Billed as Ireland’s largest ever cultural programme, Galway as a 2020 European Capital of Culture
packs in an estimated 1,900 arts and culture events. As a shining star in the country’s ever-expanding culinary firmament, food will play a major part; in 2018, Co Galway was awarded Ireland’s first European Region of Gastronomy in recognition of its blossoming culinary credentials. So, while you’re feasting on this year’s stellar arts programme, save space for treats harvested from the epic landscapes surrounding Galway, a city at the heart of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, from heather-grazed lamb to shellfish freshly-plucked from the coast and 52 adjacent islands, to the refined dishes of Michelin-starred Aniar
, and hearty Irish breakfasts at The Quay House
, Good Hotel Guide’s Irish B&B of the year 2019, set in a 19th-century harbourmaster’s home. Check out our top 10 foods to try in Ireland
for even more delicacies from the Emerald Isle.
2. Lyon, France
If you needed an excuse to visit France’s de-facto culinary capital, the launch of the country’s first Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie
might be it. UNESCO granted French gastronomy ‘world intangible heritage’ status in 2010, encouraging the establishment of four cities of gastronomy. Launched in October , the Lyon debut is a permanent space set in a 12th-century Hotel-Dieu, a four-floor historic hospital building that’s more of a culinary cultural centre than a museum, housing exhibits on nutrition, interactive installations for kids and wannabe chefs, show kitchens with demos and tastings led by guest chefs, and even food-focused French movies. Beyond the new venue, you’ll be spoilt for choice, from a pilgrimage to the late Paul Bocuse’s crucible of nouvelle cuisine, l’Auberge du pont du Collonges
, to the seductive, cheffy food stalls of Les Halles de Lyon
. Read up on the top 10 things to eat in Lyon and Beaujolais
for more local knowledge.
3. Los Cabos, Mexico
Sharing a border with California, this beach-blessed Mexican peninsula has long played host to holidaying Hollywood, but with new direct flights from the UK, this region of pristine beaches and medal-winning wineries will be on the map for British travellers. Set between the Gulf of California and the Pacific, the Mexican state of Baja California is a long mountainous spine punctuated by deep turquoise bays replete with sea life. This is the place to swim with sea turtles, indulge in the freshest fish tacos and locally brewed beer, and enjoy the fruits of over 150 wineries
where tastings and tours often come with fine-dining restaurants. At Baja’s almost tropical southern tip, the resorts of Los Cabos have seen a slew of upscale beach hotel openings in recent years, where local food is the focus. For packages including direct flights and a choice of 18 local hotels, take a look at tui holidays
4. The Netherlands
With plenty of carbon-friendly transport links from the UK, nipping to the Netherlands for a short break is a temptation you don’t need to resist. In 2020, the country celebrates 75 years of freedom since the end of WWII. Its 12 provinces will host events putting such cities as Rotterdam, the Hague, Utrecht, Maastricht, Delft and, of course, Amsterdam
, in the spotlight. The latter (under four hours, direct from London on Eurostar
) has a burgeoning sustainable food scene. From Bolenius
, with its menu comprising 80% native vegetables, to to De Kas
, set in a greenhouse with home-grown produce, new-Dutch cuisine abounds. Closer by train, Rotterdam (three hours by Eurostar from London) is home to hipster Fenix Food Factory
, and FG Food Labs
, just one of the city’s eight Michelin star venues.
This sleepy Med’ holiday island is creating some buzz for its distinctive culinary culture and burgeoning restaurant scene
. Occupied by everyone from the Phoenicians, Moors and British colonialists, with clear Arabic and Italian influences, Malta is an exemplary Mediterranean melting pot destination. With classic dishes ranging from breakfast pastizzi (small, savoury pastries filled with everything from ricotta to mushy peas), to Lampuki (a spiced fish pie that sings of North Africa), rustic and affordable is still the order of the day. But if you want fine dining, there’s plenty to be found in the capital, Valletta, where ancient recipe fish and rabbit stews get a refined reimagining, perfect with full-bodied wines made from such indigenous grapes as Gellewza and Ghirghentina.
