Providing an authentic taste of life in new destinations, many of us like to head straight to street vendors when on holiday. This provides the chance to eat like a local, and experience foodie treats we may otherwise miss. So, if you’re keen to sample the finest street foods on your next trip away, we have compiled 50 of our favourite delicacies from a handful of our best-loved European cities.
The canals, churches and winding streets of Amsterdam beg visitors to roam around outside, the perfect place to sample some of the Dutch capital’s famous street foods. Three of our favourite travel writers, Danielle Fear, Niamh Shields and Lynn Houghton have had their say, revealing their favourite Amsterdam street foods, as have a number of the Emerald Waterways team.
Danielle Fear, AKA Cruise Miss, shares her favourite Amsterdam street foods.
In the morning or in the evening, there are few things more enjoyable than a stroopwafel – thin waffles stuck together with gooey syrup, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
A scoop or two of light dough dropped into a deep fryer, oliebollen is a wonderfully indulgent snack. The locals will often eat oliebollen on New Year’s Eve and at funfairs, but the little snacks can be found throughout Amsterdam every day of the year.
Agreeing with Cruise Miss is our senior trade marketing executive, Jasmin Shaw, who has this to say about oliebollen: “My favourite street food experience in Europe? Oliebollen at Christmas in Amsterdam... they’re like delicious deep-fried doughnut balls dusted in icing sugar. AMAZING!”
A popular breakfast snack, ontbijtkoek is a spiced bread made with rye, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Sweet yet warming, the bread is usually eaten with a generous spread of butter on top.
Travel writer, Lynn Houghton, also has a few favourites from the streets of the Dutch capital.
More commonly eaten during the winter months by the ice skaters making the most of the city’s pop-up ice skating rinks, snert is a rich and hearty split pea stew. Packed full of chunky veg and soft, melting ham hock, this soupy stew toes the line between sweet and salty.
Not dissimilar to the UK’s seaside favourite, kibbeling is deep-fried cod (or other white fish), served with tartar sauce. Usually served on a small tray, kibbeling makes a delicious lunch when in the Dutch capital.
Thick-cut chips with a seemingly limitless choice of sauces make a delicious, easy-to-carry and warming snack for visitors walking between the cultural highlights of this amazing city.
Niamh Shields, from Eat Like a Girl, directs you to the very best place for frites in Amsterdam:
“The Vlaamse Frites in Amsterdam are the best. Belgian fries if you translate, these come with a variety of toppings, mayo, sambal, curry ketchup and satay are my favourites. The best place to get these is at tiny hole in the wall Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx which has a cult following, and deservedly so. Join the queue and go crazy.”
Here’s one from our very own CRM executive, Calum Chipchase:
“Miniature croquet bites filled with a rich gravy mixture, bitterballen are popular throughout Amsterdam. The SkyLounge Bar found in the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel serves, perhaps, the finest bitterballen around, and also serves up the best panoramas of the city.”
- Broodje Haring
A longstanding Dutch speciality with incredibly strong flavours, broodje haring is raw herring – best served in a sandwich with pickles and onions. This is one for those who like snacks with plenty of punch.
Little pancakes, covered in butter and powdered sugar, poffertjes are bitesize bundles of joy.
- Truffle Cheese Baguette
Amsterdam is in the middle of cheese country, with the town of Edam not far away. Sample the best of the local cheeses by heading to De Kaaskamer van Amsterdam and order up a delightful truffle cheese baguette.
With 2,000 years of history and culture to explore, Cologne is known for its towering twin-spired cathedral, sweeping river views and wonderful street food.
Our digital marketing executive, Laura Barlow-Edwards, shares her pick from Cologne:
“On the high street in Cologne, there are a number of stalls selling all sorts of delicious pastries, hot and cold. My favourite was the apfelstrudel (apple strudel); I picked up two for €1!”
Sherry Kennedy, from Cruise Maven, offers her foodie selection in Cologne, perfect for those with a slightly sweeter tooth:
- Lindt Chocolate
“Docked in Cologne, make a left turn after you leave the ship and walk towards the Lindt Chocolate Museum. There are wonderful chocolate cakes and treats in the museum.”
Emerging as one of Europe’s best-loved weekend break destinations, Berlin has a strong café and bar culture, lending itself perfectly to simple-yet-delicious dishes to be enjoyed alfresco.
Fried pork sausage, cut into slices, and topped with a curried ketchup; currywurst is so central to Berlin’s culture that every candidate for the city’s mayoral seat must be photographed at a currywurst stand.
- Schnitzel Holstein
There’s a huge selection of schnitzels available in Berlin, but we’d recommend opting for the holstein – a delicious veal cutlet topped with egg, capers and anchovies.
Also known as pretzels, brezels may be seen as more of an American staple than a European, but these dough knots originated in Europe, first baked by monks during the Early Middle Ages. A salted brezel is one of the best accompaniments to a German pilsner when in Berlin.
- Döner Kebabs
Much loved in the UK, but the German döner kebabs are vastly superior to our own, complete with freshly-baked lamb topped by crisp and crunchy veg.
