Amazing Cities in Europe for Affordable and Tasty Food
If you’re planning a foodie tour around Europe, your stomach is spoilt for choice. Europe is a culinary-diverse continent where every city has its own staple dish and unique flavour combinations to tempt your tastebuds. We have rounded up what we think are the best cities in Europe for eating out. Specialising in street food, affordable restaurants and authentic local cuisine you’re in for a real treat if you visit any of these amazing European cities. From the very best tapas and pintxos in Spain, the countless multicultural cuisines available in London to the sophisticated French dishes in Paris, here are amazing cities in Europe for cheap and tasty food...
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Let’s start with the Dutch capital, a bit of an up-and-comer in this list. Dutch food is all about comfort. Hearty home-cooking is at the real heart of Dutch food. Book yourself a table at Moeders for an authentic home-style cooked meal, or do something a little different and book a Huiskamerrestaurant (a living room restaurant). Living room restaurants are one of the best ways to get a taste of real, Dutch cuisine, cooked with love by regular homecooks in their family home.
Amsterdam also excels when it comes to hipster brunch spots and street food. On the street food front, there’s bitterballen, stroopwafels, poffertjes, oliebollen, and you can’t forget the raw herring. Head to the Foodhallen for dinner, a huge hall packed with different street food stalls from around the world, served with a side of live music every now and then.
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One of the reasons for Lisbon’s incredible food scene is because it’s been influenced by so many different cultures over time. One of the largest and long-lived empires in history, Portugal’s former colonial rule played a massive part of Lisbon’s cuisine today. That’s why you’ll find the Portugese use a variety of spices compared to other cities in Europe including peri-peri, cinnamon, vanilla and saffron.
The seafood in Lisbon is heavenly. Clams, ceviche, octopus, scallops - you name it, Lisbon does it better than most cities. One of our favourite seafood restaurants in the city is A Cevecherie. Tapisco is where you can try the very best of Lisbon’s tapas and paella. But it doesn’t taste quite like how the Spanish do it as the Portugese put their own twist on it. The Time Out Market is one of the best foodie experiences in the city.
Three words. Portugese custard tarts. Known as pastel de nata, Lisbon is home to the oldest custard tart shop in Portugal called Pastel De Belem, the bakery where the original nata recipe was invented. There is a lot of history in the food you eat which makes dining in Lisbon even more so special. You’ll be wanting a nata fix every day while you’re in Lisbon, they’re just that good!
Easily one of our favourite foodie cities in Europe, Barcelona’s tapas is unlike anything else. Patatas bravas, Spanish tortilla (Barcelona style), grilled seafood, sweet stuffed peppers… Once you get a taste of the best tapas in Barcelona, you’ll drool at the thought of it for years to come. One of the best things about it is that some of the tastiest tapas in the city is at the most affordable, local restaurants, so splashing the cash on expensive tapas isn’t necessary to experience the best of the best.
We highly recommend a visit to El Xampanyet where the homemade cava is just €10 per litre and the food is, of course, to die for. Arrive early to grab a table and keep the tapas coming! For a mouthwatering taste of authentic, Catalan tapas, Barcelona hits the spot.
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Parisian food may look to outsiders like it’s mainly about ‘haute’ cuisine from fancy French bistros, but don’t be fooled. Most of the really delicious dishes are simple and hearty made from good quality ingredients for pretty reasonable prices. When in Paris, there are way more affordable restaurants around the city than you’d expect, serving up duck confit, beef bourguignon, steak tartare and more French classics for around €10, and escargot appetisers for even less. Chartier is our top dinner choice for this but check out our other affordable Parisian restaurant recommendations.
When it comes to breakfast and lunchtime eating, you couldn’t be in a better city than Paris for cheap and delicious food. Find boulangeries (bakeries) on every corner, selling freshly baked croissants and pastries in the morning, and baguettes that sell out by lunchtime. What a lot of people don’t realise about Parisian cuisine is that a lot is inspired by the past Jewish culture. In the Jewish Quarter (le Marais), falafel shops are everywhere! You’ll never taste falafels like the ones served at L’As du Falafel anywhere else - perfectly spiced and almost melt in the mouth.
Don’t be surprised by how tasty the food is in Krakow, as it’s well known for being not a particularly colourful cuisine. The simple yet hearty flavours in Polish cooking is what it’s so loved for, from veggie-packed stews and sausages to slow-roasted pork knuckle. Let’s not forget Poland’s most popular dish that you’ll be able to find on almost any menu across Krakow - kotlet schabowy. Kotlet schabowy is pretty much a pork chop that’s been covered in breadcrumbs and fried, served with mashed potatoes and, of course, pickled cabbage. Food like this is Krakow is seriously cheap - you can easily find it for 30 Polish zloty (under €7) so you know you can eat like a local on a budget without any stress.
