If there’s one thing we truly believe here at Savored Journeys, it’s that eating well and traveling well go together like … well, you can’t have one with the other, as they say. For us, it’s part of the experience to taste the tapas in Barcelona, the sushi in Tokyo, and that incredibly delicious sauerkraut soup in Prague. That’s why we make it a priority to visit top foodie destinations around the world.
If you agree, then you’re probably a foodie traveler, just like we are. We make food a priority during our travels, in order to experience the culture, learn about the people, and immerse ourselves in what makes this place unique. Yes, we believe you can do all of that through food.
Why We Travel For Food And So Should You
Culinary vacations are becoming more popular now than ever before. We’ve all started to realize that many of our favorite things to do on vacation and the strongest memories we take back home with us have to do with food. Maybe you took a really great food tour, or you learned to make pasta in a cooking class, or you ate at a particularly amazing restaurant. Those are all cherished memories now.
Have you ever noticed how even the faint aroma of something you ate on vacation instantly takes you back to when you experienced it? Tasting an Argentinian Malbec transports me to a tasting room in Mendoza. The smell of galangal and lime instantly brings to mind the Thai cooking class we took in Chiang Mai. Even the sight of choclo (really large corn) gets me excited for the intense flavors of Peruvian food. Just ask my husband – “big corn”, makes me unreasonably excited.
Food is powerful. It’s what makes us who we are as a people. It is an essential part of life and community. In fact, I seriously question whether you can experience the real, authentic side of a culture without experiencing the food. After all, what is Thailand without a plate of Pad Thai, China without Dim Sum, Canada without poutine, Mexico without street tacos?
Indulging in Michelin-starred restaurants, veering off the beaten path to where they make the best-fried noodles, immersing yourself in pasta making in Chianti, or even accepting a dare to eat balut in the Philippines – these are the things vibrant memories are made of.
Top Foodie Vacations Around the World
We are always searching for culinary vacations that promise incredible dining options, fun food-inspired experiences and some really good wine to wash it all down with. And while there are so many great locations around the world that satisfy that craving, some stand out more than others in the culinary department.
I have to admit, even picking only 21 destinations that we think are foodie heaven is hard – there are so many! When it comes to foodie destinations, the best ones have irresistible food that’s you can’t find anywhere else. Some will immediately come to mind, like Italy and Spain. Others you have to search a little for.
Some of the best wines come out of Mendoza, but did you know about its culinary scene? Mendoza is a perfect spot for foodies who want to enjoy all three of pillars of good travel in one destination: good food, wine and adventures. Many of the top wineries in the region serve impressive multi-course wine lunches from their winery restaurants that have often have breathtaking views of the Andes from every seat and include as much wine as you want to drink.
Visit these wineries and restaurants for a complete foodie experience in Mendoza:
- Bodega Ruca Malen (lunch)
- Andeluna Cellars (lunch)
- The Vines of Mendoza (for a comprehensive tasting)
- Frances Mallman 1884 (Delicious food, great atmosphere, top chef)
- Siete Fuegos (Fine dining on an open fire — and stay at The Vines Resort & Spa – check prices and read reviews)
One of those things you don’t immediately know about Manila, and the Philippines in general, is that it is a major street food mecca. I’m not sure there’s anywhere else on earth that can rival the street food choices (except maybe Thailand). There are so many different specialties, that it’s nearly impossible to list them all. We’ve done what we could in this post to familiarize you with the awesome foods you can find in the Philippines. The principality of El Nido on the island of Palawan is also a great foodie destination in the Philippines. We don’t really think you can go to this country and not visit a few of the islands, and Palawan is truly one of the most breathtaking. Not only will you be surrounded by the natural beauty of this place, there are some great food choices in El Nido to keep you fully immersed.
It’s France. Of course there’s amazing food! But when people plan their trips to Paris, they tend to forget that the city is a foodie paradise. There are so many fun food things to do that will enhance your trip and help you build lasting memories. Croissants and Croque Monsieurs belong right there alongside the Eiffel Tower and Sacre-Coeur. No vacation to the French capital is complete without trying the foods that make the country so unique – yes, escargot and frog’s legs included.
Whether that’s a stop off one of Paris’ many street food markets to check out the products, at a local crepe stand, or on a full-day food tour, there are many ways to taste and enjoy Paris. See this post for a few of our favorite foodie things to do in Paris, that can be added alongside sightseeing, to create a diverse and interesting itinerary.
