Part of being professional eaters means that we’ve taken dozens of food tours over the years. We are sort of experts at taking culinary tours. For some food travelers, this is a new experience. That’s why we wanted to share tips on booking a food tour and making the most of your experience.
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How To Book A Food Tour
Our network of contributors have been on food tours from Buenos Aires to Bangkok to Bristol to Barcelona. We’ve taken private tours and group tours. Walking tours and driven tours. Wine tastings and cooking classes. Tapas tours. Pintxos tours. Neighborhood tours. Market tours. We’ve done it all, at least it seems.
Some of these tours were amazing, a few were flops. It’s why we think it’s important to understand what you are getting into before booking a tour.
If you travel for food as we do, and you have some flexibility in your budget, we definitely recommend booking a food tour. This kind of tour can be the best way to taste new dishes and to learn about a new destination. In this post, we will share our tips on how to book the best food tour for your needs.
What You Will Learn In This Food And Travel Blog Post
- You will learn what is a food tour and how to book one
- You will learn what to expect on a culinary tour
- You will learn how to book the best food tour for you and how to make the most of the experience
What Is A Food Tour
At its most basic, a food tour or culinary tour will help you discover a town or region through food and drink. But, it’s more than that. A foodie tour is a professionally guided tour of a local city. They can include tours of a local market, stops at various food producers or restaurants, or even a cooking class.
Some include wine or drink tastings as well. The most important thing about a food tour is that it is not only a few hours of eating and drinking, but it’s a great way to learn about the local food culture.
The best food tours are a great way to not only taste local ingredients but to better understand the history of a city through its food and drink. We provide loads of Food Guides on this site, which help to suggest what and where to eat when exploring a new destination.
A tour, though, does something more. It helps to educate food travelers to help them dig deeper, and learn more about their foodie destination.
Food And Drink Travel Pro Tip
What is food culture? Food culture refers to the practices, thoughts, and beliefs surrounding not only the consumption of food but the production and distribution as well. It helps to explain the identity of the culture of a destination through what and how people eat.
What Is The Difference Between A Traditional Tour And A Culinary Tour
A traditional city tour often focuses on the history of a city as told through its famous landmarks, attractions, and architecture. A culinary tour sometimes offers insight into the history and culture of a city in a similar way but told differently.
Although the tour often walks through some of the most popular neighborhoods in a city, the history and culture of the city are told through food, drink, or hands-on workshops. The tour might include tastings of local ingredients as well as dishes.
What Are The Benefits Of Booking A Culinary Tour
Here are just some of the benefits of booking a food tour. You will receive personalized tips from guides that are passionate about food. These tips can also include where to eat like a local during the rest of your stay. The guide is normally a local, or someone who has lived in the destination for quite some time.
You can also discover places you wouldn’t find on your own. This is particularly true in cities with a big street food culture, which can be intimidating for culinary travelers.
If you are short on time, it’s a great way to learn about the food of a destination in a short amount of time. It’s the perfect option for people in a city for a layover or an overnight stay. It’s not only a way to taste the food, but to walk the city.
Booking a culinary tour is also a great way to meet other food travelers. We met some really interesting people through food tours. We’ve met people on food tours who ultimately subscribed to our blog, so you never know!
What To Expect On A Typical Food Tour
Most food tours are walking tours. You will meet your guide in a set location and then walk from stop to stop, learning about the city along the way. Some food tours are a little more active. A wine tour often includes driving by car or bus between wineries. Some food tour companies offer tours by bicycle, segway, or even tuk-tuk.
Learn About Local Ingredients
It’s not just about tasting new dishes, a well-trained food tour guide will help you understand the local ingredients. This includes the importance of a local ingredient to the history and culture of the city.
Learn How To Eat Like A Local
The best food tours explain what locals eat. But, they also share information about when people eat and where they eat. It’s a way to learn about how the locals live their daily lives, through food.
Book a Hands-On Workshop To Learn A Skill
Sometimes a food travel experience could include a hands-on workshop. Often times this is a cooking class. Many cooking classes involve tours of the local market, cooking a meal, and then eating that meal.
As an alternative to cooking classes, some other hands-on workshops could include baking, chocolate making, or cocktail making experiences. Again, the idea is to not only taste local dishes but to learn a skill while learning about the history and food culture of the destination.
Booking a Culinary Tour Pro Tip
If you have food allergies or special dietary needs discuss your requirements before booking when possible, or review the website to see if they can cater. Most tours can cater if there is enough advanced notice. In some destinations, this is harder than in others.
How Much Does a Food Tour Cost
The price of a food tour will range, often between $30-$100, but some can be more. The price range will depend on whether the culinary tour is private or in a small group. It will also depend on the destination.
Food tours in Southeast Asia will often be less expensive than European culinary tours. Another distinction is how long the tour will be, a full-day tour will be more expensive than a half-day tour. On average, expect to spend at least $50 a person for a high-quality culinary tour.
How Long Is a Typical Food Tour
The duration of a food tour will vary. Most tours are between two and four hours. Some of this is driven by the destination, but most times it is because it’s hard to eat for too many hours straight. Cooking classes and other hands-on food workshops are often longer.
Will A Food Tour Be A Private Or Group Tour
Many food tours are conducted in groups. Some of the best food tours are limited in size because it is hard to eat at some of the best places when the groups are too big. A private culinary tour or experience will generally cost more than a group tour, but there is a benefit to having a unique and customized private tour.
How Do I Know a Culinary Tour Is A Good Value?
Many food travelers who take a food tour look back on their experience and wonder whether the tour was a good value. When we first started taking food tours, years ago, I would add up the amount of food we ate and wonder if it was worth it. Then, I realized, this was the wrong way to look at it.
The best food tours will be more than just the food eaten. The value comes from having a great food tour guide, who knows the history of the city, the food culture, and how to explain it all in a way that makes sense.
The best food tours we’ve taken have left a mark on us and helped us to understand the city we are visiting in a way that we would not have been able to do otherwise.
The amount invested in a good culinary tour not only depends on the cost of food in that city, but also on the quality of the information shared with travelers before, during, and after the tour. Many food tours provide travelers with additional information on where to eat during the rest of their stay.
How To Make The Most Of Your Culinary Tour
We recommend booking a tour on your first full day in a destination. We’ve taken tours on the first night, hours after arrival. By booking the tour early in your trip you are best able to learn from the tour and use that information to make the most of the rest of your stay. We often return to some of the restaurants or bars we visit on a tour again because we know how good the food will be.
FAQs – How To Make The Most Of Your Tour
Should I eat before the tour?
You shouldn’t eat before a tour, but also don’t show up starving. In some cases, the tour might start with a little history, or involve some walking. Sometimes the first stop involves alcohol and you don’t want to get tipsy too quickly.
What should I wear on a walking food tour?
Most food tours expect casual clothing. Dress for the weather. That could mean bringing a rain jacket or umbrella, or a hat to cover the face from the sun. Many tours are offered rain or shine, so be prepared. The most important thing is to wear comfortable shoes. Some of our tours have covered a few miles of walking by the end of the day. Many of the stops might not involve sitting down either. If you have issues with mobility, let your tour guide know ahead of time and they can make arrangements.
This depends on the tour operator. There will always be food or drink. Sometimes the tour will include samplings along the way. Some involve larger amounts of food or end with a sit-down meal. Before booking a tour, check the description of what is included or not included. Some cheaper tours or free food tours might expect people to pay for their own tastings. This is not the norm, but it does happen.