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Culinary tourism: The growth of food tourism around the world

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Culinary tourism is a popular type of tourism throughout the world, but what exactly is culinary tourism? Is it different from food tourism? Why is culinary tourism important? And where are the best places to travel for culinary tourism? Read on to find out…

What is culinary tourism?

Importance of food tourism, culinary tourism activities, culinary tourism in bangkok, culinary tourism in tokyo, culinary tourism in honolulu, culinary tourism in durban, culinary tourism in new orleans, culinary tourism in istanbul, culinary tourism in paris, culinary tourism marrakesh, culinary tourism in mumbai, culinary tourism in miami, culinary tourism rio de janeiro, culinary tourism in beijing, food tourism- further reading.

Culinary tourism, also often referred to as food tourism, is all about exploring food as a form of tourism. Whether that be eating, cooking, baking, attending a drinks festival or visiting a farmers market – all of these come under the concept of culinary tourism. It’s something you don’t even really need to travel to do. Heading to your nearest big city or even the next town over, specifically to eat at a certain restaurant, classes as food tourism! And food tourism has taken a new twist since the COVID pandemic too, when many people would cook or eat a variety of different foods from around the world in attempt to bring an element of travel to their own home! Who said you need to travel far to be a culinary tourist, huh?

Food tourism is a vitally important component of the travel and tourism industry as a whole. When booking a trip, people tend to consider a variety of factors – and food is high on the list of priorities. The World Food Travel Association says that money spent on food and drink while travelling accounts for 15-35% of all tourism spending. Culinary tourism is important in that it generates so much money for local economies.

culinary tourism food tourism

Culinary tourism is also an important branch of tourism in that it can promote local businesses, as well as help to shine a light on different cuisines. For so many cultures, their cuisine is a huge part of who they are. Culinary tourism helps to celebrate this, by attracting interested tourists who are keen to try something new and share it with the world. In this way, it definitely helps to boost community pride and is a great example of cultural tourism .

This type of tourism is also important to tourists. It provides a chance to try new foods and flavours, and discover new cultures through their taste buds. Visitors who engage in food tourism come away with new recipes to try, new foods to introduce their friends to, and memories that they will always associate with their sense of taste.

There are many activities which come under the remit of culinary tourism, or food tourism. I mentioned some above, but let’s take a closer look.

  • Eating and drinking out: going to restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, tea shops and so on. These are all examples of culinary tourism. 
  • Food/beverage tours: you can book onto organised food and drink tours when visiting a new city. These are run by guides who will take you to various foodie spots throughout the city – usually small businesses – to try local delicacies.
  • Farmers markets: visiting a farmers market at the weekend to buy fresh produce is seen as a form of food tourism.
  • Cooking classes: another activity you can get involved with on your travels is a cooking or baking class. You’ll often make, again, a local delicacy whether that be pierogi in Poland or pasta in Italy . Tasting sessions: brewery tours and vineyard visits (and other similar excursions) where you get to take a look at how something is made and then try it for yourself are another form of culinary tourism.

Best cities for food tourism

Most cities, major or otherwise, have excellent examples of food tourism. In fact – this goes right down to tiny towns and villages, some of which have incredible restaurants or bars that are real hidden gems. Below you’ll find some of the world’s best cities for culinary tourism, however, with examples of the sort of thing you can do there!

culinary tourism food tourism

Thai food is some of the best food around, and Bangkok has a lot of restaurants suited to all budgets. Eating out in Bangkok is a brilliant example of culinary tourism. One of the best things you can do here is try the local street food! Wang Lang Market is one of the most popular places for street food, with fresh food filling the lanes from snacks to full-on meals. Silom Soi 20 is another great spot in central Bangkok, perfect for the morning.

Looking for somewhere really unique to eat in Bangkok? Head to Cabbages and Condoms , a themed cafe decorated with (you guessed it) condoms. The restaurant say they were ‘conceptualized in part to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA)’.

culinary tourism food tourism

Tokyo is a very popular city, and one of the best ways to experience food tourism here is to book onto a food tour. Tokyo Retro Bites is a fantastic one, giving you a feel of old-style Tokyo at the quaint Yanaka Market. This is a walking tour which includes drinks and 5 snacks, lasting 2 hours. It starts at 11.30am meaning it’s a great chance to have lunch somewhere a bit different!

food tourism word

This beautiful Hawaiian city has so many fun places to eat (and drink!) while visiting. One of the best things to do in terms of culinary tourism is to eat somewhere you wouldn’t be able to eat at home – and try new flavours or dishes. Honolulu is the perfect place to do this. Some interesting eateries include:

  • Lava Tube – based in Waikiki, this 60s-kitsch style bar offers pina coladas served in giant pineapples, $5 Mai Tais, delicious food and plenty of fun decor.
  • Suzy Wong’s Hideaway – this is described as a ‘dive bar with class’ and is a great bar to visit to watch sports games.
  • MW Restaurant – this is a really famous and creative place to eat in Honolulu – the mochi-crusted Kona Kanpachi comes highly recommended and helped shoot the chef, Wade Ueoka, to fame.

culinary tourism food tourism

Hailed as the world’s best food city, a list of places for food tourists to visit has to include Durban in South Africa . Bunny Chow is a local delicacy that you cannot miss while visiting Durban. It is now available elsewhere, but the original is usually the best so be sure to try some while in the city. The dish is half a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with curry – delicious. This article shares 5 fantastic spots to get Bunny Chow in Durban !

food tourism word

As one of the culinary capitals of the US, New Orleans is incredibly popular with foodies. The city is a hotspot for food tourism, thanks to the various cultural roots here: Cajun, Creole and French. There is a whole range of tastes to try. You could spend your time here *just* eating and still not scratch the surface when it comes to the amazing restaurants, cafes and eateries in NOLA. Some foods you have to try include:

  • Po’boys: fried shrimp, generally, but sometimes beef or other seafood – served on a fresh crusty roll.
  • Gumbo : this is a stew, again usually containing seafood, alongside bell peppers, onion and celery.
  • Crawfish etouffee: a French crawfish stew served over rice.
  • Muffuletta: a Silician-American sandwich served on a specific type of bread.
  • Side note, you can do a haunted pub crawl in NOLA . Would you?!

culinary tourism food tourism

Being split across two continents, it is no surprise that Istanbul as a city has a huge range of delicious food-related activities. From kebabs sold on the street to 5 star restaurants serving the finest hummus, Istanbul is a fantastic destination for food tourism. Book onto the ‘Two Markets, Two Continents’ tour – you’ll visit two markets, as the name suggests, on the two continents. The tour includes a Bosphorus ferry crossing between the two districts of Karaköy (Europe) and Kadiköy (Asia). You’ll enjoy breakfast, tea and coffee, meze, dessert and so much more during this 6.5 hour tour .

food tourism word

The city of love – and the city of bakeries! Fresh baguettes, simple croissants, delicious eclairs… the list goes on. There are so many of them dotted around, whether you want something to grab and snack on while you head to the Eiffel Tower or if you want a sit down brunch, you’ll find one that suits you perfectly.

And that’s not all. Paris, also famous for its snails, soups and frogs legs, has so many fine dining opportunities. You’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of Michelin star restaurants: Boutary, ASPIC, 114 Fauborg and so many more. There are also some fantastic food tours in Paris . If you have the cash to splash out, fine dining in Paris is a brilliant culinary tourism activity…

culinary tourism food tourism

Moroccan food is delicious. And you can try making it yourself during a cooking class in Marrakech ! Visit a traditional souk and try your hand at some tasty recipes – you never know, you might have a hidden talent. Some tours even include shopping for ingredients, so you can visit a traditional market too; these are a sensory dream with so many smells, colours, sounds and sights.

food tourism word

India is another country where street food is king. Mumbai has plenty to offer, and one culinary tourism activity you can do is to spend an afternoon trying as many dishes as possible while simply wandering through the city. If you’ve never tried a vada pav before, this is the place to do so: it’s essentially deep fried mashed potato in a bun with various chutneys, and it is exquisite. Many people are surprised to learn that one of the most popular British foods – chicken tikka masala is not commonly found in India, but fear not, there are many other dishes that are just as goods or if not better!

culinary tourism food tourism

Miami is known for its food – and Cuban food is a big deal here. Take a traditional Cuban cooking class , or head to one of the many, many Cuban restaurants here . There is something for every budget, and your tastebuds will certainly thank you. It is also close to Key West, a wonderful place to visit for a day or two. They’re big on sea food here, and walking tours which incorporate seafood are high on the list of recommended things to do in beautiful Key West.

culinary tourism food tourism

You cannot go to Rio and not try cahaça. This is Brazilian brandy made from sugar canes, and it is a big deal over here. Culinary tourism isn’t limited to food – it includes drink too, so head to one of Rio’s many bars and try a caipirinha. You can even book an organised pub crawl , which includes free shots and drinks, around the city. This is perfect if you want to explore at night knowing you’ll be safe and always have transport on hand.

culinary tourism food tourism

Peking duck is the highlight of Beijing food. Quanjuede is world-famous for its Peking duck, and it’s not too expensive. There are branches worldwide now, though, and much of culinary tourism is about experiencing something you won’t be able to elsewhere. Speak to the locals when you’re there and ask where their favourite place is for Peking duck. That way you’ll know you are supporting a great local business; as mentioned, food tourism is great for boosting the economy this way!

If you have enjoyed this article about culinary tourism, or food tourism, then I am sure that you will love these too!

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Food Tourism, a tasty way to travel

Food tourism is a relatively new term, but there are already several definitions to describe it. In the same context, it is also common to find the terms Culinary Tourism and Gastronomy Tourism .

At Food’n Road, we define Food Tourism as activities that provide experiences of consumption and appreciation of food and beverages , presented in such a way that values the history, the culture, and the environment of a particular region.

Explore the cuisine beyond the plate

Exploring different cuisines has always been associated with moments of leisure and travel, but the concept of food tourism has recently evolved to encompass activities beyond the plate. These are tourist and entertainment activities that place culinary traditions as a pillar of regional identity and cultural heritage and value the relationship between food and society.

And this change is great, as it creates the possibility for people to approach food at different levels of the value chain and learn from those who produce it. In this way, it is possible to expand economic development to different layers of society and offer more personal and authentic experiences to the traveler .

a rural food tour in a black pepper plantation in Cambodia

Activities of Food Tourism

Food tourism is much more than a list of restaurants or only high-cost activities with refined gourmet perception. It is also not focused only on agritourism. Nor does it require distant travels. It is related to all activities that use food as a means of connection between people, places, and time .

Food tourism is composed of activities that provide experiences of consumption and appreciation of food and beverages, presented in such a way that values the history, the culture, and the environment of a particular region. Food’n Road

Examples of Food Tourism activities:

  • Take a street food tour;
  • Tasting of local dishes and beverages;
  • Follow regional product routes (e.g., travel on wine or coffee routes);
  • Eat at traditional restaurants;
  • Share meals with local people;
  • Participate in food events and festivals;
  • Visit local markets;
  • Learn about the production of food by visiting farms and artisan producers;
  • Participate in cooking classes;
  • Visit exhibitions that explain the history of local cuisine;
  • Culinary expeditions with chefs and specialists.

Food Tourism at rice fields in Bali during a trip in Indonesia

The list is huge, and there are several models of gastronomy-related activities. It is a creative market because it embraces different representatives of the food, beverage, and hospitality industry. We are talking about: restaurants, farms, markets, artisan producers, hotels and hostels, street food vendors, chefs, galleries, and everything related.

Read more: The main types of activities in food tourism

What are the benefits of Food Tourism and why we support it!

Food tourism with a focus on cultural immersion is a strong ally for economic and social development , in addition to being unique and memorable for the traveler .

When done in the right way, food tourism, built together with the local community and respecting its identity, is a tool for changing two scenarios: the negative impacts of tourism (we explain better below) and the detachment between people and real food.

Food Tourism is related to all activities that use food as a means of connection between people, places and time. Food’n Road

Tourism is not always associated with sustainable development. Many destinations are experiencing difficulties with regional and seasonal asymmetries. In other cases, local communities have been affected by massive tourism through gentrification, rising prices, and often attracting tourists with little awareness of their behavior and demands on the local community.

The scenario is quite different with a type of tourism that motivates people to know the countryside, diversified with food seasonality, and attracting people who seek to understand and relate in a more personal and  respectful way to the local culture .

Read more about the benefits of Food Tourism

To strengthen this type of tourism, is it necessary to connect people in a more integrated way with the destination, and food does it very well!

At Food’n Road, we want to be agents of change, engage people to reflect about food beyond the plate, and contribute to responsible tourism development. We believe that every reflection starts with reliable information and is intensified with good experiences. Thus, food tourism is an excellent tool to initiate this change.

Did you like the idea? So find out now how to make a Food Trip !

harvesting lettuce during a tour around the Spanish rural gardens in Valencia as part of food tourism

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What is Food Tourism?

Food Experiences

Published: 22 Jun 2022

The definition of the words ‘ Food Tourism ’ is about looking at various local cuisines related to travel. However, it's much more than that, with food and drink tours giving the travellers wider food experiences.

Basically, gastronomy-wise, you can look at food in a different way whilst travelling to different places. Gaining a sense of the people, the culture and the cuisine along the way.

People’s interest in what to eat is increasing a lot, which in turn, is transforming food tourism into an innovative global trend. Providing a holiday that concentrates on giving an authentic foodie experience based around food and drink, rather than purely sightseeing.

Culinary tourism refers to "any tourism experience in which one learns about, appreciates, and samples food and drink that reflects the heritage, culture, and tradition."

Food Tourism and Social Media

Social media plays a vital role in building enthusiasm and a passion for food experiences. Therefore, food tourism is very popular among foodies who share their food experiences on social media sites. Especially when it comes to sites such as posting photos on Instagram or promoting a blog via Twitter.

Food bloggers can be found all over the world, sharing food and drink experiences their online followers. These can be anything from fine dining restaurants to market stalls, beer festivals, cooking class, workshops and food tours.

The ultimate goal of food tourism is to teach and stimulate food and wine enthusiasts throughout their experience. During which, giving the visitor a perfect way to explore the local region while learning all about the local cuisine, cooking methods and food history.

Travellers can enjoy so many different and unusual culinary tours and holidays all around the world.

Food and Drink Experiences

There is a huge range of experiences related to eating and cooking. Such as food and wine sampling, wine-making and cooking workshops. In addition, there are celebrated dates and special culinary weeks in different cities around the world. All with specific dining events, well-known chefs and food experts, as well as cooking classes and competitions.

There are lots of food-related activities that attract food tourists. Such as dining with local people for an authentic experience. One of which, is to be welcomed into the family unit for a chance to enjoy a traditional home-cooked dinner. An activity that is fast becoming more and more popular among travellers around the world.

Enjoying a street food tour with a local guide will help you to discover the true culture of the place you are visiting. Most street food tours are on foot, giving you the opportunity to explore the area along the way, passing stunning architecture and historical sites.

Holiday destinations can attract food tourism, by offering tourists the opportunity to enjoy local food in old-style settings. With authentic restaurants, food halls and street vendors using traditional cooking methods and ingredients.

Every city, town or village, will have a unique story that relates to the local beliefs, people and cuisine that can be shared with tourists. These stories are a great ethos for promoting unique travel experiences.

Celebrity Chefs

Another strategy that is always a winner, is to provide food experiences constructed by celebrity chefs. This may include culinary workshops, appearances at food festivals, or even hiring a celebrity chef for your private dinner party.

Whether your holiday is sunbathing along the coast or hiking in the hills and mountains, swimming in the lakes or a cultural experience visiting museums, you still need to eat! Great food makes your holiday so much better. Enjoying a delicious meal is so much than just satisfying hunger.

Tourists who are after weekend breaks, beach holidays and countryside hikes, are often wanting food experiences to add to their trip. Hence tour operators marketing a culinary traveller.

Of course, eating out is not the only way to experience the food on holiday. There are local, colourful food markets, wine vineyards and fruit picking. With a combination of sampling food and hearing the local stories, strengthens the culture and distinctiveness of a place. Therefore, the budding gourmet traveller can get a real insight into a place’s history, customs and culture.

Enjoying a food tour on your holiday is something you can do at any age and regardless of any culinary diet. Plus when the tour includes local history, it feels like you’ve also done something ‘cultural’. Taking a food tour is such a great way to get introduced to the city and its people.

With the increasing popularity of cooking shows, food tourism has become an exciting reason to travel. Excellent chefs are actually artists who use everyday ingredients and concoct mouth-watering dishes.

These chefs become so popular that overnight they can become nationwide household names, with famous restaurants and long waiting lists.

Food and Drink Experiences with

So, to sum it all up - culinary tourism is about travelling somewhere different to seek out gorgeous food that reflects the local cuisine and culture.

The more you decide to travel, the wider the range of food experiences will be. Food tourism doesn't always mean luxurious dining, but more about eating daringly to search out new gastronomic experiences.

Book food experiences online and in confidence with .

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The New Era of Food Tourism: Trends and Best Practices for Stakeholders

The New Era of Food Tourism: Trends and Best Practices for Stakeholders

Related reports.

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  • Destination Marketing Outlook 2022 January 2022
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Report Overview

Over the past few years, food tourism has been a buzzy trend in the travel industry. Not only is it appealing to a large population of travelers, but it also has the potential to boost in-destination spending, and therefore, positively benefit local economies and small businesses. Despite the buzz, the conversation around food tourism has hardly changed since it first started to spread years ago. Not to mention, there is still some confusion about what food tourism really is and how destinations and other stakeholders can get involved.

In this report, we focus on addressing four questions under the food tourism umbrella: How big and important is the food tourism market? What are the new trends related to food tourism? Who should be be involved in and benefit from food tourism? What are the best practices for various stakeholders? We attempt to answer these questions drawing from the second, expanded iteration of our proprietary food tourism consumer survey. Then, we turn toward breaking down the new definition of food tourism into five components, drawing mostly from a number of in-depth interviews with industry stakeholders and experts. These perspectives then contribute to the final section of the report, in which we have identified 10 best practices for food tourism stakeholders.

Survey Methodology:

Skift Research’s Food Tourism Survey 2019 collected responses from 2,000 respondents who live in the U.S. The survey was fielded to internet users age 18 and over. Respondents were asked whether they’ve taken a leisure trip in the past 12 months that included at least one-night’s paid stay and was 50 miles or more from home. We refer to this group as “recent travelers” (N=1,373) to compare to the total population (“all respondents”, N=2,000). The survey was fielded by a trusted third-party consumer panel provider.

What You'll Learn From This Report

  • What food tourism means and how it has evolved over time
  • Who the stakeholders are in food tourism
  • A comprehensive look at who food tourists are today, how they behave, and what they prefer
  • Skift Research estimates for food and beverage expenditure by U.S. travelers
  • Size of U.S. food tourist population
  • The kinds of food and beverage based activities food tourists are most likely to participate in
  • The percentage of food tourists who have taken a vacation with a food and beverage experience as the main purpose for the trip
  • A five-part breakdown of the new definition of food tourism
  • 10 best practices for food tourism stakeholders today

Executives Interviewed

  • Benjamin Ozsanay - CEO & Co-Founder, Cookly
  • Camille Rumani - COO & Co-Founder, Eatwith
  • Didier Souillat - CEO, Time Out Market
  • Erik Wolf - Executive Director, World Food Travel Association
  • Helena Williams, Ph.D. - Researcher, Tourism & Hospitality, Texas Tech University and CEO, Gastro Gatherings
  • James Imbriani - Founder, Sapore Travel
  • Javier Perez-Palencia - CEO and Chair of the Board, FIBEGA Miami 2019 International Gastronomy Tourism Fair
  • Joanne Wolnik - Tourism Development Manager, Ontario’s Southwest
  • Michael Ellis - Chief Culinary Officer, Jumeirah Group
  • Robert Williams, Jr. PhD. - Susquehanna University and Senior Partner, Mar-Kadam Associates
  • Trevor Jonas Benson - Director of Food Tourism Innovation and lead consultant, Grow Food Tourism at the Culinary Tourism Alliance

Executive Summary

In 2016, Skift Research published a report called Food Tourism Strategies to Drive Destination Spending . This was at a time when “food tourism” was taking off as a buzzy trend in the travel industry. Now, almost three years later, we’re taking a look at where food tourism is today, how it’s changed, and best practices for stakeholders.

Food tourism is often approached with the destination in mind, as Skift Research did in 2016, and developing and promoting it is often cast off as the sole responsibility of destination marketing organizations (DMOs) or regional tourism offices (RTOs). Clearly, these organizations have important roles to play, but they don’t exist alone when it comes to food tourism. In the new era of food tourism, many stakeholders have the opportunity to help develop, promote, and eventually benefit from this type of tourism.

In this report, we lay out what food tourism is today and how it has changed from years past. We build this definition from an in-depth understanding of who food tourists are today, drawing from the second, expanded iteration of our proprietary food tourism consumer survey. After providing a comprehensive look at the consumer side of the equation, we turn toward breaking down the new definition of food tourism into five components, drawing mostly from a number of in-depth interviews with industry stakeholders and experts. These perspectives then contribute to the final section of the report, in which we have identified 10 best practices for food tourism stakeholders.

