Bahamian Food: 15 Traditional Dishes to Look For in the Bahamas

The Bahamas is famous for its white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters. This popular holiday destination in the Caribbean boasts some of the best scuba diving in the world and a nightlife that can often go from sunset till sunrise.

Beach, sun, and tropical cocktails like the Bahama Mama are foremost on people’s minds when they think of the Bahamas, but as this Bahamian food guide will show you, one thing that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked is the food.


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


  • Bahamian Food Tours: Food and Drinking Tours in the Bahamas

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this article on traditional Bahamian foods? Click on the save button and pin it for later!

Photo by shalamov


Bahamian food is a fusion of West African, European, American, and indigenous culinary traditions. It’s comprised of about 700 islands and cays so it’s unsurprising that seafood plays a prominent role in the Bahamian diet.

Seafood like fish, lobster, crab, and shellfish are staples in Bahamian cuisine but none are more beloved than conch, a large tropical mollusk or sea snail with firm, white flesh. It’s widely regarded to be a Bahamian national dish. Conch meat can be prepared in a number of ways – it can be steamed, deep-fried, stewed, used in soups, and incorporated into salads.

Aside from seafood, other staples in Bahamian cuisine include rice, pigeon peas, pork, and tropical fruits. Common spices and seasonings used in Bahamian recipes include hot chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime, cinnamon, allspice, coconut, and rum.


1. Conch Salad

Conch salad refers to a famous Bahamian dish made with uncooked conch meat. You can think of it as a type of conch ceviche made with diced conch meat denatured in a mixture of key lime juice, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and orange juice from a freshly squeezed sour orange.

Conch salad is typically served as an appetizer or side dish and goes very well with Bahamian cocktails like the Yellow Bird.

Photo by shalamov

2. Conch Fritters

Conch fritters are another popular conch dish in Bahamian cuisine. Typically served as an appetizer, snack, or side dish, these golden conch nuggets are made with a batter consisting of conch meat, bell peppers, onions, celery, and seasonings. The batter is deep-fried till golden brown and then served with a dipping sauce made with ketchup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, seasonings, and hot pepper sauce.

Photo by zhukovsky

3. Cracked Conch

Similar to fried clams or fried calamari, cracked conch is made with tenderized conch meat that’s been coated in a seasoned batter and then deep-fried. Because of its naturally tough and sturdy texture, conch meat greatly benefits from being pounded or chopped up into small pieces before cooking.

Like conch fritters, cracked conch is typically enjoyed as a snack or side dish, usually with a spritz of fresh lime juice or a side of Creole sauce. In Bahamian cuisine, “cracked” simply refers to anything that’s been coated in batter and deep-fried.

Photo by ftlaudgirl

4. Conch Chowder

Conch chowder refers to a hearty soup or Bahamian stew made with strips of tenderized conch meat cooked in a rich broth with tomato paste, onions, carrots, green peppers, potatoes, herbs, hot sauce, and seasonings. It’s a popular dish in Bahamian cuisine that’s typically consumed as a starter or as a light main course, often with white rice, grits, or johnny cakes.

Photo by fanfon

5. Bahamian Fish Stew

If you’re one of those people who thinks breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then you’re probably wondering: “What do people eat for breakfast in the Bahamas? What is a typical Bahamian breakfast?” Well, you’re looking at it.

A breakfast of fish stew may sound odd to westerners, but in the Bahamas, it’s perfectly normal. Bahamians love breakfast and they enjoy filling themselves up with savory meals like Bahamian boiled fish, tuna and grits, and souse (Bahamian soup).

Bahamian fish stew (or Bahamian stew fish) is a Creole dish that was brought to the Bahamas by Creole immigrants from Haiti. Similar to New Orleans gumbo, it’s made with grouper or snapper that’s rubbed with salt and hot peppers before being marinated in a mixture of lime juice, allspice, and freshly squeezed sour orange juice.

The seasoned fish is then seared in thyme-infused oil before being simmered in a broth with roux, onions, potatoes, celery, carrots, herbs, spices, and seasonings. When cooked, the Bahamian stew fish is served with white rice, grits, or johnny bread.

Photo by ilolab

6. Baked Crab

Baked crab refers to a delicious Bahamian dish made with stuffed crab shells. It’s made with cooked crab meat mixed with various ingredients like bread crumbs, egg, onions, bell peppers, butter, and thyme. The mixture is stuffed back into the crab’s shell and then baked to a light, golden brown.

Often enjoyed as an appetizer, Bahamian baked stuffed crab is drizzled with lemon juice and served with a side of steamed rice, vegetables, or baked potatoes.

Photo by ezumeimages

7. Rock Lobster

Also known as spiny lobsters or crayfish, rock lobsters are among the most popular types of shellfish in the Bahamas. Millions of pounds of these clawless crustaceans are caught from the tropical waters of the Bahamas from around August till March every year.

Most are exported to foreign markets like the US and Europe but the ones that do wind up on your plate in the Bahamas are typically steamed or boiled or used as an ingredient in various Bahamian dishes.

Photo by west1

8. Chicken Souse

Souse refers to a family of Bahamian clear broth soups. It can be made with different types of meat like pig’s feet and sheep’s tongue but the most popular version is made with chicken, limes, potatoes, chili peppers, and allspice.

Chicken souse is a popular breakfast dish in the Bahamas and touted as a powerful hangover cure. Its restorative properties are attributed mainly to the fresh lime juice and hot chili peppers used in the recipe.

To prepare, chicken wings (or other chicken parts) are boiled and drained before being boiled again to produce as clear a broth as possible. The chicken is then simmered with potatoes, goat peppers, onions, celery, and allspice to give the soup its signature flavor.

A quick spritz of lime juice is added before serving the soup with some johnny bread or a side of grits.

Photo by [email protected]

9. Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This next dish isn’t something many foreigners would think to find in a traditional Bahamian food guide but baked macaroni and cheese is a popular side dish in the Bahamas. It’s commonly prepared over the weekends and on holidays, often with pigeon peas and rice and fish or meat dishes.

Recipes for Bahamian baked macaroni and cheese can vary from cook to cook but it’s typically made with elbow macaroni, cheddar cheese, bell peppers, onions, eggs, butter, evaporated milk, goat pepper sauce, paprika, and seasonings.

Photo by Odelinde

10. Pigeon Peas and Rice

Beans and rice is a staple dish in Caribbean and Creole cuisine. It exists in many forms throughout the Caribbean and Latin America and forms a major part of the local diet.

In the Bahamas, peas and rice (or peas n’ rice) is a hugely popular dish consumed in every household. It refers to a Bahamian staple of pigeon peas and rice cooked with salted pork, bell peppers, onions, celery, tomato paste, coconut milk, thyme, and seasonings. It’s a common side dish often served with larger Bahamian meals.

Like conch meat, canned pigeon peas are among the most widely used ingredients in Bahamian cuisine.

Photo by zhukovsky

11. Fire Engine

Like baked macaroni and cheese, corned beef may not be the first thing people think of when they think of traditional Bahamian food. But corned beef is in fact a common Bahamian breakfast food and the main ingredient in a popular Bahamian dish known as “fire engine”.

Fire engine refers to a simple and comforting dish of steamed corned beef served over white rice or grits. It’s commonly served for breakfast though it can be enjoyed at any time of the day. In the Bahamas, the word “steamed” is used to describe anything that’s been cooked in tomato paste and herbs.

Fire engine is typically made with canned corned beef cooked with tomato paste, onions, bell peppers, potatoes, black pepper, and goat pepper sauce. No one really knows how the dish got its name, but some people believe that it may have something to do with the hot sauce or the redness imparted by the tomato paste.

When cooked, the steamed corned beef is served over white rice, often with a side of corn. If you’d like to try making this delicious and comforting dish yourself, then check out The Hobo Kitchen for the recipe.

Photo used with permission from The Hobo Kitchen

12. Johnny Cake / Bread

Johnny cake or bread refers to an early staple food in the Americas traditionally made with cornmeal. It originated from the indigenous people of North America and is still consumed in some parts of the US and the Caribbean like the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica.

Johnny cake exists in many forms depending on where it’s from but in the Bahamas, it’s typically made with a simple dough consisting of flour, butter, milk, and sugar. After being baked to a light golden brown, johnny cake has a soft texture that’s somewhere between bread and cake, hence the interchangeable names.

Traditionally, Bahamian johnny cakes were made with both cornmeal and flour but cornmeal was omitted from recipes sometime in the 20th century. Johnny cakes are often enjoyed with butter or jam and served as an accompaniment to Bahamian dishes like stews and curries.

Photo by dbvirago

To illustrate how different johnny bread can look between countries, here’s a bowl of johnny cakes from Jamaica. Unlike Bahamian johnny cake that’s baked to a golden brown, the Jamaican version is typically fried in oil.

Photo by paulbrighton

13. Guava Duff

Guava duff refers to a delicious and hugely popular Bahamian dessert. It’s basically a type of sweet roulade made with diced guava fruit topped with a rum custard sauce.

To make guava duff, guava is first simmered till soft before being diced and rolled in dough. It’s wrapped in layers of cheesecloth or clean white cotton fabric and then boiled in water. The word “duff” in the dish’s name refers to this unique method of boiling the dough. When set, it’s topped with a sweet butter rum sauce enriched with guava paste and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

The richness of the butter rum sauce with the smoothness of the duff is a delight to the taste buds. Considered by many to be a Bahamian national dessert, guava duff is one of the most well-known desserts in Bahamian cuisine and something you’ll probably enjoy more than once.

Photo used with permission from Hexastylis / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

14. Rum Cake

A rum cake is a delicious rum-infused cake popular throughout the Caribbean. It’s a dense and buttery cake made with traditional baking ingredients cooked in a bundt pan. Once the bundt cake cools, a rich and sweet butter rum sauce is poured over the cake before serving.

Interestingly, this delicious Bahamian dessert may have been a product of the US prohibition. The proximity of the Bahamas to Florida made it an ideal port from which to smuggle spirits to the US. This brought large amounts of rum to the islands, some of which landed in the hands of locals who incorporated it into various Bahamian recipes like rum cake.

Today, rum cake is a popular dessert throughout the Caribbean and is traditionally baked to celebrate festive periods like Christmas and New Year.

Photo by manyakotic

15. Yellow Bird

You’re probably familiar with the Bahama Mama, but have you heard of the Yellow Bird? It’s a refreshing cocktail made with light and dark rum (or coconut rum), Galliano (sweet herbal liqueur), and tropical fruits. It’s originally a Jamaican cocktail that’s become the national beverage of the Bahamas.

The Yellow Bird can be mixed in a variety of ways but it typically contains pineapple juice, orange juice, apple brandy, and banana liqueur. A popular summertime cocktail, it’s often served with different garnishes like pineapple slices, cherries, or fresh mint.

