July 26, 2021

Tasting Delights: European Touring With “Foodie Fun” Options

As Americans head back to Europe in 2021 or 2022, many are looking for tours or customized packages that allow them to taste the best of European destinations, participate in hands-on cooking classes, or delve into a country’s culinary heritage. Yet, many travelers may not desire a journey that’s totally culinary-themed. Instead, they’re looking for a tour or city-stay package that provides a broader European experience—but still offering some foodie elements.

Here’s a sampling of fun options for foodies:

Amazing Sites, Tasty Delights 

Milan, Italy

Globus offers a northern Italy tour roundtrip from Milan, pictured in the photo above. // Photo by boggy22/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Globus’ 10-day “Northern Italy’s Highlights & Cinque Terre” roundtrip from Milan, Italy, in 2022  gives guests a chance to see the region’s top sites but also allows them an opportunity to sample many Italian culinary delights.

For example, on Day 2 in Busseto, guests will head to a parmesan cheese tasting at a local caseificio, a cheese-making factory. The following day in Modena, they’ll enjoy a balsamic vinegar tasting at the renowned Acetaia Leonardi. In Lucca, an outing to an agriturismo will allow Globus’ guests to sample Tuscan specialties, and on Day 9, the travelers will visit a Vercelli rice factory followed by a risotto lunch.

Specialty excursions on this “Northern Italy’s Highlights & Cinque Terre,” itinerary include “Delicacies of Parma Cuisine,” with flavors and foods of the region enjoyed at dinner with a past-making demonstration at an old townhouse in the Italian countryside.

A hosted city-stay package is also a way for travelers to explore on their own, yet still receive hotel stays, breakfast, some tours (depending on the packager), along with optional specialty tours. In Spain, for example, Pleasant Holidays offers “The Foodies Tapas Private Tour of Madrid,” as one option.  

Monograms offers a three-night “Florence Getaway” package for 2021, 2022 and 2023, with additional nights available. Based on an August 14, 2021 departure, pricing starts at $797 per person double, excluding airfare. Hotel options include the Glance Hotel, Mercure Firenze Centro, and the Hotel Cellai Florence.

A local host will welcome guests and after the next morning’s included breakfast, Monograms guests will be picked up at their hotel and transported to the Academy of Fine Arts to see Michelangelo‘s David (with VIP access so no long lines), and also to then walk through the city center to Cathedral Square, Piazza della Signoria and Santa Croce Square.

Optional specialty tours include the “Florence Sunset Food Tour” at $95 per person; it includes nine different tastings—from a traditional aperitif to Steak Florentine. Another is “Create Your Own Pizza” at $69 per person. Monograms’ guests will learn the art of dough-making and how to choose the best toppings for a pizza. Then they’ll craft their own pie and taste the result.  

Mediterranean or Baltic?

For those seeking to visit a country in Europe that they haven’t been to in the past, stay for three days to a week, and have a new experience, city stay packages await. Pleasant Holidays offers a Tivat, Montenegro city stay package at the newly added, upscale Regent Porto Montenegro, located along the shores of the UNESCO-protected Boka Bay.

What’s nifty? This destination is a yachter’s paradise, so foodies will find plenty of fine dining and local culinary options, including Mediterranean region and traditional Boka cuisineFoodies should sample such local specialties as frustula (a sweet crunchy cake), olives, grilled fish caught in Tivat Bay, roasted meats and zucenica (endive), a dark green, native coastal plant that’s picked by hand on the meadows or hill slopes.

In the Baltic region, travelers desiring to explore Helsinki, Finland‘s capital city, can find United Vacations’ city stay packages that offer a choice of dozens of hotels. Independent travelers on these air/hotel packages can book foodie-focused tours in advance or on site with local tour companies.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki has hidden foodie hot spots and a bustling market. // Photo by scanrail/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Travelers should talk to their hotel concierge about the availability of foodie-focused tours. In Helsinki, one option on Viator.com is a two-hour, small-group food walking tour of the Finnish capital. Accompanied by an expert gastronome guide, travelers will discover hidden foodie hot spots and sample local delicacies. Another local tour has a food-and-beer focus while a highly creative one combines foodie fun with Finnish sauna elements.

Multi-Country Balkan Discovery

Sometimes travelers desire to cover a lot of territory in a single vacation, yet still enjoy foodie experiences here and there along the way. Insight Vacations offers an 18-day “Treasures of the Balkans” small group discovery tour, starting at $4,995 per person, double occupancy, for the April 25, 2022 departure; many departure dates are available.

Operated from Budapest, Hungary to Bucharest, Romania, this robust escorted tour also visits Bulgaria, Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia and other countries.

Included in the itinerary is a “Celebration Dinner at Gundel in Budapest’s City Park; guests will savor local Hungarian delicacies and wine. Also: On an included “Dine-Around Evening” in Dubrovnik, Croatia, guests can choose from a selection of local restaurants.

Plenty of sightseeing and many local experiences are provided on this tour, but when guests desire to explore independently,Insight Vacations’ offers that via “Relaxed Break” days. These typically include a half day of sightseeing plus a half day free, or alternatively, a full-day free. So, foodies can head out on their own pursuits.

Customers wishing to travel only with other family and friends also can book this itinerary as a private group. For 10 or more travelers, Insight Vacations will create a tailor-made, private group custom tour with these or other requested activities within this region.

Emerald and Aegean Treasures

How can foodies can take an escorted tour with no more than 18 guests, see the top sites in a country and still have several included foodie elements? If the “Emerald Isle” is of interest, one option is Abercrombie & Kent’s nine-day “Ireland: Splendors of the Emerald Isle 2022” itinerary, priced from $7,395 per person, double occupancy.

