8 best travel destinations for food lovers
Whether you’re a new couple or a few moons into your relationship, a romantic break is always a good idea.
If food is the language of your love, grab some inspiration from these best travel destinations for food lovers.
1. San Sebastián, Spain
In the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula is the small Basque city of San Sebastián.
The city’s most famous for its excellent food culture along with its remote beaches. San Sebastián is also home to several sandy beaches like Playa de la Concha and Playa de Zurriola.
San Sebastián is the ideal city break for couples looking for good food and some quality time together. The city has the highest concentration of Michelin star restaurants per square meter than anywhere else in the world.
A Spanish food mecca — best travel destinations for food lovers
There’s an impressive 16 Michelin star restaurants in San Sebastián. They include Arzak and Mugaritz, both which also features on the list of the world’s 50 best restaurants list.
However, what’s most appealing is the quality of everyday food in the bars, as well as the reasonable prices.
Whether you’re sampling a few ‘pintxos’ (tapas) or ordering fresh seafood, it’s highly unlikely you’ll leave San Sebastián feeling hungry.
Another culinary attraction, aside from its restaurants, are the fantastic food markets. La Bretza is one place where top chefs regularly visit, while San Martin is another excellent stop for eagle-eyed foodies.
The food markets of Ordizia and Tolosa are also a few kilometers outside the city. They sell produce from Gipuzkoa, a historical territory of the Basque country. The farmers’ market at Ordizia takes place every Wednesday, while it happens every Saturday in Tolosa.
Romantic hotels in San Sebastián
Room Mate Gorka
Stay in a hotel in San Sebastián that’s just 750 yards from the historic old town. Room Mate Gorka is also close to the principle street of Calle Mayor.
No detail is left un-turned at this superb boutique hotel. Rooms are elegant, understated and minimalist. La Concha Promenade and Santa Clara Island are just several of the local attractions close by.
Lasala Plaza Hotel
Lasala Plaza Hotel is another top choice in San Sebastián. Located in the old town, it’s 80m from Calle Mayor with sea-view rooms and dreamy vistas.
Take a time out in the rooftop pool and terrace, and watch the sun go down over the city.
Best travel destinations for food lovers — one of many beautiful beaches in San Sebastián
2. Fes, Morocco
While most people head to the touristy realms of Marrakech, Fes is where the foodies go.
The northeastern city in Morocco is home to the Fes El Bali walled medina. It also happens to be the largest in Africa. Navigate your way around the sights and smells of the maze which is said to have around 10,000 lanes. After spending time getting lost and exploring the surroundings, it’s time to eat.
Fes El Bali has plenty of culinary choices to suit varying tastes, and also budgets. Pass the hours in a candlelit riad courtyard, or a café in a nameless side street. For a local foodie experience, try everything from restaurant standard cuisine to street food.
Best travel destinations for food lovers — a Moroccan taste explosion
Morocco, and the Maghrebi region, is known for a traditional bread called beghrir. It’s soft, doughy, and its form resembles a pancake — just with tiny air bubbles.
Also, on the street food menu in Fes are crispy eggplant fritters, and for the more adventurous, steamed sheep’s heads.
For a location that’s romantic and one that also serves up delicious food, head to The Ruined Garden. A restaurant with an intimate setting, outdoor seating and soft lighting, reservations fill up very quickly.
However, it’s not only the scenic garden that visitors come for. At The Ruined Garden, they’ve several specialties, one being the dark chocolate and espresso mousse. An unusual take on the classic dessert, their version comes with a pinch of the local spice, Ras el Hanout.
Another foodie location worth adding to the list is Palais Amani. A 5-star hotel and home to one of the best restaurants in Fes, it’s worth every Dirham.
Among the menu items is the divine chicken pastilla. Match this with a backdrop of orange trees, traditional Moroccan design and a trickling fountain. All together, they make the perfect ingredients for a romantic evening.
Best travel destinations for food lovers — romantic hotels in Fes
There are many excellent choices in Fes when it comes to accommodation. However, if you’re looking for a boutique hotel in a quiet part of the Medina, consider booking Riad Anata.
Rooms are colorful and decked out in authentic Moroccan style. The rooftop terrace is ideal for morning escapades as well as watching the sunset with a glass of wine.
Le Grand Alcazar — best travel destinations for food lovers
While its name may sound expensive, Le Grand Alcazar is in fact a very affordable hotel in Fes El Bali.
An authentic riad in a superb location, it’s 2.4 km from the Royal Palace in Fes. Le Grand Alcazar is also just 200m from Batha Square and 500m from the Bou Inania Madrasa landmark building.
