What is a Food Tour? Plus Practical Tips to Book One

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What is a food tour? They’re your ticket to diving deep into the soul of a new place, where its flavors and stories come alive. Think of them as your culinary compass, guiding you through the streets with bites and sips that define the local culture.

Here’s some advice we swear by: schedule a food tour for the first day you’re in town. It’s like meeting a new friend who shows you around, letting you in on all the secret spots while you feast on dishes you wouldn’t have stumbled upon otherwise.

Our foodie travels in Modena, Bologna, and Mazatlán were game-changers, filled with unforgettable tastes like those legendary drunken tacos and the best Parmigiano Reggiano ever.

Food tours aren’t just about eating up local delicacies. They’re a bridge to understanding the place’s heritage and heartbeat, all through the eyes of passionate local guides.

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Thinking of adding a food tour to your tasty itinerary? Stick around. We’re about to unravel the what, how, and why of food tours, plus our tips for picking the perfect one.

What is a Food Tour?

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Local market. Modena, Italy

A food tour is an adventure for your taste buds, guided by a knowledgeable local passionate about their city’s cuisine and traditions. It’s a journey through the heart of a destination, exploring themes like markets, bakeries, or even wine tasting, depending on your interests. Often including tastings of food, wine, or liquor and insights into food production, food tours are a deep dive into local flavors and culinary practices. 

At Tasty Itinerary, we think of it as a “foodie adventure” – a unique opportunity to sample, learn, and fall in love with local eats and drinks you might otherwise miss, all while having fun and trying new things.

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A Food Tour Looks Like This

  • Meet and Greet: Your guide will welcome you at your meeting point, provide an overview of the tour you’re about to take, and introduce the city’s highlights.
  • First Bite: You’ll have your first taste, usually at a local bakery or café, sampling the city’s typical breakfast fare. Unless it’s an afternoon or evening tour.
  • Culinary Exploration: Part of a food tour is embarking on a walking tour through the city, stopping at local markets, eateries, and specialty shops to taste a variety of local specialties.
  • Diverse Dining: Experiences may include on-the-go street food tastings and-or sit-down meals at restaurants.
  • Learn and Taste: The food they introduce all comes with a story—learn about its history, production, and cultural significance.
  • Insider Tips: This is one of the most valuable parts of a food tour. Your guide will provide personal recommendations at other must-visit spots to eat, drink, and local gems to explore.

Practical Tips to Book a Food Tour

Now that we know what a food tour is, here are some practical tips to help you book and take a food tour during your next vacation.

During a private food tour in Girona, Spain, hubby got a lesson on how to slice jamón. And I fell in love with one of my favorite pastries to date, the local pastry of Girona called a Xiuxo.

1. Do Your Research

First things first: do some homework. 

  • Ask friends or family who’ve visited the destination about their food tour experiences.
  • Read reviews on tour companies and individual guides on platforms like Viator, WithLocals, and Devour Tours.
  • Join travel Facebook groups for insider recommendations.
  • Aim for high-rated tours and rave reviews because these tours are vetted for.

2. Check What’s Included

Not all food tours are created equal. 

  • Read the description of the itinerary. See how many stops are planned and what kind of tastings are in store. 
  • Are you into paying for the guide and then paying for the food you choose to eat during the tour, or does an all-included fee sound more cost-effective? 
  • Sometimes, splurging a bit on a private tour can offer a different perspective, and you can tailor it as you wish.

Foodie Tip: Above all, embracing new flavors and experiences is at the heart of what makes a food tour truly memorable.

3. Find a Tour That Fits Your Budget

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Cheese and bread samples with toppings on a food tour in Florence, Italy, at the Mercato Centrale.

Your budget will dictate a lot of your choices. Food tours can range from modest to extravagant, especially in cities like Rome, Paris, or New York, where the cost of living (and dining) is higher. Weigh the experience against the expense to find your sweet spot.

4. Check the Meeting Point and Schedule

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We tried Tigella, a typical food from Modena, for the first time during a food tour. We had never heard of it until then.

Logistics matter. Look at where your food journey starts and ends and how it fits your accommodation and transportation plans. Timing is just as crucial; you want a tour that syncs up with your day without making you rush or miss out.

Pro Tip: Book your tour around breakfast or lunchtime, or make it a dinner adventure. That way, it doubles as a meal, filling you up with delicious experiences.

5. Communicate With Your Tour Company and Guide

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On a food tour in Bologna, we visited a pasta factory where several ladies made tortellini by hand.

Got questions? Dietary restrictions? Need to cancel or reschedule? Get in touch with your tour provider early on to smooth out any wrinkles before they become crinkles. A little pre-tour communication goes a long way in ensuring your food tour is as seamless as it is scrumptious.

Foodie Tip: We recommend touching base with your guide before you arrive; their insider tips on where to eat and what to see can be as valuable as the tour itself. You can start planning and making reservations.

Where to Book a Food Tour?

We always start our research and book most of the tours on these sites with great success. It’s a great starting point in finding one that fits your needs.

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What is a food tour called?

A food tour goes by many names: culinary tour, foodie tour, gourmet tour, but here at Tasty Itinerary, we prefer “foodie adventure.”

How would you describe a food tour?

A food tour is an exciting experience for food enthusiasts, guided by a local expert passionate about showcasing their city’s best culinary offerings and traditions. It’s a chance to immerse oneself in the distinctive flavors of a location, accompanied by a fellow food lover.

It’s common to visit fresh local markets and specialty stores during food tours.

Why do people go on food tours?

People go on food tours to sample and learn about local eats and drinks they might miss if they were exploring on their own. Spending time with a local foodie makes the experience unique, as who better to learn from than someone passionate about local cuisine? Plus, it’s just fun to eat and try new foods!

How does a food tour work?

A food tour typically starts with meeting your guide, who leads you through 5 to 8 culinary stops, offering tastes and sips of the locale’s specialties. These tours can be private or in small groups of 6 to 10 people, lasting about three to four hours to ensure a more personal and manageable experience. The goal is to keep things intimate, making navigating and soaking in every delicious moment easier.

What is included in a food tour?

What you’ll get on a food tour varies with each company or guide. Typically, tours include a mix of guided walks and tastings of local foods and drinks, ensuring you get a hearty experience of the local cuisine. The amount and variety of food depend on the tour and location, but the aim is always to leave you happily satisfied.

Be aware that some tours offer just the guide’s expertise, leading you through the city’s culinary spots, where you pay for what you eat as you go. This approach lets you pick what tempts your taste buds but requires more flexibility and budgeting. Always check the tour details to know exactly what’s included and make the best choice for your appetite and curiosity.

Are food tours worth it?

Yes, we believe food tours are worth it and a great way to learn about a destination through its food, as it is part of its culture. The value you get from what you eat and drink and the bonus of having a great guide to show you around make it an amazing and worthwhile experience.

drinking coconut milkshake in mazatlanPin

It was hot in Mazatlan, so I wore a tank top, shorts, and a hat on our food tour.

What do you wear to a food tour?

Unless specified, be comfortable and stay casual. Always wear comfortable shoes as you will walk a lot during the tour when you’re not sitting down to eat.

Do you tip your food tour guide?

Always tip your food tour guide, especially if they’ve done a fantastic job.


Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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