Food Tourism Demystified and Defined


These are a few commonly used terms that encompass food and beverage tourism experiences:

  • Culinary tourism: Some sources prefer using this term because it more clearly encompasses beverage-based experiences in addition to food-based.
  • Gastronomy tourism: Similarly to “culinary tourism,” some sources prefer this term because of its all-encompassing connotation. This term is most commonly used in Europe.
  • Food tourism: As of 2012, the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) began using the term “food tourism” or “food travel” to describe “the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place,” or put differently, “the act of traveling to experience unique food and beverage products and experiences.” Rather than the type of experience being the differentiator, what matters is the uniqueness of the experience itself and how it is particular to the destination.

For this report, we will follow the lead of the WFTA, which stopped using “culinary tourism” in 2012 when its research indicated that English speakers tend to associate this term with exclusivity and elitism, neither of which should be inherent to food tourism. “Gastronomy tourism” can also be interpreted this way, especially to English speakers outside of Europe. For these reasons, we chose to stick with food tourism, as we believe it better reflects the variety of food- and beverage-based travel experiences we will discuss in this report.

So then what counts as food tourism? This is where the lines can get blurry. Almost all tourists need to eat at an eating place while traveling, so almost all contribute to the local food economy in some way. Broadly speaking, these can all be counted as food tourism.

A bit narrower than that, some sources define food tourism as food and drinking activities that are unique to a region/destination and include aspects beyond simply eating or drinking. With this in mind, food tourism experiences most commonly include cooking classes with locals, food and drink tastings, having meals in locals’ homes, eating at local restaurants or street food vendors, food and drink tours and trails, collecting ingredients or participating in harvesting local produce, visiting farms or other types of food producers, visiting food markets or fairs, and visiting food manufacturers such as distilleries, factories, and wineries.

An even narrower scope through which to look at food tourism is whether it is deliberate food tourism or incidental food tourism. Deliberate food tourism only includes food and drinking activities that are the main motivator for a traveler to go to a destination, while incidental are those that travelers participate in, but were not the main purpose of the trip. We will discuss these terms in more detail from the consumer perspective later in the report.

Each of the above ways of describing food and beverage related tourism is correct. Variations in data on food tourism can often be due to different definitions and scopes used for the research. Later in this report, we will provide data on these three ways of counting food tourism.


Another important part of food tourism to mention here is the variety of stakeholders that are involved. Developing and promoting food tourism is often discussed as responsibilities of destination marketing organizations (DMOs) or regional tourism offices (RTOs). However, this report will emphasize that there are multiple stakeholders that can, and should, have a part in building and participating in a region’s food tourism space. Of course, DMOs and RTOs can and should play important organizational and planning roles, but tour providers and operators, traditional travel agencies, online travel agencies and booking platforms, peer-to-peer platforms, hotels, local restaurateurs, and more have the opportunity for involvement in food tourism.

While this lays out the basic elements of food tourism that we’ve built this report around, it’s very likely that we will need to revisit what we’ve summarized in the near future. The term, scope, and even stakeholders will constantly evolve as destinations, cultures, and trends change over time. Later in this report, we will examine the nuances of what defines the new era of food tourism that exists today compared with a few years ago. But first, we will take a look at the current state of the food tourism space for context.

The State of Food Tourism Today

Food tourism is a lucrative market.

Just how big is the food tourism market? As we laid out above, there are three ways to size up the food tourism market. In the broadest sense, it includes all food and drink based activities that travelers partake in, whether it’s eating at a chain restaurant, taking a food tour, or visiting a local brewery.

To get a sense of food tourism’s contribution to local food economies in this broad sense, Skift Research looked at all food and beverage expenditure by U.S. travelers for domestic and international travel. We analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey to determine how much money American travelers actually spend on food and drink while traveling. While this data includes spending on all food and drink while traveling (i.e. not just the local, unique experiences that many consider “food tourism”), it nonetheless gives us an idea of the potential economic impact food tourists can have and how it has changed over time.

Our estimates show that U.S. travelers spent $58 billion on food and drink while traveling in 2017 (the last year for which data was available at the time of writing). This represents a 5.8% compound annual growth rate from 2012.

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To look at this another way, we calculated the share of total travel expenditures spent on food and beverage by U.S. travelers. Here, we see an overall upward trend from 2012 to about 25%, where it has more or less hovered since 2015. This falls in line with the WFTA’s estimate from its 2016 Food Travel Monitor that global travelers spent about 25% of their travel budget on food and beverages, and this can be as high as 35% in certain destinations or for especially food-centric travelers

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We then turn our attention to a narrower, more local scope of food tourism. While researching for this report, we found that despite the rising popularity and interest in food tourism across many related sectors, there is very little data on a clearly defined food tourism segment. We conducted our own survey for the purpose of providing some necessary context to the trends.

According to our food tourism survey, 96% of respondents have participated in some kind of experience that would fall under this slightly narrower food tourism umbrella (i.e., dining out at restaurants that serve local cuisine is included). This increases slightly to 98% for those respondents who have traveled for leisure in the past 12 months, who we call “recent travelers.” This falls in line with the WFTA’s 2016 Food Travel Monitor finding that 93% of travelers could be considered “food travelers” at some time, based on their participation in food or beverage experiences. This estimation, however, does not include travelers who only dine out in-destination.

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For more nuance, the chart below shows the type of food and/or drink related experiences that our respondents have participated in while traveling, divided again by recent travelers and the average for all respondents. Unsurprisingly, most respondents have dined out at a restaurant that serves local food while traveling, with about 80% of recent travelers reporting this.

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Next, we focus in on the narrowest scope of food tourism. We asked our respondents whether they’ve ever gone on vacation with a food and/or drink related travel experience as the main purpose of the trip. Among all respondents, one-third responded that they have. For respondents who have traveled in the last 12 months, 42% said so. This is a very significant number for relevant stakeholders who work to use food experiences to attract tourists.

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When looking at the specific types of experiences that these travelers planned their trips around, wine tasting claims the first spot, with 52% of respondents saying they’ve gone on trips with that activity as the main purpose. We will discuss more details later in the report.

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Food Tourism Experiences Grow in Popularity

Food and drink experiences have long been an important part of travel. However, food tourism is reaching new levels of popularity and is manifesting in more exciting ways than ever. Data from TripAdvisor , for example, showed that food tours and cooking classes were among the top-five fastest growing tour categories in 2017, each with 57% bookings’ growth on the platform. Food tours also saw the most growth by gross booking value that year.

Food and drink-related activities also show high levels of popularity on Airbnb’s Experiences platform. According to an Airbnb spokesperson Skift Research spoke with in February 2018 for our report The State of Tours and Activities 2018 , bookings of these types of Experiences accounted for around 29% of the platform’s total bookings at the time.

Not only are bookings of food tourism experiences growing, but there are also signs that traveler satisfaction with them is high. TripAdvisor recently released the winners of its 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards, which includes awards for experiences listed on its platform. The winners are determined using an algorithm that takes into account a business’s reviews, opinions, and popularity with travelers over the last year. On the list of the Top 25 Experiences in the World , seven of those selected are either entirely food based, or include a unique, local food portion within the experience. The number one spot, in fact, was taken by an entirely food-based experience: a cooking class and lunch at a Tuscan farmhouse which includes a tour of a local market in Florence.

The Rise of Niche, Food- and Beverage-Related Businesses

Outside of food tourism experiences designed purely for travelers, we see growth in other food- and beverage-related businesses. In Skift Research’s 2016 report Food Tourism Strategies to Drive Destination Spending , we called out the “rise of beer, spirits, and coffee tourism.” This trend was largely being driven by the explosive growth of craft breweries at the time. Since then, this growth has slowed, but still remains steady, with small and independent craft brewers maintaining 5% growth in the first half of 2018 in the U.S. according to the Brewers Association , showing that the demand is still there.

Food halls are another niche, local food- and beverage-related business type that is undergoing huge growth currently. Cushman & Wakefield, one of the largest U.S. commercial real estate brokers, has been tracking food hall development in the U.S. since 2015. In that year, it noted 70 projects. By the year’s end in 2017, this number went up to 118 and was expected to reach 180 by the end of 2018. The firm estimates that there will be 300 food halls in the U.S. by the end of 2020.

The growth of craft breweries and food halls may not be entirely due to the rise of food tourism, as many locals also enjoy these venues. However, it is safe to say that the same interests that are driving food tourism are contributing to the growth of these types of businesses. Craft breweries, food halls, and the like also become attractions in and of themselves, thereby also contributing back to the rise in food tourism.

Industry Sentiment About Food Tourism Today

Clearly, food tourism deserves our attention. Stakeholders in the space agree. According to a survey of DMOs, educational institutions, marketing and consultancy firms, accommodation providers, the meetings industry, food and beverage providers, and wineries in the UNWTO’s Second Report on Gastronomy Tourism , the majority of respondents agree that gastronomy is a driving force for tourism development (with an average of 8.19 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is “strongly agree”).

Even so, many respondents to this survey didn’t feel that their marketing efforts in this area were adequate. For example, while 70% of respondents said they have targeted food tourists as a specific market segment, only 10% think that this segment receives enough promotion in the destination. Further, just 46.5% report that they have a food tourism strategy in place, while just under 25% say they allocate budget specifically for attracting food tourists. These survey results emphasize the need for all stakeholders to contribute toward developing and promoting the food tourism in a region. We will discuss this more later in the report.

Who Are Food Tourists Today?

Because food tourism activities vary so much, it’s difficult to say exactly who food tourists are from a demographic perspective, as it varies so much depending on the activity. From our own survey, we found that Millennials and young Gen Xers make up the majority of our U.S.-based respondents who have ever participated in a food tourism experience other than dining out at chain restaurants. The age distribution is the same for food tourists who have traveled in the past 12 months.

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Today’s Food Tourists Are Curious and Crave Unique Experiences

Throughout our interviews with food tourism stakeholders, we heard the theme that food tourists are curious people who desire unique experiences that revolve around food. Camille Rumani is the COO and co-founder of Eatwith, a peer-to-peer app that connects travelers and locals around food experiences in 130 countries. She describes the guests who use Eatwith as “People who, for example … want to get off the beaten path, I would say, do something that is a bit different, but also have the feeling, they don’t want to be a tourist. … they will also value the fact that it’s not the same thing that they’re doing as anyone else.”

Joanne Wolnik, tour development manager for the regional tourism office, Ontario’s Southwest, echoed these sentiments when describing the typical food tourists in her region: “It’s people that are curious, people that have an appetite to learn new things. This is the same whether they’re coming for a tasting experience or their coming to make chocolate truffles, it’s people that want to learn.”

Today’s Food Tourists Aren’t All “Foodies” or “Gourmets”

It is easy to make the mistake of conflating food tourists with foodies, but today, these two groups don’t fully overlap. A study by Fogelson & Co. , a food brand strategy and marketing agency, articulated the larger trend of moving away from using “foodie” to describe people who have a deep connection to food. The study explains that “foodie” used to depict a niche minority, but a deep interest in food is now mainstream. Further, it argues that a “foodie” is often thought of as being a person who is in “some sort of exclusive gourmand group of hyper-passionate food people,” when in fact, this is not the case for many consumers who feel connected to food.

To compensate for this disconnect, Fogelson & Co. recommends a new consumer category: the “food connected consumer.” This group views cooking and eating as fun experiences and as opportunities to explore. In fact, 63% of these surveyed consumers reported that they love to travel.

This distinction between the traditional “foodie” group and the new “food-connected consumer” is important when thinking about building and promoting food tourism. Trevor Jonas Benson, director of food tourism innovation and lead consultant for Grow Food Tourism at the Culinary Tourism Alliance, explained that he has observed the success of destinations that look beyond foodies. “No longer are destinations concentrating on a very small percentage, hyper-niche market of foodies and gastronomic interested people … but they’re starting to understand that any and all experiences can often be enhanced through food and drink.”

Our survey results further illustrate this point. We asked respondents which category of food and/or drink related activity is most appealing to them when traveling. The results show that the often more casual categories of “Markets, festivals, and speciality grocers” was selected the most, followed by the also casual category of “Gastropubs, burgers, and beer,” while “Gourmet, upscale, classic” falls to the fifth position among all respondents.

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We asked a variation of this question for our 2016 report, Food Tourism Strategies to Drive Destination Spending , and similar trends were observed. However, “Gastropubs, burgers, beer” took the top spot then, and “Gourmet, upscale, classic” ranked one spot higher (please note, however, that respondents were not given “Other” or “None” options in 2016).

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Still, the point remains, that while food tourism can be upscale and gourmet, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, more people prefer more casual types of experiences.

Today’s Food Tourists Can Be Divided into Two Main Groups: Deliberate and Incidental

A common way to segment food tourists is based on whether food and/or drink related experiences are their main motivation for travel or not. These groups are often referred to as “deliberate food tourists” and “incidental food tourists.” Skift Research spoke with Helena and Robert Williams, Ph.D.’s, researchers and academics with expertise in food tourism. They have researched the differences between deliberate and incidental food tourists extensively. Helena explained that deliberate food tourists will plan out their trips for weeks to include as many food experiences as possible, or a few of the most interesting ones: “They’re thinking about the food related experiences, not what restaurant they’ll eat in but can they go to a cooking class, can they go to a plantation, can they go to a winery, will there be some other cultural experiential thing they’ll learn about.”

Incidental food tourists, on the other hand, would still likely fall into the “food connected consumer” group we discussed above, but they are traveling for another reason, such as to visit friends or family, go to a conference, etc. Because they still appreciate food though, they will look for any free time they have to fit in food and/or drink related experiences.

Distinguishing between deliberate and incidental groups is important for food tourism stakeholders looking to develop and promote themselves to “food tourists” because they are likely to be interested in slightly different kinds of experiences and also need to be targeted in different ways and at different times in their journey.

The data below (which we discussed as Exhibit 4 above), for example, shows that the most common food and/or drink related travel experiences are those that have the option to be planned well in advance, but are also commonly done spontaneously (dining out at a restaurant that serves local food and visiting a local food retailer). In other words, these are experiences that are appealing to both deliberate and incidental food tourists. Those that require more pre-planning tend to fall toward the bottom of the list (cooking class, food tour).

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The popularity of these experience types changes when we look at those that were the main purpose of a vacation. Wine tasting moves to the top spot and food tours is the fourth-most common experience type that travelers have planned trips for specifically.

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Joanne Wolnik of Ontario’s Southwest described how her organization uses this type of distinction when developing food tourism in the region. She explained that her team not only works to make sure that there are local, exciting options for tourists who are looking to dine out, but also that there are plenty of reasons for deliberate food tourists to make a trip to the region as well. “This is the side that we are really trying to grow. We’ve got awesome people that are here already doing really cool things … so we are building reasons for people to travel for food specifically.”

Today’s Food Tourists Often Plan Their Trips Around Food

Whether they’re incidental or deliberate, food tourists today are more commonly choosing destinations at least in part because of their food offerings, even if this is not the main purpose of a trip. They are also often planning other parts of their trips around food and drink experiences. As Camille Rumani of Eatwith explained, unique food offerings used to be a “nice to have. Now they [destinations] need to have that. People are really looking for it, and they also choose destinations more and more based on the food offerings.” Javier Perez-Palencia, CEO and chair of the board for the international food tourism festival FIBEGA Miami, summed this up by saying “Gastronomy is an attraction.”

Skift Research also spoke with Michael Ellis, Jumeirah Group’s chief culinary officer and former global director at Michelin Restaurant and Hotel Guides. From his experience in both roles, he has observed the emerging trend of travelers basically going on “gastronomic pilgrimages,” where they choose a destination like Copenhagen specifically to eat at Noma, or Madrid to eat at DiverXO. Even for incidental food tourists, it’s common for them to use the food experiences they do incorporate as starting points to plan their other activities. “Everything else will come from there,” he explained, “whether it’s shopping, or cultural, or sporting events, whatever they want to do. That will be organized around where they have their lunch or dinner reservations.”

An area’s food offerings are also an essential component food tourists consider when choosing accommodations. Robert Williams explained that it’s important for hotels to realize that this is becoming more common. “What hotels are beginning to do is instead of trying to be all inclusive, they realize that … some of their customers look for the food experience first … versus the other way where you pick the hotel in the location and then see what you can do while you’re there.”

Interestingly, the total trip expenditure of incidental food tourists might not vary that much from that of deliberate food tourists, despite their varying levels of motivation by food. This was something that Helena and Robert Williams found through their extensive research on the subject, a finding that Helena refers to as “one of the most profound things to come out of my research.” She explained that the spending by these two groups is pretty comparable, and that the spending of incidental food tourists, “if not equal, it’s more than the deliberate traveler because they’re already there for some other reason and their time is more compressed, but they still want these wonderful experiences.” In a 2018 paper they published in the Journal of Gastronomy and Tourism with Jingxue (Jessica) Yuan, two surveys of self-identified food tourists revealed that 60% spent the most money on a deliberate food tourism trip, while 40% reported that it was an incidental trip. This research further emphasizes why both groups of food tourists are important to target and attract.

Defining the New Era of Food Tourism

Now that we have a better picture of who food tourists are today, we will focus on what food tourism is today beyond the general definition we discussed at the beginning of the report. It’s impossible for food tourism to remain static, as cultures, the environment, and consumer demands are in constant flux. Drawing mainly from our interviews with expert stakeholders, we’ve identified five key components that define the new era of food tourism. For each component, we’ve included relevant perspectives from stakeholders and case studies.

Food Tourism Is About More Than the Food Itself

The types of experiences that define the new era of food tourism are about more than just food or beverages. Our interviewees brought this up repeatedly in multiple ways. This is the biggest part of the new definition of food tourism and is multifaceted. Today, the food tourism experiences that best exemplify what food tourists want meet at least one of the following criteria: they overlap with other types of tourism (such as cultural tourism, historical tourism, agritourism, etc.), they have a hands-on learning aspect, and they are social.

  • DMO/RTO: Joanne Wolnik, of Ontario’s Southwest explained how her team divides experiences into three categories: culinary, waterfront, and significant events. She explained that “the main two are waterfront and culinary … but we’ve created a lens where [an experience] usually has to overlap with one of the other two. So culinary is quite a high priority.”
  • Travel Agency: James Imbriani, founder of the luxury food-themed tour company Sapore Travel, told Skift Research, “Destinations have a lot of things to offer other than just food and wine. Even if we plan something more historical, if we can tie in food, we like to try.”
  • Tour Platform/Operator: Camille Rumani of Eatwith explained that she has been seeing more experiences on the platform that are hosted in unique spaces, like art galleries, rooftops, and even an old London underground station. Looking forward, she foresees that people will become even interested in experiences with interest beyond food: “for example, dinner with a concert, or seeing a play at the same time, or integrating food and music. We see that becoming very, very popular.”
  • Case Study: Time Out Market Time Out Market was conceived by Time Out Group, best known for its city-specific online and print magazines that cover entertainment, events, and culture in global cities. The first market opened in Lisbon in 2014 and includes a selection of the best food and drink the city has to offer curated by Time Out editors and presented in a food hall type style. A repeated marketing message of the Time Out Market, however, is “this is more than just a food hall.” In addition to food vendors, the space also includes an academy where cooking classes are taught and a large studio space where concerts and other shows, fairs, conferences, and more are specially curated to represent the city as best as possible. “The magazine is all about food, beverage, chefs, art, culture, music, exhibitions, what’s hot in town now. So we’re bringing the magazine to life physically” said Didier Souillat, CEO of Time Out Market. With this strategy, Time Out Market Lisbon has become the number one tourist destination in the Portugal, and attracts locals as well. Beginning this year, new Time Out Markets will begin opening in other cities around the world and will mimic the mix of offerings in Lisbon, but with localized twists.The mix of offerings within a Time Out Market differentiates it, attracts people initially, and keeps them coming back. As a Time Out Market representative explained, “It’s not just dinner on a Thursday night. It’s dinner and a show, dinner and a reading, dinner and a cultural moment.”
  • DMO/RTO: Joanne Wolnik of Ontario’s Southwest told us, “The main thing about food tourism that I’m seeing is that people want something new to them, unique, they want to learn, and they want to go home with new skills. I’m hesitant to say the word transformational again, because I know that’s a little bit trendy right now so I’m being careful, but it’s a new way from them to engage in food and with food.”
  • Case Study: Ontario’s Southwest Joanne Wolnik shared some examples of food tourism experiences in Ontario’s Southwest region that illustrate this part of our definition perfectly. One experience is called The Sweetest Smell on Earth, which is run by a maple syrup harvester. The experience, which is offered a limited number of times, begins with a trip on a tractor to maple trees, where participants learn how to tap the tree, collect sap, and are taught historical information about the process. They then are taught how to make their own maple candies and they get to keep a bottle of their own syrup. Next, they’re served a meal by a local chef who incorporates maple into each dish.Wolnik explains that the hands-on, educational parts of this experience make it really resonate with participants: “ … they have bragging rights because they have their own bottle of maple syrup that they bottled themselves, they know how to use the product beyond just putting it on pancakes and waffles, and it really empowers them to use the product. So not only are they learning something new, but now when they go home, it’s changing their behaviors and their habits. So there is a transformational piece to it.”
  • Tour Platform/Operator: Social interaction is a key component of the peer-to-peer experiences available on Eatwith. Camille Rumani told us that this was one of the main motivators for starting the company. “We saw that because usually you’re a tourist when you’re traveling, it’s such a paradox to travel so easily nowadays in cities where millions of people are living, but you don’t actually meet anyone when you’re traveling to Barcelona and to New York. You’re usually wondering what’s behind the closed doors, and we wanted to facilitate this experience.”
  • Benjamin Ozsanay, CEO and co-founder of the cooking class platform Cookly, expressed similar sentiments: “Over time, we realized that our users and partners were looking for a connection. … This human connection was something we think is missing in ‘food tourism’ as it commonly perceived. We think it is much more than just trying the local street food or visiting the hottest new restaurant. It is about making a human connection across cultures … the essence of travel”
  • Case Study: TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards Top Experience in the World As we mentioned earlier in the report, the top experience in the world according TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers Choice Awards was a food-based experience called “Cooking Class and Lunch at a Tuscan Farmhouse with Local Market Tour from Florence.” The description of this experience on TripAdvisor gets right to the core of this part of our food tourism definition. It is described as a “hands-on experience,” where travelers can “explore cuisine in more depth than you would by simply eating in restaurants.” Traveler reviews praise the experience as “interactive,” “educational,” and “social.” They lauded that they “met some lovely people” and enjoyed “hearing about the history in addition to tasting the food.”