On day five in West Cork, A&K’s travelers will have a “farm to table experience,” visiting a third-generation, family-owned emporium that specializes in locally produced food products – meats, cheeses, chutney, preserves and more. A&K’s guests will meet some of the shop’s suppliers and eat a lunch sourced locally.

Galway River Walk Ireland

Galway, Ireland is a great place for tasting fresh oysters. // Photo by Getty Images / JByard

During Day 8, will head to Galway and on to small, coastal Clarinbridge, where a special tasting will introduce them to the pairing of Guinness Stout with fresh Galway Bay oysters.

In Greece, Classic Vacations’ guests on city stay packages can book a number of tours that provide a glimpse into local culinary heritage. In Athens, Classic’s guests can book the “Private Ancient Agora – Athens Central Market and Food Tour,” a private excursion to Athens’ ancient Agora and a look at Greek gastronomic traditions.

Travelers will see the classic temple dedicated to Volcan, stop in a stoa or portico to see artifacts and taste such Greek specialties as koulouria (sesame bread rings) and Greek coffee.

White architecture and churches with blue domes, Oia, Santorini, Greece

An “Eat and Walk Santorini Food Tour” is one option during stays in Santorini, Greece. // Photo by Aetherial/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Or on in Santorini, Greece, Classic Vacations’ half-day “Eat and Walk Santorini Food Tour,” a shared tour with other travelers, includes a walking tour through Fira and neighboring Firostefani. It includes a minimum of seven stops to explore different aspects of Greek and Santorini cuisine. Guests will sample street food, local beer, Cycladic cheeses and cold cuts, olive oil, baked delicacies and traditional sweets.

Pyrenees and Beyond

A selection of Basque tapas from the lively pintxos bars in San Sebastián

A selection of Basque tapas from a pintxos bar in San Sebastián // Phoo by Olga Beliaeva/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

On a 14-day escorted “Northern Spain, The Rioja Valley and Madrid” tour, Tauck will take guests on a robust journey, both with included features and time for independent exploration.

In the Pyrenees’ La Seu d’Urgell, guests will enjoy lunch and then can choose one of three activities, among them a “Catalan Cooking Demonstration” in the kitchen of the tour’s castle hotel. Day 8 of the tour is spent seaside with a walking tour of San Sebastián’s Old Town before free time—perhaps to sample typical Basque food. Two dozen departure dates are available in 2022 with pricing from $7,990 per person, double occupancy.

Avanti Destinations offers “Highlights of Germany (by Rail): Frankfurt, Berlin, Dresden, Nuremburg, & Munich,” giving travelers on customized arrangements a chance to see multiple cities and soak up local culture and cuisine. It includes one night in Frankfurt, two nights in Berlin, two nights in Nuremberg, one night in Dresden, and three nights in Munich, plus private arrival and departure transfers, many walking tours, daily breakfast and first class rail between the cities.

In Frankfurt, travelers can head out to experience one of the city’s culinary traditions—the cozy Old Sachsenhausen with half-timbered houses, narrow alleys and apple wine pubs. One choice is to pop into Apfelwein Solzer, a historic pub that continues to produce its own apple wine along with traditional Frankfurt specialties, including marinated hard cheese, sausages, dumplings, ribs and steak.

In Munich, Avanti’s travelers could choose to stop at the Hofbrauhaus, a famous German beer hall, for home-brewed beer and a platter of local specialties or, alternatively, they could plan for an evening dinner at the Bavarian-style restaurant, Schneider Weisse Brauhaus.

More of Europe Awaits 

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Travelers can explore Monacan cuisine during a city-stay package. // Photo by Garsya/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

For those who desire a vacation in Monte Carlo, Monaco, Delta Vacations has flight/hotel packages that include roundtrip air tickets on a Delta partner airline (such as AirFrance or KLM) to Nice Cote d’Azur Airport. From there, travelers can easily book a cab or private car transfer to Monte Carlo.

In Monaco, Delta’s guests who are foodies can head out independently to explore and sample local favorites, including pan bagnat, a hearty sandwich stuffed with meat and veggies. Seafood-lovers can order such Monacan favorites as Coquille Saint Jacques (seared sea scallops with sauce and herbs), and fruitti di mare (seafood linguini). 

Travelers who want to sample the best of Norwegian cuisine can check out “The Tastes of Bergen,” an optional ($90 per person) excursion available during Collette‘s 13-night, escorted “Sensational Scandinavia” tour on multiple dates including many in 2022. Pricing starts at $4,499 per person, double occupancy and the tour visits Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and one option is an extension to Iceland, starting at $797 per person, double occupancy.

During the two-hour Bergen foodie excursion, which is a guided walking tour along cobblestoned streets, Collette’s guests will hear about Norwegian and Bergen food traditions and specialties. They’ll sample traditional fish soup, fish cakes, whale meat, lefse (a sweet treat), smoked salmon, brown cheese, reindeer sausages and a traditional Bergen cinnamon bun. Guests can complete their tour with a glass of wine or pint of beer at a local establishment and also learn about Norwegian produced alcohol and traditions.

Whether travelers desire to visit Portugal or Cyprus, Belgium or Switzerland, Bulgaria or Croatia, SloveniaLatvia, Serbia or other European Travel Commission member countries, they’ll find escorted tours, hosted packages or independent and customized options that include individual foodie elements. Tasty cuisine, regional specialties and both historic and modern culinary sites await travelers heading “over the pond” to Europe this year and beyond.

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