1. Bordeaux, France
Even the name conjures up visions of shady vineyards and the clink of glasses, and that’s what you can expect in this famous wine-making region of France. Tour the wineries and enjoy world-class tipples in modest cafes – with a surprisingly modest price tag to match! For high-end eating, some of the world’s top chefs have taken over several of the town’s hotel restaurants, but for a true slice of Bordeaux history, a meal at Le Chapon Fin, where Sarah Bernhardt and Toulouse-Lautrec once frequented, is the finest show in town.
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
Forget haggis suppers and deep-fried Mars bars. Scotland’s cuisine is resurgent as a global force. Scotland’s capital is also its foodie Mecca, with no less than four Michelin-starred restaurants in the city. You’ll have to book well ahead for a table at The Kitchin or Number One (with its 10-course tasting menu), but hidden gems are everywhere. Drop in to the legendary Valvona & Crolla café for authentic Italian food and wine, and its deli is perfect for building a picnic or stocking up for self-caterers. For great views and a choice of 120 whiskies, try the Cannonball Bar on Castlehill.
3. Verona, Italy
Close to Venice, and the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Verona is ideal for a romantic foodie break. Italians are of course obsessed with food, and their attention to detail means that even cheap eats in this historic city are something to write home about. Choose from 50 different pizzas at the famed Pizzeria al tagio da Zio Lele, or have yours delivered to your hotel room by scooter after a hard day sightseeing. Popular local dishes such as tortellini and baccalà (dried salt cod) are menu staples at corner trattorias, while celebrated chefs such as Elia Rizzo and Giancarlo Perbellini have their own fine dining establishments in town for that extra-special occasion.
4. Skiathos, Greece
Greek food is fresh, informal and family-friendly. Eating is always a social occasion - it’s no exaggeration that a Greek lunch can last until sunset. With more reasonably-priced tavernas that you’ll ever manage to visit, you’re spoilt for choice in Skiathos. Local specialities include fresh seafood, meats and salads. Why not dine al fresco at a beach restaurant, or on a bayside terrace while the sun goes down? The Paradise Taverna on Achladies Beach is open from breakfast to supper and has been serving happy holidaymakers for 30 years. Or visit the historic restored Skiathos Windmill Restaurant, with tables overlooking the Aegean Sea and the islands of Arkos and Tsougria.
5. Corsica, France
French by nationality but Italian by culture, Corsica combines the high restaurant standards of the former and the informality of the latter while taking pride in its own island cuisine. Fresh seafood is abundant, with crispy sea urchin, lobster and salmon steaks appearing alongside pastas and risottos. Local desserts include fiadone, a sheep’s milk cheesecake. For best-value, try a Corsican set menu to give you a real taste of what the island has to offer. Le Grand Hôtel de Cala Rossa combines French and Corsican cuisine using fresh and seasonal ingredients from the sea and the hotel’s kitchen garden – and walk it off afterwards with a stroll along the hotel’s private beach.
6. Paris, France
Despite the explosion in the number of fine dining destinations across Europe, Paris remains the home of the high-end restaurant. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, dinner at the legendary Maxim’s is a must, even if your fellow diners will most likely be tourists too. Paris is crammed with fancy eating places, many of which will require a small mortgage and a months-ahead booking to visit. For a cheaper, easier alternative, you can eat lunch in some of the best restaurants in Paris without breaking the bank or booking too far ahead, and still experience the exquisite food, décor and ambience. For people-watching, grab a pavement table at Belleville’s Mon Coeur bar, order a demi de biere and take in the views, both human and architectural.