18 Must-Visit Food Cities Around The World

Most roaming foodies agree that "life is too short for ordinary food" and, thus, jump at the chance to dive fork-first into local culinary scenes and regional cuisines. But, even if you don't consider yourself full of wanderlust or much of a gourmand, you still need to eat when traveling or on vacation. And since most bustling metropolises have a dish they are known for, a wealth of dining options, plus a handful of hidden gem restaurants, it is perfectly acceptable to step outside your food comfort zone when out and about. So, if you are near a popular city revered for its eats, why not treat yourself?

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On the other hand, if the goal is to jet off to faraway places specifically for the food, then plenty of famous destinations will fit the bill. Food tourism, in general, has become quite a trend, and for good reasons. Not only does sampling the fare allow one to experience a particular place's culture in delicious ways, but it also puts those vacation dollars to good use — by contributing to the overall economy, keeping you well-fed, and creating lasting memories. That said, here are 18 must-visit food cities around the world that will leave you craving more.

Lima, Peru

Often touted as the innovative culinary capital of the world, Lima, Peru, is full of flavor, from its iconic ceviche to its beloved picarones. In addition to fresh seafood appetizers and savory yet sweet donuts, lomo salgado (stir-fried beef atop French fries), arroz con pato (duck with green rice), and rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers with a spicy kick) are a couple of notable Peruvian dishes you should also try while in this city.

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Lima offers some of the world's best cuisines via its abundant eateries, ample street food vendors, and incredible food market. What's more, with multiple Michelin-starred restaurants, including Central and Astrid & Gastón  — ranked Latin America's top restaurant — this city has practically perfected the art of gastronomy. A diverse mix of culinary influences — African, Asian, Spanish, and Indigenous — along with first-rate chefs from every corner of the globe are just a few more reasons why Lima is a must-visit for foodies.

Lyon, France

Yet another foodie capital (of France) is Lyon. This culinary cove is rumored to have more restaurants or per head than any other city in France and has been a staple on the world food scene after renowned food critic Curnonsky's glowing review in 1935. And thanks to its prime location in southeastern France, the city has easy access to some of the tastiest and freshest ingredients, including Saint-Marcellin cheese.

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From quenelle (freshwater white fish oblong dumplings) to cervelle de Canut (after-meal cheese spread with bread) and coussin de Lyon (chocolate-stuffed turquoise marzipan), the food here is creative, farm-to-table, flavorsome, and iconic. Honoring French culinary traditions while leading the way in gastronomy as a whole, this city is brimming with mouthwatering eats and should be a must on everyone's list.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain, is another city that knows a thing or two about gastronomy. Here, visitors can enjoy Catalan cuisine at its finest. As a whole, the Catalonia region is full of fertile lands, vineyards, and farms. Plus, this city has convenient access to the sea — making it easy to whip up some phenomenal fare with the freshest local ingredients. One of the most common dishes in Barcelona/Catalonia is fideua (the Catalonia version of paella with different pasta).

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Still, escalivada (a roasted vegetable concoction), mandonguilles amb sípia (cuttlefish and meatballs in sauce), and crema Catalana (similar to crème brûlée) are all wonderful local eats to indulge in when in Barcelona. With lighter fare in the warmer months and hearty plates in winter, this food city's offerings vary. But Barcelona is still home to numerous Michelin-starred eateries and a flourishing culinary scene that is utterly delicious.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria, is notably one of the top culinary gems in Europe. Though much of the fare here resulted from the sprawling reach of the once-mighty Hapsburg empire, there are still a few dishes uniquely specific to this side of the world. If you want to savor this city's signature bite, order the Wiener schnitzel (pan-fried, breaded veal served with potatoes or veggies). Technically, Wiener schnitzel is considered a national dish of Austria, and you can get this yummy classic just about anywhere in Vienna.

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Other city eats like spargel (white asparagus), brettljause (a sliced pork meat and Austrian cheese platter), and Sachertorte (an airy vanilla and chocolate cake) will only further endear you to this cultured metropolis. Besides amazing cuisine, Vienna has quite the coffee house and café culture. 

Naples, Italy

The birthplace of pizza, Naples, Italy, is undoubtedly a foodie dream come true. With full-bodied wines and, of course, pizza, this city is simply delightful for Italian cuisine lovers. When in town, indulging in a slice or a whole pie is a bucket list activity. Known as Neapolitan pizza, you can enjoy this city's star dish almost anywhere. However, historic Neapolitan pizzerias do not disappoint here, so make sure you check those out first.

