Every bend of the river doesn’t just reveal new cities, but a whole new world of flavours. The flavours found along Europe’s most picturesque rivers are as nuanced, unique, and appealing as the destinations themselves. Here are a few of our favourites.
With one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per capita in France, this southern city is sprinkled with humble bouchons, where the order du jour is generally meat, and master 'charcutieres' take the nose-to-tail approach very seriously around these parts. Many bouchons specialise solely in swine and adventurous palates can try delicacies like andouillette, a course offal sausage, while others may prefer to stick with Lyonnaise classics like coq au vin. Lunch often turns into a half-day affair – leisurely, lingering, and with seemingly endless glasses of wine.
Though Budapest serves as the departure and arrival point for many river cruises through Europe, a longer stay in the city is a must, especially for foodies. Far removed from the decadent multi-course menus served on board luxury river ships, Budapest serves up humble yet tantalising street food, from hearty soups to flaky pastries. A visit would be incomplete without trying langos, fried flat bread topped with sour cream and cheese. You’ll find a host of these treats and more in the hip Seventh District, where cosy bars and marketplaces are scattered among historic buildings.
Another city that excels at on-the-go eats is Amsterdam. The atmospheric corners and cobblestone laneways of this pretty city house myriad eateries – many unassuming – that serve up some of the city’s best street food. Wander canals with a warming cone of frites topped with mayo and curry ketchup; sink your teeth into crispy broodje (sandwiches) filled with marinated chicken; and warm up with a freshly made stroopwafel pastry. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the typically Dutch, albeit divisive pickled herring?
A food odyssey through Europe wouldn’t be complete without a stop in the land of bratwurst, baked goods, and beer. Cologne, a grand German city perched on the Rhine River, is known for Kölsch beer, among many cultural highlights. This specialty brew, traditionally made in brauhaus (breweries that double as pubs), is a light hopsy ale served in 0.2-litre-tall cylindrical glasses designed to be drunk quickly while still icy cold. Try Kölsch in the many brauhaus scattered around the Alstadt (old town). Once you’re finished, remember to place a coaster on top of your glass, otherwise Köbes (waiters who serve the beer) will continue to bring you new glasses.
Viennese cuisine has the honour of being the only kind of cooking in the world that is named after its city. Needless to say, this culinary pedigree makes Vienna a prime destination for foodies, especially those with a sweet tooth. Save some room after Wiener schnitzel for dessert – maybe even two! Apfelstrudel, an apple-filled pastry, and Sachertorte, a dense chocolate cake layered with apricot jam, are arguably Vienna’s most famous pastries.
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