6. Marrakesh, Morocco
The very first African Capital of Culture, Marrakesh will host a huge roster of arts events in 2020. The maze-like alleyways of the Red City’s iconic walled medina contain more than tourist trinkets and technicolor mountains of exotic spices. It’s also home to an opulent choice of boutique riads – exquisitely converted traditional houses centered around tiled courtyards, where private hammam spas offer rose water, argan and olive oil treatments, and food often takes centre stage. Some, such as Royal Hotel Mansour
, comprise several interconnected riads, with terrace cocktail bars overlooking the medina’s rosy rooftops and the snow-capped Atlas, host to destination dining spots, and high-end cookery classes. While other boutique offerings like Riad Farnatchi
come with such pioneering sister restaurants as Le Trou au Mur
, champion of grandmother-style Moroccan dishes. Read our guide on the top 10 foods to try in Morocco
for more delicious dishes to add to your list.
7. Tel Aviv, Israel
With vegan dishes at the heart of Tel Aviv’s culinary tradition, it’s always been a great destination for lovers of plant-based food. Backed by vast agricultural land, this seaside city serves up veggies that often travel farm-to-fork in the same day. In recent years, Tel Aviv has upped its game to become the world’s self-designated vegan capital, with slick vegan coffee shops, and local chains such as Domino’s offering animal product-free pizza. This young, LGBT-friendly beach buzzy city has boutique Bauhaus-style hotel hangouts with cool cocktail bars, and a burgeoning crop of cheffy restaurants, but the budget eats steal the show. For stellar street food there’s nothing like Tel Aviv’s hummus, falafel and shakshuka, served at hole-in-the-wall joints, street stands, and stalls lining local markets such as the sprawling Shuk Hacarmel. Just four-five hours’ flight from the UK, this is an exotic break that doesn’t require a long-haul schlep.
2020 is the Scottish year of Coast & Waters
, a celebration of the country’s white sand beaches, soaring cliffs, sea stacks, and endless islands. Scotland’s coasts, canals, islands and lochs have helped shape the country’s cultural and culinary landscape. The growing crop of food-forward tours and culinary experiences are a huge incentive for travellers who can try foraging for shellfish, tasting peaty whisky and Scotland’s expanding range of gin, or hands on-food classes, such as the Nick Nairn Cook School
, set in show-stopping locations. With a wealth of options for diving, kayaking, coastal rowing, windsurfing, wild swimming and sailing, you are sure to work up an appetite. Check out our top 10 foods to try in Scotland
and try our favourite classic recipes.
Lisbon’s popularity knows no bounds for city breakers but how about Porto? Just north along the coast, this compact waterfront city is famed for its eponymous fortified wine but its dining out scene is becoming more sparkling by the minute, led by such innovative local chefs as Pedro Barreiros and José Avillez. More affordable and less frenetic than its feted neighbour, Porto’s narrow cobbled streets, stately riverside lined with informal restaurants, lavish baroque churches and old stock market make for an atmospheric weekend away. Try petiscos (small plates) at Esporão
, a new offshoot for the Alentejo winery, or a 10-course tasting menu at two-Michelin-star restaurant, The Yeatman
. Get acquainted with our top 5 foods to try in Porto
for more tasty suggestions.
10. Cádiz, Spain
Tucked away in the southwest corner of Spain, this little Andalucian province gets little of the attention of its perennially popular neighbours on the Costa. Which makes its golden sand Atlantic beaches, known as the Costa de la Luz (‘coast of the light’) even more appealing. But don’t miss the urban thrills of Jerez, for its venerable sherry bodegas, and Cádiz – the Saturday market is a must (pick up some preserved almadraba tuna). The unassuming hilltop town of Vejer de la Frontera, meanwhile, has whitewash streets lined with affordable restaurants, tapas bars and, this year, the Califa Hamam
, the first traditional Moorish bathhouse to open in town for centuries, brainchild of the local Califa group who are responsible for a number of notable local restaurants, and the newly opened Plaza 18
, a six-room boutique hotel in a sleekly-converted 19th-century merchant’s house. Get the most out of the town with foodie tours, producer visits, and cooking classes organised by ex-pat Scot, long-standing Vejer resident, Annie B
Enjoyed these suggestions? Check out our other foodie travel finds…
The top foods to try in Lisbon
Best European winter breaks
Top 10 foods to try in croatia
Best foodie holidays in Italy
What’s your ultimate foodie destination? Leave a comment below…
Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country they are travelling to.