandwiches served on some Nordic rye bread.”
Malaysian cuisine is heavily influenced by Thai, Indonesian and Indian foods and these influences extend into the combinations of spices included in the food and the use of the wok.
Malay food is generally spicy, while many of the curries bases include combinations of coriander and cumin. Yafieda Jamil, the travel blogger behind Travel Chameleon, is from Malaysia and she highly recommends the country as a destination for food lovers:
“I would recommend Malaysia, my home country, as a foodie destination because of our multi-cultural background which translates into the dishes.”
Food to try: Nasi Lemak
Yafieda Jamil says a must-try dish is Nasi Lemak: “Try the Nasi Lemak, our national dish, which consists of rice infused in coconut milk, a slaw of spicy sambal, fried peanuts and anchovies. It's also best taken with rendang or curry chicken.”
It might be the national dish of Malaysia, but Nasi Lemak is also popular in neighbouring Singapore, Brunei and Southern Thailand and is often eaten as a breakfast meal.
Straddling Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it should come as little surprise that Turkey is home to a variety of mouth-watering dishes that go way beyond kebabs. JB and Renee are the travel-eaters behind Will Fly for Food and they believe Turkey offers some of the greatest cuisine you could ask for:
“Turkish food is delicious. It's been called one of the world's greatest cuisines because of its long history and the legacy left behind by an imperial kitchen. Being a vast country, the cuisine is diverse as well. We visited multiple regions in Turkey and found interesting dishes throughout our trip. From the börek and testi kebap in Cappadocia to the freshest fish caught from the Black Sea, everything we had was fantastic.
“If you like lamb, then you're going to love Turkey. It's the most popular meat and one of the most important elements of Turkish cuisine. In fact, when someone says ‘meat’ in Turkey, more often than not they're referring to lamb. It features prominently in many Turkish dishes like kebabs, köfte, lahmacun, and güveç.”
Food to try: Künefe
Turkish künefe originated from the south-eastern region of the country and this cheese-filled dessert is now popular across the country. The dish was also a hit with JB and Renee and they tell us what made it so special to them:
“There are many delicious and interesting things you can try in Turkey, but one of the dishes that stood out for us was künefe. Künefe is a crisp cheese-filled dessert made with wiry shreds of kadayıf or phyllo dough. A semi-soft cheese is sandwiched between two layers of kadayıf soaked in sweet syrup before being baked in small copper plates. Served piping hot and topped with clotted cream, you should eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven so the cheese comes away in soft, stretchy strings. Rich, sweet, crisp, and gooey, it's absolutely delicious and one of the best dishes we had in Turkey, which was unexpected considering I'm not the biggest fan of desserts.”
Japanese food offers an abundance of regional and seasonal dishes. Eateries across this foodie nation range from food stalls and terraces erected beside rivers to cheap chain shops and unique restaurants.
Cory Varga, the founder of You Could Travel, says Japan is the best country in the world for foodies to visit:
“The best foodie destination in the world has to be Japan. With more restaurants per capita than any other country in the world, Japan is literally fully dotted with eateries. But it's not just about the quantity, it's about the quality too. Food in Japan is fresh, well presented and absolutely delicious. Japan's is also home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the world. Chefs in Japan take pride in preparing food for their guests and with such fierce competition, it's almost impossible to find a bad meal when visiting the country.”
Food to try: Ramen
This noodle soup dish originally came from China, but is now one of the most popular dishes in Japan. Its popularity can be put down to its deliciousness, availability and how inexpensive it is.
Cory highly recommends trying it during your time in Japan. She adds: “Most people will recommend trying sushi in Japan, but the true soul food of the country is ramen. To fully experience Japanese food, one must eat their way around all prefectures, as food is created with seasonal ingredients according to local traditions. Once you get to taste any food in Japan, your whole perception of what constitutes a great dish will change forever. You will most certainly be left craving real Japanese ramen.”
From the mountains in the north to the rolling hills and plains in the south, Portugal is home to a whole host of culinary delights. Rosemary & Claire, the culinary explorers behind Authentic Food Quest, feel Portugal is Europe’s best kept secret for food:
“Portugal is a hidden gem when it comes to the local food. Overshadowed by Spain, its famous culinary neighbour, Portugal’s rich gastronomy is often overlooked.
