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The Best National Dishes Of Europe (Part 1/2)



Few things will connect you to a country better than local food. Most places have embraced new cuisine and modern variations on all-time classics. But if you want to get back to basics, you should try these national dishes of Europe:

Andrew Thompson


The humble schnitzel is essentially thin, crumbed meat. It dates back to Spain in the Middle Ages and is available around the world, but no country has perfected it quite like the Austrians.


Insider tip: Want to keep it traditional? Go with the veal.


Belgium waffles may win in the dessert stakes. But a cone of perfectly crisp Belgian fries make for the perfect takeaway dish to pick up a few minutes before your train departs.


Insider tip: Make it a meal and go with the slightly fancier (yet equally common) moules frites ― mussels and fries.


This simple dish of grilled skinless sausage is popular throughout the Balkans. Ćevapi has its roots in the Ottoman period, but it is widely regarded as the national dish of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Insider tip: Ćevapi tastes different depending on the region. So if you are travelling around the Balkans, be sure to sample it in multiple locations.


This Bulgarian cold salad is popular throughout the Balkans. It is packed full of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and peppers, and the perfect dish to sample on a hot summer’s day.


Insider tip: Most restaurants in Bulgaria will have this on their menu ― it is a cheap and tasty starter for almost any meal.


This dish is particularly popular in the north-western regions of Croatia. It is a stew loaded with a variety of ingredients, including beans, sauerkraut, turnips, potatoes, bacon, and spare ribs.


Insider tip: This is a hearty meal, best enjoyed in the colder months.


Czechs love their meat dishes, and the traditional Svíčková is one of the best around. It is a cut of beef sirloin, marinated for 24 hours before being served with vegetables and dumplings.


Insider tip: You will find this dish on menus throughout the capital of Prague. The popular U Sadlu Restaurant serves up one of the best.


These crumbed meatballs are synonymous with Danish cuisine. Often served with potatoes, cabbage, bread, and butter, it’s the perfect comfort food to indulge in after a long train ride.


Insider tip: Although it’s traditionally a meat dish, vegetarian variations are now more common throughout the country.


Sautéed reindeer, or poronkäristys, is popular throughout Lapland, and it is considered a particularly hearty treat in Finland.


Insider tip: Each region in Lapland has its own take on the dish. In Finland, for example, you will often get pickled cucumber with your dish.


France is one of the modern culinary capitals of the world. But it is the rustic pot-au-feu dish ― a winter-long stew made with steak, vegetables, and spices ― that is still widely regarded as the must-try national dish.


Insider tip: Pair it with a glass of French red wine, and you will be in culinary heaven.


Germany’s meat dishes are among the best in Europe. This pot roast, which takes 10 days of preparation and seasoning, is one that you cannot leave the country without trying.


Insider tip: Meat dishes abound in Germany. But if you are late for your train, pick up a fresh pretzel to eat onboard ― you will not be disappointed.


This oven-baked layer dish has many variations. The most popular version contains ground meat and eggplant.


Insider tip: Many restaurants make a vegetarian option without the ground meat.


Hungary is famous for many things, including its popular goulash. While it may receive upturned noses from the younger population, it is a hearty, thick stew still worth trying.


Insider tip: If you are looking for a hip alternative, Bors GasztroBar makes a delicious goulash soup to go ― which is perfect to bring on the train.


Irish stews are the most famous national dish in the country. They serve as the perfect complement to a cold and rainy day ― particularly when paired with a pint of Guinness.


Insider tip: Each pub and restaurant will have a variation on the traditional recipe, so do not be afraid to sample it across the country.


Italy has several popular dishes that you should sample. However, none are as celebrated ― or perfected ― as the humble pizza.


Insider tip: If you want the real deal, head to Naples. The pizza here is cheap, simple, and delicious.


Many travellers overlook Luxembourg for her larger neighbours, but this small European gem has a rich culinary history. Dip into it with a plate of Judd mat Gaardebounen, a spicy smoked pork and beans dish that will warm your heart.


Insider tip: When you feel like straying from the traditional, go with the modern — Luxembourg has 11 restaurants with Michelin stars.  


One of the many joys about travelling Europe by rail is the ability to experience multiple cultures, sights, and foods, often within a few hours of each other. A Global Pass will get you to as many of these destinations as you wish.


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