Würzburg and Leipzig, Germany
The Telegraph’s cruise specialist, Jane Archer, always makes sure to head to a traditional German sausage stand during a trip to the nation’s beautiful cities:
“Forget English bangers, German bratwurst are streets ahead. Literally. Lightly spiced and wrapped in brot (bread), they are sold on stalls in every German Christmas market, but you don’t have to wait for December to bring out the bratwurst. I’ve noshed on bratwurst und brot in streets in Leipzig in October and Würzburg in August (the latter on a cruise with Emerald Waterways). Some add mustard and ketchup. But I believe the best accompaniment is without question a beer.”
A fairy-tale medieval city personified by beautifully ornate buildings perched on the edges of winding canals, Bruges is one of Europe’s most enchanting cities. Here are a few of the best street foods to enjoy when exploring the Belgian city.
This pick is from Emerald Waterways’ very own Catherine Bulger:
- Belgian Waffles
"Crispy, fluffy and golden, you haven’t really had waffles until you’ve had proper Belgian waffles on the streets of Bruges. The large, deep square pockets are ideal for catching pools of Belgian chocolate, ice cream, or preferably both."
- Chocolate Bread
If there’s one thing the Belgians are good at, it’s combining two delicious foods to make a third, even more delicious treat. Chocolate bread is one such treat. Sweet, pillowy slices of indulgence that are not to be missed.
These delicious balls of fried dough are similar to a doughnut, but not quite the same. Made with a hint of blonde pilsner beer in the batter, smoutebollen have a heavenly hint of yeastiness beneath the powdered sugar.
It’s not just the French who have a taste for snails, caricoles are sea snails boiled in broth with an assortment of veggies. Not quite the same as escargots, they have a chewy texture and surprisingly sweet flavour.
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
The delightfully quaint city of Český Krumlov is rich with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. But what of the food? Here is our pick of the Czech city’s finest street eats.
Pernik is a type of delicious gingerbread that was historically only prepared for special occasions. Made with ginger, molasses and honey, it is then decorated with beautifully intricate patterns piped in icing.
Prague, Czech Republic
The street food in Czech Republic’s much-loved capital, Prague, alternates between the hearty and the sweet – so there’s something for every mood and every time of the day.
Similar to French crepes, these thin pancakes are traditionally rolled with apricot, strawberry, or plum jam and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.
- Vepřo Knedlo Zelo
This dish is a classic of Czech cuisine and consists of roast pork, bread dumplings and stewed cabbage in a thin gravy. Perfect for warming you up on a cold day, the cabbage adds a lovely sweetness to the hearty meat and dumplings.
Surrounded by vineyards, mountains and forests; Bratislava possesses one of the continent’s most vibrant street food cultures. It is home to one of Emerald Waterways’ digital marketing executive, Luke Hunter’s favourite dishes, bryndzové halušky.
- Bryndzové Halušky
This filling dish is made up of lumps of potato dough similar to gnocchi, mixed with a soft bryndza sheep cheese and sprinkled with bacon.
Made from rolled dough, this cake is wrapped around a thick stick and grilled to give it a unique hollow shape. It is traditionally topped with a sugar and walnut mix, and is often filled with silky ice cream.
Lake Bled, with its medieval castle and surrounding villages is Slovenia’s most popular retreat, and it is easy to see why. Staggeringly beautiful, Bled benefits from an Alpine backdrop, clear waters and picture-perfect medieval architecture, and the culinary heritage is mightily impressive too.
- Bled Cream Cake
Bled cream cake is an iconic symbol of the area, and often the first thing that visitors and locals alike want to sample when they arrive in Bled. Simply constructed of a layer of crispy golden pastry, vanilla cream, whipped cream, more pastry and a dusting of icing sugar, locals insist you’ll never taste a better cream cake anywhere.
This delicious street food treat is made from layers of thin dough alternated with layers of filling, topped with pastry and baked in a large circular pan. Traditionally it would have minced meat and onions or cheese as a filling, but all kinds can now be found in local bakeries.
Affectionately known as the Queen of the Danube, Budapest is Hungary’s capital and cultural heart. Recognised as a World Heritage Site, every corner you turn in Budapest seems to uncover incredible sights and experiences. And the city is home to a proud culinary history, with locals and visitors alike making the most of the delicious street food on offer.
Goulash is a popular soup or stew made from meat and vegetables and seasoned with paprika. Traditionally made by cattle herders, this heart dish offers a true taste of Hungary.
A Hungarian speciality, lángos is a much-loved treat among locals. It is a round, deep-fried flatbread that is usually rubbed with garlic, although it can be topped with sour cream, grated cheese, sausage and other delightful ingredients.
This tempting cake is wrapped around a cone-shaped baking spit to give it a unique hollow shape. As it cooks over charcoal, it is basted in melted butter and sprinkled with sugar to give it a delicious, crispy exterior. Ask for it to be topped with ground walnut or powdered cinnamon.