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After savoring the best pizza you have ever tasted, it is highly recommended you branch out. Other Neapolitan classics like spaghetti alle vongole (garlicky pasta with clams), polpette (flavorful meatballs in sauce), and sfogliatella (a rich ricotta and custard-filled pastry) are popular eats that will change your life. And these are just a few culinary feats that make Naples a must-visit for roaming foodies.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal, is also a heavenly destination for gourmands. Not only is the cuisine here fresh and tasty, but it is also reasonably priced since Lisbon is one of the more affordable places to visit in Europe as a whole. Lisbon's rave-worthy eats' main ingredient is seafood.

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Whether you prefer a fine-dining experience, love a good street vendor, or simply want to sample all the fare, the seafood is phenomenal in this city. Bacalhau (flaked cod served several ways) is likely the most popular dish in Lisbon. Other eats such as sardinhas (or grilled sardines), polvo à lagareiro (octopus and potatoes), and ameijòas à Bulhão Pato (clams white wine and garlic sauce) are highly ranked here as well. Besides these mouthwatering dishes, Lisbon has bustling farmers markets, eateries on every corner, wonderful pastry shops, and an array of bold wines.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, is a revered food city on the other side of the pond. Also known for its seafood, Charleston actually showcases several cuisines, including Lowcountry and Southern. With so much foodie goodness — seafood boils, barbecue, stews, and more — it can be hard to tell what this city's main dish is.

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But, for many people, the shrimp and grits here are legendary. Other beloved eats such as okra soup, oyster stew, crab rice, and boiled peanuts are worth a sample, too. Overall, Charleston is a food city through and through with its many first-rate restaurants, award-winning chefs, Southern fare and wine festivals, food markets, and culinary tours. 

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan, is a food city that should be on everyone's itinerary. In Tokyo, dining is considered a true art form, and they have the culinary stamp of approval with over 260 Michelin-starred restaurants. Handcrafted cocktails, sushi, ramen, and the effortless mix of traditional Japanese cuisine and innovative eats make this city so special for hungry folks.

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With fresh fish markets, locally sourced produce, and some of the best chefs in the world, Tokyo is a powerhouse when it comes to gastronomy. And the surprising part about this food city is that it won't cost you a pretty penny to dine out. However,  the Japanese are serious about proper dining etiquette, so it is highly recommended you do your research before eating your way through this grand city.

Copenhagen, Denmark

From Danish pastries to smørrebrød (a Danish lunch sandwich), Copenhagen is a true culinary gem. With this city's Michelin-starred restaurants, local street food markets, and more, Copenhagen is one for the food-travel books. In addition to a wealth of amazing cuisine, Copenhagen's food scene is all about sustainability. This means only the best locally sourced ingredients, organic foods, and top-notch gastronomy.

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Home to some of the world's top eateries, Copenhagen should be considered when searching for a wonderful place to visit with great fare. This foodie city is also known for its beer culture, and there is no shortage of breweries. Plus, hygge (comfortable living and enjoying the pleasures of life) is not just a décor or design concept in this part of Denmark, as it also extends to the grade-A cuisine here.

London, England

Another food Mecca is London, with its fusion cuisines, pub culture, and unique fine dining establishments. The food scene in London is undoubtedly diverse, offering just about anything you might want. There are around 123 different types of cuisine to try in the Big Smoke — thus, roaming foodies are in for a real treat.

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A popular staple in this culinary locale is Indian food, as it is beloved by Londoners. But, if you are interested in sampling some traditional British scran, London is the right place. Iconic British eats like fish and chips, beef Wellington, afternoon tea, traditional English breakfast, Sunday roast, and sticky toffee pudding are also widely available in the city. So, you can truly embark on a personal foodie adventure here.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne, Australia, is another city that is a culmination of cultures and, therefore, cuisines. Here, you will find Asian fusion, Greek, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Italian eats, and more. This foodie paradise is littered with cafes, Michelin-starred restaurants, coffee shops, eccentric food markets, and several secret spots along Melbourne's famed dining district –Laneways.

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When it comes to signature eats, you will find tasty bites such as salt and pepper calamari, spag bol (spaghetti Bolognese-inspired meat sauce using Australian beef), and dim sim. Plus, there are some must-try city favorites like kangaroo meat, pie floater (a meat pie floating in pea soup), Vegemite, and the utterly sweet fairy bread (white bread, butter, and sprinkles). Celebrated for its vast food scene, locally sourced produce, unique snacks, and fertile wine country, Melbourne is a lovely little respite for gourmands.

Cape Town, Africa

One of the top reasons to explore this beautiful seaside city in South Africa is the food. Of course, Cape Town has much to offer visitors, including a robust viticulture dating back to the late-1600s, but the cuisine here is not something to overlook. Cape Malay cuisine is in high demand and downright delicious.