Photo by bhofack2


Needless to say, no one knows Bahamian food better than a local, so what better way to experience the best of Bahamian cuisine than by going on a food tour? A food-obsessed guide will take you to the best restaurants, markets, and street food stalls so all you have to do is follow and eat. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of Bahamian food tours in Nassau and other parts of the Bahamas.


Like any island destination, the Bahamas will captivate you with its idyllic beaches and miles of ocean and coastline. It’s the type of place that invites you to disconnect and take in the views, hopefully with a bowl of conch ceviche and a cocktail next to you. As the late great Anthony Bourdain once said, food always tastes better with sand between your toes.

Sand and surf may be the main draws in the Bahamas but there are many reasons to fall in love with this island paradise, not least of which is the food!


Some of the links in this Bahamian food guide are affiliate links. If you make a booking or reservation, then we’ll earn a small commission at no added 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 shalamov. 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

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this article on traditional Croatian foods? Click on the save button and pin it for later!

Photo by zoryanchik


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.


Some of the links in this article on Croatian 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 Artelier1986. Stock images via Depositphotos.

Tanzanian Food: 15 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Tanzania

EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater Costantine Edward, a writer from Morogoro, shares with us fifteen traditional dishes to try on your next visit to Tanzania.

Tanzania is one of the top tourism earners in Africa, thanks in part to its plethora of interesting tourist attractions. None are more impressive than Mountain Kilimanjaro. With an elevation of 5,895 meters (19,340 ft) above sea level, it’s the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

Tanzania boasts over 21 national parks, including Serengeti National Park which is home to the world’s greatest wildebeest migration. Every year, over two million fauna migrate from Tanzania and cross the border into neighboring Kenya.

Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti are two of the biggest reasons why tourists flock to Tanzania, but one reason that shouldn’t be overlooked is the food. If you enjoy experiencing different cultures through its food, then check out these fifteen traditional Tanzanian dishes on your next trip to East Africa.


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


  • Food Tours: Food and Wine/Drinking Tours in Tanzania

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this Tanzanian food guide now? Click on the save button and pin it for later!

Photo by darksoul72


Tanzanian cuisine is diverse. The types of ingredients used and preparation methods vary greatly from region to region. Spicy foods are common and ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and coconut milk are used in many dishes.

Rice and ugali are staple foods while okra, spinach, beans, and cassava leaves are commonly used vegetables. At least seventeen varieties of plantains are known to grow in Tanzania. They’re typically fried into chips or used as an ingredient in various soups and stews.

Thanks to the Indian diaspora, Tanzanian food has been significantly influenced by Indian cuisine. Chapati and samosas are common and you’ll find many Indian-owned restaurants in Tanzania, mostly in Dar es Salaam.


I’m not a trained chef but my experience living in a village with my grandparents has given me a lot of first-hand experience on how traditional Tanzanian dishes are prepared. I’ll describe some of the most popular dishes in Tanzanian cuisine and talk briefly about how to make them. One day, maybe you can try making them yourself from the comfort of your own home.

1. Ugali

This is the most commonly eaten food in Tanzania. Ugali is a Tanzanian national dish and something that the average person eats about four times a week. It’s an affordable dish that can be found on the menu of every local restaurant. In schools, particularly in public schools, it’s eaten almost every day of the week with beans, vegetables, soup, dagaa, and other types of fish.

Ugali is considered a high-energy food and is consumed by many people who do labor-intensive work like farming, construction, fishing, and factory work. Even office workers eat it too. In some tribes of Tanzania, like the Sukuma, ugali is regarded as men’s food and is often eaten for breakfast.

Ugali is prepared by mixing flour with hot water to achieve a stiff consistency. It’s most commonly made with maize, followed by cassava, sorghum, and then millet. However, it’s common to mix two or more flours like maize and millet or maize and sorghum to enhance its flavor and increase its nutritional value.

Photo by darksoul72

2. Wali wa Nazi

Rice is a staple dish in Tanzania and one of the most delicious iterations is wali wa nazi. It refers to a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and water and seasoned simply with salt. In a sense, you can think of it as the East African version of Malaysian nasi lemak.

Wali wa nazi is served as an accompaniment to various curries and stews and is equally popular in the cuisines of neighboring countries like Kenya and Uganda.

3. Wali na Maharage

This beloved rice and beans dish is commonly eaten for dinner in Tanzania. It’s frequently prepared over the holidays and for social events like weddings, religious festivals, and funerals.

Traditionally, wali maharage is made by cooking the beans first and then adding them to the rice to cook together. It’s typically seasoned with just salt and oil.

Modern versions of wali maharage are made by cooking the rice and beans separately. The beans are roasted with oil, onions, carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, and a host of different spices. When ready, the rice is served on a plate while the beans are served separately in a bowl. Wali maharage is eaten with a spoon.

4. Sukuma Wiki

One dish that’s often paired with ugali is sukuma wiki. It refers to a popular East African dish made with sukuma. Sukuma is Swahili for colewort or collared greens, a type of leafy vegetable similar to kale.

Other than colewort, other ingredients used to make sukuma wiki include tomatoes, onions, and various spices like cumin, coriander, and saffron powder. Like ugali, it’s an affordable dish that’s consumed throughout the year. In fact, the name sukuma wiki literally translates to “push the week” or “stretch the week” in reference to its affordability and availability.

5. Irio

Irio is a dish native to the Kikuyu tribe of Tanzania and central Kenya. It’s a healthy and comforting dish made with mashed potatoes, corn, peas, and greens like watercress or spinach.

Meaning “food” in the Kikuyu language, irio is typically served as a side dish and is equally popular in the cuisines of Kenya and Uganda.

6. Mchuzi wa Biringani

If you don’t have a lot of time, then mchuzi wa biringani is one of the quickest and easiest Tanzanian foods you can make. It consists mainly of eggplant sliced into small pieces and then fried in oil.

Other ingredients used to make mchuzi wa biringani include tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and ginger. Sometimes, chefs may add potatoes as a thickening agent. Dairy or coconut milk can also be added to enhance the flavor and further thicken the broth.

7. Ndizi

Ndizi literally means “banana” in Swahili. It refers to plantains, which is a traditional Tanzanian food preferred mostly by the Chagga tribe in the northern part of the country. It’s also popular among the Wasukuma, Wahaya, and Wakurya tribes of the Lake Zone regions.

The reason for its popularity in those aforementioned regions is its availability – those are the best growing regions for plantains in Tanzania. Ndizi is available in other parts of the country as well, but usually at a steeper price due to transportation costs. 

Ndizi is a versatile ingredient that can be used to make many Tanzanian dishes. One of the most delicious is supu ya ndizi, a Tanzanian soup made with mashed green plantains and chicken stock.

Pictured below is a plate of ndizi kaanga or Tanzanian fried plantains.

8. Zanzibar Pizza

In recent years, this classic Tanzanian dish called Zanzibar pizza has become increasingly popular thanks to tourists who’ve spent time in this small cluster of islands known as Spice or Clove Islands.

Zanzibar pizza is easy to prepare. Its made with wheat flour, salt, cooking oil, ground beef or chicken, onions, garlic, and pili pili manga (Tanzanian black pepper). The spiced meat mixture is cooked and then used as a topping or filling with different ingredients like cheese, mayonnaise, carrots, green peppers, and other vegetables. In spite of its name, Zanzibar pizza more closely resembles murtabak than pizza.

After folding up the sides, cooks fry the parcel on a tava with ghee until crispy. When ready, it’s usually served with a fresh and spicy mango-chili sauce.

In spite of its name, Zanzibar pizza more closely resembles murtabak than pizza.

9. Mchuzi wa Samaki

Mchuzi wa samaki is a popular stew in Tanzanian cuisine. Depending on the region, it can be made with different types of fish. In northern Tanzania, it’s usually made with “kambale fish”. In the Lake Zone areas, Nile perch and tilapia are preferred while “migebuka fish” is commonly used in the central region.

Aside from the fish, other ingredients for mchuzi wa samaki include tomatoes, onions, green peppers, carrots, and coconut. Some Tanzanian cooks may also add curry powder and lemon juice to further enhance the dish’s flavor.

10. Kuku wa Mchuzi

It’s very common for Tanzanians to eat ugali or rice with kuku wa mchuzi along with some vegetables and fruits for lunch and dinner.

Kuku wa mchuzi is prepared by slicing the chicken into sizeable chunks and then frying it in oil with onions and tomatoes. Other ingredients include carrots, green peppers, ginger, lemon juice, coconut, crushed groundnuts, and Royco mchuzi mix.

11. Kuku Paka

As previously described, Indian cuisine has had a significant influence on Tanzianian food. One example is kuku paka, an African-Indian-Arabic fusion dish consisting of chicken cooked in a creamy coconut-based curry sauce. Kuku in Swahili means “chicken” while paka means “to smear, spread, or apply”.

Also known as kuku na nazi, the secret to a good kuku paka is to char-grill the chicken before drowning it in the sauce. This gives it that delicious smokey flavor that goes so well with the coconut-based curry.

Chicken is the protein of choice in kuku paka though it can be made with shrimp or fish as well. Sometimes, eggs and potatoes are added as well.

Photo by ezumeimages

12. Mchemsho

Mchemsho literally means “boiled” in Swahili and refers to a family of boiled dishes made with different ingredients like meat, chicken, fish, plantains, and potatoes.

Spices used can vary depending on the cook and the dish is often made with a host of other ingredients like cabbage, onions, green pepper, tomatoes, and green beans. Mchemsho is a popular Tanzanian dish that can be consumed at any time of the day.

13. Mshikaki

Mshikaki refers to a popular Tanzanian dish made with marinated beef. Ginger, lemon, and hot peppers are used to season the meat which is skewered and grilled over charcoal.

Mshikaki is often eaten as a snack, usually with roasted potatoes in a pairing commonly known as “chips mshikaki”. It can also be enjoyed with smoked or roasted plantains and fried cassava.

In the evening, Tanzanian street food vendors will grill and sell mshikaki by the side of the road. It’s a hugely popular dish beloved by all age groups. You can find Tanzanians enjoying mshikaki at groceries, bars, and music clubs, often with beer and other alcoholic drinks.

14. Nyama Choma

Nyama choma means “barbecued meat” in Swahili and refers to a dish made with lightly seasoned roasted meat. It’s typically made with goat though it can be prepared with beef or chicken as well.

Available at roadside stalls and sit-down restaurants, nyama choma is often enjoyed with beer and side dishes like salad and ugali. It’s equally popular in Kenya where it’s considered a national dish.

15. Mandazi

Mandazi is a hugely popular snack food in Tanzania. It can be eaten at any time of the day though many Tanzanians like to have it in the morning, usually with tea or porridge for breakfast.

Mandazi is made with a dough consisting of wheat flour, eggs, fresh milk, sugar, and bicarbonate soda. The dough is allowed to rest for a few minutes before being cut into different shapes like rectangles, triangles, or spheres. The pieces of dough are then deep-fried in oil until they become crispy and golden brown.

In the coastal regions of Tanzania like Tanga, Pwani, and Dar es Salaam, mandazi is often eaten at night with tea and beans. In Muslim marriage ceremonies, it’s very common to find mandazi paired with tea or soft drinks.

