5 Unexpectedly Great Foodie Cities in Europe
Europe has no shortage of celebrated food capitals. With global culinary powerhouses like France, Italy, and Spain, food tourism is one of the continent’s major attractions. But if you venture off the beaten path and eat in some of the more unlikely foodie cities, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Foodie cities in Europe
1. Budapest, Hungary
The Hungarian capital is known for many things, but until recently, food hasn’t been one of them. Hungarian fare is tasty and fairly heavy, but a new wave of young and inventive foodies are turning this on its head. These days, tourists flock to the capital for old favorites like goulash and lángos, as well as hip street-food style eateries that reinvent local dishes at enticing prices.
Must-eat: Be sure to try lángos – a deep fried flat bread usually topped with cheese and sour cream. It’s a Hungarian specialty and available at most markets and even train stations.
Insider tip: For a new spin on traditional recipes, visit Bors GasztroBar. There you can make your way through their ever-changing selection of soups and sandwiches, including a delectable take on goulash soup.
How to get there by train: There are fast connections from Vienna and Bratislava. There are also several overnight trains from cities further afield, including Berlin, Munich, Prague, Warsaw, and several Balkan states.
2. Naples, Italy
Italy is one of the food capitals of the world, so it’s not surprising to see an Italian city featured in a foodie list. But when you consider how much else Naples has to offer – particularly when it comes scenery, culture, and location – it’s easy to overlook its food accolades. Modern pizza was invented here, so you won’t find a cheaper or better margherita pizza anywhere else in Italy – or the world for that matter.
Must-eat: You can’t visit Naples and not sample a simple margherita pizza with fresh ingredients. If you avoid the tourist traps, it shouldn’t cost you more than a few euros.
Insider tip: Seek out a deep fried pizza – another Neapolitan specialty. For warm, local hospitality and unbeatable prices, visit Pizza Fritta Da Antonio on Via Giuseppe Simonelli 58.
How to get there by train: There are regular high speed and regional trains between Naples and Rome that take between one and three hours, and several daily trains south towards Pompeii and Sorrento.
3. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Not many people link the Slovenian capital as one of the high-end foodie cities. But thanks to tasty local dishes, several popular restaurants, and new initiatives such as the Open Kitchen food market, this is all starting to change. Every Friday from mid-March to October, chefs from the city and outlying regions gather in the Central Market to showcase the country’s best food. You’ll find a range of traditional and modern delicacies cooked fresh before your eyes, and all at street food prices.
Must eat: Kranjska klobasa, or Carniolan sausage, is the most famous Slovenian specialty. It’s common in markets and restaurants throughout the city.
Insider tip: Visit Ljubljana’s food markets even when Open Kitchen isn’t running. You’ll pick up fresh seasonal fruit, vegetables and delicious cured and fresh meats from across Slovenia at unbeatable prices.
How to get there by train: Ljubljana is the heart of rail travel in Slovenia, and most local destinations are less than 3 hours away. There are direct international trains to Zagreb, Rijeka, Graz, Salzburg, and Pula.
4. Berlin, Germany
Berlin has fast become one of the street food capitals of Europe, thanks to the innovative and vibrant inhabitants that have helped to shape the city. But just because it’s street food it doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing on quality. Berlin eateries serve up delicious, well-priced food catering to a range of tastes, whether you’re looking for a 2 a.m. burger, a high-end meal, or a coffee shop snack. The burgeoning food market scene also allows you to sample dozens of items in a single, vibrant space.
Must eat: Berlin is a master of burgers, and few do them as well as Burgermeister. This tiny eatery beneath the U-Bahn tracks may be slightly touristy, but it’s worthy of the hype.
Insider tip: For the best street food selection you can’t miss Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg. The lively market is the place to be on a Thursday evening.
How to get there by train: Berlin is served by InterCity, ICE, and EuroCity trains. There are regular trains to Berlin from all German and several international cities, and night trains from Amsterdam, Vienna, Zurich, and Budapest.
5. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels has been a quiet powerhouse of the European foodie scene for several years. Its various international influences from nearby neighbors have blended with delicious traditions that will delight all tastes and budgets. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a quick fix in the form of traditional Belgian snacks, or a more discerning meal at one of its trendy or fine dining establishments. A trip to the Belgian capital will leave you well satiated.
Must eat: Do the Belgian triple – fries, waffles, and chocolate. You can’t go wrong with these in Brussels, whether you choose to go budget or decadent.
Insider tip: One-euro waffles abound in Brussels. But for a special treat, head to the city’s most popular establishment Maison Dandoy and sample their more decadent options.
How to get there by train: Brussels is served by several high-speed trains including Thalys, Fyra, InterCity, EuroStar, ICE, and TGV. There are regular trains to most local destinations, and easy international connections to Cologne, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, among others.
You can’t really go wrong when it comes to food in Europe. Whether you plan on visiting popular foodie cities on a European food tour, or if you’re looking for something slightly offbeat, there are few better ways to experience a country than through its traditional and modern dishes.