Rome, Paris, and Barcelona, amongst others, usually take the cake when it comes to talking about Europe’s best cities for dining. But, Europe is a huge continent with cuisine as diverse as its geography and its people. Take a culinary trek a little off the beaten path, and check out these 10 underrated, but totally drool-worthy food cities in Europe.
Aarhus is one of the largest cities in Denmark, but is often overlooked for the capital city of Copenhagen. Full of cafés and plenty of restaurants with local Danish dishes and menus from across the world, Aarhus has the distinction of four Michelin-starred restaurants: Domestic, Gastromé, Frederikshøj, and Substans. While you're there, be sure to try smørrebrød, a delicious type of open-faced sandwich.
Gorgeous architecture aside, people come to Italy to eat. Catania is hardly the first Italian city touted for its cuisine, but nonetheless deserves to be acknowledged. Seafood lovers and pescatarians alike will find themselves in heaven at La Pescheria, the city’s fresh fish market. You can also sate your sweet tooth at one of the city’s many Sicilian bakeries.
Cork is a must-visit for foodies who find themselves in Ireland. Recently winning the title of the top foodie destination in Ireland, cork has plenty of requisite pubs and the English Market, a covered food market with a hundreds of years of history, for local ingredients and recipes. Cork is also home to the Ballymaloe Cookery School where you can take a cooking class, wander the organic gardens, or sit down to a hearty meal at the Ballymaloe House Hotel.
Neighboring cities of Copenhagen and Stockholm might garner more attention, but this Finnish city is not one for foodies to dismiss. Helsinki has a little bit of everything you want to see in a great food city: craft coffee spots, Michelin-starred restaurants, food trucks, breweries, and more. Stop at Bier Bier for a handcrafted brew. Or, indulge in some delicious salmon dishes at Cafe Bar 9.
Central and Eastern Europe are a treasure trove of underrated food cities. If you’re curious, we’d suggest starting with Ljubljana in Slovenia. Sample a whole range of dishes at the Open Kitchen — this market, open from March to October, is a collection of different stalls manned by chefs who will cook up dishes right before your eyes. The market also has plenty of live music and entertainment. Fall in love with a traditional Slovenian dish like kranjska klobasa, a type of sausage, or try something of the international variety.
We can’t quite bring ourselves to say "forget Paris", but definitely add Lyon to your list of food stops in France. After all, gastronomy has flourished in this French city. Cozy up to the dessert bar at Le Kitchen Café or find your inner oenophile and gourmand at Burgundy Lounge. Find yourself falling in love with cheese all over again at La Crémerie de Charlie. Trust us, the flavors of Lyon will stay with you for a lifetime.
Port wine is shipped from all over the world to Porto for its aging process, hence the name. This Portugal city certainly has plenty of places to sample port, but Porto is so much more than its namesake wine. The city is also home to delicious pork dishes, mouthwatering food markets, and so much more. Kill two birds with one stone at ODE Porto Wine House, which serves up both an impressive wine list and menu. For those who count down the courses to dessert, skip right to Chocolateria Ecuador for some Portuguese chocolate.
Prague, Czech Republic
In addition to being an utterly gorgeous city – think castles and gothic architecture – Prague has a divine food scene. The city is rich in brewing history, so you won’t want to miss out on beer tasting during your visit. Nota Bene is a great spot to sip on beer and enjoy some local food. When your appetite is at its biggest, stop at V Kolkovně. This restaurant’s menu rotates daily, offering up dishes like pork shoulder, apple pie and cottage cheese, meat balls, and gnocchi.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Coffee usually takes the center stage when it comes to talking about Sarajevo’s food and drink. Bosnian coffee is a thick, ultra-strong drink that any caffeine addict will want to add to their bucket list. Sarajevo has plenty of cafés, so you won’t have to pick just one. The city also has plenty of ascinicas, or cafeterias, that serve up plenty of delicious, local dishes. For a night of traditional Croatian fare, book a table at Restaurant Kibe.
Volos is a coastal city in Greece, so you know a trip here will be rewarded with gorgeous ocean and mountain views. Volos does both traditional and uniquely modern Greek cuisine. Also like any port town, Volos has excellent seafood. Sit down to fresh squid, octopus, oysters, lobster, and more at Tsipouradiko Dionysis, a beautiful seaside eatery. Dive into the local, organic food and craft beer scene at Brighton Food and Wine. While Athens is of course worth your time, don’t cheat your taste buds by missing out on Volos.