A must-do on many foodie’s list is a pilgrimage to Copenhagen, Denmark, to eat at Noma, a highly acclaimed restaurant that’s spent many years at the top of the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef/owner Rene Redzepi knows how to delight diners with his ultra-modern menu, but soon Noma will be transformed and will not longer be open to diners. That’s no problem, because many chefs have come out of the Noma kitchen to build their own restaurants and so the spread of amazing restaurants in Copenhagen continues.
A few of our favorite options in Copenhagen are the more relaxed Relae, the first all-organic restaurant to make the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and the trendy food-filled Copenhagen Street Food where food trucks and stalls sell amazing International dishes.
Where to stay in Copenhagen: 71 Nyhavn Hotel (see prices and read reviews.)
Another big city that is often overlooked as a food destination is London. But don’t make this mistake! London is the food capital of the world. No where will you find the array of food choices, dining experiences, foodie activities, etc, that you will find in London.
People often think England doesn’t have any good food – or that it consists merely of fish and chips and pub food. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, London is one of the biggest food cities in the world. You can find every type of cuisine imaginable in the city. Plus, where else in the world can you find nearly 1,500 afternoon tea spots in just one city? Okay, I made that number up, but it has to be pretty close!
You can browse around Borough Market, or Camden Market – which are two of our absolute favorites, or you can stop for a street food break at the really cool and fun Boxpark in Shoreditch. We absolutely love Soho for the dizzying array of food choices. You can’t walk three steps without coming up a different restaurant, wine bar, pub, waffle bar, gelateria – you name it.
One of the top things on most foodie’s bucket lists is to take cooking classes in Italy. We dream of making tender, homemade pasta and rich meaty tomato sauces, drinking wine from Tuscany and eating briny olives and antipasto on the terrace overlooking the vineyards. This experience can be found all over Italy — there’s no shortage of cooking schools and wine tasting tours.
Cook Eat Discover offers a 4-7 day cooking retreat , which explores classic cooking techniques while introducing you to the Tuscany region and its abundance of acclaimed wines and local products.
If you’ve been to Spain, you already know that the entire country is vastly rich in culture, heritage, and especially products and foods that are specific to each micro region. Catalunya is one of those regions, and the amount of unique products, recipes and foods you can find there is astounding.
Catalunya has a very complex food culture. Not only does it have specific products that you don’t find in other parts of Spain, each of the smaller areas of Catalunya also have their own unique dishes that other areas of Catalunya don’t have. As a foodie in that area, you really will become immersed in a rich food culture. Even if you wanted to avoid it, you couldn’t. Food is so much a part of who they are.
While there, we discovered a plethora of products and foods you must try. You can visit wineries (there are many different wine regions – including Priorat and Emporda, plus they make Cava in Catalunya.)
San Sebastian, Spain
It might not be a major cosmopolitan city like Paris or London, but San Sebastian is perhaps the greatest food destination in the world, with more Michelin stars per capita than any other city. It makes the list not only because of the overabundance of haute cuisine, but because it is literally a foodie paradise, with its incredible view over the crescent bay and the beautiful La Concha Beach. There are three 3-star restaurants, among a handful of 1- and 2-starred places, plus a plethora of pintxos bars serving gourmet-style bites that are just as good as any fancy meal you’ve ever had. The city is also within easy driving distance of some of Spain’s famed Rioja wine producers.
- For pre-arranged food tours around the city, you’ll find that San Sebastian Food has great offerings, from cooking class, to tapas crawls to a mix of wining and dining.
- Arzak – 3-stars — one of the top restaurants in the world — not to be missed.
- Akelare – 3-stars — brilliant food and an exceptional view of the Bay of Biscay.
Just an hour or so from San Sebastian is the Rioja wine region of Spain, where you’ll also find some really incredible food from Michelin star chefs and formidable home-style restaurants. One of the funnest foodie things we’ve ever done was a pinchos crawl down the tiny streets of Logrono, Spain. It’s a foodie’s dream!
Combine the delicious wines of Bordeaux with the gorgeous scenery and you have the vacation every foodie has been dreaming about in France. You should plan for at least 5 days in Bordeaux to give it justice. You can spend two days in the Left Bank and two days in the Right Bank, and still only scratch the surface of the wine and food possibilities. Also, be sure to spend time in the center of Bordeaux, where we found some really incredible food options, from wine bars to street food markets. The newly opened wine museum is also very much worth a visit.