Food Tourism Emphasizes the Story Behind the Food

This part of the definition is very closely related to the previous point, in that food tourism experiences today shouldn’t be about just tasting food or beverages, but should go deeper. This aspect of food tourism is about cultures and communities authentically telling their stories through food as a way to attract and interact with tourists. As Trevor Jonas Benson of the Culinary Tourism Alliance described, “we’re seeing a return to the use of language such as ‘authenticity,’ which is really indicative of destinations and communities starting to reclaim what it is that makes them special.”

Food is perhaps one of the easiest ways for people to share something that reflects themselves, their city or region, or their culture. In the words of Camille Rumani of Eatwith “food really reflects the DNA and the soul, I would say of a culture, and basically of people.”

The importance of this aspect of food tourism today is obvious just by looking at the ways food tourism companies describe themselves. Among our interviewees, for example, Benjamin Ozsanay of Cookly described the company this way: “We cultivate a community of users with a love of food, who want to learn about different cultures through local recipes and cooking traditions.” James Imbriani of Sapore Travel also emphasized that his company creates “meaningful, cultural exchanges through food and gastronomy,” and that this is what food tourism should be at its essence.

  • Case Study: Cookly In addition to incorporating more of the story behind the food into food and drink related experiences, this part of our definition can also be translated through marketing and branding. Cookly, a platform that connects food loving travelers with food professionals for cooking classes serves as a case study of this. The platform recently changed its logo from a chef’s hat to a mortar and pestle. While the company’s founders originally envisioned connecting travelers with cooking schools, CEO & Co-Founder Bejamin Ozsanay explained, “over time, we realized that our users were looking for more of a connection with the food, culture, and local traditions of a place. The mission was not just about taking a cooking class on your trip, but immersing yourself in the local community and sharing knowledge about the world. Our new mortar and pestle logo reflects our brand’s evolution.”

Food Tourism Is Conscious and Thoughtful

Conscious consumption is permeating throughout many industries, and travel and food tourism aren’t immune. In fact, the new era of food tourism is defined by its conscious and thoughtful nature. The best food and drink experiences for travelers today consider environmental sustainability as well as community and economic impact. This is especially important in developing destinations with fragile ecosystems. Sharing culture and interacting with travelers is beneficial to locals, but without care for the environment and a direct economic impact, these things are meaningless.

  • Travel Agency: James Imbriani of Sapore Travel explained how conscious consumption has impacted food tourism: “Also we’ve seen the shift in mindset, even when it comes to the food you’re cooking and eating at home, where people care a little bit more about where their food came from, the processes behind them, how they’re made, the care and love producers put into their products, as opposed to just blindly consuming things. We’ve seen that people are more willing to travel to find these things out, and for me that’s exciting.”
  • DMO/RTO: Joanne Wolnik and her team at Ontario’s Southwest aim for economic, social, and environmental benefit as a result of food tourism experiences in the region: “We don’t want to devalue what our operators and artisans and all of our partners are bringing to the table, because ultimately, the whole point of tourism should be the benefit that the travelers bring to the local community both economically and socially, and we strive for environmentally as well.”
  • Hotel: Michael Ellis of Jumeirah Group is highly aware of the desire food connected travelers have for local products: “People want to, wherever they are, they want to eat like locals, they want to have a local experience. They want to have locally grown products. They want to have ingredients that, if possible, come from not too far away from where they’re being consumed.” The challenge here is that most of Jumeirah’s hotels are in desert environments, like Dubai. “… there’s not a whole lot that’s produced here. Most things are imported,” he explained. Even so, Ellis sees this as a challenge worth overcoming. “But, having said that, we are in the process now of identifying local producers for a wide variety of products including organically grown vegetables and poultry and eggs. … we are really excited about our ability to bring locally, organically produced, sustainably developed products into our restaurants.”
  • Ensuring that food and drink travel experiences — whether it’s a food tour, a meal at a hotel, etc. — are conscious and thoughtful about the local environment and communities might present some initial challenges. But, in the end, they can be the deciding factor for food connected travelers, especially those who are millennials and younger. Research by tour operator Intrepid Traveler found that 90% of millennials consider a travel company’s ethical commitments when booking, and Gen Z is already showing signs of being conscious consumers. A study by McKinsey found that 65% of Gen Zers try to learn the origins of anything they buy and 80% won’t buy products from companies that have been involved in scandals. As these groups continue to become a larger share of the travel market, we can anticipate that this part of food tourism will grow in importance.
  • Case Study: Feast On by Culinary Tourism Alliance The Feast On certification program was launched by the Culinary Tourism Alliance in 2015. Skift Research discussed the program in our 2016 report . Its growth and success since then warrant us to revisit it as a case study now. The program works mostly with restaurants, and also commodity groups and local producers, to verify that they are buying and celebrating food local to the Ontario area.
  • Participants who meet the stated criteria pay a small fee and in return “we celebrate them through many different ways: through communication, through events, etc.” explained Trevor Jonas Benson who helped create the program. This program is one example of how food and beverage businesses can convey to locals and tourists alike that they approach food with their communities in mind. As the program’s website expresses: “Supporting our local economy and Ontario’s farmers is important; especially for the food service industry. It builds our local food identity, it puts dollars back into our communities and it limits our environmental impact.”
  • As of September 30, 2018 the program has certified 137 restaurants, up from the 120 cited in our 2016 report. Perhaps the best way to measure the success of the program is by the expenditure of its participants on local Ontario food purchases, which all are required to report. In 2018, this number totaled $25,140,000 up from the approximately $15,000,000 cited in 2016. This is all money that is staying in the local region and going directly into the communities these businesses are a part of.

Food Tourism Can Promote Exploration Outside of Main Areas and Attractions

One way for food tourism experiences to be conscious and thoughtful to the environment and local communities is to encourage exploration outside of main areas and attractions in a destination. This is something that food tourism is already doing and we expect it will become an even more important part of these experiences in the future.

The size of the current and potential food tourism market is a bit of a double-edged sword. Erik Wolf, CEO of the World Food Travel Association explained, “This can be great news to destinations that are willing to plan carefully for success, but it also can add fuel to the overtourism fire in popular food-centric cities like Portland, Oregon and Barcelona, Spain.”

Encouraging tourists to get outside of the main areas of a destination doesn’t only benefit the local community, it’s also something that more and more food tourists are desiring. Benjamin Ozsanay of Cookly attributes this to the “exploding popularity of travel-culture-food shows like No Reservations, Parts Unknown, and Salt Fat Acid Heat [that] has thrust culinary tourism into the mainstream and we have seen increasing numbers of travelers across all markets searching for similar experiences.”

  • Travel Agency: Getting tourists outside of main areas and attractions has benefits beyond easing overtourism. These are the types of experiences food travelers want and they can also be a benefit businesswise. At Sapore Travel, James Imbriani and his team like “to focus on destinations that are a little less typical when it comes what you generally think about in culinary tourism. … even focusing on different regions, like Sicily instead of mainland Italy. These are the kind of places we like to feature, and from a business perspective, these are the kind of places where expertise is a bit more valuable as well.”
  • Tour Platform/Operator: For Benjamin Ozsanay’s team at Cookly, local partnerships are key to forming relationships in more remote regions so they can get their guests off the beaten path. “Local partnerships are very helpful for us to connect with the smaller local communities that are often left off the tourist map.” One such partnership is with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). He explained, “By working together with TAT we can discover more small communities and in exchange we are able to help them grow their local economy as well. Anyone can join Cookly, as long as they are able to provide a well planned out class with equipment and a passion to share their food knowledge and culture.”
  • Case Study: Benvingutas a Pagés (Welcome to the Farm) Welcome to the Farm is an annual event in the Catalonia region of Spain. During one weekend of the summer, hundreds of farms and other food producers (olive oil producers, wineries, cava makers, honey producers, etc.) throughout the region open to visitors to offer the opportunity to taste and learn about the local food. Restaurants and accommodation providers throughout the region also participate and promote the use of local products.
  • An interactive website for the event provides multiple ways for participants to plan their farm visits. A map shows all of the participating producers within districts of Catalonia, producers are divided by category for those looking to explore just one or a couple in depth, and a number of pre-planned routes have been created by the event’s organizers. Each mapped out route is targeted toward different groups (like foodies, cultural tourists, photography/nature lovers, families, etc.) and they take about three days for visitors to get through. This event and the resources available to participants encourage them — and make it easy — to explore beyond Barcelona, where they will then have the opportunity to connect with local communities and learn the stories behind the region’s famous cuisine.

Food Tourism Doesn’t Mean Just One Thing

After everything we’ve discussed already, this part of our food tourism definition is probably not surprising: Food tourism isn’t just one thing. It’s not all about gourmet experiences, just like it doesn’t have to be about eating street food, or going on a designated food tour. Experiences of all kinds can encompass the new definition of food tourism that we’ve laid out, giving the food tourists of today more options than ever before. Even within one destination, an authentic, meaningful experience can take many forms, be it a trip to a local farm or a meal at a restaurant that celebrates local produce. Our interviewees expressed this in their own ways.

  • Travel Agency: Just because Sapore Travel focuses on luxury food travel experiences for a higher-end clientele, it doesn’t mean that they limit the activities throughout a trip to the high-end of things. “I think people are more willing to get outside of their comfort zone these days. Even in the luxury market, people are more willing to,” Imbriani explained. Later, he added “In a place like Mexico City, for example, you can have a Michelin-Starred, fine-dining meal at a place like Pujol, or similar, but you can also eat in a market and have just as memorable of an experience.”
  • Hotel: Michael Ellis of Jumeirah Group brought up the point that “authentic” and “local” don’t necessarily mean eating at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the middle of nowhere. It all depends on the destination, and most have many facets of what makes them unique. “The gourmet, high-end, if you’re in Paris, that’s very much of a local experience. … People go to Paris for that experience. But you know, people don’t necessarily go to Bangkok, or Dubai, or Kuala Lumpur, or Miami for that experience.”He continued to explain how a luxury hotel group like Jumeirah can take advantage of the many kinds of “authenticity” that exist in the destinations where its properties are located: “I think that’s the most important thing is that you can be a luxury hotel group and offer something for everybody, but the important thing is to make sure whatever you’re offering is of the highest quality, whether it’s a street food experience or a gastronomic experience, it’s got to be authentic and it’s got to be at the best quality level.”

Best Practices in Food Tourism

We identified 10 best practices for stakeholders looking to develop, promote, and/or participate in their region’s food tourism scene. In this section, we will briefly discuss each one (in no particular order), providing perspective from stakeholder interviews, case studies, and additional research throughout.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach

Build the infrastructure that’s needed to support food tourism.

Before a region, or any stakeholders within it, can expect food tourists, they can all play a part in ensuring that the area has the infrastructure necessary to support them. In a 2019 article by Helena and Robert Williams and Jingxue (Jessica) Yuan published in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, a pyramid is used to illustrate the infrastructure that is needed in order for memorable food tourism experiences to be developed and marketed successfully. The foundation of the pyramid is health and safety, which includes things like clean water and proper sanitation practices and systems. Above that is transportation and lodging, meaning safe accommodations near and transport to and from food tourism experiences. Once those two elements are in place, communication should be the focus. This can mean ensuring internet access in order to reach travelers, and also from a strategic standpoint, how they are communicating their offerings.

food tourism word

Everyone has a role to play

Developing and promoting food tourism is often regarded as responsibilities of tourism boards. As we have seen throughout this report, however, many kinds of businesses are stakeholders in this space, and therefore should have an active role in it. We will discuss partnerships and collaboration more a bit later, but here we want to focus on one type of stakeholder that is often omitted from the food tourism conversation: hotels.

Through our research and interviews, we have identified two different ways that hotels can get involved in the new era of food tourism: They can bring the community and its cuisine into their properties, or they can facilitate opportunities for their guests to have food tourism experiences in the communities they’re part of.

One way hotels approach the first method is to focus on creating the type of experiences that food tourists desire in the food and beverage offerings at their properties. Michael Ellis of Jumeirah Group thinks that hotels are increasingly becoming food tourism destinations in their own right: “The line between independently owned and run restaurants and restaurants in hotels is more and more blurred. … people want to be able to not just stay in a hotel, but they also want to have great F&B [food and beverage] offerings … You now have restaurants in hotels that are attracting locals and you see this all over the world.”

In addition to focusing their food and beverage offerings in this manner, hotels can also bring unique and local food experiences into their properties in other ways, like offering cooking classes for guests or retail opportunities for local food manufacturers.

Local partnerships are key

For all types of food tourism stakeholders, local partnerships and collaboration are key. Partnerships are key from two different perspectives. Organizations like DMOs, RTOs, and consultancies or associations that focus on developing food tourism have the ability to foster collaboration among local stakeholders that might not otherwise do so themselves. Joanne Wolnik of Ontario’s Southwest explained how her team does this: “Our region is big, geographically, so people three hours away generally don’t know each other, but if they’re doing the same thing or they’re doing similar things, or we know that they could partner to accomplish things together, we always love putting them together and making that introduction.”

Trevor Jonas Benson and his team at the Culinary Tourism Alliance also emphasize the importance of collaborating with the local stakeholders in their client destinations: “The development of the work itself, of the projects, is a collaborative process,” he stressed, “It’s got to be the people who are going to be ultimately benefiting from it and producing those outcomes that have got to be involved in the process from start to finish.”

From another perspective, we have tour operators, booking platforms, and travel agencies that essentially take tourists into many different locations for food tourism experiences. Local partnerships are also essential for these types of companies, even though they may take more work to establish. We already mentioned how Cookly, the cooking class platform, has partnered with the Tourism Authority of Thailand in order to gain access and form further relationships within the country’s more remote regions.

Focus on what makes you and your destination unique

For food tourism operators and businesses, it’s important to focus on what makes the experience unique, as well as what makes the cuisine of the destination unique. When developing food tourism products, Joanne Wolnik recommends considering “how are you making sure that your itinerary is truly an experience and not just a tour, how are you taking it one step further?” She explained, “The idea behind that is that we know that in tourism, your competition is whoever is doing the same thing as you but closer to the traveler’s home. So by being completely different, we open ourselves up to a totally different market.”

Imbriani echoed this when we talked to him about how a food tourism company like Sapore Travel can continue to stand out in the market as it becomes more crowded over time. “I think the biggest thing is offering experiences that are a little bit differentiated from the rest of the market. Less focus on these just kind of generic cooking classes and restaurant reservations, and more focus on meeting with producers, and things like that. The biggest thing is being able to offer a unique product.”

Erik Wolf, CEO of the World Food Travel Association emphasized the importance of focusing on what makes an area’s cuisine unique in order to attract food tourists: “We also see entrepreneurs, and their destination marketing offices implicitly endorsing, giving tourists everything they could possibly want rather than focus on an area’s specialty.” He gave the example of tourists in Barcelona who look for an opportunity to eat paella “which is actually a dish originating in the province of Valencia, three hours south. They leave seemingly satisfied after having found paella, but it may only be a shadow of what an authentic paella experience would be.” When food businesses focus on their destination’s true, unique specialities, it encourages exploration into less commonly visited places, like Valencia rather than Barcelona.

  • Case Study: Communicating Unique Cuisine Through Marketing Focusing on what makes a region’s cuisine unique is crucial. Making sure that potential food tourists are aware of this is just as important. One way to do this is through marketing and branding messages. Time Out Market, for example, is opening a location in Brooklyn this spring. Didier Souillat, CEO, explained how one of the main marketing messages that will be used to attract tourists and locals to the location is “New York on a plate.” The idea that this message gets across — that a visitor can literally get a taste of a whole city with one experience — is powerful and attractive.
  • Visit Sweden has recently launched a food tourism experience that follows this same idea (plus many others that we have discussed in the report). The experience is called The Edible Country . Created and hosted by four Michelin Star Swedish chefs, the experience takes participants into the wilderness in seven distinct regions of the country where they prepare a nine course meal made from things they catch and forage from nature around them. In addition to incorporating the hands-on, educational, and local aspects that we’ve discussed throughout this report, the way it is marketed and branded communicate Sweden as a destination that can be meaningfully experienced through this food-based activity.

Figure out what “authentic” means for you

As we discussed earlier in the report, food tourism isn’t just one thing, and a big part of this has to do with the many meanings of “authentic” across and within destinations. Because of this, it’s important for food tourism stakeholders to figure out what “authentic” means to them. What part of the region’s cuisine should you focus on? How can you take advantage of locally produced food and drinks? This is something that Time Out Market is approaching smartly in its upcoming Brooklyn location. This location will be the only Time Out Market location of those slated to open in the coming years to feature a Kosher vendor. According to Didier Souillat, “We’re about being local, so you can’t be more local than that.”

Nurture existing food resources to become parts of food tourism

This is one things that stakeholders can do to help develop the food tourism space in their destinations to positively benefit the community. Stakeholders of all kinds can examine what already exists in a region: local restaurants, producers, manufacturers, and even food-passionate individuals who aren’t currently making money this way. They can then come up with ways to nurture these resources to help them have a more active role in the space.

Helena Williams explained how restaurants can do this. By adding a chef’s table, a periodic cooking class, or more specifically, something like “a fish restaurant that will let you go to the dock early in the morning and show you how they select their fish, and then you select the fish and come back later for dinner, and that chef has prepared that fish that you selected.” The restaurant itself may already be a culinary attraction, but “Those are the kinds of things that could easily be added to an existing wonderful experience,” making it more memorable and encouraging travel specifically for the experience itself.

Stakeholders can also help food-passionate individuals enter food tourism, which will benefit them and also their communities. Williams also provided an example of how this could transpire: Maybe there’s a woman in a community who makes the best dumplings, from her kitchen or another unofficial space, but her food wouldn’t necessarily be available to tourists. In a case like this, other stakeholders can help connect her with a network that can help provide support to expand her passion into a business within the food tourism space in her community. Whether it’s the tourism board helping to promote her as a food business or a hotel bringing her to teach cooking classes or sell her dumplings, she can become a part of food tourism with the support of other stakeholders for the benefit of everyone.

Peer-to-peer platforms like Eatwith can also help everyday people who are passionate about their food and cultures play a role in food tourism. Rumani of Eatwith explained that when it comes to the platform’s hosts, “Most of them, I would say 98% of them are amateurs, like me. I do host sometimes as well, and it’s like people who love to cook, are super proud of their culture and story, family story.”

  • Case Study: Ontario’s Southwest The maple syrup experience case study from Ontario’s Southwest that we shared earlier in the report is not the only one from the region worthy of discussing. Another example shared with us by Joanne Wolnik is an experience called Tree to Table: A Canadian Conversation. This experience is a great illustration of this best practice category because it shows how even a region’s non-food-specific resources can be nurtured to play a role in food tourism.
  • This experience is hosted by a charcuterie board maker in Oxford County in Ontario, which is considered the dairy capital of Canada. Four at a time, participants come to his property, where he shows them how he sustainably sources wood from the indigenous forest for his craft. Participants then design their own board with his artist wife, and then he teaches them how to make their own board in his workshop. Throughout the experience, participants get to try locally foraged teas and some other local recipes made from regional products. Following the boardmaking portion, the group enjoys an outdoor feast that Wolnik describes as being “filled with local jams … local cheeses from different artisan cheesemakers, meat from sustainable meat producers. So everything you’re eating is local. Even the chives and pansies that are in the butter, local breads made from locally milled grains.”
  • By hosting this experience, this artisan is able to expand his business and customer base while also sharing his region’s culture and history. Participants get to learn a new skill, understand the region through its food specialities, and bring home a souvenir they made themselves.

