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Travel bucket list ideas:

23 Best foodie destinations

  • Multiple countries

Last updated: 25 June, 2024

Many places claim to be a culinary capital, but where are the world’s latest and greatest foodie hotspots? If you like to dine well on holiday – be it street food or Michelin star – you’re guaranteed great eats in one of these destinations.

Table of Contents

Bangkok

  • Bangkok, Central Thailand, Thailand

A plate of delicious fresh Thai food

Bucket List Experience

Bangkok

As the epicentre of one of the world’s most beloved cuisines, Bangkok is an excellent grazing ground for Thai food from every corner of the country. There’s creamy massaman curry and tom kha kai (chicken coconut soup), of course, which you can find everywhere from dingy street food carts to Michelin-rated restaurants.

But Bangkok is also an excellent place to hunt down hyper-local dishes you won’t find on the menu of your hometown Thai joint.

Seek out southern Thai cuisine for its ferociously fiery curries and ample use of fresh seafood. Opt for eastern fare, where shrimp paste and regional herbs create umami-rich and earthy flavours. Or follow your nose to kitchens dishing up northern Thai classics such as khao soi curry soup and nam prik chilli dips.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Bologna

  • Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Bologna vista from Asinelli tower

Bucket List Experience

Bologna is known as La Grassa (Fat Lady) for good reason: there’s no use watching the waistline in a place that spawned so many Italian classics, from the eponymous bolognese sauce, to tortellini and the world’s finest ice cream. Furthermore, there’s not a single tourist trap in town.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Bobotie also spelt bobotjie, is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping

Bucket List Experience

Cape Town

From tapas to sushi, coffee to wine, Cape Town’s international food, with an African twist, is sophisticated and superb.

Cape Town is perhaps best known for delicious Cape Malay cuisine – curries that are fragrantly spicy rather than fiery – a unique style of cuisine originating with the thousands of Malay slaves brought to Cape Town from Indonesia and Malaysia in the 17th and 18th centuries. See our recommendations below for tasting tours and Cape Malay cooking classes.

Being a port city, fresh seafood features prominently – expect plenty of fresh local line fish, crayfish and mussels – though meat is much-loved and excellent too. In summer look out for fresh yellowtail and rock lobster. Also, see our round-up of traditional foods you must try in South Africa.

Two world-class wine regions – Constantia and Stellenbosch – are on the city’s doorstep. Constantia is a 40-minute drive from the city centre, Stellenbosch around 1 to 1.5 hours, so both are very do-able on day trips.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Scandinavian open sandwiches with salmon, mackerel and herrings

Bucket List Experience

Copenhagen

Locally caught fish and seafood is one of Danish cuisine’s strongest suits: herring, in particular, is a local favourite and has been caught, salted, dried and smoked here for centuries.

Along the famous Danish pastries, try hot dogs and open rye bread sandwiches called smorrebrod, which often features herring.

For drinks, beer is king but look beyond Carlsberg: craft breweries like Mikkeller and Friends and Norrebro Bryghus are picking up deserved accolades. Or wash things down with a shot of ice-cold caraway snaps, or in the colder months try glog, Scandinavian mulled wine.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • Marmara Region, Turkey

Large illuminated mosque at night with sea in background

Destination guide

Istanbul

This important, layered city has seen a series of dramatic reincarnations, beginning life as Byzantium (founded c. 660 BC), before being renamed Constantinople in AD 330 (eastern capital of the Roman Empire).

The city finally became known as ‘Stamboul’, or Istanbul, during the Ottoman era, which began in the 15th century when it was captured by the 21-year-old Sultan Mehmed II (aka “Mehmed the Conqueror”), ushering in an era of lavish Sultan-led rule.

In the course of its deliciously rich 1,800-year history, Istanbul has been the capital of three empires. Here East meets West head-on, in a mesmerising, evocative city that its people have always considered the centre of the world.

Yet Istanbul is not just about sightseeing and museums; right now it has as much urban buzz and excitement as any place on earth. Besides making a bold name for itself in art, music, fashion and design, the city is modernising at a breathtaking pace.