The hotel offers complimentary WiFi and an à la carte continental breakfast.
Sample some of the juiciest olives in Fes — best travel destinations for food lovers
“If food is the language of your love, grab some inspiration from these best travel destinations for food lovers.”
Map: 8 best foodies cities for couples
3. Ljubljana, Slovenia
The small central European capital of Ljubljana may not strike you as a foodie city, but you’d be greatly mistaken.
Slovenes take their cuisine very seriously, and pride themselves on using fresh and local ingredients.
Eat like the Slovenes — best travel destinations for food lovers
Something we didn’t know before visiting was the number of beekeepers in the country. There’s said to be an estimated 11,000 beekeepers, which is pretty impressive for a small country.
Unsurprisingly, honey comes in a number of different varieties and features a lot in the Slovenian kitchen. I enjoyed it simply spread on warm homemade toast with freshly churned butter for breakfast.
Other traditional must-try Slovenian dishes include Pražen krompir, Carniola sausage (Kranjska klobasa) and potica. Pražen krompir is a dish consisting of boiled potatoes sautéed with onions in lard until golden brown.
Potica, on the other hand, is a rolled pastry made from paper-thin dough. Its fillings vary from walnuts to cottage cheese, hazelnuts and/or chocolate. It’s usually served warm, and I advise eating straight away.
You can try any of these traditional Slovenian dishes at a restaurant, café, snack bar, or gostilna. They’re similar to an Italian trattoria, in that the establishments are usually family run, and they serve up homestyle cooking.
Best travel destinations for food lovers — get romantic in Ljubljana Old Town
For me, old towns around Eastern Europe are as charming and romantic as its western European neighbors. Cobbled streets and historic stone bridges (17 in total) run through the heart of Ljubljana Old Town.
The most famous of all is Dragon Bridge. The 4 seafoam green dragon statues symbolize the start of the old town. Dragon Bridge was one of the largest constructed during its period (1900-1901), and is an important Ljubljana landmark.
While here, I’d also highly suggest visiting the central market. It’s where you’ll find the open-air and covered markets, plus several food stalls along Ljubljanica river.
Savor the sights and varieties of locally-grown produce, as well as the more ‘exotic’ items like pineapples and avocados.
The open-air market’s open every day from 6am to 6pm, and on Saturdays from 6am to 4pm. It’s closed on Sundays and also on public holidays.
Romantic boutique hotels in Ljubljana — best travel destinations for food
If you like your boutique hotels with a unique design, you’ll love Vander Hotel. This 4-star accommodation is just moments away from main attractions in Ljubljana Old Town.
To the left of the hotel is Ljubljana Cathedral and Ljubljana Castle. To the right is the river side, which leads to the start of the iconic bridges in Ljubljana.
Come here for the unique, futuristic style, and for the complimentary sparkling white wine on arrival.
Lesar Hotel Angel
At the foot of the Castle Hill is the ultra-charming Lesar Hotel Angel. A 4-star boutique hotel surrounded by the old town and Ljubljana Castle, it’s a great choice for your stay.
A building that dates to medieval times, there are just 15 rooms at Lesar Hotel Angel.
The hotel also has a 500m2 private garden. From here, you can follow the steps along the curve of Castle Hill that’s directly beneath the castle tower. Catch uninterrupted views of Ljubljana and beyond.
Nothing better than freshly made omelettes for breakfast at Vander Hotel — best travel destinations for food lovers
4. Tel Aviv, Israel
With its laid-back feel, and south of France vibe, it’s little wonder why people love Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv meaning ‘Tell of Spring’, is a great romantic getaway for several reasons. For one, the city has some incredible sandy beaches, and a promenade ideal for those romantic strolls. A second big draw for visiting is its food scene.
The city of vegan love — best travel destinations for food lovers
If you’re a vegan, or better yet a vegan couple, then Tel Aviv is the city for you. It won the coveted title of The World’s Vegan Food Capital back in 2018.
Vegans in Israel also make up 5% of the country’s population — one of the highest in the world. It’s not surprising then, that many vegan eateries are situated throughout the city.
Several to note include Anastasia, plant-based café Bana and the wonderful sounding Rainbow Burgers.
For a more formal vegan dining experience, Meshek Barzilay dishes up fresh food using only seasonal ingredients.
My absolute favorite thing to eat in Tel Aviv was the hummus. I know it sounds cliché but it was unlike any that I’d tried before. The oil-soaked variety at Ali Karavan is very good, as is Abu Hasan in old Jaffa.
