Archives October 2021

The First-Timer’s Madrid Travel Guide (2023)

Madrid is one of our favorite cities in Spain. We enjoyed it more than Barcelona.

Barcelona attracts more international visitors than Madrid but the Spanish capital endeared itself to us with its cosmopolitan feel and more authentic vibe. In Barcelona, we felt like tourists but in Madrid, we felt almost like locals, so much so that we could really see ourselves living there.

If you enjoy walking, then you’re going to love Madrid. It’s a huge city but very walkable and with many interesting neighborhoods to explore. Its museums are second to none and like anywhere in Spain, the food is beyond incredible.

There’s so much to experience in the Spanish capital that I’ve put together this detailed Madrid travel guide to help you plan your trip. It’ll tell you everything you need to know to eat well, see as much as you can, and make the most of your time in Madrid.


This Madrid travel guide is long. For your convenience, I’ve compiled links to hotels, tours, and other services here.


Top-rated hotels in Malasaña, one of the best and coolest areas to stay for first-time visitors to Madrid.

  • Luxury: INNSIDE by Meliá Madrid Gran Vía
  • Midrange: Hostal Adis
  • Budget: Woohoo Hostal Madrid


  • Sightseeing Tour: Royal Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Tour
  • Food Tour: Secret Food Tours Madrid
  • Flamenco Shows: Flamenco in Madrid


  • Visa Services
  • Travel Insurance with COVID cover (WFFF readers get 5% off)
  • Airport Transfers
  • Car Rental
  • Wifi Device

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  1. Madrid Travel Restrictions
  2. Spain Visa
  3. Madrid at a Glance
  4. Best Time to Visit Madrid
  5. Traveling to Madrid
  6. Where to Exchange Currency
  7. Best Areas to Stay in Madrid
  8. Places to Visit in Madrid
  9. Things to Do in Madrid
  10. Day Trips from Madrid
  11. Spanish Food Guide
  12. Spanish Desserts
  13. Where to Eat in Madrid
  14. Points of Interest in Madrid (Map)
  15. How to Get Around in Madrid
  16. How Many Days to Stay / Madrid Itinerary
  17. Madrid Travel Tips


Because of the current global situation, Madrid travel guidelines change frequently. Our friends at created a website that lists detailed information on travel restrictions around the globe.

Before reading this Madrid travel guide and planning your trip, be sure to check for information on travel restrictions to Spain. If you do decide to visit Madrid, then you may want to seriously consider getting travel insurance.


You may need a visa and other travel documents to visit Spain depending on what type of passport you carry. Check out to learn about the requirements and to apply for a visa (if necessary).

If you’re a Philippine passport holder, then check out our article on how to apply for a Schengen visa through the Embassy of Spain in Manila.


Madrid is the Spanish capital and the country’s largest city by population. It’s a highly cosmopolitan destination that’s home to mouthwatering food, luxury shopping, and some of the world’s finest museums.

People looking for culture will have much to look forward to in Madrid. Aside from its many galleries and exhibit spaces, Madrid is home to three of the world’s most important museums – the Museo del Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofía. Major works from some of Spain’s most celebrated artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Diego Velázquez, and Joan Miró are on display there.

Fashionistas will enjoy strolling the Golden Mile and Gran Vía while Traveleaters with a taste for tapas and all things Spanish food will have their plates full in Madrid. Mercados abound and its vibrant restaurant scene covers the gamut from unpretentious tapas bars to Michelin-starred fine dining establishments.


In terms of the weather, Mar-May and Sept-Nov are the best months to visit Madrid. They’re the mildest times of the year.

On our last trip, we visited Madrid in late April and the weather was perfect. It would be overcast on some days but it never rained. It wasn’t warm yet but we were fine getting around in just light jackets.

MAR-MAY: These are among the best months to visit Madrid. The weather in spring is ideal, especially towards late April and May. If you don’t mind slightly cooler temperatures, then March would be a good month to visit as well.

JUN-AUG: Summers in Spain can be unbearably hot. Getting around on foot or by metro can be uncomfortable so this may not be the best time to visit Madrid. On top of that, many business owners close shop in the summer to take month-long holidays themselves.

SEP-NOV: Like spring, autumn is one of the best times to visit Madrid. The weather is perfect.

DEC-FEB: If you don’t mind colder weather, then winter may not be a bad time to visit Madrid, especially with hotel prices being at their lowest all year. January is the coldest month with temperatures often dipping into the low 30s°F (around 0°C).

Climate: Annual Monthly Weather in Madrid

For more on Madrid’s weather, check out these climate graphs from I’ve also created the average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below with the most ideal months to visit marked in orange.

Average Temperature

Annual Rainfall


We took a bus to Madrid from Granada in southern Spain but there are several ways to get there depending on where you are. I suggest checking Bookaway to find route options available to you. You can click on the link or use the widget below.

By Plane

People flying into Madrid will be arriving at Madrid Airport, officially known as Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD). It’s located about 9 km (5.6 mi) northeast of central Madrid. There are several ways you can get to your hotel in the city center from the airport.

Madrid Metro

Traveling by metro is one of the cheapest and fastest ways to get to central Madrid from the airport. Travel times and fares will vary depending on your final destination, but metro line 8 will get you into Nuevos Ministerios metro station in the city center in around 12-15 minutes. The metro operates from 6:05AM till 1:30AM.

Renfe Train

Lines C1 and C10 on the Renfe train will take you from Airport Terminal 4 to Nuevos Ministerios station in about 18 minutes. Trains run every 20-30 minutes.

Madrid Airport Express Bus

There are several buses you can take from the airport to downtown Madrid, the fastest being the Madrid Airport Express Bus. Line 203 will take you to the Atocha-RENFE hub in the city center in about 40 minutes. If you’re traveling at night, then it’ll drop you off at Plaza de Cibeles which is about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) north of the Atocha-RENFE station.

The Madrid Airport Express Bus operates 24/7 and runs every 15-20 minutes during the day and every 35 minutes between 11:30PM and 6AM. You can check the Madrid Airport website for more information and for other bus transfer options.


Taking a taxi is more comfortable but also more expensive. The taxi ride from the airport to the M30 central area in Madrid is subject to a fixed fare of EUR 30. Just be sure to catch it from the official taxi stand at the airport.


According to this TripAdvisor thread, regular commuters don’t really use ridesharing services like Uber in Spain, but it may be a good (and cheaper) alternative if the airport taxi queue is long. While Uber does operate in Madrid, most people prefer to use the FreeNow (MyTaxi) app. Another option is Cabify.

Private Transfer

If you’d like to have a private transfer waiting for you at the airport in Madrid, then you can book one in advance through Get Your Guide.

By Train

Spain has an extensive rail network, at the very heart of which is Madrid. If you’re in a city relatively near Madrid, then train travel may be better than flying as it’ll get you into a station already within the city center. From there, you can take the local metro or taxi to your hotel. You can check Trainline for route information and to book train tickets to Madrid.

By Bus

This was how we arrived in Madrid on our last visit. We took a 4.5 hr Alsa bus from Granada to Madrid Estacion Sur. If you’re traveling on a budget, then buses are a great way to get around in Spain as they’re cheaper than trains and just as comfortable. You can search for bus tickets to Madrid on Bookaway.

By Car

Renting a car is arguably the best way to explore Spain and Europe. We drove from San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela and it turned out to be one of the most memorable legs of our trip. If you’d like to rent a car and drive to Madrid, then you can do so on


The unit of currency in Spain is the Euro (EUR).

We withdrew EUR from ATMs throughout our entire stay in Spain so we didn’t have to change any currency in Madrid. This seems to be the de facto option in Spain and in many other European countries these days.

If you plan on using your ATM card in Europe, then I suggest letting your bank know before your trip. That way they don’t flag any transactions as suspicious. In my experience, my ATM card works fine in some machines but not in others. I had no problems withdrawing from ATMs anywhere in Spain.

NOTE: Many ATMs in Europe will ask if you’d like to proceed “with or without conversion”. Always proceed WITHOUT conversion so your hometown bank performs the conversion for you. Proceeding with conversion authorizes the foreign bank operating the ATM to do the conversion, usually at highly unfavorable exchange rates.


If it’s your first time in Madrid, then it’s best to stay in Centro. Being in this central district will put you right in the heart of Madrid and close to many restaurants, cafes, bars, transportation options, and tourist attractions.

Centro refers to a large central area in Madrid composed of smaller neighborhoods, each with its own character. The first five areas recommended in this Madrid travel guide are part of Centro while the sixth is located directly east of this central district.

I’ve created a color-coded map to help you understand where these areas in Madrid are. Click on the link for a live version of the map. (Please note that marked areas are approximations only)

GREEN – Lavapiés
RED – Chueca
YELLOW – Malasaña
PURPLE – La Latina
ORANGE – Barrio de las Letras / Huertas
BLUE – Salamanca


If you’re looking for a good budget hotel in Madrid, then the Lavapiés area is one of the best places for you to stay. It’s an artsy and culturally diverse neighborhood with lots of interesting Spanish and international restaurants, bars, and cafes, especially along Calle Argumosa.

Lavapiés offers plenty in the way of accommodations but do stick to the main streets and squares as some of the smaller side streets can get a bit seedy at night. You can book accommodations in Lavapiés on Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:

  • Luxury: Atocha Hotel Madrid, Tapestry Collection by Hilton
  • Midrange: Uma House Atocha
  • Budget: 2060 The Newton Hostel


If an active nightlife scene is what you’re after, then Chueca is one of the best areas to stay in Madrid. It’s the hub of the LGBTQ community in Madrid and home to lots of trendy nightclubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes. It’s also a great destination for shopping as it’s home to many interesting boutiques and upscale shops, especially along Calle de Hortaleza.

You can search for accommodations in Chueca on Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:

  • Luxury: Only YOU Boutique Hotel Madrid
  • Midrange: Woohoo Rooms Chueca
  • Budget: Bastardo Hostel


For younger travelers, Malasaña is arguably the best area to stay in Madrid. It’s one of the hippest areas in Madrid with a great mix of restaurants, tapas bars, pubs, boutiques, street art, and museums. It’s within walking distance to Calle Gran Vía as well which is home to some of the best shopping in Madrid.

You can book a hotel room in Malasaña on Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:

  • Luxury: INNSIDE by Meliá Madrid Gran Vía
  • Midrange: Hostal Adis
  • Budget: Woohoo Hostal Madrid


La Latina refers to the area just south of the Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral. It’s within walking distance to Plaza Mayor and home to El Rastro flea market, the biggest in Madrid. It’s a very walkable area with elegant architecture and excellent tapas bars, many of which are clustered along Calle de Cava Baja.

You can search for accommodations in La Latina on or Agoda. Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:

  • Luxury: Posada del León de Oro Boutique Hotel
  • Midrange: Posada del Dragón Boutique Hotel
  • Budget: Hostel MYD La Latina


Barrio de las Letras (or Huertas) is the literary quarter of Madrid and the best area to stay if the main purpose of your trip is to visit the city’s museums. It’s home to Paseo del Prado and the Golden Triangle of Art. Staying in this area will put you within walking distance of the Museo del Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofía museums.

Huertas is located immediately to the west of Parque del Buen Retiro (Buen Retiro Park), one of the largest green spaces in Madrid. Together with Paseo del Prado, this expansive public park is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can book a hotel room in Huertas on Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:

  • Luxury: The Westin Palace, Madrid
  • Midrange: Room Mate Alba
  • Budget: Hostal Pacios


If you want a truly luxurious stay in Madrid, then look no further than Salamanca. It’s one of Madrid’s most exclusive neighborhoods and home to some of its swankiest hotels and restaurants. However, it isn’t as centrally located as the previous areas so you’ll need to take the metro to get to Madrid’s top tourist attractions.

You can find accommodations in this posh Madrid neighborhood on or Agoda. Listed below are some of the top-rated hotels in Salamanca:

  • Luxury: Relais & Châteaux Heritage Hotel
  • Midrange: VP El Madroño
  • Budget: Hostal Retiro

You can also book hotels and home stays in Madrid using the handy map below.


1. Museo del Prado (Prado Museum)

The Prado Museum is one the most famous museums in the world. It’s the crown jewel of the Paseo del Arte (Art Walk), a one-kilometer stretch of major museums in Madrid’s city center. It’s home to a mind-blowing collection of European art, mostly from the Spanish, Italian, and Flemish schools of painting.

The Prado Museum features over 8,600 paintings and 700 sculptures from Spanish masters like Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, and Joaquín Sorolla. These are the types of priceless pieces that you read about in art textbooks and only dream about seeing in person.

You can purchase a ticket to Prado Museum in advance or book a guided tour but if you plan on visiting all three major museums in Madrid, then I highly recommend getting a Paseo del Arte pass.

Photo by Enrique Palacio Sans via Shutterstock

Suggested Length of Visit: About 3-4 hrs
Admission: EUR 15
Operating Hours: 10AM-8PM, Mon-Sat / 10AM-7PM, Sun and public holidays
Nearest Metro Stations: Banco de España (L2), Estación del Arte (formerly Atocha) (L1)

2. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Thyssen-Bornemisza is the second of the three major museums in Madrid. While the Museo del Prado is filled with priceless pieces from the Renaissance, this museum features a more modern collection from famous international and Spanish artists like Francis Bacon (pictured below), Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Roy Lichtenstein.

If you prefer contemporary art, then you may enjoy the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum more than the Prado. It’s a lot less crowded than the Prado Museum and they let you take pictures of the artworks.

You can visit Thyssen-Bornemisza on your own or book a guided tour. As advised, you may want to get a Paseo del Arte pass if you plan on visiting all three major museums on your own.

Suggested Length of Visit: About 2-3 hrs
Admission: EUR 13
Operating Hours: 12NN-4PM, Mon / 10AM-7PM, Tue-Sun
Nearest Metro Station: Banco de España (L2)

3. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

The Reina Sofia Museum is the third major museum in Madrid and personally, my favorite of them all. It’s a large modern museum housing over 22,400 works of contemporary Spanish and European art, many by renowned Spanish masters like Salvador Dalí (pictured below), Joan Miró, Juan Gris, and Pablo Picasso.

You aren’t allowed to take pictures of it but one of Picasso’s most celebrated works, Guernica, is on display here. If you’re a fan of Picasso or Dalí, then you need to visit this museum.

You can purchase a ticket to Reina Sofía or book a guided tour but as advised, you’ll save money on the cost of admission if you get a Paseo del Arte pass.

Suggested Length of Visit: About 3-4 hrs
Admission: EUR 12
Operating Hours: 10AM-8PM, Mon, Wed-Sat / 10AM-2:30PM, Sun (closed Tue)
Nearest Metro Stations: Estación del Arte (formerly Atocha) (L1), Lavapiés (L3)

4. CaixaForum Madrid

If the big three aren’t enough to satisfy your craving for art and culture in Madrid, then you may want to visit CaixaForum. Located in Paseo del Prado, near the three major museums, CaixaForum Madrid is a sociocultural center with over 2,000 square meters (21,528 sq ft) of exhibit halls. The venue hosts multimedia displays, art exhibits, workshops, and music and poetry festivals.

You can check the CaixaForum website for a schedule of upcoming events in Madrid.

