European Travel Skills: Eating and Drinking

European Travel Skills: Eating and Drinking


One of the great joys of travel
is eating. Each country in Europe has its own
distinct cuisine. Leave the tourist zones. Find places filled with locals enjoying
seasonal and regional specialties. The variety of food is endless and, if
you know how to choose a good place, you don’t need to spend a fortune. A few basic rules for eating your
way through Europe: Go for the local specialities. You’ll get
better quality and price. Eat seasonally. Don’t miss truffles on your pasta in the fall
or fresh berries in Norway in summer. The location can make the meal. Bosnia may not be famous for its food but dining under the bridge in Mostar
makes a life-long memory. Most of all, eat fearlessly. Try things you’ve never had in places you’ve never been. There are eateries to fit
every budget. And while I recommend an occasional
gourmet splurge, especially in countries famous for their high-end cuisine like
France and Italy, you’ll save money and improve your
experience with Europe’s countless budget options. Some of the most affordable and
enjoyable food in Europe can be found not while seated at a table but while standing in the street
or the market. Every country has its own beloved street food. It’s fast, cheap and delicious. In Greece, try the corner souvlaki stand. And in Istanbul on the Golden Horn, grab a fish sandwich fresh from the guys
who caught it at one of the venerable and very tipsy fish boats. For a step up and a seat, there are lots
of casual bars and bistros—hometown hangouts where you can enjoy local cuisine in
comfort without going broke. One of the best examples of this
is in Spain. Every town tempts you with tapas bars. where you belly up to the bar and just point at
things you’d like to try. In Denmark, I love the open face sandwiches which manage to be both simple
and elegant at the same time. You can munch the best pizza ever for the price of a fast-food hamburger in Naples,
where pizza was invented. The rustic simplicity of sausages and fondue feels just perfect high in the Swiss Alps. And these days, pubs are more than just
friends gathered for a beer. They can come with tasty meals, too. By the way, interiors in Europe, from restaurants
to hotels to pubs, are now essentially smoke-free. Especially in France, consider the
cuisine sightseeing for your palate. And, when you know your budget options, eating
at the corner cafe or bistro costs only a little more than lunch at a
fast food joint. Most countries have a plate of the day;
that’s a “plats du jour” here. A handwritten menu in the local language only
with a small selection indicates a good value. And the house salad makes a quick and
healthy meal. In France, bread is free. Just hold up your basket to ask. In France, a free carafe of tap water is
either on the table or will be quickly if you ask. When it comes to drinking, I go local. In Bavaria its a liter of lager. Tuscany: a robust red wine. Provence: a nice rosé. Ireland: a hearty guinness.
Spain: a rich rioja. In Denmark: a fiery aquavit. And in Greece, it’s ouzo, with a sunset. Adapt to the culture you’re visiting. Over here, dining’s not rushed. Slow service
is often good service. In a nice restaurant, the table’s yours
for the entire evening. To get the bill you need to ask for it. As service is often included and waiters
are generally paid a living wage, tipping is less expected and often unnecessary. This varies from country to country; get advice from locals. Picnics are fast and fun and give you a
purpose in Europe’s colorful markets and shops. When picnicking, you can buy whatever looks good
regardless of price. Choose an atmospheric place to make
your picnic memorable. We’ve put together a cheap and healthy meal
for two. Delightful cheese, tiny quiche,
strawberries, grapes, wine, a little something for dessert, and a reasonable view. Traditionally, on the continent, breakfast
is small. In France, locals just grab a croissant
and coffee on the way to work. But these days, most hotels are offering hearty breakfast
buffets, complete with cheese, meat, yogurt and fruit.

72 thoughts on “European Travel Skills: Eating and Drinking”

  • Oh, I so miss eating my way through Italy, France and Spain. We stayed away from fast foods, and I don't think I had a bad meal, even when ordering the wrong thing it turned out to be awesome (and don't get me started on the gelato in Italy…one particular place faced the Pantheon, and yes it was overpriced, but nevertheless heaven).

  • I lost few pounds for a whole month in Italy. There's no fast food there, I ate a lot of fresh food, bread, cheese, water, italian yogurt. Especially finest resturants, they're very good and mostly walk a lot. I want to go again!

  • How easy is it for a vegetarian or vegan to eat in Europe? I heard you say eat fearlessly but when you eat no flesh of any kind, this includes fish, seafood, etc..HOW can one such as myself, survive?

  • It depends on the country..Czech Republic, Germany and Austria forget it..it's all meat but in Italy and France there are options

  • Personally, I'm a vegetarian when I eat at home. But when I travel, I feel that it's just more practical in some cases to just suck it up and eat meat. It also gets you more in touch with the local food culture.

