I confess this topic is one I don’t have a lot of experience in. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but the last few times I visited Europe on a cruise, I stayed in internet cafés or bars in ports and didn’t really sample much of the local cuisine. So I’m definitely looking for some advice in this area too when I head to Europe later this summer.
Our writer, Sarah, has experienced some fantastic meals on her travels in Europe. She thinks eating is one of the best parts of traveling and has some tips for us.
4 Tips for Eating in Europe:
1. Ask a Local
This pays off almost every single time. In Barcelona, Spain, our hotel receptionist sent us to a local place with fresh seafood and local and regional specialties we wouldn’t have sampled otherwise. In Naples, Italy, our local tour guide from AP Tours offered several local suggestions and we decided on a place in Positano. He drove us up the seaside cliffs to a little B&B/restaurant combo. The food was fresh from the garden we walked by on the way into the place. Hands down, this is the best meal in my entire life. And trust me when I say, you’d have to know the area to find it!
2. Travel (safely) Off the Beaten Path
Keeping safety in mind, take a few side trips off the main tourist roads. In Venice, we walked around and found a cute little bistro with red checkered table cloths and a few locals enjoying a late meal. The food was phenomenal. In fact, most of our food stops during our excursions were off the path local places where we could really sample the local flavor.
3. Think Outside the Box
Believe it or not, the best desert we had (besides all the gelato) was in a department store café in Barcelona. It was on the top floor, so we had breathtaking views to enjoy our churros, chocolate and coffee. Think about your favorite places at home –a local pub or café – and do the same thing in Europe.
4. Know the Local Customs
European eating customs can be very different. For example, in Spain, dinner is often very late, starting at 9 PM. Dining is also somewhat of an art and can take about 2 hours. Tipping’s different too; our normal 15-20% can actually be considered rude. Meals can be quite large, so sharing’s a good idea.
*Extra Tips & Info
For more tips, check out ricksteves.com (he’s one of my go-to’s for any Europe-related questions).
What tips do you have for how to eat like a local in Europe? What are some of the best kept secrets you’ve found while dining overseas? Feel free to share your fave places, ask any questions or shoot us some feedback at [email protected].