Photo by eskystudio via Shutterstock

Suggested Length of Visit: About 1-2 hrs
Admission: EUR 6
Operating Hours: 10AM-8PM, Sun-Thurs / 10AM-10PM, Fri-Sat
Nearest Metro Station: Estación del Arte (formerly Atocha) (L1)

5. Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid once served as the family home to the kings of Spain, specifically from Charles III to Alfonso XIII. Today, it still functions as the royal family’s official residence though it’s used only for state ceremonies and has been opened to the public for viewing.

The Royal Palace contains over 3,400 rooms and is known to be the largest functioning royal palace in Europe. In fact, it’s so big that only a small section of the palace is shown to the public at any given time. The Royal Armoury and Kitchen are highlights as is the changing of the guard which takes place on Wednesday and Sunday every week.

You can purchase tickets at the gate, but if you’d rather not fall in line, then you may want to get fast-access tickets in advance or book a guided tour through Get Your Guide.

Suggested Length of Visit: About 2-3 hrs
Admission: EUR 12
Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, Tue-Sat / 10AM-4PM, Sun-Mon
Nearest Metro Stations: Ópera (L2, L5, R), Plaza de España (L2, L3, L10)

6. Cibeles Palace

Located at Plaza de Cibeles, Cibeles Palace (or Palacio de Comunicaciones) is the former post office and telegraph/telephone headquarters of Madrid. Opened in 1909, this striking white building is known for its elegant architecture and offers some of the best panoramic views of the city.

Since 2007, Cibeles Palace has functioned as the seat of the Madrid City Council. It features a contemporary art gallery called CentroCentro and offers visitors 360° panoramic views of Madrid from its highest tower.

If you enjoy lofty views, then you may want to make a quick stop here. You can visit on your own or book a guided tour that makes a stop at Cibeles Palace.

Photo by noelia leonor via Shutterstock

Suggested Length of Visit: About 1 hr
Admission: EUR 3
Operating Hours: 10AM-8PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mon)
Nearest Metro Station: Banco de España (L2)

7. Chamberí Ghost Station

If conventional museums aren’t your thing, then you may want to visit Chamberí Ghost Station instead. It refers to the now-disused Estación de Chamberí, one of the eight original stations on the Madrid Metro’s first line.

Opened in 1919, the station was permanently closed in 1966 before reopening as a museum called Anden or Platform 0 in 2008. It features the station’s original ads comprised of brilliantly-colored tiles, and offers a glimpse into the history and origins of Madrid’s metro system.

Photo by Quintanilla via Shutterstock

Suggested Length of Visit: About 30 mins – 1 hr
Admission: FREE
Operating Hours: 8:30AM-11PM, daily
Nearest Metro Stations: Alonso Martínez (L4, L5, L10), Bilbao (L1, L4), Iglesia (L1), Quevedo (L2), Rubén Darío (L5)


1. Enjoy Bocadillo de Calamares at Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is one of the most emblematic landmarks in Madrid. Located in an area called Madrid de los Austrias (Hapbsurg Madrid), this public square with 400 years of history is the heart and soul of Old Madrid.

Plaza Mayor is one of the most popular places in the city for tourists to eat, people watch, and enjoy the outdoors. Aside from the famous Mercado de San Miguel, you’ll find a lot of small restaurants and tapas bars around Plaza Mayor. Many serve bocadillo de calamares, a classic Madrid snack consisting of battered squid rings served in a bun. Order one and eat it outside like a local.

There are many ways to get to Plaza Mayor but I suggest walking up Calle de Cuchilleros and entering the square through Arco de Cuchilleros. It’s a monumental and impressive-looking archway with steep steps that lead you up and into the square.

You can easily visit Plaza Mayor on your own but if you’d like to go on a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.

Nearest Metro Stations: Ópera (L2, L5, R), Sol (L1, L2, L3), Tirso de Molina (L1)

2. Explore Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel or San Miguel Market is by far the most famous market in Madrid. Similar to La Boqueria in Barcelona, it’s a Madrid institution and a must-visit for anyone looking to dive into Spanish cuisine.

Built in 1916, San Miguel Market opened as a local food market before growing into Madrid’s first gourmet market. It consists of over twenty stands whose offerings range from the finest Iberian ham to exquisite cheeses from Asturias to the freshest shellfish and seafood from Galicia.

Mercado de San Miguel is considered a culinary temple in Madrid and extremely popular. It receives over ten million visitors a year so expect a crowd at any time of the day. For the best experience, I suggest going as soon as they open at 10AM.

You can easily visit San Miguel Market on your own, but if you’d like to go as part of a guided sightseeing or food tour, then you can book one in advance through Get Your Guide.

Operating Hours: 10AM-12MN, Sun-Thurs / 10AM-1AM, Fri-Sat
Nearest Metro Stations: Ópera (L2, L5, R), Sol (L1, L2, L3)

3. Take a Selfie with El Oso y El Madroño at Puerta del Sol

A short walk from Plaza Mayor is another iconic square in Madrid – Puerta del Sol. Like Plaza Mayor, it’s one of the busiest and most famous squares in Madrid. Known for its semi-circular shape, it’s regarded as “Kilometer 0” and is the center for all radial roads in Spain.

Aside from the stone slab marking Spain’s Kilometer 0, Puerta del Sol is famous for the clock on the Casa de Correos building and the statue known as El Oso y el Madroño. Meaning “The Bear and the Strawberry Tree” in Spanish, this sculpture is regarded as the heraldic symbol of Madrid.

It’s easy to visit Puerta del Sol on your own but if you’d like to go as part of a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.

Photo by Juan Francisco Gallego Amador via Shutterstock

Nearest Metro Station: Sol (L1, L2, L3)

4. Go Shopping at the Golden Mile and Gran Vía

If you’re a fashionista looking to do some shopping in Madrid, then you’ll probably want to stroll the length of the Golden Mile and Gran Vía, two of the best shopping districts in the city.

Gran Vía is the busiest and most popular street in Madrid. It features 1.3 km (0.8 mi) of some of the most sought-after retail shops in town like H&M, Zara, PRIMARK, Lacoste, and the Atletico Madrid official store.

If over a kilometer of shops isn’t enough for you, then you can continue east to the Golden Mile, a cluster of stylish boutiques and exclusive brands located in the upscale neighborhood of Barrio de Salamanca. Think Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co.

Photo by kasto via Depositphotos

Nearest Metro Station: Banco de España (L2), Callao (L3, L5), Gran Vía (L1, L5), Plaza de España (L2, L3, L10), Santo Domingo (L2)

5. Take a Stroll in El Retiro Park

Parque del Buen Retiro (or simply Retiro Park or El Retiro) is one of the largest public parks in Madrid. Together with Paseo del Prado, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering an area of about 125 hectares (309 acres).

Located not too far from the Prado Museum, Retiro Park is a green oasis with over 15,000 trees, a lake, gardens, monuments, and sculptures. It’s a great place to relax, take a stroll, or just escape the hustle and bustle of Madrid. Some of the most prominent features of El Retiro include the monument to King Alfonso XII, the Rosaleda (rose garden), the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace), and the Paseo de las Estatuas (Statue Walk).

You can easily visit El Retiro Park on your own, but if you’d like to go as part of a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.

Photo by karnizz via Depositphotos

Nearest Metro Station: Estación del Arte (formerly Atocha) (L1), Ibiza (L9), Retiro (L2)

6. Watch a Flamenco Show

This picture of flamenco dancers performing in a cave was from a breathtaking show we saw in southern Spain. If you aren’t familiar with it, flamenco is a Spanish art form consisting of song, dance, and guitar playing. It’s a passionate and powerful art form which in my opinion, is an absolute must-do in Spain, especially if you can experience it in a cave.

Flamenco is originally from the Andalusian region so Granada is one of the best places to catch a show in Spain. But if Granada isn’t on your itinerary, then you can watch it in Madrid. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of flamenco shows held in the Spanish capital.

7. Visit a Weekend Market

On our last visit to Madrid, we stayed at an AirBnB directly across Matadero Madrid, a former slaughterhouse repurposed into a cultural center. It features multiple spaces dedicated to exhibits, performances, and workshops.

On the last weekend of every month, Matadero Madrid hosts the Mercado de Productores (pictured below), a farmer’s market with over fifty food stalls offering a variety of fresh produce and local dishes, all of which were produced in the areas immediately surrounding Madrid. If you’re lucky enough to be in Madrid at the end of the month, then I highly recommend checking out this market.

Another great weekend market to visit is El Rastro flea market, the biggest of its kind in Madrid. It’s held every Sunday and on public holidays and features over a thousand merchants selling a wide range of goods from artisanal products to accessories to clothing and kitchenware.

8. Go on a Madrid Food Tour

Exploring the local food in Madrid on your own is always fun but if you really want to learn about Spanish cuisine, then you may want to go on a guided tour. Simply put, no one knows the food in Madrid better than a local. A knowledgeable guide can take you from mercado to mercado and tapas bar to tapas bar to experience the best of local Spanish cuisine. Plus, they can give you lots of insider tips as well.

Check out Get Your Guide for a list of the best Spanish food and wine tasting tours in Madrid.

Photo by eskystudio via Shutterstock

9. Go on a Sightseeing Tour

Madrid has a terrific public transportation system making it very easy to get around. You can easily visit Madrid’s top tourist attractions on our own, but if you’re pressed for time, then you may want to book a guided sightseeing tour. Not only will you learn more about every place you visit, but it’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to see Madrid’s top sights.

Check out Get Your Guide for a list of guided tours in Madrid. Aside from the usual walking tours, they offer more fun tours as well like Segway tours and E-bike tours.

Photo by Soloviova Liudmyla via Shutterstock

10. Take a Cooking Class

Aside from food tours, we also enjoy taking cooking classes when we travel. It’s one of the best ways to learn about the local cuisine. Food tours can show you what and where to eat in Madrid but if you really want to learn about Spanish cuisine, then you may want to take a cooking class. Learning what goes into a dish is like looking under the cuisine’s hood.

If you’d like to learn how to make classic Spanish dishes like callos a la madfrileña or tortilla de patata (Spanish omelet), then check out Cookly for a list of cooking classes in Madrid.

Photo by nito via Shutterstock


If you’re staying long enough in Madrid, then you might want to go beyond the city and take a day trip. I’ve listed three of the closest day trip destinations from Madrid below but be sure to check out our full article on Madrid day trips for more recommendations.

1. Toledo

Toledo is perhaps the most popular day trip destination from Madrid. Once referred to as the “City of the Three Cultures”, this UNESCO World Heritage Site can be reached in a little over half an hour by high-speed train.

Aside from its fascinating history and interesting architecture, Toledo is known for being the adopted home of El Greco, the famous Greek painter, sculptor, and architect of the Spanish Renaissance.

It’s easy to visit Toledo on your own but if you’d like to go on a guided tour from Madrid, then you can book one through Get Your Guide (Option 1 | Option 2).

Photo by ArTono via Shutterstock

Travel Time: About 45 mins

2. Segovia

Another popular day trip destination from Madrid is Segovia. It’s located about 90 km (56 miles) northwest of Madrid and can be reached in a little over half an hour by high-speed train.

There are three architectural marvels to visit on a day trip to Segovia – the ancient Roman aqueduct (pictured below), the Alcazar, and the Catedral de Segovia. If you travel for food like we do, then you’ll be pleased to learn that Segovia is also famous for its cochinillo asado or roast suckling pig.

Like Toledo, Segovia is easy to visit on your own but if you’d prefer to go on a guided tour from Madrid, then you can book one through Get Your Guide (Option 1 | Option 2).

Photo by Vladimir Sazonov via Shutterstock

Travel Time: About 45 mins

3. San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Commonly known as the Monastery of El Escorial, San Lorenzo de El Escorial is the historic residence of the King of Spain. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important architectural monuments of the Spanish Renaissance.

San Lorenzo de El Escorial is located about an hour northwest of Madrid. You can buy entrance tickets at the gate or in advance through Get Your Guide. You can also go on a guided tour.

Photo by canadastock via Shutterstock

Travel Time: About 1 hr


In our humble opinion, Spain is one of the world’s best countries for food. It’s home to many delicious dishes like paella valenciana, cochinillo asado, callos a la madrileña, tortilla de patatas, and churros con chocolate.

If you’re wondering what to eat in Madrid, then check out our Spanish food guide for a list of 45 of the most delicious dishes in Spain. If you’re obsessed with tapas like we are, then you need to check out our Spanish tapas guide as well.


Spanish dishes like paella and tapas are delicious but so are Spanish desserts. You’ve probably heard of churros con chocolate and flan but be sure to check out our article on Spanish desserts for more sweet recommendations in Spain.


Our Spanish food guide shows you the best dishes to eat in Madrid and Spain, but if you’re wondering where you should go for lunch or dinner in the Spanish capital, then be sure to check out our Madrid food guide. It lists fourteen of the best restaurants, tapas bars, mercados, and tabernas to visit in Madrid.

Fourteen may be too many for some people so I’ve listed five of our favorites below. Be sure to click through to the complete food guide for more pictures and information.

1. La Venencia

La Venencia is an icon in Madrid. It’s an historic bar and local hangout that hasn’t changed since the days of the Spanish Civil War. They offer a small menu of tapas and just one drink – Sherry wine. Also known as Vino de Jerez, it’s a type of Spanish fortified wine produced in the Jerez-Xeres-Sherry region of Andalusia.

If you enjoy a bit of history and local flavor with your food, then I suggest enjoying a few drinks and tapas at La Venencia. Rumor has it that Ernest Hemingway was a regular here.

2. Bodega de la Ardosa

Bodega de la Ardosa was one of our favorite tapas bars in Madrid. It’s a Madrid institution and a neighborhood favorite that’s been around since 1892.

Unlike La Venencia which is more of a specialized bar, Bodega de la Ardosa has a full bar and offer many tapas dishes like salmorejo, tortilla de patata, and this terrific plate of alcachofas or grilled artichokes sprinkled with salt.

Bodela de la Ardosa is extremely popular with the locals so it’s best to go on a weekday. I tried going on a Sunday and the place was practically bursting at the seams. On a Monday afternoon, we had the place to ourselves.

3. La Tasqueria de Javi Estevez

La Tasqueria de Javi Estevez is one of the most interesting restaurants we went to in Spain. It’s an upscale restaurant known for offering an entire menu of offal-inspired dishes like lamb sweetbreads, beef tongue, and pork cheek.

If that isn’t enticing enough for you, then you may be pleased to learn that La Tasqueria de Javi Estevez is the proud owner of one Michelin Star, making it perhaps the only Michelin-starred offal restaurant in the world!

If you like experiencing unusual food when you travel, then you need to make a reservation here. Check out my article on La Tasqueria for more information.

4. Chocolateria San Gines

Google “things to do in madrid” and this famous chocolateria will surely come up. Chocolateria San Gines is one of the most iconic places to eat in Madrid. They’ve been open since 1894 and is the most famous place in the city to have churros con chocolate (churros with hot chocolate). It’s a delicious pairing that’s often enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack in Spain.

No matter how long you’re staying in Madrid, you need to have a plate of churros with hot chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines. It’s a Madrid institution and almost a rite of passage for first-time visitors to Madrid.

