The best places to go on vacation often offer the best food in the world. Exploring local cuisine, trying dishes you won’t find anywhere else (or won’t find as they were intended to be made), and savoring fresh-from-the-farm or sea ingredients all add a delicious layer of enjoyment to the best places to go in the world. So we’ve gathered some of the top travel destinations for foodies so you can make mouthwatering memories.
Dig into world-famous French food and wine
From the local boulangerie’s fresh-baked baguettes to the Michelin-starred restaurants of Paris, the French take their food très seriously. That makes France a hot destination for foodies looking to eat, drink, and sightsee their way through a fascinating country famous for its cuisine, culture, and chic fashion. Even though many of France’s iconic dishes are very familiar (thank you, Julia Child!), there’s no more palette-satisfying way to enjoy them than to dine where they were perfected.
You’ll do French cuisine right on our small group Food & Wine: A Taste of Bordeaux & Burgundy tour. Experience some of France’s hottest culinary locales with fellow foodies, all while taking in charming medieval villages, coastal towns, and historic sites. Sip Bordeaux in Bordeaux, take a patisserie class in Paris, and sample small-batch cheeses in Burgundy. Wine tastings at nearly every stop satisfy even the most enthusiastic wine connoisseur. A visit to Cite du Vin, the immersive wine museum in Bordeaux, is a must for oenophiles. Here are some of the French dishes you won’t want to miss on any of our France tours.
Must-try foods in France:
The ultimate comfort food, boeuf bourguignon is a classic stew featuring beef braised in red wine to tenderize it. Once considered a peasant’s meal, many French consider this beloved beef stew their national dish. If you want to enjoy boeuf bourguignon at its absolute tastiest, order it where it originated: Burgundy. That’s where you’ll find it made with local ingredients, including red Burgundy wine and Charolais beef. You’ll want to savor this vegetable-packed stew that’s slowly cooked over a day or two to develop its hearty flavor.
Full of bright red tomatoes, vibrant green beans, black olives, and the whites and yellows of hard-boiled eggs, Salade Niçoise is as much a delight to the eyes as it is to the tastebuds. While French cuisine is stereotypically billed as “heavy,” salads are an essential part of almost every French meal. The vegetables are traditionally picked from a backyard garden and served uncooked. Tuna or anchovies are a popular addition to make Salade Niçoise the main meal, instead of a course.
Not all of France’s culinary delights are found in its celebrated restaurants. Fried while you wait, the classic crêpe (a paper-thin pancake) is an easy-to-find and even easier-to-enjoy treat sold by street vendors in every city. There are two primary varieties of crêpe: sweet and savory. The most popular sweet versions are the crêpe au sucre (think melted butter and granulated sugar) and the Nutella crêpe (try adding banana). Savory crêpes, filled with ham and cheese or egg, make for a quick, on-the-go meal. Once you’ve tasted your first crêpe, you’ll be looking for them everywhere you travel.
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Savor the enticing places and food of Portugal
Famous the world over for its Port wine and seafood dishes, Portuguese cuisine offers so much more. Fresh, hearty, and delicious, this charming country’s food is a wide-ranging banquet of local flavors, textures, and tantalizing aromas. You’ll find that especially true in Portugal’s foodie central: Porto. Cod, octopus, sardines, and shrimp are at the heart of its fish-based cuisine; the city also serves up a delicious menu of sausages, stews, sandwiches, and cheeses. And while Port wine may be Portugal’s most famous libation, its national drink is the botanical-flavored Licor Beirão (enjoyed poured over ice or to flavor both coffee and cocktails). Fresh, fruity vinho verde (a young white wine with a hint of fizz) from northern Portugal is affordable and the perfect summer pairing with seafood and picnics.
As you explore the country from top to bottom, you’ll taste all of Portugal’s food and drink scene on our small group tour, Food & Wine: A Taste of Portugal. Food is the focus as you dig into a cooking class in Lisbon to create some of the region’s famous dishes and learn about local traditions as you sip wine at an 18th-century mansion. You’ll explore the lively markets and pub culture that define the bustling city blocks of Lisbon and Porto. Locally produced olive oil and wine corks are on the menu at an olive grove farm and cork factory you’ll visit in Lisbon. “The food was over the top!” said traveler Susan. “If you’re a foodie, this trip is for you. There were many sit-down, multi-course meals of deliciously prepared Portuguese cuisine. With wine of course. Lots of wine!”
