Food for Thought: The World’s Top 10 Foodie Cities

There are two underlying philosophies that divide citizens of this world: Do you eat to live, or live to eat?  After diving into 16,000 student reviews “dishing” out the real deal on quality of food, the 10 cities that appear on this year’s Abroad101 Rankings for Top Foodie Cities clearly prioritize the latter.

Food is life for many study abroad students, and the Abroad101 team is no exception.  We have shared our favorite dishes from around the world (I smell reindeer stew!) and pieced together the top destinations for vegetarians (the falafel “Israeli” good!)

Are you the type of person whose travel adventures aren’t complete without a flavor of the local cuisine?  Well, you’re in luck, because these 10 cities will leave you more than satisfied as they truly epitomize “good taste!”

#1: Bologna, Italy: The capital of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, there’s “no bologna” about students’ #1 pick for foodie capital of the world. With an endless list of regional specialties like lasagne, tortellini, prosciutto, and mortadella, Bologna will more than satisfy your cultural craving!

Students Say: “Being one of the greatest cities and regions for food in Italy… We were discovering great restaurants and markets the entire time…” William T – Tufts University

#2: Aix-en-Provence, France: Located in the south of France, Aix is a true culinary gem. The locals, or Aixois, enjoy world-renowned wineries as well as Calissons, an almond-shaped local delicacy with a unique melon flavor – a must try!

Students Say: “The quality of food was great…I loved going to the open market almost every day and buying fresh food to cook, I would definitely recommend that!” Natalie B – Wellesley College

#3: Siena, Italy: Siena will allow you to enjoy world-renowned cuisine under the Tuscan sun. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this scenic city keeps visitors satisfied with its variety of handmade pastas, soups, and meats.

Students Say: “The markets (one on wednesday at the fortezza and one on friday in piazza del mercato) have amazing food… There’s a little osteria on via della sapienza owned by two brothers, Bobbe and Davide which is a must visit, the food is amazing, so is the experience eating there.” Victoria C – University of Hartford

#4: Perugia, Italy: Welcome to Perugia, our already third Italian city, where you can find the Perugina chocolate factory. There’s also Università dei Sapori (University of Tastes), a nationally renowned culinary institute.

Students Say: “I found all the local restaurants to be amazing as well as decently priced for a student studying abroad. I also had access to many local markets where I could get tons of fresh fruits and vegetables for a very reasonable price.” Erica A – University of South Carolina

#5: Florence, Italy: Making it four out of the top five for Italy in our Top Foodie Cities for students is Florence. Located right by Tuscany’s Chianti region, Florence takes wine to the next level. The food equally reflects the finest ingredients of the Florentine countryside, with locally-made salami, porcini mushrooms, and fresh pastas adorning small neighborhood trattorias.

Students Say: “My host mother was an AMAZING cook. I ate out not very often, but when I did the food was very good. There were always markets with fresh food and food vendors everywhere, which was a nice change from a grocery store because the food was high quality and fresh.” Kelsey K – Providence College

#6: Rome, Italy: Roma is Italy’s most populous city, and based on students’ rave reviews, the food may be prime reason why people can’t leave. Between the fresh pasta alla carbonara and gnocci alla romana, you can finish your meal with crostata di ricotta, a lemon-infused cheesecake.

Students Say: “Rome is awesome. There is no end to the good food. Plus, it’s Italy. On a bad day, they can still top anything most of the rest of Europe could churn out.” Nick S – University of Florida

#7: Bangkok, Thailand: Students can’t get enough of the fresh street food lining the open markets and alleys of Thailand’s capital. Bangkok features far more than Pad Thai, and you can snack on a variety of noodles as well as coconut and curry soups for less than a dollar.

Students Say: “The food everywhere is amazing. If you are a vegetarian, ask a local friend for the word or write it on a card and everyone will be more than accommodating.” Jason P – Illinois State University

#8: Athens, Greece: Freshly roasted chestnuts, baked pitas, and Spanakopita (crispy filo dough with spinach and feta), are just a sampling of what you can find in Greece’s largest metropolis. Street vendors are a must, and students enjoy the Monastiraki section of the city, right by Parthenon, which offers some of the best street foods and open markets.

Students Say: “Quality of food was fantastic, quantity was perfect, and food around town was amazing. Eat at tavernas, shop at the little grocery stores, and visit bakeries.” Emma U – Pacific Lutheran University

#9: Sorrento, Italy: Want a table with a view? Luckily, Sorrento’s vistas of the Bay of Naples’ sparkling blue water are as breathtaking as their fresh seafood and pizzas. Top off your meal with Limoncello, a sweet drink that locals enjoy equally for its taste as its function as a digestive aid.

Students Say: “BEST FOOD EVER! I miss it very much…and the gelato is amazing.” Maura C – Alfred State University

#10: San Jose, Costa Rica: Coming in at #10 is Costa Rica’s capital. Featuring such local delicacies as gallo pinto, a combination of fried rice and black beans, San Jose also features a variety of fresh fruit, including mango, papaya, and passion fruit.

Students Say: “The fruit was the greatest thing ever. The freshest fruit you can imagine and all kinds of tropical tasty stuff everyday.” Tim B – Arizona State University

Are you salivating yet?  Find the program that can provide your next culinary adventure, and you can create your own foodie paradise.  Bon appetit!