For many people, a vacation offers the opportunity to try out new food and flavors. But for foodies, the meal can be the main attraction.
As foodie culture continues to infiltrate everything from Netflix shows to social media, experiences surrounding food are also spiking in popularity in the travel and tourism sector. TripAdvisor found that, globally, food tour bookings have increased 57 percent since last year, and in the U.S., food tour bookings grew 59 percent in 2017.
Whether you're craving a slice of pizza from Rome or beignets in New Orleans, TripAdvisor's "Traveler Favorites: Top Individual Food Experiences" ranking can help you figure out where to enjoy your next culinary adventure. To put together its ranking, TripAdvisor used an algorithm which considers bookings, traveler reviews and traveler ratings on its site.
Rome, which offers some of the world's best pizza, pasta and gelato, has long been known as a foodie destination, so it's no surprise that the top food experience on TripAdvisor is the "Rome Food Tour by Sunset around Prati District," operated by the Roman Food Tour. Visitors take a trip to the Pizzarium to sample slices like fig and zucchini, taste treats like truffles and specialty cheeses, indulge in pasta at the Roman restaurant XBacchus and try out an artisanal gelateria. This tour currently has rates starting at $105.70.
Roman food tours also snag the fifth and seventh spots on TripAdvisor's ranking. Coming in fifth is the "Rome Street Food Tour with Local Guide," which includes samples of street pizza and rice balls (rates start at $48.50). The "Small-Group Rome Food Walking Tour: Trastevere, Campo de' Fiori and Jewish Ghetto" tour, operated by Gourmetaly Food Tours, comes in seventh and currently costs $95.70. This tour hits hot spots in the Campo de' Fiori open-air market, the Trastevere neighborhood and the Jewish quarter.
The ancient city's culinary scene, Travel + Leisure reports, features food that incorporates noodles, fresh meat, seafood and herbs. Some of the most popular dishes in Rome include pasta favorites like cacio e pepe and spaghetti carbonara.
Another historic Italian city also tops TripAdvisor's ranking for the top culinary experiences. Florence is a city not only rich in culture and history but food as well, and the "Pizza and Gelato Cooking Class in Tuscan Farmhouse from Florence," operated by Walkabout Florence Tours, places second on TripAdvisor's list.
This cooking class transports tourists to the Tuscan countryside for a lesson on how to make authentic pizza and gelato and serves up a three-course meal. Rates for this foodie experience currently start at $78.30.
Travel + Leisure calls Florence, the regional capital of Tuscany, "one of Italy's most celebrated culinary destinations." Tourists can expect to find grilled meats and poultry, fresh and seasonal produce and bean-based soups.
With the smell of fresh baguettes and croissants wafting through the air, Paris attracts foodies worldwide. "Paris Food Tour: Taste of Montmartre" snags the third spot on TripAdvisor's ranking and includes a three-hour, small-group guided tour with six stops.
Tour stops in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris include decadent food shops like a chocolaterie (for chocolates), a boulangerie (for French breads), a creperie (for crepes) a butcher shop (for French hams and cured sausages) and a fromage shop (for cheeses). Tour rates currently start at $106.50.
In Paris, visitors can expect lots of bread, sweet pastries and cheeses, as well as popular French dishes like duck confit, couscous, and steak-frites.
Yet another Italian city also ranks high on TripAdvisor's list, with "Venice Food Tour: Cicchetti and Wine" operated by Venice Urban Adventures snagging the fourth spot. The tour includes four glasses of wine, food tasting and a ride across the canal, as well as stops at five of Venice's most popular cichetti bars, hole-in the-wall pubs that offer up local appetizers.
The tour boasts 677 reviews on TripAdvisor and excellent ratings. Right now, rates for this tour are discounted and start at $64.70.
In Venice, locals prefer foods like polenta and fresh fish, according to Travel and Leisure, and "iconic" dishes include fegato alla veneziana (liver and onions) sarde in saor (sardines with raisins, onions and pine nuts) and flash-fried moeche (soft-shell crabs).
This Spanish city scores the sixth spot on TripAdvisor's ranking with the "Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour" operated by Gourmet Madrid Tours. This tour includes up to 10 samples of Spanish specialities, like roasted eggplant with honey or salted cod, paired with wine. A tour guide gives the scoop on wine history and production in Spain, as well as Spain's culinary history and culture. This tour currently has rates starting at $93.20.
Madrid's food scene is characterized by shareable Spanish tapas like patatas bravas (potatoes with aioli) and gambas al ajillo (shrimp in garlic) as well as traditional dishes including roast suckling pig, tripe and cocido madrileno (a stew of chickpeas, vegetables and pork).
New Orleans, Louisiana
The first (and only) U.S. city to snag a spot on TripAdvisor's ranking is New Orleans, Louisiana, with the "New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter," operated by Destination Kitchen, coming in eighth. On this tour, a guide will show you around the Big Easy's historic French Quarter and you'll get to sample tasty New Orleans dishes like seafood gumbo, muffuletta, jambalaya and Creole-style brisket. Rates for this tour currently start at $54.99.
For foodies, New Orleans is a must. The Southern city has long been known for its delicious Cajun and Creole cuisine that's rich in flavor. Classic dishes include po boys, beignets, red beans and rice and pralines.
Another Spanish city scores a place on TripAdvisor's ranking, too, with "Tapas Evening Walking Tour of Barcelona" coming in ninth. The three-hour walking tour goes through the La Rambla and Gothic Quarter areas of Barcelona and not only includes stops for tastings and drinks at local tapas bars but also La Boqueria, a well-known food market in the city. Overall, the tour includes eight tapas, as well as three tastings at the market and at specialty food stores. Currently, rates start at $87.
Rounding out TripAdvisor's top 10 for its ranking of top food experiences is the "Interactive Spanish Cooking Experience in Barcelona," operated by Paella Cooking Experience, during which travelers take a three-hour cooking class, learning how to make seafood paella and Spanish tapas while sipping on sangria. Rates currently start at $39.80.
TripAdvisor also identified 10 cities where food tour bookings are on the uptick, including Quebec City, Canada; Savannah Georgia; Sydney, Brisbane and Queenstown, Australia; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Miami, Florida; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Vienna, Austria and Charleston, South Carolina.
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