A bike tour through Bordeaux is perfect for wine enthusiasts, foodies and really anyone who wants to enjoy the countryside while biking through some of the world’s most beautiful vineyards. As with your wine choice, you can go biking through the Left Bank or the Right Bank. The area around Saint Emillion is my favorite, and it’s flat and easy to ride. Imagine foie gras, duck confit and black truffles paired with bold and complex Bordeaux wines. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Check out these guided foodie activities in Bordeaux (these are affiliate links for which I may receive a small commission):
New York City, New York, USA
You really can’t deny that New York City is also a culinary capital of the world. Here you’ll find incredible food everywhere, from street vendors to Michelin-starred restaurants and even a few completely outrageous foods that you won’t find anywhere else. Seriously, things like the Ramen burger, those amazing Cronuts, and outrageously long pasta, all came out of New York City. Culinary trends seem to start and end there.
But one of the things that makes this city so great is the high number of really talented chefs that call it home. Most of them have restaurants there that aren’t insanely hard to get into, so you can eat dinner made by a master. You’ll also find huge, thin slices of New York Pizza, street hot dogs, Jewish delis, extravagant brunches. It’s all there waiting for you to discover.
Do you know that Hawaii has some really great food trucks? It’s a must-visit destination, just for the food. While it has been a premiere foodie destination for a few decades, at least, it wasn’t always as accessible as it is today. You no longer need to have reservations for the top restaurants in town. Some of the best food in Hawaii can now be found in parking lots, street markets, and sometimes just parked alongside the road.
The food truck revolution hit hard and fast in Hawaii, bringing new flavors, new food concepts, and great new eating options to the islands. Great food is now more accessible to travelers than ever before. The Hawaii Regional Food movement made many Hawaii chefs (including two of my personal favorites, Roy Yamaguchi and Sam Choy) famous for the fusion of Hawaiian ingredients with classic techniques. You can now drive around the islands, especially in Oahu, and find food truck areas with multiple vendors. And the food is really good.
I’m a huge sushi fan. Who isn’t, right? Yeah, but in Tokyo, you will find the freshest, best, most awesomely amazing sushi in the world. If that’s not reason enough to head to Japan for your next foodie vacation, I don’t know what else I can say – WAIT, yes I do. I’ll tell you about the really fun, totally cool izakayas you can find in all the back alleys and small crevices around the city. It sounds sketchy, but it’s so not. In fact, it’s an adventurous foodie’s dream. Or I’ll tell you about the Tsukiji fish market, which is an absolute must visit in Tokyo. You’ll see foods you’ve never even heard of before, and get to sample tons of things along the way.
Another great activity in Tokyo for food lovers is participating in a traditional tea ceremony. While the real deal can be quite long, and they don’t really want tourists invading it, you can see what it’s all about and learn the proper manners in an informal ceremony in Hamarikyu Gardens. These things and more are part of our complete 3-day foodie guide to Tokyo.
I think Thai food is very much a universally loved cuisine. Getting to try authentic Thai dishes the way they were meant to be eaten (at a night market or from a street vendor, of course), is one of the best culinary experiences I’ve ever had. In Bangkok, there are opportunities for cooking classes, food tours, street food for every meal, even Michelin star restaurants.
For an even more unique experience, head out of town to the nearby floating markets to witness something you won’t see anywhere else. Make sure you try the mangosteens. Oh so good!
We love food and wine events, and Melbourne, Australia is home to one of the best, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. The festival extends for 17 days in March and features global culinary superstars who host events, create unforgettable dishes for participants to sample and draw crowds of over 250,000 each year. There are lunch and dinner events held in top restaurants all over the region, wine classes, street food walks, lectures, etc. And one of the best parts is the cult-favorite Crawl ‘n’ Bite event, which takes guests on a guided tour of three of the city’s hottest restaurants to enjoy a signature small plate and a perfectly matched drink. Make sure you pay attention to when the festival is announced to get prime tickets. They sell out fast.
⇒ Where to stay in Melbourne: Park Hyatt Melbourne (see prices and read reviews)
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Only an hour outside of Cape Town is the Stellenbosch Wine Region of South Africa. Of all the places we’ve been to for wine tasting, Stellenbosch is my favorite. The winery experience is so much more inviting and relaxed here. You can take a tour, or just relax at a table or on a comfy couch — the wine will be poured where ever you happen to be. The region also has a large number of top restaurants with chef’s who know the wine well and create masterpieces that live up to the wine.