Here are some of the Portuguese dishes and drinks you won’t want to miss on any of our Portugal tours.
Must-try foods in Portugal:
There isn’t a standard recipe for this calorie-heavy sandwich, and local chefs are notoriously silent about exactly how they make their versions. But, generally, francesinha is made with ham, linguiça sausage, and steak, then topped with melted cheese and a fried egg. The whole thing is covered in a tomato and beer sauce. The sandwich is served with a side of fries (in case you’re still hungry).
With Portugal’s seafaring history, it’s no surprise that fish features heavily on many menus, especially in coastal Porto. “Cod is very popular, and there are so many ways to make it,” said staffer Nicole. “One specialty is bacalhau, or salt cod, which we got to try at the welcome dinner.” This Portuguese staple is covered in salt and air-dried under the region’s hot sun. Then it’s grilled, boiled, stewed, or fried to create a variety of dishes—enough for a different one every day of the year!
Pastel de Nata
Satisfy your sweet tooth with this egg custard-filled, flaky pastry, Portugal’s most popular and beloved treat. While its centuries-old origins are mysterious, one thing is indisputable: The classic recipe has stood the test of time. In Porto, it seems nearly every bakery offers them, so go ahead and give in to the temptation. If you can find them fresh from the oven, you’ll be an instant convert.
Portugal is home to some of the world’s best foodie cities. Check out the Portugal tours on sale in our amazing Black Friday Event →
Taste your way through Chile & Argentina
Ready to explore new foods from around the world? Head to the sultry side of the equator, where the local cuisine is the only thing bolder than the cultures. Between the vibrant street markets and lush mountainside vineyards, you’ll revel in the rich Andean traditions woven into every dish and drink. As you explore the stunning natural beauty and soak in the history of South America’s southernmost countries, you’ll discover that, down here, it’s only polite to eat every decadent morsel in sight.
On our new Food & Wine: Flavors of Chile & Argentina tour, you’ll sip all the Malbec, savor every asado, and indulge in nonstop choripán. Outside of Mendoza, Argentina, you’ll revel in the beautiful views of the snowcapped Andes as you enjoy a lunch of seasonal, local cuisine along with a wine pairing featuring Malbec, the area’s signature sip. Along the way, you’ll learn how to craft your own gin, taste the region’s wines, and take cooking classes in traditional Andean cuisine. In Santiago, Chile, a visit to the bustling culinary hotspot, El Mercado Central, includes sampling the city’s best seafood, wines, and meats. Top it all off with a mote con huesillos, the popular Chilean drink famous for its refreshing peach and cinnamon flavors. Here are some of the dishes you won’t want to miss on our Chile & Argentina tour.
Must-try foods in Chile & Argentina:
A classic pastry in the Spanish-speaking world, the Chilean empanada stands out from the others. Unlike Argentina’s half moon-shaped empanadas, Chile's square empanadas are twice as large. The traditional version, known as an Empanadas de Pino, is filled with ground beef, onion, raisins, olives, and hard-boiled egg in a crusty pastry. The popular street food is cooked in a wood-burning oven or deep fried. Try the equally delicious seafood or vegetarian options.
You won’t have any trouble tracking down a choripán, the spicy sausage sandwich that’s one of Argentina’s most iconic street foods. For all its tantalizing aroma and satisfying taste, making the sandwich is quite simple: Split a roll down the middle and fill it with grilled chorizo liberally covered in chimichurri sauce. The best way to enjoy a choripán is steaming hot off one of Argentina’s sizzling open-fire street grills.
No trip to Argentina would be complete without feasting on asado, the country’s national dish. This is barbecue at its very best. Beef, lamb, pork, ribs, sausages, and sweetbreads are grilled slowly in their purest form and seasoned only with salt. The result is meat that’s moist and tender on the inside. Asados originated with gauchos. They took advantage of Argentina’s abundance of cows and ate very well out on the range.