5. Mercado de San Fernando

Mercado de San Miguel (San Miguel Market) may be the most famous but it wasn’t our favorite market in Madrid. Like La Boqueria in Barcelona, it’s too popular and crowded and doesn’t offer the most relaxed dining experience.

We explored several mercados in Madrid and Mercado de San Fernando was the one we enjoyed the most. It’s located in the colorful Embajadores/Lavapies neighborhood and offers a diverse mix of stalls offering a range of international and Spanish cuisine.


To help you navigate, I’ve pinned the places recommended in this Madrid travel guide on a map. Click on the link to open the live map in a new window.


Madrid is a highly walkable city with great public transportation so it’s easy to explore on your own. Depending on your needs, I highly recommend getting either of these Madrid transport cards.

Tourist Travel Pass

If you plan on using public transportation a lot in Madrid, then it may be worth it to get a Tourist Travel Pass. It’ll give you unlimited rides on all forms of public transport for the duration of your pass.

Tourist Travel Passes in Madrid are valid for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 days and come in two versions – Zone A and Zone T. If you’re planning on exploring just the city center, then a Zone A pass is enough. But if you intend to explore the surrounding areas of Madrid like San Lorenzo de El Escorial, then it’s best to get a Zone T pass.

Tourist Travel Passes are available for purchase at any metro station in Madrid, including the airport. Click on the link for more information on the Madrid Tourist Travel Pass.

10-Journey Tickets

If you plan on using public transportation but not often enough to warrant an unlimited pass, then you may want to get a 10-journey ticket instead. This is what we did. We got a 10-journey ticket for Zone A (central Madrid) which was more than adequate for our needs.

Like a Tourist Travel Pass, you can get a 10-journey ticket from any metro station. Click on the link for more information on the 10-journey ticket in Madrid.

Google Maps

No matter how you get around, I suggest downloading the Google Maps app (iOS | Android) if you haven’t already. It’ll tell you all the different ways to get from point A to point B by walking or using any city’s public transportation system. It’s accurate and reliable and something we can’t travel without.


With so much to see and do in the Spanish capital, you’re probably wondering “how many days are enough for Madrid?” That’s a great question and the not so great answer is, it depends.

Staying longer is always a good idea anywhere but if you’re pressed for time, then three full days should be enough. It’ll give you enough time to see all the major sights in Madrid. But if you’re a serious art lover and want to fully explore the major museums in Madrid, then 4-5 days would be better.

Here’s a sample 3D/4N Madrid itinerary to help you plan your trip.

• Prado Museum
• Cibeles Palace
• Take a stroll on Gran Vía
• Explore Chueca
• Explore Malasaña
• Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
• Puerta del Sol
• Chocolateria San Gines
• Plaza Mayor
• Mercado de San Miguel
• Royal Palace of Madrid
• Reina Sofía Museum
• Retiro Park
• Explore Lavapiés
• Watch a flamenco show


1. Plan your Trip with Sygic Travel

If you enjoy every facet of travel planning like I do, then you’re going to find the Sygic Travel app useful. I’ve been using this free trip planning app to create our itineraries for several years now. You can download it for free on iOS or Android.

2. Rent a Pocket Wifi Device

Having a stable wifi connection is a must when traveling. You’ll need it to navigate, do research, translate signs, and stay connected on social media. Having access to Google Maps alone justifies the cost.

We brought our own Pokefi devices so we didn’t need to rent any mobile routers in Europe. But if you do need a device that works in Madrid and Spain, then you can rent one through Get Your Guide.

3. Save Money With a Paseo del Arte Pass

If you plan on visiting the Prado museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofía in Madrid, then it’s a good idea to get the Paseo del Arte Pass. Aside from the convenience of not having to line up for tickets each time, you’ll save money on the total cost of admission.

4. Be Wary of Pickpockets

Pickpocketing and petty theft are common in Spain, especially in bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona. You need to be aware of your surroundings and always be mindful of your belongings. Be especially vigilant in busy tourist areas like Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and El Retiro flea market.

5. Store Your Luggage

Homestay platforms like AirBnB and Vrbo are becoming more and more popular these days so having a place to store your luggage can be a concern. If you need a safe place to store your luggage for a few hours, then you can check Luggage Hero for available storage options in Madrid.

6. Check for Madrid Travel Deals

You can buy vouchers for tours and other travel-related services from many online platforms. For a trip to Madrid, I suggest checking Get Your Guide and Klook. They’re both trusted tour providers offering a good selection of deals on tours, transfers, tickets, and more.

7. Rent a Car

Renting a car is one of the best ways to experience and explore Spain. We rented a car and drove from San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela and it turned out to be one of the most memorable legs of our trip.

If you’re considering renting a car in Spain or anywhere else in Europe, then you can do so through

8. Get Travel Insurance

To be honest, we didn’t used to get travel insurance often, but we do now, on every trip. Frankly, you never know what can happen when you’re traveling. Valuables can get stolen and you can get hurt. Travel insurance is one of those things that you hope to never use, but if you do wind up needing it, then you’ll be glad you had it.

We always get travel insurance from SafetyWing or Heymondo. They’re both popular travel insurance providers used by many long-term travelers. Click on the links to get a free quote from SafetyWing or Heymondo. Get 5% off on Heymondo if you pick up a policy using our link.

9. Bring the Right Power Adapter

Spain has Type C or Type F electrical outlets so be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz.

Have Fun!

I’m by no means an expert on the Spanish capital but I do hope you find this Madrid travel guide useful. I’m only sharing some of the things I learned from our trip. If you have any comments or suggestions, then please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well.

Thanks for reading and have a great time visiting the art museums and neighborhoods of Madrid!


These are some of the things we brought with us to Madrid. See what’s in our backpack for a complete list of our gear. (NOTE: The following links are Amazon and other affiliate links.)

Canon G7X Mark III
Glitter Carry-on
Pickpocket-proof Jacket


Some of the links in this Madrid travel guide are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if we make a sale at no added cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!

Brazilian Food: 30 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Brazil

When it comes to tourism, Brazil needs little introduction. There is so much to see and do in this vast South American country, the fifth largest in the world!

Brazil is famous for so many things that it can mean something different to different people. For some, Christ the Redeemer is the first image that comes to mind when they think of Brazil. For others, it may be samba or carnival. For fans of sport and martial arts, football, Brazilian jiu jitsu, and capoeira come foremost to mind. And we can’t forget about Brazil’s beautiful beaches and gorgeous people!

First-time visitors will have their plates full in Brazil, but one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is the food. Thanks to its size, history, and mix of different influences, Brazil is home to one of the most interesting cuisines not just in the Americas, but in the world.

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Photo by diogoppr


Brazilian food can be described as a fusion of indigenous ingredients with foreign influences, mostly Portuguese, West African, and Japanese. Thanks to its continental size, the food in Brazil can vary greatly from state to state and is a reflection of the country’s mix of native and immigrant populations.

Examples of common native ingredients include cassava root, yams, cashews, and açaí. European settlers introduced wine, dairy products, and leafy vegetables while enslaved Africans and Japanese immigrants brought with them dishes and techniques that have become important parts of the Brazilian diet.

Feijoada is widely considered to be the national dish of Brazil while caipirinha is its consensus national cocktail. However, defining a national cuisine becomes more challenging because of Brazil’s size and its mix of regional traditions.

For example, the food in northeast Brazil is heavily influenced by African cuisine while the southeastern city of São Paulo is home to the Asian-inspired pastel. Fish, fruits, and cassava are staple foods in the north but in the south, meat-based gaucho traditions like churrasco are more common.

In a way, this diversity of ingredients and influences – coupled with a desire to preserve these differences – is largely what defines traditional Brazilian food.


This article on Brazilian food has been organized by category to make it easier to digest. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.

  1. Starters / Sides / Snacks
  2. Soups / Stews
  3. Breads / Pastries
  4. Rice / Beans
  5. Meats / Mains
  6. Fruits / Nuts / Cheese
  7. Desserts / Drinks


1. Bolinhos de Bacalhau

Brazilians love their salgadinhos (appetizers or snacks) and bolinho de bacalhau is one of their favorites. It literally means “codfish cakes” and refers to croquettes made with a mixture of salt cod, mashed potatoes, eggs, onions, and parsley.

Bolinho de bacalhau is traditionally a Portuguese dish that’s become deeply rooted in Brazilian cuisine. They’re commonly eaten as an appetizer or snack but they can be enjoyed as a main dish with rice and vegetables as well.

Shaped like balls or small torpedoes, these tasty cod fritters are crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.

Photo by Paulovilela

2. Coxinhas

If bolinhos de bacalhau look appealing to you, then you’ll probably enjoy coxinhas as well. They’re a popular street food snack made with battered and fried chicken meat covered in dough.

Coxinha (or coxinha de frango) literally means “little thigh” and refers to the snack’s distinctive tear drop shape. They’re meant to resemble chicken drumsticks which according to legend, can be traced back to Brazilian Princess Isabel’s mentally ill son. As the story goes, chicken thighs were his favorite dish so the cook shredded a whole chicken and created drumstick-shaped croquettes to appease him.

To make, a filling of shredded chicken, cream cheese, onions, scallions, and parsley is wrapped in dough enriched with chicken broth. They’re fashioned into drumsticks and coated in batter and breadcrumbs before being deep-fried till golden brown and crispy.

Coxinhas are traditionally filled with chicken meat but they can be made with other ingredients as well like corn, cheese, nuts, peas, mushroom, carrots, and other vegetables. Whatever they’re made with, they’re usually served with a side of hot sauce or mayonnaise.

Photo by fotek

3. Kibe

If you’re a fan of Lebanese food, then this next dish will probably be familiar to you. Kibe refers to the Brazilian version of kibbeh, a popular football-shaped croquette made with beef and bulgur wheat.

Lebanese kibbeh are often made with spiced ground lamb but in Brazil, beef is preferred. Ground beef is mixed with bulgur wheat and seasoned with onions, garlic, mint, and cinnamon. They’re typically deep-fried and served with tahini sauce and lime, but they can also be eaten raw (kibe cru) or baked in a casserole with cheese (kibe assado recheado).

Kibe made its way into Brazilian cuisine sometime in the late 19th and early 20th centuries after a wave of Levantine immigrants were welcomed into the country.

Photo by Paulovilela

4. Caruru

Caruru refers to a traditional Brazilian dish made with okra, dried shrimp, onions, and toasted nuts cooked in dendê or red palm oil. It’s a popular condiment in the Brazilian northeastern state of Bahia where it’s often eaten with acarajé (fritters made with black-eyed peas).

A Brazilian dish with African roots, caruru was initially brought to the country by African slaves working on the country’s sugar plantations. Today, it’s an important ritual food of the Candomblé religion and is the main meal served during the feast day of Saints Cosmas and Damian, twin saints regarded as the protectors of children in Brazil.

Photo by paulbrighton

5. Farofa

Farofa is a hugely popular side dish in Brazilian cuisine. It’s present at every churrasco and consists of toasted manioc flour (cassava flour) mixed with a variety of ingredients like onions, garlic, nuts, olives, bacon, raisins, and fresh herbs.

Together with rice and beans, farofa is the most commonly eaten side dish in Brazil. It’s smokey, buttery, and with a slightly crunchy texture similar to breadcrumbs. Farofa is typically sprinkled over grilled meats and savory dishes like feijoada and moqueca but it can also be used as a stuffing for Brazilian poultry dishes.

Photo by Paulovilela

6. Pamonha

The name pamonha is derived from the Tupi word for “sticky” and refers to the Brazilian version of tamales. Traditionally sold as street food in Brazil, it’s made with boiled and mashed sweet corn wrapped in corn husks.

Depending on what it’s made with, pamonhas can be either savory or sweet. Savory pamonhas are typically filled with sausage, chicken, peppers, or cheese while sweet versions are served plain or made with coconut milk mixed into the mashed corn.

Pamonha is consumed throughout the year but it’s traditionally associated with Festa Junina, an annual celebration that commemorates St. Anthony, St. John the Baptist, and St. Peter. Celebrated from mid-June till around the end of July, it marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the harvest.

Corn is one of the main crops harvested during this time so Brazilians express their gratitude for the rain by celebrating and enjoying snacks and cakes made from corn.

Photo by Paulovilela


7. Camarão na Moranga

Camarão na moranga literally means “shrimp in pumpkin” and refers to a creamy Brazilian shrimp stew served in a roasted pumpkin. It’s a popular dish along the Brazilian coast that’s typically served with white rice and batata palha (fried grated potatoes).

According to one urban legend, the origin of this Brazilian stew can be traced back to a prison in Bertioga, along the coast of São Paolo. Japanese inmates started planting fruits and vegetables in the prison, among them pumpkins whose seeds they’d roast and use as a deworming agent.

It wasn’t long before people heard about this alternative treatment and started buying these pumpkins. One day, when pumpkins were being transported from the prison, one fell into the sea. It emerged a few weeks later about three miles from where it sank and was recovered by the owner of a restaurant by the beach.

The owner opened the pumpkin to find it full of shrimp. Inspired, she created the hearty stew we now know today as camarão na moranga.

Photo by paulbrighton

8. Moqueca

Moqueca refers to an aromatic Brazilian seafood stew that’s slow-cooked in a traditional clay pot called panelo de barro. It’s typically made with fish or shrimp cooked with other ingredients like tomatoes, onions, garlic, coriander, olive oil, and lime juice.

There are two well-known versions of moqueca in Brazil – moqueca baiana and moqueca capixaba. Influenced by African culture, the former hails from the north (Bahia) while the latter is from the southeast (Espírito Santo) and draws influences from Portuguese and Spanish cuisine.

Between the two, moqueca baiana is the bolder and more complex version thanks to the use of coconut milk, palm oil, and bell peppers in the recipe. Whatever the version, moqueca is a tasty Brazilian stew that’s best paired with white rice, pirão de peixe (fish gravy), or farofa.

Photo by asimojet


9. Pão de Queijo (Cheese Bread)

Pão de queijo is a widely consumed type of Brazilian cheese bread. Originally from Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil, it refers to small baked cheese rolls or cheese buns that are commonly eaten for breakfast or as a snack.

Brazilian cheese bread is made with tapioca flour, cheese, milk, and eggs. Like many popular Brazilian foods, it was invented during the time of the Portuguese occupation. Wheat products weren’t readily available at the time so slaves would make bread rolls out of cassava root. When milk and cheese became more widely available, they were added to the tapioca roll to create the pão de queijo enjoyed throughout Brazil today.

Photo by MKPK

10. Pastel

The pastel is one of the most common street foods in Brazil. Similar to an empanada but with a thinner and crispier outer layer, it refers to a deep-fried pastry filled with a variety of ingredients like cheese, ground beef, chicken, shrimp, and heart of palm.

It’s unclear where the pastel originated from but they may have been derived from Chinese spring rolls or wontons brought to Brazil by Japanese immigrants. They’re typically savory but they can also be sweet, filled with dessert ingredients like bananas, chocolate, or guava paste.

Photo by betochagas

Here’s an inside look at the filling of a Brazilian pastel. They can be made into half-moon or rectangular shapes. The former is more commonly served at Brazilian bars while the latter can be found at street market stands and beachside kiosks. Rectangular pastéis are often referred to as pastel de vento (windy pastel) in reference to their large crusts half-filled with air.