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This particular type of gastronomy combines African, Dutch, and Asian flavors and cultures for a truly irresistible dining experience. While visiting, foodies should make it a point to try the koesisters (fried dough confectioneries infused with sweet syrup), bunny chow (a kind of bread bowl filled with vegetable or meat curry), and bredie (a savory meat and vegetable stew). Overall, if you are a lover of diverse culinary masterpieces, then Cape Town is another must-visit.

Montreal, Canada

Montreal's food scene is unparalleled with traditional fare, innovative eats, gourmet experiences, and new and emerging cuisines. Montreal is an enchanting place for gourmands, from French and Portuguese to Haitian eats. Visitors in search of Montreal food can enjoy poutine, smoked-meat sandwiches, Quebecois cheese, pouding chômeur (a traditional sweet pudding), and more.

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When in Montreal, roaming foodies can indulge in a variety of meals that highlight this city's culinary culture passed down through generations and cuisines from all over the globe. So you can have your cake and eat it too, in Montreal. Whichever route you choose to go here, you will not be disappointed.

Mexico City, Mexico

With more restaurants than one could imagine, Mexico City is yet another foodie-approved destination. In addition to a wealth of eateries in general, this city has Mexican street cuisine, open-air food markets, and fine dining galore. Even the historic city center is full of must-try eats.

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Due to the countless regions in the area, countless kinds of cuisine are represented in Mexico City. A few popular dishes that you can find include tacos al pastor (pork tacos), ceviche (a light dish with raw fish and vegetables), and pozole (a traditional stew with corn and meat). Classified as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, this foodie paradise and various gastronomies are worth the trip.

New York, New York

Rated as one of the top U.S. cities for food and drink, New York City has a revered food scene. In this foodie city, hungry visitors can find it all – Italian, Greek, Soul Food, Asian, Indian, Jamaican, and the list goes on. The Big Apple also has great culinary prowess with some of the best chefs across the globe, high-end restaurants, a robust food experience, and innovative dishes.

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With legendary slices of pizza, bagels, Coney Island-style fare, street food, deli culture, and Michelin-starred joints in practically every borough, you could spend weeks in this town and still be pleasantly surprised every day. There are also first-rate pastry shops, chic rooftop restaurants, concept bars, farmers markets, and food halls. So, run, don't walk, to sample a plethora of cuisines, flavors, and unforgettable eats.

Athens, Greece

Greek cuisine has been a major player in the culinary world for as long as anyone can remember. And with the first cookbook in history being written by Archestratros in the mid-4th century B.C., it is safe to say that this country's food scene has deep roots. In Athens, hungry travelers can taste well-known favorites, including gyros, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), souvlaki (grilled chicken skewers with roasted bell peppers), and more.

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Apart from the world-famous Greek food, Athens also showcases contemporary (or refined Greek food) and fusion cuisines various restaurants. A fresh new take on regional foods, seasonal produce, local fish, and then some is what visitors can expect when exploring the new side of Greek cooking. Overall, Athens is just one more foodie destination to add to the bucket list.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, has been at the top of the list for best food cities in the U.S. more than once, and there is no denying this place has great food. Whether you grab a local bite to eat at a restaurant, coffeehouse, farmers' market, food cart, or truck, there is definitely something to be said about the cuisine here.

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From comfort foods like pizza, tacos, barbecue, and burgers to creative and tasty desserts, this city's food scene shines. There are also countless restaurants, outdoor eateries, and late-night dining establishments for those looking for high-quality, diverse cuisines in this region of the Pacific Northwest. Why not try the Reggie Deluxe (fried chicken, bacon, cheese, and an egg topped with gravy) at Pine State Biscuits or the khao man gai (Thai Chicken and Rice) at Nong's?

When it comes to cocktails, wine, and beer, there are ample opportunities to pair phenomenal food with Portland's vibrant, handcrafted, and locally sourced adult beverages.

Paris, France

Dining in the City of Lights and Love is almost a gourmand rite of passage. The Parisians take their food culture seriously, which has more than paid off. With classic French (filling and hearty meals), haute (fine French dining), and nouvelle cuisines (light French fare), there is so much to indulge in this city. Plus, cuisine du terroir (rustic fare) and street food are a yummy detour from the other eats in Paris.

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No matter where your heart and stomach take you while in Paris, don't forget to sample classics like duck confit, croque monsieur (a creamy cheese and ham sandwich), escargot, croissants, and a few dozen macarons. And with Michelin-starred bistros, cafes, up-and-coming chefs, cooking classes, the freshest ingredients and more, Paris is one more foodie-approved getaway you will never forget.

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