SkyJumperNr1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


If you’re visiting Tanzania and want to learn more about the local cuisine, then you may want to join a food tour. No one knows Tanzanian food better than a local so what better way to experience the best of Tanzanian cuisine than by going on a guided tour?

Not only will a knowledgeable guide take you to the city’s best restaurants, markets, and street food stalls, but they’ll be able to explain the dishes to you in more detail. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of Tanzanian food tours in Zanzibar and other parts of the country.


Tanzanian food is diverse and varies greatly from region to region. Tanzania is home to more than 125 tribes and each tribe has a different method for cooking certain foods.

When you visit the Maasai in the Arusha region for example, you’ll find that their favorite dish is leshoro. It’s similar to ngararimo which is preferred by their neighbors in the Kilimanjaro region. However, the number of ingredients used to achieve the preferred taste is different in every part of Tanzania.

For the last two decades, Tanzanian food has increased in popularity due to the modernization and diversification of cooking techniques. Tanzanian chefs are trying to push the envelope, mixing different food types and spices to create more internationally appealing dishes like Zanzibar pizza. 


Some of the links in this Tanzanian food guide are affiliate links. If you make a booking or purchase, then we’ll make a small commission at no additional cost to you. 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!

Stock images by fanfon via Depositphotos.

Dominican Food: 15 Traditional Dishes to Look For in the Dominican Republic

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was verified by Arturo Feliz-Camilo, the Dominican food blogger behind Dominican Heat. Check out his Instagram account and website for authentic Dominican recipes.

The Dominican Republic is the most visited country in the Caribbean. It’s an idyllic island destination famous for its white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and beautiful resorts. With so much going for it, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Dominican Republic, one of the most enticing being its colorful and comforting cuisine.

Traditional Dominican cuisine is a reflection of its history and multicultural makeup. If you have a curiosity for local food, then you may want to try these 15 Dominican dishes on your next trip to the Caribbean.

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this guide on traditional Dominican dishes? Click on the save button and pin it for later!

Photo by lenyvavsha


Because of its colonial history and waves of immigration, over 70% of the Dominican Republic’s population is made up of mixed ethnicities (as of 2014). This same multi-ethnic composition can be seen in Dominican cuisine which is largely a combination of Spanish, indigenous Taíno, African, and Middle Eastern influences.

Like many Latin American countries, white rice, beans, and plantains are staple foods in the Dominican Republic. Pork is the preferred type of meat though chicken is by far the most consumed. Goat and beef are common as well.

Being an island nation, seafood is also common in the Dominican Republic though it’s usually reserved for the country’s middle- and upper-classes. Poorer Dominicans make do with lesser quality fish which they often stew with la criolla, a type of rice.

Dominican breakfast typically consists of mangú (plantains), eggs, meat, and viveres (tubers and starchy roots). Like Spain, lunch is the heaviest meal of the day in the Dominican Republic. The typical Dominican lunch will consist of arroz blanco (white rice), beans, and meat served together in a dish called la bandera.

Thanks to their similar histories, Dominican cuisine shares many similarities with the cuisines of its Latin American neighbors, most notably with Puerto Rico and Cuba. Many ingredients are the same but preparations and names of dishes may vary.


Traveleaters looking for the best traditional Dominican foods will have these 15 mouthwatering dishes to look forward to when they visit the Dominican Republic.

1. Mangú

Mangú is a popular dish of mashed plantains. It’s one of the most representative dishes of Dominican cuisine and regarded by many as the Dominican Republic’s official breakfast dish.

To make mangú, boiled plantains are mashed to a smooth texture with butter or oil and the water in which they were boiled. They’re then topped with red onions sauteed in vinegar and served with side dishes like queso frito (fried cheese), fried eggs, or slices of fried Dominican salami. When served with all three, it’s referred to as los tres golpes (“the three strikes”) – ie mangu with cheese, eggs, and salami.

Like many Dominican dishes, mangú is believed to be a product of African influences. It was brought to the Dominican Republic during the slave trade and is said to be derived from “mangusi”, a Congolese term used to describe any root vegetable that’s boiled and mashed.

Photo by [email protected]

2. Mofongo

Like mangú, mofongo is a popular Dominican dish made from mashed plantains, but instead of being boiled, the plantains are fried or roasted before being mashed with garlic, salt, oil, and chicharron. The mash is then shaped into a ball and served with meat or seafood and a chicken or meat broth. It’s commonly eaten for lunch or dinner, or as a late-night after-drinking snack.

As popular as mofongo is in the Dominican Republic, it’s equally popular in Puerto Rico. Both island nations claim to have invented the dish though evidence seems to indicate that the most popular type of mofongo consumed in the Dominican Republic may indeed be Puerto Rican in origin. Traditional Dominican mofongo was made from roasted plantains, not fried plantains the way it is in Puerto Rico.

Regardless of who invented it, mofongo is most certainly derived from African fufu, a type of “swallow food” (food that’s meant to be swallowed, not chewed) made from starchy vegetables like yam, cassava, and plantains. Like mangú, it was brought to the Dominican Republic during the slave trade.

Classic versions of mofongo are made with chicharron but other varieties exist that can be made with different types of meat and seafood like chicken, bacon, shrimp, or beef. They can be incorporated into the mash or served on the side with a broth that’s meant to moisten the mofongo and bring out its flavor.

Photo by lenyvavsha

3. Tostones

Tostones refer to slices of twice-fried plantains. It’s a popular dish that’s consumed in many Caribbean and Latin American countries like Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru. Depending on where they’re from, they can go by different names like patacones, tachinos, bannann peze, or fritos verdes.

Tostones are made with unripe plantains that are fried, flattened, and then fried again. They’re widely consumed in the Dominican Republic, either as a side dish, appetizer, or street food snack. They’re so popular that they’re often the first dish Dominican cooks learn how to make.

Photo by altagraciaart

4. Pastelitos

Like tostones, the pastelito is a hugely popular Dominican dish that’s widely consumed in the Caribbean and the rest of Latin America. It’s basically a round version of the empanada, a half-moon-shaped pastry turnover usually made with a meat filling.

Traditional Dominican pastelitos are deep-fried but they can be baked as well. Like empanadas, they can be filled with any number of ingredients like chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, and cheese. They can even be filled with fruits or jams and eaten for dessert.

Photo by mariodmf

5. Kipes

The kipe (or quipe) is the Dominican version of the Lebanese kibbeh, a type of football-shaped croquette made with spiced ground meat, onions, and bulgur. They were brought to the Dominican Republic by Middle Eastern immigrants who arrived in the Caribbean at the end of the 19th century.

Unlike traditional Middle Eastern kibbeh that’s typically made with lamb, Dominican kipe is made with beef. It’s also much more restrained in its use of spices, leaving out many of the spices and herbs like cumin, mint, and pine nuts that are common in Lebanese kibbeh.

Dominican kipe is typically made with bulgur, ground beef, finely diced onions and bell peppers, chopped basil leaves, tomato sauce, and raisins. It’s a popular and often indispensable component of many Dominican picadera (party food) platters.

Photo by mariodmf

6. Ensalada Rusa

Ensalada rusa is Spanish for “Russian salad”. It’s a popular potato salad consumed in many parts of the world, including the Dominican Republic where it’s considered a staple Christmas dish.

Ensalada rusa exists in many variations but it’s core ingredients are potatoes, eggs, and mayonnaise. It can be made with any number of additional ingredients like carrots, corn, and green peas. Versions containing apples are most common at Christmas while versions made with beetroot are known for their bright pink color. Aside from the holidays, ensalada rusa is a mainstay at family banquets and other social gatherings in the Dominican Republic.

Russian salad has an interesting history. Also known as “Olivier salad”, it was invented by Chef Lucien Olivier, a Russian chef of Belgian and French descent who served the dish at his famous Hermitage restaurant in Moscow in the 1860s.

The recipe for the dressing was a well-guarded secret but it was believed to contain a type of mayonnaise made from French wine vinegar, mustard, and Provençal olive oil. It was also made with other ingredients that aren’t used in the versions of today like grouse, veal tongue, caviar, and crayfish tails.

Photo by fanfon

7. Moro de Habichuelas

Moro refers to an ubiquitous Dominican dish of rice and beans. It’s popular throughout the Caribbean and Latin America where it exists in many variations. In Dominican cuisine, moro de habichuelas is the most common.

Dominican moro is typically made with kidney beans or pinto beans but it can be made with other types of beans as well like black beans, fava beans, or navy beans. It’s a staple Dominican dish that’s often paired with some type of meaty stew like carne molida.

Photo by fanfon

8. Carne Molida

Carne molida is a ground meat dish popular in parts of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Philippines. It’s known almost exclusively as carne molida in the Dominican Republic but it can be referred to as picadillo in other countries as well.

Preparations and ingredients for carne molida vary but it’s typically made with ground meat – usually beef – cooked with tomato paste, onions, green peppers, olives, and a host of herbs and spices. It’s a versatile dish that can be paired with arroz blanco (white rice) or used as a filling for empanadas, pastelitos, or kipes.

Photo by nito103

9. Pica Pollo

Pica pollo is Dominican fried chicken. It’s one of the most beloved comfort foods in the Dominican Republic and a frequent meal of choice after a night of drinking.

To prepare, chicken is marinated in lime juice and garlic before being coated in seasoned flour and deep-fried. It’s usually served with a side of tostones or french fries, lime juice, and a cold beverage like cola or beer.

Photo by ToyaKis

10. Locrio

Locrio refers to a Dominican dish made with seasoned rice served with some type of animal protein like chicken, pork, shellfish, or Dominican salami. It’s similar to pilaf or paella and may in fact be an adaptation of Spain’s national dish.

Locrio gets its color from tomato sauce or annatto (bija). There are many types of locrio depending on the meat it’s served with. Some of the most common include locrio de pica-pica (spicy sardines), locrio de camarones (shrimp), locrio de arenque (smoked herring), and locrio de salami (Dominican salami). In general, Dominican rice dishes made with meat or seafood are called locrio while rice dishes made with beans are classified as moro.

The most popular type of locrio is locrio de pollo (chicken). It’s strictly a Dominican dish but a similar chicken and rice dish called arroz con pollo is popular throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

Photo by fanfon

11. La Bandera Dominicana

La Bandera Dominicana, or “la bandera” for short, is the national dish of the Dominican Republic. It literally means “The Dominican Flag” and refers to a lunchtime dish of white rice, beans, and some type of meat.

La bandera gets its name from the colors of the Dominican flag. The white is represented by the rice while the red is represented by the beans, usually red kidney beans, cranberry, or pinto beans. Black beans, white beans, or pigeon peas (guandules) may be used as well.

Nothing on the plate is ever blue but it’s represented symbolically by the meat. Chicken like pollo guisado and beef are the most common but pork or fish may be used as well. Apart from these three main components, it’s often served with salad and side dishes like tostones, fritos maduros, or avocado.