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Satisfy your culinary senses in Japan
In a country full of soaring skyscrapers, ancient customs and modern innovations, and miniature bonsai trees, there’s always something new to discover in the Land of the Rising Sun. Whether you dream of seeing Mount Fuji, smelling cherry blossoms, or trying an authentic bowl of ramen in Tokyo, a trip to Japan is sure to satisfy all your senses. For foodies, savoring the dishes the Japanese have perfected—including ramen, sushi, udon, and miso soup—is as satisfying as strolling a zen garden or relaxing in a hot spring bath. Japan offers some of the best food in the world, from tempura on a skewer to wagyu beef at a top steakhouse.
One of the finest ways to do a deep dive into Japan’s cuisine is through foodie experiences. Our small group Japan Adventure: Kyoto, the Japanese Alps & Tokyo tour is full of experiential food moments. Learn about the country’s culinary traditions and try Takoyaki (fried octopus ball) while strolling through Osaka’s famous Kuromon Ichiba Market. Discover the meaning of the symbolic gestures as you sip matcha in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. And create a bento box during a cooking lesson in Tokyo. Finally, in Kyoto’s bustling Nishiki Market, take time to sample senbei (savory rice crackers), tako tamago (octopus on a stick topped with a quail egg), tamagoyaki (layered omelets), amazake (sweet, non-alcoholic sake), and karaage (fried chicken). Here are some of the Japanese dishes you won’t want to miss on any of our Japan tours.
Must-try foods in Japan:
One of Japan’s most popular dishes, sushi is also the best-known Japanese dish the world over. Sushi is a special-occasion dish in Japan, but what occasion could be more special than your visit? So, enjoy! While there seem to be endless varieties of sushi, the common denominator is that each piece is prepared with rice seasoned with vinegar. If you’re used to Americanized sushi with cooked fish, be prepared to enjoy the tuna, squid, shrimp, eel, or octopus raw. Look for a neighborhood sushi bar for the best experience.
This versatile Japanese staple, made by rolling thin layers of cooked egg into a crêpe-like omelet and then slicing it into easy-to-eat pieces, is enjoyed any time of day. Tamagoyaki can be sweet or savory, depending on whether it’s seasoned with sugar or soy sauce. The versatile food is popular at breakfast, as a side dish in a bento box, and as a final course in sushi bars.
When you’re in a hurry, as most metropolitan Japanese are, the to-go choice is onigiri. These portable steamed rice balls are filled with teriyaki chicken, tuna, pickled plum, or other specialties and wrapped in nori seaweed. Readily available at any kombini (convenience store), these tasty snacks have delighted the Japanese for hundreds of years.
Looking for the best food in the world? Check out our Japan tours on sale during our amazing Black Friday Event →
Let Costa Rica captivate your taste buds
From lush jungles to vast volcanoes, plentiful wildlife, and welcoming communities, there are so many reasons to fall in love with Costa Rica. This small, Central American nation packs a mighty punch when it comes to stunning natural scenery and awe-inspiring wildlife. But traditional Costa Rican food takes any trip to this fabulous little country to a new level. Costa Rica’s homegrown philosophy is “pura vida,” or “pure life.” This also applies to the natural, colorful ingredients you’ll taste in every meal. Fresh vegetables and fruits, along with primarily mild spices, makes for healthy and delicious meals, with every bite an experience to savor.
“I've always wanted to visit Costa Rica and I'm so glad I did,” said traveler Diamond after taking our Costa Rica: Rainforests, Volcanoes & Wildlife* tour. “There were so many beautiful sights to see. Oh and the food...AMAZING!” On our small group Adventure Tour, Diamond cruised along Tortuguero’s picturesque rainforest canal, soaked in natural hot springs at the foot of the imposing Arenal Volcano, and explored Monteverde’s mystical cloud forests. Along the way, she got a taste of Costa Rican food and culture as she enjoyed a farm-to-table lunch at an eco-friendly ranch, tried her hand at making drinking chocolate, and nibbled on just-cut pineapple at an organic pineapple farm. Here are some of the Costa Rican dishes you won’t want to miss if you take this tour. (or any of our Costa Rica tours!)
Must-try foods in Costa Rica:
Ready to try some spotted rooster? Costa Rica’s national dish, gallo pinto, is named not for the poultry but for the colorful ingredients (red or black beans, cilantro, bell peppers, and onions) cooked with white rice. Traditionally a breakfast dish, gallo pinto becomes dinner when fish or meat are added. As gallo pinto relies on local ingredients, a slightly different version is served in different regions of Costa Rica.