Food tourism should be collaborative, not competitive

We have already talked about how important local partnerships are for stakeholders interested playing a role in food tourism. That best practice especially focused on how organizations of different kinds can come together toward the common goal. Now, we turn our attention to how collaboration between stakeholders more generally can make a region a real destination for food tourism. If our focus on every stakeholder having a role to play hasn’t made it clear, food tourism should be collaborative, not competitive, even for similar types of businesses in a region.

Helena and Robert Williams have supported this statement through their research. In an article published in the 2018 Journal of Gastronomy and Tourism authored with Jingxue (Jessica) Yuan, they present results from surveys of food tourists. From the results of the surveys, they present what they call the 6+ Gastro-Cluster Destination Development Model. This model proposes that if at least six food tourism attractions in a two hour radius co-market themselves under a single brand image, it increases the likelihood that food tourists will consider the area worthy of a trip: The study concludes that “to attract serious, overnight, self-identified gastro-tourists, which results in sustainable economic development, 6+ clusters are needed.”

  • Case Study: Food tourism trails Food tourism trails (or culinary trails, or beverage trails) are an example of how this “cluster” idea can play out in real life. We talked specifically about beverage trails in our 2016 report, where we mentioned the examples of the Denver Beer Trail, the Austrian Schnapps Trail, the Columbus Coffee Trail, and the Santa Fe Margarita Trail. Trails like this are made up of food or beverage businesses that fall within a specific culinary category all within fairly close proximity to one another.Joanne Wolnik explained that the culinary trails in Ontario’s Southwest show “the critical mass of operators, experiences, and offers that are there for people to do. It’s just a more cohesive message than to go out and say ‘We’ve got 35 wineries’ or ‘We’ve got two distilleries, 20 breweries, and 18 wineries.’ We just try to package it up so it’s more exciting.” She explained how trails in the region, like the Oxford County Cheese Trail , act as attractants for tourists to visit the area and support it in other ways: “They have to be doing more than that [just eating cheese] the entire time they’re there. We know that the Cheese Trail is the reason they came, but while they’re there, they’re also doing A, B, and C, and benefiting the local community in those ways as well.”

Think beyond tourists

Hopefully, the importance of thinking beyond tourists is obvious at this point. Food tourism requires input and collaboration from all kinds of stakeholders, who can all play a part and benefit from it. Even when developing food tourism experiences, the focus shouldn’t only be on tourists. In most destinations, tourism ebbs and flows, so tourists are not always going to be a steady stream of customers for food and drink businesses and experiences. Locals and domestic travelers need to be considered as well.

When Skift Research asked Didier Souillat of Time Out Market whether he and his team focus more on tourists or locals as its target audience, he responded, “It can’t be only one. Tourists won’t go to places where locals are not because they think it’s too touristy for me. The locals won’t go if there’s too many tourists.” Even with the Lisbon Market, where 70% of visitors are tourists, he says most of the advertising is directed at the local community.

Cater to specific niches

Once the infrastructure is in place to support food tourism and food tourism experiences have been developed that follow the guidelines we’ve presented in this report, stakeholders can start thinking about catering to specific niches of food tourists. This could include niches of dietary restrictions/preferences, like vegetarians or vegans, or special interest groups. In November 2018, Skift reported on vegetarian and vegan tours being the “next wave of food tourism,” as the major tour operator Intrepid Travel plans to launch fully vegan tours in Italy, India, and Thailand this year. In destinations like these, vegan cuisine is already common, so creating products with this segment in mind can still maintain regional authenticity while also being a key selling point for these specific groups.

Endnotes and Further Reading

  •, “Brewers Association: Microbreweries and taprooms are ‘clearly the growth engine of craft,” May 2018.
  • Bisnow, “U.S. Food Hall Market Expected To Triple By 2020,” April 2018.
  •, “Going Local is the essential ingredient for an unforgettable foodie adventure,” June 2018.
  • Business Wire, “Move Over Foodies … Make Room for the Food Connected,” October 2018.
  •, “Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: ‘Food connected consumers’ could have broader reach than ‘foodies,’” October 2018.
  • New York Times, Eating and Drinking Your Way Through A Trip, and Learning Something in the Process, May 2018.
  • Scottish Tourism Alliance, “New plan to increase food and drink tourism,” 2018.
  • Skift, “Chefs as Destination Ambassadors Appeal to Travelers’ Foodie Obsessions,” January 2018.
  • Skift, “Vegans Find New Options as Part of Next Wave of Food Tourism,” November 2018.
  • Skift Table, “The Next Generation of Food Hall Design,” December 2018.
  • TripAdvisor, “2018 Travel Trends Report: Experiences, Tours & Activities,” 2018.
  • TripAdvisor, “Top 25 Experiences — World,” 2018.
  • UNWTO, Second Global Report on Gastronomy Tourism, 2017.
  • World Food Travel Association

Food Tourism: What It Means And Why It Matters

Kristen Fleming, RD

Kristen Fleming holds a Master of Science in Nutrition. Over her 8 years of experience in dietetics, she has made significant contributions in clinical, community, and editorial settings. With 2 years as a clinical dietitian in an inpatient setting, 2 years in community health education, and 4 years of editorial experience focusing on nutrition and health-related content, Kristen's expertise is multifaceted.

food tourism word

Food. Many love to eat it, some love to cook it, and others simply love to talk about it. It is no secret that food plays a significant role in our lives. And while we all have our own unique relationship with food, there is one thing that we can all agree on – food is an experience .

Food tourism is the act of traveling for the purpose of experiencing food. This can be anything from going on a wine tour to visiting a local farmer’s market. Food tourism has become a popular way to travel in recent years as it provides people with an opportunity to connect with the local culture through food.

Would you be interested in learning more about food tourism? Keep reading to find out what it is, why it matters, and some tips on how to get the most out of your food tourism experience.

What Is The Meaning Of Food Tourism?

Travelers often seek out destinations that offer them a chance to sample the local cuisine. This type of tourism is known as food tourism. It’s also called culinary tourism or gastronomy tourism.

Food tourism can take many different forms. It can be as simple as trying a new dish while on vacation, or it can involve planning an entire trip around visiting different restaurants and food festivals ( 8 ).

Some people even choose to study culinary tourism, which is a field that combines the elements of anthropology, sociology, and economics to understand how food can be used as a tool for cultural exchange ( 2 ).

No matter how you define it, food tourism is a growing trend all over the world. And it’s not just about trying new foods – it’s about understanding the culture and history behind them.

food tourism

What Are The Characteristics Of Food Tourism?

Food tourism includes any type of travel that revolves around experiencing food ( 6 ) ( 7 ). This can range from eating street food in Thailand to taking a cooking class in Italy.

Some of the most common activities associated with food tourism are:

Visiting Local Markets

Local markets are a great way to get a feel for the local cuisine. They also offer an opportunity to buy fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

Trying Street Food

Street food is a staple in many cultures and a great way to sample the local cuisine. It is often less expensive than sit-down restaurants and offers a more authentic experience.

Attending Food Festivals

Food festivals are a great way to try a variety of local dishes in one place. They also offer the opportunity to learn about the culture and history behind the food ( 10 ).

Taking Cooking Classes

Cooking classes are a great way to learn about the local cuisine and how to cook traditional dishes. One may learn new cooking techniques, as well as about the culture and history behind the food.

Touring Wineries And Breweries

A common misconception is that food tourism only includes food and not beverages. However, touring wineries and breweries is a great way to learn about the local culture and taste the local products.

At a winery, one can learn about the wine-making process and taste the different types of wine produced in the region.

At a brewery, one can learn about the brewing process and taste the different types of beer produced in the region.

Some regions may be known for a certain type of spirit, and you can visit distilleries for those as well.

Read More: No Carb No Sugar Diet Meal Plan: Is It Healthy For Weight Loss?


Eating At Michelin-Starred Restaurants

Fine dining is another aspect of food tourism. Michelin-starred restaurants are known for their excellent food and service.

While at it, one can also learn about the chef, the history of the restaurant, and the thought that goes into each dish.

Touring Food Factories

Food factories offer a behind-the-scenes look at how food is produced. This can be anything from a chocolate factory to a pasta factory.

Touring food factories is a great way to learn about the production process and see how the food is made.

food tourism

What Are The Benefits Of Food Tourism?

Food tourism can have a positive impact on both the traveler and the destination.

Benefits For The Traveler

Food tourism is becoming increasingly popular, and with good reason. 

For travelers, it ( 5 ):

  • Offers the opportunity to try new foods and experience new cultures.
  • Is a great way to learn about the history and culture behind the food.
  • Can be a more authentic and immersive experience than other types of tourism.
  • Is a great way to support local businesses and the local economy.
  • Can be a great way to meet new people and make new friends.

Benefits For The Destination

Food tourism can also have a positive impact on the destination. 

For destinations, food tourism:

  • Can help to promote the local cuisine and culture.
  • Is a great way to attract visitors and boost the local economy.
  • Can help to create jobs and support local businesses ( 1 ).
  • Can help to improve the image of the destination.
  • Can help to preserve traditional foods and recipes.

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food tourism

What Are The Challenges Of Food Tourism?

While food tourism can have many positive benefits, there are also some challenges that need to be considered. These include:

1. Ensuring Food Safety And Hygiene Standards Are Met

Food safety is a major concern when traveling, and food-borne illnesses can ruin a trip ( 11 ). It is important to research the restaurants and markets before eating anything .

Using your common sense and following basic hygiene rules (such as washing your hands) can also help to reduce the risk of getting sick.

2. Ensuring Food Is Ethically And Sustainably Sourced

With the rise of food tourism, there is a danger that destinations will start to mass-produce food for tourists, rather than focus on quality. This can lead to unethical and unsustainable practices , such as using forced labor or over-fishing ( 3 ) ( 4 ).

3. Managing The Impact On The Environment

Food tourism can have a negative impact on the environment if it is not managed properly. For example, if too many people visit a destination, it can lead to pollution and damage to the local ecosystem ( 9 ).

4. Ensuring Fair Working Conditions For Those Involved In The Food Industry

The food industry is often characterized by low pay and long hours. This can be a problem for those working in the industry, as they may not be able to earn a decent wage or have enough time to rest.

5. Addressing The Issues Of Food Waste And Overconsumption

Food tourism often involves trying new and different foods . However, this can lead to food waste if people do not finish their meals or if they order more than they can eat.

It is important to be aware of the issue of food waste and to try to minimize it where possible.

food tourism

Where Is Food Tourism Most Popular?

Food tourism is particularly popular in countries with strong culinary traditions. Below are several examples of such destinations, along with a description of what they offer food tourists .

Porto (Portugal)

Porto is known for its port wine, which is produced in the surrounding Douro Valley. The city also has a number of traditional restaurants serving Portuguese cuisines such as bacalhau (codfish) dishes and francesinha (a sandwich with meat, cheese, and ham).

Lisbon (Portugal)

Lisbon is another Portuguese city with a strong culinary tradition . The city is known for its seafood, as well as for pastries such as the Pasteis de Belem (a type of custard tart).

Palermo (Italy)

Palermo is the capital of Sicily, an island with a rich culinary tradition. The city is known for its street food, which includes dishes such as arancini (fried rice balls) and panelle (fried chickpea fritters).

Vientiane (Laos)

Vientiane is the capital of Laos, and its cuisine reflects the influence of both Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. The city is known for dishes such as laab (a type of meat salad) and khao soi (a noodle soup).

San Sebastian (Spain)

San Sebastian is a Basque city located in northern Spain. The city is known for its pintxos (small plates) and for Basque dishes such as txakoli (a type of white wine) and cod with pil-pil sauce.

Paris (France)

Paris is one of the most popular food tourism destinations in the world. The city is known for its fine dining, as well as for its more casual bistros and cafes. 

Paris is also home to a number of markets, such as the famous Les Halles market, where food tourists can sample a variety of French specialties.

Read More: What Is The Ideal Ketosis Level For Weight Loss? How To Monitor Ketones


New York City (USA)

New York City is another popular food tourism destination. The city offers a wide range of cuisines, from traditional American dishes to the cuisine of its many immigrant communities.

New York is also home to a number of famous restaurants, such as the Russian Tea Room and the Rainbow Room.

Tokyo (Japan)

Tokyo is a city with a rich culinary tradition. The city is known for its sushi and ramen, as well as for its more traditional dishes such as tempura and yakitori. Tokyo is also home to a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, making it a popular destination for food tourists.

Tips For Food Tourism

If you’re interested in trying out different cuisines while traveling, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your food tourism experience.

Do Some Research Before You Go

Read up on the cuisine of the place you’re visiting, and try to find out what dishes are particularly popular. This will help you narrow down your options and make sure you don’t miss out on any must-try dishes.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Recommendations

When you’re in a new city, ask the locals where they like to eat. They’ll be able to point you in the direction of some great places to try.

food tourism

Be Open To New Experiences

When you’re trying out new cuisine, don’t be afraid to experiment. You might find that you like something that you never would have thought to try before.

Respect Local Customs And Traditions

When you’re traveling, it’s important to remember that not everyone does things the same way as you do. Be respectful of local customs and traditions, and try not to offend anyone.

Enjoy Yourself!

Food tourism should be about enjoying new experiences and trying new things. So relax, and enjoy the ride.

The Bottom Line

Food tourism is a growing trend, and there are many destinations around the world that offer something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for fine dining or street food, it’s sure there’s a place that will suit your taste.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

  • A study on the importance of Food Tourism and its impact on Creating Career 2017 (2017,
  • Culinary Tourism (2014,
  • Darker still: Present-day slavery in hospitality and tourism services (2013,
  • Disentangling tourism impacts on small-scale fishing pressure (2022,
  • Food and tourism synergies: perspectives on consumption, production, and destination development (2017,
  • Foodies and Food Events (2014,
  • Food tourism value: Investigating the factors that influence tourists to revisit (2019,
  • Global report on food tourism (2012,
  • Re-evaluating the environmental impacts of tourism: does EKC exist? (2019,
  • Reviving Traditional Food Knowledge Through Food Festivals. The Case of the Pink Asparagus Festival in Mezzago, Italy (2020,
  • The Importance of Food Safety in Travel Planning and Destination Selection (2008,

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What’s New in the World of Food Tourism & Culinary Travel?

“Food tourism is the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place.” ™ World Food Travel Association

Travelling the world to experience different cultures through food is not new, but the opportunities for immersion keep expanding. If you’re a foodie, or a food-focused traveller, here are some exciting things to watch out for in the world of food tourism.

Culinary Destinations

The concept of food tourism and culinary vacations have gained significant momentum, with more travellers seeking destinations renowned for their culinary experiences. Cities and regions are increasingly marketing themselves as food destinations, showcasing their local specialties and culinary traditions to attract tourists.

street food

Experiential Dining

Food tourists are seeking more immersive and hands-on experiences, going beyond just tasting the local cuisine. This includes participating in cooking classes, visiting local markets, and engaging in farm-to-table experiences where they can learn about the sourcing and preparation of ingredients.

Fusion Cuisine

Fusion food has become popular among travellers, especially among millennials and Gen Z. They are interested in trying innovative combinations of flavours from different cuisines, resulting in unique and exciting dining experiences.

Sustainable & Ethical Food Practices

With an increased focus on sustainability and ethical food production, food tourists are seeking establishments that prioritize locally sourced, organic, and ethically produced food. There’s a growing interest in supporting businesses that follow environmentally friendly practices .

Technology Integration

Technology is playing an essential role in food tourism. Food-related apps, online reviews, and social media platforms influence travellers’ choices regarding where and what to eat during their trips. Additionally, some tours and experiences are incorporating virtual reality and augmented reality to enhance the dining experience.

cooking class

Food Tourism Festivals & Events

Food-themed events and festivals have become significant draws for tourists. These gatherings celebrate local food culture and can range from small-scale street food festivals to large international food events, such as:

1. Oktoberfest – Germany : Oktoberfest is one of the world’s largest and most famous beer festivals, held annually in Munich, Germany. The festival usually takes place from late September to the first weekend in October. It celebrates Bavarian culture with an abundance of traditional German beer, food, music, and various attractions.

2. Taste of Chicago – USA: This annual food festival usually takes place in the summer, spanning multiple days. The festival showcases a diverse array of Chicago’s food scene, including famous deep-dish pizza, hot dogs, ethnic cuisine, and desserts.

3. La Tomatina – Spain : La Tomatina is a unique and lively food festival held in the town of Buñol, Spain. It takes place on the last Wednesday of August, during which participants engage in a massive tomato fight. Thousands of people come together to throw ripe tomatoes at each other, creating a vibrant red spectacle.

4. Cherry Blossom Festival – Japan : While not exclusively a food festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival, also known as Hanami, is a significant event in Japan, celebrating the blooming of cherry blossoms in spring. During this time, people gather under cherry blossom trees to have picnics and enjoy various traditional Japanese foods and snacks.

5. Pizzafest – Italy : Also known as Naples Pizza Village (Napoli Pizza Village), Pizzafest is a popular pizza festival in Naples, Italy. Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and this festival celebrates the city’s culinary heritage. The event showcases various types of pizzas from local pizzerias and includes pizza-making competitions, workshops, and entertainment.

These food festivals not only offer a chance to indulge in delicious cuisine but also provide a unique cultural experience and a glimpse into the culinary traditions of the respective regions. 

Food and Beverage Pairings

The pairing of food and beverages, such as wine, craft beer, or artisanal spirits, is gaining popularity in food tourism. Travellers are interested in exploring how different beverages complement and enhance the flavours of various dishes.

Street Food

Street food continues to be a major attraction for food tourists, offering affordable and authentic local flavours. Food tours specifically centred around street food are becoming more prevalent in many cities.


Cultural Exchange Through Food Tourism

Food tourism is viewed as a means of cultural exchange, providing tourists with insight into the traditions and heritage of a destination through its cuisine. This also includes learning about traditional cooking techniques and recipes passed down through generations.

Dietary Preferences and Food Allergies

Food tourism has adapted to cater to different dietary preferences and restrictions, including vegetarian, vegan , gluten-free, and other special diets. Restaurants and food tour operators are offering more inclusive options to meet diverse needs.

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Anne Cohen Writes

Lifestyle and relationship news library, eat the world: what is food tourism.


Whichever corner of the globe you visit; humans share their love for eating. For a lot of people, food is the best way to learn about a city and its culture, while for others the satisfaction comes from simply consuming delicious things. In many places, the best eateries are located in tiny alleys, hidden on upper floors, on food trucks, lost amid colorful market stands. Eating also makes us feel more local, as we embrace the local DNA by biting our way into it. The popularity of food tourism has given birth to so many food crawls, often organized by chefs, journalists, and cookbook authors. But how does the food tourism shape the world today?

Food vs. Culinary vs. Gastronomy Tourism


According to the World Food Travel Association, all three phrases function equivalently, but each of them may indicate a different perspective. Food tourism is often used as a shortened version of food and beverage tourism and implies that people are eating and drinking as well. Food tourism and food travel are often used interchangeably.

Culinary tourism has been in use since much earlier, and the ‘culinary’ part reminds of time someone spends in professional culinary training to become a chef. The phrase might include eating and drinking tours but also local recipe workshops. Gastronomy tourism is often used in Europe , mostly among romance languages speakers. In countries with rich gastronomic traditions like Italy and France, the phrase food travel sounds too basic. While for native English speakers the word might sound a bit elitist, it’s perfectly at home at tours which include gourmet menus and fine dining.

The Economy of Food Tourism


E stimating the economic impact of food tourism for a particular area is challenging because basically, we need to accurately estimate the number of tourists in an area, followed by interviewing a sample cohort to find out how much they’re spending on food and drink. On a deeper level, we could ask what portion of their budgets is for sustenance and what for unique culinary or beverage experience. Then there is a question whether a visitor’s spending on gourmet souvenir items in grocery stores or local street markets counts as food tourism.

The World Food Travel Association has come up with a fairly accurate model for estimating food tourism value. According to it, visitors spend about 25% of their travel budget on food and beverages, with the figure rising up to 35% inexpensive destinations, and falling to 15% in more affordable destinations.

A Food Traveler’s ID

According to research from 2016 Food Travel Monitor, 93% of today’s travelers can be considered food travelers. In this definition, a food traveler was considered anyone who has had food or beverage experience other than dining out in the past 12 months. This includes participation in food tours, going shopping in local grocery or gourmet stores, or visiting cooking schools.