The people are lovely, the food is a delight and the city is one of the top shopping destinations on the planet.

Lima

  • Lima, Lima Region, Peru

Close up of a ceviche dish

Bucket List Experience

Lima

If there’s one reason to stop over in Lima it’s the food. The city has some of the finest restaurants in the world – with chefs like Virgilio Martínez, Jaime Pesaque and Gastón Acurio ranked in the World’s ‘Fifty Best’ on the exclusive San Pellegrino list.

What makes Lima chefs so exciting is their virtuoso fusion of unique national ingredients with Asian and European techniques. Star chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino has a plate on his degustation comprising only potatoes arranged to look like beach pebbles – all from different Andean locations with astonishing, divergent flavours.

Peruvian-Japanese Micha Tsumura serves fiery tiger milk tuna tiraditos alongside river-fish sushi, and 50-hour-cooked Amazonian beef.

You could spend a week in the gastro-hub suburbs of San Isidro, Miraflores and Barranco and get a mere taste of the exciting scene. But be sure to dine in Astrid y Gaston – the pioneer of Lima gastronomy and Central, by Michelin-starred Virgilio Martínez.

For a sense of the huge variety of ingredients Lima’s top chefs draw on visit Mercado No1 de Surquillo – packed with exotic fruit, vegetables and medicinal plants. It’s also a good spot to sample simple ceviche, but don’t focus on the street food – Lima’s all about fine dining.

Adult price: £35

Good for age: 18+

London

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Close up of an electronic fish and chip sign

Bucket List Experience

London

British food has undergone a revolution in the last twenty years; high-profile chefs such as Mark Hix and Fergus Henderson have sparked a culinary revival, with traditional flavours and dishes reinvented with contemporary techniques and ingredients.

Rich gravies and jus characterise many meat dishes; tangy with blackcurrants, red wine and handfuls of sage and marjoram, while strongly-flavoured hard cheeses – most notably Cheddar – flavour many vegetable and pasta dishes.

Bread remains a national passion; good bakers can be found everywhere, with chewy sourdough, fluffy white ‘bloomers’ and sugar-coated doughnuts (filled with raspberry jam) classic favourites. Traditional British desserts are sweet and treacley, while cakes are often rich with dried fruit.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: -

Lyon

  • Lyon, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France

close up of a beautiful round tart with almonds on

Bucket List Experience

Lyon

Lyon, the ‘gastronomic capital of the world’, holds the highest number of Michelin stars in France (after Paris), and is home to so many food shops, markets, food halls and eateries that walking its streets sometimes feels like you’re in one gigantic picnic basket.

The world-renowned wine regions of Beaujolais, Burgundy and the Cotes du Rhone are nearby, for vineyard tours and tastings, also meaning wine sauces are common, as well as great wine lists.

Sandwiched between wine-growing regions and numerous agricultural hubs, the richness of its gastronomy lies in its geography: Bresse chicken from the north; snails and game from the north-east; and pork from the western foothills.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: Any

Madrid

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Seafood paella in a large frying pan at a street food festival. Whole shrimps and mussels are arranged in a circle on top of the rice dish.

Bucket List Experience

Madrid

With over 6,000 restaurants serving dishes from all around Spain (and the world), Madrid is a funfair for foodies,. Join the locals at traditional restaurants, informal tapas bars, gourmet food markets, and the new Michelin restaurants setting off gastronomic fireworks.

As the capital city, Madrid has sucked up influences and talented chefs from all across Spain. There is a vast range of fresh seafood, fabulous tapas (patatas bravas were invented here), side by side with the hearty dishes of the interior – roast lamb, suckling pig and stews.

Alongside all these old favourites, a new breed of chef, each with their own personality and style of cooking, have made eating out in Madrid an adventure.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: Any

  • Marrakech, Marrakech-Safi, Morocco

Two Moroccan tajines full of meat and vegetables

Bucket List Experience

Marrakech

Moroccan cuisine is best known for its slow-cooked tajines – richly flavoured stews, cooked on traditional platters with conical lids – and heaped platters of couscous topped with seven vegetables.

