Travelers can learn a lot about a place by exploring its food and drink. And we don’t just mean sitting down to dine in a restaurant. (Though, we’re all for doing that, too.) Culinary tourism takes a deep dive into a destination’s food trends and culture, and it pulls back the curtain on everything from local farming practices to traditional cooking techniques. Thinking of going on some tasty travels of your own? Keep these culinary travel trends in mind to help plan a perfectly delicious trip.
One of the most widely practiced food trends in the world, farm-to-table dining promotes serving food that’s grown or made locally and sourced straight from farms, ranches, wineries, and other producers. This concept is among the most time-tested trends in food tourism thanks to its lasting benefits: It lets diners know precisely where their food comes from, and it supports local businesses.
While on tour in Ireland, travelers can visit one such farm, which doubles as an apple orchard and distillery. There, farmers share a peek inside the distilling process, as well as tastes of their homemade ciders, syrups, and spirits. On tour in France, travelers can taste and learn about locally made, small-batch cheeses, such as Saint-Nectaire, Fourme d’Aurières, and Caperon Fermier, while visiting a Burgundian fromagerie.
The only thing better than actually savoring a destination’s signature dishes? Learning to make them under the tutelage of a local chef. Cooking classes—which have emerged among major 2021 food trends after virtual versions became popular during the pandemic—allow travelers to do just that.
While on tour in Eastern Europe, try your hand at making sweet and savory pierogis, Poland’s most iconic food. In Florence, roll up your sleeves (and roll out some dough) for a cooking class whose menu includes traditional Italian bruschetta, pasta, and tiramisu. And while visiting Brussels on tour, sip Belgium’s world-renowned beers as chefs show you how to prepare a filling Belgian-style feast.
Bonus: When you’re back home, sharing the stories and methods behind the dishes you made will help keep important traditions alive.
This farming method—and another one of the world’s enduring food trends—is about more than just growing food. It’s about meeting the nutritional needs of a community’s current and future generations, improving quality of life for farmers and community members, and conserving natural resources, all at the same time. See how it works while on tour in Thailand. There, you can visit an organic farm to learn about eco-friendly agricultural practices, and take part in a hands-on planting workshop alongside local farmers.
Rather than put the focus on a single restaurant or dish, food tours—which are among the latest food trends we're loving—introduce travelers to a variety of tastebud-pleasing treats. They also highlight several kinds of eateries—from markets to coffee shops to street-food stalls—all in one fell swoop. And the advantages don’t stop there. These fun-filled food crawls bring guests face to face with local restaurateurs, shop owners, and producers whose businesses benefit from travelers’ dollars, too.
In Ireland, taste traditional and modern Irish foods (and sip craft beer!) on a guided food tour of Galway. On our Food & Wine: Northern Italy & the Italian Riviera Tour, opt for a Food of Modena Walking Tour; you’ll sample local specialties like salami, cheese, and tigelle (English muffin-like snacks that are also known as crescentine). In Athens, follow along as a local guide leads the way to the Greek capital's hidden foodie hot spots.
Wine tourism is among the culinary travel trends that show no signs of slowing down—and it's no wonder why. Like food, wine can teach travelers a lot about the place where it’s made, and it’s just downright delicious. While on tour in Portugal, travelers can hop between wineries in the Douro Valley and the Alentejo and Dão regions, sipping varietals each area is known for.
In Northern Italy, fans of Barolo—widely regarded as one of the country’s greatest wines—won’t want to miss a visit to the town of the same name. There, activities include sampling local Barolo vintages in a vineyard’s cellar. More delicious European wines await in Spain, France, and Greece. South of the equator, travelers can learn about biodynamic wines in Chile, and taste varietals that make Mendoza, Argentina, one of the most highly regarded wine regions in the world.