Food travelers also visit beverage factories, take part in wine, beer, or spirits tasting, or simply visit a celebrated chocolatier, bakery, or gelateria for the sake of taking photos. However, more importantly, food travelers are explorers who love to get off the beaten paths and find new and unique experiences, like embarking on a street food tour in Saigon or losing themselves in the maze of alleys in the old center of Bari, hunting for the best focaccia, raw seafood, and orecchiette. However, a 2010 Psycho Culinary research shows that only 8.1% of food travelers expressed their gourmet experiences as the primary interest.

Benefits to Local Industry

Food tourism seems like a branch with a lot of potentials, but are there any benefits to the local industry? A sustainable food and drink tourism strategy would ensure more visitor arrivals, more sales, including rooms, airplane tickets, restaurant meals, car rentals, etc., as well as more media coverage for the region. Local vendors could get a new competitive advantage for selling unique food and drink. Governments, on the other hand, would benefit from more tax revenue, while communities would increase their awareness about tourism in general, as well as the local pride in the region’s food and drink resources.

The Role of Agriculture  


Authors and professionals within the industry often use terms food tourism and agrotourism interchangeably, however, that is a mistake. As a subset of rural tourism, agrotourism includes farm experiences such as overnight stays harvest festivals and farm-style dinners. Other types of agrotourism include u-pick tours and other farm workshops where visitors can and take part and learn about food and beverage preparations, food sourcing, composting, and animal welfare. When compared to agrotourism, food tourism has a much greater economic impact, as it includes a wider variety of complementary businesses that appeal to a larger portion of travelers than farms and farmer’s markets.

With big cities facing a growing problem of over-tourism, travelers keen on unique experiences are more likely to look for off the beaten paths, flocking to areas that are less crowded and expensive. For those visitors, unique food and beverage experiences are inseparable from traveling itself. Local communities, on the other hand, can experience a positive impact by exploiting an increasing interest in regional food scenes and locally sourced produce.

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10 Top US Cities for Food and Drinks, According to the Experts

Hawaii's capital and Maine's waterfront food hub make the list.

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SARAH KARLAN/The New York Times/Redux

For the 2024 Global Tastemakers list of the Best Cities for Food and Drinks in the United States, New York retained the No. 1 spot. We’re also excited for some newcomers gaining recognition: Honolulu; Portland, Maine; and Washington, D.C., nabbed our panel's attention and have asserted their place among the finest food cities in the country. Here's the full list of where to travel and taste this year.

New York City

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It’s hard to find another American city that can satisfy any food craving as easily as New York. From a burrata slice at L'Industrie Pizzeria , to Pearl Pie at Superiority Burger , to dreamy drinks at Sappe , New York City possesses the uncanny ability to deftly balance classic cuisine with the latest trends. Korean fine dining restaurants have enjoyed a surge of new openings, with Meju , Coqodaq , Naro , and Nōksu leading the way.

New Orleans

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New Orleans dining is all about seamlessly bridging the old and the new. You’ll find classic Creole fare at stalwarts like Dooky Chase Restaurant and Brigtsen’s , while Dakar Nola , Wild South , and 2022 F&W Best New Chef Ana Castro’s highly anticipated Acamaya are contributing to the city’s modern culinary culture.

MICHELLE LITVIN/The New York Times/Redux

No matter your budget or appetite, Chicago’s wonderfully diverse food scene has you covered. Try a Filipino tasting menu at Kasama , a Cambodian fried chicken sandwich at Hermosa’s , tacos at Birrieria Zaragoza’s , or a classic Italian beef sandwich at Al’s or Johnnie’s , for a sample of the endless options.

Austin rose to the No. 4 spot from 10 on this year’s list. Home to 2023 F&W Restaurant of the Year Birdie’s as well as 2023 F&W Best New Chef Edgar Rico of Nixta Taqueria, each year the city manages to find new ways to impress. If you’re planning a trip, be sure to check out Rico’s guide to the best of Texas’ capital, from baguettes to ramen.

Los Angeles

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Few cities champion boundary-pushing concepts better than Los Angeles. Crowds snake down the block at Anajak Thai for 2022 F&W Best New Chef Justin Pichetrungsi’s Thai Taco Tuesdays, while 2023 F&W Best New Chef Hannah Ziskin crafts thick pan pizzas and layer cakes at Quarter Sheets. If you’re looking for one of the city’s best wine bars for pours without pretension, The Ruby Fruit offers a smart selection of natural wines from an easy-to-miss strip mall location.

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Given its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Charleston is renowned for its fresh seafood and abundance of notable raw bars such as Leon’s Oyster Shop and The Ordinary . There are loads of other iconic dishes you shouldn’t pass up as well, including Bertha’s Kitchen’s okra soup, whole-hog barbecue at Rodney Scott’s , and Peninsula Grill’s coconut cake.

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Miami has always been a deeply international city, and the range of its food scene has only grown in recent years. At Maty’s in Midtown, 2023 F&W Best New Chef Valerie Chang turns out bold Peruvian plates (huancaina-smothered choclo, oxtail saltado), while MiMo’s Phuc Yea mashes up Vietnamese and Colombian flavors (think Wagyu Churrasco with lemongrass ponzu). As for who makes the best Cuban sandwich? That’s a never-ending debate, and many locals endorse Sanguich De Miami .

Washington, D.C.

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Though Bad Saint shuttered in 2022, the trailblazing Filipino restaurant that thrust D.C.’s culinary scene into the national spotlight almost a decade ago inspired a new wave of dining in the nation’s capital that continues today. Kevin Tien’s Moon Rabbit now carries the torch for inventive and uniquely modern Vietnamese food, while charming pizza bar The Little Grand offers eclectic pizza and wine pairings. Other highlights include 2022 F&W Best New Chef Rob Rubba’s vegetable-centric Oyster Oyster as well as 2023 F&W Best New Chef Isabel Coss and Matt Conroy's new Pascual , where wood-fired Mexican fare has piqued the interest of diners from D.C. and beyond.

Portland, Maine

Quickly becoming one of the premiere culinary centers of the Northeast, Portland, Maine, offers can’t-miss dining opportunities like the wallet-friendly omakase at Izakaya Minato , sourdough Neapolitan pizza at Quanto Basta , and housemade rigatoni tossed in meat ragu and dandelion greens at Leeward . At Cocktail Mary , most evenings evolve into an impromptu dance party — one that’s inclusive, affordable, and most importantly, fun.


An ideal day in Hawaii’s capital might begin with a hearty breakfast at chef Lee Anne Wong’s Koko Head Cafe before slowly making your way to Helena’s Hawaiian Food for a late lunch, where the no-frills institution sends out earthen-oven cooked Kalua Pig and Poi. Last, Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka’s MW Restaurant is a dinner destination renowned for stylish takes on Hawaiian comfort food and whimsical desserts like Michelle’s MW Candy Bar.

Plus One: Seattle

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In recent years, food entrepreneurs have made their mark across the Emerald City with clever concepts including the Asian-inspired cake cafe Paper Cake Shop , “Seattle Soul” destination Communion , and trendy sister bars La Dive Queen Anne and Rich Rich . For further recommendations, 2023 F&W Best New Chef Aisha Ibrahim, fine dining institution Canlis' first female executive chef in 74 years, shares her Seattle city guide .

Global Tastemakers is a celebration of the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. We asked more than 180 food and travel journalists to vote on their favorites, including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. We then entrusted those results to an expert panel of judges to determine each category's winners. In many categories, we've included a Plus One, hand-selected by our expert panel, to shout out more culinary destinations we don't want our readers to miss. See all the winners at .

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72 Fun & Unusual Things to Do in Moscow

fun things to do in Moscow

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Sure, Moscow is the Russian political capital and the nation’s most populous city, but describing it as such couldn’t be any further from the truth. More accurately, Moscow is a city of contrasts.

It exudes history — its Kremlin dates back centuries, nodding to royalty and leadership old and now, while the famed Red Square, the poster child of the city, blends striking color with ancient tradition and religion.

On the other hand, it’s a city of modern pop culture and towering skyscrapers; a place where you’ll come across new-age museums, arts centers, manmade parks, and an efficient transportation system that’s one of the most beautiful in Europe.

It’s a city of longstanding culture — the Bolshoi Theater is an international symbol for excellence in classical dance, while Russia’s National Ballet Company remains renowned worldwide — as well as upbeat nightlife, with some of the world’s most celebrated rooftop bars and nightclubs.

While it’s a city filled with opposites, there remains no shortage of things to do in Moscow for all types of travelers — from those who want cultural immersion to those looking for an epic night out, you’ll be spoiled for choice. And if you’re not sure where to start, here’s a list of suggestions!

The Moscow Kremlin

If there’s any particular district begging to be the first place you visit on your trip, it’s the Kremlin.

Built in the 16th century by Ivan the Terrible, the UNESCO-listed area has since become the heart of Russia’s capital city, where you’ll find several churches, palaces, and other noteworthy buildings.

We’ll dive into each of its main attractions in a second, but regardless of what you visit, try to make it to the Kremlin in time for sunset — because seeing its golden domes glinting in the late-afternoon light makes for one spectacular tourist photo!

Click here to learn about Kremlin tickets prices .

1 – Admire the abundance of Kremlin towers | the Kremlin

Kremlin towers, Moscow

As your eyes dart down the towering red-brick Kremlin wall, the first thing you’ll notice is its large towers of all different styles and sizes.

With a whopping 20 separate minarets towering above the historic area, each with its own name, colors, features and history, a guided tour to learn each of their fascinating stories is a must.

To give you a little taste, the Konstantin-Yeleninskaya Tower once housed a torture chamber. Saviour’s Tower at the main entrance boasts a famous chiming clock, the Secret Tower houses a secret escape tunnel, and the Trinity Tower is the tallest of them all.

  • Moscow Kremlin tours

2 – Visit the enormous Grand Kremlin Palace | the Kremlin

Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow

A remarkable attraction in terms of both beauty and history, the Grand Kremlin Palace is an ornate rococo-style building that was commissioned during the reign of Nicholas I, and today acts as the official residence of none other than the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Perched atop Borovitsky Hill, its 125-meter-long facade is unmissable, making for impressive photos.

Take note: guided tours are few and far between, so you’ll have to book a few weeks in advance if you want to check out the decorated inner sanctum.

Directions in Google Maps

3 – People-watch in Cathedral Square | the Kremlin

Cathedral Square, Moscow

One of the most popular areas in all of Moscow (sometimes called Sobornaya Square), with multiple massive churches at its heart, Cathedral Square is flanked by several historic buildings and is never shy of a tourist crowd.

The three main churches — each spectacular works of architecture in their own right — are the Cathedral of the Assumption (the oldest and the biggest of all Kremlin churches), the 16th-century Cathedral of the Archangel Michael (known for its beautiful Corinthian gables and turrets), and the golden-domed Cathedral of the Annunciation (which connects to the Grand Kremlin Palace’s main building).

Throw in the 60-meter-high Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the lesser-known Church of the Twelve Apostles , the Church of the Deposition of the Virgin’s Robe (underrated yet famous for its marvelous stained-glass windows), and the medieval residence-turned-museum that is The Patriarch’s Palace, and you can see why this square is regularly number one on any visitor’s list of things to do in Moscow.

4 – See a show at the State Kremlin Palace | the Kremlin

State Kremlin Palace, Moscow

Just like the Grand Kremlin Palace , this theater and prestigious concert hall — with its grandiose facade and multiple sculptures — is another ornate building that’s worth admiring.

A popular place to hold conferences, the State Kremlin Palace was originally built as part of a larger complex for Communist Party meetings, but today hosts some of the biggest events in Moscow — we’re talkin’ sold-old ballet performances, world-famous concerts, opera shows, and festivals.

Check the website to see what’s on the calendar for your visit!

5 – See centuries worth of national treasures at the Armoury Chamber | the Kremlin

Armoury Chamber, Moscow

For anyone with an interest in historical weaponry and armor, this museum — which dates back to the early 1500s when it was created as the royal armory — is a must-see.

The Armoury Chamber (as well as the Diamond Fund Exhibition) is home to some of the most valuable objects that were originally owned by Russian monarchs — from jeweled heirlooms and intricate boxes to ornately decorated pistols and swords — many of which are centuries old.

Within the armoury chamber, you’ll also find the Russian historical regalia, a collection of artifacts that belonged to Russian tsars and emperors between the 13th and 20th centuries, highlighted by the Ivory Throne and the Monomakh’s Cap.

  • Armoury Chamber tours

6 – Step inside the Palace of the Facets | the Kremlin

Palace of the Facets, Moscow

The Palace of the Facets is one of the most underrated buildings in all of Moscow, largely because it’s not as widely promoted or photographed even though its exterior adorns some postcards.

From the outside, it blends in with the crowd. But step inside and you’ll discover a world of beauty and wonder — its frescoes, golden columns and enormous rooms are a sight to behold

The Palace of the Facets is not only a piece of art (literally, with painted walls), dating back over 500 years, but also acted as the dining hall for the Tsars.

7 – Feel small next to the Tsar Bell | the Kremlin

Tsar Bell, Moscow

Making Philadelphia’s famous Liberty Bell look diminutive in size, this monument , which never actually functioned as a bell due to its immense size (at 205 tons and standing 20.1 feet high!), has found fame in recent years for being the heaviest attraction inside The Kremlin.

With the bronze landmark’s claim to fame of being the biggest bell in the world, it presents as a great, quick photo op when roaming through the Kremlin.

8 – Check out the Senate Palace | the Kremlin

Senate Palace, Moscow

Another architectural masterpiece that’s tucked away within the Kremlin, this palace is famous for being one of Moscow’s most beautiful buildings — its yellow façade curves around to face inward and truly engulf anyone who stands near it.

Built back in the late 1700s, today it houses the Russian presidential administration and, unfortunately for us, is off limits to the general public.

Still, admiring it from outside, with the nearby Tsar Cannon, is certainly good enough.

9 – Grab a photo in front of the Tsar Cannon | the Kremlin

Tsar Cannon, Moscow

One of Moscow’s most iconic symbols, Tsar Cannon (or Royal Cannon) is a cannon that was manufactured in 1586 and resides — yep, you guessed it — within The Kremlin.

Following the theme of the enormous Tsar Bell, it weighs a whopping 39 tons — making it one of the world’s largest cannons even though it has never been shot.

And while its size may be impressive on its own, what makes this cannon so special is that it’s adorned with intricate carvings, ornaments, inscriptions, and a figure of a horse-riding Tsar Feodor the Bellringer.

  • walking tours in Moscow

10 – Join a tour of the Terem Palace | the Kremlin

Terem Palace, Moscow

A stunning, fairytale-like palace that’s steeped in history and detail, the five-story Terem Palace is one of the most underrated attractions within The Kremlin. However, as part of the official residence of the Russian President, much of it is off-limits to snap-happy tourists.

That said, there’s still plenty to be seen in the accessible areas by joining a group tour: a beautiful white-stone carved staircase; curved, decorated, and painted ceilings; and an enchanting low-vaulted Antechamber with lancet windows.

The Red Square

As we move away from the Kremlin, our next stop is the most photographed, picturesque public area in the country.

Flanked by gorgeous, colorful towers and buildings, the Red Square is the most famous square in all of Russia — and one that’s steeped in history, patriotism, and communist symbolism.

Home to some of Moscow’s greatest landmarks including St Basil’s Cathedral (featuring its iconic onion domes), Lenin Mausoleum, GUM department store (an architectural masterpiece that is the most famous shopping mall in Russia), The State History Museum, and more, it’s not just a sight to see in Moscow but also one that has been seen by hundreds of millions from around the world.

11 – Make your way inside St. Basil’s Cathedral | Red Square

St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

Built back in the early 1500s, this quirky-looking, 65-meter-tall Orthodox church is so unique and detailed that it’s earned its place as one of 16 UNESCO cultural sites in Russia — and, thanks to many Hollywood productions like Bond: Skyfall (2012), has only continued to increase in fame.

Its exterior boasts multi-colored domes crowned with golden onion top spires. Meanwhile, inside, you’ll find nine small, separate chapels, and plenty of decorated walls and windows — all best viewed as part of a walking tour of Red Square.

  • Red Square tours in Moscow

12 – Visit the State Historical Museum | Red Square

State Historical Museum, Moscow

One of seven museums that can be found around the expansive Red Square, the State Historical Museum is one of Moscow’s most revered.

Housed in a neoclassical building (the same as GUM), it features more than 4 million items relating to Russian history — making it so vast and incredible that you’ll need at least two hours inside to see just a fraction.

While you’re in the area, be sure to check out the Marshal Georgy Zhukov Monument, a towering horse-riding statue of arguably the most famous and heroic Soviet military commander of WWII, which can be found in front of the museum.

13 – Shop till you drop at GUM | Red Square

GUM department store, Moscow

The official state department store of Russia, having opened in 1893 and become one of Moscow’s most iconic attractions for shopaholics over the years, is known for its gorgeous architecture that looks more like a palace than anything else.

Entering through its massive golden doors, you’ll be surprised to find an extensive shopping center with more than 100 luxury and world-renowned brands of clothing and accessories for men, women, and youngsters.

Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, stop into the Gastronom №1 for a bite to eat or take a stroll through its corridors to appreciate the building’s history and beauty.

14 – Visit Lenin’s Mausoleum | Red Square

Lenin's Mausoleum, Moscow

Another iconic Red Square attraction is Lenin’s Mausoleum, a small yet foreboding building that houses the embalmed corpse of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin (who led Russia through the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917).

Opened in 1930 after his death and standing at more than 12 meters tall, it presents as both a unique and macabre site — and, considering the life-like nature of the body, certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.

Note: Entrance is free of charge, but expect to be searched by security before being allowed in.

15 – Ride the Moscow Metro, enjoying the beautiful stations along the way

Moscow Metro, Russia

As we leave the Red Square, the next cab off the rank is Moscow’s unbelievable artistic Metro network (rivaled only in beauty by that of Stockholm). Constructed between the 1930s and 1950s, its stations were built by hand with a wide range of artistic themes — from socialist realist to Slavic pagan.

Tips: The best way to experience them is as part of a Moscow Metro tour, which can be booked online. However, if you prefer exploring solo, then make sure to visit the Mayakovskaya Metro Station which is known for its seemingly endless archways.

You may also check out Dostoyevskaya, named after a famous writer with murals depicting his stories. The Ploshchad Revolutsii Metro Station is another option where a handful of Socialist statues provide a wonderful contrast to the red marble arches.

  • metro tours in Moscow

16 – Spend the afternoon exploring the State Tretyakov Gallery

State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Boasting the reputation of being one of the world’s leading art museums, the State Tretyakov Gallery is home to a stunning collection that features well over 100,000 works from Russia and around the globe.

Featuring everything from ancient Russian icons to Soviet-era artifacts and contemporary pieces, the museum also houses a charming green garden perfect for recharging.

Visitors are advised to allocate at least three hours inside to properly appreciate everything on show — or consider booking a private VIP tour to skip the lines and focus on the best sections.

  • Tretyakov Gallery tickets

Click here to find out the best Moscow tours .

17 – Get out of town to the Tsaritsyno Museum & Nature Reserve

Tsaritsyno Museum & Nature Reserve, Moscow

Located a short drive from the hustle and bustle of the Red Square, this incredible attraction is both a palatial museum and cultural center, with an enchanting open-air garden to boot — spread across 405 hectares altogether.

Boasting beautiful 18th-century baroque architecture, it was originally built as a country retreat for Catherine the Great. However, it has since been transformed into an outdoor museum with several museums inside — including exhibits dedicated to Russian history and culture.

18 – Tick off the main haunts with a hop-on hop-off bus ride

bus tours in Moscow

Short on time or just can’t be bothered walking around anymore? Then make sure to check out the double-decker Hop-on-Hop-off Bus, a convenient and cheap way of seeing all the main attractions in one go.

With unlimited-ride tickets lasting between 24 and 72 hours, there’s plenty of flexibility to soak in must-see areas like Red Square, the Kremlin, Arbatskaya Square, Theatre Square, and the Red October neighborhood — and with a free audio tour (in English) throughout the ride, you’re sure to learn a thing or two as well.

Busses usually run every 15 minutes, with the full city loop taking roughly an hour — of course, you can disembark and reboard to your heart’s content.

  • bus tours in Moscow

19 – Learn about military history on Poklonnaya Hill

Poklonnaya Hill, Moscow

For an up-close and personal experience with the past, make sure to check out Poklonnaya Hill — a UNESCO World Heritage Site about 20 minutes out from the city center that’s home to several relics from Russia’s pre-revolutionary era.

It has everything from Great Patriotic War memorials dedicated to fallen soldiers of the Russian military forces, to the Eternal Flame and the Museum of Great Patriotic War. This is an unmissable opportunity for history buffs.

Hot tip: While you’re in the area, be sure to stop into the Victory Museum (the nation’s biggest military history museum) and check out the gold-tipped Church of St. George the Victorious .

20 – Get artsy at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

Home to one of the finest and most significant art collections in Russia, the highly-regarded Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts showcases everything from medieval icons and paintings. With over 500,000 pieces of works by renowned artists like Rembrandt, Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, Karl Bryullov and Rubens, the museum is undeniably one of the best things to do in Moscow for art lovers.