While London’s known for its pretty high prices, once you know the tricks to eating well on a budget, you’ll find some seriously delicious hidden gems. It’s not just British food that London has plenty of, the city is full of restaurants from all kinds of different cuisines. The number one tip for finding the tastiest food in London is to head to one of the city’s food markets. Not one of them will disappoint! Visit Borough Market for the biggest variety of British food options, Camden Market for more hipster options like pasta in a cheese wheel or vegan pies, or Maltby Street Market which is a little more off-the-beaten-track for food from around the world.
Aside from the street food markets which always hit the spot, London does have its fair share of amazing cafes and independent restaurants that serve up insanely tasty dishes for well under £10. From pie and mash to chicken wings, watch this video to see a few of our favourites…
Danish cuisine is full of hearty dishes that often include fish, pickles, bread and local vegetables. While Copenhagen is presumed by many to be way too expensive, that’s only if you don’t know where to look. Rather than heading straight to the city centre restaurants, get a taste of real Danish food and make your way to one of the city’s food markets, one of the many being Torvehallerne is one of them. Smorrebrod is a must-try here - these are usually made up of rye bread topped with meat, fish, cheese, egg, spreads… The options are endless.
Don’t leave Copenhagen without trying the famous Danish street food, a hot dog. You’ll see hot dog vans parked up all around the city, so pop by and order one - topped with crispy onion, pickle and plenty of mustard - for just a few krone. Of course, trying a classic Danish pastry is also a must - another super cheap and tasty breakfast option when in Copenhagen.
If you know anything about German food, you’ve probably already guessed what’s on top of the cheap and tasty food list in Berlin. It’s not a trip to the German capital without a plate of currywurst. Juicy sausage topped with a satisfying glug of spicy curry sauce and a side of chips. Currywurst is probably the most famous street food in Germany, as you can get it cheap all across the country especially in Berlin, however people tend to overlook the humble doner kebab. Also found easily all over the city, doner kebabs are another speciality (and not just for after a good night out) - try Mustafa’s famous pitta-packed kebabs for the best.
Make sure you check out Berlin’s brunch scene before you leave the city. There are loads of hipster cafes and trendy spots to get your morning fix that really don’t break the bank.
Check out these awesome Budget Restaurants in Berlin
If you want to visit a city that’s all about the food, then San Sebastian in northern Spain is the place you’re looking for. People travel from all over the world to the Basque country just to get a taste of the famous pintxos by the sea and taste some of the best seafood in the world. Basque country cuisine isn’t the same as the rest of Spain - it’s more about light bites that look beautiful and taste fresh. Pintxos are small pieces of bread topped with a all sorts of different ingredients and while they’re not the cheapest for what they are, San Sebastien needed to be mentioned on a list about foodie capitals of Europe.
Bologna is famous amongst Italian for being home to some of the best food in the whole country, which must really say something about the quality of the food here. The city sounds like the home of spaghetti Bolognese, but did you know that Italians actually shun the idea of this dish? In Bologna, tagliatelle al ragu is the famed dish of choice and has become an icon of the city! The flat ribbons of pasta covered in a deliciously rich, meaty sauce is like a taste of heaven, so don’t leave without giving it a taste.
Freshly made pasta is what Bologna does best, so you’ll find it around every corner and wherever you choose to end up, your mind can rest easy knowing it’ll be simply delicious. Tortellini, lasagna, tigelle, prosciutto, parmesan… There’s a reason Bologna is potentially the culinary capital of Italy.
It’s always a good time to try haggis, neeps and tatties for the first time. Many non-Scots get put off once they hear what haggis is made from, but once they give it a taste with the old, traditional accompaniments of neeps (mashed parsnips) and tatties (mashed potato), everyone sees what all the fuss is about. It’s not just meat and two veg, it’s a taste sensation! And you can find it in Edinburgh for seriously affordable prices. The Halfway House serves up haggis, neeps and tatties for £7.50.
Make your way to the bottom of Edinburgh Castle for the Farmers Market every weekend. Here you can find all other kinds of proper Scottish food including some delicious Scotch eggs. Looking for a cheap and filling lunch? Oink on Victoria Street is a really popular choice, serving delicious pulled pork rolls from just £3.10.
Check out the Best Affordable Places to Eat in Edinburgh
Spanish food has got to be one of the shining stars of European cuisine, and Madrid’s culinary skills do not disappoint. Suckling pig and cocido madrileno (traditional Spanish stew) in the winter, and huevos rotos (broken eggs and potato) and Spanish omelette throughout the year. When in Madrid, eating out doesn’t have to be an expensive experience. There are many restaurants that advertise their menu as food that comes from different regions of the country, but stick to the more local dishes and keeping to a budget is easy. An unusual offering for such a foodie capital is the famous Madrid calamari sandwich - simply just calamari stuffed between two half of a bread roll, don’t knock it until you try it!
Article by Darcy King and Shereen Sagoo