La bandera is considered the national lunchtime dish of the Dominican Republic and can also be referred to as la comida, el almuerzo, or el plato del día. Similar lunchtime dishes are popular throughout Latin America like pabellón criollo in Venezuela, comida corrida in Mexico, and corrientazo in Colombia.

Photo by myviewpoint

12. Pastelón de Platano Maduro

Pastelón refers to a Dominican casserole made with ripe plantains, beef, tomato sauce, and cheese. The ingredients are layered like an Italian lasagna or Greek moussaka but instead of pasta or eggplant, it’s made with plantains. It’s arguably the second most popular dish made with plantains in the Dominican Republic, after mangú.

Photo by lenyvavsha

13. Sancocho

Sancocho refers to a Dominican stew made with meat and root vegetables. It’s popular throughout Latin America where it exists in many variations and sometimes goes by different names. In the Dominican Republic, it’s considered by many to be a national dish.

Dominican recipes for sancocho vary from cook to cook but they’re typically made with beef flank (or a similarly inexpensive cut), chicken, or gallina vieja (old hen). Different types of root vegetables can be added though as a general rule, potatoes, noodles, or tomato sauce are never used. Sancocho takes a long time to prepare so it’s a dish usually reserved for special occasions.

Notable versions of Dominican sancocho include sancocho prieto – a type of slow-cooked sancocho that turns a darker brown in color – and sancocho de siete carnes, a version made with seven cuts of meat from four different animals (beef, pork, chicken, goat).

Photo by miromiro

14. Carne Guisada

Carne guisada refers to Dominican-style braised beef. It often forms the meat component of la bandera and consists of slow-cooked beef prepared with vegetables and tomato sauce.

Carne guisada is usually made with inexpensive cuts of beef, like round or skirt. It’s slow-cooked over a low flame till caramelized and very tender.

Photo by fanfon

15. Chivo Guisado Liniero

Chivo guisado liniero (or chivo guisado picante) refers to a spicy goat meat stew. Goat dishes are common in the western regions of the Dominican Republic, specifically in the northwest and southwest. This particular dish hails from the northwest region where it’s made with goats that feed on wild oregano. Grazing on wild oregano is said to infuse the meat with the flavors of the herb.

Aside from local goat meat, another essential component to chivo guisado is the scotch bonnet pepper. It’s what gives the dish its characteristic spiciness and flavor. Chivo guisado liniero is usually served with tostones, arroz blanco (white rice), or moro de habichuelas.

Photo by fanfon


There are many reasons why millions of people visit the Dominican Republic every year. Sand and surf top most people’s lists but not far behind is the food.

If you’re wondering where to get your next dose of vitamin sea, then we hope this Dominican food guide gives you fifteen compelling reasons to add this tasty island nation to your shortlist.


Some of the links in this Dominican food guide are affiliate links. We’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking or reservation 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 it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Gracias!

Cover photo by fanfon. Stock images via Depositphotos.

Norwegian Food: 25 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Norway

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was verified by Stine Mari Fiskerstrand, the Norwegian food blogger behind Ginger with Spice. Follow her on Instagram for authentic Norwegian recipes.

Go through any list of traditional food in Norway and one thing becomes clear – it’s a cuisine that was shaped by availability and necessity.

Norway’s long coastline has always provided an abundance of fresh fish, much of which was preserved to get Norwegian families through its long winters. Meat was air-dried in the cold mountain air while flatbreads were made in bulk before being dehydrated and kept for later use.

Today, fish and meats are still preserved in Norway though perhaps not for the same reasons they once were.

Like any country, Norwegian food has been influenced by globalization and modernization. Pizza and sushi may have become as popular in Oslo as dried cod but as these next 25 dishes will show you, tradition is alive and well in Norwegian cuisine.


If you’re visiting Norway and want to really dive into Norwegian cuisine, then you may be interested in joining a Norwegian food tour.


  • Norwegian Food Tours: Food and Wine/Drinking Tours in Norway

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this Norwegian food guide now? Click on the save button and pin it for later!

Photo by duskbabe


Traditional Norwegian cuisine is largely a reflection of its environment. Norway is home to one of the world’s longest coastlines so it’s only natural for fish to play a significant role in Norwegian cuisine and culture. For centuries, dried cod was the biggest Norwegian export. Today, it’s fresh salmon and Atlantic cod.

In many ways, traditional food in Norway is different from most of continental Europe. It puts a stronger emphasis on fish and game. Reindeer, moose, deer, and grouse are popular game meats that are just as often served at Norwegian restaurants as they are at home.

Lamb also figures prominently in the Norwegian diet. Fårikål is the Norwegian national dish while Fenalår, a dish of slow-cured lamb’s leg, has been given Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. Because of its long winters, preserving food like cod and lamb wasn’t done just for pleasure in Norway, it was a necessity.

Interestingly, Norway’s most famous cheese – brunost – isn’t a cheese at all. It’s brown in color and often enjoyed with Norway’s most beloved snack – Norwegian waffles shaped like hearts.


A list of 25 Norwegian dishes can be a mouthful.  To make it easier to digest, this Norwegian food guide has been organized by category. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.

  1. Dairy
  2. Seafood
  3. Meat
  4. Bread / Dessert
  5. Norwegian Food Tours


1. Brunost

There’s no better way to start this Norwegian food guide than with brunost, one of the most recognizable dishes in Norwegian cuisine. It’s the Norwegian name for mysost – a family of Scandinavian brown cheeses that’s become well-known for its unique color and fudge-like texture. The name brunost literally means “brown cheese” in Norwegian although technically, it isn’t a cheese at all.

Norwegian brunost is made from whey which is a by-product of the cheese-making process. To make it, a mixture of milk, cream, and whey is boiled for several hours until the water evaporates and the milk sugars turn into caramel. This is what gives brunost its characteristic brown color and sweetness. The longer the whey mixture is boiled, the browner this Norwegian “cheese” becomes. This caramelized sugar is then allowed to cool before being packaged and sold in blocks.

Brunost can be made with cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or a combination of the two. It’s sweet and caramel-like but versions made with goat milk have a sharper and tangier flavor. Cut with a cheese slicer, Norwegian brunost is typically eaten with bread, crackers, or Norwegian waffles, and it can also be used as an ingredient in savory Norwegian dishes like finnbiff.

There are many types of Norwegian brunost, most of which are produced by the dairy co-operative Tine. By far, the most popular brand is Gudbrandsdalsost. It’s made with goat’s and cow’s milk and is often touted as the “original brunost”. Fløtemysost, a version made without goat milk, is also popular among Norwegians who prefer a milder flavor.

Both versions were invented by a Norwegian milkmaid from Gudbrandsdalen named Anne Hov (more on that below).

Photo by duskbabe

Although brunost is a Norwegian dish, brown whey cheese or mysost has been consumed in Scandinavia for centuries and goes by different names like mesost (Sweden), myseost (Denmark), mesjuusto (Finland), and mysuostur (Iceland).

Whey had been traditionally boiled down to create a soft cheesy spread but it was Anne Hov who had the idea of mixing in cream and boiling it further to create a more solid product. This came to be known as fløtemysost. She would later add goat’s milk to create Gudbrandsdalsost.

Photo by duskbabe

2. Rømmegrøt

Fans of traditional food will surely enjoy rømmegrøt, a classic Norwegian sour cream porridge made with whole milk, wheat flour, sour cream, butter, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. It’s a rich and sweet Norwegian dish that’s often enjoyed with cured meat or as a simple meal with crackers and a glass of milk. Rømme in Norwegian means “sour cream” while grøt means “porridge”.

Because it’s so thick and filling, Norwegian rømmegrøt is usually consumed in small quantities. It’s typically reserved for Norwegian holidays or special occasions, often with a side of Norwegian cured meats like fenalår (cured leg of lamb).

Photo by asmus


3. Sursild (Pickled Herring)

Sursild refers to a traditional food of Norwegian pickled herring. It consists of salted herring slices, onions, and various spices like black peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and mustard seeds kept in a jar with a pickling liquid made from water, vinegar, and sugar.

Norwegian pickled herring can be enjoyed throughout the year though it’s traditionally a Christmas season dish in Norway. It can be consumed in different ways – as open-faced sandwiches for a traditional Norwegian breakfast, as hors-d’oeuvres, or as part of heavier meals with potatoes and sour cream.

Photo by fanfon

4. Tørrfisk fra Lofoten

When it comes to the traditional food in Norway, tørrfisk fra lofoten should always be part of the discussion. It refers to Norwegian stockfish made from air-dried cod. Atlantic cod are fished from the waters of Lofoten and Vesterålen and then left to dry naturally on wooden racks called hjell from February till May.

Norwegians have been air-drying and preserving cod in this manner for centuries. Thanks to the North Atlantic Current, winters in Lofoten are relatively mild making it an ideal place to produce stockfish. The cod can be dried by the cold Norwegian air and wind without freezing or decomposing.

After air-drying for three months, the cod are matured indoors for another 2-3 months. About 80% of the water in the fish evaporates during this process. This concentrates the nutrients in the fish making it an even richer source of protein, vitamins, iron, and calcium.

Most tørrfisk is exported to Italy, Croatia, and Nigeria. In Norway, it’s consumed mostly as a snack or used in Norwegian dishes like lutefisk.

Photo by demerzel21

5. Lutefisk

Lutefisk is a traditional dish popular in Norway, Sweden (lutfisk), and parts of Finland (lipeäkala). One of the stranger Norwegian foods on this list, it refers to a gelatinous fish dish made from tørrfisk pickled in lye. Lut in Norwegian means “preserved in lye” while fisk means “codfish”.

Lutefisk is prepared by rehydrating tørrfisk in water for several days before soaking it further in a water and lye solution. As it soaks, the fish swells and loses over half of its protein content, producing a jelly-like consistency. It’s then soaked for a few more days in water before it’s cooked – either by steaming, baking, boiling, or even microwaving.

In Norway, lutefisk is often served with boiled potatoes, mashed green peas, melted butter, and bits of fried bacon. It’s considered a winter dish that’s typically consumed around the Christmas season. Because of its gelatinous texture, it seems to be a dish that non-Norwegian people either love or hate.

Thanks to its polarizing nature and popularity among Norwegian-Americans, lutefisk has become one of the most internationally well-known Norwegian dishes. In fact, far more lutefisk is consumed in the US than in all of Scandinavia! It’s so popular in parts of North America that Madison City in Minnesota has declared itself to be the “lutefisk capital of the USA“.

Photo by fanfon

6. Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon is one of the most internationally famous Norwegian dishes. It’s one of Norway’s biggest exports and arguably the greatest Scandinavian contribution to international cuisine. Norwegian salmon has a higher fat content than any other salmon in the world – about 18% – making it perfectly suited for smoking.

Norwegian smoked salmon is made by hand-salting fillets with a small amount of sugar added. It’s then cured in a brine before being cold-smoked with beechwood for 3-4 hours at 68°F (20°C). This cold-smoking process is said to produce a smoked salmon that’s less salty than its counterparts.

