It is quite evident that the quality of food consumed during any journey can either lead to a satisfying or an unsuccessful trip. We all keep in mind the pleasant recollection of that ideal pad thai, or that heavenly pain au chocolat that still remains in our dreams today. When holiday food is tasty, it can be so delicious…fresh fish coming straight from the ocean, grilled to perfection until the skin is crunchy, savored outdoor with the smell of the sea in the air and a cold beverage close by. A pizza with a slightly charred outer layer and gooey dollops of mozzarella was found in a narrow alleyway in an Italian village. The gyro you consume in the wee hours following being overwhelmed with Greek hospitality and one too many ouzos.
But what if you want the food to be the star of your holiday, rather than the supporting actor?
Well, you’re in luck. In recent times there has been an enormous rise in vacations that focus on food, be it a designed activity that offers culinary instruction and samplings, or a holiday to an urban area that is great for food lovers. You have the option of harvesting rice and understanding how to make it in Sri Lanka, obtaining local ingredients with the professionals in places from Chiang Mai to Marrakesh, or going fishing for lobsters before indulging in them by the shoreline in Canada.
If you don’t wish to make too much effort, you could always travel to a destination renowned for its delectable cuisine. Cities such as Bologna, San Sebastian, and Sicily are all havens for food-lovers, where you’d no doubt make sure to find time for a third meal between lunch and dinner. Book a journey with lots of insider knowledge of the top food places, so that not one meal is wasted on a subpar paella.
Enjoying international cuisine is something we have been restricted from experiencing for an extended period of time. We’ve experimented with different types of meals while eating at home, such as scrounging together a meal from the fridge, or getting take-out food in numerous little plastic containers, and watching television. It’s time for us to take a trip to a cafe in the street and enjoy mussels with large pieces of baguette as the sunlight gently caresses our backs. It’s fair to say we’ve earned it.
In the U.K.
The Outer Hebrides
Best for… Scottish wild food trails
The islands located in western Scotland are connected by a remarkable food route implemented by expert cooks who take their cooking seriously, and sumptuous dishes served by community helpers. The coziness of the restaurants is inversely related to the primitive nature of the environments in which they are located.
What to eat
There is a great deal of focus on local sources in the islands, and those camping or looking to cook their own food can get a meal from the lochs around Keose on Lewis via Hebrides Fish ‘n’ Trips. Bring in loads of crab and lobster, grab mackerel, and observe birds of prey and seals in person. The Solas restaurant at the Cabarfeidh Hotel in Stornoway is renowned for its delightful dishes of local seafood and venison. Each day upon checking in, one will find the day’s dish, as well as the chef’s notes at the reception desk. Main dishes range from £14 to £23, and children’s menus are also offered. About 40 minutes from Stornoway lies Uig’s expansive sandy beaches, where children can wander for miles in low tide; during summer months, the nearby machair (or sea meadows) are covered in an array of wild flowers. The Uig Community Centre tearoom is located up on the beach and is known for its delicious soup, salmon oatcakes, and homemade ice cream that all come at an affordable café rate.
Best for… bluebell woods and fab puds
Just a short distance away from the River Avon, you can locate The Batman’s Summerhouse: a chic, Scandinavian-style hut on the edge of a bluebell forest that has a full view of the river. The kids will be pleased to discover that in the secluded backyard, there is a trampoline, rope swing, and humongous hammock to play on. Not too far away, a 20-minute drive will take you to some stunning beaches with golden sand, like the romantic Burgh Island. You can reach it via boat or a uniquely amusing sea tractor, depending on the tide.
What to eat
Miranda Gardiner, proprietor of the cabin, is a nutrition columnist and creator, and visitors can request occasional feast to have in the summerhouse for £20 per grown-up and £10 per kid. The food selection has items from the region, such as flesh and produce from Miranda’s cultivated garden. If you would rather take matters into your own hands, try fishing for wild trout and salmon in the river, or roam around the eight acres of woodlands searching for elderflower, wild garlic, and the peculiar pignut, which has a taste somewhat similar to hazelnuts. Going to Devon would not be complete without sampling the classic afternoon tea. Take a stroll by the river to Avon Mill garden store for delicious homemade pastries, recovered wild blossoms and homegrown honey. Stop by the Valley View Café after leaving the beach and chill out on the sunny terrace; it only costs £5.20 for two spacious home-baked scones with lots of strawberry preserve, whipped cream, and tea. At the nearby Aune Valley farm shop, you’ll come across a range of locally-sourced and chemical-free meats, cheeses, and vegetables to make dishes with in the cabin, or bring back with you.
