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If you plan your trips around food like we do, don’t miss these cities.
We’ve been to over ninety countries and we’ve taken more than sixty food tours in over 25 countries. For us, it’s all about the food. In our opinion, there’s no better way to get to know a culture. If you’re a foodie like us and you love to travel, then you will want to know about these eight amazing culinary capitals. They are among the world’s best for their legendary food scene, quality local ingredients, and rich culinary heritage. Read more to plan the best vacations for foodies.
Voted Food Capital of the World by the readers of Condé Nast Traveller in 2022, Bologna stands out as a remarkable foodie city. This is due to its rich culinary heritage deeply embedded in the Emilia-Romagna region’s traditions. The city’s commitment to authentic Italian cuisine is evident in its diverse array of eateries, ranging from rustic osterias to upscale restaurants, all celebrating classic dishes like tagliatelle al ragù and tortellini.
Bologna’s contribution to the culinary world include balsamic vinegar, mortadella, parmesan cheese and parma ham. Vibrant markets, such as Mercato di Mezzo, contribute to the city’s lively food culture with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. The city’s wine culture, featuring exceptional local wines like Lambrusco and Sangiovese, complements its gastronomic offerings.
We did a top-ranked food tour with Delicious Bologna and our local guide, Mattia, was incredibly knowledgeable. The tour was so enjoyable. A highlight was learning how to make tortellini – and of course sampling pasta, meats, cheeses, wines and gelato.
Oaxaca stands out as an exceptional foodie city for several compelling reasons. Renowned for its rich culinary traditions rooted in indigenous ingredients and techniques, Oaxaca offers a diverse and vibrant gastronomic experience. The city is famous for its complex and flavorful moles, mezcal, and traditional street foods like tlayudas and chapulines (grasshoppers).
Local markets, such as Mercado Benito Juárez, showcase a vast array of fresh produce, herbs, and spices that contribute to the unique flavors of Oaxacan cuisine. With its warm hospitality and a strong sense of community around food, Oaxaca has rightfully earned its reputation as a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic and delicious Mexican culinary experience.
A great way to get to the heart of Oaxaca is through this Mezcal and Mole Food Tour. We found this experience fascinating! Have you ever heard of a mezcal sommelier? They exist! This tour is really a tasting, where you try seven different moles from local family-owned restaurants. Each is paired with seven different artisanal mezcals. Plus you get a welcome mezcal cocktail!
San Sebastián, located in Spain’s Basque Country, is celebrated as a premier foodie city for various compelling reasons. Renowned for its pintxos (tapas) culture, the city boasts a plethora of pintxos bars offering exquisite bite-sized culinary creations. The quality of local produce, including fresh seafood from the Bay of Biscay, is exceptional, contributing to the city’s renowned gastronomy.
San Sebastián is home to the second most Michelin-starred restaurants per capita in the world, showcasing the culinary innovation and mastery of its chefs. San Sebastián is a food lover’s paradise, drawing visitors from around the world to savor its delectable offerings, and should be on every list of best vacations for foodies. Local drinks like the kalimotxo or patxaran, and local wines like Txakoli, complement the cuisine perfectly.
To best understand the food culture in San Sebastián, we recommend the popular evening Ultimate San Sebastian Pintxos & Wine Tour. You will partake in the Basque tradition of “txikiteo,” moving from bar to bar sampling pintxos and drinks, visiting eight pintxos bars and meet the families behind them. Learn how to walk in and order like a local!
Istanbul has always occupied a prominent position on some of the world’s major crossroads. Perched majestically between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and with close proximity to Africa, the cuisine here has been influenced by a myriad of cultures for thousands of years.
We’ve done dozens of food tours in more than 25 countries. However, the one in Istanbul with Yummy Istanbul goes down as one of our most memorable (and the longest – read about it here!) It’s on TWO continents and includes a couple of ferry rides. You will sample around fifty foods, starting with breakfast.
Osaka has earned its reputation as a stellar foodie city for a myriad of compelling reasons. Often hailed as the “Kitchen of Japan,” Osaka boasts a diverse and delectable culinary scene deeply rooted in its local culture. The city is renowned for its street food. Iconic dishes like takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) encapsulate the region’s rich flavors.
Osaka is also a haven for fresh seafood, thanks to its proximity to the sea. The bustling food markets, such as Kuromon Ichiba Market, offer an array of high-quality ingredients and snacks. Additionally, Osaka is home to countless izakayas, offering a lively atmosphere for socializing over a wide array of Japanese dishes. The city’s locals, known for their love of good food, contribute to the warm and inviting food culture that makes Osaka one of the best vacations for foodies.
In addition to a street food cooking class where we learned how to make okonomiyaki, we took this top-ranked Osaka Food Tour. We went to five restaurants and sampled 13 dishes, plus a couple of drinks, and it was great fun.
Hong Kong stands out as an exceptional foodie city for numerous compelling reasons. Renowned for its diverse and dynamic culinary scene, the city offers an unparalleled array of dining experiences. These range from bustling street markets to world-class Michelin-starred restaurants. Hong Kong is celebrated for its Cantonese cuisine, with dim sum, roasted meats, and fresh seafood taking center stage.
The city’s international influences contribute to a global gastronomic landscape, featuring a rich tapestry of flavors from around the world. Whether exploring traditional cha chaan tengs for local favorites or indulging in innovative fusion dishes, Hong Kong’s food culture is a vibrant blend of authenticity and innovation. This makes it a haven for food enthusiasts seeking both traditional and cutting-edge culinary delights.
We did this Hong Kong Island Food Tour by Hello Hong Kong and it was a fabulous introduction to Hong Kong’s culinary culture. You’ll sample five delicious dishes while walking around, learning about the history and its impact on the food, and discovering a myriad of Asian ingredients.
Lyon drew us with its reputation as a foodie capital, which in France is saying a lot! Indeed, the food here is rich and delicious. Bouchons are restaurants unique to Lyon, and they serve Lyonnais specialties and regional wine. One of France’s most famous chefs, Paul Bocuse, made his home here and was the inspiration for the chef in Disney’s Ratatouille.
Singapore has rightfully earned its reputation as an outstanding foodie city, offering an exceptional culinary experience on multiple fronts. The city’s hawker centers are legendary, showcasing a plethora of affordable yet incredibly flavorful local dishes like laksa, Hainanese chicken rice, and chili crab. Singapore’s food scene is further enriched by its multiculturalism, with influences from Chinese, Malay, Indian, and other global cuisines.
The city-state is home to a remarkable array of fine dining establishments, many of which have been recognized with Michelin stars, presenting innovative and exquisite culinary creations. The dedication to food quality, the vibrant street food culture, and the diverse culinary influences make Singapore a paradise for food enthusiasts seeking a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.
We’ve done several different food tours in Singapore, but I recommend this small-group tour of the hawker markets to learn how to eat like a local. You’ll try 10 dishes and explore Singapore’s distinct neighborhoods by foot between bites. When you’re done, you’ll be able to walk into any hawker center and order with confidence.
Summary: Best Vacations for Foodies
These eight amazing culinary capitals are among the world’s best for their legendary food scene. Throw a dart and pick one of these cities for your next foodie vacation. You can’t go wrong!