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Gastronomic journeys: the best road trips for foodies

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For those who like to take their taste buds on the road, we’ve put together some of the best places in the world for food combined with a road trip. From culinary tour classics in Tuscany and the South of France, to clocking up the miles fueled by meat and malbec in Argentina, to taking a Singapore sling into Malaysia, check out our top foodie locations around the world. 

France

The oh-so-obvious choice for the foodie tourist, France offers a symphony of culinary road trip ideas. Fiercely proud of its gastronomic sensibilities, France’s food and wine, with its distinctive regional specialties, make it one of the most exciting foodie travel destinations in the world. If you’re arriving in Calais, the drive to Franche-Comté (of the namesake cheese) takes you through the rural north and Champagne country before heading south to the Swiss border. 

From there, join the Vallée de la Gastronomie route from Dijon to Marseille. Cruise through the lavender fields of Provence, stop at Michelin-star restaurants in Lyon, and visit wineries and artisan producers in Burgundy and Beaujolais. You can pepper your foodie journey with fine restaurants, wine tastings and even cookery classes, but be sure to make time for an impromptu picnic. Sometimes all you need is a crusty baguette, sun-ripened tomatoes, and a hunk of local cheese. Add a bottle of wine and doze the afternoon away on your picnic blanket. 

gourmet french food

Spain

From beachy sojourns to arts and architectural tours, Spain is one of the best places for foodies looking for diverse road trip ideas. Northern Spain’s Atlantic coast has a temperate climate with lush countryside, views of distant snow-capped peaks, and dramatic coastal roads. Here you’ll find the foodie mecca of San Sebastian, home to the most Michelin-starred restaurants per square meter in Europe. As well as fine dining, the region is famed for its delicious pintxos (snacks/appetizers), served in local bars alongside glasses of rioja or beer. Head inland from here and you’ll be in the midst of the vineyards of the Rioja province. 

For a gorgeous coastal drive, start in Barcelona and cruise along the sunlit Costa Brava towards the French border. Stop off at little fishing villages for succulent seafood and pure Mediterranean bliss. The sun-baked south yields a glimpse of Spain’s Moorish influences in its hilltop villages and the grand buildings and palaces of Granada and Sevilla. This is the land of flamenco and traditional dishes such as paella, tapas and churros. 

paella

Japan

For Japan food trip ideas, look beyond the celebrated cities and explore its rural reaches instead. Japan’s islands are largely mountainous, meaning there is epic scenery to gaze at on a road trip. For the best mountain roads, take a coast-to-coast route across Hokkaido (avoiding the winter snow). 

At the other end of the country, in subtropical Kyūshū, you can steer a path around Mount Aso, a huge active volcano that regularly puffs out columns of smoke. In-between there are countless scenic routes dotted with temples, villages and onsen hot springs. Pull in at road trip restaurants for steamy bowls of ramen, seaside sushi, and tasty yakitori skewers. 

bowl of ramen

Italy

Another classic European destination for a food-centric road trip has to be Italy. Long and slim, it offers a great variety of landscapes to enjoy, from the mountainous north to the sun-baked south. Italian culture prioritizes family, hospitality and beauty, and this is expressed through the sharing of food and drink. Pretty much everywhere you go you’ll find care and attention placed on the dining experience, be it sipping a morning expresso, indulging in a perfect sweet cannolo, or sitting down to a sumptuous lunch or dinner. 

When it comes to the best food road trips, there are several. For dramatic mountain views, you can’t beat the Great Dolomites Road with its saw-tooth peaks and hearty mountain food. Heading south, Tuscany is a prime foodie destination ripe for a road trip. Idyllic rural landscapes gently unfold around hilltop towns and the food and wine are exemplary. The Amalfi Coast is another sweetheart for foodie travel and sublime views. The roads here hug the cliff edge with soaring coastal views. Visit out of season for a little more road space. 

restaurant in positano

Argentina

When it comes to long-distance escapades, you can’t beat Argentina for a road trip with mileage. Some of the world’s longest roads are found here, including the Pan-American Highway and Ruta 40, which runs the length of the country (3,246 miles). But there’s no need to take it all on. If you haven’t got a few months to spare, then choosing sections of these routes is the way to go. 

The Mendoza Province is one of the best foodie locations in Argentina and lies on the Pan-American Highway. Skirting the foothills of the Andes, this is Argentina’s prime wine-growing region. Rich malbecs abound and wineries offer al fresco fine dining under blue skies. The road then heads east across the vast Pampas, where you can stop off at local farms known as estancias to enjoy asados (barbecue grills) gaucho-style before finishing up in Buenos Aires. The prime section of Ruta 40 cruises through the gorgeous Patagonia Lake District and onto the epic Fitz Roy Mountains. On the menu are succulent lamb dishes, freshwater trout, and plenty of prime Argentine steak.

asado

Singapore/Malaysia

For the best food trip in Malaysia, start your journey just over the border in Singapore. No foodie tourist should visit the region without spending at least a few days tasting their way around Singapore’s hawker centers, with their sublime melting pot of Asian flavors. 

Once sated, hit the road north into Malaysia and pull in at the port city of Malacca with its UNESCO-protected city center and diverse heritage. Here you can sample vibrant cuisine with strong Chinese influences. From there, breeze through the outskirts of Kuala Lumper and up into the refreshing climes of the Cameron Highlands. Sit down for a cream tea in one of several British colonial tea estates or strawberry farms. The last stop is Penang and its island capital, George Town, another historic port town offering a tantalizing mix of South Asian culinary flavors. 

Laksa curry

South Africa

With an epic coastline, vast landscapes and big game wildlife, South Africa is a top road trip destination. Add vineyards and a surf-and-turf-centric menu, and foodie tourists will be delighted. The most famous scenic drive in South Africa is the Garden Route, hugging the coast from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the edge of the Eastern Cape. As the name suggests, it traverses glorious countryside, from lush forested mountains and sparkling lakes to gorgeous beaches. 

Then there’s Route 62 to savor, which takes you into the heart of the Western Cape wine country. Road trip food stops might include fragrant Cape Malay curries, herby coiled sausages, and succulent seafood. Stock up on biltong (cured dried meat), a handy snack for when you’re feeling hungry on the road. 

fish curry

Mexico

Foodie tourists can’t resist Mexico with its vibrant cuisine and exuberant culture. Mexico‘s classic food-fueled road trip begins in Mexico City and then heads south through Puebla, famed for its complex, chocolate-tinged mole sauces, and into Oaxaca. The capital of Oaxaca has become a real food trip hot spot, with cooking classes galore and some of the country’s finest restaurants. Tuck into delicate cheese-stuffed zucchini flowers, decadent quesadillas and all things chocolate – both savory and sweet. 

For coastal cruising with a difference, traverse the near-empty roads of the Baja California Peninsula. At 760 miles, this is the second-longest peninsula in the world. With desert-like landscapes and rust-red cliffs and canyons, the land is sandwiched between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Stop off for fish tacos on the beach and enjoy top-class diving. Alternatively, track a loop around the Yucatan Peninsula for Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes (sinkholes), and fabulous food in the colonial capital of Merida. 

Make it happen

Hungry for your next foodie adventure? Chat with our local experts in any of these destinations and start plotting a road trip route to remember. 

  1. France
  2. Spain
  3. Japan
  4. Italy
  5. Argentina
  6. Singapore
  7. Malaysia
  8. South Africa
  9. Mexico

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