Salmon in Norway is typically consumed simply – dusted with ground black pepper and served on rye bread.

Photo by Jastock

Gravlaks is another popular salmon dish in Norway. It refers to Norwegian salmon that’s been cured using salt, sugar, and dill. It’s typically eaten as an appetizer with a mustard and dill sauce called sennepssaus, either on bread or with boiled potatoes.

Photo by cheekylorns2

7. Fiskeboller

Fiskeboller refers to Norwegian fish balls. Fish balls are a staple food in Norway and can be found in almost every Norwegian household.

Norwegian fish balls have a silky texture and a mild, almost bland flavor. They can be used in various Norwegian soups and stews but they’re most often served in a creamy white sauce with boiled potatoes and vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Sometimes, a mild curry is used to give the fish balls more flavor.

In Norwegian supermarkets, fiskeboller is readily available in cans but like any fish ball, the best versions are made from scratch. Norwegian fish balls are typically made using flour, milk, eggs, and minced whitefish like cod, haddock, or pollock.

Photo by Jim_Filim

8. Fiskesuppe

Fiskesuppe refers to a creamy Norwegian soup made with fresh fish, shellfish, root vegetables, and fresh herbs. It’s consumed in different variations throughout Norway but common ingredients include cod, Norwegian salmon, prawns, carrots, celeriac, milk, butter, and cream.

Like many western soups, fiskesuppe is typically eaten as a starter with a side of Norwegian crusty bread.

Photo by lenyvavsha


9. Fårikål (Norwegian National Dish)

No article on Norwegian food can ever be complete without mentioning fårikål. Fårikål is widely considered to be the national dish of Norway. It’s a simple but hearty Norwegian dish made with lamb, cabbage, and potatoes.

Fårikål is a seasonal Norwegian dish that’s traditionally consumed during Norway’s colder months, starting in September, to welcome autumn. To prepare, bone-in lamb or mutton is slow-cooked in a casserole with cabbage, whole black pepper, salt, and water. Flour can sometimes be added to thicken the broth. When ready, it’s served with boiled potatoes.

According to a popular Norwegian food blogger, fårikål is a favorite dish to prepare when having guests over for dinner, usually on Sundays.

Photo by La_vanda

10. Pinnekjøtt

Pinnekjøtt is a traditional Norwegian Christmas dish of steamed lamb ribs paired with pureed rutabaga and boiled potatoes. It’s often served with beer and akevitt, which is a type of Nordic distilled spirit derived from grain and potatoes. Pinnekjøtt is traditionally associated with the western regions of Norway though it’s become more common in other parts of the country as well.

Pinnekjøtt takes weeks of preparation. The first step is to cure racks of lamb or mutton in brine or coarse sea salt. In some parts of Norway, they’re smoked prior to curing to prevent the growth of mold during the drying process. They’re then hung to dry in a cool dark space for about 6-8 weeks.

When ready, the rack is soaked in water for about 9-10 hours to rinse out the salt and reconstitute the meat. The ribs are then steamed over a layer of birch branches for 2-3 hours until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. The name pinnekjøtt literally means “stick meat”, likely in reference to this layer of birch twigs used for steaming. For even more flavor, Norwegian cooks often broil the ribs before serving.

Photo by Jim_Filim

11. Lapskaus

Lapskaus refers to a thick Norwegian stew made with different types of meat, vegetables, and potatoes. It’s a rich and filling stew that may be derived from lobscouse – a similarly chunky Northern European sailor’s stew associated with the city of Liverpool.

Norwegian lapskaus can be made with fresh or leftover meat, usually beef or lamb though chicken or pork may be used as well. Common vegetables include carrots, onions, rutabaga, celery root, and leeks. It’s seasoned simply with just salt and pepper and eaten with Norwegian flatbrød (flatbread).

Photo by fanfon

12. Kjøttboller / Kjøttkaker

Kjøttboller and kjøttkaker refer to traditional Norwegian meatballs. It’s similar to the more famous Swedish meatball though the Norwegian version is generally larger.

Recipes for Norwegian meatballs vary but most are made with some combination of ground beef and ground pork with a host of seasonings like salt, black pepper, sugar, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. They’re typically pan-fried and served with a brown sauce, kålstuing (cabbage in cream sauce), lingonberry jam, and potatoes.

Kjøttboller and kjøttkaker are essentially the same thing. They both refer to Norwegian meatballs with the only difference being their shape. Kjøttboller are round like typical meatballs while kjøttkaker are flatter, like patties, and more oval in shape.

Photo by fanfon

13. Finnbiff

Finnbiff is one of the more interesting Norwegian foods on this list. It refers to a type of Norwegian stew made with reindeer. Game meats are common in Norway and finnbiff is the most widely consumed dish made with reindeer meat. It’s common in the northern parts of Norway and the Sápmi (Lapland) regions of Sweden and Finland.

To prepare, thin reindeer shavings are browned in a pot with bacon and mushrooms. Water is then added to create a broth followed by crushed juniper berries, brunost (brown cheese), thyme, sour cream, and milk. This creates a rich, caramel-y, and earthy Norwegian stew that’s best enjoyed in autumn and winter, usually with side dishes like mashed potatoes and green vegetables.

Photo by fanfon

14. Bidos

Bidos refers to another type of Norwegian stew made with reindeer meat. It’s native to the Sámi people, an indigenous reindeer-herding people living in the Sápmi regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

Norwegian bidos consists of reindeer meat (including the heart) that’s slow-cooked with onions, potatoes, and carrots. It’s seasoned simply with just salt, pepper, and perhaps some mustard to showcase the natural flavors of the reindeer meat. It’s a special Norwegian dish that’s typically reserved for Sámi weddings and other celebratory occasions.

Photo by fanfon

15. Whale Steak

This next dish may be one of the more controversial Norwegian foods on this list, at least for non-locals.

Whale hunting has been a part of Norwegian culture for centuries. In the early 20th century, meat from minke whales was used as a cheap substitute for beef. Together with Japan and Iceland, Norway is one of just three countries that continues to publicly allow commercial whaling.

Commercial whaling has been a contentious subject for decades but in Norway, eating whale meat isn’t considered controversial. It doesn’t form a significant part of the Norwegian diet though it remains a popular source of meat in some parts of Norway.

Over the years, the consumption of whale meat has been on a steady decline though it’s still widely available throughout Norway and consumed from time to time by most Norwegians.

Photo by derepente


16. Lefse

Lefse refers to a traditional Norwegian soft flatbrød (flatbread) that’s a staple food in Norway. Similar to a tortilla, it can be prepared and enjoyed in many different ways – thick or thin, big or small, plain or filled with sweet and savory ingredients.

Norwegian recipes for lefse vary depending on where it’s from, but it’s traditionally made with a base of whole wheat flour, milk, butter, water, and salt. Versions made with potato became popular after the tubers were introduced to Norway sometime in the mid-18th century.

In the past, Norwegian households would make enough lefse to last them through the winter. They’d store them in a dehydrated state and soften them with water when ready to eat.

To make lefse, the dough is flattened using a special grooved rolling pin designed to remove air pockets. It’s then cooked on a large, flat griddle using a long wooden turning stick. When cooked, the lefse is cut into smaller pieces and served with butter and other ingredients like sugar, cinnamon, brunost (brown cheese), or lingonberry jam. It can be used as a wrap for savory ingredients as well like beef or lutefisk.

Photo by Natalikomp

There are many types of lefse from different regions in Norway. Some of the most popular include potetlefse (made with potatoes), møsbrømlefse (made with brunost brown cheese), tykklefse (thicker and more cake-like), and kjøttlefse (made with meat, like a taco).

Pictured below is pølse med lompe. It’s a Norwegian dish made with lomper, another type of potato lefse that’s often used in place of a bun when serving hot dogs.

It’s interesting to note that lefse is a popular Norwegian dish in parts of the US as well. Thousands of Norwegians migrated to America in the mid-19th century and brought with them their recipes for lefse. They settled throughout the US, with the largest populations located in the Midwest, California, Oregon, and Washington.

Unlike in Norway, Norwegian-American lefse is always made with potatoes. It’s considered a holiday dish that’s typically eaten around Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Photo by Tobben63

17. Vafler

Vafler means “waffles” and refer to these beloved heart-shaped Norwegian treats. They’re available everywhere – at cafes, restaurants, sporting events, and homes – and are considered the quintessential snack food in Norway.

Unlike American waffles that are typically eaten for breakfast, Norwegian waffles can be enjoyed throughout the day. They’re thinner and softer than American or Belgian waffles and topped with a variety of ingredients like whipped cream, sour cream, brunost (brown cheese), gomme (sweet cheese), berries, jam, and sugar. Sweet toppings are the most common but they can be paired with savory ingredients as well like blue cheese, sausage, or eggs.

In Norway, the word kos is used to represent “coziness” or “having a good time”. It’s essentially the Norwegian version of the Danish concept of hygge. It can mean many different things to Norwegians but at its core, it’s meant to describe the type of instant happiness you get when you feel safe, warm, and connected. The Norwegian waffle is the quintessential symbol of kos.

Photo by duskbabe

18. Eplepai

Eplepai refers to a traditional Norwegian apple pie. In spite of its name, it more closely resembles a cake than a pie, made with diced apples that are stirred directly into the batter. When Norwegians make American-style apple pie, they call it Amerikansk eplepai.

When searching for recipes for Norwegian eplepai, you’ll come across recipes for similar-looking dishes called eplekake or apple cake. The similarity between recipes seems to indicate that they’re interchangeable terms used to describe the same dish.

Norwegian eplepai recipes vary but it’s often made with sliced almonds or walnuts and served with whipped cream or a side of ice cream.

Photo by mila_lz

19. Skolebolle

Skolebolle (or skolebrød) refers to a type of Norwegian sweet roll filled with custard and glazed with coconut shavings. Its name in Norwegian literally means “school bun” (or “school bread”). During World War II, parents had difficulty giving their children enough to eat so schools created skolebolle to help fatten them up. It’s been a Norwegian school tradition ever since.

Skolebolle is one of many different types of bolle, a Norwegian bun made with lightly sweetened yeasted dough and cardamom. They can be served plain or made with different ingredients like raisins (rosinbolle), chocolate (sjokoladebolle), cinnamon, custard, and jam.

Photo by gorchichko

20. Julekake

Julekake (or julebrød) is a type of Norwegian Christmas bread. Popular during the holiday season in Norway, it’s spiced with cardamom and filled with candied fruits and raisins. Julekake is a type of kaffemat or Norwegian coffee food that’s often served with butter and fruit jam.

Photo by manyakotic

21. Krumkake

Krumkake is a Norwegian waffle cookie shaped like a cone. It’s similar to the Sicilian cannolo and made using a special two-sided iron griddle that imprints a decorative design on the waffle as it cooks. While still hot, it’s shaped into a cone using a conical rolling pin.

