From fresh Italian pasta to French bouillabaisse, Europe is home to some of the most mouthwatering menu items in the world. You’ll be amazed at the number of fresh and delicious dishes you can sample, especially when you get to some of the continent’s seaside towns.
Are you in the midst of planning a European seaside food tour? Do you want to make sure you and your travel companions get the most out of it?
If so, keep reading. We’re sharing some of our top tips for combining delicious coastal eats with cultural exploration.
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Travel Checklist Before Eating Out
Eating out is a staple of any vacation. However, there are some important factors to keep in mind that will help you enjoy all that your European food tour has to offer, including the following:
- Make a bucket list: Try as you might, you won’t be able to eat everything that looks good to you. Make a bucket list of must-try dishes for each country you visit, such as paella in Spain or seafood salad at Santa Marinella Beach, and prioritize those.
- Do your research: Spend some time researching the most popular dishes in different regions. What food is the area known for? Are there any frequently mentioned options you’ve never heard of before?
- Talk to the locals: When in doubt, look to the locals. They will almost certainly know which restaurants are worth visiting and which ones to pass on.
- Consider allergies and sensitivities: If you or anyone you’re traveling with has food allergies or sensitivities, take those into account when deciding what and where to eat.
As you prepare for your European food tour, do your best to be open-minded and willing to try new things.
You’ll almost certainly come across new-to-you dishes that might initially seem a bit intimidating. Europe offers some of the most incredible food in the world, so don’t miss out on a chance to sample it for yourself!
Unveiling the Best of European Menus
Because Europe has so much amazing food to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. If you’re getting ready for your European seaside food tour, consider heading to some of the countries listed below and tasting some of their most popular meals.
Many Portuguese dishes feature seafood. In fact, the country has the highest fish consumption per capita in all of Europe (it also ranks third in the world)!
One of Portugal’s most famous seafood dishes is Cataplana de Marisco, which features fresh vegetables like onions, peppers, and tomatoes, with prawns, clams, cubed pork, chouriço sausage, or chicken, all prepared in a special copper pot.
During your trip to Ireland, you’ll have a chance to enjoy a wide range of hearty and flavorful foods. You won’t go hungry here, from rich Irish stew made with meat, carrots, and potatoes to Irish soda bread and Shepherd’s pie.
Ireland also offers lots of fresh seafood (it’s an island, after all, with 7,500 kilometers of coastline), from seafood chowder to langoustine bisque.
Greek food is known for being fresh and flavorful. It also doesn’t hurt that you can sample it while enjoying gorgeous ocean views.
If your European food tour includes a trip to Greece, make sure to add souvlaki — a wrap made with marinated meat (pork, beef, lamb, or chicken) grilled on a skewer — to your list.
Enjoy some loukoumades — fried dough covered in honey, cinnamon, nuts, or sugar — if you want something sweet as well.
One of the most popular foods to try in Spain is paella, a rice dish typically prepared with fresh seafood like shrimp, fish, or mussels (although you can also enjoy it with smokey chorizo sausage or other meats).
If you want to try a little bit of a lot of Spanish foods, you’ll love tapas. Tapas are small plates featuring a variety of snacks and appetizers and were originally served by innkeepers to entice travelers into staying at their residences.
Of course, you can’t go on a European food tour without stopping in Italy.
From risotto — a rice dish traditionally prepared with white wine, parmesan cheese, butter, and herbs — to pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven, there’s something for everyone here (keep in mind that genuine Italian pizza tastes a little different from the pizza you might be used to in the states).
Don’t forget to grab some gelato or tiramisu for dessert as well!
Coastal Eats and Cultural Exploration
Enjoying a country’s food is one of the best ways to learn about its culture, its history, and what makes it unique.
For example, when you try paella in Spain, you may discover that this staple Spanish dish can be traced back to the tenth century when Muslim populations introduced the country’s residents to rice.
You might also learn that pizza was originally created in Naples (in southern Italy) to honor Queen Margherita di Savoia at the end of the 18th century or that many Greek dishes can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire and have Arabic, Turkish, and Persian roots.
There’s no shortage of lessons to be learned during a food tour of Europe, no matter which countries you decide to visit.
Prepare for Maximum Relaxation and Rejuvenation
A European vacation isn’t complete without sampling the fare from Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and everywhere in between.
Between enjoying your beachside bites and experiencing incredible eats, you’ll also have plenty of time to kick back, relax, and soak up your time with loved ones — and isn’t that what traveling is all about?
Start planning your European food tour by the sea today!