For those with an adventurous appetite for both travel and food, why not start building a better bucket list – one that’s a notch or two higher on the intrepid scale, with destinations that have just as much wow factor as the Inca trail, but far fewer tourists. Booking.com lays out the best but lesser-known gems that gastronomes ought to know of.
Umbria is heaven for foodies, and the mediaeval hill town of Todi is a shining example of what the region has to offer. The town is a beauty, with meandering narrow streets and revered frescoes in grand churches. But the cuisine merits a visit all by itself.
Umbrian food puts an emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients used in simple recipes and with a lot of good meat. A classic dish is palombacci alla ghiotta (spit-roasted pigeon with sage, rosemary and garlic). Expect out-of-this-world local olive oil, foraged greens and mushrooms, as well as juicy fat figs warmed by the Umbrian sun.
Istria is known as the land of truffles, and Motovun is the jewel in its crown. This pretty hilltop village with extensive views is surrounded by woods that are perfect for foraging and hunting. Looking out over them while sipping crisp local wine and tucking into fine cheese and ham in the charming main square is a must.
Sayulita is a treasure trove for both tasty street food and a huge range of restaurants. Take in the colourful atmosphere and relaxed vibes of this lazy jungle beach town while enjoying a margarita in one of the brightly decorated cafes. Expect affordable, filling fare, with every kind of taco under the sun, from coconut shrimp to organic steak.
Kagoshima is generally known for Sakurajima, a very active volcano that sits just opposite this seaside city on Kinko Bay. But its unique cuisine makes it a great destination for foodies. Don’t miss local dishes such as black pork, satsuma-age (fried fishcake) and tempura sweet potato. Shabu shabu, a hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables, is a must-try – think flavourful beef or pork and delicious greens cooked to perfection, then dipped in aromatic sauces.
At the heart of the Barossa Valley wine region of South Australia, Tanunda is made up of rolling hills and vineyards as far as the eye can see. You can feel the influence of 19th-century German settlers here, with lots of German bakeries and sausage shops. But there’s also a variety of fine-dining options that have cropped up to cater to wine connoisseurs, and most of the local wineries are open daily for tastings and sales.
Sitting along the old trading route between the Sahara and Marrakech, the ancient fortified settlement of Ait-Benhaddou has the dramatic appearance of being carved into the desert. Wander the streets of earthen clay architecture glowing orange in the African sun and head to the perfectly preserved kasbah (citadel) before tucking into a tasty lunch. Expect authentic Moroccan dishes full of spices and mouthwatering flavours.
The town’s quaint, laid-back atmosphere has lured visitors for some time, but lobster rolls and lighthouse views aren’t its only draws. This mid-coast haven is also big on slow food and offers great waterfront dining. Look out for sustainable local produce and an impressive assortment of food trucks offering high-quality goodies.
This article originally appeared in Silverkris.