Europe is filled with amazing scenery, culture, islands, mountains and nightlife… but it’s the food that holds a real magnetizing quality for millions of travelers who hit up the continent each year.
From decadent desserts, to Neapolitan crust pizza covered in San Marzano tomato and those delectable black dough-bubbles, and from succulent wines, cheeses and olives to some serious hangover-busting eastern European dishes, European cuisine cooks up something to make even the plainest and pickiest eaters’ mouths water.
Swat up on some of Europe’s unmissable food and start building up your appetite now! These are the foods you really shouldn’t pass up on your trip to Europe…
Food to try in… Spain
This classic Spanish dish doesn’t resemble the tortilla we know in the US at all. This lunch dish simply consists of eggs, potatoes and onions. However, each ingredient is slow fried in olive oil to create a savory taste. The best part? It’s one of the cheapest meals you can find, and can cost little more than €1!
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Originating from Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, this regional take on Spain’s traditional rice dish features a blend of mixed rice, pork, chicken, saffron and snails. The zesty contrast of seafood, meat, and grains comes all together as it is cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with spices.
Walk into any tavern in the Basque region of northern Spain (San Sebastien is our recommendation), and you’re likely not to be able to see a single inch of the bar’s surface, due to it being piled high with the region’s colorful, delicate take on traditional tapas. A ‘pintxos’ (pronounced ‘pinchos’) is a piece of bread with pretty much any ingredient imaginable fastened to the top. You’ll find anything from speck ham, to chorizo, to quails eggs or baby eels. Accompany a plate of them with some croquettes or stuffed peppers and a glass of house wine, and you have yourself a delicious snack for under €5!
Everyone’s favorite red wine and fruit juice cocktail packs a hefty punch in its native country. You can enjoy a jug of it on ice with friends as the sun goes down in a Barcelona bar… or buy it by the carton from most supermerkados to take to the beach.
Food to try in… UK & Ireland
Visited #TheMarchHare @whitebrasseriecompany #WhiteBrasserieCompany in #Guildford #Surrey #England #UK today for Sunday lunch. The main event – Roast sirloin of #Cornish beef served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and a selection of fresh, seasonal vegetables (cauliflower, carrots and kale) & gravy. The size of that #YorkshirePudding!!!! Such a tasty lunch after a long walk around town. #foodformybelly #foodporn #foodstagram #SundayRoast
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This northern English muffin-like creation is made from a batter of flour, eggs and water before being baked in the oven. Served most commonly as (the best) part of a Sunday roast, this pudding is proof that simple can be great. Pass the gravy!
Irish Stew is a hearty classic best enjoyed with a pint of Guinness. With beef or lamb, potatoes, and root vegetables like carrots and turnips, this powerful combo will fuel your hikes along the Irish coast line.
The idea of a sheep’s stomach stuffed with its own ground organs, onion and oats might not sound appealing but the Scot’s love it. Originating in the 15th century, this pudding is now most commonly enjoyed with a generous portion of neeps and tatties (turnip and potato) on Burn’s Night.
Hungary? Here’s some food to try when you’re hitting up Budapest
(Sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun).
You may not be able to get your tongue around it in the verbal sense, but try this one literally. This pasta dish features egg and braised cabbage and big staple of Hungarian meals – the generous use of paprika. Don’t fear, this is usually sweet paprika which makes for a unique touch rather than too much spice!
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Often served as street food, these flat, pizza sized doughnuts are fried before being smothered in sour cream or garlic sauce, and cheese. Lots of cheese. It might not be the healthiest snack, but hey – when in Budapest…
Another unique Hungarian dish is sweet pasta called túrógombóc. A little bit like gnocci, a little bit like cottage cheese dumplings they can be served with berries, chocolate or cream.
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A sour cherries, sour cream and sugar soup found commonly in Hungary, this tart tantalizer can even be braved as a main course.
Food to try in… Czech Republic
A tasty eastern European version of the French crepe, these are best enjoyed with sugar, cream or berries.
Food to try in… France
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If you want a proper baguette, Paris is the proper place to get one. If you’re looking for something more filling, have it with melted butter and fresh ham for a scrumptious midday sandwich. Best enjoyed on a picnic blanket under the Eiffel Tower with a bottle of wine.
#Escargots — would you eat them? I say HELL YES! (Also, super impressed that there’s a snail emoji! Did not expect that!) Every time I go to Paris, I MUST have escargots. They’re buttery and garlicky and fresh — so amazing! Sopping up the sauce after is a must. And if you want a tip, head to Chartier in the 9eme for an awesome French meal in a chaotic but beautiful French atmosphere that won’t break the bank. This place is dirt cheap compared to most Paris restaurants! So would you ACTUALLY eat the escargots? Tell me!
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Listen to Adventurous Kate. Ignore the luminous shade of green, and give them a go. Smothered in garlic and overflowing with juices, snails have been considered a delicious starter since Roman times.
We know them as macaroons – and there’s a good chance you already love ’em… well, wait ’til you reach Paris. You’ll find hundreds of stores dedicated solely to these colourful, irresistible cake-sandwiches. Head to Angelina, opposite the Louvre to sample Coco Chanel’s personal favourites, and wash them down with a famous Angelina hot chocolate!
Food to try in… Italy
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Traditionally a first course of any Italian meal, but more recently served large enough to be a main one, these giant wooden sharing boards are laden with the tastiest Italian cheeses such as pecorino, buffalo mozzarella and it’s creamier cousin burrata, cuts of dry-cured Prosciutto ham, salami, olives, bread, and a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip. Best enjoyed in a shady Florence street or overlooking the Cinque Terre, they’re perfect for hours of grazing.
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Venice’s very own take on Spanish tapas or Basque pintxos are served in traditional bacaris or osteries – small, cosy and inviting hole in the wall cafes where locals gather for cheap eats, even cheaper wine and conversation in the late afternoon sun.
If you’re heading to Venice, don’t miss Bacareto de Lele for the best value cicetti and appertivo in the world.
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Does a pesto pilgrimage sound like your idea of heaven? Head to the western coast of Italy – to Genoa and the Cinque Terre, precisely. The birthplace of this magical mix of pine nuts, basil, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese , salt and olive oil has some of the best trattorias where you can load up on pasta covered in it, and pots full of it.
Food to try in… Germany
Germany’s fast food of choice is a unique take on our own hotdog. Literally, it’s a hot dog. Smothered in curry ketchup, these sausages are steamed, then fried, and served on a pile of French fries.
With over 200,000 Turkish people now residing in Berlin, the city now has just as much awesome Middle Eastern fare as it does sausage and studel. Head to Neukolln or Kreuzberg areas of Berlin for the most amazing falafels. The soft pita pieces usually come with various picked fruits and spiced yogurt give contrasting flavors.
Food to try in… Greece and the Balkans
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Nope, this photo isn’t of the Italian classic lasagna. This Greek dish originally came from the Eastern Mediterranean, and is now a popular warmer throughout most of Europe. The main staples of the dish are layered eggplant or potato, surrounded by eggs and lashings of spiced lamb or pork in a succulent gravy. Top it with cheese, and you’re onto a winner.
Do you have any more recommendations for budding foodies heading to Europe? Share your photos and recommendations on Instagram with the hashtags #StarttheAdventure and #VisitEurope to be featured on our Europe destination guide… or take a look at our Europe food tours here.