The museum also houses impressive exhibits dedicated to ancient Greece, archaeological collections, decorative arts and a 200,000-item Numismatic library.

21 – Take a charming stroll down Arbat Street

Arbat Street, Moscow

Boasting everything from galleries and craft stores to souvenir shops, cafes, and some of Russia’s finest restaurants and hotels — as well as top-notch street performers (like jugglers and caricaturists) — Arbat Street is one of Moscow’s most famous pedestrian hubs for good reason.

The entire walkway, flanked by colorful buildings, stretches about a kilometer through the historic district, making it the perfect start to any day of inner-city exploring.

22 – Lounge around at the Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure, Moscow

One of Moscow’s biggest and most beloved green spaces, Gorky Central Park is a must-visit for anyone looking to soak in some fresh air.

The park boasts 45 hectares of picturesque grassland, forests, Golitsinsky Ponds (home to squirrels and ducks), walking trails, fountains and the Neskuchny Garden. This place is also home to the wooden Olivkovy beach, a hot spot for photographers looking to appreciate the Moskva river.

Plenty of cafes line the well-manicured park, likewise public art projects and picnic spots and an open-air cinema in the summertime!

While a relaxing day in the gardens is never a bad idea, if you’re looking for something a little more interactive, there’s the 18-meter-tall Observation Platform and a handful of museums on site. The Gorky Park Museum , Muzeon Park of Arts , Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and New Tretyakov Gallery are all noteworthy stops within walking distance.

23 – Stare at the ceiling of the Christ the Savior Cathedral

Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow

On an easy stroll from the southwest side of the Kremlin, you’ll find a majestic memorial cathedral doused in history: the 5-golden-domed Christ the Savior Cathedral .

With a beautiful color-contrasting exterior that still falls short of the intricately painted inner walls and ceiling, this underrated (due to not being in Red Square with the other main cathedrals) attraction is a must for the bucket list.

24 – Zoom around town in a Soviet van

Soviet van tours in Moscow

If a hop-on-hop-off bus screams of cliche tourism, why not get a little more cultured by skirting around the city’s main haunts in a real, war-era soviet van?

Undeniably one of Russia’s most emblematic vehicles as both a symbol of a Soviet past and a comical cultural nod to its boring exterior (dubbed the “loaf of bread”), the UAZ-452 vans are iconic.

So whether you opt for a pub crawl, landmark sightseeing tour, or day of adventure with wintertime off-roading, be sure to ride shotgun in one of the loaves of bread at some stage!

25 – See sharks up close at the Moskvarium

Moskvarium, Moscow

The mightiest aquarium in Europe (by size), the Moskvarium is an impressive modern space dedicated to the beauty and diversity of aquatic life.

Located right on the outskirts of Moscow’s city center (about 20 minutes drive from Red Square), this huge complex encompasses over 70 interactive exhibits. These include live shows, and the chance to go swimming with dolphins — that are sure to impress the whole family.

26 – Go underground at the Bunker 42 Cold War Museum

Bunker 42 Cold War Museum, Moscow

In the depths of Moscow’s shadow-strewn streets, hidden 65 meters beneath the tourist crowds are a Cold War-era bunker and former secret communications center.

Bunker 42 was built in 1955 as a nuclear-proof hideaway, but today you can book tours that reveal its secrets and stories — a must for the common history buff.

  • Bunker 42 tickets

27 – Immserve yourself in the soviet culture at the VDNKh theme park and exhibition space

VDNKh, Moscow

Sprawling across the Ostankinsky District, VDNKh is a massive open-air museum and theme park paying homage to Russian industry and Soviet values.

The enormous complex is decked out with several gold-clad statues and palatial pavilions, each uniquely designed to represent different Soviet interests and endeavors, such as geology and the space race.

Hot tip: For a wonderful view of the Moscow skyline, be sure to jump on the Ferris wheel after riding the small roller coasters and merry-go-round.

28 – Take a trip to the Kolomenskoye Palace

Kolomenskoye Palace, Moscow

Overlooking the sparkling Moskva River about 20 kiometers south of central Moscow, the postcard-worthy Kolomenskoye Palace is a former royal estate. It’s now open to the public as an extensive park with carefully-kept gardens, including one of Russia’s oldest white stone churches (the tent-looking UNESCO-listed Ascension Church ).

It has walking trails through peaceful wooded areas and gorgeous views out over the region from its high hilltop location. The park has long been considered one of the hidden gems when it comes to things to do in Moscow.

29 – Enjoy the view from the Ostankino TV Tower

Ostankino TV Tower. Moscow

With the coveted claim to fame of being the tallest free-standing structure in Europe (and 11th tallest in the world) — standing above the Empire State Building, for reference — the 540.1-meter-tall Ostankino Tower is picturesquely located next to Park Dubovaya Roshcha, not too far from VDNH, the Moskvarium, and the widespread Park Ostankind.

So long as you’re not left lighthearted by heights, the 337-meter-high observation deck is the go-to spot for panoramic views.

30 – Blast off at the Museum of Cosmonautics

Museum of Cosmonautics, Moscow

One for the space nerds and future astronauts, the Museum of Cosmonautics is dedicated to the history, present-day relevance, and future possibilities of space exploration. It provides a spectacular insight into the Soviet perspective of the 1960s space race.

Located on a lovely green site in one corner of VDNKh, the museum features an outdoor planetarium, interactive displays for children, as well as inside exhibits that showcase original spacecraft parts.

For the best experience, consider a pre-arranged tour that includes access to both the Museum and VDNKh.

31 – Complete your Moscow culinary experience with a food tour

food tours in Moscow

Foodies, listen up! Moscow has gained a reputation for being one of the finest cities in Europe for foodies, with an excellent range of restaurants and bars.

For those looking for a complete Moscow culinary experience that includes some of the best hidden gems and experiences, food tours are an ideal way to go.

Depending on your tour of choice, expect to sample a few Pelmeni (dumplings), Blini (wafer-thin pancakes), and world-famous Ponchiki doughnuts. Then wash it all down with some locally-distilled vodka or Nalivka (a sweet berry-infused liquor).

  • food tours in Moscow

32 – Smell the flowers at the Main Botanical Garden — the largest botanical garden in Europe

Main Botanical Garden of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

Constructed in 1945, the Main Botanical Garden of the Russian Academy of Sciences is a 340-hectare space of plant collections and lakeside walkways to explore.

It’s one of those places that gets better as you make your way around it on foot (or even rollerblades). There are many well-kept gardens, beautiful ponds filled with turtles and waterfowl, a charming Japanese Garden and some very rare trees.

33 – Wander around the Novodevichy Monastery

Novodevichy Monastery, Moscow

The Novodevichy Convent and surrounding Kremlin-style walls combine to be one of Moscow’s most picturesque sites — a UNESCO-listed complex that was founded in the 1500s and includes an interweaving of churches, cathedrals, bell towers and a cemetery.

After admiring the buildings, check out the monastery which is surrounded by green spaces perfect for a stroll and a snack.

To learn all about its architecture and history, opt for a guided tour as recommended by most travelers.

34 – Ride the coasters at Family Park SKAZKA

Family Park SKAZKA, Moscow

If you’re traveling with youngsters who seem to never be able to burn off their energy then make a beeline for the Krylatskoye District neighborhood, home to the popular SKAZKA adventure park.

Kids can enjoy everything from bumper cars to the petting zoo, while parents might want to pop into one of the cafes or restaurants.

Even if you don’t have kids in tow, the adrenaline-pumping roller coasters invite thrill-seekers of all ages.

35 – Understand the deeper meanings of “Soviet Jew” at the Jewish Museum & Centre of Tolerance

Jewish Museum & Centre of Tolerance, Moscow

Opened in 2012, the Jewish Museum and Centre of Tolerance is a fascinating institution dedicated to exploring and honoring the diverse complex Russian-Jewish history and culture.

Explore every facet of the role of Russian Jewry throughout the centuries — including food, artifacts, religious beliefs and cultural traditions. Visitors can also see an array of exhibits made from testimonial footage, as well as a large collection of works of Jewish artists.

For history buffs, the museum dives into the intriguing role that Jewish soldiers played during World War II.

36 – Cruise down the Moscow River!

boat tours in Moscow

For those looking for a unique perspective on the city, there are stacks of tours (romantic, sightseeing, luxury-themed or party-vibed) that explore Moscow from its riverfront.

Take in some of the most iconic landmarks around the Kremlin and Gorky Park on a boat. Cruises can also take you underneath bridges, entertain you with live music and offer insights into the landmarks that pass by with live audio narration.

  • boat tours in Moscow

37 – Grab a table at Café Pushkin

Café Pushkin, Moscow

A favorite of many Muscovites, Cafe Pushkin on Tverskoy Boulevard is an intimate spot to enjoy some authentic Russian dishes.

It’s hand-picked by locals for its traditional décor resembling a nobleman’s house and charming atmosphere (thanks largely to the rustic bookshelves). You’ll find that the menu consists mainly of classic European cuisine mixed with a few local favorites. It’s complemented by a wooden bar with a fine collection of vintage wines and regular live music.

38 – Spend the day at the Karibiya Aquapark

Karibiya Aquapark, Moscow

After a hard day exploring the city, why not spend some time out to relax and unwind at one of Moscow’s largest water parks?

Karibiya has a handful of pools (including a heated salt-water spa) and fun but not too wild slides, plus a bowling alley for the kids, a fitness center and bar for the adults. There’s something to keep everyone entertained.

39 – Take a day trip to Sergiev Posad

Sergiev Posad day trips from Moscow

A photographer’s dream with blue-and-gold cupolas contrasted by snow-white walls, the ancient town of Sergiev Posad (just over an hour’s drive from Moscow) is a quaint tourist favorite. It’s famous for being home to one of Russia’s most important and sacred monasteries — the free-to-visit Trinity Lavra St. Sergius monastery complex.

Founded in 1340 AD by Saint Sergius, today it serves as an active monastery where visitors are free to attend daily services. Admire its truly remarkable artworks and historic museum collections.

  • Sergiev Posad day trip

40 – Spot starfish (and monkeys?) at the Crocus City Oceanarium

Crocus City Oceanarium, Moscow

One of the latest attractions in Moscow, Crocus City Mall’s iceberg-shaped  Oceanarium is a vast three-floor aquarium. It has more than 5,000 species swimming gracefully under one roof — not to mention the reptiles, birds, and monkeys that also call this place home.

Since the mall also boasts shopping centers, a pair of concert halls and a skating rink, there’s no shortage of activities on offer to whisk away a rainy day.

41 – Button-mash at the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines

Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, Moscow

Where are the gamers at?

For anyone curious about the video games and technology of Russia’s yesteryear, there’s no better place to visit than this retro museum (complete with Soviet-era soda).

Filled with an impressive collection of more than 100 vintage arcade machines dating back as far as the late 1970s (like ”Pull the Turnip”), it’s sure to take you on a trip down memory lane.

42 – Take a walk through the Alexander Garden

Alexander Garden, Moscow

While the majority of Moscow’s other top attractions require a ticket or entry fee, there is at least one gem that doesn’t. It happens to be right on your doorstep if you’re staying anywhere near the Kremlin.

Alexander Garden (also known as Alexandrovsky Sad) is an expansive park that stretches the entire western wall of the Kremlin (nearly 1km in length). It’s filled to the brim with colorful flower beds, winding walkways and calming fountains.

Don’t miss the tomb of the Unknown Soldier while you’re there.

43 – Sign up for a dog sledding adventure!

dog sledding in Moscow

Cliche? Sure, maybe a little. Seriously fun? You better believe it!

Winter is coming, and that means it’s time to get out there and experience Russia the way only locals can — by dog sledding.

Typically lasting seven or eight hours, these outdoor adventures (which include hotel pick up and drop off) are a wonderful way to experience nature and immerse yourself in ancient Russian traditions — and hang out with a handful of adorable huskies, of course!

Seriously though, this is one of those things you’re going to want photos (and videos) for when you get back home because, really, words just wouldn’t do it justice.

44 – Walk beneath the Iberian Gate and Chapel

Iberian Gate and Chapel, Moscow

Facing away from the Red Square and linking Manezhnaya Square, the Iberian Gate and Chapel (sometimes called the Resurrection Gate) is overflowing with history. It acts as the spiritual entrance to the Red Square and the home of the wooden chapel that houses icons of the Iberian Virgin.

Many believe it is customary to kiss the Iberian icon before entering the gate and for boys to take off their hats. For an insight into the local culture, join a walking tour and learn more about the gate’s significance to religion and history.

To add to the importance, the gate is also the location of ‘Kilometer Zero’ — the official central point of Moscow.

45 – Play all day at the Dream Island theme park

Dream Island, Moscow

After opening its gates early in 2020, Dream Island earned itself the coveted title of being the largest indoor theme park in Europe (yep, that means it’s even open in the harsh winter).

It’s a delight for kids and adults alike. Throughout the park you’ll find an array of rides themed around classic cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pinocchio, the Smurfs, Hotel Transylvania and Hello Kitty. It also has charming and well-arranged streets that transport you to bustling cities like London and Barcelona!

Throw in live performances, plenty of eateries, a cinema and a hotel, and you can see why it’s become all the rage recently.

46 – Race against the clock in an escape room

escape rooms in Moscow

An unmissable and quick activity for any budding Sherlock Holmes out there, escape rooms challenge your mind and require wit, teamwork, and logic. Figure out the puzzles and escape from each room before time runs up.

Moscow’s escape room games usually last around 60 minutes and cover a range of themes (like a USSR Nuclear Bunker or even an outdoor, app-led scavenger game) — perfect for the whole family.

47 – Chill out by the Patriarch’s Ponds

Patriarch's Ponds, Moscow

Surrounded by residential buildings in the fancy downtown Presnensky District, the enormous (9,900 square meters, to be exact) the Patriarshiye Prudy is a beautiful oasis. It’s frequented by dog walkers, picnickers, artists and musicians alike.

In summertime, you’ll find people picnicking on the grassy banks or sunbathing by the ponds. In the winter, it transforms into a magical wonderland of snow and ice, morphing into a popular public skating rink.

Directions on Google Maps

48 – Go behind the scenes at Luzhniki Stadium

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

Moscow’s Lujniki Stadium is one of Europe’s biggest soccer complexes, capable of hosting some 80,000 fans with an electric-like atmosphere — as we saw during its phase as the main stadium of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Besides being the current home ground of Russia’s National Football Team, it also hosts concerts by some of the biggest international acts and was also the focal point of the 1980 Olympic Games.

If your trip doesn’t line up with any sellout matches, you can still join a backstage stadium tour that explores the dressing rooms, press conference room and the field.

49 – Head to Suzdal and Vladimir for a day

Suzdal and Vladimir day trips from Moscow

A fantastic option for anyone who wants to get out of the chaos of Moscow for a minute, these two towns are parts of the Golden Ring of ancient Russian cities. They present as perfect day trips, thanks to their rich history, diverse culture and white-drenched architecture.

In Suzdal , the Kremlin fortress is the main event, with the Cathedral of the Nativity (and its 13th-century Golden Doors) captivating visitors year after year. In Vladimir , the awe-inspiring Assumption Cathedral (Dormition Cathedral) teaks center stage, with its five golden domes making for a wonderful photo backdrop

Don’t feel like hiring a car? Take the hassle out of your getaway and book a pre-arranged tour that visits both ancient towns on the same day.

50 – Escape the crowds at the Botanic Gardens of Moscow State University

Botanic Gardens of Moscow State University, Moscow

Wielding the title of Russia’s oldest botanic garden, the Botanic Gardens of Moscow State University (founded in 1706) is a fantastic place to escape the city and learn about Russia’s rich flora.

The beautifully arranged garden boasts more than 6,000 plant species that span various climates across the world, allowing visitors to see everything from roses and tulips to cacti and bamboo trees!

51 – Climb inside a tank at the Kubinka Tank Museum

Kubinka Tank Museum, Moscow

A must-see for any military history buff, the Kubinka Tank Museum showcases dozens of tanks and armored vehicles from across the globe, with a particularly heavy focus on Soviet Union models (to be expected, right?).

The collection includes everything from Polish TKS tankettes to the only remaining Panzer VIII Maus, a captured WWI British Mark V and the Object 172 — as well as plenty of cannons, weapons and missiles.

Serving traditional Russian military meals and national staples, even the cafe-restaurant is military-themed!

52 – Sit front row at the Moscow International House of Music

Moscow International House of Music

A world-renowned performance complex on the picturesque Kosmodamianskaya Embankment, this state-of-the-art venue is best known for hosting Vladimir Spivakov’s Virtuosi of Moscow Chamber Orchestra. It showcases everything from classical concerts to jazz, folk music and more!

The venue’s three magnificent concert halls welcome an array of local and international performers. Check the website to see who’s taking center stage during your visit!

53 – Drift through fresh powder on a snowmobile!

snowmobiling in Moscow

While it’s not always winter (though if you want to make the most of your snowy trip, come between December and March), as soon as that first snowfall hits, it’s time for snowmobile tours. Make for a fantastic way to explore the out-of-the-way locations and magical forests beyond Moscow’s city limits.

Even if you’ve never ridden a ski-doo or snowmobile before, the friendly expert instructors will be with you every step of the way, with safety and enjoyment always priorities.

54 – Crank your head skywards in Moscow City

Moscow International Business Center, Moscow

A stark contrast to the ancient and colorful onion domes in the Red Square, Moscow City’s skyscape (aka the Moscow International Business Center ) is full of towering, modern glass-heavy (even twisting) skyscrapers. Many of which are vying at the top of the list of Europe’s tallest buildings.

At 374 meters tall and with 95 floors — and a wonderful restaurant on its 60th floor — the Moscow Federation Tower is a popular choice for tourists. Meanwhile, the 85th and 86th floor of the OKO Towers play host to a Russian restaurant and skating rink respectively.

Be sure to walk through the modern Bagration Bridge and, for the shopaholics, check out the stores and IMAX theater inside AFIMALL City.

55 – Check out Zaryadye Park

Zaryadye Park, Moscow

Within arm’s reach of the famed Red Square, the peaceful slice of greenery that is Zaryadye Park is a breath of beautiful and natural air amidst the concrete jungle. It’s the first new city park to be opened in Moscow for more than half a century.

At various points around the 10-hectare park, you’ll find a few restaurant pavilions, a media center, a museum and a botanical collection housing over a million plants. It also houses the two-stage Zaryadye Concert Hall where thousands of passersby take a seat on the steps every day.

While you’re there, don’t miss the Chambers of the Romanov Boyars, an unusual museum above the northern side of the park.

56 – Stroll around the cozy Hermitage Garden

Hermitage Garden, Moscow

Small yet incredibly charming and found conveniently smack-bang in the middle of the city, the Hermitage Garden is a perfect spot to relax and unwind after a day of learning about Russia’s vast history.

Surrounded by the Sfera Theatre and The Kolobov Novaya Opera Theatre of Moscow , this lovely, leafy garden can be both a relaxing oasis or the prelude to an entertaining evening out.

57 – Treat yourself to a ballet show at the Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

With a reputation that precedes it, the impressive and world-famous Bolshoi Theatre is a must for any theater lover. Its rich history is making it one of the most iconic theaters in Europe.

While there are several performances to choose from throughout the year — from ballet to opera, classic dramas and even acrobatic shows — you can also get your own private backstage tour.

58 – Get artsy, then party at ArtPlay

ArtPlay, Moscow

This old tea factory turned cultural hub of Moscow’s creative arts is heaven on earth for rotating exhibitions by local artists.

Depending on what piques your interest, you can join in on everything from live music to dance classes, art studio workshops, flea markets and film screenings here. However, after the sun goes down, its alter-ego comes out to play.

So, if you’re feeling peckish, stop into the Domozhilov restaurant nearby for a shashlik. Then wash it down at the English pub with a beer before partying it up at Rodnya, a pumping techno club.

59 – Head to the PANORAMA360 Observation Deck

PANORAMA360 Observation Deck, Moscow

A surefire hit for the social media feed, the observation deck at the top of Moscow’s Federation Tower skyscraper — PANORAMA360 — is a must-see selfie stop for its killer views and … ice cream factory.

From the 89th floor, you can soak in the wonder of Moscow old and new from above. It has floor-to-ceiling windows providing 360-degree vistas, a rotating restaurant and mini-cinema to boot.

60 – Throw down a picnic blanket in Sokolniki Park

Sokolniki Park, Moscow

One of the largest green spaces in Moscow, Sokolniki Park is a very popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike.

Spread across the northeastern Sokolniki District, it’s the perfect distance from the city’s main haunts where the crowds remain small but the accessibility stays high.

With its many activities — from sports to live music to festivals — not much beats this park when it comes to outdoor fun!

61 – Catch a traditional Russian dance show

Russian dance shows in Moscow

To get a true sense of the rich and diverse culture in Moscow, you can’t go past one of its many folk dance shows.