No matter the shape, pastéis are a common street food or fast food snack in Brazil that’s often enjoyed with Brazilian beer or caldo de cana (pressed sugarcane juice).

Photo by betochagas

11. Empadinha

An empadinha is a small savory Brazilian pie. It’s a common appetizer or snack in Brazil made with a flaky and buttery crust filled with a variety of ingredients like heart of palm, chicken, shrimp, cheese, dried meat, salt cod, and vegetables. It’s basically the diminutive version of the empada, a regular-sized pie that’s often served for dinner in Brazil.

Photo by rocharibeiro

12. Esfiha

Like kibe, esfiha (or esfirra) refers to the local equivalent of a well-known Levantine dish. It’s the Brazilian version of sfiha, a popular flatbread dish topped with minced lamb, onions, tomatoes, pine nuts, and spices.

In Brazil, esfiha can be made in the traditional flatbread shape or folded into a triangular pastry (esfiha fechada, pictured below). They can be made with various toppings or fillings like ground beef, catupiry (soft Brazilian cheese), smoked sausage, chicken, or vegetables.

Photo by Paulovilela

13. Tapioca

Tapioca refers to a type of thin flatbread made from cassava root. It’s popular in many countries throughout Latin America like Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Belize, and the Dominican Republic.

To make tapioca, cassava root is ground to a pulp and squeezed in a sebucan (tube-shaped pressure strainer) to expel the bitter toxic liquid known as yare. The pulp is then spread on a griddle and toasted to create thin round flatbreads similar to tortilla.

Tapioca can be eaten on its own or with other dishes and ingredients. Thin and crispy tapioca can be broken apart and eaten like crackers while thicker flatbreads can be moistened with water to make them soft like bread.

Photo by jantroyka


14. Acarajé

Acarajé refers to a type of spicy Brazilian fritter made with black-eyed peas. Popular in the cuisines of many Caribbean and West African countries, it’s typically associated with Bahia in Brazil where it’s known to be the most popular street food and beach snack.

To make acarajé, skinned black-eyed peas are seasoned with ground shrimp and onions and then shaped into balls before being deep-fried in dendê palm oil. When cooked, they’re split in half and filled with various ingredients like shrimp, caruru (okra stew), and vatapa – a puree of fish, dried shrimp, nuts, and soaked bread.

This is what it looks like before it’s been split in half and filled with the different ingredients.

Photo by Jaboticapa Images

Pictured below is acarajé filled with vatapa and shrimp. Like many of the dishes in this Brazilian food guide, it was brought to Brazil by former slaves and is one of the best examples of the profound West African influence on Brazilian culture and cuisine.

Today, you’ll find over 500 acarajé vendors in Salvador (capital of Bahia), most of whom are women. Easily recognizable for their all-white cotton dresses and headscarves, these women form such an important part of the local identity that they’re often featured in artworks depicting the region of Bahia.

It’s worth mentioning that the real name of this dish in Nigerian cuisine is akara. These women vendors from Salvador would shout “Acara-jé!” – meaning “I have akara!” – which is how the dish got its name in Brazil.

Photo by Jaboticapa Images

15. Abará

Like acarajé, abará is an Afro-Brazilian dish from Bahia. It’s very similar to acarajé except it’s steamed instead of being deep-fried in dendê palm oil.

To make, black-eyed peas are soaked, skinned, and then mashed into a paste before being wrapped and steamed in banana leaves. When ready, it’s traditionally served still wrapped in banana leaf and accompanied with freshly made hot chili sauce.

Photo by casadaphoto

16. Feijoada

No Brazilian food guide worth its weight in salt can go without feijoada, the national dish of Brazil. The name feijoada stems from the Portuguese word feijão, meaning “bean”, and refers to a hearty Brazilian stew made with beans, beef, and pork. It’s believed to be an adaptation of a pork and vegetable stew from the Minho province of northern Portugal.

There are about as many Brazilian recipes for feijoada as there are cooks. It exists in many variations throughout the country, some of the most well-known recipes coming from the kitchens of Rio de Janeiro, Sãu Paolo, Salvador, and Recife.

At its most basic, feijoada is made with black beans slow-cooked in a thick clay pot with salted beef and pork, bacon, garlic, onions, bay leaves, and seasonings. Depending on where it’s from, it can be made with additional ingredients like potatoes, plantains, carrots, cabbage, carne de sol (sun-dried beef), and other cuts of meat.

Feijoada is a comforting dish and perhaps the best example of Brazilian soul food. Strong-tasting and mildly salty but not spicy, it’s usually served with rice, collard greens, orange slices, and farofa. In São Paulo, Brazilian restaurants serve it on Wednesdays and Saturdays while restaurants in Rio de Janeiro typically offer it on Fridays. It’s a tradition inherited from the Portuguese who liked to associate days of the week with certain dishes.

When made at home, feijoada is usually eaten over the weekends with family, as a leisurely dish meant to be enjoyed throughout the day.

Photo by Jaboticapa Images

17. Tutu de Feijão

Tutu de feijão refers to a traditional dish of mashed beans thickened with cassava flour (or corn flour). It’s originally from Minas Gerais – hence the alternative name Tutu à Mineira – but it’s become popular throughout Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Tutu de feijão is made by mixing puréed beans with cassava flour and other ingredients like bacon, garlic, onions, parsley, bay leaves, and olive oil. In Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, it’s traditionally made with black beans but in São Paulo, brown beans are preferred.

No matter where it’s from, tutu de feijão is always served with rice, vegetables, and meat. Like many of the dishes in this Brazilian food guide, it’s believed to be African in origin.

Photo by robertohunger

18. Arroz com Pequi

Arroz com pequi is a traditional Brazilian rice dish hailing from the central states of Goiás and Minas Gerais. Its key ingredient is pequi, a small seasonal fruit with a strong cheese-like flavor. Like tomato, it’s a fruit that’s treated more like a vegetable and used in savory dishes like arroz com pequi.

Arroz com pequi is made by simmering pequi with rice and other ingredients like garlic, onions, chicken broth, vegetable oil, and seasonings. After the rice absorbs all the liquid and becomes tender, chopped green onions are often stirred into the dish before serving.

Photo by trindade51

19. Baião de Dois

Baião de dois is a classic dish of rice and beans from the northeast region of Brazil. It’s originally from Ceará though it now exists in many variations throughout the country.

Brazilian recipes for baião de dois vary but at its core, it’s made with rice and Brazilian beans – preferably feijão verde or feijão novo – cooked with other ingredients like onions, tomatoes, peppers, chives, herbs, and spices. Depending on the cook, you may find versions made with beef (carne de sol), pork, or cheese as well.

Interestingly, the dish was popularized by musicians Humberto Teixeira and Luís Gonzaga in a song called “Baião-de-dois”. It literally means “baião for two” and is in reference to a music and dance style typical of the northeast region. The “two” in the name refers to beans and rice cooked together, as if in a close embrace while dancing the baião.

Photo by romualdocrissi

20. Galinhada

Galinhada refers to a hearty Brazilian stew made with chicken and rice. It’s traditionally associated with the central regions of Goiás and Minas Gerais though it’s now widely consumed throughout Brazil.

Galinhada can be found at any typical Brazilian restaurant but it’s also commonly prepared at home. There are as many Brazilian recipes for galinhada as there are cooks but at its core, it’s made with rice, chicken (preferably free-range), and spices. Depending on where it’s from, it can be made with any number of additional local ingredients like okra, pequi, and gabiroba.

Galinhada can be enjoyed at any time of the year though it’s traditionally made on Holy Saturday to celebrate the end of Lent. It’s also touted as a hangover cure, its effectiveness summarized in this Brazilian saying: “O que a pinga estraga, a galinha cura“, meaning “What the pinga (Brazilian spirit) ruins, the hen cures.”

Photo by lenyvavsha


21. Churrasco

Carnivores will surely be salivating over this next dining experiencen in Brazil. Similar to an Argentinian asado or South African braai, churrasco refers to a Brazilian barbecue consisting of large skewers of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, veal, and sausages grilled over a wood fire. It’s a dining tradition that dates back to the early 19th century, when gauchos (skilled horsemen) would skewer large chunks of meat and slowly grill them over a fire.

Today, enjoying different cuts of grilled meat at a churrascaria or rodízio (Brazilian all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurant) is one of the most satisfying dining experiences you can have in Brazil. Not only is it delicious, but it’s loads of fun too. Servers will walk around the restaurant with freshly grilled skewers of meat. If you see something you like, just flag them down and they’ll cut thick slices of it directly onto your plate.

The meats are the star but a churrasco is a complete Brazilian meal that starts with appetizers and salads from a buffet. The meats are paired with a variety of side dishes like farofa, Brazilian rice, potatoes, black beans, fried bananas, and chili-based sauces. It’s a hefty meal so be sure to arrive hungry. Bom apetite!

Photo by brizardh

You can enjoy a wide variety of grilled meats at a churrascaria in Brazil like filet mignon, sirloin steak, roast beef, lamb, pork ribs, chouriço, and chicken hearts. Yes, chicken hearts!

Everything is usually delicious but one of the best has to be picanha, the Brazilian word for a lesser-known cut of meat otherwise known as rump cover or top sirloin cap. It consists of a top piece of sirloin attached to a thick cap of fat. Don’t miss it!

Photo by rocharibeiro

22. Escondidinho

Escondidinho refers to a traditional Brazilian casserole. Similar to shepherd’s pie, it’s made with a filling of spiced meat topped with a layer of mashed potatoes and cheese.

According to this Brazilian food blogger, the original version of escondidinho may have been made with carne seca (dried beef) and mashed yucca but it can now be made with a variety of proteins like chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and fish. The seasoned and cooked meat is layered in a dish and then topped with mashed potatoes and grated cheese before baking.

Photo by agphotography


23. Açaí

If you’ve seen those picture-perfect smoothie bowls on Instagram, then this next dish (or ingredient) may be familiar to you. Açaí refers to the berries of the açaí palm, a species of palm tree native to Brazil and other countries in South America like Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, and Guyana. In recent years, it’s been touted as a superfood rich in antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, and calcium.

Açaí can be consumed in many ways but in Brazil, it’s commonly eaten in a dessert called açaí na tigela. It consists of mashed açaí berries served in a bowl with different fruits, granola, and guaraná syrup.

MMA fans will be pleased to learn that açaí bowls were poularized in the 1980s by legendary Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner Carlos Gracie. He formulated a special diet to increase the performance of his fighters, at the center of which is the açaí bowl.

Photo by diogoppr

Aside from açaí bowls, you can also enjoy these berries in smoothies. Açaí smoothies are made with açaí powder blended with different types of fruit and milk.

Photo by zstockphotos

24. Brazil Nuts

Like açaí berries, Brazil nuts are a highly nutritious food source native to the Amazon rainforests of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia. They’re high in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and is one of the richest sources of selenium, a mineral that supports thyroid function and enhances your immune system.

Like any edible nut, Brazil nuts can be eaten on their own or they can be mixed into various recipes like salads, breads, cakes, and savory dishes.

Photo by HandmadePicture

25. Pinhão

Pinhão is the local term for the araucaria pine nut, a large edible seed that comes from the paraná or Brazilian pine tree. Harvested every winter, they’ve been a valuable food source for the indigenous people of southern Brazil for hundreds of years.

Pinhão are typically roasted and eaten on their own or mixed into Brazilian dishes like paçoca de pinhão (minced meat with pine nuts) or entrevero (Brazilian stew). They can also be ground into a flour and used in cakes. When eaten on their own, they have a flavor reminiscent of chestnuts.

If you visit the southern states of Brazil in winter, it’s common to find vendors selling pinhão on the side of the street.

Photo by jantroyka

26. Queijo Coalho

Queijo coalho literally means “curd cheese” and refers to a firm but light cheese from northeastern Brazil. It’s typically skewered and grilled over charcoal and sold as street food at Brazilian markets.

When served piping hot, queijo coalho has a crispy golden brown exterior and a soft, near-molten interior. It’s typically seasoned with dried oregano or an oil and garlic sauce before eating.

Aside from being a popular street food snack in Brazil, queijo coalho is also a common sight at homemade churrascos.

Photo by vtupinamba


Be sure to check out our article on traditional Brazilian desserts for a more extensive list of tasty sweet treats!

27. Brigadeiro

Brazilians with a sweet tooth have probably eaten hundreds if not thousands of these hugely popular fudge balls coated in chocolate sprinkles. The brigadeiro is a classic Brazilian dessert and perhaps the most well-known and beloved birthday party treat.

The brigadeiro is a simple dessert made with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate powder (or cocoa powder), and butter. Similar to chocolate truffle or bon-bons, they’re shaped into bite-sized balls and rolled in chocolate sprinkles before being served in small paper cups. It’s a classic sweet treat that many Brazilians grew up eating.

The name brigadeiro means “brigadier” and is said to be in reference to Eduardo Gomes, a Brazilian brigadier who ran for president in 1946. One of his supporters, Heloísa Nabuco de Oliveira, created this sweet and named it doce do brigadeiro (“brigadier’s sweet”) in honor of Gomes. The dessert quickly became popular with the name eventually shortened to just brigadeiro.

Brigadeiros are traditionally made with chocolate but you can now find versions made with other ingredients like white chocolate, pistachio, Nutella, and passion fruit.

Photo by MKPK

28. Beijinho de Coco

Beijinho de coco means “little coconut kiss” in Portuguese and refers to this Brazilian confection made with grated coconut, sweetened condensed milk, butter, and granulated sugar. They’re essentially coconut fudge balls rolled in granulated sugar or shredded coconut and topped with a single decorative clove.

Beijinhos are almost as popular as brigadeiros and present at nearly every Brazilian birthday party. They can also be referred to as branquinhos, meaning “little white ones”.

Beijinhos are commonly made with coconut but they can also be made with other flavoring ingredients like passion fruit, strawberry gelatin, and cocoa powder.

Photo by diogoppr

29. Paçoca de Amendoim

As previously described, Festa Junina is an annual Brazilian festival that commemorates St. Anthony, St. John, and St. Peter. It’s celebrated with many traditional festival dishes like pamonha, canjica, curau, and this Brazilian peanut candy known as paçoca de amendoim.

Popular in southeastern Brazil, paçoca de amendoim is a simple but tasty treat made with ground peanuts, sugar, and salt. It’s name means “to crumble” or “to smash” and is in reference to the way it was traditionally made using a mortar and pestle.

Photo by jantroyka

30. Caipirinha

Caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brazil. It’s the mother of all Brazilian cocktails and made with just three ingredients – lime, sugar, and cachaça, a type of Brazilian liquor distilled from fresh sugarcane juice.

According to this Brazilian food blogger, capirinha evolved from a classic home remedy to treat the common cold. In the early 20th century, people were treating colds with a mixture of cachaça, garlic, lemon, and honey. Over time, honey was replaced with sugar and garlic was omitted from the recipe. The drink grew in popularity and started to be enjoyed as a cocktail and not just a home remedy.

According to the story, the drink evolved from remedy to cocktail in the rural areas of São Paulo, where people are referred to as caipira. Caipirinha is the diminutive form of caipira and essentially means “hillbilly”.