More traditional meals usually start with a tray of meze – fresh salads that might include honeyed carrot salad, humous, roasted aubergine and yoghurt with mint and garlic. Lamb is the most popular meat, while seafood, such as sardines, are plucked straight from the Atlantic in Essaouira.

Mint tea is another obligatory Moroccan ritual drunk at any time of the day, often taken with a plate of sugar-topped biscuits, or syrup-drenched pastries. Moroccans have an extremely sweet tooth, and there are excellent patisseries dotted around the Ville Nouvelle – a legacy of the French Colonial era.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: Variable

Melbourne

  • Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Queen Victoria market organics in the city centre of Melbourne, Australia.

Bucket List Experience

A sophisticated and cosmopolitan hub, Melbourne is a great place to sample a broad cross-section of world cuisines, with Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek and Arabic particularly well represented. Buzzing cafés, well-stocked markets and an ever-growing list of top-class fine dining establishments make this southern city a relaxing place to eat well.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Munich

  • Munich, Bavaria, Germany

Bavarian fried sausages on sauerkraut

Bucket List Experience

German food may be one of the least sought after in the European larder, but don’t pass by the opportunity of eating out in Munich. The cultured capital of southern Germany abounds in quality, local produce. Breads, beers and cold meats prevail, but there’s a variety of high-quality world cuisine on offer too.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Naples

  • Naples, Campania, Italy

Naples

Bucket List Experience

The pizza phenomenon began in 1889, when visiting Queen Margherita was baked a pizza in the colours of the Italian flag: red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella), and green (basil leaves). It’s still the place for the best Margherita – made with tomatoes grown on Mount Vesuvius and water buffalo mozzarella from Campania. The gelato ain’t bad either.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Palermo

  • Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Street shop Sicilian cheeses with traditional Sicilian specialties, pasta, lemons and souvenirs.

Bucket List Experience

Sicilian cuisine is one of the oldest in existence, combining meat, fruit, nuts and fish to tantalising effect. Sicilians even claim to have invented pasta. Food in Palermo is treated with almost religious fervour – every Sicilian is a gourmand – and ranks amongst the best in Italy, rivalled only, perhaps, by Bologna.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Paris

  • Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Plate of snails filled with green goo

Bucket List Experience

Paris

Paris is one dynamic food metropolis – a culinary hub that ticks every edible box, whether you’re looking for classic steak-frites and onion soup or breakfast staples like baguette and croissants.

Old-school pleasures – chateaubriand beef and garlicky snails – abound on menus in many traditional eating houses (like bistros and brasseries), but nowadays the new generation of chefs is deconstructing traditional dishes to create their own, more elevated styles of food, often using ingredients sourced from neighbouring departements like Picardie (for potatoes and root vegetables) and Seine-et-Marne (for cheeses).

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Portland

  • Portland, Oregon, United States of America (USA)

Locals and tourists wait in line to order food from food trucks in downtown Portland during lunch time in Portland, Oregon

Bucket List Experience

America’s current gourmet hotspot benefits from rich natural resources on its doorstep, from vineyards and well-stocked rivers, to organic farms and more breweries than any other city. The resulting blend of craft beers, fine dining and quality street food makes this a compelling destination for any foodie.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • San Francisco, California, United States of America (USA)

Closeup of clam chowder bread bowl and carb eggs benedict in an outdoor cafe

Bucket List Experience

San Francisco

Thanks to both the ocean and an abundance of farms on its doorstep, San Francisco is big on farm-to-table and sustainable cuisine. Green-leanings aside, culinary talent runs rampant in SF – in fact, the Bay Area is one of the three areas in the US that the Michelin Guide series rates.

A long-standing immigrant community from the East translates to some of the best Asian food outside Asia.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain

three tasty tapas rolls filed with something

Bucket List Experience

San Sebastian

Seafood in all its forms is the star in San Sebastian, where chefs rival one another in inventiveness. Truffles and wild mushrooms, Iberian pork, succulent beef and exquisite seasonal vegetables; some Michelin-starred places have even started offering vegetarian menus.