Some of the best foodie things in Stellenbosch:
- Rust en Vrede Restaurant
- Overture at Hidden Valley Restaurant
- Spier Winery and Eight at Spier Restaurant
- Visit Stellenbrau Brewery
While there are many touristy things to do in Bologna and the surrounding area, it truly is one of the best culinary vacation spots in the world. There are so many food experiences to have in this area, from a full blown DOP food tour that takes you to a Parmigiano-Reggiano factory, a Parma ham production facility, and a home where traditional Balsamic vinegar is made, to a more intimate cooking class in the city, you simply will not run out of food-related things to do.
The Emilia-Romagna area (of which Bologna is the capital), is known for its wine, but you may think it’s only home to the sparkling semi-sweet Lambrusco wine. Lambrusco is found mostly in the northern part of the region, but Romagna makes mostly Sangiovese red wines, in a style not too different from neighboring Tuscany. A wine-tasting trip to Romagna will reveal a whole new world of wine you didn’t know was out there.
Mexico City, Mexico
When we were preparing to go to Mexico City, thoughts of indulging in real, authentic Mexican food were all I could think about. I could eat burritos, carnitas, enchiladas, tacos and guacamole all day, every day and be perfectly content. If that sounds like something you might say, then a culinary trip to Mexico City should definitely be at the top of your list!
There are a lot of great eating experiences to have around Mexico City. We found some really great restaurants, like Pujol and Maximo Bistrot. We tried many different mezcals and tequilas, and spent an entire day wandering around Mercado Roma, tasting awesome foods. We also highly recommend taking a food tour – we like this historic center food tour. You may even want to try your hand at making some of these foods – if you’ve never handmade a tortilla, I think it might be time you tried! Here’s a cooking class that includes a food tour of the San Angel neighborhood.
Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan
When it comes to food, Japan has more dishes to love than nearly anywhere. But for me, the star of the show is one single street in Osaka, called Dotonbori. And one of my favorite things to eat there is the famous Osaka dish, Okonomiyaki, pictured above.
Dōtonbori is one of the principal tourist destinations in Osaka. It runs along the Dōtonbori canal from Dōtonboribashi Bridge to Nipponbashi Bridge in the Namba district of the city. It’s not a huge area. It covers only about 8 blocks. But it is absolutely jam packed with restaurants, food stalls and street vendors selling every type of food specialty Japan is known for. I would make a special foodie trip to Japan, just to visit Dotonbori and eat my heart out.
Around 5pm, Dotonbori Osaka turns from a fairly quiet, mostly deserted street, into a bustling and utterly jam-packed food metropolis with lines of hungry people queued up to buy trays of hot-off-the-grill gyoza, yakisoba, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, sukiyaki! If you can eat it, they are selling it. On Dotonbori food is king!
You wouldn’t think it, would you? But Peru was named the top South America Food & Drink Destination by Frommer’s and for very good reason. Peru has a multicultural population that includes immigrants from Spain, China, Japan and more, and that helps to create a thriving food scene with regional variations that are unique and unexplored. Lima’s signature dishes, like ceviche and chicharones, are becoming favorites around the world and opening people’s eyes to the flavors of Peru. (Read our guide on foods you must try in Peru.)
Restaurants like Astrid & Gaston have been delighting foodies for many years in Lima. Superchef Gaston Acurio of La Mar and many others are priming the city with a modern take on traditional favorites. Now is the time to experience Peru’s food scene, before it is fully discovered.
⇒ Where to stay in Lima, Peru: Hilton Lima Miraflores (see prices and read reviews)
Known primarily as a cheese and chocolate destination, Switzerland has plenty of foodie-centric experiences to offer that will make for a very delicious vacation. Snuggled up in the foothills near the Gruyere castle, The Maison du Gruyère will teach you the finer points of cheesemaking. You can also take a tour of the famous Maison Cailler (Nestlé) chocolate factory in Broc. To get to both, you would want to take the Chocolate Train that leaves from Montreux and shuttles visitors daily to indulge in world-class cheese and chocolate.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans food expands way past typical American food. It has a style and culture all its own. And it’s certainly worth exploring if you’re a foodie who likes to try new things. Not only does New Orleans have an abundance of great chefs and dining experiences, it also boasts a rather sophisticated cocktail scene. Many of the cocktails served in New Orleans are routed in the city’s eclectic past, and come not only with a swizzle stick, but a long history that you’ll want to hear all about.
- Unique foods you’ll want to try in New Orleans
- Shortcut Guide to the best restaurants, cocktail bars and things to do in New Orleans
- Click to see the best hotels on and near Bourbon Street.
(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links for which we may receive a small commission. All opinions and recommendations are our own.)
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.