10 tips for finding the best vegetarian food in Europe & never going hungry!
As many of you know, for Christmas Roger & I skipped the presents & decided to buy each other a vacation to Europe through Groupon. Visiting Europe was a first for both of us & we wanted to make sure that we planned ahead so that we could worry less & enjoy creating memories.
And while the trip wasn’t super long we managed to fly from Atlanta to Paris, to Barcelona, to Rome, & back to Atlanta in 8 days (travel time included)! And for two people who had never been to Europe, & who had a rocky first hour on our honeymoon in Antigua (another story for another time), this trip was amazing! We are already planning/dreaming our next trip to Paris!
One of the most important aspects of any trip for us is the food! So, of course, I wanted to share a whole post dedicated to the amazing food we tried in Europe. But I knew it would only make you hungry if I showed you picture after picture of delicious food that is thousands of miles away.
So instead, I decided to share some tips to help you find the best vegetarian food in Europe!
It’s important to note that these tips are just as good for any type of dietary restrictions. So whether you are vegan, gluten-free, or anything else, these tips will help you find the best food in Europe!
When I first started researching European restaurants I discovered there weren’t a lot of vegetarian options, & I started to worry. Discovering new restaurants is one of our favorite things to do when traveling.
I then decided to do something I often don’t do (& I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life), I began to specifically look up vegetarian restaurants. My husband was not-so-surprisingly against the idea (even though he too has been a vegetarian his whole life), but I had already done a bunch of research & picked out the best ones, so I forced him to sit down & look at my top picks. We had come to this negative connotation for only vegetarian restaurants because we have both been burned on vegetarian restaurants in the past which just served raw vegetables and such, and tasted as bland as they were healthy. Those type of restaurants where the only concern is how raw or pure the food is, and not the taste. Healthy is good, but great taste combined with healthy vegetarian ingredients is superb!
After visiting a wide variety of restaurants across Paris, Barcelona & Rome, I can honestly say that of our top three restaurants two of them were vegetarian restaurants. I must add that European vegetarian restaurants are hands down way better than any vegetarian restaurant I have ever visited in the US.
So if you are vegetarian & planning a trip to Europe, get ready for some amazing food!
But first, I want to share with you one of my favorite food memories from the trip!
On our second day in Paris, we took a pre-booked tour to visit the Eiffel Tower. The tour began with us listening to an audio tour on a mainly empty double-decker bus (the off season is awesome) & riding through the streets of Paris (which was way more awesome than we could have imagined!!). We then arrived at the Eiffel Tower & road the elevator up to the second floor where we decided to purchase tickets (only a few Euros each) to go to the very top, the third floor. It sounds touristy, it is touristy, but the view is spectacular!!
As we headed back down to the second floor & wandered about a bit more, decided that we wanted the night to end on an extra high note. Our Groupon package had a little Seine river cruise that we were going to take next, but our mind was already on food, while still on the Eiffel Tower. I began looking up the best places to eat with a view of the Eiffel Tour & one of the first places I saw was a restaurant with a glass roof ceiling with a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower.
I immediately called the restaurant, verified that they had a vegetarian menu, & booked us a reservation. Luckily, it was the offseason or this place would have been completely booked (possibly even weeks in advance!). This was the day I fell in love with Paris.
We then picked up a Nutella Crepe, boarded the cruise boat, & road along the Seine with the sunset. It was magical! We then returned to the dock in front of the Eiffel Tour just in time to see it light up for the first time that night. We then headed to Les Ombres for dinner, & had the most delicious butternut soup I have ever tasted!
So whether you plan ahead, like to be spontaneous, or a little bit of both, I hope these tips help you find the most amazing vegetarian cuisine in Europe!
1. Know Your Schedule
The first step is to know your day-to-day travel plans. Even having a rough draft of an itinerary will help guide you as you look for restaurants.
By knowing when & where you will be each day you will better be able to search for restaurants by location for each day.
We had made an itinerary (more like a proposed semi-flexible schedule) for each city we planned to visit in Europe. By doing so we had a pretty good idea where we were going to be each morning, afternoon, & night. This helped us better prepare to use the steps below to create a loose food schedule for our trip.