Today, caipirinha is enjoyed everywhere in Brazil. Aside from bars and restaurants, many Brazilian families make it at home to wash down weekend meals of churrasco or feijoada.

Photo by Lazyllama


There are many interesting sights and attractions in Brazil, but as outlined in this Brazilian food guide, there are many delicious dishes to look forward to as well.

Considering how much there is to taste and experience in Brazil, a list of thirty dishes barely scratches the surface. But we do we hope it whets your appetite and gets you even more excited to visit this unique and vibrant country in South America. Bom apetite!

Cover photo by rocharibeiro. Stock images via Depositphotos.

Chilean Food: 40 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Chile

Look at a map of Chile and its shape instantly stands out. It’s a long and narrow coastal country measuring about 4,329 kilometers (2,690 miles) from north to south.

With all that coastline, it only follows that seafood plays an important role in the Chilean diet. Since pre-colonial times, its been home to a diverse array of fish and seafood, not to mention a wide range of agricultural products like potatoes, beans, fruits, and vegetables.

With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores came wheat, livestock, and wine, all of which have become vital components of Chilean cuisine. Today, Chile is consistently one of the biggest producers of wine in the world.

With so much going for it, Traveleaters doing a South American food tour will have plenty to look forward to in Chile.


If you’re planning a trip to Chile and want to really dive into the cuisine, then you may be interested in going on a food tour.


  • Chilean Food Tours: Food and Wine/Drinking Tours in Chile

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Photo by ildi_papp


Chilean food can best be described as a fusion of Spanish influences with local Mapuche culture and ingredients. Thanks to its diverse geography and oxygen-rich waters, it’s home to a wide range of agricultural products and a unique variety of fish and seafood.

Since colonial times, Chilean lunches have been the biggest and most important meal of the day. It typically starts with a fish, meat, or poultry dish followed by a stew with choclo and potatoes. Three types of bread often accompany meals which usually end with dessert and herbal tea to aid in digestion.

Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Chilean government actively encouraged immigration. This led to the arrival of immigrants from countries like Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Croatia, Belgium, and Greece. They left an indelible imprint on the local cuisine and helped steer the course of Chilean gastronomy.


This article on Chilean food has been organized by category to make it easier to digest. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.

  1. Starters / Sides / Snacks
  2. Soups / Stews
  3. Bread / Pastries / Sandwiches
  4. Meat / Poultry / Seafood
  5. Desserts / Drinks
  6. Chilean Food Tours


1. Huevos Revueltos

What better way to start your day in Chile than with a breakfast of huevos revueltos or Chilean scrambled eggs? It’s a popular breakfast dish in the Chilean countryside where it’s often served with fresh tomatoes and pan amasado (Chilean kneaded bread).

Photo by Blinovita

2. Humitas

Humitas refers to an ancient pre-Hispanic Andean dish consumed in Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and northwest Argentina. Similar to tamales, it consists of mashed corn mixed with basil, onion, aji verde (green chili pepper), butter or lard, and spices. The mixture is wrapped in fresh corn husks and either steamed or boiled.

Chilean humitas are typically plain in taste but they can be seasoned to be more savory, sweet, or sweet and sour. They’re often enjoyed as is or paired with a side or ensalada chilena or pebre salsa.

Photo by Blinovita

3. Papa Rellena

Papa rellena refers to a type of croquette popular in the cuisines of many Latin American countries like Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. It consists of an oblong-shaped mass of potato dough filled with spiced ground beef, onions, olives, and hard-boiled eggs.

Photo by Blinovita

4. Niños Envueltos

Niños envueltos literally means “wrapped children” and can refer to both Chilean steak rolls (pictured below) or stuffed cabbage rolls. The former is made with pieces of steak wrapped around a filling of vegetables, while the latter consists of ground meat and rice wrapped inside cabbage leaves.

Chilean steak rolls are especially popular among children. Recipes vary from household to household but they’re typically made with flank steaks stuffed with chard leaves, zucchini, and carrots. The steaks are rolled and held together with toothpicks before being browned in a pan and stewed with tomato sauce, mushrooms, and vegetables.

Photo by LieselF

People familiar with Balkan food may recognize this variation of niños envueltos as the Chilean version of sarma. It’s a form of wrapped dolma that’s popular in the cuisines of many countries throughout the Balkans, Central Europe, the South Caucasus, and the Middle East.

Like sarma, niños envueltos are made with blanched cabbage leaves wrapped around a filling of ground beef, rice, garlic, onions, herbs, and spices. The rolls are formed into cylinders and cooked in tomato sauce.

Photo by jabiru

5. Chochoca

Chochoca (or chochoyeco, trotroyeco, trutru) refers to a Chilean festival dish originally from Chiloé. It consists of a dough made with potatoes and flour wrapped around a metal cylinder that resembles a large rolling pin. Like roast pig, the cylinder is rotated slowly for about thirty minutes to roast the dough over hot charcoal.

When cooked, the chochoca is sliced into pieces and eaten on its own or filled with chicharrones. As you can imagine, it isn’t the type of dish that’s typically made at home, but reserved for festive occasions like fiestas and food fairs.

Photo by Blinovita

Here’s a look at the chochoca as it roasts. There are two variations of chochoca depending on the type of dough used – a black version and a white chochoca.

Black chochoca is the more traditional of the two and made with grated raw potatoes mixed with ground cooked potatoes, salt, and lard. The white version is more common and made with equal parts wheat flour and ground cooked potatoes.

Photo by Blinovita

6. Pebre Salsa

Pebre salsa is an often used Chilean condiment made with aji peppers, coriander, onions, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. Similar to Mexican pico de gallo, it’s typically served in a clay dish and enjoyed with warm bread like marraqeuta (Chilean bread) or used as a condiment with meat dishes like choripan.

Piterquin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

7. Cochayuyo

Cochayuyo (or rimurapa) refers to a large species of southern bull kelp (Durvillaea antarctica) found in the waters of Chile, southern New Zealand, and Macquarie Island. As you can see below, cochayuyo is known for its internal honeycomb structure that helps keep it afloat and prevents the kelp from being damaged by strong waves.

Archaeological evidence suggests that cochayuyo has been a staple Chilean food for thousands of years. It’s a protein-rich plant that’s often added to Chilean stews, salads, and ceviches. It’s relatively mild in flavor but its unique honeycomb structure imparts a chewy texture and natural brininess to Chilean dishes.

Photo by ildi_papp

Pictured below is a type of fresh Chilean salad made with cochayuyo, tomatoes, cucumber, herbs, and olive oil.

Photo by PantherMediaSeller

Here’s a version of pebre salsa made with the addition of cochayuyo.

Photo by ildi_papp

8. Quinoa

Quinoa has been a dietary staple for people living in the Andean region for thousands of years. For much of its history, it’s been stigmatized as low status “Indian food” though it’s developed a reputation in recent decades as a type of superfood.

Quinoa is often mistaken for a grain like wheat and barley but it’s actually an herb derived from a flowering plant. Aside from its many nutritional benefits, it’s championed for its pleasant flavor and versatile cooking qualities.

In Chile, quinoa is used in a multitude of dishes like salads, soups, rellenos (stuffed dishes), pudding, and ceviche.

Photo by ezumeimages


9. Valdiviano

After a night of drinking in Santiago, you’ll probably want to tuck your head into a bowl of valdiviano, a traditional Chilean soup from southern Chile. Originally from the city of Valdivia, it’s become popular throughout the country where it’s often touted as a hangover cure.

Chilean recipes for valdiviano vary but it’s typically made with thin strips of charqui (Chilean beef jerky) or leftover beef cooked in a soup with onions and various herbs and spices like oregano, parsley, cumin, and paprika. Depending on the cook, other ingredients like potatoes and eggs may be added as well. When made with potatoes, the dish becomes known as ajiaco.

Valdiviano is said to have been invented at the turn of the 17th century. Spanish soldiers stationed in Valdivia were supplied with large amounts of charqui from central Chile which they used to create this soup.

Photo by Blinovita

10. Carbonada

Carbonada is a hearty Chilean stew made with beef, rice, and vegetables like corn, carrots, pumpkin, bell peppers, peas, and red potatoes. It’s seasoned with different herbs and spices like garlic, oregano, paprika, parsley, and cumin.

Chilean carbonada is a thick stew that’s substantial enough to be served as a main dish. Depending on the season, you’ll typically find different vegetables in a carbonada. In the summer, corn and green beans are preferred while in winter, peas and frozen vegetables are often used.

Photo by Wirestock

11. Cazuela

The term cazuela can refer to a traditional Chilean dish and the cooking vessel used to make it. Popular in South American countries like Chile and Peru, cazuela describes a family of soups or stews made with different meats and vegetables cooked together in an unglazed earthenware pot called a cazuela (Spanish for “casserole” or “cooking pot”).

Chilean cazuela can be made with different proteins like pork, goat, lamb, turkey, or llama, but the most popular versions are made with chicken (cazuela de ave) or beef (cazuela de vacuno). It’s made by boiling the meat with chopped onions and carrots in one pot, while the rest of the ingredients are boiled separately in individual pots. Only when the dish is served do all the components come together.

Upon serving, a bowl of cazuela typically includes squash, potatoes, corn, and rice to go with the meat. It’s usually garnished with fresh parsley, coriander, or aji verde (spicy green sauce). After the meal, leftovers are usually saved and used to make carbonada.

Speaking of carbonada, the ingredients in a Chilean cazuela are also known to change with the seasons. In the summer, cazuela de ave (pictured below) usually contains corn, green beans, and peas while winter versions of the dish are often made with the addition of rice or polenta.

Photo by ildi_papp

Pictured below is cazuela de vacuno, or cazuela made with beef. In the summer, corn, peas, green beans, and tomatoes are often used while in winter, it’s usually made with potatoes, carrots, spinach, or chard. No matter the season, it’s a hearty and filling soup that goes well with crusty bread and pebre salsa.

Photo by PantherMediaSeller

12. Pantrucas

Pantrucas is a simple but filling Chilean soup made with dumplings cooked in a vegetable or beef broth. The dumplings are made with flour, water, and salt and cut into irregular squares before being boiled in the broth.

Pantrucas is popular in winter and can be made with different types of meat like beef, pork, or turkey. Recipes vary from cook to cook but other common ingredients include potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and eggs. It’s typically seasoned with oregano, chili, and cumin and garnished with fresh parsley.

Photo by lenyvavsha

13. Porotos Granados

Porotos means “beans” so porotos granados refers to a thick and hearty stew that’s often consumed in the Chilean countryside. It’s made with ripe cranberry beans, corn, and squash mixed with other ingredients like onions, pumpkin, cumin, basil, and oregano. It’s typically made in the summer to coincide with the harvest of corn and summer squash in central and southern Chile.

Traditionally, porotos granados is made with cranberry beans though they can be substituted with other Chilean beans like tortola, coscorron, or bayo. Vegetable broth is most common though chicken or beef broth can also be used.

Photo by lenyvavsha

14. Porotos con Riendas

As you can probably tell from its name, porotos con riendas is a traditional Chilean stew made with beans. It’s a popular winter dish consisting of beans cooked with spaghetti, chorizo, squash, onions, garlic, herbs, and spices.

Unlike porotos granados which is traditionally made with a specific type of bean, porotos con riendas can be made with any type of bean like white, navy, or pinto. Its name literally means “beans with reins” and is in reference to the use of spaghetti in the recipe.

Originally, porotos con riendas was made with strips of pork skin. But as the dish grew in popularity and became a staple in Chilean households, the pork was often replaced with strands of cooked spaghetti.

Photo by PantherMediaSeller

15. Caldillo de Congrio

Caldillo de congrio literally means “conger chowder” and refers to a popular Chilean fish soup made with conger eel as its main ingredient. It can be made with either congrio dorado (pink cusk eel) or congrio colorado (red cusk eel), cusk eel species that are common in the Chilean Sea.

To make caldillo de congrio, pieces of chopped and cooked eel are boiled in a pot of water to produce the broth. The broth and eel (and optionally cream) are then added to a sautéed mixture of chopped onions, garlic, bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes. When ready, the soup is garnished with parsley, coriander, or scallions and traditionally paired with crusty bread and a glass of Chilean wine.

Caldillo de congrio is such a beloved part of Chilean cuisine that Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda famously wrote an ode dedicated to this beloved Chilean soup called “Oda al Caldillo de Congrio“.

Photo by [email protected]

16. Caldillo de Mariscos

Like caldillo de congrio, caldillo de mariscos refers to a traditional Chilean seafood soup. It can be made with different types of seafood like mussels, fish, shrimp, and squid cooked in a broth with onions, potatoes, white wine, and various herbs and spices like red pepper, paprika, bay leaf, and oregano. It’s typically garnished with fresh parsley and served with a spritz of lemon juice.

Photo by lenyvavsha


17. Marraqueta

Marraqueta is the most popular type of bread in Chilean cuisine. They’re crusty and crunchy like French bread – hence the alternative name pan francés – and known for their distinctive shape and large-ish size that allows them to be easily divided into four segments. It basically looks like four bread rolls merged into one.

Marraqueta is a staple Chilean food that’s consumed everyday in Chile. Also known as pan batido (whipped bread) or pan francés (French bread), they’re often eaten for breakfast, enjoyed with pebre salsa or mashed avocado, or used as sandwich bread.

According to some historians, marraqueta may have originated from Valparaíso sometime in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During that time, this major port city received thousands of European immigrants, among them two French baker brothers with the surname Teran-Marraquett. They invented this bread which would soon become a staple food throughout Chile.

Today, marraqueta is a cornerstone in Chilean cuisine and culture. Its importance is best illustrated in this popular saying: “Nació con la marraqueta bajo el brazo”. Similar to having a “silver spoon in one’s mouth”, this means “to be born with a marraqueta under his/her arm” and describes a child that has his/her future secured.

Aside from Chile, marraqueta is consumed in many other countries throughout South America like Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and Uruguay. It can also be found in Portugal, Mallorca, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Photo by Blinovita

18. Hallulla

It was interesting to learn that the average Chilean eats over 90 kg (200 pounds) of bread per year, making Chile one of the biggest bread consumers in the world. After marraqueta, hallulla is arguably the second most popular bread in Chile.

Hallulla refers to a simple but rich-tasting Chilean bread made with a dough enriched with lard or vegetable shortening. They’re often used to make sandwiches like chacareros and aliados but they can also be served as a side dish to bigger Chilean meals.

Hallulla is very popular in Chile and also consumed in other South American countries like Bolivia and Ecuador.

Photo by PantherMediaSeller

19. Pan con Palta

Pan con palta refers to a simple but comforting Chilean dish made with mashed avocado spread over bread, usually marraqueta or hallulla. As far as comfort food goes, you can think of it as the Chilean version of American peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s a Chilean tradition and especially popular with children.

Photo by manams

20. Empanada

The empanada is a hugely popular dish consumed in many former Spanish colonies like Argentina, Venezuela, Belize, Costa Rica, Peru, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. In Chile, it’s considered by many to be a national dish.

If you’ve never had one, an empanada is a baked or fried turnover pastry filled with a variety of savory ingredients like meat, corn, tomatoes, and cheese. Originally from Spain, its name stems from the Spanish word empanar which means “to bread” or “to wrap something in bread”.

