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Top Delectable Destinations for Culinary Experiences (in 2021)

by Cris Puscas

The go-to resource for choosing your dream culinary vacation. Find all you need to know about the top destinations and ways to elevate your cooking skills & knowledge.
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Perhaps 2020 was the year you’ve planned for an epic culinary trip.

Maybe you’d wanted to seek out traditional foods in one of Italy’s regions or you’d dreamt to finally learn how to cook real Mexican food.

Instead, life as we know it has dramatically changed. Travel had to hold its breath and reinvent itself to open again.

However, there’s a glimmer of hope for 2021. Destinations are slowly opening, with safety rules in place. Travel will certainly change and adapt, just like travelers will embrace the new reality.

Gone are the days when travelers were only looking to tick sighs off their bucket lists. More than ever, there’s a focus on experiences, and in particularly, culinary experiences.

With that in mind, in this article, we are sharing some outstanding vacation destinations for culinary experiences to add to your bucket list (in 2021). 

Note: BookCulinaryVacations offers a flexible cancellation policy. Should you not be able to travel as scheduled, we’d be happy to help you alter your booking with the same organizer or a different organizer.


Italy: Live “la Dolce Vita”

pasta dish in italy

Photo credit: Italian Cookery Courses

Pasta, pizza, and lasagna might be famous all over the world, but there’s no place like Bella Italia to enjoy the authentic recipes cooked in traditional ways.

Start your tasty tour in Naples, where you can learn the traditional way to make pizza. Nearby, Puglia (Apulia) is known for its orecchiette, as well as focaccia, a precursor to pizza. Venture further north and discover the variety of meat-based pasta dishes, frequent parmigiano, and tasty polenta dishes.

Antipasti (cured meats and local cheeses such as burrata and provolone), followed by a variety of pasta dishes and local fishes give you a lesson about Italian food. After a lunch that spans well into the night, you’ll only want to sleep.

Take part in olive picking, taste the golden olive oil, and of course, limoncello. Or you might prefer to indulge in the local wines paired with fantastic cheeses and cured meats.

Now that you are well-fed, you are ready to tackle the majestic site of Pompeii, take in the grandeur of Rome, or shop to your heart’s delight in Milan.

»Read more: Why You Should Go on a Culinary Vacation in Italy


France: It’s all about “bonne cuisine”

coq au vin

Photo credit: Le Calabash

One of the top food cultures in the world, French cuisine is known for its flavor and finesses. Croissants, Salade Niçoise, macarons, and crêpes can now be found in restaurants all over the world, but there’s more to the delicious French food than the staples we all know.

Explore the magical capital of Paris and get macarons from the very shop where the famous filling was added. Check out its fantastic wine regions, discover the castles and traditional foods in the Loire Valley, and head to the French Riviera for some good old sun, fun, scenic drives, and delicious dishes.

Learn the art of cheese making. Or you may want to learn how to bake eclairs, chocolate tarts, and more scrumptious deserts. Head to Grenoble for some extraordinary cakes and tarts made with local walnuts.

And if you want to learn French, why not mix this experience up with a culinary vacation?

»Read more: Why You Should Go on a Culinary Vacation in France


Spain: Tapas are calling your name

cooking paella in spain

Photo credit: Spanish Culinary Tour

It’s hard not to fall in love with everything about Spain, from the sun-kissed beaches to the great hospitality, amazing beaches, and flavorful food.

Paella and gazpacho need no presentation. Lovers of seafood will certainly enjoy gambas al ajillo or pescaito frito, which are found in traditional markets and at street stalls in Southern Spain.

Between hidden gems and famous travel destinations, you won’t get bored here! Start your delicious tour in the Capital of Madrid, famous for its tapas bars. Visit Gaudi’s Barcelona and its Mercado de La Boqueria, the market famous worldwide.

The elegant San Sebastian is another must for foodies. It is home to pintxo, a Basque variety of tapas. Pass by Seville, too, the home of paella

»Read more: A Guide to Southern Spain & Its Delectable Traditional Dishes


Greece: Indulge in healthy food and magical landscapes

mezedes at a sea side taverna in greece

Photo credit: Oxygen Food Tours

A country steeped in history, with a culinary diversity influenced by occupying peoples and friendly neighbors alike, Greece offers a mix of fine dining, traditional tavernas fare, and excellent street food.

Visit olive groves, cheese making facilities, and organic farms. Source the ingredients from the local farmers’ markets and learn how to whip up traditional mezedes such as tzatziki, dolmades, or saganaki.

Dip your toes in the Mediterranean Sea and quench your thirst with local wines, or ouzo. Enjoy fresh seafood with stunning views of the sunset.

Start your trip in Athens, the cradle of Western Civilization, and taste your way through the mainland and colorful islands. Don’t forget to make a stop in Crete and indulge in the healthiest European cuisine.

»Read more: Why You Should Go on a Culinary Vacation in Greece


Portugal: Fish for seafood

seafood in portugal

Photo credit: Iberian Escapes

Delicious and healthy, seafood is at its best in Portugal. Bacalhau (salted codfish), caldeirada (fish stew), and arroz de temboril (monkfish and rice) are only three incredibly flavorful dishes you should try here.

Head to Algarve and bask in the sun. Happy to report 300 days of sunshine per year, this region in Portugal entices visitors with great weather, outstanding food, flavorful wines, and excellent surfing. Aside from these, the climate is perfect for almonds, figs, and olives.

Want to try more wine? Alto Douro, located in Douro Valley, is just one of the 13 wine regions of Portugal, and the home of Port wine.