While there are several to choose from, “Kostroma” and “The Golden Ring” are two crowd favorite choices. Each is thoroughly unique with traditional music and costumes sure to make for a once-in-a-lifetime night of entertainment.

Of course, due to high popularity, be sure to book in advance.

62 – Book a table at the White Rabbit restaurant bar

White Rabbit restaurant bar, Moscow

Perched above the historical center of Moscow on the 16th floor of the Smolensky Passage building, this lavish restaurant is a must-visit for any foodie-obsessed traveler. Why? Because it continually ranks as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world.

The drool-worthy menu made by fifth-generation chef Vladimir Mukhin consists of creative, beautiful plated meals. The coveted eaterie also boasts 360-degree panoramic views of the city and a fine collection of wines and cocktails.

63 – Have dinner inside the Vysoko-Petrovskiy Monastery

Vysoko-Petrovskiy Monastery, Moscow

Whether you’re an architecture or history buff, while visiting Moscow, it would be a shame to miss out on the rare chance to eat in an actual monastery.

This one is particularly special as it dates back some 700 years. Not only will you get to dig into an authentic Russian menu, but learn about the history of the building and (depending on your booking package) get a guided tour too.

64 – Pass by the ‘Children Are the Victims of Adult Vices’ sculpture

Children Are the Victims of Adult Vices sculpture, Moscow

This free public art installation in Bolotnaya square was created by Mihail Chemaikin in 2001. A somewhat controversial landmark, it depicts how children are influenced by vices — alcohol, theft, ignorance, violence, addiction, poverty and war, to name a few.

The sculpture’s uniqueness and thought-provoking nature makes it an essential stop on any day of wandering around.

65 – Get wild on a pub crawl!

pub crawls in Moscow

You’re on vacation, so it’s time to let your hair down, mingle with some fellow thirsty travelers and party it up Moscow-style!

High-energy pub crawls are a great way to get acquainted with new friends while seeing Moscow’s unique nightlife scene first-hand. Let the locals lead you to hidden gems, tourist hot spots and quirky dive bars.

If you don’t feel like walking, why not join a Soviet minivan crawl instead (where you can drink Soviet champagne onboard!)?

66 – Roll up for the Nikulin Circus!

Nikulin Circus, Moscow

If you haven’t had the chance to see a live circus before — and especially if you’re traveling with kids — why not head over to the Nikulin Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard?

It blends traditional Russian acrobatics with modern-day technology, animals, and the classic circular circus stage. This beloved local entertainment is also considered one of the most enjoyable things to do in Moscow!

67 – Get romantic on a Moskva River dinner cruise

dinner cruises in Moscow

What better way to take in the city’s skyline than from a luxury yacht as you enjoy entertainment, fine dining, and (strong) specialty drinks?

Whether you’re looking for something large that can accommodate groups of friends or something smaller with a bit more VIP style, there are several dinner cruises available to suit any taste and budget.

68 – Explore the wonderful Izmailovo District

Izmailovo District, Moscow

One of the city’s best-kept secrets, Izmailovo ‘s focal point is its Kremlin, a colorful wooden complex. Built in 2007, it has had unique museums and flea markets pop up nearby in the years since.

Throughout the area, you’ll uncover museums dedicated to vodka, break and Russian folk art. The district’s charming open-air flea market has all kinds of crafts and souvenirs are haggled on the daily.

Don’t miss Izmailovo Park , which is an enormous 300-hectare space that plays host to souvenir vendors, forest walking paths and even an ice rink in winter.

With so much to see in the district, savvy travelers typically opt for a guided tour.

  • Izmailovo tours

69 – Sip on a cocktail at the award-winning City Space Bar and Lounge

City Space Bar and Lounge, Moscow

Self-dubbed as one of the world’s top 10 bars, with accolades like Luxury Travel Guide’s Bar of the Year 2018, this iconic and luxurious watering hole doesn’t need much of an introduction.

Perched sky-high on the 34th floor of Swissotel Krasnye Holmy, the circular lounge bar slings signature cocktails and dishes up truly stunning views of the city.

Hot tip: While there’s never a poor time to visit, aim to arrive an hour or so before sunset, that’s when the city will truly sparkle below.

70 – Pamper yourself at the Sanduny Baths

Sanduny Baths, Moscow

If you’re looking for something to ease that throbbing headache after a night of pub crawling, why not try the famous Sanduny Baths , a quintessentially Russian experience?

Famed as one of the world’s most beautiful public bathhouses, Sanduny’s steam rooms and pools are said to be some of the best in Moscow. But for something totally unique, you can’t go past the birch twigs massage (read: beating).

71 – Spruce up your social media feed at some Insta-worthy restaurants

insta-worthy restaurants in Moscow

While a good meal is always part of the restaurant experience, getting a good pic for Instagram is half the fun!

Luckily, there are tons of excellent eateries that combine great food with gorgeous aesthetics.

Big Wine Freaks has a fantastic drink selection (naturally), and its dark, classy rooms full of elegant light fixtures and plush furniture bring to mind a spy’s hideout.

Meanwhile, Sempre adopts more of a naturalistic approach, surrounding diners with ferns and greenery.

And at Black Market Moscow , you can choose between indoor and outdoor spaces, each featuring their own unique designs and dining experiences.

Take a bite and snap some pics!

72 – Unleash your inner party animal at the Night clubs

nightlife in Moscow

When the sun goes down, you’ll get to see a whole new side of Moscow: its amazing nightlife!

Head to Propaganda for a bite or a beverage, then dance to some quality club tunes.

Or get a little wild at Chesterfield , where you can pay a flat fee and drink as much as you want – the perfect recipe for fun!

And at Rock’N’ Roll , there’s a new form of excitement every day, from DJ sets to live bands, all playing a lively mix of rock music from across the decades.

With all this excitement, you won’t want to book anything early the next day!

How to get to Moscow?

Unless you’re feeling up to the challenge of a long train journey, you’ll most likely be flying into Moscow.

Luckily, it has three international airports to choose from: Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo, and Domodedovo.

Once you’ve arrived, you’ll be able to easily reach the city via the Aeroexpress train.

Where to stay in Moscow?

Golden Ring Hotel  will make you feel like you’re on top of the world, whether you’re getting pampered at the beauty salon or enjoying a meal in the rooftop restaurants.

Or check in to Radisson Slavyanskaya Hotel & Business Center , which boasts everything from riverside views and a gym to nearby shopping areas and relaxing Turkish baths.

At AZIMUT Hotel Olympic Moscow , the massages, international cuisine, sauna, and swimming pool will keep you happily occupied in between excursions.

And at sister property AZIMUT Hotel Smolenskaya Moscow , you can savor a nice meal or admire the scenery from the lounge, or stroll over to Gorky Park or roam along Stary Arbat Street.

Meanwhile, Oblaka Hotel blends simple charm and a convenient location, with charming red brick exteriors and easy access to historic sites and a metro station.

  • best hotels in Moscow

Visiting Moscow on a budget?

There’s nothing like seeing a city on foot… especially on a free walking tour !

These excursions aren’t just a way to save money while still learning a lot; they also offer a wonderful opportunity to gain local perspectives, courtesy of your guides.

But despite the name, they do accept tips for a job well done, so bring a bit of money with you!

Where to go next?

If you’re short on time but still want to see the best of Moscow, try some multi-day tours ; they’ll provide all of the coolest sights and experiences in an efficient format.

After that, it’s time to start exploring further afield!

Though it’s a bit of a trek, St. Petersburg is well worth the journey!

With its famously decadent buildings to its lively arts scene, this is the perfect place to soak up some culture; but there are also some more offbeat options, like folk shows, vodka tastings, and even an amusement park!

And from the jaw-dropping designs of the metro stations (yes, you read that correctly) to the glimmer of Faberge eggs, it showcases beauty at every turn.

Ready to go beyond Russia?

Dive into the best places to visit in Europe , a smorgasbord of art and history, nature and architecture, showcasing some of the most beloved cities and countries in the world.

Final thoughts

While Russia’s capital may seem imposing, its dynamic culture, live-wire entertainment scene, and remarkable history make it an unbeatable destination, with unique adventures that will linger in your memory long after you’ve returned home.

You may feel a little overwhelmed by all of the incredible things to do in Moscow… but that’s all the more reason to come back!

If you have any other must-see suggestions, noteworthy day trips or quintessential tours worth booking, feel free to write in the comments!

As always, happy travels!

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19 Unique And Fabulous Experiences In Moscow

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Thinking of visiting Russia? When visiting such a famous city, one must, of course, visit the iconic landmarks first. Moscow has plenty of those, most of them in the center of the city, which is very well-planned for tourists. Once you’ve seen the sights that are on most travelers’ lists, it’s time to branch out and visit some of the lesser-known sites, and there are some fascinating places to see and things to do.

I know this list is long, but I just couldn’t help myself. You probably won’t have the time to see them all. But that’s okay. Just scroll through the list and choose what sounds the most interesting to you. Where possible, make sure to book in advance, as things can get crowded, especially during high season.

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

1. The Red Square, Kremlin, And Surroundings

Red Square (Krasnya Ploshad) is the heart and soul of Russia, and where much of the country’s history has unfolded. This is the most famous landmark in Moscow and indeed the whole country, it’s an absolute must-do! The square is always full of people and has a rather festive atmosphere!

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

This is the famous church with the rainbow-colored, onion-domed roof. The cathedral was commissioned in the 1500s by Ivan the Terrible and according to legend, the Tsar thought it was so beautiful, that he ordered that the architect’s eyes be cut out afterward, so he could never build anything more beautiful! He wasn’t called Ivan the Terrible for no reason!

Lenin’s Mausoleum

The “love-it-or-hate-it” of tourist attractions in Russia. A glass sarcophagus containing the embalmed body of Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin. It may seem a bit bizarre to display the mummy of a person, but it has been there for almost half a century and the 2.5 million visitors who come each year, clearly feel the queuing and thorough body search are worth it, to be in Lenin’s presence.

Pro Tip: no photos and no loud talking are allowed inside the Mausoleum.

Eternal Flame

There is an Eternal Flame in honor of an unknown soldier on the left side of Red Square. The hourly changing of the guards is worth seeing.

The Kremlin is the official residence of the Russian president. You can see it from the outside, or you can take an excursion to one of the museums located inside. This is the biggest active fortress in Europe, and holds a week’s worth of attractions! Once behind the 7,332-feet of walls, there are five squares, four cathedrals, 20 towers, various museums, and the world’s largest bell and cannon to see. Worth a special mention is the Armory Chamber that houses a collection of the famous Faberge Eggs.

Pro Tip: You can only go inside the Kremlin if you are part of a tourist group.

Interior of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscos

2. Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre translates to “The Big Theatre” in Russian, and the building is home to both the Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera — among the oldest and most famous ballet and opera companies in the world.

Pro Tip: It’s hard to get an inexpensive ticket, so if you’re reading well in advance of going to Moscow then try buying tickets on the official website . Last-minute tickets cost around $250 per person. If this is out of your budget, about an hour before a performance, you can try buying a ticket at the entrance from a reseller. Most can speak enough English to negotiate the price.

Tour the Bolshoi Theatre: You can take a group guided tour of the Bolshoi Theatre which focuses on the history and architecture of the theatre and behind the scenes. There’s an English language tour that lasts 2 hours and costs around $300 for a group of up to six.

GUM, a popular department store in Moscow

3. Luxury Shopping At GUM And TSUM

Russia’s main department store, GUM, has a stunning interior that is home to over 100 high-end boutiques, selling a variety of brands: from luxurious Dior to the more affordable Zara. Even if shopping is not on your Moscow to-do list GUM is still worth a visit; the glass-roofed arcade faces Red Square and offers a variety of classy eateries. TSUM, one of the biggest luxury malls in town, is right behind the Bolshoi and GUM. It’s an imposing building with lots of history, and worth a visit just for its design and its glass roof.

Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow

4. Christ The Savior Cathedral

This is one of Russia’s most visited cathedrals and is a newer addition to the gorgeous array of Muscovite cathedrals, but don’t let its young age fool you. After perestroika, in the early 90s, the revived Russian Orthodox Church was given permission to build a cathedral on this site. It did the location honors and built the largest temple of the Christian Orthodox Church. The façade is as grand as you’d expect, but it’s the inside that will mesmerize you, with its domes, gold, gorgeous paintings, and decor!

The cathedral is located just a few hundred feet away from the Kremlin and was the site of the infamous Pussy Riot protest against Putin back in 2012.

Pro Tip: Bring a shawl to cover your hair as is the local custom.

Gates at Gorky Park in Moscow

5. Gorky Park

Moscow’s premier green space, Gorky Park (Park Gor’kogo) is the city’s biggest and most famous park. There is entertainment on offer here for every taste, from outdoor dancing sessions to yoga classes, volleyball, ping-pong, rollerblading, and bike and boat rental in summer. In winter, half the park turns into a huge ice skating rink. Gorky Park is also home to an open-air movie theater and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. There is also Muzeon Art Park, a dynamic contemporary space with a unique collection of 700 sculptures. It is located right in front of Gorky Park.

6. Sparrow Hills Park

If you take a walk from Gorky Park, along the Moscow River embankment, you’ll end up in the city’s other legendary park, Sparrow Hills. Although the park doesn’t offer as many activities as its hip neighbor, it has a great panoramic view of the city

Pro Tip: You can take a free walking tour to all of the above attractions with an English-speaking guide.

River cruise in Moscow

7. River Cruising

One of the best ways to experience Moscow, and see all the famous landmarks, but from a different angle, is from the Moscow River. Take a river cruise. Avoid the tourist crowds. There are little nameless old boats that do the cruise, but if you are looking for a more luxurious experience take the Radisson Blu cruise and enjoy the sights with some good food and a glass of wine.

Moscow Metro station

8. Metro Hopping

Inaugurated in the 1930s, the Moscow Metro system is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the world. Started in Stalinist times, each station is a work of art in its own right. I’d recommend touring the stations between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. This way, you’ll be able to properly see it without the crowds. Ideally, I’d recommend taking a tour with a knowledgeable guide with GuruWalk, who will tell you stories of forgotten stations and how the history of the country is interconnected with the metro development. If going by yourself, then I definitely recommend checking out: Mayakovskaya, Ploschad Revolutsii, Kievskaya, Kropotkinskaya, Kurskaya, and Novoslobodskaya stations.

Visit the free Moscow Metro Museum: For real train enthusiasts, located in the southern vestibule of Sportivnaya station is a small free museum. Here you can take a peek into the driver’s cabin, see a collection of metro tokens from different cities, and see different models of a turnstile, traffic lights, escalator, and more.

Moscow State University at dusk

9. Moscow State University View

In his effort to create a grander Moscow, Stalin had seven skyscrapers built in different parts of town; they’re called the Seven Sisters. The largest of these buildings and the one with the best view is the main building of the Moscow State University. Although this is a little outside the city center, the view is more than worth it.

Izmailovsky Market in Moscow, Russia

10. Izmailovsky Market

Mostly known for the city’s largest flea market, the district of Izmaylovo is home to a maze of shops where you can get just about anything, from artisan crafts to traditional fur hats, handcrafted jewelry, fascinating Soviet memorabilia, and antiquities. It’s also one of Moscow’s largest green spaces. There are often no price tags, so be prepared to haggle a bit. Head to one of the market cafes for a warming mulled wine before continuing your shopping spree.

The History of Vodka Museum is found here, and the museum’s restaurant is the perfect place to sample various brands of the national drink.

Once you’ve covered the more touristy spots, Moscow still has plenty to offer, and the places below will also be full of locals! So for some local vibes, I would strongly recommend the spots below!

The skyscrapers of Moscow City

11. Moscow City

With a completely different vibe, Moscow City (also referred to as Moscow International Business Center) is like a mini Dubai, with lots of impressive tall glass buildings. Here is where you’ll find the best rooftops in towns, like Ruski Restaurant, the highest restaurant both in Moscow City and in Europe. Moscow City is great for crowd-free shopping and the best panoramic views of the city.

Art in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow

12. Tretyakov Gallery

Tretyakov Gallery started as the private collection of the Tretyakov brothers, who were 19th-century philanthropists. They gave their private collection to the government after their deaths. If there is just one museum you visit in Moscow, I recommend this one!

Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve, former residence of Catherine the Great

13. Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve

Tsaritsyno was a residence of Catherine the Great more than two centuries ago. It became derelict during the Soviet era but has now been fully renovated. With its opulently decorated buildings, gardens, meadows, and forests, Tsaritsyno Park is the perfect place for a green respite in Moscow.

Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve in Moscow

14. Kolomenskoye

A 10-minute metro ride from the city center is Kolomenskoe Museum-Reserve, where you can get an idea of what Russia looked like 200 years ago. You’ll find ancient churches (one dating back to the 16th century), the oldest garden in Moscow, and the wonderful fairytale wooden palace of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great.

Ostankino TV Tower in Moscow at night

15. Ostankino TV Tower

Built in 1967, Ostankino TV Tower was the tallest free-standing construction in the world at the time, it’s still the 8th tallest building in the world and the highest in Europe. It’s also the best observation deck, with a glass floor and 360-degree views. The speedy elevators take you 1,105 feet in next to no time.

Pro Tip: You need to book in advance; entrance is based on specific ticket times and the capacity is limited and only a certain number of tourists are allowed per day. Don’t forget your passport, you’ll need it to get through security.

The floating bridge of Zaryadye Park in Moscow

16. Zaryadye Park

Zaryadye is a newly opened, landscaped urban park so new you won’t find it in a lot of tour guides. The park is near Red Square and is divided into four climatic zones: forest, steppe, tundra, and floodplains, depicting the variety of climatic zones in Russia.

These last three suggestions are a little quirky, but all are really worth checking out.

17. Museum Of Soviet Arcade Games

Release your inner child playing on 66 arcade machines from the Soviet era! What a great way to spend a couple of hours when tired of visiting museums and palaces. The staff speaks excellent English and are happy to explain how the games work.

The rooftops of Moscow, Russia

18. Moscow Rooftop Tour

Take a 1-hour private Moscow rooftop tour with an experienced roofer. I can just about guarantee none of your friends will be able to say they’ve done it! For your comfort, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes. Take your camera, there are some amazing photo opportunities out there!

A pool at Sanduny Banya in Moscow

19. Sanduny Banya

This classical Russian bathhouse opened its doors in 1808 and is famous for combining traditional Russian banya services with luxurious interiors and service. If you enjoy spas and saunas, then you should experience a Russian bathhouse at least once in your life! Go with an open mind and hire a specialist to steam you as it’s meant to be done — by being beaten repeatedly with a besom (a leafy branch)! This is said to improve circulation, but is best done by a professional!

So there you have my list of things to do in Moscow. I could have gone on and on and on, but I didn’t want to try your patience! There are so many things to do in this vibrant city that you’ll definitely need to allocate several days for exploring.

Here are some other reasons to visit Moscow and Russia:

  • 7 Reasons To Put Moscow On Your Travel Bucket List
  • Russia 30 Years (And 30 Pounds) Ago
  • Massive Mysterious Craters Appearing Again In Siberia

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Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, before moving to Africa at the age of 21, Sarah Kingdom is a mountain climber and guide, traveler, yoga teacher, trail runner, and mother of two. When she is not climbing or traveling she lives on a cattle ranch in central Zambia. She guides and runs trips regularly in India, Nepal, Tibet, Russia, and Ethiopia, taking climbers up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro numerous times a year.

2018 Primetime Emmy & James Beard Award Winner

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A History of Moscow in 13 Dishes

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A technological tool for effective communication between the leading players in the Moscow tourism market and representatives of the foreign/regional tourism industry through online events. OBJECTIVES: • Building long-term cooperation with foreign/regional representatives • Raising awareness among foreign/regional representatives of the tourism industry of the tourism opportunities, measures and attractiveness of the city of Moscow in the field of tourist infrastructure development

Moscow City Tourism Committee

The Tourism Committee, or Mostourism, is the executive body of the Moscow City Government that oversees tourist activities in the capital. The Committee is responsible for legislative initiatives, congress and exhibition activities, and event and image projects. As the brand manager for an attractive tourism image for Moscow, Mostourism constantly analyses global trends, offers Russian and foreign tourists what they want, and also uncovers new opportunities for the capital in terms of interesting and rewarding leisure activities.

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More From Forbes

How to enjoy the world’s 50 best restaurants awards in las vegas.

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The main event of the week at Wynn Las Vegas is Revelry: The Feast, an elevated take on the food ... [+] festival "Grand Tasting" concept.

Launched in London more than 20 years ago, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards has become one of the most important ratings in the rarefied world of top tier fine dining (though not without some criticism and controversy). But regardless what people think of the process behind selection, there’s no doubt that some of the big winners over the years have in fact been some of the world’s very best, places like Spain’s El Bulli, England’s The Fate Duck, Italy’s Osteria Francescana, Denmark’s Noma and in the U.S. notables have included Napa Valley’s French Laundry and New York City’s Eleven Madison Park.

