For devoted gourmands who search the world for fresh and exciting flavors, a gastronomic tour can offer access to whole new frontiers of culinary experiences, whether it’s insider restaurant recommendations, classes and farm tours, or simply meeting others who share in the same passion. To help you explore the furthest reaches of your palate, we’ve put together five food-forward escorted tours from United States Tour Operators Association members, centered in some of the most beautiful destinations on earth.
Each expert-escorted trip eliminates many if not all the stressful details up front, inclusive of features like transportation, accommodation, meals, and entertainment while providing extra peace of mind with USTOA’s $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program. Tour operators also take great care to ensure that each trip embraces the destination from compelling, representative perspectives while affording travelers extra room to explore on their own. From Morocco’s artisan cheese factories and the rustic truffle farms of Central Italy to the bikeable wine regions of Basque Country, USTOA member tour operators will help ensure that you’ll get the most flavor out of your culinary trip, from farm to table and everywhere in between.
Bottles and bikes in northern Spain
The Basque, Navarre, and Rioja Wine Regions offer far more than the grape juice for which they’re famous, offering art, history, and some of the best fine dining in the world. From its many charming villages and historical sites to its rolling valleys and winding rivers, there’s so much to explore in this section of northern Spain, and there’s no better way to do so than by bike. With VBT Bicycling Vacations’ Spain: Basque, Navarre & Rioja Wine Regions Guided Biking Vacation, you’ll have a full week to pedal, sip, and feast on the best of this beautiful region.
You’ll be greeted by your tour representative in San Sebastián, who will accompany you with an hour-long warm up ride through the hills of Basque Country, where you’ll visit a 13th-century church, enjoy lunch in the bullish town of Pamplona, and experience history up close with a five-star stay in one of the country’s oldest hotels. From there, your biking expedition really begins, as you’ll breeze past the Ebro, Ulzama, and La Oja rivers, explore pastoral landscapes, mountain hamlets, and visit La Chabola de la Hechicera (The Witch’s Hut), one of the largest prehistoric burial sites in the country. You’ll also be able to discover the haute cuisine lurking in Laguardia, tasting wine in its last underground wine cellar, then savoring a Michelin-level meal at your hotel, the last of many exceptional dining experiences on this trip that you’ll remember forever.
For more than fifty years, VBT Bicycling Vacations has been treating travelers to exceptional walking and biking adventures from their headquarters in Vermont to destinations which span five continents. With their local and bilingual tour leaders leading the way, the tour operator manages all the little details, from friendly welcome receptions to helpful support vans along the bike route and securing that perfect romantic dinner. Better yet, their tours are inclusive of airfare, entertainment and most meals, allowing you to save your energy for the ride of your life.
Tasting the full range of colors in Morocco
Morocco is vibrant and complex, full of sights, smells, and flavors reflecting a land at the crossroads. Not quite Europe, not quite Africa, and not quite Asia, when it comes to cuisine, Morocco offers a unique, mouthwatering blend of influences. Given how many Moroccans carry on that proud tradition from their home kitchen, however, finding authentic tagine, kaliya, or other local delicacies might require an extra bit of help. That’s where Club Adventures comes in, offering a 12-day Morocco Real Food Adventure to help discover the authentic side of this diverse country that most tourists don’t get to see.
From Casablanca to Marrakech, with a few kasbahs, imperial cities, and desert passages in between, your Club Adventures tour will afford you the chance to taste the real Morocco. From cooking classes with local chefs to home-cooked meals with a local family and tasting visits in bustling souks, or markets, you’ll learn the background behind the ingredients that define traditional Moroccan cuisine. Yet it’s not only about food: you’ll also explore historical sites, from the medinas of Fes and Marrakech to the earthen buildings of Ait ben Haddou, while also hiking in the Atlas Mountains and marveling at the Blue City of Chefchaouen, among many other hands-on experiences.
This Morocco Real Food Adventure is but one of nearly 1,000 diverse itineraries to enjoy with Club Adventures. Founded by AAA to bring authentic top-notch adventures to the AAA Federation, Club Adventures exclusively offers small-group tours with big value catered to meet the needs of AAA members. From “Basix” to Premium budgets and travel styles from hiking or festivals to cycling or adventure cruising, you’ll discover the world in the way that works for you.
Enjoy the history and culture of Italy
When it comes to cuisine, Italy needs no introduction. From gelato and Grechetto wine to bistecca and Brunello vintages, the bel paese (or the “beautiful country”) boasts a gastronomic heritage that few others on earth can claim. With Globus’ seven-day That’s Amore!: Italy By Design tour, you’ll strike right at the core of what might be the greatest asset in this proud nation, accessing flavors from lesser-known lands well off the main route as well as from Italy’s most popular destinations, always within easy reach of jaw-dropping nature and centuries–old artistic treasures.
Your trip begins in the heart of it all—Rome—where your group will be able to meet your Tour Director over a welcome dinner. You’ll then have a full day to explore the Eternal City as you please, whether it’s visiting the Vatican, exploring the romantic cobblestones and cafes of Trastevere and the singular cuisine of the Jewish Ghetto, or joining your local guide for an art-centric walking tour of the capital. Leaving Rome behind, you’ll venture into the Umbrian land of Narni, where you can taste roast lamb, manfrigoli pasta, and other local specialties which will feel a world away from Rome.