You have to love a dish whose name means whatever local fish and vegetables the cook can “run down.” This traditional Costa Rican food is most common along the Caribbean coast, where fish is plentiful. A thick, hearty seafood and coconut stew perfect for rainy days and cooler nights, rondón typically includes coconut milk, spices, and herbs simmered for hours over a wood fire to achieve its smoky flavor.
This popular lunch plate translates to “married man.” Some say the name comes from the generously sized portion and homemade nature of the dish, just like it would be served at home. Casado is made with a mix of typical Costa Rican foods—usually rice and beans, salad, fried plantains, and meat or fish. You can find casado on the menu in nearly any restaurant in Costa Rica, although everybody makes it differently. One thing you can count on is that you won’t feel hungry after eating this fulfilling meal.
Costa Rica is home to some of the best foods in the world. Check out the Costa Rica tours on sale during our amazing Black Friday Event →
Dine your way through Thailand
There are many reasons why visiting Thailand is high on any traveler’s bucket list. Stunning tropical beaches, the dazzling beauty of its palaces and temples, and its people's welcoming hospitality all help make it a memorable vacation. But for foodies, Thailand is one of the best places to go on vacation for the best food. Thai people love their food, and they love to socialize. The two go hand in hand. Whether grabbing a bite in one of Thailand’s maze-like markets, sampling a local specialty, or sitting down for a traditional meal, every bite seems like a cause for celebration.
On our small group tour, Thailand Adventure: Bangkok, Chiang Mai & the Islands, you’ll nourish your body and soul as you travel (and eat) your way through the Land of Smiles. From bustling Bangkok to the crystal blue waters surrounding Phuket Island, the mouth-watering regional dishes with their perfectly blended spices will tantalize your taste buds. We’ll guide you through the floating markets of Bangkok and off the beaten path to an oolong tea plantation to sample local teas. Eating with locals and learning to cook Thai cuisine provide the most authentic foodie experiences. In Chiang Mai, you’ll have the opportunity to do both. Here are some of the Thai dishes you won’t want to miss on any of our Thailand tours.
Must-try foods in Thailand:
Right up there with the country’s most popular dishes, this spicy soup is made with rice or egg noodles; beef, chicken, or pork; and plenty of veggies. Red chili peppers give guay teow its enjoyable kick. Often, you’ll see locals enjoying guay teow noodle soup from a food stall late at night.
Inescapable and irresistible pad thai—the dish you can find the world over—may seem like a cliché choice. But as most who’ve traveled to Thailand will tell you, you’ll never be served a better—or more authentic—pad thai than in the country where it’s the national dish. The popular meal, which includes stir-fried rice noodles, tofu, fish sauce, shrimp, egg, and fresh lime juice among its ingredients, is found everywhere in Thailand. If you’re new to Thai food, this sweet and sour dish is an easy first step.
Kao Ka Moo
Street food doesn’t get much better than in Thailand. Sometimes seeing it prepared is as enjoyable as eating it. This succulent pork dish is slow-cooked in spices and soy sauce until the meat falls tenderly off the bone. Stand in line at a street stall, and you can watch in anticipation for the thinly chopped pork to be added to a bowl of rice with boiled eggs, pickled veggies, and Chinese cabbage (bok choy).
Thailand is one of the best places to go on vacation as a foodie. Check out the Thailand tours on sale during our amazing Black Friday Event →
Discover Spain’s enticing and delicioso cuisine
From the cava of Catalonia to the pintxos of Basque Country, the incredible food culture of Spain is as wide-ranging and alluring as its regions. Spain checks all the boxes as one of the best places to go on vacation as a foodie. Alongside Madrid’s mesmerizing museums, Barcelona’s amazing architecture, and Seville’s world-famous flamenco, Spain offers some of the world’s best food and wine. All of it is served with a zest for living life to the fullest. So grab your passport and your appetite; fresh seafood, handcrafted cheeses, sparkling white and full-bodied red wines, and tempting tapas await in Spain!