Also, despite the name, the World’s Best List actually goes up to 100, and is split into the first 50 and second 50. There are also many sub-lists, including best by region (Asia, Latin America, North America, etc.) and other genres such as best bars and hotels.

No resort in the nation has more Forbes Stars than Wynn Las Vegas, host of the 2024 World's 50 Best ... [+] Restaurants Awards.

The winners are announced once each year, and the actual awards ceremony has become a big thing in the food and travel industry, full of pomp and circumstance, and for 2024, the show is coming to Las Vegas. The actual awards are at Wynn Las Vegas on June 5, and there’s not much for the public, as the organizers have described the audience as “the world’s leading chefs, gastronomic media and renowned culinary VIPs.”

But for everyone else, there is an impressive slate of public events surrounding the awards, especially at two big hitters in the city’s culinary scene, Wynn Las Vegas and Resorts World Las Vegas. More ancillary foodie actvities are expected to be added at other properties and independent restaurants on and off The Strip as it gets closer.

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Wynn has the most Forbes Stars (hotels, spas, and restaurants) under one roof of any resort in the country, and you can read my detailed resort profile here at Forbes . Wynn is rolling out a new weeklong culinary festival called Revelry ( ticket info and related info at this site ) to go with its role as the awards’ host. Highlights include:

The award-winning culinary staff at Wynn Las Vegas has amassed Forbes and Michelin stars, and wil be ... [+] joined by an A-List of world famous chefs

Monday, June 3: 50 Best Signature Sessions (Casa Playa). Things kick off with a five-course South of the Broder dinner by Wynn’s Casa Playa Chef Sarah Thompson and Elena Reygadas of Mexico City’s Rosetta (World’s Best Female Chef 2023). 50 Best Signature Sessions are collaborative dinners between chefs from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and Wynn’s top restaurants. ( All Signature Series Reservations here ).

50 Best Signature Sessions (Mizumi): Another special seated collaboration, Japan meets Thailand, with Bangkok Chef Thitid Tassanakajohn of Le Du (15th Best in World 2023) and Pichaya Soontornyanakij of Bangkok’s Potong (Best Female Chef Asia 2024) joining Chef Jeff Ramsey of Wynn’s Mizumi.

James Beard Award winner and Mediterranean food superstar Alon Shaya will be one of the star chefs ... [+] with a restaurant at Wynn cooking for Revelry: The Feast.

Tuesday, June 4: 50 Best Signature Sessions (Sinatra). Italian food fans rejoice as Sinatra Chef Theo Schoenegger welcomes Enrico Crippa of Piazza Doumo in Italy’s Albba (42 Best in World 2023).

Wednesday, June 5: East Meets Best Collaboration Dinner (Wing Lei). Wing Lei is the only Forbes 5-Star Chinese restaurant in the country and was and the first to earn a Michelin-star.

Chef Xian Ming Yu will welcome four other chefs from Wynn properties in Vegas and Macau

The signature pork belly at Casa Playa in Wynn is reason enough to fly to Vegas, but the restaurant ... [+] is also hosting a 50 Best Signature Session.

Thursday, June 6: Class in the Glass, a Wynn Master Class Collaboration (Casa Playa). Wynn is the only Las Vegas resort with a regular schedule of cooking and culinary classes, I’ve done one and they are great. This is a special edition of the Master Class series , showcasing how to reimagine classic cocktails, with both Wynn Master Mixologist Mariena Mercer Boarini and Kate Gerwin, aka Alchemist Kate, of Albuquerque’s Happy Accident, a craft cocktail bar that has won a slew of awards including Bar of the Year and Bartender of the Year.

50 Best Signature Session: Icons Dinner (Lakeside). An ultra-iconic group of superstar chefs previously recognized by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards will come together, including Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park; Junghyun Park of Atomix; Thomas Keller of The French Laundry and Per Se; Kyle Connaughton of Single Thread; Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn; Pastry Chef Pía Salazar of Nuema; and Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel of Ansel Bakery. This is the flagship of the 50 Best Signature Sessions.

Chefs love golf, and you can join French Laundry and Per Se legend Thomas Keller on the fairways at ... [+] Wynn Las Vegas.

Friday, June 7: Wynn Celebrity Chef Golf Tournament, hosted by Thomas Keller and Friends (Wynn Golf Club). Wynn Las Vegas is the only resort on the Strip with its own golf course, an excellent Tom Fazio design that was the site of the televised NFL/PGA Tour two-man competition, The Match. I played the Wynn Golf Club on its opening day years ago and was the first person to ever birdie the signature 18 th , and always will be, but while you cannot beat that, there’s still a lot of fun to be had out there on the course. You’ll join Keller and other world-class chefs for a charity golf tournament benefitting Three Square Food Bank and the Women’s Hospitality Initiative.

Revelry All-Star Chefs Dinner (Lakeside). An experiential collaboration dinner featuring dishes by Brad Kilgore of Kilgore Culinary; Angie Mar of Le B; Philip Tessier of Press; Pastry Chef Margarita Manzke of République; and Pastry Chef Jen Yee of Wynn.

The Yakitori Evangelist with Yakitoriguy: Social media sensation Yakitoriguy will conduct a master class on his Japanese grilled chicken. Attending guests will learn how to deconstruct a chicken, make a glaze, and grill.

Chef Michael Symon x Chef Joshua Smith Collaboration Dinner (Delilah’s). Cleveland’s most famous chef (and restaurateur and Food Network personality) Michael Symon will join forces with Delilah Executive Chef Joshua Smith for a special dinner at Wynn’s modern-day supper club, featurin a Mediterranean-inspired menu (grilled octopus with chickpeas and tomatoes; grilled lamb chops with pea tzatziki and lemon potatoes; salt baked lavraki with ladolemono dressing).

One of the four pillars of Revelry: The Feast will be the Country Cookout.

Saturday, June 8: Revelry The Feast (Wynn Event Pavilion and Lawn). The biggie of thr week, and the most public-facing event is a walk around grand tasting, with lots of beer, wine and signature cocktails, similar to those at the major food festivals around the nation. The Feast “will take guests on an immersive, multi-sensory journey,” with four distinct culinary experiences, including the Four Sixes Ranch Country Cookout with sample cuts from TV hit Yellowstone writer Taylor Sheridan’s Four Sixes Ranch, cooked on wood burning rotisseries and an outdoor smoker; Road to Tulum, a celebration of coastal Mexican fare; The Casbah Marketplace, flavors of the Mediterranean and Middle East with James Beard Award-honored Chef Alon Shaya of Safta 1964 at Wynn Las Vegas, in collaboration with Chef Laura and Chef Sayat Ozyilmaz of Dalida; and Shibuya Crossing, sushi and elevated interpretations of Japanese street foods from Michelin-recognized Chef Jeff Ramsey of Mizumi at Wynn Las Vegas and special guests.

Sweet Imagination at Work. SW Steakhouse and Lakeside Executive Pastry Chef Michael Outlaw, and Salvatore Martone, longtime protégé to Chef Joël Robuchon, will create an unforgettable dessert experience and share their secrets to creating restaurant-caliber desserts at home.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World Las Vegas has one of the best culinary programs in the city, including its ... [+] revolutionary Asian street market inspired Food Hall.

As another official partner of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Resorts World Las Vegas will host the opening and closing events of the week. These are private for industry only but the rest of the slate is open to the public.

Ever since it opened, Resorts World has showcased one of the very best arrays of culinary options in the city, from top tier fine dining and the likes of the city’s finest Italian spot, Brezza, to its game changing Asian inspired “street food” food court. You can read my detailed resort review here at Forbes . Like their rival just across the Strip, they are throwing their own multi-day culinary festival, Indulge: A Week of Food, Culture, and Entertainment .

Thursday, June 6: A Night with ¡VIVA! x Brezza (Brezza). Chef Ray Garcia of ¡VIVA! and Chef Nicole Brisson of Brezza and Bar Zazu will collaborate on an Italian meets Mexico evening. The chefs will be tableside for the six-course dinner with expertly curated wine pairings.

Thursday, June 6 and Friday, June 7: Camphor Presents Steak Frites at RedTail (RedTail). Back-to-back two-night dinners bringing the popular steak frites dinner at Los Angeles’ Camphor and its Chefs Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George to Las Vegas. Good music, good food, and good company.

FUHU in Resorts World is one of the coolest eateries in Vegas, and will host the final dinner of the ... [+] hotel's Indulge food festival.

Friday, June 7: Chifa Takeover at FUHU (FUHU). Family-owned Los Angeles restaurant Chifa will bring its Chinese-Peruvian flair to FUHU’s patio alongside FUHU Chef John Liu.

Larry Olmsted

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When members of the royal family talk to the public, the strangest trifles and details can come out of their mouths.

Last week, Prince William revealed that he thinks it is “very important” to talk to sheep, that he used to like lying down next to his horse and basically spooning it, and that after a hard day of handing out MBEs, he can be found cleaning his children’s guinea pig cage.

Hopefully William, despite having sold his polo ponies years ago, still has at least one filly to spoon because the latest news about his wife, Kate Middleton, suggests that she won’t be seen in public for a very long time.

On Tuesday, UK time, King Charles — who, like his daughter-in-law, is also being treated for cancer — returned to public duties with such grinning gusto, vim and vigor that scientists should think about bottling his pep.

Kate Middleton.

So, with one Windsor patient cleared to return to work, when might the eager lenses of the press and the wall of iPhones being held aloft and the internet and the world get a peek at Kate again?

When might the princess be well enough to get back to her day job of being driven in an armored Range Rover to do her bit?

Ages. Ages and ages, it sounds like.

The Times’ assistant editor Kate Mansey has reported that “Kate is expected to be away from public duties for some time.”

Reports say that “Kate is expected to be away from public duties for some time.”

And it’s those last three words, “for some time,” of which we need to take note.

If we run the numbers and look ahead, it could well be at least four months, if not five, at the very earliest that Kate will return to the public eye.

Next week will see the kickoff of royal garden party season, signaling the starting gun being fired on the royal family’s busiest season.

Between now and July, there will be, at the least, the palace garden parties in London and Edinburgh, the Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Ascot, the Order of the Garter day, Trooping the Colour, Wimbledon and the 70th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

Normally, we would be looking at several months of peak Kate exposure.

This year, given the “for some time” line, it seems likely there will be no Kate, no Kate, no Kate, no Kate, no Kate, no Kate, and, you’ll never guess, no Kate at each of these events.

If this is what plays out, the very earliest we might see the Princess of Wales return to work would be in September, after the Windsors take their annual six-week-plus summer vacay, a portion of which it is mandatory for them to spend in Scotland doing battle with gorse prickles.

With Charles’ relaunch this week , what is clear is that Buckingham and Kensington palaces have adopted opposing strategies as their principals face down the C-word.

King Charles III arrives at the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre on April 30, 2024.

In February, with the king’s doctors having ruled out him going anywhere near the germy masses, His Majesty has ramped up his social media appearances, with the official royal family accounts spitting out a steady stream of shots showing the besuited (no elasticized lounging pants for a sick monarch) 75-year-old hard at it.

Meanwhile, the line being thrown around has been that even when the king is not doing these ambassadorial meet-and-greets (and an aide is patiently answering his question about what “an Instagram” is), he is busy gnawing away at state documents and having meetings with his private secretary and eminence grise, Sir Clive Alderton.

Now, after only three months, Charles has gotten the medical green light to throw himself back into the thick of it this week, with him and Queen Camilla visiting a London cancer center and looking happier than that one time an overeager equerry offered to burn down the Tate Modern for him.

food tourism word

This campaign of maintaining maximum visibility is the opposite of that adopted by Kate, who has been kept more firmly under wraps than someone who has gone into witness protection. (Windsor protection?)

Here we are in May and the princess has been seen on only four occasions: in that controversial Mother’s Day Franken-photo; as an indistinct, blobby shadow in the back of a car with William; in a short clip with William at the Windsor Farm Shop, the 21st century’s answer to the Zapruder footage; and in her March 22 video revealing that she has cancer and is undergoing preventive chemotherapy.

The princess now exists in a complete and utter informational black hole that probably requires the Hubble Telescope to penetrate.

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Aside from the Princess of Wales’ March video, there has been a complete dearth of new information about how she is faring or when the world can tentatively expect to see her floating around a Hereford child care center in a turquoise McQueen blazer while tiny faces look up at her, agog.

Mansey’s “for some time” is the closest thing to even the most remote of pointers about how the rest of the year might unfold.

If ever there was a year that Kate deserved a truly excellent anniversary present, it’s this one, but given Prince Binoculars’ track record, I have my doubts.

The traditional gift for marrieds who have made it this long is lace.

Heaven forbid if he spent Sunday night gift-wrapping a set of doilies.

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Kate Middleton.



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The 63-Year-Old Career Activist Among the Protesters at Columbia

Videos show Lisa Fithian, whom the police called a “professional agitator,” working alongside protesters who stormed Hamilton Hall.

  • Share full article
  • Pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricade an entrance to Hamilton Hall using a metal picnic table.
  • Two counterprotesters wearing blue shirts move to stand between the table and the door.
  • Pro-Palestinian demonstrators form a human chain in front of the door as counterprotesters attempt to push the table away from the building. Lisa Fithian then addresses the counterprotesters.
  • Lisa Fithian continues speaking to counterprotesters.
  • A struggle for control of the doorway takes place as Lisa Fithian speaks to counterprotesters.
  • A pro-Palestinian demonstrator begins a dialogue with one of the counterprotestors. Lisa Fithian continues to talk to counterprotesters.
  • A group of pro-Palestinian protesters surround the counterprotestors and removes one from his position in front of the entrance.

Andrew Keh

By Andrew Keh and Katherine Rosman

Among the throng of Columbia University student protesters gathered outside Hamilton Hall on campus early Tuesday morning was a gray-haired woman in her 60s.

In a video captured by The New York Times, the protesters can be seen trying to push their way toward the building as the woman — decades older than the crowd — pleads with two young counterprotesters trying to block them from barricading the occupied building.

“This is ridiculous,” the woman says, as the men stand with their backs against the doors, apparently trying to keep protesters away from the building. “We’re trying to end a genocide in Gaza.”

The woman at the center of this encounter on the night protesters stormed and then occupied the building was Lisa Fithian, a longtime activist and trainer for left-wing protesters whom the Police Department would later publicly describe as a “confirmed professional agitator.”

Ms. Fithian, 63, was not at Columbia when the police arrived on Tuesday night and made dozens of arrests. She had returned to the home where she was staying in New York, she said in an interview Tuesday night.

As pro-Palestinian protests have spread to campuses across the country, the movement has been heralded by supporters as a student-driven campaign opposing the Israeli offensive in Gaza. But some law enforcement officials and university officials have suggested that the demonstrations have been taken over by people with no ties to the colleges where encampments have sprung up.

On Tuesday evening, as the police raided the Columbia encampment, Ms. Fithian found herself at the center of that dispute.

Tent encampment

Cleared by early

Hamilton Hall

Occupied by

early Tuesday

Police first entered

through an upper

floor Tuesday night

New York City

Amsterdam Ave.

Wednesday morning

Occupied by protesters

early Tuesday morning

West 114th St.

Source: Google Earth

By Leanne Abraham, Bora Erden and Lazaro Gamio

Ms. Fithian said videos and photos of her on campus were being misinterpreted by the police and “right-wing” critics.

“‘Oh, the terrorist, the professional agitator,’” Ms. Fithian said. “This has happened so many times in my life. They love to hate me.”

At a news conference on Tuesday before the arrests, Mayor Eric Adams said the pro-Palestinian demonstration at Columbia has been “co-opted by professional outside agitators” who have no affiliation with the institution.

“They are not here to promote peace or unity or allow a peaceful displaying of one’s voice,” Mr. Adams said. “They are here to create discord and divisiveness.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Nemat Shafik, the Columbia president, in a letter asking the Police Department to enter the campus and clear protesters from Hamilton Hall and the encampment occupied by demonstrators for about two weeks.

“We believe that while the group who broke into the building includes students, it is led by individuals who are not affiliated with the university,” Ms. Shafik wrote to the police on Tuesday. “The individuals who have occupied Hamilton Hall have vandalized university property and are trespassing.”

City and university officials have not said how many of the protesters arrested were not affiliated with the school.

Ms. Fithian disputed the idea that she was in any way organizing the protests.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “It’s actually quite absurd. I know with these videos, it’s hard for some people to believe that. But it’s the truth.”

Ms. Fithian said she came to Columbia on Monday afternoon to conduct a training session with about 30 students activists focused on safety and the general logistics of a protest. She said she had been invited informally by someone — she said she did not catch their name — on Sunday during a visit to City College of New York. She said she was not paid.

Ms. Fithian has had a long public history of involvement with political protests.

She is the author of a 2019 book called “Shut it Down,” a guide to strategic civil disobedience and has worked as a political organizer for decades, supporting political demonstrations across the country, including Occupy Wall Street in 2011; the protests in Ferguson, Mo., that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by the local police in 2014; and the antiracism movement after the death of George Floyd in 2020.

She has also run workshops for other activists. Unions and activist groups have paid her $300 a day to run demonstrations and teach their members tactics for taking over the streets, according to a 2012 profile in Mother Jones magazine.

“The power we have is really in the streets,” she said at a virtual book event in 2020 . “And that it’s the popular mandate that we force in the streets that’s going to force the politicians to do the right thing.”

She continued: “We have to be willing to create a crisis. We have to be willing to engage in social disruption and create crisis for the people in power who are creating harm.”

Ms Fithian said in an interview that she had remained around the campus as she felt tension rising Monday evening. By the time of the confrontation at the door, some protesters had already entered the building. As another group of protesters was trying to drag a picnic table to barricade one of Hamilton Hall’s doors, the two young men who opposed the demonstration tried to prevent their efforts.

The counterprotesters appeared on Fox News on Wednesday morning and identified themselves as Rory Wilson and Charles Beck, both Columbia students.

Mr. Wilson can be heard on the video captured by The New York Times describing his reason for showing up at the demonstration. “I think this is completely inappropriate, and I’m peacefully protesting this protest,” he says.

Ms. Fithian said she involved herself in an effort to “keep things as safe as possible.” She said she was encouraging the men to get out of the way because it was clear to her that they would not be able to stop the situation.

“Relax, relax, you’re not going to make them stop this,” she can be heard saying in the video.

She added in an interview, “It was along the lines of trying to be chill and talking to them in a rational way about, ‘Please, don’t be here.’”

Videos from the scene also show Ms. Fithian later using a profanity to describe the counterprotesters, and insisting to them that “this is a historic moment.”

“Sometimes historic moments aren’t great,” one of them replied.

Ms. Fithian acknowledged she grew impatient with the students blocking the door and wondered if they might be working in tandem with a woman standing nearby who was filming the scene with a phone.

Ms. Fithian’s website notes that she is available for trainings, consultations and organizing projects. She is often described as a “protest consultant,” a label she rejected.

“It’s my life’s work,” she said on Tuesday. “Of course, if I can get paid for it, I want to. If it’s an organization bringing me in to train staff, of course I want to get paid. But if you’re talking about young people in the street who are throwing down, I don’t even want to take donations.”

Andrew Keh covers New York City and the surrounding region for The Times. More about Andrew Keh

Katherine Rosman covers newsmakers, power players and individuals making an imprint on New York City. More about Katherine Rosman

Our Coverage of the U.S. Campus Protests

News and Analysis

President Biden broke days of silence to finally speak out on the unrest disrupting campuses  across the United States, denouncing violence and antisemitism even as he defended the right to peaceful dissent.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, police officers dismantled a pro-Palestinian encampment  and made arrests after a tense hourslong standoff with demonstrators.

Police officers in riot gear arrested pro-Palestinian demonstrators at Fordham University’s Manhattan campus , the third university in New York City to face mass arrests.

Choosing Anonymity:  In an online world, doxxing and other consequences have led many student protesters to obscure their identities by wearing masks and scarves. That choice has been polarizing .

Seeing Links to a Global Struggle:  In many student protesters’ eyes, the war in Gaza is linked to other issues , such as policing, mistreatment of Indigenous people, racism and climate change.

Ending the Unrest:  Across the nation, universities are looking for ways to quell the protests . Columbia has taken the spotlight after calling in the police twice , while Brown chose a different path .

A 63-Year-Old Career Activist:  Videos show Lisa Fithian, whom the police called a “professional agitator,” working alongside protesters at Columbia  who stormed Hamilton Hall.



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    The World Food Travel Association has come up with a fairly accurate model for estimating food tourism value. According to it, visitors spend about 25% of their travel budget on food and beverages, with the figure rising up to 35% inexpensive destinations, and falling to 15% in more affordable destinations. A Food Traveler's ID

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  20. 10 Step Guide to Food Tourism Destination Development

    Update August 2021: A new guide is being developed. Check news posts for an announcement when it is ready for downloading. The much anticipated 10-Step Guide To Food Tourism Destination Development is now ready. Please note that by "food tourism", we also mean culinary tourism, beverage tourism, gastronomy tourism and turismo gastronómico.

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