Continuing your tour of Umbria, you’ll then drop by ancient and enchanting Spoleto, where you can go truffle hunting in the woodlands, try olive oil and wine tasting in the center of the city, or venture to nearby Assisi to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis. Saving some of the best for last, the remainder of your Italian journey will be spent throughout Tuscany, including tasting world-beating wines among the hills of Chianti in San Gimignano—otherwise known as the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages” for its signature skyline—or taking a guided biking tour around the fabled alleys and legendary trattorie of Florence. Finally, you’ll close out your trip with your group with one last evening in Florence, capping everything off with an epic farewell dinner you won’t forget.
With more than 90 years of travel expertise under their belt, Globus now offers tours across the better part of the planet, catering to each client’s needs and interests with a great many customizable, all-inclusive tours. Led by a local expert Tour Director and covering everything from transportation and accommodations to meals and activities, while offering daily YourChoice Excursions, with private tours available for those who are looking for the industry standard in flexibility and care, Globus offers unrivaled value and flexibility all over the globe.
Eat your way across the four corners of France
Famed for its elegant castles, dreamy beaches, and some of the best wine on earth, France is the world’s most popular destination for good reason. Add in a national cuisine that has been the very definition of fine dining for centuries and you have one unforgettable holiday. Highlighting four distinct, yet equally compelling French regions, Tauck’s 13-day Normandy, Brittany, Paris, & the Loire Valley tour will help you discover a warm, inviting country offering exceptional elegance and so much more.
With Paris as your point of entry, you’ll dive right into the kind of magnificence for which France is famed, with a stay at the Waldorf Trianon Palace, just outside the Palace of Versailles, and tours of Chartres Cathedral, and Mont-St-Michel, plus an authentic chateaux stay among the fertile forests and royal gardens of the Loire Valley. You’ll be invited to a private cocktail reception, dinner, and hunting demonstration at the Chateau de Champchevrier, then snag a glimpse at one of the most important medieval tapestries in Europe.
After visiting Le Moulin Bleu vineyards in the Loire Valley for lunch and a wine tasting, you’ll continue to the rugged coasts of Normandy and Brittany to discover crucial wartime history and dramatic seaside abbeys, respectively, to make no mention of the important artistic legacy among the picturesque villages therein. Closing out your travels with three nights at Paris’ five-star, 18th-century hotel, Le Meurice, you’ll have cause to savor some of the world’s best haute cuisine in groundbreaking restaurants from past and present, including a farewell dinner at the legendary Fouquet’s on the Champs-Elysées that you won’t soon forget.
Your trip with Tauck will have nearly a century of excellence behind it, with experienced, devoted Tour Directors working tirelessly to ensure that every escorted tour represents the very best in accommodation and cuisine across all seven continents while providing the context necessary to deepen your sense of place. Each of their 100+ itineraries come with the security of Tauck’s Global Support Network and Global Response Team, offering 24-hour service for anything that might arise, plus the promise of connecting with locals and gaining access to sites otherwise unavailable to the average traveler. From the grandest chateau banquet to the simple joy of a glass of wine at sunset, traveling with Tauck will leave you always ready for your return.
Sicily is a Culinary Trip Through Time
More than perhaps anywhere else in Italy, Sicily is an expression of thousands of years and distinct cultures rolled up together, making for a cuisine like no other. The island boasts Northern African, Greek, Spanish, French, and Arabic influences, some of the best seafood and produce on the planet thanks to its rich biodiversity, plus cooking methodology multiple millennia in the making. With Country Walkers’ eight-day guided Sicily Guided Walking Adventure, you’ll get to taste a little of all that makes the region so special, focusing above all on that unforgettably complex cuisine.
From Palermo to Catania, you’ll embark upon a walking tour through ancient temples, to the top of one of Europe’s largest active volcanoes, and across several natural reserves. You’ll visit Daniela Adamo’s Baglio Sant’Andrea for a farm-to-table feast, then learn how to make cassata and other traditional desserts. At Planeta Estate in Menfi, you’ll tour the fecund grounds and taste more hyperlocal cuisine paired with some of the site’s Indigenous and international varietals. You’ll also learn of Sicily’s prehistoric past, visiting Syracuse Archaeological Park, home to the city’s famed Roman amphitheater and the diverse collection of Roman mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale, and exploring more than 5,000 tombs at the ancient Necropolis of Pantalica, plus so much more.
Since its founding from a barn in Vermont circa 1979, the team at Country Walkers has been welcoming travelers with the belief that the world is best experienced on foot. As a two-time winner of AFAR’s Traveler’s Choice Award in Culinary Adventures, Country Walkers features a wide network of Tour Directors, Tour Consultants, and Local Guides working together to ensure that every attraction, accommodation, and restaurant included in their itinerary represents the very best of the destination while delivering on their promise of “active, experiential, and stunning” adventures all over the world.
Though these five destinations are certain highlights for those who travel for food, USTOA members offer countless alternative adventures that are certain to please the palate. Browse USTOA’s database of tour operators, and rest assured that you and your tastebuds will always be in safe hands.
United States Tour Operators Association