As some of our readers are aware, we moderate the popular #FoodTravelChat on Twitter each week (Wednesday’s at 8PM ET), and this week’s topic was about food tours and tastings. One of the questions in this week’s chat was whether you should take a food tour in a new destination or go explore on your own. The responses were pretty mixed, with a number of people preferring to just wing it and explore on their own.
My preference is to do both. Take a food tour when you arrive in a new destination and then go off and explore on your own. Have you been pondering this question yourself, and wonder whether it’s worth it? These are my top 5 reasons for booking a food tour.
Discover Places You Never Would
One of the best reasons to take a food tour is to discover new places you aren’t likely to find on your own. Visiting a massive city like Madrid can be a little overwhelming, and if you’re looking to skip the tourist traps, it can be hard without a little assistance. I did a Tapas, Taverns and History tour with Madrid Food Tours and ended up discovering some amazing spots I never would’ve found on my own.
Meet Other Food Lovers
Taking a food tour is a great way to meet over food travelers as well. During my Madrid Food Tour, it was nice to chat with other travelers and get recommendations for other food-centric cities. Some of the people I’ve met on food tours have turned into followers and friends on social media.
Passionate Tour Guides
With many food tours, especially individually-owned ones, you’ll find the guides are passionate about their cities and only want to show off the best spots, which are usually the places they frequent themselves. On a specialized food tour, you aren’t going to be taken to the big places that give commissions to bring big tour groups in.
Get the Lay of the Land
One reason I love taking a food tour is learning more about the neighborhood(s). On all the food tours I’ve done, the guides have pointed out other places worth visiting when you’re exploring on your own. In Madrid, we learned about a number of interesting other tapas joints and some sit-down restaurants we should try.
Learn the Culture and History
You get a lot more than tastings on your food tour. Many tours go into historical facts about the neighborhood, the restaurant, of even the food culture in general. My Walks of Italy food tour in Venice was incredible, as our guide took us down narrow streets, talking about the symbols of Venice and interesting tidbits I would’ve never known otherwise. She also went into the culture of the food, how to order, what to order, and how to eat everything. As an unfamiliar traveler, I doubt I would’ve tried half the things we did. I would’ve missed out on some amazing spots and certainly some amazing eats. I’ve been on other walking tours in Venice, but hands down Walks of Italy’s Venice Food Tour of the Rialto Market with cicchetti tasting and wine was the most informative and worthwhile.
Wondering where to book a food tour?
If you’re in Italy, be sure to check all the available Walks of Italy tours, and if you’re in Spain, check Devour Spain with food tours in multiple spots around the country. Other places? Look at Viator travel. I’m one of their bloggers and they offer a number of awesome food tours, cooking classes, etc., in countries around the globe.
What are some of your favorite food tours? Any recommendations we can’t miss?
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Disclosure: We were guests of Devour Spain and Walks of Italy for the aforementioned tours, but as always, thoughts, opinions, and calories gained are our own. Viator is an affiliate — which means you don’t pay more for your tour, but we get a tiny percentage back of any tour you book, which allows us to continue traveling and bringing you some of the best eats from around the globe!