Krumkaker are traditionally a Norwegian Christmas treat. They can be eaten plain but they’re absolutely delicious when stuffed with sweet fillings like whipped cream and sugared cloudberries. They’re popular both in Norway and among Norwegian-Americans in the US.

Photo by kjekol

22. Sandbakelse

Sandbakelse (or sandbakkels, sandkaker) are Norwegian Christmas cookies. They’re made with a crumbly dough that resembles sand, hence the name in Norwegian which translates to “sand cookies”.

Norwegian sandbakelse are formed by pressing the dough into fluted tins before baking. This creates a buttery cookie or tartlet that can be eaten as is or filled with sweet ingredients like jam or whipped cream.

Photo by ivusakzkrabice

23. Rosettbakkels

Rosettbakkels are Norwegian rosette cookies known for their crispy texture and decorative patterns. Like krumkake and sandbakelse, they’re traditionally made around the Christmas season and are popular both in Norway and the US.

Rosettbakkels are made using a decorative iron mold with a long handle. The mold comes in festive shapes like snowflakes, stars, or Christmas trees. To make these Norwegian cookies, the mold is first heated in oil before being dipped and coated in batter. The batter-covered mold is then dipped into the hot oil where the batter detaches itself and finishes cooking.

The cookies are fried to a golden brown before being cooled and drizzled with sugar or honey.

Photo by kmlPhoto

24. Kransekake

Kransekake (or tårnkake) is a traditional Norwegian confection that’s usually prepared on holidays and for special occasions like weddings and baptisms. Its name in Norwegian literally means “wreath cake” (or “tower cake”) and it consists of multiple concentric rings of decreasing sizes that are stacked to form a cone-shaped tower.

Kransekake cake rings are made with almonds, sugar, and egg whites. They’re hard to the touch but have a soft and chewy texture when eaten. Norwegian kransekake can often consist of eighteen or more layers that are held together with white icing.

To eat, the rings are separated and sliced into smaller pieces before serving. When served at Norwegian weddings, it’s a cultural tradition for the bride and groom to lift the topmost layer of the cake. How many rings come away with it is said to be the number of children the couple is destined to have.

Kranskekake is equally popular in Denmark where it’s known as kransekage.

Photo by YAYImages

25. Cloudberries

These amber-colored berries are often referred to as the “gold of the Arctic”. They’re an extremely rare berry that grows only in the Arctic and subarctic regions of the north temperate zone. In Europe, that means mostly Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

Cloudberries thrive in the marshlands and boreal forests of Norway. They’re difficult to farm in large quantities and are available only from July till August, making them one of the rarest and most sought-after berries in Norway. At about EUR 20 per kilo, they’re also the most expensive.

Because of their rarity, your best chance of trying cloudberries in Norway is to buy them from someone who grows them or to pick them yourself. Finnmark in northern Norway is one of the best places to pick cloudberries. You can eat them on site but you’ll need a permit if you’d like to take them with you.

Cloudberries are a rich source of Vitamins A and E, and they can contain up to four times as much Vitamin C as oranges. They can be turned into jams or used in Norwegian desserts, cakes, sauces, and liquor. When eaten fresh, they’re soft and juicy with a distinct sweet/tart flavor.

Photo by Mari-Roshfor


Needless to say, no one knows Norwegian food better than a local, so what better way to experience the best of Norwegian cuisine than by going on a food tour? A knowledgeable local will guide you to the best Norwegian restaurants and markets so all you have to do is follow and eat. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of Norwegian food tours in Oslo and other cities throughout Norway.


Thanks to globalization, it’s just as easy to get sushi in Oslo as it is to get pizza in Tokyo. But if you’re a Traveleater with a keen interest in traditional Norwegian food, then this list of 25 Norwegian dishes should give you a lot to look forward to on your next trip to Norway.


Some of the links in this Norwegian food guide are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking at no extra 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 duskbabe. Stock images via Depositphotos.

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

I was on a press trip to Japan’s Chubu region a couple of years ago and one of our guides said that “there’s nothing in Nagoya”. I understood what she meant, though I didn’t agree with her.

Before my first trip to Nagoya, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about visiting this metropolis in Japan’s central Chubu region. It seemed more urbanized than other Japanese cities and lacked the traditional charm I had come to love from cities like Kyoto and Kanazawa.

When people visit Japan, especially first-timers, they tend to look for temples, kimonos, and torii gates. Being a highly urbanized city, Nagoya doesn’t have as much of that which is probably why our guide said what she did. But that hardly means there’s nothing in Nagoya.

Nagoya is the birthplace of Toyota. The Toyota Techno Museum is one of the best museums I’ve ever visited in my life and I’m not even a car enthusiast. Nagoya is also the administrative headquarters of JR Central and home to the interesting SCMAGLEV Railway Park and Museum, which conveniently, is just a short walk from Legoland.

Best of all, Nagoya is home to one of the best regional cuisines in Japan. My Japanese friend told me that it’s one of three cities that many local Japanese visit when they travel for food, the other two being Fukuoka and Hiroshima. The regional food in Nagoya is so good that they even have a term for it – Nagoya meshi.

If you like trains, automobiles, and amazing Japanese food, then you’ll find that there’s much to love about Nagoya. This detailed Nagoya travel guide will tell you all you need to know to plan your trip.


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


Top-rated hotels around Nagoya Station, the most convenient area to stay for first-time visitors to the city.

  • Luxury: The Tower Hotel Nagoya
  • Midrange: Hotel Vista Nagoya Nishiki
  • Budget: Choukou Hotel


  • Sightseeing Tour: Private Full-Day City Tour
  • Food Tour: Specialties of Nagoya Food Tour
  • Theme Park: LEGOLAND® Japan Resort 1 Day Passport


  • Visa Services
  • Travel Insurance with COVID cover (WFFF readers get 5% off)
  • Airport Transfers
  • Japan Rail Pass
  • Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this Nagoya travel guide now? Click on the save button and pin it for later!


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


Due to the current global situation, Nagoya travel guidelines have been changing frequently. Our partners at created a website that lists detailed information on travel restrictions and advisories around the globe.

Before planning a trip to Nagoya, be sure to check for information on travel restrictions to Japan. If you do decide to visit Nagoya, then it’s highly recommended that you get travel insurance with COVID coverage.


Depending on what type of passport you carry, you may need to secure a visa and other travel documents to enter Japan. Check out for a list of requirements and to apply for a visa (if necessary).

If you’re a Philippine passport holder residing in Manila, then check out our guide on how to apply for a Japan tourist visa for a step-by-step process.


Nagoya is the capital of Aichi prefecture and the largest city in Japan’s central Chubu region. Like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s one of the country’s major ports and transportation hubs. It’s home to one of Japan’s biggest international airports and remains an important center for the automotive, aviation, and ceramic industries.

In spite of Nagoya’s highly industrialized present, it’s interesting to note that the region is regarded as the center for samurai and ninja culture in Japan. It’s the birthplace of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu – the three samurai feudal lords and national heroes credited for unifying the country in the 16th century. During the early Edo period, it’s estimated that 70% of the nation’s daimyo warlords were from Nagoya and its surrounding areas.

In spite of its history and key role in driving the country’s economy, Nagoya has a reputation for being one of Japan’s most boring cities. I don’t know how it got that reputation but if you travel for food like we do, then Nagoya meshi will give you plenty to be excited about. It’s known for many regional dishes and ingredients, none more important (and delicious) perhaps than mame or red miso.


Nagoya’s climate is similar to nearby destinations like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. It’s pretty much a year-round destination though spring and fall are typically the best times to visit Nagoya. The weather is mild and you’ll get a chance to experience the cherry blossoms in spring and the fall colors of autumn.

MAR-MAY: Weather-wise, March-April is one of the best times to visit Nagoya. Days are mostly dry and sunny with temperatures hovering around 15-20°C (59-68°F). Cherry blossoms in Nagoya are typically in full bloom around the end of March to early April. Nagoya isn’t as popular as Kyoto or Tokyo and may be the more pleasant option for viewing the cherry blossoms in spring. If you don’t like crowds, then be sure to avoid Golden Week (end of April – early May) which is peak season for domestic travel in Japan.

JUN-AUG: Summers in Nagoya are hot and humid. It’s the rainiest time of the year and may not be the most pleasant time to visit Nagoya.

SEPT-NOV: October-November is another great time to visit Nagoya. The weather is mild with temperatures hovering around 13-18°C (55-64°F). If you’d like to experience the colors of autumn, then it’s best to go in late November. September is still hot and rainy in Nagoya and perhaps not the best time to go.

DEC-FEB: Winters are cold in Nagoya but not cold enough to see snow. If you enjoy winter sports and don’t mind colder weather, then Nagoya makes for a good base to do skiing and snowboarding trips. You’ll find multiple ski resorts within two hours of the city.

Climate: Annual Monthly Weather in Nagoya

Check out for more on Nagoya’s weather. For your convenience, I’ve created the average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below. Suggested months to visit are indicated in orange.

Average Temperature

Annual Rainfall


There are many ways to get to Nagoya from where you are. You can check Bookaway or use the widget below to find route options available to you.

From Chubu Centrair International Airport

People flying into Nagoya will arrive at the Chubu Centrair International Airport. There are several ways to get to downtown Nagoya from the airport.

BY TRAIN: This is the fastest and most convenient way of getting to the city from the airport. The Meitetsu Railway Company offers direct services from Chubu Airport to Meitetsu Nagoya Station. The fastest is the μ Sky Limited Express. It’ll get you into the city in about 28 minutes. You can purchase tickets at the gate or in advance through Klook.

BY BUS: You can also travel by bus from the airport to the Meitetsu Bus Center which is located right next to Nagoya Station. The hourly Centrair Limousine Bus service will get you into the city in around 88 minutes. There are 14 roundtrips everyday and you can purchase your tickets on the spot.

BY TAXI: Traveling by taxi is convenient but expensive. The fare for a medium-sized taxi between the airport and Nagoya Station will cost you around JPY 15,000.

BY PRIVATE TRANSFER: Like taxis, going by private transfer is convenient but expensive. Prices vary depending on where you’re going and the size of your group. You can check for rates and book a private transfer on Klook or Get Your Guide.

From Other Parts of Japan

Although you can fly into Chubu Airport, many people will already be in Japan and will probably take a train to Nagoya. If that’s the case, then you can check for train routes and schedules.

If you’ll be doing a multi-city tour across Japan, then you may be interested in purchasing a JR Pass. It’ll give you unlimited use of all JR trains for the duration of your pass. You can purchase 7-, 14-, or 21-day JR passes through Klook or Japan Rail Pass.

If you’re planning on exploring just the central Chubu region, then you may be interested in getting the Takayama-Hokuriku Pass instead. It’ll give you unlimited travel between cities within the Chubu region (Nagoya, Hida Takayama, Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, etc.) for five consecutive days.

Check out my article on the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass for more information. You can purchase the pass on Klook. You can also check out our 5-day Chubu itinerary to help you plan your trip.


