Seven one-of-a-kind food experiences in Europe

Are you ready to taste your way around Europe? Sampling the local food markets, gourmet festivals and regional specialities of a place is one of the best ways to dig deep into its unique culture and history. We’ve chosen eight delicious locations, events and attractions that will reveal the authentic flavours of these amazing European destinations; each one has a spectacular Historic Hotels of Europe stay in easy reach. A combination of exceptional food experiences, world-class hospitality and superb accommodation — what are you waiting for?

1. Chocolatiers of Bruges, Belgium

If Bruges was a flavour, that flavour would certainly be the rich, creamy notes of chocolate — the finest of its kind in the world. Chocolate-making has been considered an art form in Bruges for centuries and a tour of some of the city’s elegant chocolatiers is an eye-opening and mouth-watering experience. Visit Chocolatier Dumon, a family-owned business that uses the finest of ingredients to craft their bars and figurines, the Old Chocolate House, a combined chocolate shop and tea room, and The Chocolate Line, a purveyor of deliciously eccentric treats like chocolate lipstick, chocolate pills, and chocolate lips.

Where to stay: The award-winning Flanders Hotel can be found in the heart of Bruges. Designed by one of the city’s foremost 19th-century architects, it was originally a Dominican monastery; today it features modern design, a trendy hotel bar and elegant rooms overlooking some of Bruges’ most exciting attractions.

2. Ballina Salmon Festival, Ireland

This delicious community festival along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way offers the perfect glimpse into Ireland’s rich cultural heritage. Bringing together the finest seafood, delectable local produce, traditional music and dance and a lively programme of cultural events, the Ballina Salmon Festival is not to be missed. Taking place across six summer days in 2023 (July 9-15), festival highlights include a fireworks display and sessions devoted to the history of Ballina.

Where to stay: The stylish Ice House Hotel offers the perfect mix of comfort and luxury after hours of fun at the Ballina Salmon Festival. With a well-equipped spa and delicious, freshly prepared food, The Ice House prides itself on surpassing expectations.

3. St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, Switzerland

At the start of every year, a star-studded roster of international chefs gather in a breathtaking Alpine town for the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, a spectacular celebration of food. Against a backdrop of picturesque mountain peaks and pristine ski slopes, you’ll sample a smorgasbord of culinary experiences, with each festival edition focusing on a distinct gastronomic theme. Attend cooking classes hosted by celebrity chefs, indulge your taste buds at a wine tasting session or get creative at a chocolate-making workshop — and depart St. Moritz with some incredible food memories.

Where to stay: Hotel Waldhaus Sils is just a 15 minute drive from St Moritz; a charming forest lodge, it offers an authentic flavour of Alpine culture, history and hospitality. Alternatively, you’ll find the beautiful Art Nouveau-style Kurhaus Bergün one hour from St. Moritz. A magnificent sanctuary in the Albula Valley, it’s perfect for lovers of mountain air, creative cuisine and grand architecture.

4. Viennese coffee culture, Austria

Cafe Central, Vienna

With high ceilings, elegant furnishings and the pleasant buzz of conversation, the Viennese coffee house is a magnificent place to while away an hour or three. For the price of an expertly brewed coffee (choose carefully from an extensive list), you’ll have earned a seat at one of these beautiful establishments, recently added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Famous spots include Cafe Central (a 19th century meeting spot for Sigmund Freud, Trotsky and Lenin), Cafe Weimar (known as a gathering place for artists) and Cafe (frequented by 1950s writers Heimito von Doderer, Albert Paris Gutersloh and Hans Weigel).

Where to stay: In the heart of Vienna, the elegant Hotel Stefanie will transport you back to a glamorous era of history. Specialising in world-class service, comfortable rooms and expert hospitality, Vienna’s oldest hotel makes the perfect base for exploring the city’s wealth of historic attractions.

5. Wines of Santorini, Greece

The Greek island of Santorini is a heavenly oasis of golden sands, white painted houses and volcanic soil. It’s the latter that nourishes the more than 40 local grape varieties that flourish on the island, giving rise to some excellent red and white wines. Assyrtiko is the island’s flagship variety; known for its minerality, it’s delicious when enjoyed alongside the island’s excellent seafood. Visit the south and southwestern regions of the island to explore Santorini’s vineyards — there you’ll witness the centuries-old traditions of winemaking in action and gain a deeper understanding of the flavours of the island. 

Where to stay: Perched high on the cliffs of Oia, Esperas Santorini is made up of a series of traditional Greek island houses — each one offers amazing views of the volcanic seas below from private terraces. Alternatively, ​​Aigialos Hotel Santorini sits at the edge of Santorini’s volcanic caldera; colourful rooms, mouthwatering meals and awe-inspiring views make this an unforgettable escape.  

6. Truffles in San Gimignano, Italy

The intriguing world of truffles remains a mystery to many but a visit to San Gimignano in northern Italy can reveal its secrets. This small medieval hill town in Siena, north-central Italy looks like the setting of a romantic fairytale: 14 proud towers rise into the sky, overlooking a series of beautifully preserved medieval lanes and alleys. Here you’ll find authentic Tuscan food offered up in a spectacular setting; wild boar is a regional favourite, served in stews, soups and salamis. Try the town’s well-known white wine, the light and fruity Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

Where to stay: Less than one hour from San Gimignano by car is Villa Le Barone, a Renaissance masterpiece nestled in the Chianti countryside. It’s an ideal base from which to explore the beautiful Northern cities of Florence and Siena.

7. Artisan food of West Cork, Ireland

From flavour-filled cheeses to smoked meats, cured fish to sourdough bread, Ireland’s West Cork is a premier destination for food lovers from around the world. This spectacular southwest corner of the island is home to three landmark destinations on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route (Dursey Island, Mizen Head and the Old Head of Kinsale) and West Cork’s farmers, producers and chefs are helping to lead Ireland’s culinary renaissance. Visit the towns of Ballydehob, Baltimore, Clonakilty, Rosscarbery, Bantry and more to discover delicious pub food, thriving markets and artisan food shops. 

Where to stay: Just outside of West Cork’s Clonakilty, Fernhill House is a family-run country estate that offers colourful rooms, flower-filled gardens (part of the West Cork Garden Trail) and fabulous food. Gorgeous grounds, remarkable history and warm service makes this a very special place to stay.


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