Mapping culinary tourism in Europe through summer's restaurant bookingsItaly, Spain and France make up the trio of culinary tourism hotspots in Europe. Image: Sanjeri / Shutterstock

From the Michelin-starred restaurants of Paris to the pizza sellers of Rome and Lisbon’s mouthwatering pastéis de nata, Europe’s culinary specialties and the quality of its restaurants—as well as their diversity—are such that foodie travelers have plenty of options. And this summer, vacationers certainly got stuck into the continent’s menu of culinary highlights.

With the resurgence of tourism, following the reopening of borders and the easing—or ditching—of travel restrictions, travelers are back on the road and back on the restaurant trail. Inspired by the ever-growing selection of gastronomic guides and specialist foodie media, this tasty approach to travel was already booming before the pandemic. According to the tourist office for the Paris Ile-de-France region, 13.1 million tourists who chose to visit the French capital and its region discovered French gastronomy in 2018. At the time, these travelers spent some €8.9 billion. In an extensive study, Visit Paris Region revealed that international travelers who came to sample local cuisine were 39 years old, on average, while French people who came to the capital for the same reason were slightly older, at 43. As for overseas visitors, Americans were the clientele with the biggest appetite (14.3%).

Now that the summer season is over, we can get a better picture of how tourists enjoy Europe’s culinary delights thanks to The Fork, the leading network for restaurant reservations on the Old Continent (and in Australia). The platform lists nearly 60,000 restaurants in 12 countries. Based on the reservations made in July and August with its partner restaurants, The Fork concludes that it was a “record summer.” Compared to last year, bookings have increased by 11% on a European scale, and even exceeded those of 2019—the pre-pandemic reference year—by around 3%.

Also read: From Mexico to Indonesia, here are the world’s most visited countries on Google Street View

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