The unit of currency in Japan is the Japanese Yen (JPY).

BANKS / POST OFFICES: Banks and post offices have traditionally been the most reliable places to exchange currency in Japan. However, the process is slow and requires some paperwork. I’ve exchanged currency at a few banks in Japan and the process can take up to half an hour.

KINKEN SHOPS: Kinken shops are small stores that buy and sell unused event tickets. Some also exchange currency. I exchanged currency at a kinken shop outside Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and got excellent rates. In Nagoya, you should be able to find kinken shops outside major metro stations like Nagoya Station.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE MACHINES: I haven’t seen them very often but I did exchange currency through a machine in Nagasaki once. It was super easy. Just insert your foreign currency and out comes the JPY equivalent. You may be able to find them at popular tourist and shopping areas in Nagoya.

ATM MACHINES: This is our preferred method of exchanging currency in Japan. Rates are often comparable and it saves us from the trouble of having to bring too much foreign currency into Japan. I suggest letting your bank know that you plan on using your ATM card abroad so you don’t run into any problems. In my experience, my card works best at convenience store and post office ATMs in Japan.

TIP: When withdrawing local currency from an ATM, some machines may ask you if you’d like to proceed “with or without conversion”. NEVER choose “with conversion” because doing so will authorize the foreign bank operating the ATM to do the conversion for you, usually at highly unfavorable exchange rates. You can refer to this article on Medium for more information.


There are a few good areas for travelers to stay in Nagoya. I’ve created the color-coded map below to help you understand where these suggested neighborhoods are. Click on the link for a live version of the map. (Please note that marked areas are approximations only)

RED – Around Nagoya Station
BLUE – Sakae
PURPLE – Kanayama


If it’s your first time in Nagoya, then it’s best to stay around Nagoya Station. It’s a busy commercial area in the heart of the city with plenty of restaurants, izakayas, cafes, and shopping. It’ll make it easy for you to get around as well.

I stayed at Nagoyaeki Access Hotel which is a clean and modern 2-star hotel located just a short walk from Nagoya Station.  My room had a desk and a television and was bigger than the average business hotel room in Japan, which I appreciated. There are plenty of convenience stores and restaurants around the hotel as well.

You can book a room at Nagoyaeki Access Hotel through or Agoda. If you’d like to stay in the neighborhood but don’t think this is the right hotel for you, then you can click on these links for alternate listings : or Agoda. Check out some of the top-rated hotels around Nagoya Station:

  • Luxury: The Tower Hotel Nagoya
  • Midrange: Hotel Vista Nagoya Nishiki
  • Budget: Choukou Hotel


Sakae refers to the area just east of Nagoya Station. It’s the city’s main entertainment district and home to many local restaurants and izakayas. If you want access to local food and don’t want to be too close to the train station, then Sakae is a good place to consider. You can find a hotel in Sakae through or Agoda. Here are some of the top-rated hotels in the area:

  • Luxury: Nagoya Tokyu Hotel
  • Midrange: Vessel Inn Sakae Ekimae
  • Budget: Hotel Mystays Nagoya Nishiki


Just south of Sakae is Osu, another area that offers plenty of entertainment, food, and shopping options in Nagoya. It features a main shopping street and is close to Osu Shopping Arcade and Osu Kannon temple, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. You can search for a hotel room in Osu on Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:

  • Luxury: GRAND BASE Osu
  • Midrange: Hotel Abest Osu Kannon Ekimae Hane no Yu
  • Budget: Trip & Sleep Hostel


Kanayama refers to the area just north of Kanayama Station. I didn’t have time to explore this area but I read that it’s known for its plethora of small local restaurants, many of which are tucked away in back alleys. If you’d prefer to stay in an area with interesting local food, then Kanayama may be a good place to consider. It’ll put you closer to popular tourist attractions like Atsuta Shrine and Shirotori Garden as well.

You can book a room in Kanayama through or Agoda. Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:

  • Luxury: Nagoya Kanayama Hotel
  • Midrange: ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Grand Court Nagoya, an IHG Hotel
  • Budget: Toyoko Inn Nagoya Kanayama

You can also book hotels and homestays in Nagoya using the handy map below.


Contrary to what some people may say, there’s actually quite a lot to do in Nagoya. It may not have as many cultural attractions but there’s plenty to see and do for first-time visitors. Listed below are the city’s top attractions but click on the link for more suggestions on what to do in Nagoya.

1. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

Aside from the food, visiting this museum was my favorite thing to do in Nagoya. Like many Asians, I grew up with Toyotas so visiting the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, or Toyota Techno Museum for short, was special for me.

It’s a huge museum that traces the history of the Toyota company all the way back to its roots as an automatic loom manufacturer. There’s much to see with many interactive exhibits so visiting this museum will keep you busy for at least 2-3 hours.

The Toyota Techno Museum is one of three Toyota-related museums you can visit in Nagoya. The other two are the Toyota Kaikan Museum and the Toyota Automobile Museum, both of which are about an hour away from central Nagoya. The Tyoota Techno Museum is the most accessible being just one stop away on the metro from Nagoya Station.

Suggested Length of Visit: 2-3 hrs
Admission: JPY 500
Operating Hours: 9:30AM-5PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Nearest MRT Station: Sako station

2. Atsuta Shrine

Atsuta Shrine is one of Japan’s most important shrines. It was built sometime between 71 and 130 AD to house the Kusanagi no Tsurugi, an ancient sword that’s considered one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan.

Atsuta Shrine is located in a large forested area of about 200,000 square meters (2,153,000 sq ft). It features many walking trails and smaller shrines so it makes for a quiet green getaway from the steel and concrete of urban Nagoya.

Suggested Length of Visit: 1 hr
Admission: FREE
Operating Hours: 24 hrs
Nearest MRT Station: Jingu-Mae Station

3. Shirotori Garden

Located less than a kilometer from Atsuta Shrine, Shirotori Garden is another oasis in Nagoya. It’s a Japanese landscaped garden occupying an area of about four hectares.

I’ve been to Shukkei-en in Hiroshima, Koishikawa Korakuen in Tokyo, and Kenroku-en in Kanazawa and I always enjoy sitting on a bench and taking in the atmosphere of these landscaped gardens. They’re so beautiful. Like all Japanese gardens, Shirotori Garden’s features are meant to represent Japan’s landscape in miniature.

Photo by rolling rock via Shutterstock

Suggested Length of Visit: 1 hr
Admission: JPY 300
Operating Hours: 9AM-5PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Nearest MRT Station: Atsuta Station

4. SCMAGLEV and Railway Park

If you like trains, then you need to visit SCMAGLEV and Railway Park. It’s the museum of Central Japan Railways (more commonly known as JR Central) and features over three dozen trains – from historic steam locomotives to the shinkansen to the most modern magnetic levitating trains. SCMaglev is short for superconducting maglev train – the fastest rail vehicle ever built.

SCMAGLEV and Railway Park is located near the same metro station as Legoland, so people traveling with kids may have time to visit both on the same day.

Suggested Length of Visit: 2 hrs
Admission: JPY 1,000
Operating Hours: 10AM-5:30PM, daily
Nearest MRT Station: Kinjofuto station

5. Osu Kannon

Osu Kannon is a popular Buddhist temple known for a large wooden statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. It was carved by Kobo Daishi who was an important figure in Japanese Buddhism. The temple is also home to Shinpukuji Library which houses several of Japan’s national treasures and important cultural properties.

People visiting Osu Kannon may want to check out the Osu Shopping Arcade as well. Located right next to the temple, it’s a series of covered shopping streets with over 400 restaurants and shops, many of which specialize in electronics, anime, and cosplay. It’s been likened to the Akihabara district in Tokyo.

Photo by David Quixley via Shutterstock

Suggested Length of Visit: 30 mins
Admission: FREE
Operating Hours: 24 hrs
Nearest MRT Station: Osukan-non station


1. Go on a Food Tour

What better way to experience Nagoya meshi than by going on a food tour? I enjoy discovering and visiting restaurants on my own, but if you really want to learn about the local food, then you may be interested in going on a guided tour. Check out byFood for a list of food tours in Nagoya.

Photo by Gumpanat via Shutterstock

2. Visit a Maid Cafe

Have you heard of Japan’s maid cafes? They’re a popular type of cosplay restaurant where the servers are dressed up as maids and treat their customers like masters and mistresses. They’re just another odd but fun attraction that makes Japan the uniquely quirky destination that it is.

There appears to be a few maid cafes to choose from in the Osu area but the Maidreamin chain is one of the most popular. You can get meal set vouchers to Maidreamin Nagoya in advance through Klook.

Photo by WPixz via Shutterstock

3. Go Shopping at Don Quijote

If you like bargain shopping, then you’re going to love Don Quijote (Donki for short). It’s a popular chain of discount shops with dozens of outlets throughout the country. Like Daiso, you can find anything and everything at a Don Quijote. They sell things like snacks, electronics, cosmetics, socks, cellphone cases, household items, and souvenirs.

The biggest Don Quijote branches are comprised of multiple floors and feel almost like mini department stores. You can check the Don Quijote website for a list of branches in Nagoya.


Nagoya is centrally located so there are a few day trips you can make from the city. Listed below are some of the most popular and realistic.

1. Nabana no Sato

If you visit Nagoya sometime between mid-October to early May, then you may want to spend the day at Nabana no Sato. Located less than a hour away in Kuwana City, it’s a botanical garden that’s home to one of the biggest illumination displays in Japan. It features seven installations with over 8 million LED lights, including two tunnels of light each measuring over 100 meters (328 ft) long.

Nabana no Sato is part of Nagashima Resort which is also home to Nagashima Spa Land amusement park, a water park, a hot spring complex, and an outlet shopping mall. There’s a lot to do there so you might want to make a whole day of it.

Nagashima Resort and Nabana no Sato are easy enough to get to on your own, but if you’d like to go on an organized tour, then you can book one through Klook.

Photo by Phubet Juntarungsee via Shutterstock

Travel Time: Around 50 mins

2. Kiso Valley

Kiso Valley refers to an area that runs alongside the Central Alps mountains in Nagano. It’s home to an ancient and historically important trade route known as the Kisoji. During the Edo period, the Kisoji was combined with other routes to form the Nakasendo – a 500 km path that served as one of two means of transport between Kyoto and Edo.

To provide rest, food, and accommodations to merchants traveling along the Nakasendo, post towns like Magome, Tsumago, and Narai were developed every few kilometers in the Kiso Valley. Today, a few of these post towns have been preserved to look exactly like they did during the days of the Nakasendo.

The towns in the Kiso Valley are about 1.5-2 hrs northeast of Nagoya. You can go there on your own using public transportation.

“Magome, Kiso Valley” by DavideGorla, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Travel Time: Around 1.5-2 hrs

3. Hida Takayama

Takayama is a small city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu prefecture. It gained prominence during the feudal ages for its high-quality timber and surplus of skilled carpenters. Today, it’s known for its beautifully preserved old town and for being home to one of Japan’s best festivals – the Takayama Festival.

