One of my favourite ways to discover a city: by booking a food tour.
One thing I almost always do when I visit a city is book a food tour. When I say this to some friends, they seem surprised: food tours? What is that? Well, it is not a new concept, so to speak, but I find it a great way to discover a city.
I did my first one almost 4 years ago when I visited Rome with my sister. The result? A great day out, negative calories (because you walk – trust me on this!), and a great way to get to know little hidden gems. And, I will not lie – a great way to find some things to buy. When you travel within Europe, you can of course bring home any produce.
Food tours take on average 4 hours – and my advice is to skip the meal before it begins. The times I did not follow my own advice, I deeply regretted it. It is also a great way to do some sightseeing and earmarking places to return to.
Here are 6 food tour options I absolutely loved – they all happen to be in Europe, but worry not, I plan to continue to eat my way around the world.
I chose this one first because it is ever so slightly ironic that I went on a food tour in my hometown. And besides Mr. O, I invited my sister to join us. Why ironic? Because one would think one would know the main places to try x and y. Turns out one is very wrong. We joined a group organised by Eat Portugal – they run tours of up to 8 people and we loved every minute of it. Of course I knew the food, but I loved finding so many old fashioned places I did not know they still existed – and discovering new ones. Also, we loved having other people join us – it is not that you make friends, but watching other people discover new foods and flavours can be very rewarding. Tours from 75 Euros per person.
Malaga & Marbella, Spain
On a recent trip to the South of Spain, a part of the world I know very well, as we spent many Summers there during my childhood, we spent two fantastic half days with Manni from Toma Tours. The concept behind this company, which offers really bespoke experiences, is to help you discover ‘the real Spain’. No tourist traps here. We spent an evening getting reacquainted with the old town of Marbella (which still retains its charm) and stopped at over 6 places for a bit of this and a bit of that. Highlights included The Farm, a local pioneer of the Slow Food movement – “Grandma’s food”, locally sourced, seasonal fayre, using organic produce from the Guadalhorce Valley farmer’s cooperatives, just 30 minutes down the road and also D’oliva, a fantastic olive oil (and salt and wine) boutique which only sells organic and bio olive oil and its 10-type-of-olive-oil tasting really blew us away.
The following day, we discovered Malaga – and Oh. My. God. We had been many times but for quick shopping trips and here’s a city waiting to be discovered as a destination in itself. Manni took us everywhere – from the top of the Cathedral to the Museum Picasso, with plenty of nourishing stops along the way. I won’t spoil the surprise with regards to the food – it really was phenomenal, so I am sharing one of my favourite simple local delights: cogollos (which is a type of lettuce which the Spanish adore).
Prague, Czech Republic
What do you mean? A food tour in Prague? Well, we visited recently and this tour with Eating Prague (who I had tried before in Rome) made our weekend. Literally. That and a Flytographer session. With both, we walked around the city, met some lovely residents and really discovered some real culinary delights. Our tour average 4 and a bit hours and it really was a journey. My favourite? The sweets. Tours from 75 Euros per person, ours was a private tour.
I recently visited Seville and obviously we wanted to explore some tapas bars. But where to begin? Well, we would follow Shawn from Sevilla Tapas Tours around town. It was supposed to be for 4 hours (at night), but let’s say we just hit it off and went to bed slightly later. This tour was also quite special because it was private (us and some friends) and we also got recommendations for the rest of our stay. And believe me, we went to places we would never ever find. Group tours (of up to 6) starting at 60 Euros, private tours from 80 Euros.
The company we used in Madrid was aptly called Devour Madrid, and boy, did we! I must confess I wasn’t expecting to hit the vermouth at 11am, but apparently one does, and no complaints for me. It was a particularly interesting tour as I lived on and off in Madrid for 4 years and again, I really discovered some new places. We had 3 couples (all our friends) with us on the tour, and a blast. And let’s say that we could not honour our dinner reservation at 9.30pm as planned – yes, we of course had to have dinner at 11pm (and were not that hungry). Private tours from 95 Euros per person.
I blame Eating Italy for my love for food tours – they helped me discover Rome in a whole new light and as you can see, life was never the same anymore. My sister and I went on its Testaccio tour (a whole new neighbourhood for us) and adored each minute. It rained for the whole morning, but we couldn’t care less as we had carbonara and gelato – and I had the chance to buy dinner to enjoy a few hours later back in the UK. Group tours from 75 Euros per person.
San Sebastian, Spain
I am starting to think that Spain invented food tours, as there is a trend here for sure. This tour was very special for one reason – because Mr. O recently took me on a secret weekend away (to San Sebastian, as it turned out), and he organised everything himself (with a bit of help from the hotel concierge team). The first thing on his list? A San Sebastian Tapas Tour with San Sebastian Food – which was phenomenal. Lurdes was incredible and let’s just say we did not take the scheduled 4 hours… this is true testament that the concept works, I think! Private tours from 150 Euros per person.
And to finish it off, something quite special. What should one try in Paris after breakfast? Obviously chocolate, sweets and desserts. We loved the almost 3 hours we spent with Wonderful Time in Paris on its Chocolate and Sweets tour – we learned a lot and discovered some beautiful places in town too. Private Tours from 170 Euros per person.
So next time you head somewhere, I challenge you to try a food tour. You get what you pay for by the way – incredibly high quality food and drink, and someone’s valuable time and knowledge.
Have you ever been on a food tour? What did you think?