Tel Aviv isn’t only known for its tasty fare, but also for its vibrant café culture. Bucke Cafe on Ahad Ha’am Street and Lahmanina cafe/bakery in the Bizaron neighborhood are excellent choices in great locations.
Romantic boutique hotels in Tel Aviv
Hotel Montefiore — best travel destinations for food lovers
A beautiful boutique hotel inside and out, Hotel Montefiore has just 12 rooms inside its colorful walls.
Opened in 2008, it was the first boutique hotel to open in Tel Aviv. The hotel’s also home to an award-winning Vietnamese fusion restaurant, which showcases Israel’s seasonal and local produce.
Rooms at Hotel Montefiore are elegant, unique and feature original artwork. Expect luxurious bathrooms with soft bathrobes and slippers and complimentary WiFi throughout the building.
Hotel Montefiore is just 200 yards from one of the main streets in Tel Aviv, Rothschild Boulevard. What’s more, Ben Gurion Airport is a short 20-minute drive, from which the hotel provides a shuttle service.
The Poli House Hotel
Step inside a design boutique hotel in a central location in Tel Aviv.
There are 40 rooms and suites at the Poli House Hotel, designed to provide the ultimate luxury boutique hotel experience. All rooms are fitted with a designer bathroom, complete with walk-in shower and rainforest showerhead.
Schedule in some down time at the hotel’s spa, which has 2 full-service treatment rooms, ideal for couples’ spa treatments. Additional facilities also include a sauna and an outdoor hot tub.
My favorite feature, however, has to be the rooftop terrace. It’s here where you’ll find the heated pool and views overlooking the city.
Nearby attractions include the busy shopping mecca of Shenkin Street, and Meir Park, which is also 5 minutes away.
Soak up South of France vibes in Tel Aviv
5. Palermo, Sicily
Because of this, I’m adding 2 Italian places to the lists, the first being Palermo.
A city that’s over 2,700 years old, Palermo is rich in Roman, Norman and Arab influence. It’s also a place where history intertwines with the present, with an ancient surprise around every corner.
Sicilian food love
Sicilian dishes are hearty, filling, and with many also coming from very humble roots. One good example of this is a vegetable dish called caponata.
A Sicilian classic, it’s probably also my absolute favorite thing to eat. Packed with plump eggplant, onions, tomatoes, olives and capers, it’s perfect as a light lunch. Caponata is also similar to Ratatouille, though the Sicilian vegetable stew has more of a sweet and sour taste.
Street food in Palermo is another good way of getting to know the cuisine. You’ll see several places selling Pane e Panelle (fritters in bread) across the city.
These deep-fried fritters are made from chickpea flour and stuffed into a bread roll. You can also take the fritters as they are. Panelle dates back to the time of Arab rule from the 9th to 12th centuries.
Best travel destinations for food lovers — a Sicilian foodie trip
My suggestion for a top trattoria in Palermo is Ai Cascinari. They make everything fresh in the restaurant, and the portions are also big enough to share.
Savor dishes like the homemade bread and the flavorsome caponata. Whatever dish you choose, Ai Cascinari is one place to enjoy a truly authentic Palermitan meal.
I can’t talk about visiting Palermo — from a foodie perspective — without mentioning the outdoor markets. There are several to visit in the city, including Ballarò, Capo, Vucciria and also Borgo Vecchio.
Ballarò is the largest of the markets, and sits in the historic Albergheria quarter. Come here to eat, buy or simply marvel at the local fruits, vegetables, and also the many food stalls.
Romantic hotels in Palermo
Hotel Palazzo Brunaccini
Hotel Palazzo Brunaccini is also in the Albergheria district of Palermo. This fabulous boutique hotel’s a short walk from the must-see landmark, Quattro Canti, and also from the historic center.
Luxury personified, rooms are grand, and completed decked out in marble flooring.
Rocco Forte Villa Igiea — best travel destinations for food lovers
Make your Palermo visit a memorable one with a stay at the Rocco Forte Villa Igiea. This 5-star hotel has elegantly-designed rooms and views overlooking the Bay of Palermo.
Unique and very boutique, Rocco Forte Villa Igiea also has a solarium and an outdoor pool.
Caponata is a must-try dish in Palermo — best travel destinations for food lovers
6. Lyon, France
If you want to try the finest, and tastiest, French food, go to Lyon.
The country’s 3rd largest city has been internationally recognized as one of the best food destinations. And for foodie couples looking for a romantic getaway, it’s utopia.
Along with the fantastic gastronomy, what also makes Lyon a great couples’ destination is its landmarks. The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls, The Ancient Theatre of Fourvière and Lyon Cathedral are several sights to bookmark.