Empanadas exist in countless variations and can vary in size, shape, and filling. They’re typically small in size and consumed as a snack but in Latin America, some are big enough to be eaten as a main meal. In Chile, among the most popular are empanadas de pino. It refers to a large Chilean empanada generously filled with minced beef, onions, olives, raisins, and hard-boiled eggs.

Though many people think of empanadas as savory sancks, they can be made with sweet fillings as well. Some of the most popular sweet Chilean empanadas include empanadas de pera (pear) and empanadas de manzana (apple).

Photo by marcelo

21. Sopaipilla

A sopaipilla (or sopapilla, sopaipa, cachanga) is a type of fried pastry or bread popular in many South American countries like Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay. They’ve been a Chilean tradition since the 18th century, often made at home or sold as street food.

Sopaipilla varies from country to country but the Chilean version consists of round and flat pieces of leavened wheat dough enriched with vegetable shortening (or butter) and cooked ground pumpkin. The dough is allowed to rise before being rolled out and cut into circular shapes. They’re then deep-fried in oil which causes them to puff up and form a hollow pocket in the center.

Chilean sopaipillas can be savory or sweet and enjoyed with various condiments like pebre salsa, ketchup, mustard, avocado, jam, honey, butter, or cheese. A variation of the dish called sopaipillas pasadas can also be made by boiling them in chancaca sauce, a type of homemade syrup made with panela (unrefined whole cane sugar), cinnamon, and orange peel.

Photo by ildi_papp

22. Churrasco Italiano

Churrasco italiano refers to a messy but delicious sandwich made with slices of steak, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and mashed avocado. The sandwich is Chilean in origin but it gets the “Italiano” in its name from the color of its ingredients. They’re said to represent the Italian flag – mashed avocados for green, mayonnaise for white, and tomatoes for red.

Photo by Dalaifood

23. Completo

If you like American comfort food, then you’re going to enjoy completo, the Chilean version of the famous hot dog. It’s one of the most popular street foods in Chile and can be made in dozens of variations, some of the most popular being the italiano, clasico, and dinámico.

The completo was introduced to Chile in the 1920s by Eduardo Bahamondes, a Chilean national who got his first taste of American-style hot dog on a business trip to the US. He wanted to introduce it to the Chilean people so he opened a restaurant called Quick Lunch Bahamondes in Santiago’s historic center shortly after returning to Chile.

Pictured below is the traditional completo or completo clasico. It’s made with a boiled wiener sausage served in a soft bread roll topped with chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, and a generous helping of mayonnaise.

Photo by ildi_papp

The most popular type of Chilean hot dog is the completo italiano (pictured below). Like churrasco italiano, it gets its name from the color of its ingredients – mashed avocados for green, mayonnaise for white, and tomatoes for red. In addition to these three toppings, many Chileans will often add ketchup, mustard, or hot sauce to their completo italiano.

Aside from the clasico and italiano, be sure to these other popular versions of completo in Chile:

Completo Dinámico: Topped with chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, avocado, and a green sauce made from chopped parsley, mayonnaise and a carrot, onion and pickle relish.

Completo Gringo: Topped with tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, onions, and mayonnaise.

Completo el Brasileño: Topped with melted cheese and avocado.

Completo Falso: Vegetarian version made without the sausage.

Photo by PantherMediaSeller

24. Choripán

The choripán is a type of sausage sandwich popular in many countries throughout Latin America like Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, and El Salvador. It consists of a grilled sausage served in a crusty bread bun.

Choripán is typically made with chorizo but in Chile, it’s made with longaniza. It’s traditionally served in marraqueta and topped with pebre salsa, mayonnaise, and aji pepper sauce.

Photo by Blinovita


25. Pastel de Choclo

Like the empanada, pastel de choclo is a Chilean national dish and one of the most representative of the cuisine. It refers to a type of corn pie made with a sweet corn or choclo topping covering a mixture of ground beef, chicken, black olives, onions, raisins, and hard-boiled eggs.

To make pastel de choclo, sweet corn is ground into a paste and mixed with chopped basil before being pre-cooked with milk and a bit of lard. It’s then poured over the ground beef mixture in a traditional clay pot before being baked in an oven. As it cooks, the corn layer caramelizes and creates a salty-sweet combination that’s reminiscent of shepherd’s pie.

Photo by ildi_papp

26. Lomo a lo Pobre

Lomo a lo pobre (or bistec a lo pobre, bife a lo pobre) refers to a dish of beef tenderloin served with fried eggs, french fries, and fried onions. Popular in Chile and Peru, it’s basically the South American equivalent to American steak and eggs, but instead of being eaten for breakfast, it’s typically consumed for lunch or dinner.

Photo by Blinovita

27. Chorrillana

Chorrillana is a dish that’s very similar to lomo a lo pobre. It consists of beef served with french fries, caramelized onions, and fried eggs. But unlike lomo a lo pobre which is served with beef tenderloin, chorrillana can be made with a mix of cheaper cuts of beef and sausages.

Chorrillana is a popular comfort food in Chile and almost always served in hefty portions for sharing, often with beer. Made with a base of french fries and beef, it varies from restaurant to restaurant and can be served with different ingredients like scrambled eggs, frankfurter sausages, chorizo, and tomatoes.

Photo by JuanPonceH

28. Salchipapa

The name salchipapa is a portmanteau word for salchicha (sausage) and papa (potatoes) and refers to a popular Latin American street food dish made with pan-fried beef sausages and fries. It’s originally from Lima, Peru but has become popular in many countries throughout Latin America like Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecudaor, and Colombia.

Photo by hansgeel

29. Costillar de Chancho

Costillar de chancho refers to South American pork ribs. Unlike beef ribs that are typically seasoned with just salt, costillar de chancho is marinated for several hours in a mixture of garlic, ground pepper, sweet paprika, cumin, oregano, olive oil, and red wine vinegar before being slow-roasted in an oven or grill.

In winter, costillar de chancho is traditionally served with spicy mashed potatoes but in summer, salads are generally preferred.

Photo by [email protected]

30. Prietas con Papas Cocidas

Prietas con papas cocidas refers to a simple but hearty Chilean dish made with prietas, boiled potatoes, and caramelized onions. The prieta is a type of Chilean blood sausage made with pig’s blood, chopped onions, spices, and other ingredients.

Photo by Blinovita

31. Pollo Arvejado

Pollo arvejado is a classic Chilean dish made with chicken and peas stewed in chicken stock with garlic, onions, carrots, green peppers, and bay leaves. It’s a popular and easy-to-make dish that’s traditionally paired with steamed white rice or potatoes.

Photo by fanfon

32. Pastel de Jaiba

If you love crab, then you need to try pastel de jaiba. It refers to a rich crab pie or casserole made with stone crab meat mixed with bread, garlic, onions, milk, cream, breadcrumbs, white wine, and spices. Like pastel de choclo, it’s traditionally baked in shallow clay pots and served with grated cheese and a side of crusty bread.

Photo by Blinovita

33. Curanto

Curanto is an ancient method of food preparation that originated in Chile’s Chiloé archipelago. The word curanto means “stony ground” and refers to the method of cooking seafood, meat, and potatoes in a pit lined with rocks.

To make curanto, a hole about a meter deep (3.3 ft) is dug into the ground and lined with stones. A wood fire is lit to heat the stones. Various ingredients like shellfish, meat, sausages, and potatoes are loaded into the hole before it’s covered with wild rhubarb leaves, damp sacks, and dirt. As the shellfish cooks, the shells open and release a liquid that sizzles on the hot stones to help steam the food.

Summers are the best time to try traditional curanto in Chile. During the wetter winter months, restaurants will offer curanto en olla or “curanto in a pot” which is a stovetop version of this ancient meal.

The ingredients aren’t constant but a proper curanto needs to be made with a variety of potatoes cooked in three ways – whole steamed, dumplings (chapaleles), and pancakes (milcaos).

Photo by YAYImages

34. Ceviche

Ceviche is a widely consumed South American dish consisting of fresh raw white fish cured in citrus juices. It’s originally from Peru or Ecuador but it’s become popular throughout the Pacific coastal regions of Latin America and beyond.

Traditionally, ceviche is prepared with the juices from bitter oranges but it’s now more common to make it from lime or lemon juice. The citric acids from the fruit causes the fish to become denatured, giving it the appearance of being cooked.

In Chile, ceviche is typically made with halibut or Patagonian toothfish (commonly marketed as Chilean sea bass) marinated in a mixture of lime and grapefruit juices, finely minced garlic, and red chili peppers. On Easter Island, it’s more commonly made with tuna marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk.

Photo by ildi_papp

35. Picoroco

We love trying new and exotic food and picoroco, like percebes, is exactly the type of dish we’d fly for. Meaning “beak in the rock”, picoroco refers to a giant barnacle that lives along the shores of Chile and southern Peru. They attach themselves to rocks and develop hard calcite layers that resemble dual-pronged beaks, hence the name.

When cooked, picoroco tastes sweet and briny. They’re crab-like in flavor and have a slightly chewy interior surrounded by a creamier outer layer. They frequently make their way into curantos or soups and are often baked into creamy pasteles.

Photo by Blinovita


36. Chilenitos

Chilenitos are a Chilean variation of alfajores, the beloved confection made with rich and creamy dulce de leche sandwiched between two round shortbread cookie sandwiches. What makes chilenitos different is that they’re traditionally covered in meringue.

Chilenitos are said to have been invented in Curacaví. This city was an obligatory stop for people traveling between Santiago and Valparaíso. At the time, inn keepers would offer sweets to their guests so they began baking alfajores coated in meringue to help them last longer.

Photo by bunbomi

37. Calzones Rotos

These oddly-shaped pastries resemble breeches, which help explain the funny-sounding name. Calzones rotos means “torn underwear” and refers to a crispy fried pastry made with a dough enriched with almonds, Chilean pisco brandy, and citrus zest. They’re European in origin and very similar to chruściki or Polish cruller cookies.

It’s likely that calzones rotos got their name from their distinctive shape, but a more humorous origin story suggests otherwise. According to legend, a woman was selling traditional pastries at the Plaza de Armas in Santiago when a gust of wind blew up her skirt, revealing her torn panties.

Regardless of how it got its name, calzones rotos are a delicious Chilean dessert that’s especially popular in winter.

Photo by PantherMediaSeller

38. Pan de Pascua

The name of this cake may be confusing at first. Pan de pascua literally means “Easter bread” but it describes a cake that’s traditionally eaten for Christmas in Chile. This is because the word pascua can refer to both Easter and Christmas in Spanish.

Pan de pascua is a rich and dense Chilean holiday cake that’s said to be derived from Italian panettone and German stollen. Similar to a fruit cake, it’s flavored with rum and spices and filled with candied fruits, raisins, almonds, and walnuts.

Pan de pascua is traditionally paired with cola de mono, a Chilean holiday beverage made with warm milk infused with cinnamon, cloves, coffee, and aguardiente.

Photo by ildi_papp

39. Mote con Huesillo

Mote con huesillo is the perfect Chilean drink to cool off with in summer. Sold from street food stands and mobile carts everywhere in Chile, it refers to a traditional summertime drink made with hulled wheat (mote) and a sweet nectar-y liquid derived from dried peaches (huesillo).

To make mote con huesillo, dried peaches are rehydrated and then cooked in a sugar and water mixture. The hulled wheat is cooked separately in water until tender and then added to the sweet huesillo mixture. The drink is chilled before serving, usually in a glass with a spoon for easy consumption.

Huesillo and mote both have a long history in Chile. Mote dates back to colonial times while huesillo has been sold in Chile since the late 18th century. Mote con huesillo is so important to Chilean culture that a popular play exploring Chilean identity called “El Mote con Huesillos” has been touring the country since 2012.

When describing something that’s quintessentially Chilean, there’s a local saying that goes “Más chileno que el mote con huesillo”, meaning “More Chilean than mote con huesillo”.

Photo by Blinovita

40. Pisco Sour

Pisco sour is a classic Chilean cocktail made with pisco brandy, a colorless or yellowish-to-amber colored brandy made by distilling grape juice into a high-proof spirit. It can be mixed into many cocktails though none are more popular than pisco sour, which is considered the national cocktail of Chile and Peru.

Recipes vary but at its most basic, Chilean pisco sour is made with a base of pisco brandy mixed with pica lime juice, simple syrup, and ice. The Peruvian version differs slightly in that it’s made with freshly squeezed lime juice and extra ingredients like egg whites and bitters.

Photo by bhofack2


It’s fun exploring the local cuisine on your own, but if you really want to learn about the food in Chile, then you may want to go on a guided food tour. Not only will a local guide take you to the city’s best restaurants, markets, and street food stalls, but they’ll be able to explain all the dishes to you in more detail. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of food and drinking tours in Santiago and other cities in Chile.


South America has a rich culinary tradition and Chilean food is a testament to that. The cuisines of Peru, Brazil, and Argentina may be more celebrated, but as this food guide shows, there’s just as much to be excited about in Chile. Don’t miss it.


Some of the links in this article on Chilean food are affiliate links. If you make a booking, then we’ll earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!

Cover photo by ildi_papp. Stock images via Depositphotos.

Croatian Food: 40 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Croatia

EDITOR’S NOTE: This Croatian food guide was written by Traveleater BJ Young and verified by Martina Rožman, a professional writer and food connoisseur from Zagreb, Croatia.

The source of Croatian food’s intricacy and multi-layered character might be best captured by one of the country’s winemakers, Ivica Matošević, who told The Huffington Post, “My grandfather lived in Austria, my father was born in Italy, I was raised in Yugoslavia, and my daughter was born in Croatia, yet nobody ever moved.”

Like the country itself, Croatian cuisine has absorbed multiple influences, from the highlights of the Mediterranean diet to the hearty fare of Eastern Europe. Add to that the bounties of the Adriatic Sea, and you have one of the most remarkable arrays of gastronomic riches.

While no list can be comprehensive enough to do justice to the incredible experience in store for epicures in Croatia, here are forty of the tastiest examples of traditional Croatian food to whet your appetite before your next visit to the Balkans.


If you’re planning a trip to Croatia and want to really dive into the cuisine, then you may be interested in joining a food tour or taking a cooking class.


  • Food Tours: Food and Wine/Drinking Tours in Croatia
  • Cooking Classes: Cooking Classes in Croatia

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Traditional Croatian food dates back to ancient times and can vary greatly from region to region.

In the mainland, its characterized by Slavic influences and the more recent interactions with Hungarian and Turkish cuisine. Lard is often used for cooking while some of the most common spices include garlic, black pepper, and paprika.

Along the coast, Croatian food bears a closer resemblance to Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Seafood is abundant and olive oil is commonly used. Coastal Croatian food seems to be more varied in its seasonings with herbs and spices like rosemary, bay leaf, oregano, sage, cinnamon, clove, and citrus zest making their way into many Croatian recipes.

Croatian food is so heterogenous that it can be divided into several distinct regional cuisines – Dalmatia, Lika, Gorski Kotar, Istria, Zagorje, Međimurje, Podravina, Primorje, and Slavonija. Each region has its own distinct characteristics and cooking traditions though most dishes can usually be found throughout the country.