2. Google Map Search
Once you know where you will be each day find the location on Google Maps & then search for restaurants. *A helpful hint is to make sure you purchase a travel pass for your cell phone plan in order to search restaurants and to see yourself on Google maps as you walk around the cities in Europe, this is relatively inexpensive and a huge help! To use our DATA plan in Europe from Verizon was like $10/day for the TravelPass feature, and it was definitely worth it.
Before we traveled to Europe we did this & found so many wonderful options. Some keywords I searched were “vegetarian,” “gnocchi,” & “pizza.”
By doing this we discovered restaurants like,
3. Google Search
Sounds basic enough, but there are a few tricks to searching for restaurants in Europe.
For example, you can search for “best homemade gnocchi in Paris,” or “best vegetarian restaurant in Barcelona,” or “best Neopolitan pizza in Rome.”
Make a list of your favorites & cross match them to locations on your itinerary. If you have too many restaurants & not enough time (or you find restaurants outside of your current itinerary) add them to a list of “Extra Restaurants.” That way if one of the restaurants you have planned falls through you have a list of backups.
4. Ask Around
If you prefer personal recommendations be sure to ask your friends & family for some of their favorite local restaurants. You could even ask your social media friends for tips & advice on their favorite restaurants.
Or ask a local in a pizza only restaurant where they recommend for the best handmade pasta in Rome! (We did…and… it worked)
5. Back Up Restaurants
As I mentioned in tip number three, it’s important to have a list of extra restaurants planned as a backup. If a restaurant you want to try is closed that day or you change your mind/itinerary you will have a plan.
7. Make Reservations
During tourist season many restaurants can become booked way in advance. So it can be very advantageous to book restaurants in advance so can enjoy some amazing food!
We planned ahead for Barcelona & booked a reservation at. The food was amazing & it was one of the best meals we had on our trip!
While we were in Paris, after an afternoon of visiting the Eiffel Tour, seeing the views from the 3rd (top) floor, & taking a little cruise down the Seine, we decided we were not ready to end our romantic day. So we quickly googled “best restaurants with a view of the Eiffel Tour” & found one with windows for a ceiling. In the reviews, I noticed that someone had mentioned a vegetarian menu. After calling & confirming they had a vegetarian menu we made a reservation for that same night. Luckily it was the off-season because I had read they are often booked out weeks in advance during their busy season.
8. Use Current Location
Part of the fun of traveling to a new place is being spontaneous. Sometimes that means leaving your internal & meal plans behind. If that happens, an easy way to find a good restaurant is to go to your “Maps” & search restaurants using keywords like “vegetarian” or “Italian.” Then simply look at their menus to make sure they have something you are interested in trying & then call ahead to see if there is a wait time or you need a reservation.
Even though we had made a few reservations & created a list of pre-planned restaurants, we also made sure to stay flexible through our trip. If we saw something that looked good through a window we quickly researched the restaurant for reviews & then made a decision. An easy way to do this is to hit “current location” on your map to find the restaurant.
9. Ask the Locals
If spontaneity hits & you are low on phone power or have no bars asking the locals is a great way to find good restaurants. The best place to ask is at a hotel. Hotels will often give you local advice that won’t be too far to walk. Plus they often have a list of restaurants on hand that they can recommend specifically for your dietary needs.
10. Keep a Mobile List
Before our trip, I created our itinerary in a note on my computer that was synched to my phone. Once the list of dates, times, tourist attractions, & restaurants were all matched up & synched to my phone I took screenshots of our plans so that if the note was lost I would still have the pictures. I can’t remember, but I might have also sent those pictures & the note to my husband’s phone as well.
This way, no matter where we were I could look at our itinerary & know what & where we were going next. Plus, if spontaneity took us somewhere unplanned I also had the list of additional restaurants to fall back on in case we ended up near one of them.
In the countries we visited in Europe, good food is all over, and there are a surprising number of vegetarian restaurants and even a good amount of vegetarian options in many restaurants, plus good food in Europe is actually less expensive than in the US. For a nice 3-4 course dinner in the restaurant overlooking the Eiffel Tower, (which was a high-end restaurant) the total for 2 was around 45-50 Euros for appetizers, entrees, and desserts, with tax and tip. Many places had good food that was much cheaper than you would find for equivalent food in US restaurants.
What are your favorite tips & tricks for eating vegetarian in a foreign country?
I’d love to hear from you!
Feel free to comment below, email me, or tweet me on Twitter.
With love, Giustina
Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.