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Top Culinary Destinations to Embrace the Winter Season

by Cris Puscas

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Ah, winter! Gone are the hot days of summer and even the cozy fall seems so far away.

As the cold weather sets in, it becomes harder to resist the temptation of staying home and vowing not to come out of “hiding” until the season ends.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! This year, it’s time to break the routine and plan a culinary vacation to a new, exciting place!

If you love the crisp air, fresh snow, and the comforting smells of cinnamon and pumpkin spice, you’ll enjoy embracing the cold winter destinations while hugging a hot cup of cocoa (or mulled wine, if you prefer that instead).

And before you think that our brains have already frozen, let us assure you that there is magic in every season and some destinations look even more charming in the snow.

Without further ado, here are our top culinary destinations to embrace the winter season, which will undoubtedly make this trip one to remember for many years to come!


fondue savoyarde in france

Dubbed by many as the most romantic destination in the world, France is a magical country that is brimming with remarkable places, history, and, of course, excellent food and wine.

Winter in France can be frosty, except for the southern part of the country, especially Provence, which enjoys a balmy Mediterranean climate.

The French Alps, Loire Valley, and Alsace are three great regions where you can embrace the cold weather and rejoice in the local food staples.

Annecy, in the French Alps, seems as if it comes straight out of a fairy tale. Surrounded by the snow-capped mountains and home to a charming old town, it will make you forget about the cold soon enough. And if this wasn’t enough, it is home to a superb Christmas Market, typically open from November until January.

Dishes such as tartiflette – baked potatoes with bacon, onions, and cheese - , fondue savoyarde – melted cheese with garlic and spices -, raclette – semi hard cheese -, crozets – local pasta -, and diots – traditional sausages- should be on your radar during your trip.



kohlrouladen in germany

Photo credit: Dr. Bernd Gross

If you are looking forward to a snowy vacation, then Germany will certainly live up to your expectations.

Snow has a way to calm and quiet cities. Dresden makes no exception. It turns into a magical place set against the backdrop of its famous Christmas Market.

In fact, Christmas Markets have originated in Germany and they remain the most authentic here. Cologne is famous worldwide for its superb market and should not be missed, but there are similar markets popping up everywhere in Germany during the holiday season.

When it comes to German cuisine, the dishes to enjoy in winter are definitely comforting.

Between kartoffelknödel – potato dumplings- , kartoffelpuffer – potato pancakes – , grünkohleintopf – kale stew- , kohlrouladen – cabbage rolls – , and various roasted meats, your taste buds will be extremely happy.



poutines in canada

Photo credit: Guilhem Vellut via Flickr

The Canadian comfort food warms the soul. And during those frosty Canadian winters, there’s nothing like some traditional dishes to warm you from the inside.

Also, if you have Northern Lights on your mind, then head to Yellowknife. Your chances to witness the playful aurora lights are quite high here.

Charming Quebec City is a year-round destination, but it’s certainly at its most beautiful in winter. Wander the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, enjoy some holiday shopping or just soak up the atmosphere.

Don’t forget to add tourtière – a simple pie combining various meats - , poutines – French fries with cheese and gravy -, and buckwheat pancakes to your must-try foods while you visit Quebec.


Emilia Romagna, Italy

tortellini in brodo in italy

Photo credit: Ramagliolo9

While Italy is often touted as a warm-weather destination in Europe, it surely can get cold in some of its regions.

And Emilia Romagna is one of them. Bologna, its capital, can even get snow (if the right climatic conditions occur).

Did you know that many famous Italian foods have originated in this region? That’s right! Prosciutto, mortadella, balsamic vinegar, tagliatelle ragu bolognese, and even lasagne call Emilia Romagna their birthplace.

All of those should be in your tasting menu while visiting this area, but especially during winter, make sure to try tortellini in brodo –  tortellini in broth – , a famous local dish made from fresh pasta. And while it’s not the easiest recipe to make from scratch, it surely is fascinating to learn how to make it and surprise your friends and family back home.

» Read more: Why You Should Go on a Culinary Vacation in Italy



goulash in hungary

Want to enjoy a spectacular Christmas this year? Make your way to Hungary, then! Get up close and personal with the beautiful city of Budapest, try its delish cuisine, excellent wines, and enjoy the music. Don’t forget to stop by the Christmas market, too!

The Hungarians are passionate about their meats, seasonal vegetables, and dairy, so you’ll be sure to enjoy every mouthful! There is literally no dish served without sour-cream in Hungary. While enjoying the country, dig into a hearty bowl of goulash (a rich and spicy stew made either with meat or fish), which is usually served in a bowl made of bread.

Other popular local dishes are paprikás – a meat stew – , halászlé  – a hot Hungarian fish soup also known as Fisherman’s Soup – , and the kürtőskalács –  traditional chimney cake that is a personal local favorite especially during the Christmas season. The Hungarian cuisine is sure to offer much excitement for culinary curious travelers.


Transylvania, Romania

mamaliga & sarmale in romania

Photo credit: Romanian Thrills

Head to Transylvania, Romania, and discover the local traditions and a place that feels as if time stood still, surrounded by unspoiled nature.

The Transylvanians are very much devoted to celebrating Christmas in a big way and you too can have a first-hand taste of their traditions. From sacrificing the hog and making the delish sausages and cured hams, to caroling and baking the traditional sweets, this magical land will make you want to stay forever. Don’t forget to taste the wines and the local țuica (plum brandy).

You are likely to come across delicacies such as mămăligă (polenta, a maize porridge that is eaten instead of bread), sarmale (meat-filled cabbage rolls ), mititei (sausages, without the outer layer), and a variety of traditional meat dishes and cheeses, as well as local sweets

Cook together with the Transylvanians and enjoy their authentic dishes that reflect their unique Christmas traditions!



beef soup with noodles in slovenia

Photo credit: ModriDirkac

Been dreaming of a white Christmas? Then Slovenia is the perfect place for you to be! This enchanting winter wonderland looks as if it came out right off the pages of a magical fairy tales.

Chances are you won’t believe your eyes that this undiscovered gem even exists! What is even more impressive is the taste of the simple yet flavorsome Slovenian cuisine.

The main ingredients of this mouth-watering cuisine are sour cream, cheese, potatoes, and meat (especially pork). During the cold season, make sure to indulge in the local, traditional foods such as the unique mushroom soup, goveja (beef soup), buckwheat porridge, chicken paprika, struklji (meat pockets filled with meat and vegetables or sweet fillings), kremnita (traditional Bled custard cream cake), and Walnut Potica (traditional Slovenian dessert).

In short, a Slovenian food-focused holiday will definitely not disappoint!

Hero photo credit: Katica Guesthouse Aggtelek

Longing to go on a culinary vacation during winter? Then why not book one of the baking vacations to learn new skills and have a lot of fun!

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