  • XaverScharwenka says:

    Every country/region has its own unique cuisine that offers something new to the world. It's sad that so many people are ignorant to that. France may be famous with its cheese and wine, but Greece also offers hundreds of types of both, with as high quality as any other. Cuisine stereotyping is real 🙂

  • We ran into Rick in France during my daughter's graduation trip. We are in this video and it was such a treat to meet you Rick and be a part of this great video. Thanks for the awesome memory!!!

  • Best time ever was eating off of the Food trucks in Salzburg, Austria. We were up late and desperate to eat and we found the trucks that sell the sausages wrapped in bread and Stiegl beer! Siting in the beautifully lit Altstadt by the Salzach was a moment I will never forget!

  • aksel scholtens says:

    wow Rick Steves as a european I really like your view of our continent you manage to sketch a true picture without making any stereotypes or faults keep these video's going I love it. p.s. excuse my bad English

  • Thank you Rick, I enjoy your videos and have to say they are very helpful. Many of these travel videos are just someone walking around and pointing out a few spots but your are informative. Prices, locations, details. The telling is in the details for sure.

  • Some more practical tips: always ask for the price before ordering. Even as a seasoned traveller, I got surprised when a very fine, but not very pretentious grilled fish (ugly creature, but tasty nonetheless!) turned out to be over 60 euro for 2. If possible, ask for the menu. 
    In Italy, many restaurants charge you for 'scoperta', meaning cutlery. It's a small 2 to 3 euro surcharge if you go for a full meal with starters and desert, but on a slice of pizza, that 2 euro can be almost half of your meal. So know what you're going to eat, and pick a restaurant that has the cutlery included or not, depending.
    Many places have a cheap lunch menu, so at noon, it's often less expensive. Eating the lunch for 20 euro in a fancy place is still a lot cheaper than the evening menu at 50 😉 
    Splurging can be done in eastern Europe, too, even for those on a budget. the coffeehouses in Budapest have little to nothing to be outdone by Vienna, and has some great food, too. 
    And yes, the location can add something to a meal, but don't forget, it often comes with a price to pay. You will evidently pay more for a pizza with view over the Colosseo, or mussles and fries on the Grand'Place in Brussels than elsewhere in the city. Even within a restaurant, that's often the case, at the bar is the cheapest, at a table inside a little more expensive (but more convenient to eat), but the most you pay for eating and drinking on the outside seats. Again, it can be worth the few extra euro, sipping a cappuccino on Piazza San Marco in Venice at Caffè Florian is absolutely spectacular. It's just something to consider before you go and sit down.

  • Julia Elliott says:

    What a lovely, inspiring (!) and thoughtful video. Be adventurous, travelers. (For the love of Pete, don't be a tourist asking for an egg white omelet in carb loving Paris.) Can't wait to pack the suitcase again for another trip!

  • Tipping may not be expected and the serving staff may well be paid a living wage but I have never seen a tip refused by someone on a low wage.
    It helps things along if you intend to use the same place more than once and turn up without a reservation,…………………vet often you will somehow magically be squeezed in with a smile. Well worth the tips.

  • Yes, definitely try Norwegian berries during summer time! The reason they taste so different is because the sun almost never goes down here during summer.

  • As a French resident I can offer advice in 2 parts, when on a motoring holiday, the 1st is likely to be true in most European countries.
    1 The roads will be quieter during lunch 12-14 hours, a good time to pass through big cities.

    2 For a honest, humble yet tasty reasonably priced lunch, look out for "les routiers" cafe's, they tend to be on main roads & plenty of trucks & vans parked nearby. It's where the workers eat but all are welcome. At time of writing, € 10 to € 15 buy's you a self service (all you can eat) cold buffet starter, a main dish of 1 to 3 choices & a dessert, drinks extra.

  • Another American that thinks Europe is France, Italy, Spain, Greece…
    ''On the continent breakfast is small''???? Nothing can be further from the truth. One exception is France, and he took it as a rule.

  • "Bosnia may not be famous for its food".

    Well, Bosnian cuisine is very popular in the Balkans and it's one of the most advertised things when it comes to tourism in Bosnia.

  • Christine Thornhill says:

    ✨⭐️✨ Dear Rick , praise to you for enjoying the food of your travels without becoming the size of an Orca ! Great video ………. A true flavour of Europe.

  • Love the food of travels. However, sometimes I am not sure how to eat the item… Like the open face sandwiches in Copenhagen. Heading to Portugal this spring and hoping to try barnicles for the first time. Also tapas or pintoxs in Basque Country and all the duck confit and foie gras in SW france…. Yummmmmmmm.

  • In Europe we expect proper etiquette in restaurants. So Americans would be better sticking to eating their Mc Donalds in their car.

  • Don't expect global cuisine at a hotel breakfast buffet (well maybe except the UK). It will not usually be a mix of Asian/local/Western to appease everyone, it will be local fare in hot and cold options.

    The basics like egg and sausages, cold cuts, bread, muesli, fruit and yoghurt cover all grounds to suit everyone's tastes.

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