Best travel destinations for food lovers — Lyonnaise eating
One of the best ways to sample Lyonnaise cuisine is at a traditional Bouchon. These are family-run bistros that prides itself on serving up homemade dishes.
As you might imagine, bouchons tend to be less about haute cuisine and more about wholesome cooking.
Typical Lyonniase dishes you can expect to see on a Bouchon menu include sausages, roast pork and duck pâté. The food’s heavier in nature and meat tends to feature quite frequently.
You can also find vegetarian dishes, such as Lyonnaise potatoes, but the majority tends to be meat-based. No Bouchon meal is complete without a glass of local red Beaujolais wine.
Don’t forget the markets
As well as the bouchons, the city’s also home to Les Halles de Lyon. This impressive indoor market has mouthwatering variety of everything delicious.
From stinky soft cheeses to escargots, I dare you to leave empty handed. What also makes Lyon a foodie hub is its location to neighboring gastronomic places.
The regions of Savoy, Dombes and Beaujolais are all within easy traveling distance.
Romantic hotels in Lyon — best travel destinations for food lovers
Check into a hotel situated on Fourvière Hill, offering panoramic views over Lyon. Villa Maïa has rooms, suites and apartments complete with a private bathroom made of Italian Carrara marble.
The hotel also has an indoor heated swimming pool, hot tub, steam room and a fitness room. Nearby Villa Maïa is Lyon old town as well as The Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, which is 5 minutes away.
Wake up to a buffet or continental-style breakfast, including goodies such as organic jam and locally produced eggs.
Villa Maïa also has gluten-free items for guests with special dietary requirements.
Cour des Loges
The superb 5-star Cour des Loges hotel is in the 5th arrondissement in Lyon. It’s an area great for couples that are interested in history and local food.
All rooms come with a private bathroom fitted with a bath or shower. Rooms also come with fluffy bathrobes, slippers and luxury toiletries.
Lyon Cathedral is 4 minutes away, while the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière is 15 minutes by foot.
Fellow spa enthusiasts will appreciate the hotel’s spa with indoor swimming pool, sauna, hammam and a hot tub. Massages are available on request.
Be sure to also make time to book at Cour des Loges Michelin-star restaurant, Les Loges.
A refined setting with a menu to match, you can expect dishes like langoustine and fresh line-caught fish. Alternatively, its bistro Café-Epicerie offers a more informal setting and traditional local cuisine.
A traditional Lyonnaise dish — quenelle in Nantua sauce
7. Bologna, Italy
My second Italian choice on the list is Bologna. The capital of the Emilia-Romagna region is home to some of the most mouthwatering cuisine in the country.
Bologna is known as a university city, so if visiting in summer, you’ll find the streets much quieter. However, it’s also much hotter during this season, so avoid visiting if hot weather isn’t for you.
All roads lead to Piazza Maggiore. Within the square is San Petronio Basilica, the Duomo of Bologna. It also happens to be the 10th largest church in the world (by volume).
While at Piazza Maggiore, make time to also visit Palazzo d’Accursio. This impressive building used to be City Hall but is now a museum.
More to eat than just Bolognese — best travel destinations for food lovers
If I’ve to say one thing about eating in Bologna, it’s that meat is everywhere. While there are vegetarian options available, the tastiest dishes — in my opinion — are the meat-filled ones.
Bologna has so many delicious things to try, that a city break may not be long enough. Notable dishes include Spuma di Mortadella (spread on hot toast) and meat-filled fresh egg tortellini.
Dishes to savor in Bolgona
Naturally, a visit to Bologna isn’t complete without ordering a bowl of the classic Bolognese (tagliatelle al ragù).
My other foodie recommendations in Bologna include the tortellini served in a rich and aromatic broth, and a Bollito misto.
Literally translated as ‘boiled mix’, Bollito misto is a variety of boiled meats (beef, veal, cotechino) in a vegetable broth.
The boiled meat isn’t usually served with the broth, but instead with the vegetables that it’s been cooked with. Bollito misto is traditionally eaten in north Italy, and is also a popular dish on New Year’s Eve.
Once you’ve had your fill of Bologna cuisine, walk off the calories by exploring the city’s sights hand-in-hand.
Best travel destinations for food lovers — romantic hotels in Bologna
L’8 Boutique Design Apartments
Stay right in the heart of the historic center in Bologna at L’8 Boutique Design Apartments. As its name suggests, these are apartments rather than individual hotel rooms.
Each apartment is decorated in its own charming style. Inside is a kitchen with dishwasher, a living area, bathroom and tea and coffee making facilities.
