virtuoso communities Our Favorite Vacation Ideas for Food Lovers

Our Favorite Vacation Ideas for Food Lovers

A hyper-local culinary travel idea: Book a backyard dinner with locals. 
A hyper-local culinary travel idea: Book a backyard dinner with locals. 
Photo by SolStock/Getty Images 
These culinary travel experiences are on our radar this year.

Sure, a great meal is a definite vacation highlight, but if you’re a true foodie, then your travel likely revolves around food. Culinary-focused vacations can feature multiple Michelin-starred meals, hands-on cooking classes, truffle-foraging adventures, and more – anything that allows travelers to experience a destination’s soul through its cuisine. Several hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, and destinations around the globe specialize in culinary travel, and they’re ready to sate travelers with novel experiences and award-winning restaurants that give them a taste of their surroundings. If you want your next trip to be a culinary extravaganza, consider one of these ideas:

Dine with a local.

Travelers looking to go beyond restaurants and food markets are seeking out opportunities to visit locals’ homes, cooking alongside them and even sitting down at their dining room tables to enjoy the fruits of their shared kitchen labor. Not only do these in-home cooking and dining experiences offer a true taste of traditional local life, but they provide income for host families who participate too. Travel advisors can work with Virtuoso on-site tour connections to arrange these private, one-of-a-kind experiences.

Take a food-centric city tour.

Figuring out where to find authentic food when you’re traveling can be overwhelming. The solution: Sign up for a food tour led by a reputable, local, and native guide. Many tours are themed – spicy foods, make-you-squirm dishes, and desserts only, to name a few – while others focus on loved-by-locals spots where you’re unlikely to see tons of tourists.

One way to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
One way to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Photo by RgStudio/Getty Images

Actively participating in food sourcing.

In the early days of culinary tourism, excursions such as truffle-hunting and visiting urban farms were de rigeur. Now, not only do people want to know where their food comes from, some even want to have a hand in harvesting, gathering, and sourcing the ingredients used to prepare it. Many hotels and tour companies offer experiences that will find you picking grapes in a vineyard alongside winemakers or planting crops in the company of local growers. These encounters allow food-curious adventurers to learn not only about specific ingredients and dishes, but about the local economy and environment too.

Book a specialized food itinerary.

More than ever, people are mindful of the foods they choose, whether for health benefits, cultural or religious restrictions, or because of allergies and intolerances – and restaurants and food suppliers around the world are responding in kind. Nowadays, you can seek out and sign up for specialized culinary experiences – vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, for example – that allow you to taste localized takes on tailor-made treats. Be sure to tell your travel advisor about any food restrictions, and they’ll make sure your trip goes off without a hitch.
Fresh spices at a market in Morocco.
Fresh spices at a market in Morocco.
Photo by GoodLifeStudio/Getty Images 

Swap a classic destination for an off-the-radar one.

While perennial favorites such as Italy, France, and Spain are forever top of mind, culinary adventurers are increasingly heading to more far-flung destinations where the cuisine isn’t quite as well known. Sure, pasta and paella are as alluring as ever, but more and more, travelers are craving the flavors of places with distinct culinary cultures, such as Southeast Asia, Scandinavia, South America, India, Morocco, and Mexico.

Insider Tip: Tap Instagram as an on-the-ground resource.

When it comes to choosing where to go next, tech-savvy travelers turn to social media apps for inspiration, especially photo-centric Instagram. Dreaming of eating your way through a specific city, or taste-testing multiple iterations of a certain dish to determine who made it best? There’s likely a hashtag for that – simply search #ParisFood or #cacioepepe to see what we mean. (And don’t forget about #virtuosotravel, too.)

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