For those who love to travel abroad, Europe has always been one of the most popular destinations. In 2017, more than 15 million Americans traveled to Europe, a 16 percent increase over the previous year.
Part of what makes this continent so popular is its unique diversity and incredible blend of cultures. Traveling from one European country to the next is a matter of a comfortable train ride or a quick flight. And each place you go offers something new to see, do, and explore.
Traveling around Europe is also a great way to experience many of the world’s most delicious foods. European cuisine varies so much by region and season, but there is always something new to taste.
Below, we’ve put together a list of the top nine European dishes that you need to experience at least once. Read on to get inspiration for the ultimate foodie vacation!
1. A Full English Breakfast
If you’re traveling to London or anywhere else throughout England, you should make a point to start at least one day with a Full English Breakfast. The name of this dish is appropriate, as it is full of different kinds of foods.
A typical Full English Breakfast consists of bacon, eggs, sausage, grilled tomato, mushrooms, tea, toast, and marmalade. And if that’s not enough, some variations also include black pudding, baked beans, and fried bread.
It may sound like a lot–and it is–but it’s great fuel for a day of sightseeing, and a delicious way to experience a part of the local culture.
Spending a day exploring Italy is guaranteed to work up an appetite. When you need something sweet to cap off the night or are craving a treat in the middle of the day, gelato is the obvious choice.
Gelato is literally the Italian word for ice cream, but there is a difference between this delicious concoction and the ice cream Americans are used to back home. Unlike American ice cream, which is typically made with cream, gelato is made with milk, which gives it its lighter consistency.
Fruits and berries make for popular flavorings, but there is no such thing as bad gelato in Italy. Any flavor that strikes your taste buds is sure to be a treat worth splurging on!
Almost every culture has their own variation on the dumpling, but pierogis in Poland are hard to beat. They are one of the most versatile dishes of European cuisine, because they can be made with almost any kind of filling.
Savory pierogis are most commonly made with a filling of potato, ground meat, or cheese. For dessert, pierogis can be made sweet with fruit fillings and topped with melted butter.
While pierogis are delicious any time of year, they are particularly comforting in the winter. There’s no better way to warm up after a cold day than with a plate of steaming hot, fluffy dumplings.
Traveling through Spain with your family or a group of friends makes for a great vacation for a variety of reasons. It’s always nice to have loved ones with you to share experiences with. And by experiences, we mean tapas.
Tapas are small plates served throughout Spain, and they are best enjoyed with a group. The more people you have, the more dishes you can order and the more flavors you can experience.
Popular tapas include patatas brava, croquetas, and pan con tomate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a meat eater, a vegetarian, or a seafood addict — there will be many options of tapas for you to enjoy.
Belgian waffles have been recreated all over the world, but nothing can compare to the real thing. In fact, the most common type of waffle served in Belgium is actually the “Liege waffle,” which is different than the typical breakfast waffle Americans are familiar with.
Liege waffles are characterized by being richer, denser, chewier, and sweeter than the typical waffle most Americans know. In Belgium, these waffles are commonly served on the street by food vendors, and can be found in plain, vanilla, or cinnamon varieties.
6. Neapolitan Pizza
You can’t go all the way to Italy and not eat pizza. That’s obvious. And while you’ll find delicious pies all over the country, there’s no place like Naples to enjoy a slice.
Besides the beautiful backdrop for your incredible meal, Naples specializes in, of course, authentic Neapolitan pizza. What makes this style of pizza so incredible is the very specific ingredients it’s made of.
While mozzarella and tomatoes may seem obvious for pizza, Neapolitan pizzas are made exclusively from San Marzano tomatoes and Mozzarella di Bugala Campana. These are ingredients of the highest quality, and you’ll taste the difference with your first bite.
France is full of incredible bakers making incredible pastries, but there’s no rival for a classic French croissant. Though croissants are typically a breakfast dish, this light and flaky pastry makes for an incredible snack or treat any time of day.
If you want to truly indulge–and you are on vacation, after all–try a croissant filled with chocolate or jam.
Hungarian cooking heavily feature the spice paprika, and Goulash is no exception. Goulash is a hearty soup or stew that is typically made with meat and noodles, although there are several variations.
Goulash is also one of the national dishes of Hungary, and no trip to the country would be complete without at least one bowl.
If you truly want to be adventurous in sampling European cuisine, it doesn’t get much bolder than Haggis. The dish is made from sheep’s organs–typically heart, liver, and lungs–that are mixed with savory spices and vegetables and boiled.
The most authentic versions are held together with a casing made from the animal’s stomach, although artificial casings or sausage casings are used often as well.
Ready to Explore These European Dishes?
There are so many incredible European dishes to be found throughout the continent, and it’s hard to travel to Europe and have a bad meal. Don’t be afraid to get out of your culinary comfort zone–trying something new is what traveling is all about!