Best travel destinations for food

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Some travellers pick a city break based on the destination’s cultural offerings – shortlisting the best museums and galleries to visit. Others eye up cities with buzzy nightlife or opt for a destination hosting a festival or event.


But for many vacationers, the most exciting part of any trip is the food. These are the travellers that wake up on the first day of the trip excited for all the culinary delights awaiting them: from sprawling markets offering local delicacies to late-night street food, to independent restaurants serving distinctive dishes you won’t forget any time soon.


It’s these gourmand travellers Time Out had in mind when the global media organization put together a new ranking of the world’s best foodie cities.


“Food is everything when travelling,” Grace Beard, Time Out’s travel editor told CNN Travel. “A good (or bad) meal can make or break a trip – it’s usually one of the things we remember most.”


Coming in at number one on Time Out’s list is the Italian city of Naples, the oft-rumoured birthplace of pizza. Unsurprisingly, the cheesy delights of pizza margherita gets a shout-out in Time Out’s list as the city’s “must-eat dish” – but sumptuous pasta dish Neapolitan ragù and sweet sfogliatella are also namechecked.


To compile the round-up, Time Out surveyed thousands of citydwellers across the globe, quizzing these locals on the food options in their city, with a focus on quality and affordability. Time Out editors sifted through the results, including the highest-scoring city for each country in the resulting ranking.


Pizza and more


For travellers keen to sample authentic pizza in Naples, Time Out suggests heading to pizzeria Santa Maradona, located in the city’s Spanish quarter.


Santa Maradona’s owner Andrea Viviani told CNN Travel it was a “pleasure” to be spotlighted by Time Out, although he added that “considering Naples only as a food destination is truly a waste.”


“Food is certainly an important part of our culture, but Naples is much, much more,” said Viviani. “The idea of Santa Maradona is precisely this: to convey all the facets of Naples.”


Viviani’s restaurant, he explained, is a celebration not just of pizza – but also football. It’s named in honour of Argentinian soccer player Diego Armando Maradona, who played for the Naples team in the 1980s.


While Viviani hopes travellers coming to Naples will enjoy more than just the food, he added that it’s exciting that many travellers come to the city with “a great desire to learn about our tradition and taste our fantastic pizzas.”


At number two on Time Out’s list is the South African city of Johannesburg, with Time Out quoting Johannesburg food writer Thando Moleketi-Williams, who recommends the central neighbourhood of Braamfontein and spots including wine bar Mamakashaka and Friends on De Beer Street, and restaurant and gallery space Artivist. Time Out declares the city’s must-eat dish is kota sandwich, a stuffed bread featuring tasty ingredients such as potato chips, sausage, egg or cheese, and also spotlights bunny chow, a South African street food featuring curry, meat or beans stuffed inside bread.


And rounding out Time Out’s top three is Lima, Peru, where Time Out recommends visitors try signature dishes ceviche and arroz con pollo (chicken and rice). The city’s Central restaurant, recently named as number one in the 2023 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, naturally gets a mention too.


Prioritizing affordability


Other cities on the list include Ho Chi Minh City (number four), Beijing (number five) and Bangkok (number six).


The commonality between all the cities on the list is they’re “undergoing a culinary renaissance” or they’re “particularly buzzing right now, according to Time Out’s Grace Beard.


Beard told CNN Travel that “affordability played as much a role as quality in creating this ranking” and the editors were looking for cities “where good-quality meals are accessible to travellers on every budget.”


The top U.S. city on Time Out’s ranking was Portland, Ore. – at number 10. According to Time Out, Portland is another must-visit spot for pizza lovers, with Mexican pizza – a pizza topped with taco ingredients – was named by locals as the city’s best-value dish.


In the U.K., the city of Liverpool just missed out on a spot on Time Out’s top 10, coming in at number 11. Time Out shouted out the city’s signature city dish of Scouse – a rich stew usually comprised of beef or lamb – and what Liverpool-based writer Alice Porter calls a “clutch of brand new foodie ventures,” such as Manifest, a restaurant named in the Michelin Guide.


Time Out’s Best Cities for Food 2024


1. Naples, Italy

2. Johannesburg, South Africa

3. Lima, Peru

4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

5. Beijing, China

6. Bangkok, Thailand

7. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

8. Mumbai, India

9. Dubai, UAE

10. Portland, USA

11. Liverpool, UK

12. Medellín, Colombia

13. Seville, Spain

14. Porto, Portugal

15. Marrakech, Morocco

16. Lyon, France

17. Sydney, Australia

18. Montreal, Canada

19. Osaka, Japan

20. Copenhagen, Denmark


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