“The food in Portugal is made with simple ingredients that are impeccably prepared. The flavours are fresh and wholesome. Fish, meat, olive oil, bread, and wonderful herbs and spices dominate many regional Portuguese dishes. And the list of local wines and beverages to wash everything down, is extensive.”
Food to try: Portuguese black pork
The Portuguese love their pork and no pork is more highly regarded than the world-famous Portuguese black pork (porco preto in Portuguese). Rosemary & Claire highly recommend trying this during your trip to the country:
“The Alentejo region, commonly known as the breadbasket of Portugal, is home to the world famous black pig or porco preto.
“These pigs, commonly known as Iberico pigs (the Spanish name for them) and their ham, Jamon Iberico de Bellota, is one of the most expensive cured ham in the world.
“In Portugal, the pigs are known as raça Alentejana and they roam freely in the countryside, eating acorns of cork and holm oak trees. Their ham is exceptional and protected under the designation Protected Designation of Origin (DOP).
“You’ll find porco preto on menus at restaurants in dishes like plumas or secretos, which is pork shoulder. It is also quite popular in Portuguese tapas, known as presunto. With flavours second to none, take the opportunity to savour the unique taste of porco preto while in Portugal.”
This vibrant country is the best place to sample the aromatic and spicy food of North Africa and over the years it has built-up a reputation boasting one of the best cuisines in the world.
Nargisse, a Moroccan girl who isnow based in London, shares her passion for Moroccan cuisine via her blog My Moroccan Food. Nargisse adds: “I recommend Moroccan cuisine to everyone because it is unbelievably varied and comforting. Whether you like veggies or meat, spicy, sweet or savoury foods, there’s a special meal for everyone in Morocco. Moroccan cuisine is also extremely seasonal so if you travel to Morocco you will very likely eat beautifully fresh ingredients.”
Food to try: Chicken Bastila
The traditional Chicken Bastila is regarded as the ultimate Moroccan meal and is often served during special events, like a wedding or an anniversary. Nargisse said: “The Chicken Bastila (is the food I’d try) because it’s the ultimate Moroccan meal. It’s a sweet and savoury chicken pie made of fragrant pulled chicken, onion confit, fluffy scrambled eggs and nuts. Each layer of the pie is a celebration of Moroccan flavours and for Moroccans this pie is the definition of a celebratory meal.”
Croatia may not initially spring to mind when it comes to the top foodie destinations around the world, but it is a country of gastronomical delights.
In recent years its beaches, history, sights, and fantastic things to do has seen Croatia become one of the most visited countries in the world.
However, many people are now visiting because of its food and Sarah-Jane Begonja, who runs the Chasing the Donkey blog, says there’s lots of amazing foods to try.
“While you’ll find all manner of international menus in the beach resorts and big cities, it would be a crying shame not to try something a little more authentic. Croatia is known for its home-grown produce, including cheeses, olive oils, wines, meats, and seafood. You can’t visit one of the most popular locations in Croatia, without the delicious scent of seafood in the air!
“The reason that Croatia is an up and coming foodie top spot is because of the quality of its produce, not just because many things are made there. For instance, Croatia is known to be one of the best places to try European oysters, with the clean and glittering waters of the Adriatic adding to the delicious taste. Similarly, you can find truffles of the highest quality by venturing to Istria, for a great price too!
“Put simply, if you love food, you should be heading to Croatia.”
Food to try: Pag cheese, black risotto, oysters
There’s a number of different foods you can choose and Sarah-Jane Begonja feels that during your trip to Croatia you should try a variety of foods including Pag cheese, black risotto and oysters.
“What is the best thing to try in Croatia? It totally depends on what you like! If you’re a cheese fan, it has to be Pag cheese. This is a delicious sage-flavoured cheese which is lightly dusted with sea salt crystals. If you’re a truffle fan, head to Istria, where the black and white varieties are found in abundance. Love wine? You’ll be spoilt for choice, but Grk wine is one of the most popular and hails from the island of Korcula.
“We have Crni Rizot (black risotto), Istrian ham, pasticada (a delicious beef stew for winter time), but if we had to narrow it down to the top food to try, it would have to be those oysters! Mali Ston is one of the best places to try these delights, fresh from the Adriatic. If you’ve never given them a go before, this is the ideal time to try, and you certainly won’t be disappointed!
“Croatia as a foodie destination? It has to be a huge yes!”
Image Credit: Will Fly for Food, Rosemary & Claire.