L’8 Boutique Design Apartments is also 350 yards from Via dell’ Indipendenza — the main street of the city. The historical area of the Quadrilatero is less than 0.6 miles from the apartment building.
Within these streets are bakeries, grocery stores, butchers, as well as restaurants offering a taste of local Bologna cuisine.
Hotel Corona D’Oro — best travel destinations for food lovers
Make the most of your Bologna city stay at the historic Hotel Corona D’Oro. This 4-star luxury hotel has 40 elegantly designed rooms and suites.
Some of the double deluxe rooms come with balconies; ideal for an al fresco breakfast and admiring the red rooftops.
You can also rest easy knowing you’re staying in an excellent central location. The famous Two Towers of Bologna are just a few minutes away, while Piazza Maggiore is 400 yards from the property.
What’s more, the hotel’s in a traffic-free zone, with Bologna Train Station just 20 minutes by foot.
If you need another reason to book here, Hotel Corona D’Oro also offers its guests free bikes.
Best travel destinations for food lovers — tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese
8. Tallinn, Estonia
For a city full of (good) surprises around every corner, consider visiting Tallinn. The Estonian capital may not strike you as a foodie destination, but I’d ask you to take a second glance.
Medieval on the menu — best travel destinations for food lovers
A new culinary experience for me, we sat down to our first medieval meal in Tallinn. Olde Hansa is like something plucked straight out of the middle ages. The building’s façade and interior is also as authentic as the food they serve.
Serving staff wear costumes of the period, and beer is served in huge earthenware mugs. Sticking to its authenticity, potatoes are nowhere in sight at Olde Hansa.
Instead, the menu consists of dishes such as salad with smoked herring and salmon, and a forest mushroom soup.
Adventurous eaters may enjoy trying the game sausages made from bear, elk and wild boar. All dishes at Olde Hansa also come with traditional freshly baked bread.
Another top restaurant I highly recommend in Tallinn is Tuljak. It’s all about fine dining here, with a mesmerizing sunset to match. The restaurant’s located in the seaside town of Pirita, and believe me when I say, it’s a must try.
A Tallinn bonus
Exploring Tallinn Old Town is one of the best things to do in Tallinn, and it’s also free. Wander together through the cobbled streets of the UNESCO town, taking in the Scandinavian-style architecture as you go.
Churches in Tallinn are aplenty, and showcases the many denominations present in the city.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the most striking in Tallinn. Built in a traditional Russian Revival style, the church is an important landmark for the Russian Orthodox community.
In comparison, St Olaf’s Church draws on Scandinavian influences reflecting a completely different architectural style.
The church is most known for its 405ft (124m) tower, which you can climb to reach the observation deck.
Day trips from Tallinn — best travel destinations for food lovers
Depending on your schedule, I also suggest taking a day trip from Tallinn. Hire a car and visit some of the picturesque beaches along the coast, such as Vääna-Jõesuu, Kloogaranna and Laulasmaa.
An alternative Tallinn day trip is to visit Helsinki in Finland. There are regular ferries between the 2 cities and it takes around 2 hours each way.
My no. 1 tip here is to book your ferry tickets in advance. Ticket prices can be extortionate if left to the last minute, and can sometimes cost more than a plane ticket.
Tallinn is a top couples’ and foodie destination
Romantic hotels in Tallinn — best travel destinations for food lovers
Book into a hotel in the center of the old town at Schlössle Hotel. The hotel dates to the 13th century with original features such as thick stone walls and heavy wooden beams.
With 23 rooms and suites, it’s one of Tallinn’s best luxury hotels. Schlössle Hotel was also the first hotel in Estonia to be given 5 stars.
Hotel St. Petersbourg
Hotel St. Petersbourg is about 7 minutes’ walk from Schlössle Hotel. It’s more modern in feel and design, but it actually holds the title of the oldest operating hotel in Tallinn.
There are 27 rooms and suites in total, individual in design. Restaurants at Hotel St. Petersbourg include Tabula Rasa and Golden Piglet Inn.
While the former’s modern, and embraces Estonian modern culture and art noveau, Golden Piglet Inn is all about tradition.
The kitchen prepares dishes based on recipes that have been passed down from grandmother and generations. Dishes are unique, fresh and made from produce that comes from local farms and suppliers.
Food is hearty, wholesome, and leaves you wanting a second helping.
Which of these foodie destinations would you most like to visit with your significant other? Drop me a comment in the box below!
Till next time, happy boutique travels x
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Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience, a demographic (late 20s onward) that enjoys glamping over camping and staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels. Flashpackers also like to indulge in the local food and wine, cultural activities, as well as a spot of wellness on their travels. Want to know more? Read on....