Food is an integral part of the travel experience, whether it’s the thrill of sampling new flavours in exotic lands or the simple pleasures of dining out in a different restaurant each night. The increasing desire for authentic and memorable culinary experiences is one of the most exciting trends in travel right now, with a mouth-watering menu of food-focused tours to choose from.
On a foodie tour you can meet the locals at a sizzling street food market, learn some new recipes at a cookery class and sample the finest fresh produce at artisan farms and vineyards. Eating is also a very sociable activity, so it’s a great way to get to know the other travellers on your tour. In this article we’ve picked out some of the best food-themed tours, featuring everything from hearty local cooking to the finest of fine dining...
If you thought touring holidays were all about shuttling around in a coach ticking off the sights then think again! G Adventures are one of the most innovative tour operators in the business, and their ‘Local Living’ tours give you the opportunity to slow down, home in on a single destination and take a deep dive into the local culture. Their 6-night Southern Dalmatia tour has a particular focus on food, featuring a traditional Croatian cooking class and a wine and olive oil tasting tour. Instead of staying in a typical tourist town you’ll be hosted at a farm in the Croatian countryside, with plenty of opportunities for scenic bike rides, trips to the coast and picnics in sun-dappled vineyards.
Adventure specialists Explore! offer a number of special ‘Tastes of’ itineraries, including a fantastic food-based fortnight in Mexico. Learn how to make tamales with a local family in Zinacantan, snack on tacos in Mexico City, sample zingy ceviche on the Yucatán coast and explore the enticing street food markets of Oaxaca and San Cristóbal. Eating your way around Mexico is a great way to learn about the country’s diverse regions and traditions, and you’ll meet an unforgettable array of local characters who are passionate about their food.
Headwater specialise in self-guided walking tours, and they have a great selection of trips combining beautiful scenery and invigorating hikes with the very best local gastronomy. France is an obvious choice, with itineraries linking up the châteaux of the Loire Valley or the vineyards of Burgundy. The rolling hills of Tuscany are another great option, with tours focusing on locally sourced ‘km 0’ food, sampling the finest regional produce and learning how to cook the Tuscan way. And if bubbles are your thing then how about a week-long walk among the ‘Prosecco Hills’, exploring quaint medieval villages and quaffing Italy’s finest sparkling wines.
Solos are the undisputed experts when it comes to holidays for single travellers, with a loyal community of regulars who share a desire to discover new destinations and experiences. Eating and drinking together is a great way to bond with new friends, and Solos offer several food-themed options. Their 7-night ‘Trails & Truffles’ tour is a perfect example, showcasing the beautiful region of Umbria. You’ll visit hilltop medieval towns, enjoy an Italian cookery class and go hunting for truffles in the woods with a local expert, with the opportunity to taste what you find afterwards!
Contiki cater to the 18-to-35 market with a varied repertoire of experience-focused tours, and food is a key component, encapsulated in their ‘Munch’ philosophy. All Contiki trip managers have a little black book containing their pick of the best local eateries, and all itineraries are designed to incorporate authentic foodie experiences. If you love Asian cuisine then the 12-day ‘Munch Asia’ trip is a must, featuring a street food tour of Bangkok by tuk tuk, a Thai cookery class in Phuket and an after-dark tour of Penang’s buzzing hawker market.
If you enjoy the finer things in life then fear not, there is a foodie tour for you too! High-end operator Luxury Gold create unique tour itineraries that combine the best of everything: beautiful boutique accommodation, exclusive VIP experiences and some of the world’s most prestigious restaurants. Many itineraries include lunch or dinner at a Michelin-starred establishment such as Dublin’s sublime French restaurant L’Ecrivain, or Jean Jacques Noguier’s La Ferme de l’Hospital, housed in a charming 17th century farmhouse outside Geneva.
The vegan movement continues to grow around the world, with new converts attracted by the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Yet travelling can be difficult for vegans, and most holiday companies have been slow to respond to the clamour for meat-free menus. One notable exception is group travel specialist Intrepid, who have expanded their popular ‘Real Food Adventures’ range to include a selection of special vegan tours. Options include a vegan-friendly tour of India’s Golden Triangle, combining the wonders of Jaipur and the Taj Mahal with flavoursome vegan rotis, salads and samosas.