I’m an amateur traveler. I began my international travels in my mid-twenties which led me to crave an appetite for more adventures and a pursuit of my happiness. I do not have much advice to give when it comes to traveling as I continue to learn myself, but I’ve picked up a few tips from my experienced travel acquaintances or stumbled across some on the way.
I believe that the gateway to all cultures is through food. I mean, who doesn’t love food? In my personal experience, local food tours are the best way to learn about the city and meet locals or other travelers in the area. My husband and I have booked local food tours in our last three international destinations and the experiences have been unforgettable. We usually book our tours through Expedia, Musement and/or Urban Adventures. These websites have a diverse selection of food and/or wine tours and with diverse itineraries to choose from. The tours usually takes 2-3 hours with a local tour guide and 6-8 other tourists. Cost can vary; I would say it is about $100-$180 USD per person.
Why do I love these local food tours? Here are my thoughts about the benefits of booking a local food tour in your travel destination:
Discover the best local restaurants and shops to explore during your stay
Our first local food tour was in Barcelona back in 2018. We met our tour guide, Jane, at the meeting point along with 6 other tourists. We started our tour with a glass of Cava, a Spanish sparking wine. Jane led us through a zig zag of narrow passageways through the heart of Barcelona, the La Boqueria, the Gothic Quarter and Las Ramblas neighborhoods, while giving us a brief history through a local’s perspective. We were introduced to local family restaurants and larger restaurant chains in the city; we were served with a variety of authentic Spanish tapa dishes and tasted dishes that was only unique to their restaurant. Some of my favorite tapas are: Patatas Bravas, Jamon Iberico, Manchego cheese, Calamari, Catalan bread & tomato and various selection of coquettes. I’ll never forget about the infamous Tinto de Verano, which was a mixture of Spanish Rioja wine and Italian lemon soda, and could be ordered at any restaurant and/or bar in Barcelona or you could make it yourself at home! One of my favorite local family shops was the Torrons Vicens which was hidden in the heart of the city led to through a narrow sidewalk off the main streets. Torrons Vicens sold a variety of delicious sweets to locals and tourists that pass along the way.
Learn about the city through a local’s eyes
Venice (Italy) is a popular touristy location for travelers. We’re all familiar with the images of the Bridge of Sighs, Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Saint Mark’s square, and have read about the Italian culture that we feel we could get around ourselves. These popular historical structures is just the tip of the iceberg; and I believe the best way to experience this beautiful city of Venice is through a local’s perspective and learn from their knowledge. Our tour guide, Clara, who originally grew up in France and then moved to Venice for college, and had rooted her life in Venice ever since then. She led our tour group through a series of hidden walkways that the local Venetians take to go about their day without getting mingled with the tourists visiting the city. It was amazing to explore these pathways without any crowds and we were able to walk freely without bumping into the next person. We walked through the Mercato di Rialto where we saw vendors lined up selling fresh produce, vegetables and seafood. The local cooks/chefs and residents living in Venice will come by in the mornings to stock up on their kitchens for the day. Another significant stop we made was at the oldest bacaro (traditional wine bar), Cantina Do Mori, originally founded in 1462 located near the Rialto Bridge. We also made stops at other local taverns and Osterias that were tucked away from the main streets in Venice on the tour and spent our time snacking on delicious Cicchetti (small snacks which are similar to Spanish tapas), and with glasses of wine as we discussed architecture and the history of the city.
Opportunity to meet other adventurous tourists from other parts of the world
Our most memorable local food tour group was in Vienna (Austria). Vienna is a beautiful city with streets filled with the locals and tourists from around the world. We stayed at a hotel across from the Vienna State Opera House near the Ringstrasse road. The Innere Stadt district of Vienna was where the famous Hofburg palace and other historical buildings were located. The city is rich with the Hapsburg culture and musical legacy where famous composers such as Beethoven and Mozart called Vienna home. We met our tour guide, Will, in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral with two other international couples attending the tour. We got to know the other two couples; one was a middle-aged Israeli couple and the other was a young South African couple. Not only was the food tour amazing, but getting the opportunity to learn about the other couples’ travel experiences and their stories about their country. We also learned that our tour guide, Will, is British descent born in Germany and later relocated to Vienna when he started college. The South African couple in our tour was previously job training in Germany and they stopped by Vienna for vacation before the husband went back to Germany for training. One fascinating story was that our Israeli tourist told us that her grandmother lived in Vienna in the 1930-1940s and fled to Israel when WWII started, and that she HAD to find her grandmother’s home in Vienna. With a lot of walking and searching for the street name, we finally found her grandmother’s home! This was the best adventure I’ve had and I will never forget this experience. It’s silly, but once in awhile, I still think about them and wonder how they’re doing.
If you’re convinced and looking to book a local food tour on your next trip, I recommend checking for tours on Expedia, Musement and Urban Adventures as I had mentioned above. If you’re passing through Vienna, Barcelona or Venice and you’re interested in the tours I’ve described above, here are the website links for those local food tours:
I would definitely rate 5 stars for all my food tour experiences! If you have any questions about these food tours, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!