From the ultimate foodie city breaks, to sunny island escapes, rural road trips and alpine getaways where you can really work up an appetite, we reveal the top foodie destinations for travel in 2022.
If you’re itching to give your taste buds a spin around Europe, we’ve rounded up an inspirational list of destinations for your next food-focussed trip. From the fishing villages of Italy’s tiny Procida island, to the zero-miles restaurants of Slovenia’s backcountry, plus culinary hotspots of France, Spain, Portugal and beyond, we bring you the best ideas for your next gourmet getaway.
Europe’s top food trips for 2022
A European Region of Gastronomy for 2022 (along with the Trondheim and Trondelag in northern Norway), Spain’s low-key Balearic island is becoming quite the fertile foodie hub. Stepping from the shadow of its buzzier, bigger neighbours, Ibiza and Mallorca, Menorca is a prime spot to indulge in fish and shellfish, much delivered by small boats working managed grounds off the island’s north coast, along with organic olive oil, cow’s milk mahón cheese, and minerally sauvignon blanc produced by a burgeoning number of the island’s small-scale farmers. From white-washed marina restaurants serving just-landed grilled sea bream, to old-time inland joints specialising in stuffed aubergines and oliaigo (a summer tomato soup often eaten with fresh figs), you’ll be spoilt for choice. And if you need help choosing, try Comete Menorca and Farmers & Co, island-wide co-operatives organising food tours, visits and tastings.
Slovenia’s culinary star is firmly in the ascendency. Host to a fast-rising number of Michelin-starred restaurants and a European Region of Gastronomy for 2021, Slovenia is perhaps best known abroad for its orange wines but this largely rural country offers infinite opportunities to dine field-to-fork. Food tours of the capital, Ljubljana take in everything from craft beer to Slovenian tapas and gelato outlets challenging those in neighbouring Italy, while further afield places such as two-Michelin-star Hiša Franko are at the forefront of sustainable food with natural wines, ancient grain bread and an enormous cellar of aged sheep’s cheese. Or explore the country via its new nationwide network of bee tourism providers: honey farms, ‘apicamps’ (residential beekeeping courses) and shops selling the unique sweet stuff produced by Slovenia’s prized Carniolan honey bee.
This lesser-known island off the coast of Naples has been crowned Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2022, and its pastel-painted palazzi, café-lined marinas and near-deserted beaches are all the reasons you need to plan an Italian escape, pronto. Neighbouring Ischia and Capri might be better known but this two-square-mile island has seen the spotlight (as the movie set of The Talented Mr Ripley and Il Postino, for one), and the €1m funding that goes with this year’s accolade will be injected into projects spanning art, urban regeneration and environmental sustainability. This being Italy, of course, food will loom large, too. In the restaurants lining Procida’s two main fishing villages, Marina Corricella and Marina Chiaiolella, look out for salt-crusted sea bream, squid stuffed with anchovies and myriad desserts made with the island’s large, sweet native lemons.
A visit to France’s venerable viticultural city is no longer a trad’ stuffy affair. The Bordeaux riverfront is home to the cutting-edge mega museum to wine, La Cité du Vin, its hippest bars can be navigated on the Urban Wine Trail, while its coastal outskirts have welcomed the first Michelin star awarded to a vegan restaurant in France. Head to ONA (Origine Non-Animale: ‘animal-free origin’) for plant-based tasting menus using local produce with East Asian accents, which also recently won the venue a Michelin Green Star for sustainable practices. Freewheel further into wine country by bike, with tours that follow greenways to visit producers selling bottles right from the cellar door, and onwards into medieval, merlot-producing Saint-Émilion.
Yearning for mountain air and nutritious food? Head for Austria’s Alps. The Austrian Tyrol, for one, is teaming with high-end, high-altitude restaurants; ritzy ski resort town, Ischgl has the greatest density of five-star hotels in Austria and the most gourmet restaurants outside Vienna. And over in SalzburgerLand, the region encompassing the elegant city of Salzburg, you’ll find Europe’s highest concentration of organic producers. Its southern area of Hochkönig officially holds the crown as Austria’s only certified vegan region, while the Gailtal and Lesachtal valleys in Carinthia, were designated the world’s first Slow Food Travel Destination. Where to go? How about Naturhotel Forsthofgut, a recently revamped spa hotel on a 400-year-old organic family farm in SalzburgerLand with an Alpine-Japanese farm-to-fork fusion restaurant overlooking steaming modern onsen, and fine-dining venue R50 championing ingredients sourced from within 50km.