Best for… woodland retreats and eats
Be located near the border of the North York Moors National Park while having a variety of outdoor activities to choose from. Go and discover the forest in Cropton and close to Dalby Forest, and take a ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway to get an awesome look of the national park. Take a day out to the lovely beaches of Scarborough or Whitby. Choose to stay in one of Forest Holidays’ cabins at Keldy, and you’ll have access to many fun activities! There are trails for walking and biking that are easily navigable because they are labelled, and even archery, forest ranger trips, and nighttime vision tours (which our children love).
What to eat
The Blacksmiths Country Inn, located just a 10-minute drive from Cropton Forest and boasting a prestigious award, offers meals featuring fresh, local ingredients such as meat and game sourced a few miles away. Featured dishes include Ryedale steak & Guinness pie (£11.95), and oven-roasted salmon with a luxurious cream and lobster, prawn & chive sauce (£14.95). Matthew and his wife Gemma are a pair who run Willowgate Bistro in Pickering, providing a seasonal selection of dishes crafted with locally grown ingredients. For the starter, you can have pan-seared scallops with black pudding, parsnip chips and beetroot puree. The duck breast main course is cooked so that it is still slightly pink inside, served with roasted garlic & thyme mashed potato, shallots, figs and redcurrants. Two-course evening menus, from £24.95. Trenchers, which is a renowned spot for foodies, is primarily known for their fish & chips prepared using Yorkshire beef dripping as well as salmon, crab and Whitby scampi.
The Lake District
Best for… hikes and hearty meals
Families are presented the opportunity to relive the adventures from the book Swallows and Amazons at Lake Windermere, but also to explore its western side either on foot or bike and eat food taken from the surrounding lush woodland and areas of foliage.
What to eat
The Lakeside Hotel & Spa has a fantastic reputation for its cuisine; John Ruskin’s Brasserie has some mouth-watering dishes including Herdwick lamb, celeriac risotto and sticky toffee pudding that is perfect for the little ones (for two courses only £29 on Monday-Thursday, with smaller portions available). Richard Booth, the head chef, looks for wild garlic and damsons to add to the items that are grown in the hotel’s garden, as well as the herds of sheep and rare breed cattle. If you’re planning a day’s outing in the north part of the lake by the Claife jetty, why not hop on your bike and ride through the off-road shorelines to Wray Castle, where some delicious treats from the National Trust await (remember to bring your own bicycles or rent ones at Grizedale Mountain Bikes, halfway between the hotel and Claife). Go back to Claife and take a 1.5 mile trek through beech tree forest to get to Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter, located in Near Sawrey.
Best for… forest, coast and farm stays
Amid the breathtaking ocean scenery and right next to a natural area, Fforest Farm is ideal for regaining a passion for being outdoors. Indulge your heart in the comfy surroundings of one of the domes at the Hygge event, or take part in the Fforest Gather from 14-27 August, where you can acquire vintage techniques such as cheese production and looking for food in the wild.
What to eat
At Cardigan’s Pizzatipi, located at Fforest’s harbor, their wood-fired pizza has earned them noteworthy acclaim. Close by, Bara Menyn provides organic, sourdough bread, breakfast and lunch items gathered from nearby sources, and freshly baked items. The lodges at Fforest come with complete kitchens and 10 minutes away, Glebelands organic roadside stand offers fresh produce including root veggies, Russian red kale, and other hard-to-find items (glebelandsmarketgarden.co.uk). Solitary sandy beaches and stunning coastal strolls offer free entertainment. Learn how to search for food in the wild with Jade Mellor, an expert on local wild foods. You can go for a brief stroll from the campground to the lovely River Tei – Heritage Canoeshas boat trips that allow you to explore sections of the canyon which are otherwise out of reach.
