Our Guide to Europe's Hottest Foodie Destinations

Go on a foodie holiday at one of these quickly rising culinary cities in Europe
Go on a foodie holiday at one of these quickly rising culinary cities in Europe | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Tara Jessop
8 October 2020

When it comes to food, London, Copenhagen and Lyon have long topped the lists of Europe’s best places to eat. However, these up-and-coming foodie destinations are giving the all-time favourites a run for their money.

Lisbon

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Spain has long monopolised the gastronomic attention of the Iberian peninsula, but Portugal is now giving it a run for its money. A new generation of chefs is looking to put Portuguese cuisine on the map, and nowhere else is this more visible than in the capital, Lisbon. At the top end, chefs such as José Avillez and João Rodrigues have driven the Michelin-star dining scene, while the Time Out Market project in the up-and-coming Cais do Sodre neighbourhood has reawakened the street food and market eating movement. Once you’ve eaten your way through Lisbon, let your food coma set in at one of the city’s top hotels or Airbnb rentals.

Bornholm

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Although Copenhagen is one of the best places for food in Denmark and even Europe, the lesser known Baltic island of Bornholm is emerging as a hot new destination for Scandi food lovers. The island is famous for its smokehouses, which produce some of the finest smoked herring you will ever try. The island is also a haven for sustainable farming, with producers using old-fashioned techniques to produce gourmet charcuterie, cheese and ice cream. And if you’re looking for a top-end destination, the Michelin-starred Kadeau restaurant is just the ticket. The island itself is well worth spending a night on, so once you’ve tucked into some good food, tuck into a good bed at one of Bornholm’s Airbnbs.

Bordeaux

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When it comes to French cities, Lyon and Paris have usually topped the charts of the best places to eat. However, in recent years, the southern city of Bordeaux has undergone a veritable revival, thanks largely to the urban renewal policies of mayor Alain Juppé. The city is best known for its wine, but the food scene is catching up. The British chef Gordon Ramsay has shown an interest in the city and has become the first foreign chef to win a Michelin star in France with his restaurant Le Pressoir d’Argent, where he’s even dared to serve English wine. Once you’ve taken in Bordeaux’s cuisine, take in its sights, too, and spend a night in one of the city’s top hotels or Airbnbs.

Ljubljana

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The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is one of Europe’s fastest growing food scenes, benefitting from its incorporation into the EU in 2004 to become a popular city-break destination with a modern, cosmopolitan vibe. In recent years, a number of restaurants, bars and cafés have popped up across the city. The local gastronomy is rich and varied, sharing similarities with all four of its neighbours – Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary – and includes dishes such as home-made pastas, hearty stews and wholesome soups. While the city is still lacking in Michelin-star establishments, the café culture and many independent eateries really make it worth the visit. The city has plenty of places to stay, too, from boutique hotels to homes-away-from-home on Airbnb.

Dubrovnik

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If Croatia has developed a reputation for its lively party scene in places such as Split and Hvar island, then the city of Dubrovnik, in the southern tip of the country, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, is hedging its bets elsewhere. The city’s food culture is rich in Mediterranean influences and has drawn on the best of regional cuisine in Croatia. Aromatic olive oils from the region of Istria, pungent black truffles from the Motovun Forest and fresh seafood from the coast are just some of the ingredients that give the food scene in Dubrovnik its distinctive character. The city has plenty of places to stay, too, so you can keep your dining adventures going for more than just a day.

Cornwall

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Long considered a popular seaside resort for wealthy Londoners, Cornwall has steadily succeeded in establishing a thriving food scene based on a network of independent farmers, artisans and chefs. The vast tracts of countryside, wild coastline and unique climate of Cornwall are favourable to the production of quality food. Local small-scale artisans produce everything from craft beer and cider to charcuterie, cheese and ice cream – all made using local ingredients. Celebrity chefs such as Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver have helped draw interest to the local dining scene, and today a new generation of local chefs has taken up the baton. If you’re in Cornwall on holiday, why not pair your dining adventures with a seaside stay? Cornwall’s hotels and Airbnb rentals have something for everyone.

These recommendations were updated on October 8, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.