This article on Croatian food has been organized by category to make it easier to digest. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.

  1. Starters / Side Dishes
  2. Soups / Stews
  3. Bread / Pastries
  4. Meat / Seafood
  5. Desserts / Drinks
  6. Croatian Food Tours
  7. Croatian Cooking Classes


1. Paški Sir (Pag Cheese)

Pag is an island off the Croatian coast. It’s the fifth-largest Croatian island and home to a sheep population that outnumbers humans by over four to one. With that many sheep on the island, it’s no surprise that Pag produces some of the world’s best and most sought after sheep milk cheese.

Known in Croatian as Paški sir, what makes Pag cheese special is the size and diet of the local sheep. Pag sheep are among the smallest in the Mediterranean and thus produce a small milk yield. However, the milk they do produce is the result of a diet heavy in aromatic herbs crusted with salt swept up by bura from the Adriatic Sea. This leads them to produce a milk that’s uniquely flavored and naturally salty and needs no additional salt to turn into cheese.

Paški sir can be aged for anywhere between five months to over a year, though it’s so highly regarded that it’s often sold after just a few months of maturation. A firm type of cheese, young Pag cheese resembles young Manchego in taste and texture while aged versions are reminiscent of Pecorino Romano. The former is often used as a topping for pasta and risotto while the latter is typically eaten on its own with Croatian olive oil.

Pag cheese is of such high quality that even the curd, known locally as puina, is considered a first-class specialty. It’s commonly served with polenta or pasta and enjoyed as a dessert with Pag honey.

Photo by Mliss

2. Njoki

Njoki is the Croatian version of gnocchi, a type of dumpling made with potato dough. It’s especially popular in the coastal regions of Croatia where it’s served as a first course or side dish with pašticada (braised beef).

3. Fuži

The Croatian region of Istria is known for its pasta. Pljukanci, ravioli, lazanje, and pasutice are among the most common though the best known is fuži.

Fuži refers to a type of traditional Istrian pasta shaped like a tube. It’s made with thin, diamond-shaped sheets of pasta dough that are folded and pinched together to resemble small flutes or spindles. The name fuži is derived from fusus, which is Latin for “spindle”.

Fuži can be served with many Croatian dishes. It’s often paired with a mild red veal sauce or chicken goulash though it can be served with any type of sauce or Croatian stew. Pictured below is a plate of fuži topped with olive oil and shaved white truffles. Both are delicacies of the Istrian region.

4. Abšmalcane Mahune

Abšmalcane mahune refers to a traditional Croatian dish made with boiled green beans braised with butter and breadcrumbs. It can be made with or without bacon and is often served as a side dish with meat or fish dishes.

Abšmalcane is derived from the German word abschmalzen, meaning “fried with butter”, while mahune refers to the green beans.

Photo by fanfon

5. Žganci

Žganci refers to a polenta-like dish made with cooked corn grits or corn flour. It’s popular in Croatian and Slovenian cuisine and was historically regarded as a type of “poor man’s food” consumed by peasants as a substitute for bread.

Žganci is a simple dish made with corn flour mixed with water, salt, and some butter. It’s typically eaten for breakfast or as a side dish with milk, yogurt, honey, lard, or bacon.

Photo by

6. Soparnik

If you’re like most people and love pizza, then you’ll surely enjoy soparnik, a traditional pie-like Croatian dish hailing from the Pojica area in southern Dalmatia. Also known as zeljenik, uljenak, or prisnac, people in the region believe that soparnik was brought to Italy by the Romans and served as the inspiration for pizza.

Soparnik is made with a filling of Swiss chard, spring onions, parsley, salt, and olive oil sandwiched between two sheets of thinly rolled dough. The upper layer is pricked several times with a fork to release steam before the pie is baked on an open hearth called a komin.

What’s interesting about soparnik is that a layer of hot coals from dried grape vines is placed directly on top of the pie as it bakes. After about twenty minutes, the coals are brushed off and the soparnik is topped with olive oil and chopped garlic before being sliced into diamond shapes and then served.

Soparnik can be enjoyed at any time of the year though it was typically made during the colder months when older, sweeter Swiss chard was available. It’s traditionally considered to be a fasting dish that was often served on Good Friday, Christmas Eve, and All Saints’ Day.

In 2016, the European Commission listed soparnik as a non-material, national heritage dish of Croatia and gave it geographical protection status (GPI). What that means is that only versions made with ingredients from the Poljica area and following a specific recipe can be called soparnik.

Photo by adrianam13

7. Bučnica

Bučnica refers to a type of Croatian savory strudel made with pumpkin, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter, and eggs wrapped in thin phyllo dough. It can be served warm or cold and is especially popular in and around the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

Photo by Wirestock

8. Punjena Paprika

Punjena paprika refers to a stuffed pepper dish that’s popular in many Balkan countries like Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s also widely consumed throughout the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Levant.

Punjena paprika is a type of dolma – a family of stuffed dishes made with hollowed out vegetables filled with rice, meat, and other ingredients. Dolma can be made with any type of vegetable but punjena paprika is made specifically with stuffed peppers. In the Serbo-Croatian language, punjena paprika literally means “stuffed pepper”.

To prepare, the peppers are hollowed out and stuffed with a mixture consisting of minced meat (usually pork or beef), rice, egg, onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. Once stuffed, they’re cooked in tomato sauce and served with a side of mashed potatoes.

Photo by fotokris44

9. Sarma

Sarma refers to a stuffed vegetable dish that’s very similar to dolma. In fact, it can be considered a sub-type of dolma. It’s made with the same meat and rice filling but instead of being stuffed in hollowed-out vegetables, the filling is wrapped in cabbage leaves and then cooked with dry-smoked meat or bacon. Dolma means “stuffed” or “filled” while sarma means “rolled” or “wrapped”.

Sarma can be made with vine or Swiss chard leaves but the most popular version is made with pickled cabbage leaves. Unlike punjena paprika that’s typically consumed in the summer, sarma is more of a winter dish.

Photo by jabiru

10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Croatian olive oil is more an ingredient than an actual dish, but considering its quality and importance to traditional Croatian food, it’s more than worthy of a spot on this list. Italy and Spain may be more renowned but in the last fifteen years, Croatia’s Istria peninsula has made a name for itself as one of the world’s best producers of olive oil.

Many people may not realize this but Croatian producers make up 14% of the world’s finest olive oil, and a vast majority of that comes from Istria. Flos Olei – the first global extra virgin olive oil guide – named Istria the best olive oil producing region in the world for the sixth year in a row. Out of the 73 Croatian extra virgin olive oils that made it to the 2021 Flos Olei guide, 71 are from Istria.

Istrian olive oil is known for being high in polyphenols, the naturally-occurring micronutrients found in olive oil and other plant foods. The more polyphenols, the better-tasting the olive oil. Young olives have higher amounts of polyphenols so they’re harvested early to produce as high a grade of olive oil as possible.

If you visit Istria and are wondering what you can bring back as a souvenir, then look no further than a bottle of evoo. They’re sold in smaller quantities and are more expensive than your average bottle, but they’re worth every kuna.

Photo by photodesign


11. Brudet

No self-respecting guide on traditional Croatian food can ever be complete without brudet, the classic fish stew that’s considered by many to be a Croatian national dish.

Brudet refers to a traditional Croatian fish stew popular in the regions of Dalmatia, Istria, and Kvarner. Similar to the Italian brodetto or Greek bourdeto, it can be made with a variety of seafood and is considered a classic dish in Croatian cuisine.

Recipes for brudet vary but it’s typically made with at least three different types of fish that are cut into large chunks and left on the bone. Commonly used fish include forkbeard, conger, and monkfish in the traditional original brudet, though any type of white fish can be used. Other types of seafood like mussels and shrimp can be added to the stew as well.

To prepare, the different types of fish and seafood are stewed together in a pot with seafood stock, vegetables, tomato sauce, red or white wine, vinegar, and different Mediterranean herbs and spices like bay leaves, rosemary, and fresh parsley. Though no two recipes for brudet are alike, one thing remains constant – the dish is never to be stirred, only swirled by turning the pot.

Brudet is believed to be Venetian in origin and emerged sometime between the 14th and 16th centuries. It was likely invented by fishermen who made the stew using fish that were either damaged by fishing nets or had little to no commercial value.

At the time, the dish was regarded mostly as fisherman’s fare until the famous Italian Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi declared: “No one can make a better fish stew than the fisherman of Venice”. Today, it’s consumed in many countries throughout the Adriatic coast like Italy, Croatia, Greece, and Montenegro.

In Croatia, brudet is traditionally served with polenta, boiled potatoes, or freshly baked bread. Several variations exist with some of the most well-known being brudet od liganja (squid) and brudet od morskog psa (shark). One of the most interesting and delicious has to be Neretvanski brudet. Hailing from the Neretva region, it’s a version of the classic fish stew made with the addition of eel and frogs.

Photo by fanfon

12. Istarska Jota (Istrian Stew)

Istarska jota or Istrian stew refers to a traditional stew in Croatian cuisine. It’s consumed in parts of Slovenia and northeastern Italy, but it’s especially popular in Istria and northwestern Croatia where it’s considered by many to be a national dish.

Recipes for Istarska jota vary but it’s typically made with beans, sauerkraut or sour turnips, onions, garlic, potatoes, bacon, spare ribs, and olive oil. It’s a hearty and filling meal that was historically viewed as a type of poor man’s food.

Photo by lenyvavsha

13. Ričet

Ričet (or jačmik) is a type of thick barley-based soup or stew popular in the cuisines of Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Bavaria. It’s made with a good amount of cured pork stewed with different vegetables and starchy ingredients like beans, potatoes, pot barley, carrots, onions, tomatoes, garlic, celery, and leeks.

Photo by lenyvavsha

14. Maneštra

This thick and hearty stew from Istria is the Croatian take on Italian minestrone. It exists in many variations though it’s typically made with dried meat, beans, and corn seasoned with bay leaves, black pepper, parsley, and olive oil.

When made with just vegetables like carrots, onions, celery, and tomatoes, maneštra is typically served as a starter. But when it contains more substantial ingredients like meat, it can be enjoyed as a main course with a side of crusty Croatian bread.

Photo by fanfon

15. Grah

Going through this Croatian food guide, it becomes clear that beans are a key ingredient in many traditional Croatian dishes. Hearty bean soups and stews feature prominently in the Croatian diet and grah is another example of that.

Grah refers to a thick Croatian bean soup made with a variety of beans, smoked sausages, smoked meats, onions, garlic, tomato puree, and bay leaves. Any type of dried bean can be used though pinto, kidney, or cranberry beans are the most common.

Grah can be enjoyed at any time of the year though it’s especially popular in winter. It’s a thick and substantial meal that’s often enjoyed as a main course, usually with crusty Croatian bread.

In Primorje, Dalmatia, and Istria, a version of grah made with pasta called pašta fažol is a must-try.

Photo by lenyvavsha

16. Sataraš

Sataraš refers to a light vegetable stew made with bell peppers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Similar to Hungarian lecsó, it’s popular throughout the Balkans and can be enjoyed as a main dish with rice or mashed potatoes, or as a side dish with grilled meats, pasta, polenta, or eggs.

Photo by fanfon


17. Burek

Burek is perhaps one of the most controversial dishes in this Croatian food guide. It’s controversial for two reasons. One, the contents of a true burek are often up for debate, and two, it’s widely consumed throughout the Balkans and is claimed by many countries.

Burek (or börek, byrek, boureki, burekas) refers to a family of baked filled pastries made with various ingredients stuffed in a thin and flaky yufka or phyllo dough. It’s typically filled with meat or cottage cheese though it can also be made with other ingredients like spinach and potatoes. For purists, only burek filled with meat can be called a true burek. Everything else is just a savory pie.

The exact origins of burek are unclear but it’s widely believed to have originated from the kitchens of the Ottoman empire. It spread throughout the region and has now become an important part of the cuisines of many countries in the Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Levant.

Burek can take many forms depending on where it’s from. It can be made into round pies or baked in long rolled versions that are coiled up into a circle. It can be large and cut into smaller portions or made into individual pastries.

No matter what shape it takes or what it’s made with, burek is an absolutely delicious dish and a must-try in Croatia.

Photo by OlgaIlinich

18. Zagorski Štrukli

No self-respecting Croatian food guide can ever be complete without mentioning Zagorski štrukli, a traditional pastry dish that’s widely consumed in the Zagreb and Hrvatsko Zagorje regions of northern Croatia. It’s a simple dish that can be salty or sweet and enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, main dish, or dessert.

Zagorski štrukli (or Zagorje štrukli) is made with a dough that’s rolled out thinly and filled with cottage cheese, butter, eggs, and sour cream. When made as a dessert, sugar is added. The stuffed dough is then rolled and cut into rectangles before being baked or boiled in salted water. When baked, štrukli is typically poured over with cream while boiled versions are often sprinkled with breadcrumbs and served in Croatian soups.

Pictured below is a dessert version of štrukli lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Whether savory or sweet, boiled or baked, Zagorski štrukli is considered a national dish of Croatia. It was added to Croatia’s intangible cultural heritage list by the Ministry of Culture in 2007.

Photo by gsermek

19. Pinca

Like Thanksgiving in the US, Easter is the most important holiday in Croatian culture, even more important than Christmas. It’s the one time in the year when Croatian families get together to pray and celebrate. Many dishes make it to the Croatian Easter table but none are more important than pinca.

Pinca (or sirnica) is a traditional Croatian Easter bread or sweet roll. It’s believed to have its origins in the Venetian Republic where it was viewed as rich man’s food. Back then, cakes and sweets were a luxury and consumed only by people wealthy enough to afford them. Today, pinca is consumed by all social classes and often made at home.

Recipes vary from family to family but it’s typically made with a rich yeast dough containing lots of butter and eggs, lemon zest, candied fruit, dried fruit, rum, and prošek (Croatian dessert wine). The dough is shaped into a round loaf and carved with the sign of the cross on its surface. It’s then brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sugar and chopped almonds and hazelnuts before being baked in an oven.

Pinca is usually prepared a few days before Easter and brought to church on Holy Saturday to receive a blessing. It’s served on Easter Sunday for breakfast or as a snack, often with coffee or tea.

Pinca is such an important part of the Croatian Easter tradition that according to one Croatian food blogger, not having pinca on the Easter table is like not having Easter at all.

Photo by sbotas

20. Pogača

Pogača is a type of bread that’s popular in many Balkan countries like Croatia, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Turkey. It’s similar to Italian focaccia in texture and flavor and can be made in different shapes and sizes, though round is most common.

There are as many recipes for pogača as there are Croatian cooks but it’s commonly made with white or whole wheat flour. Traditionally, the bread is served plain but it can be stuffed with a variety of fillings as well like potatoes, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, ground beef, anchovies, or goat cheese. Various herbs and seeds like sesame, dill, and black nigella are often mixed into the dough and sprinkled on top.

The islands of Vis and Hvar in the Dalmatian region are particularly known for their pogača, producing well-known bread pies like Komiža pogača, Viška pogača, and Forska pogača.