Chestnuts are abundant in Hungary from late September onwards, and this sweet chestnut purée is a staple dessert of many locals’ childhoods. It is often served in cafés with a whipped cream topping throughout autumn.
Fisherman’s soup is much loved among tourists and locals alike, with competitions to make the best still popular at fairs along the river coast. It is bright red from the generous lashings of spicy paprika and usually contains carp or a mixture of river fish.
- Töltött Káposzta
One old saying hails this meat and cabbage-based dish as the ‘coat of arms of Hungary’, and it is certainly popular on special occasions. Pork is usually used for the filling, which is then rolled in cabbage or sauerkraut.
The home of Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud, Vienna has had an amazing impact on European culture and intellectual legacy. This is honoured by the city’s comprehensive MuseumsQuartier district, and a rich street food heritage.
Bosna sausages are a bit like currywurst, but with different seasonings, and usually served on a roll. It is topped with onions, and a blend of curry powder and mustard or ketchup. It’s the quintessential Austrian street snack and perfect for a speedy bite to eat.
Another delicious sausage dish, this time filled with small chunks of cheese. It is usually eaten in a bread roll with mustard and ketchup, after being fried or grilled to melt the cheese into a moreish goo.
Eaten as a lunch or dessert, this shredded pancake got its name (Emperor’s Mess) from being a favourite of Kaiser Franz Joseph I. It is traditionally served with a fruit compote made from plums, but it can be found with all kinds of sides and additional ingredients in different areas of Austria.
Often referred to as the world’s culinary capital, Lyon has a rich history of producing incredible chefs, restaurants and signature dishes. Away from the traditional bouchons (small restaurants serving local Lyonnaise dishes), the street food scene is absolutely thriving.
These paper-thin pancakes are very popular all across France. They can be served with sweet or savoury fillings, although Nutella and other sweet fillings are the most commonly found among street vendors.
No winter comfort food quite measures up to the tartiflette, with its layers of fluffy potato, tangy reblochon cheese, salty lardons and savoury onions. Perfect after strolling the sights and shops of Lyon.
- Jambon Beurre
Much more than a humble ham sandwich, a jambon beurre is a crusty, golden baguette filled with creamy, salty butter and melt-in-your-mouth ham. Get one with the addition of sliced cornichon if you’re feeling adventurous.
Beignets are the French version of a fritter, made of choux pastry that has been deep fried. The sweet version has travelled to America and is a popular breakfast food served with powdered sugar, but you can still find both sweet and savoury versions to try in France.
These fries made with chickpea flour are a great alternative to potato chips for a side dish or just a snack. Perfect with everything, they can be seasoned with salt and pepper, rosemary and garlic, or served with dips such as aioli.
There’s a popular drinking culture in Lisbon in which locals will stop at a small ginjinha bar (often no more than a hole in the wall) and have a measure of the much-loved local cherry liquor, then move on to the next bar and repeat. Along the way, the locals love to pick up a delicious snack to complement their favourite tipple.
- Pastel de Nata
These Portuguese custard tarts taste like home for many locals, and they keep tourists coming back for more. Made with crispy, flaky puff pastry and a creamy egg custard filling, one is never enough.
More than just a pork sandwich, the delicious bifana is eaten anytime, anywhere by Portuguese locals. The pork is marinated in a special blend of garlic and spices, before being pounded and lightly fried to make beautiful, moist sandwiches, served with mustard and piled high with onions.
- Pao com Chouriço
One of Portugal’s favourite street foods, pao com chouriço is a delicious bread stuffed with chorizo, baked in a wood-fired oven. The fluffy, salty combination makes the perfect snack when eaten hot from the oven.
- Empadas de Frango
Perfect for satisfying your appetite after a drink or two, these cupcake-sized pastries are filled with a delicious chicken filling. Crispy and golden on the outside, soft and savoury on the inside, they’re best eaten fresh from the oven.
The ancient university city of Salamanca is still home to a large student population, who like nothing more than a delicious bite to eat after an intellectual debate over a beer or two.
Churros are gaining popularity outside of Spain, but the best ones can still only be found from Spanish street vendors. Crisp, golden sticks of deep-fried dough are sprinkled with vanilla sugar, and often served with melted chocolate for dipping.
These delicious little pastry pockets come in a variety of flavours, including meat, cheese and seafood. The little parcels are usually deep fried to create a crisp, golden pastry with a wonderful savoury filling.
- Tortilla Español
Spanish omelette is a staple food in many Spanish cities and the traditional versions contain little more than potatoes, eggs, onions and good olive oil. They’re usually served with a variety of vegetables, and are almost always accompanied by bread or served as a sandwich.
- Patatas Bravas
Patatas bravas is a dish comprised of small chunks of fried potato in a spicy, tangy sauce. It is often served in tapas bars or brought out to accompany a glass of wine in Spain, and most establishments have their own secret recipe.
Has this collection of delicious street foods got your mouth watering for a cruise around some of the gorgeous highlights of Europe? View our complete luxury range online or call 0808 278 7149 for more information.