Explore some of Europe’s most delicious destinations and work up an appetite for local food in beautiful surroundings with our active foodie breaks.
Swiss scenery and schnitzel in... Interlaken
Lakes and mountains, and mountainous plates of hearty Swiss food make this postcard-perfect region of Switzerland a must for outdoorsy foodies. Begin by cutting into a crispy crumbed giant schnitzel on the terrace of the Harder Kulm Panorama Restaurant while viewing perennially snow-capped peaks. Interlaken’s rail connections make the town a good base for exploring the Bernese Alps.
The Jungfrau Railway runs to the Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest station, from where you can join a guided hike on the Aletsch glacier and stay overnight in an Alpine hut. Once you’ve earned the indulgence, order some zürcher geschnetzeltes – hearty chunks of veal served in a creamy, wine-laced sauce, a speciality of the canton (district) served at the Restaurant Stadthaus in Unterseen (mains from £27). For a two- or three-course menu cooked and hosted by a family, book with Dinner at Home. You won’t find raclette and fondue on these local tables (such clichés are banned), but you can expect inventive gratins and lively salads from (£24 per person).
Where to stay: The four-star Hotel Interlaken, five minutes’ walk from Interlaken Ost railway station, dates from 1491, and has modern double rooms from £275 a night.
Biking and café-hopping in... Berlin
Berlin is a rare European capital that retains its genuinely alternative, bohemian spirit. Berliners are fiercely proud of their cultural diversity and this is reflected in the range of exciting plates on offer to hungry travellers. Think beyond sausages and sauerkraut and discover Berlin’s youthful food scene. Get a narrated overview of the city’s hotspots, from bustling Museum Island to lesser known local hangouts like Café Anna Blume while on a food and biking tour with Fat Tire (£43 per person). This is the perfect way to combine the city’s historical and foodie landmarks. En route you’ll sample Middle Eastern falafel and halloumi at Dada Falafel – a godsend for vegetarians in this meaty city. In Prenzlauer Berg, the route pitches up at Die Schüler for tapas-style German tasting menus. Share a crisp flammkuchen and you’ll never go back to doughy pizzas.
After all that peddling treat yourself to a slice of classic apple strudel in Café Einstein, a gambling den in the Weimar-era. If you’re happier on foot, walking foodie tours are available from Bite Berlin. Try the supper club group tour (£61 per person) and learn to cook traditional German food. Pack a picnic from Barcomi's deli – perhaps a Reuben with pastrami and saukerkraut (£5) – and make the most of summer days with a kayak tour down the River Spree (three hours from £19). There’s also stand-up paddle-boarding if you’re feeling adventurous.
Where to stay: A double room at the central Mövenpick Hotel in the former Siemens building near Potsdamer Platz, costs from £57 per night.
Hiking and farm-to-fork eating in... North Sardinia
Sardinia’s northern shores beckon to be explored by boat, bike or on foot, with stunning coastal and mountain vistas, and exceptional indigenous dishes to reward you for your efforts. Sail around the archipelago of La Maddalena to swim, snorkel or scuba in crystal turquoise water and discover secret, boat-only access bays. Inland, the Barbagia mountains offer stunning scenic hiking and biking trails, with excursions to see the Bronze Age ruins and cave excavations – a treat for novice walkers and archaeology buffs.
A staple for any backpack picnic is pane carasau, a wafer-thin, crispy bread with sea salt crystals and olive oil. Ubiquitous local wines include Cannonau and Vermentino di Gallura (DOCG). For gift-worthy produce head to La Bottega del Gusto, a lovely deli on Via Nazionale in the former fishing town of Cannigione. Authentic, farm-to-fork dining is on offer at La Colti Farmhouse in Cannigione with traditional set menus of sharing plates served in the rustic courtyard. Don’t miss slow-cooked, spit-roasted suckling pig and seadas – cheese-filled fritters, doused with local honey. Hotel Su Gologone, in Oliena, offers a hearty selection of cheese, pasta and meat dishes, including wild boar, lamb and local sausages. Sample soup, made with rare filindeu pasta softened in cheesy lamb broth, and learn how to make pane carasau in the traditional brick oven.
