4 food-forward European cities to visit in 2023

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food-focused European cities

In recent years, the significance of food and drink in travel planning has surged, becoming the primary motivation for many travelers. Delving into local cultures and histories, a delightful meal not only satisfies the taste buds but also offers a profound insight into the destination. European cities present a vast array of culinary experiences, easily accessible to UK travelers, ranging from tours and tastings to Michelin-starred restaurants and traditional bars. Here, we present four enticing destinations and their iconic delicacies to savor upon arrival.

  1. Milan

Milan, known as Italy’s fashion capital, has experienced a dining renaissance in recent years, transforming its food scene into an exciting culinary hub. Previously characterized by dated, white tablecloth restaurants and tourist traps, the city underwent a drastic change after hosting the 2015 World Expo. Today, alongside traditional Milanese trattorias, you’ll discover natural wine bars, Michelin-starred establishments, high-end pastry shops, and innovative fast-casual concepts led by talented young chefs who prioritize fresh, local ingredients. To fully immerse yourself, embark on a food-focused walking tour through the city’s markets and partake in a cooking class with a local chef.

What to sip: Milan is renowned as the birthplace of the negroni sbagliato, a variation of the classic negroni cocktail invented here in the 1970s. Before indulging in a delectable dinner, unwind at the historic Bar Basso or the stylish Veloce Milano, where you can savor this elegant pre-dinner drink.

  1. Seville

Tapas, an integral part of Spanish culture, takes center stage in the lives of residents throughout the country. In Seville, the capital of Andalusia, tapas has a rich history dating back to the 13th century when these savory snacks accompanied evening drinks. Over time, tapas have evolved into a sophisticated concept, offering a delightful way to sample various local dishes. Embark on an evening tapeo (tapas bar crawl) or relish highly creative small plates from award-winning chef Eneko Atxa at Eneko Basque Sevilla. Alternatively, immerse yourself in Seville’s vibrant flamenco scene and reserve a table at a tablao, where flamenco performances are often accompanied by a rich tapas menu.

What to savor: Keep an eye out for legs of jamón ibérico de bellota, acorn-fed, free-range cured Ibérico ham, waiting to be expertly carved at tapas bars—a true Spanish delicacy.

  1. Venice

Responsible travelers now have a wonderful opportunity to explore the exceptional culinary offerings of Venice, thanks to the implementation of a new tourist tax for day trippers and restrictions on large cruise ships. Central to Venetian cuisine are cicchetti—small, tapas-style plates—such as crostini (toasted bread slices with various toppings), tramezzini (small triangular sandwiches), or polpette (meat croquettes). These delectable bites are typically enjoyed at cozy traditional wine bars, often standing-room-only establishments. Visit the lively and sophisticated Zoja Wine Bar & Terrace, located in the Jewish Quarter, renowned for its waterfront cicchetti bars. For craft beer enthusiasts, Il Santo Bevitore offers a range of local brews on tap to accompany your cicchetti experience.

What to indulge in: Seafood takes center stage in Venetian cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to try bigoli in salsa (long, thick spaghetti-like pasta in an anchovy sauce) or nero di seppia (risotto cooked with cuttlefish ink).

  1. Vilnius

Lithuania boasts a captivating culinary history, influenced by the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, as well as Italy, Germany, and France. During the 60 years of Soviet occupation, Lithuanian food culture suffered, but a new generation of talented young chefs has emerged, reclaiming their country’s culinary identity. They infuse traditional Lithuanian recipes with modern trends and techniques. Vibrant market halls and a burgeoning craft beer scene, rooted in Lithuania’s traditional farmhouse microbrewing tradition, make Vilnius an exciting destination for food enthusiasts. To savor the city’s flavors, visit Senoji Trobelė, a cozy restaurant in the Old Town, celebrating its 20th year in 2023. Indulge in hearty local specialties like kepta duona (fresh fried bread) and sample a wide range of authentic Lithuanian meads.

What to try: Cepelinai, Lithuania’s national dish, are German-inspired potato dumplings shaped like Zeppelin airships. They are often filled with mushrooms, meat, or dry curd cheese.

Plan your journey

For an unforgettable stay in these four destinations, Radisson Collection offers luxurious accommodations. With prime central locations, these properties provide easy access to each city’s gastronomic treasures. Alternatively, you can enjoy exceptional service and contemporary interpretations of local specialties at Radisson Collection’s in-house bars and restaurants. For more information, visit radissonhotels.com/collection.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about food-focused European cities

What are some food-focused European cities to visit in 2023?

Milan, Seville, Venice, and Vilnius are four food-forward European cities that offer incredible culinary experiences.

What makes Milan a great destination for food lovers?

Milan has undergone a dining revolution in recent years, offering a diverse food scene with Michelin-starred restaurants, natural wine bars, and innovative concepts led by young chefs.

What is the significance of tapas in Seville?

Tapas play a central role in the local culture and history of Seville. They have evolved over time and provide a delightful way to try a variety of traditional Spanish dishes.

What are some iconic delicacies to try in Venice?

Venice is known for its cicchetti, small tapas-style plates, which are typically enjoyed at cozy wine bars. Seafood dishes like bigoli in salsa and nero di seppia are highlights of Venetian cuisine.

Why is Vilnius an exciting destination for food lovers?

Vilnius offers a fascinating culinary history and a new generation of talented chefs reclaiming Lithuania’s culinary identity. Visitors can enjoy traditional Lithuanian specialties and explore a vibrant craft beer scene.

Where can I find luxury accommodations in these cities?

Radisson Collection offers luxurious accommodations in each of these food-focused European cities, providing prime central locations for easy access to culinary treasures.

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