Seven Culinary Cities You Should Visit this Year

Hungry? Join us as we visit the hottest culinary cities for 2023, including an eastern European capital leading the farm-to-fork movement and a gorgeous Greek island brimming with secret family recipes

Remember that pistachio-flavoured macaron you inhaled in Paris? How about those syrup-drenched pancakes in Amsterdam? And that plateful of pasteis de nata in Lisbon? You're forgiven for still banging on about them. The point we're trying to make here is that food, in our ever-so gourmet opinion, is what makes a destination that little bit more magical. It's through a pit stop at a street-food stand that we find ourselves hearing the tales of a local fisherman; by stepping inside an edgy startup that we meet the faces behind the future of our menus; in touring the lesser-trodden markets that we get a true taste of a landscape - we could go on. Keen to broaden our flavour horizons, we've sought out the cities that are having something of a foodie renaissance this year. From an eastern European capital leading the farm-to-fork movement to a gorgeous Greek island brimming with secret family recipes, these are the culinary hotspots we can't wait to visit this year.

Seven food-focused cities to visit in 2023

Ljubljana, Slovenia



The Slovenian capital enchants with its peach-coloured townhouses, bottle-green waters and centuries-old squares backdropped by the dazzling 12th-century Ljubljana Castle. Named the European Region of Gastronomy in 2021, the city is packed with flavour-filled pockets to discover. Start by strolling through the pedestrian-only Old Town, before slipping into the Central Market. There, you'll find street-food stands serving the finest national specialities, including kranjska klobasa - a garlic-infused pork sausage. Our picks for a sit-down feast? Atelje, for its farm-to-plate menus; TaBar, for stellar sharing plates and low-intervention wines; and the old-school Strelec Restaurant, for traditional recipes and sweeping views across the city.

Where to stay: Zlata Ladjica Boutique Hotel

Naples, Italy



During any kind of culinary conversation, debating your pizza order of choice is an unwritten rule. And, what better way to pay homage to the power of the Neapolitan than by making a culinary pilgrimage to its birthplace - the shabby yet intensely chic Italian city that distils the very essence of La Dolce Vita. Ramble through town, passing effortlessly cool locals in sunny piazzas, and meander beneath multi-storey terracotta casas, where laundry lines sway from the windows above. Make tracks to Porta Nolana, a food market brimming with local produce, best known for its exceptional shrimp. Next up, the family-run Pizzeria da Attilio, an address loved for its star-shaped pizzas and nine-slice combination - each hand-selected by the head chef. For somewhere a little more relaxed, try the old-school Cibi Cotti trattoria - the gnocchi is mouth-wateringly good. End your evening with a classic cocktail at the speakeasy-style L'Antiquario bar.

Where to stay: SuperOtium




Dionysus, the mischievous Greek god of wine, is said to have blessed the island of Naxos with fertility, and you'll be thanking him for it when you visit the third-generation family-run Taverna Axiotissa. The no-frills, sea-facing joint has a wide selection of local labels on the wine list, plus a full line-up of traditional dishes seasoned with home-grown herbs and spices. Nearby Dal Professore Naxos is our choice for prawn spaghetti pasta with a side serving of traditional Greek interiors - picture a whitewashed pergola draped with dried octopus, gingham tablecloths and limestone floors. Keen to join the party people for an Abba singalong? Meze Meze is your best bet - consider the seafood platters and wine-filled glass carafes an added bonus. Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades and, at just an hour's catamaran ride south-east of Athens, makes for a great day trip from the capital. If you're staying longer, take time to visit the Temple of Demeter. One of Greece's oldest temples, dating back to the sixth century, it's crafted from the finest Naxos marble.

Where to stay: Naxian on the Beach

Osaka, Japan



If you left your heart in Tokyo, then prepare to leave your entire soul in Osaka. Considered the stomach of Japan, thanks to its spectacular street-food scene, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to a refuel. Make a beeline for Takoya Dotonbori Kukuru, where a typical serving sees six extra-large batter balls making for the tastiest snack fix. Once you've sated your sashimi hunger, head to Osaka Osake Dining Tsugumi, where the chicken is grilled, fried and barbecued to perfection. Prefer to sit down and take it all in? Hariju Dotonbori draws crowds for its succulent meat cuts and stylish interiors. The best way to explore Osaka, though, is by getting lost. Wander along streets lined by dramatic, neon-lit facades, gawk at colourful, outsized lanterns and admire the animal sculptures snaking along the canal's edge.

Where to stay: Hotel Cordia Osaka

George Town, Malaysia

George Town

Penang Island, Malaysia

Beach-hopped through Bali? Hiked Phú Quốc's tropical trails? Make Penang your choice for a far-flung foodie adventure. Resting on the north-west coast of Malaysia, its capital, George Town, offers a melting pot of flavours. Stroll through the vibrant Chowrasta Market to find street-food stalls dishing up pad thai and flit between Kimberly Street and New Lane to smell herbs, spices and tandoor-cooked meats - making sure to try some nasi lemak, the national dish of rice boiled in rich coconut milk. Date night? Veggie dishes await at China House; basil-topped goodness can be found at Hameediyah; and Black Kettle is made for a pastry-filled breakfast. Food aside, there is a rich spiritual history to be discovered here. Visit the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy Temple, which oozes eternal love and compassion.

Where to stay: The Blue Mansion

Lyon, France
Photo credit: Elena Pominova /



When it comes to food, France doesn't mess about. Sure, nothing beats a buttery croissant whipped up in some beautiful Parisian café, or a cheese fondue melted to perfection in the Alps, but we're fairly certain that you'll be most obsessed with the award-winning kitchens of Lyon this year. Make a reservation at Restaurant Les Apothicaires, the Michelin-starred joint headed up by husband-and-wife duo Tabata and Ludovic Mey. Market-fresh produce feeds a weekly-changing menu that fuses French flair with Nordic and South American influences - think succulent sirloin and lemon-drizzled trout. Elsewhere, Daniel et Denise hits the spot with its tomato cake served on a bed of salad and its charming interiors - all red-chequered tabletops, half-lace curtains and four-head chandeliers overhead. Other favourites include the colourful, covered La Commune market and The Monkey Club cocktail bar.

Where to stay: Hôtel de l'Abbaye

Melbourne Australia



Melbourne - Australia's second-most-populous city - might not exactly be a lesser-trodden foodie destination, but we can hardly turn a blind eye to the multicultural menus that are bringing a new taste to this urban jungle. Start with Embla, pairing wood-fired cooking with wine-focused splendour; the achingly cool Gray and Gray, serving Georgian, Catalan and Victorian wines; and Sunda, showcasing Southeast Asian flavours in a setting where bare-brick walls, scaffolding and plywood accents frame an open kitchen. Where to wash it all down? The Everleigh, for its low-lit, sultry setting, and Above Board, for its seriously fun cocktail concoctions. Read more about Melbourne's next-level dining scene in our Flavour issue.

Where to stay: United Places Botanic Gardens

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