Outside of the U.K.
Perfect Pintxos in San Sebastian
No matter if you’re nibbling on pintxos and drinking a chilled glass of txakoli, or indulging in one of the several Michelin-starred places to eat, it’s no wonder San Sebastian lives up to its name as the ideal urban center for those who are passionate about food. For this three-day period, you’ll find out the best places to visit and what foods to try. Taking a cue from your visits to the bars, you’ll receive instructions on how to make the ultimate pintxos, take a guided tour of the markets employed by the most reputable cooks in town, and have a blast as you travel to La Rioja for a wine-sampling experience. Your base is the swish Hotel Maria Cristina.
Chicago, Beyond the Pizza
The range of food experiences in Chicago goes much further than just deep-dish pizza, which is highlighted by the many food tours that are available. Visit the Revival Food Hall to taste food from the city’s most famous restaurants. Don’t forget to stop at Lito’s Empanadas and Smoque BBQ for a truly delectable experience (revivalfoodhall.com). Visiting Lincoln Park in the north part of town is worth it just to taste the delicious kalamata chicken served atop a bed of steak fries that’s been cooked in garlic and lemon roasting juices and costs only £10 (athenianroom.net). Stay in the middle of the city, close to Restaurant Row, at the Hoxton and you’ll only be a few minutes away from the life-altering burger at Au Cheval.
Street Food and Tagine in Marrakesh
As the sun sets on Marrakesh, a mesmerizing aroma from the food carts of Djemaa el-Fna wafts through the evening air. Here, one can partake in specialities such as charred chicken and merguez sausages, accompanied by freshly baked flatbread. However, the hustle and bustle of these busy food stands can be overwhelming, which is why taking a guided tour is a great way to discover the best food around without the strain. The Riad Star hotel offers its guests the experience of the Jazz Age through its rooms and traditional pool in the courtyard. Visitors can avail of different packages that include a walk through the spice stalls and food markets, along with a cooking workshop to make a lamb tagine dish.
Go Gastronomic in Norway
Trondelag, with its major city of Trondheim, is set to be a top destination for people who love food as it has been designated a European Area of Gastronomy in 2022. This area is where you’ll find the globe’s three highest-ranked restaurants as per the Michelin guide (Credo, Fagn and Speilsalen), as well as the Trondelag Food Festival (July 28-30), making it a prime location to truly immerse yourself in Norwegian cuisine. If you take a personal excursion, you can acquire the knowledge of how to create cheese, search for edible seafood like seaweed and mollusks, and cook your own meatballs.
Gourmet Walking Holiday in Burgundy
Ah, wine and cheese. Is there any better pairing? You can find this amazing pair of elements all throughout France, but there’s a special something in Burgundy. In Dijon, there’s an abundance of mustard and Beaune has some of the best chocolate around. So you’ll want to work up an appetite. On this solo-exploration of French gastronomy in Burgundy, you can wander through age-old towns, tranquil forests and sample lots of cheese and wine. Plus, you’ll even get to go truffle hunting! Accommodation is in characterful hotels.
A Food Adventure in Sicily
Everywhere you go in Sicily you can enjoy delicious dishes – from the smooth eggplants in the pasta alla Norma to the succulent flesh of freshly-caught shrimp. Not to forget the arancini and cannoli. Booking this group tour will make it easy to have an understanding of the entire island. You’ll be able to enjoy Palermo’s street-food, learn how to cook with a chef in not-so-popular Trapani, participate in wine tastings in Marsala, and explore cheese production in a family farm located near Ragusa.
The food scene in Athens has exploded in recent years; Greek classics are given modern twists at restaurants like Feedel Urban Gastronomy (mains from £13) and Dopios (mains from £9). Experience the culinary delights that the city has to offer by going on a food tour. Taste the delicious bougatsa custard pies and the chewy koulouri bread rings, all for only £50 from alternativeathens.com. You will also take a tour of Varvakios Market and the region with many spices, where you can buy fresh oregano and red saffron. The St George Lycabettus, a charming hotel, has a lot of delicious eateries nearby, and offers a stunning vista of the Acropolis.