Romania: Go beyond polenta in Transylvania

kurtoskolacs (chimney cake) in Transylvania, Romania

Photo credit: Romanian Thrills

Home to the most scenic road in Europe – the Transfagarasan highway -, Romania is mostly known for being the setting of the (in)famous “Dracula” novel and movies.

With a cuisine that combines the best of Hungarian, German, and Romanian dishes, you are in for a culinary delight and tastes overload during a trip to any province.

But Transylvania comes with a charm of its own. Steeped in history and folklore, winters have a magical feel here. Cluj, Sibiu, and Sighișoara are just three of the splendid cities you should explore while in the region.

Enjoy sarmale (meat-filled cabbage rolls) with mămăligă (polenta) and sour cream, taste pomana porcului (pork feast), and don’t forget about kürtőskalács (chimney cake).

Wash down the fat with ţuică (plum brandy) and end the meal with a signature white wine the area is known for. Or ask your host for a taste of their wine as many households still engage in the art of winemaking.

»Read more: Romanian Cuisine - Traditional Romanian Dishes to Add to Your Food Bucket List


The Americas & Caribbean

United States: Explore the wine regions

key lime pie

From lively cities to snow-capped mountains, deep canyons, and golden beaches, the United States is a foodie destination that will impress every traveler.

Head to California and sample its amazing wines. Napa and Sonoma Counties might be the most popular and world-renowned, but there are plenty of others to check out. Mendocino County in the North Coast region gives incredible Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir, and is widely known for its sparkling wines.

And did you know that New York also boasts some exciting wine regions? Long Island, just a couple of hours away from the bustling New York City, is particularly known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Don’t be afraid to taste the traditional American fare: key lime pie, tater tots, cobb salad, pot roast, meatloaf, hot dogs, cheeseburger, or buffalo wings.


Mexico: More than guacamole

tacos in mexico

Photo credit: Mexico Lindo Cooking

Cook up a storm in a traditional Mexican kitchen. Get the fresh ingredients from local markets and learn recipes that have been handed down for many generations.

If you’ve always wanted to savor tamales and tortillas, now is your chance to also learn how to cook them and impress your friends and family when you get back from your culinary vacation.

No trip to Mexico is complete without visiting the magnificent Chichen Itzá archaeological site and exploring the stunning Riviera Maya.

Venture further away from the beaches and explore Oaxaca, rejoicing in its culture, traditional mezcal, food, and crafts.

»Read more: 7 of the Most Mouthwatering Tacos in Mexico You Simply Can't Miss Out On


Costa Rica: Mouth-watering local food  

beans and rice

Photo credit: Mariordo

Adventurous, romantic, family-friendly, and boasting a fantastic climate year-round, Costa Rica has become one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the world.

And while many travelers visit for the sun, sand, surf, and yoga, one thing rarely makes the list: its fantastic food!

Thanks to its tropical climate, a lot of food is grown here. And because of the sustainable practices, you’ll be thrilled to know that what you eat is sustainably produced, sourced, and served.

Along the Caribbean coast, the cuisine has a Creole influence, while in Guanacaste, maize is a staple thanks to the heritage of the ancient indigenous peoples.

Choose a finca (farm) and stay in an eco-lodge. Take time to tour the farm and sample the local food. Rice and beans remain the staple dish. Patacones (fried plantain), tamales (corn-based dough mixed with cheese, vegetables, and meat, wrapped in banana leaves), and ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime or lemon juice) are well-known even abroad, but they taste spectacularly different here.



India: Discover hidden places and exotic dishes

indian food

Photo credit: Master World Holidays

One of the largest countries in the world, India offers a mix of vibrant culture, dazzling cities, and spectacular landscapes.

Escape the business of Mumbai or Delhi and head to Kerala. Discover palm-lined beaches, a tropical climate, coffee and tea plantations, and exotic dishes.

Influenced by Malabari, French, and Arabian cuisines, the food in Kerala is unique and includes a lot of non-vegetarian dishes. Savor erissery (pumpkin and lentil stew), nadan kozhi varuthathu (spicy chicken fry), karimeen pollichathu (fish baked in plantain leaves), kallumakkaya ularthiyathu (mussel stir fry) or prawn curry.

»Read more: Authentic Indian Cuisine - Indian Spices You Need to Add to Your Spice Rack


Vietnam: Savor exotic and invigorating cuisine

pho in vietnam

Photo credit: Asia Queen Travel

In Vietnam, even luxury experiences won’t break the budget. Discover the amazing street food in Hanoi during a walking tour, learn to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes, visit old temples, travel by bamboo boat, and even practice Tai Chi.

Pho and spring rolls are quite classic by now, but bun cha (marinated pork, grilled, served with noodles) is what the locals prefer for lunch. Finish the meal with a che (sweet pudding with a variety of toppings).

Feel like trying something exotic? Hot Vit Lon (fertilized duck eggs that are boiled) is what you are looking for. 


Thailand: Experience a flavor overload

thai food

Photo credit: Pink Chili Cooking Class Bangkok

Thailand brings to the table busting markets, fascinating culture and history, and mouth-watering dishes in exotic settings. Discover enchanting Bangkok during a walking street food tour of the Bangrak district, cross rivers on long-tail boats, and explore its interesting temples.

Prepare your taste buds for a serious kick because Thailand is famous for its spices. Enjoy tom yum goong (spicy shrimp soup), try tom kha kai (chicken in coconut soup) or yam nua (spicy beef salad), and don’t forget about the khao pad (fried rice).

Don’t feel like sampling the ill-famed durian? Then stick to the less adventurous banana leaf sticky rice or roti (yes, it comes from India).

Unable to travel? Discover the world’s mouth-watering cuisines through online cooking courses, from the comfort and safety of your own home. 

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