Europe is a picturesque continent rich in historic and cultural attractions. And while most travellers visit Europe for its scenery, galleries, museums, and heritage buildings, many still visit it solely for the food. This is not surprising because the continent is home to many of the world’s most incredible street food, and each region offers something that it is truly famous for.
When vacationing in Europe, don’t limit yourself to cafés, restaurants, and upscale dining options. Now don’t get us wrong, treating yourself to a fabulous meal at an authentic place with table service ever so often is a great idea. It’s just that the bustling cities and charming towns you are going to visit all have yummy street food that will surely entice your palate. Think grilled sausages, chewy bagel-like pastries, and flavourful fried rice balls! And of course, there’s just something about sampling the delicious ready-to-eat traditional snacks sold by vendors and hawkers to get a real feel of the place you are visiting.
Since Europe’s streets are packed to the brim with culinary treats, you will be spoilt for choice. So you don’t get overwhelmed when surrounded by a sea of options, here are 20 lip-smacking street foods you need to try on your trip to Europe.
You might find a churreria in many countries but nothing beats the churros sold by the street vendors of Spain. These sugary fritters – often dunked in thick chocolate sauce – taste like heaven in your mouth.
Sausages or wurst are a mainstay in German cuisine and it is said that no visitor ever leaves Germany without tasting currywurst, the iconic German street food that’s guaranteed to hit the spot. Currywurst is made from bratwurst (pork sausage) that’s steamed, fried, and then smothered in curry ketchup. It is usually served with crispy fries.
When in Italy, arancini deserves a spot in your must-eat list. These mouthwatering fried rice balls – though not as well known as gelato, pasta, and pizza – makes for a great on-the-go snack or appetizer. These delightfully sinful fried rice balls are stuffed with all the good things – meat, juicy tomatoes, gooey mozzarella, mushrooms, and nuts. What’s not to love?
Often mistaken for a calzone, a panzerroti is a semi-circular deep fried bread usually filled with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. This Italian street food, originating from Central and Southern Italy, is practically sold in every corner in the country.
Considered one of the world’s oldest street foods, gyros is a staple in the streets of Greece. Consisting of thin slabs of pork, beef, veal, lamb, or chicken slowly cooked on a vertical rotisserie. It is usually served stuffed into warm flatbread like pita and topped with tomato, onion, and a generous serving of Tzatziki sauce.
The quintessential crepe is a favorite street food all over Paris. This light snack, bought from food stands and creperies, can be savoury and filled with cheese or ham, or sweet with fillings like chocolate, fruit, and custard. This French delicacy is even flavourful enough to eat plain.
Also found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Slovenia, and other parts of Southeastern Europe, cevapcici or cevapi is a delicacy in Croatia consisting of grilled minced meat formed into small skinless sausages and served with flatbread, diced onions, and a special spread made from eggplants, red peppers, and chili peppers.
Burek is a popular street food in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is made by layering ground meat, potatoes, and other fillings, and then rolling everything up like a snail before popping it in the oven. This meat-filled pastry is definitely a street food you must try more than once in Europe.
Sold all over Belgium, the ubiquitous Belgian waffles are traditionally oval or rectangular in shape. Belgian waffles can come with a variety of toppings like whipped cream, chocolate, and fruits or eaten warm with nothing but powdered sugar on top.
A must-try when in Poland, zapiekanka is a toasted open-faced sandwich, usually a baguette, topped with an assortment of ingredients like melted cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and ketchup. This is a highly popular late-night snack in Poland and if you want to try the best zapienkaka in the country, head to the Jewish neighborhood in Krakow.
Langos is a Hungarian street food that makes for a versatile snack. This local delicacy is made by deep-frying dough and topping it with shredded cheese, garlic butter, meat, vegetables, and sour cream. This warm snack should be crisp on the outside and soft and crumbly on the inside.
The Netherlands’ version of the waffle, stroopwafel is sold all over Amsterdam and other Dutch towns. This popular street food is actually made of two slim pieces of baked dough filled with a thin layer of syrupy caramel-like sauce in the middle. This chewy treat is best paired with coffee, tea, or any hot drink. Before taking a bite of this sweet treat, place it on top of your drink to melt the syrupy filling.
One of Poland’s traditional desserts, gofry is a crowd favourite in Hungary’s lively street food scene. This local favourite, looking very much like Belgium’s Brussels waffle, is adorned with an assortment of toppings like fruits, whipped cream, and drizzled with chocolate and jam.
A must-eat pastry in Prague, trdelnik is made wrapping rolled dough around a rod, topping it with sugar and walnuts, and then grilling it over an open flame. This cylindrical cake, crunchy on the outside but fluffy on the inside, is a hit among tourists visiting the Czech Republic. In Hungary, this type of cake is called a kurtoskalacs.
Considered Malta’s national snack, pastizzi is a flaky pastry filled with a variety of fillings, from ricotta cheese to curried ground beef, mushy peas, apples, and even anchovies. This traditional Maltese food is baked on an electric or gas oven.
Smorrebrd is an open-faced sandwich consisting of buttered sourdough rye bread topped with a variety of meats, fish, cheese, cold cuts, and spread. What used to be a cheap but satisfying lunch for 19th century Danish factory workers, this simple sandwich is now a staple in Denmark.
Usually eaten on New Year’s Eve and commonly sold in the streets of The Netherlands during winter, olliebollen are dumplings made by deep-drying dough in very hot oil. These sphere-shaped street food, often called Dutch donuts, are usually served with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Koulouri is a ring-shaped, sesame-encrusted bread you’d often find sold by food vendors and bakeries across Greece, especially in Thessaloniki and Athens. This simple yet nutritious street food is a favourite morning snack among tourists exploring Athens.
Pastel de Nata
One of the tastiest treats you’ll get to try in Portugal, pastel de nata is known all over the world as the Portuguese egg tart. This decadent egg custard pastry is made by filling a layered puff pastry casing with creamy custard concocted by combining ingredients like milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pastel de nata is an all-day snack in Portugal and traditionally enjoyed with a hot cup of strong coffee.
Exclusively made in Poland’s Tatra Mountains, oscypek is a traditional smoked salted cheese created from sheep’s milk. This compact cheese is often shaped like a spindle and its surface is decorated by intricate traditional geometric patterns. Oscypek is prepared hot – grilled or fried in butter – and served with sauteed onions and jam.
Seeking some epic food experiences while in Europe? Join us for a gastronomic adventure you’ll never forget!
By: Brendelyn Balaga