*“The cooking class in Barcelona was so much fun,” said traveler Mari of our Food & Wine: A Taste of Spain tour. “I’m infatuated with this tour because it inspired me to learn not only the Spanish cuisine but also the history and culture of Spain.” *On our small group Food & Wine Tour, Mari sampled regional dishes and took in the culture of Barcelona and Madrid, savored San Sebastian’s world-famous fare, and tasted the tempranillo wines of La Rioja and Ribera del Duero. If you join this tour, you’ll try your hand at preparing an authentic Spanish meal during a cooking class in Barcelona with a professional chef. In San Sebastian, you’ll enjoy tasting Idiazabal cheese and gilda, a typical pintxos made of olives, peppers, anchovies, and olive oil. Here are some of the Spanish dishes you won’t want to miss on any of our Spain tours.
Must-try foods in Spain:
Everyone visiting Spain must try this quintessential dish at least once—or more! We promise it’s that good. This dish is unique because, while the base recipe is the same (saffron-infused rice cooked with all the fixings in a cast-iron pot), there are many ways to enjoy it. If you want the original, try Paella Valenciana with chicken and pork. If you like seafood, paella de marisco includes prawns, clams, mussels, and squid. For a more exotic take, try paella negra. It’s cooked in squid ink, giving it a deep black color and an irresistibly rich and salty flavor.
Pan Con Tomate
Small-plate meals known as tapas are famous the world over. One of Spain’s signature tapas is pan con tomate. As the name implies, it is made with fresh, crusty homemade bread covered with a hint of garlic, a layer of ripe tomato, a drizzle of olive oil, and a dash of salt. Often, you’ll see Spaniards snacking on it at breakfast, but it’s delicious any time of day.
Fried anchovies—called boquerones fritos in Spanish—were one of staffer Jamie’s favorite dishes from her trip. “Eating boquerones paired with championes (mushrooms) and a cerveza while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people from the neighborhood was a top moment for me,” she said.
Spain features some of the best food in the world. Check out the Spain tours on sale during our amazing Black Friday Event →
Explore Australia’s remote landscapes and regional cuisine
There’s much to marvel at in this distant part of the world. Breathtaking natural wonders, from Australia’s vast Great Barrier Reef to the rugged Australian Outback, form the backdrop for cosmopolitan Sydney and multicultural Melbourne. Getting here is well worth the trip. In addition to sunshine, incredible scenery, and a welcoming culture, there’s no shortage of local cuisines to indulge in. Even the names of Aussie food intrigue: barbecued snags, dagwood dogs, fairy bread, and spag bol. Searching these dishes out and trying them is a foodie’s dream come true.
On our guided tours of Australia, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the vineyards of South Australia and sample their well-known wines, enjoy a tropical buffet aboard the boat as you sail to the Great Barrier Reef, and peruse the famed produce stalls of the Adelaide Central Market, one of Australia’s largest. If your travels land you in Australia during the month of March, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival is a must for foodies. After attending this multi-day celebration of great eating and drinking, you’ll know for sure that Melbourne is one of the best foodie cities. Here are some of the Australian dishes you won’t want to miss on any of our Australia tours.
Must-try foods in Australia:
America has its cheeseburger, Italy has its pizza, and Australia has its meat pie. The classic Aussie meat pie is a culinary icon in the Land Down Under, readily available everywhere. If you’ve had a pot pie in the States, you’ll get the concept. A flaky pastry crust, cooked golden brown, holds a filling of meat (usually beef), vegetables, and gravy. Beyond its deliciousness, the beauty of the meat pie is that it’s a portable meal that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late-night snack.
The first thing to know about vegemite is that most Australians love it. They spread it on everything: buttered bread, crumpets, toast, sandwiches, you name it. The thick, salty spread is made from the leftover yeast extract from beer and has a peanut butter consistency. Describing its taste is tricky, and most people either love or hate it. It’s best to take a small portion and see what you think. Then you can brag that you’ve tried it when you get back home.
If vegemite doesn’t appeal to your palate, one of Australia’s favorite chocolate biscuits is sure to please. A unique combo of two malted biscuits separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate, Tim Tam is an indulgent treat. You can do as the locals do and bite off each end of the Tim Tam, stick one end in a cup of hot tea or coffee, and use it as a straw. Aussies call it the Tim Tam Slam.
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