Photo by xbrchx


21. Kulen / Kulenova Seka

One of the things we enjoy most about food travel is sampling all the different sausages we encounter on our trips. In Croatia, the one sausage that you definitely shouldn’t miss is kulen. The king of all Croatian sausages, it’s a national dish and the most famous delicacy from the Eastern Croatian region of Slavonia.

Kulen refers to a type of Croatian pork sausage flavored with paprika and garlic. It’s known for its piquant flavor and strong smoky aroma derived from months of smoking prior to air drying.

Like many heritage foods, strict rules apply when preparing kulen. It can only be made with meat from free-range pigs raised in Slavonia, the most common being the black Slavonian pig and Mangulica. They’re left to roam the Slavonian forests to feed on a diet consisting mostly of acorns, organic corn, and barley. This specialized diet is what gives kulen its signature flavor.

Once the pigs reach an adult weight of over 180 kg (397 lbs), they’re ready for slaughter. The best cuts of pork are chopped by hand and cleaned of all fatty and connective tissue before being seasoned with paprika, garlic, and salt.

The mixture is then stuffed into different natural casings and smoked for several months over beechwood before being air-dried. When stuffed into smaller, thinner casings, it becomes known as kulenova seka. The process typically starts between November and March and can last for several months, sometimes up to a year.

In Slavonia, kulen is typically consumed during Easter though it’s often a part of many holiday spreads. It’s best paired with a mildly flavored cheese and a lighter Croatian red wine.

Photo by viki2win

22. Češnjovka

If sampling one type of Croatian sausage isn’t enough for you, then be sure to try češnjovka as well. It refers to a slightly spicy pork sausage made with copious amounts of garlic.

Češnjovka is popular in central and northern Croatia, especially in the city of Samobor where it’s considered a delicacy. It’s best paired with red wine and a locally produced mustard called Samoborska muštarda.

Photo by fanfon

23. Dalmatinski Pršut

Dalmatinski pršut is one of the most famous regional foods in Croatia. A specialty of the Dalmatian region, it’s a type of dry-cured Croatian prosciutto made from pork legs that have been wood-smoked and air-dried for at least twelve months.

To make pršut, the fresh thighs of specially fattened pigs are rubbed with a generous amount of fine and coarse sea salt. They’re then left for at least a week to allow any remaining blood and water to be drained before being salted again. The legs are then hung on hooks and smoked in a room using wood from beech, oak, or hornbeam trees.

After smoking, the pork legs are left to dry and mature in the air for at least a month. The strong cold and dry bura wind naturally dries out the meat and helps give the meat its desired firmness and texture. When ready, the pršut is cut into thin slices and best paired with homemade bread, cheese, and Croatian wine.

If you want the very best Croatian pršut, then be sure to try Drniški pršut. It’s a type of Croatian prosciutto made in the town of Drniš in inland Dalmatia. Produced in the region since the 14th century, it’s made with premium quality pork thighs that are cold-smoked and dried for a minimum of twelve months.

Photo by gsermek

24. Pašticada

Like pršut, pašticada (or Dalmatinska pašticada) is one of the most famous regional foods in Croatia. It refers to a traditional Dalmatian dish made with braised beef cooked in red wine with bacon, tomatoes, dried fruit, and root vegetables.

To prepare, a whole round steak is pierced and stuffed with garlic, cloves, bacon, and carrots before being marinated in vinegar and spices for up to two days. It’s then seared and stewed for several hours in red wine or prošek with onions, tomato paste, parsley root, celery root, dried prunes, dried figs, herbs, and spices.

Typically requiring about two to three days to make, pašticada is a time-consuming dish that’s usually prepared for important celebratory feasts like weddings and baptisms. It’s often served with a side of njoki and homemade pasta.

Photo by fanfon

25. Ćevapčići

This heavily seasoned grilled meat dish is one of the most popular foods in the Balkans. It’s widely consumed in Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Slovenia, and Albania and is considered a national dish in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ćevapčići (or ćevapi) is a type of Balkan meatball shaped like small cigars. Recipes vary from region to region but it’s typically made with a mixture of different types of meat like beef, pork, mutton, and lamb seasoned with garlic, onions, paprika, and parsley.

A popular comfort food in Croatia, ćevapčići is usually served in groups of five to ten pieces on a plate or in flatbread sandwiches (lepinja) with onions, ajvar, and kajmak (fermented clotted cream).

Photo by ccat82

26. Kotlovina

If you like meat dishes, then you’re going to love kotlovina, a traditional dish from the northwestern region of Croatia. It’s made with different types of meat, sausages, vegetables, and potatoes cooked outdoors on a specially designed stove.

In Croatian, kotao means “cauldron” so the term kotlovina can refer to both the dish and the cooking vessel used to make it. Less a cauldron than a type of outdoor stove, a kotlovina consists of a large metal pan with an indented center that’s placed on a pedestal with a compartment for wood or charcoal.

To prepare, different cuts of fatty pork are fried with sliced onions before being doused with water and wine to create a basic stock. Once cooked, they’re moved to the edge of the pan so other meats, sausages, potatoes, vegetables, beans, and mushrooms can be stewed in the middle. The ingredients are slowly cooked to make them as tender and as flavorful as possible.

Because it can be made with any number of ingredients, side dishes are often unnecessary, though Croatian bread dumplings do make for a welcome accompaniment to any kotlovina.

Photo by kataklinger

27. Peka

This next entry isn’t exactly a dish, but a cooking device that’s used to prepare a variety of seafood, meat, and vegetable dishes.

Popular in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, a peka (or sač) is a cooking vessel with a bell-shaped lid made from cast iron or clay. Like a kotlovina, it’s used outdoors to cook a variety of dishes over an open fire and with hot charcoal placed over the lid (see next picture).

This dual heat course, together with the shape of the vessel, allows steam to recirculate so dishes are cooked slowly and more evenly. You can think of it as a primitive type of convection oven that also allows dishes to be lightly smoked.

Photo by psgt_123

Here’s a look at the peka’s lid covered in hot coals. Note the ring that keeps the embers in place. It’s believed that the peka was invented as an inexpensive option for people who couldn’t afford ovens.

The peka is often used in Dalmatia to cook many dishes like roasted lamb, veal, and octopus. It can even be used to bake bread and traditional pastries like burek, either on top of the lid or inside the vessel.

Photo by psgt_123

28. Šestinska Pečenica

Popular in Zagreb, šestinska pečenica refers to a Croatian meat dish made with cubes of skewered pork cooked on a grill. The meat is typically seasoned only with salt and served with a side of raw onions and ajvar, a widely used Balkan condiment made with roasted bell peppers, eggplant, and olive oil.

Photo by fanfon

29. Zagrebački Odrezak

As its name suggests, zagrebački odrezak is a Croatian dish popular in Zagreb. Also known as the Zagreb schnitzel, it refers to a pan-fried veal escalope filled with ham and melted cheese. It’s essentially the Croatian equivalent to the Austrian wiener schnitzel or the Swiss cordon bleu.

Zagrebački odrezak is typically made with veal though it can be made with pork, chicken, or turkey meat as well. To prepare, a slice of veal is hammered till tender and thin before being filled with cooked ham and cheese. The stuffed veal is rolled in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs and then pan-fried to a crisp golden brown.

The Zagreb schnitzel is a common sight on Croatian restaurant menus and is often served with a side of french fries or risotto with peas. Be sure to give it a spritz of lemon juice to cut the richness of the fried ham and melted cheese.

Photo by fanfon

30. Seafood

With almost 5,800 km (3,600 mi) worth of coastline, it’s no coincidence that fresh seafood figures prominently in the Croatian diet. The Adriatic Sea borders the entire western side of Croatia and has had a significant influence on the country’s cuisine.

Common seafood dishes like fresh oysters, mussels, grilled fish, scampi, and octopus salad are plentiful but be sure to try more unique local fare like brudet, black risotto, and octopus peka as well.

Photo by mashiki

If you have a taste for squid ink like I do, then you’re going to love crni rižot or black risotto. A staple dish in Dalmatia, it consists of risotto cooked with squid or cuttlefish. Like paella negra of Spanish cuisine, the black risotto gets its color from cuttlefish or squid ink.

Photo by Nikodash

Grilled Adriatic squid is a typical – though by no means ordinary – Croatian meal that consists of small, very lightly grilled squid. They can be prepared with or without the ink.

Photo by Artelier1986

31. Fiš Paprikaš

Popular in Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia, fiš paprikaš is a type of Croatian fish stew cooked in a cauldron over an open fire. It’s typically made with a variety of freshwater fish like catfish, carp, and pike flavored with copious amounts of the region’s staple spice – ground red paprika.

Fiš paprikaš is especially popular in the Croatian regions of Slavonia and Baranja where it’s often served with egg noodles.

Photo by Kressl, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom


32. Čupavci

If you’re familiar with Australian food, then this next dish needs little introduction. Čupavci refers to the Croatian equivalent of lamingtons, the famous Australian sponge cake dipped in chocolate sauce and covered in desiccated coconut.

The lamington was believed to have been invented in the Governor of Queensland’s household (Lord Lamington) around the end of the 19th century. No one really knows how the cake made its way to the Balkans from Australia but it’s become a staple dessert in Croatian cuisine, so much so that Croatians are now believed to be the biggest makers and consumers of this classic dessert.

Photo by Dariozg

33. Makovnjača

Makovnjača is the Croatian equivalent to the poppy seed roll, a popular dessert in the cuisines of many countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe. It can be consumed at any time of the year though it’s typically associated with Easter and Christmas.

Recipes vary but makovnjača is typically made by rolling out the dough into a large sheet and spreading it over with a filling made from poppy seeds, hot milk, and sugar. The dough with filling is then rolled into a long cylinder or log before being brushed with melted butter and baked.

Photo by myviewpoint

If makovnjača looks appealing to you, then you may want to try orehnjača as well. It’s similar to makovnjača but instead of poppy seeds, it’s made with walnuts. A sweet yeast dough is rolled out thinly and spread over with a paste made from ground walnuts, honey, milk, butter, rum, lemon zest, and cinnamon. It’s rolled into a cylinder and brushed with an egg wash before baking.

Photo by gsermek

34. Kremšnite

Kremšnite is the Croatian version of a custard and chantilly cream cake that’s popular in many countries throughout the Balkans and Central Europe like Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia. Also known as vanilla or custard slice, it can be made in different ways depending on where it’s from but it always consists of custard cream and a puff pastry base.

In Croatia, two of the most popular versions are Samoborska kremšnita and Zagrebačka kremšnita. As their names suggest, the former is from the town of Samobor while the latter hails from Zagreb. Samoborska kremšnita is made with a puff pastry top and a predominantly custard cream filling (less whipped cream) while Zagrebačka kremšnita is topped with chocolate icing.

Photo by UkPaolo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

35. Fritule

Fritule are sweet round Croatian fritters. A traditional snack along the Dalmatian coast, they’re essentially a type of miniature doughnut made especially for Christmas.

Fritule can be made in a number of ways but they typically consist of a thick buttery base enriched with rum or brandy, vanilla, raisins, and citrus zest. The alcohol helps keep the fritters light and crispy by preventing the absorption of too much oil during the deep-frying process.

When ready, the fritters are traditionally dusted with powdered sugar but they can be coated with other toppings as well like melted chocolate, whipped cream, or caramel.

Photo by robertohunger

36. Krafne

If fritule sound appealing to you, then you’ll probably enjoy krafne, another type of doughnut that’s popular in many Balkan countries like Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, and Albania. They’re similar to beignets or Berliners and can be filled with different ingredients like jam, marmalade, nutella, chocolate, custard pudding, and cinnamon.

In Croatia, krafne (or krofne, krofi) can be enjoyed year-round but they become especially popular during the winter festival of Carnival. Like fritule, they’re made with a dough enriched with vanilla, lemon zest, and rum or brandy to help keep the dough light and crispy.

Photo by chirapbogdan

37. Savijača

Savijača refers to a Croatian strudel, a type of layered pastry made with a sweet or savory filling. It’s originally an Austrian dish that’s become popular in the cuisines of many Central European countries like Croatia, Romania, Germany, Czechia, and Hungary.

Savijača can be filled with a variety of ingredients but the most common are apple and sour cherries. It can be consumed at any time of the year, but like many Croatian desserts, it becomes especially popular during the Christmas season.

Photo by tupungato

38. Bajadera

Bajadera refers to a type of no-bake Croatian praline made with layers of ground almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts mixed with chocolate, cookie biscuits, sugar syrup, and butter. It was invented and commercially produced by the Kraš confectionary company in Zagreb.

Photo by Kreminska

39. Cukarini

Cukarini are crispy and crumbly Croatian cookies made on the island of Korčula. They’re known for their subtle citrusy flavor and unusual shape which is said to resemble two serpents entangled in the shape of a heart. The cookie’s strange shape is said to stem from pagan times when serpents were used as a symbol of good fortune.

After baking, cukarini are dipped in a traditional rose liqueur and dusted with coarse or powdered sugar. They’re best enjoyed with a glass of prošek or sweet Croatian dessert wine.

Photo by fineart

40. Istrian Malvazija

Vineyards abound from the Dalmatian Coast to Istria, and best known among Croatian wines may be Istria’s signature crisp white wine from the grape variety called Malvazija Istarska. It’s the perfect companion to seaside dining, from calamari and sardines to seafood pasta and snacks at sunset.

Istrian malvazija is fresh, light, and uncomplicated. Consequently, it’s praised and maligned in equal measure as a “breakfast wine.” But personally, I love unpretentious, drinkable white wine, especially when it’s so cheap! At the time, a bottle from the grocery store cost little more than 30-40 kuna (4-5 Euros), and one from one of the top vineyards such as Kozlovic Winery in Istria can be had for only 80 kunas (11 Euros).

Photo by rudakova


Needless to say, no one knows traditional Croatian food better than a local, so what better way to experience the very best of Croatian food and drink than by going on a food tour? Not only will a knowledgeable guide take you to the city’s best markets and restaurants, but they’ll be able to explain all the dishes to you in more detail. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of Croatian food tours in Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb, and other destinations in Croatia.


Aside from going on a food tour, one of the best ways to learn about Croatian traditional food is to take a cooking class. Knowing what Croatian dishes to eat is one thing but learning how to actually make them is another. Taking a cooking class and working with the local ingredients provides a much more intimate look into the cuisine.

If you have a fondness for cooking and want to learn about authentic Croatian food recipes, then check out Cookly for a list of cooking classes in Croatia.


These foods represent but a small sliver of the culinary riches of this yet under-the-radar gem in the Adriatic. If I have whetted your appetite for a full-blown gastronomic tour of Croatia, do include a few days in Istria. After arriving in Zagreb, most travelers prioritize Split and Dubrovnik. But a stay in Istria is not to be missed, especially for lovers of food and drink.

I highly recommend staying in the town of Rovinj, where pretty, pastel-hued buildings seem to rise out of the sea…more on this in another article – “10 Days, 10 Reasons to Visit Croatia.”

And if you do visit Istria, a full-day food and wine tour with a local guide is the way to go, especially if your time in Istria is limited. We spent almost ten hours on a private tour with a local guide, a veritable sage on all things Istria. The best day of our 10-day jaunt, and worth every penny.


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Cover photo by Artelier1986. Stock images via Depositphotos.