Not to be outdone by Bordeaux’s ‘City of Wine’, Portugal is now home to the World of Wine. Set in Porto’s riverside Vila Nova de Gaia district, in warehouses where port wine from the Douro Valley has long been kept for export, this viticultural museum takes visitors on a journey through the history of wine through six galleries that also delve into the fascinating story behind Portugal’s cork production along with local culinary and lifestyle history. Add to this several restaurants, shops and a wine school, and WOW looks set to be the centrepiece for the surrounding cultural district that’s growing up around this long-awaited £95m project.
Malmo can’t compete with the neighbouring capital of New Nordic cooking (Copenhagen, a half-hour’s drive over Øresund strait, crossing The Bridge immortalised in the TV show), so it doesn’t try. Instead, Sweden’s hip southern city offers Asian-fusion nose-to-tail dining from such funky outfits as Pink Head HQ, and plant-based menus grown by urban gardeners at Flax where the organic farms of the Skåne region are celebrated in every bite. And Malmo’s best food addresses are often impressively multi-tasking: try the exemplary Julie, a wine bar that also operates as a cheese shop, gourmet grocer and lunch hangout. Yes, you could plan a twin-city escape with Copenhagen, but Malmo is worth dedicated exploration, not least for its extensive menus of natural wines which thrive in the region’s notably mild climate.
Basque region, Spain
If you need further excuse to visit Spain’s storied Basque region, a place where culinary innovation and centuries-old food traditions converge to produce the most three-Michelin-star restaurants in Europe, the new compact edition of Basque by José Pizarro’s could be it. A love letter to the region by way of recipes and food-travel photography from its most celebrated native chef, Basque serves up tips to produce the best pintxos (tapas), hearty inland stews and fresh fishy coastal dishes, along with the most unique ingredients to shop for (try sardines marinated in txakoli vinegar, or the nutty, earthy wild cep mushrooms traditionally gathered in autumn). And as for restaurant pilgrimages? Along with the likes of three-Michelin-star Arzak in San Sebastián, a Pizarro favourite is Elkano, in the fishing village of Getaria.
High in fat, low on fuss, dishes served Lyon’s bouchons are reason alone to make pilgrimage to France’s most foodie destination. Yes, this is where haute cuisine comes to flash its nine-course tasting menus and celeb chefs set up shiny shop, but it’s these rustic, indie bistros that bring proper Lyonnaise character to the city’s esteemed food scene. Big on offal, pork off-cuts and ostentatious amounts of butter, places such as Café des Fédérations offer old school, wood-panelled charm, while Les Bonnes Manières brings the concept smartly up to date in aesthetics but you’ll still find classics including quenelle lyonnaise au brochet (pike dumplings in a creamy sauce); all serve generous pitchers of local Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône. Walk off the excess at Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie, Lyon’s culinary answer to Bordeaux’s La Cité du Vin, a palatial food museum which opened in the 12th-century Hôtel-Dieu in 2020.
A somewhat fusty ski resort associated with British royals being papped on the piste, this year Verbier has added contemporary chic to its upscale offering with the launch of 67 Pall Mall Verbier, European debut of the members’ club founded by wine lovers for wine lovers, plus new Italian-style trattoria cocktail bar, La Nonna. Part of revamped Hotel de Verbier (now complete with its own spa, hammam, sauna and winter garden overlooking the slopes), Nonna brings together a wealth of fresh ingredients from across the neighbouring Italian regions of Piedmont, the Aosta Valley and Lombardy, along with the surrounding Swiss canton of Ticino – including 150 Italian and Valaisan wines. Don’t ski? Verbier has plenty of other activities. Try Mont 4, the world’s highest zipwire which whizzes riders 1.4km over the Tortin glacier, descending 383 vertical metres at speeds of up to 63mph. Just don’t eat lunch first.