Many chefs take pride in sourcing all their ingredients locally – many of which are beautifully displayed the city’s indoor market, the Mercado San Martin.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: Any

Singapore

  • Singapore

Spicy crab in Singapore style

Bucket List Experience

There is probably no better place in the world to explore Asian food than Singapore. The dominant cuisines are Chinese, Indian and Malay – or homebred combinations of the three (Peranakan cuisine). The best food is often found at hawker stalls, where each trader specialises in a single well-practised dish. Look out for chill crab, a local specialty.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Stockholm

  • Stockholm, Uppland, Sweden

Swedish meatballs in a creamy sauce in a black frying pan, gray background, close-up. Scandinavian food concept.

Bucket List Experience

Caught up in the wave of New Nordic cuisine, Stockholm plays host to some exceptional restaurants, many of which riff on the theme of traditional country cooking. Berries and local meats (such as reindeer) feature heavily, alongside fish and seafood, including the famous Baltic herring. And the occasional meatball of course.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Tel Aviv

  • Tel Aviv, Israel

Sunflower halva (Oriental Sweets) with different flavors and fillings on Oriental Carmel Market, Tel Aviv, Israel

Bucket List Experience

Tel Aviv’s creative, liberal identity within Israel has allowed for a fascinating food scene to evolve. Acceptance of Arabic influences and a growing interest in Palestinian cooking ensures a broad palate of taste experiences, with excellent Arabic grilled foods alongside Jewish East European cuisine. It’s also a hotspot for inventive (and delicious) vegan food.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Tuscany

  • Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany

Bucket List Experience

Tuscany

Tuscan cooking is recognised as being among the best regional cuisines in Italy, yet it’s based on the concept of cucina povera (humble cooking) and on modest ingredients.

Traditional Tuscan cuisine is hearty and rustic, and based on simple ingredients such as bread, pulses, meat and poultry, fresh veg and olive oil, all prepared with the minimum of fuss. Close to the coast, you’ll find more fish and seafood, but again, recipes are simple.

Tuscan red wines are highly-respected throughout the world. A local trattoria will usually offer a perfectly drinkable, cheap and cheerful house wine (red is a better bet) sold by the litre. More sophisticated regional wines to try include Brunello, Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Tokyo

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Sushi roll with salmon and shrimp tempura

Bucket List Experience

Tokyo

One of the world’s great culinary capitals, Tokyo is often heralded for having more Michelin stars than any other city. But what really makes it special, is that from high-end sushi down to a humble bowl of ramen, there’s so much to try and so much of it is superb.

Sushi epitomizes that best – you could spend several hundred pounds at the most exclusive restaurants or have a quality feed for under £10 at a budget chain.

Across Tokyo’s dining scene, certain traits shine through – the frequent focus on seasonality and culinary technique, and the deep respect for chefs.

Specialisation too – you’ll find no end of shops that have perfected just a single dish, whether that’s ramen, soba noodles, or sumo-sized hotpots.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

When: March, May and Sept

  • Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

side angle of a newly cooked traditional Cornish Pasty

Bucket List Experience

Cornwall

Cornwall is renowned for fresh and locally sourced food – attracting foodies from the world over.

Ingredients and flavours are strongly influenced by its coastal location and farming heritage. The region is especially known for outstanding seafood, with dishes such as fish and chips, crab sandwiches, and Cornish pasties being popular staples. It’s home to several artisanal cheese makers, producing award-winning cheeses such as Cornish Blue and Yarg, and produces the world’s best clotted cream.

In terms of drinks, Cornwall is known for its brewing and distilling industries, with a number of exceptional local distilleries producing award-winning spirits, beers and ales. The region also boasts a burgeoning wine industry, notably for award-winning still and sparkling wines, and excellent cideries.

Cooking styles vary from simple to exotic and environments from casual to smart, although the emphasis is on excellent produce, simply cooked, and served in a laid-back beach café or gastropub.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

Frequently asked questions

What is a foodie destination?

A foodie destination refers to a place that is renowned and sought after for its exceptional culinary experiences. It offers a diverse array of high-quality, unique, and culturally significant food options, showcasing local ingredients and flavors. Food lovers and enthusiasts flock to these destinations to indulge in the rich gastronomic delights they have to offer.