Where to stay: Citalia offers seven-night holidays from £1,235 per person including four nights B&B at the Hotel Relais Villa del Golfo & Spa, three nights half-board at Hotel Su Gologone, seven days car hire, and return ights. Activities extra, booked via Citalia’s concierge.
Biking and heritage food in... Tuscany
On the first Sunday of every October a vintage road-bike ride, the Eroica, comes to Gaiole in Chianti, a village in the heart of vineyard-cloaked Tuscany. It sees riders don retro costumes, pedal pre-1987 bikes and stop along the way to fuel up on meats, cheese and good local wine. Choose from five routes (46km, 75km, 115km, 135km, and 209km), all of which involve bumping along ‘strade bianche’, the gravelly white roads that criss-cross Tuscany.
Open to everyone, the Eroica is a brilliant showcase for local cuisine. Don’t miss the stop in Radda, where trestle tables are laden with bread, some soaked in red wine and sprinkled with sugar, while bunches of grapes, grown metres away, glisten in the sun. The hilltop town of Panzano is famed for its butcher Dario Cecchini and offers crusty bread topped with herby salami or, for the more adventurous, fish lard. Try ribollita, a hearty soup made with bread, beans and vegetables, then crostata, Italy’s answer to the jam tart. Eat with Chianti from the vineyards you’ve just pedalled past.
Where to stay: La Vigna, in Montebuoni, a two-bedroom apartment near Lecchi in Chianti, from £730 for a week’s self-catering, with To Tuscany.
Walking and plot-to-plate feasting in... The Auvergne
One great thing about walking in France’s central Auvergne region – apart from the beauty of its lush, volcanic landscapes – is that it helps you work up an appetite for the fabulous five-course feasts served by Peter Taylor and his team, at the relaxed Auberge de Chassignolles. By day, explore this verdant Rhône-Alpine region, with an amble through the ancient forests and meadows of the Livradois Forez natural park around the auberge, or venture a bit further to hike the well-marked footpaths below the sharp peaks of Monts Dore or Cantal regions.
Pass, as you walk, the cows whose rich milk is used for the region’s cheeses, from creamy St Nectaire and Fourme d’Ambert to cheddary Cantal. In the evenings, settle into the auberge’s stylishly spartan dining room for classic French cooking with a contemporary touch. Strictly seasonal ingredients are homegrown, foraged or sourced direct from local producers, many of whom you can meet at the Saturday market in nearby Brioude. Also notable are the homemade charcuterie, biodynamic wines and sublime breakfasts – far more than the usual coffee and croissant. There’s also homemade yogurt and sourdough bread, fresh canteloupe, Peter’s homemade granola and apricot jam. The eight rooms upstairs, overlooking the square, are simple but lovely – and happily, affordable.
Where to stay: One night’s B&B at Auberge de Chassignolles costs from £53 per person, based on two sharing, three nights’ minimum stay.
Sun salutations in... Málaga
If the thought of taking a yoga holiday with the family causes indigestion, then think again. In the mountains, 30 minutes from the bustle of newly spruced up Málaga, Santillán is a wellness centre with a private house vibe, welcoming yogis of all ages during select weeks hosted by forward-thinking Roro Retreats. Daily yoga classes for both adults and families provide quality time with and without your children, hosted by British yogi, Tara Fraser.
During our stay, kids nine months to 12-years-old were captivated by chanting and simple postures, then whisked off during adult classes (a variety of dynamic and meditative sessions) for such inventive distractions as herb-hunting hikes. Family time at Santillán’s salt water swimming pool was a daily winner. Surrounding farms supply most produce, cooked by a coterie of cheery local Spanish ladies. Healthy salads accompany grilled fish for staple dinners, followed by desserts made with the lightest of touches. On the final night, a real treat: seafood and artichoke paellas crown the dinner table.
Where to stay: Seven days’ full board at Santillán, childcare, two to three daily yoga classes from £700 per child, £1,200 per adult. Flights and transfers extra.
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All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of the 01 September 2017 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assistance for this feature was provided by: for Interlaken, myswitzerland.com, jungfrau.ch and interlaken.ch; for Sardinia, citalia.com; for Tuscany, to-tuscany.com; Auvergne aubergede chassignolles.com and brittany-ferries.co.uk and for Spain, rororetreats.com