Hida Takayama is about 2.5 hours north of Nagoya. It’s doable though a bit far for a day trip, so if you’d feel more comfortable going on an organized tour, then you can book one through Klook (option 1 | option 2). Shirakawa-go is about an hour away from Takayama so people wanting to visit both destinations from Nagoya can book a combined tour (option 1 | option 2).

Travel Time: Around 2.5 hrs

4. Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go is a village located in the remote Shogawa River Valley in Gifu prefecture. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses and their distinct slanted thatched gable roofs. The village can be covered in up to two meters of snow so the roofs are built at a steep angle to allow heavy snow to easily fall off in winter.

Shirakawa-go is beautiful at any time of the year though it’s best visited in winter when it’s covered in a thick blanket of snow. The direct Gifu Bus can get you to Shirakawa-go from Nagoya in about three hours but you can also visit on a guided tour. Klook offers tours that take you to both Shirakawa-go and Hida Takayama (option 1 | option 2).

Travel Time: Around 3 hrs


I love Japanese food. It’s my favorite cuisine in the world and a big reason why we love visiting Japan. If you enjoy Japanese food as much as we do, then check out our Japanese food guide and Japanese dessert guide for a list of the best and most interesting dishes to try in Japan.


As described, Nagoya is known for its food. There are many delicious things to try in the city but some of the most well-known Nagoya meshi dishes include miso katsu, hitsumabushi, kishimen, tenmusu, and doteni. Check out these restaurants to try some of the best examples of these dishes.

1. Yabaton

Nagoya is known for its red miso. If you could try just one dish in Nagoya, one dish to represent Nagoya meshi, then it should probably be miso katsu. It’s a regional version of tonkatsu or deep-fried breaded pork cutlet drenched in a thick rich miso sauce. I’ve always been lukewarm about tonkatsu but I’m a big fan of miso katsu. It’s so good.

You can have miso katsu anywhere in Nagoya but one of the best places to try it is Yabaton. They use Hatcho miso, the best type of red miso, and make their pork cutlets with Kurobuta pork, a breed of black pig from Kagoshima that’s often referred to as the “Kobe beef of pork”.

I went to the main branch but Yabaton has many outlets throughout Nagoya. You can check their website to find an outlet near you.

2. Maruya

If you like unagi, then you’re going to love hitsumabushi. It’s a type of barbecued eel dish that’s a specialty of Nagoya and Aichi prefecture.

Hitsumabushi is similar to unadon or unajyu but what makes it different is how it’s eaten. Served with a few condiments like wasabi, nori, grated radish, and Japanese pepper, it’s meant to be consumed in three stages – the first stage on its own with rice, the second with the condiments, and the third with some dashi poured into your bowl.

It’s a unique and interesting way of eating eel that may not be as familiar to people as unagi donburi.

Hitsumabushi is delicious but it’s also pricey. The smallest portion at the best restaurants will set you back at least JPY 3,500. If you want the best, then Atsuta Horaiken is a popular choice.

For a more affordable but still excellent option, then head over to Maruya. At the time of my visit, their smallest portion started at just JPY 2,500. Their main branch is conveniently located inside Nagoya Station.

3. Nadai Kishimen Sumiyoshi

Kishimen is a type of broad and flat udon noodle that’s a specialty of Nagoya. It can be served hot or cold and seasoned with salt, soy sauce, miso, or curry. The most traditional version of kishimen appears to be served in hot broth and topped with steamed fish cakes, deep-fried tofu, green onion, spinach, and bonito flakes.

Kishimen is a common Nagoya comfort food that can be enjoyed anywhere in the city. I tried it at Nadai Kishimen Sumiyoshi while waiting for my train. It’s located on the platform between tracks 10 and 11 at JR Nagoya Station.

4. Tenmusu Senju

Tenmusu is a type of bite-sized snack made with a rice ball and a chunk of ebi tempura wrapped in nori. It was invented in Mie prefecture but is now considered a Nagoya dish.

You can enjoy tenmusu on its own or as part of a bento box. I got this takeaway pack of six from Ganso Tenmusu Senju, the restaurant credited for inventing the dish.

The original branch of Ganso Tenmusu Senju is located in Tsu City in Mie, but they’ve since opened a few branches in Nagoya as well. Pictured below is their main Nagoya branch in Osu.

5. ちょいのみ酒場 せんて 名駅西口本店

I read there were many good izakayas around Nagoya Station so I randomly walked into this one. It was a good choice because aside from the usual kushiyaki/yakitori skewers, they also had the two dishes I was looking for – doteni and tebasaki karaage.

Doteni refers to a dish made with beef tendon, innards, and daikon radish simmered in Hatcho miso sauce, while tebasaki karaage refers to Japanese deep-fried chicken wings. Both are staple izakaya dishes and something you need to try in Nagoya.

I don’t know its English name but ちょいのみ酒場 せんて 名駅西口本店 is located across the street from Nagoya Station. If you can’t find it, then there are plenty of other izakayas to choose from just outside the station.


To help you understand where everything is, I’ve pinned most of the places recommended in this Nagoya travel guide on a map. Click on the link for a live version of the map.


Like any big city in Japan, getting around Nagoya by public transportation is easy. It’s serviced by multiple railway companies and six subway lines, along with a network of bus lines. If you navigate with Google Maps (iOS / Android), then you should have little problem getting around.

Depending on how long you’ll be staying in Nagoya and Japan, then it may be a good idea to get a transport pass, especially if you plan on using public transportation a lot. The many different options for tourist passes in Japan can often be confusing so I’ve listed down the most useful Nagoya transport passes below.

1-Day Subway Pass

The 1-day subway pass will give you unlimited rides on Nagoya’s metro system for JPY 760. If you plan on using the subway a lot on one calendar day and don’t intend to use the bus, then this is the right pass to get. You can purchase these from metro station vending machines and ticket windows.

1-Day Subway & Bus Pass

The 1-day subway and bus pass costs JPY 870 and will give you unlimited access to Nagoya’s metro and bus lines, including the Meguru Loop Bus. If you plan on doing most of your sightseeing in one day, then this is a good pass to consider. You can purchase these at any metro station or on the bus.

Meguru Loop Bus 1-Day Pass

I didn’t use the Meguru Loop Bus but it’s another convenient way for tourists to see many of Nagoya’s major attractions. The bus starts at Nagoya Station and will take you to the following stops:

  1. Toyota Techno Museum
  2. Noritake Garden
  3. Shikemichi
  4. Nagoya Castle
  5. Tokugawaen, Tokugawa Art Museum, Hosa Library
  6. Cultural Path, Futaba Museum
  7. Nagoya City Archives South
  8. Nagoya TV Tower
  9. Hirokoji-Sakae
  10. Hirokoji-Fushimi

The Meguru Loop Bus costs JPY 210 per ride, but the 1-day pass will give you unlimited rides for just JPY 500 along with discounts to many of Nagoya’s tourist attractions. You can purchase the 1-day pass on any Meguru bus or at purchase locations throughout the city.

It’s important to note that the Meguru Loop Bus only operates from Tuesday to Sunday. It runs every 20-30 minutes on weekends and every 30-60 minutes on weekdays.

Manaca / Toica IC Cards

Manaca and Toica IC Cards are stored value cards similar to Osaka’s ICOCA and Tokyo’s Suica and Pasmo IC Cards. They can be used on trains, buses, ferries, and trams not just in Nagoya, but in many cities throughout Japan. On a previous trip, I purchased a Suica IC Card in Tokyo and used it in other cities like Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. The Manaca and Toica IC Cards will allow you to do the same.

IC Cards won’t give you a discount on fares but they’ll save you from the trouble of having to buy single journey tickets every time. Personally, I do a lot of walking and can rarely justify getting a 1-day pass so IC Cards are my preferred transport cards in Japan.

When your balance runs low, you can top them up at machines found in every metro station. You can even use them to pay for items at convenience stores. They’re super convenient and a good card to have if you plan on visiting mulitple cities in Japan. Click on the link for more information on Japan’s IC Cards.


If you’re visiting Nagoya just to see its top tourist attractions, then two full days is enough. But if you have a keen interest in food and/or cars and want to visit all three Toyota museums, then aim for at least three days. Here’s a sample 2D/2N Nagoya itinerary to help you plan your trip.

• Toyota Techno Museum
• Nagoya Castle
• Nagoya TV Tower
• Oasis 21
• Osu Kannon
• Osu Shopping Arcade
• SCMAGLEV and Railway Park
• Shirotori Garden
• Atsuta Shrine
• Nagoya City Science Museum


1. Plan your Trip with Sygic Travel

If you’re obsessive like me and enjoy planning out every minute of your itinerary, then you’re going to enjoy Sygic Travel. It’s a free trip planning app that allows me to pin all points of interest on a map so I can create as efficient an itinerary as possible. You can download it for free on iOS and Android.

2. Stay Connected

Having uninterrupted access to the internet is so important these days, especially when you’re in a foreign country with a language barrier like Japan. You’ll need it to do research, translate signs, and navigate its efficient but often very confusing rail system.

You can stay connected in Japan by renting a pocket wifi device or buying a sim card. We prefer pocket wifi devices because we find them easier to use, but either is fine. You can arrange for them through Klook (pocket wifi | sim card) or Get Your Guide.

3. Bookmark Hyperdia or Get the App on your Mobile Device

Hyperdia (and Google Maps) will be your new best friend in Japan. You’ll need it to make sense of Japan’s highly efficient but often confounding railway system. Not only will it give you precise train arrival and departure times, but it will tell you exactly how to get from one platform to the next. It makes commuting so much easier so be sure to download the app or bookmark the website on your mobile device.


4. Check for Nagoya Travel Deals

There are many online marketplaces that sell travel deals to different destinations around the world. For Japan, one of my favorites is Get Your Guide. Before becoming a partner, I was a customer for many years and can vouch for them 100%.

Even if I don’t buy anything before a trip, it’s always fun going through their sites just to see what’s available. I often learn about attractions and activities that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Click on the link for a list of Nagoya travel deals on Get Your Guide.

5. Get Travel Insurance

The decision to get travel insurance is something we deliberate on before every trip. If all we’ll be doing is spending a couple of days eating and shopping in a city like Singapore, then we may not feel the need for it. But if we plan on doing anything physical that could get us injured, then we’ll definitely pick up a policy.

When we do feel the need for insurance, we always get it from SafetyWing or Heymondo. They’re both popular travel insurance companies used by many long-term travelers. Follow the links to get a free quote from SafetyWing or Heymondo. Get 5% off on Heymondo when using our link.

7. Bring the Right Power Adapter

Japan has Type A or Type B electrical outlets so be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 100V and the standard frequency is 50/60Hz.

8. Learn Basic Japanese Etiquette

Japan is unique. It’s a country with many unwritten rules so it’s easy to commit a cultural faux pas without even realizing it. You wouldn’t want to offend anyone so I suggest checking out this overview on Japanese etiquette for tourists before your trip.

Have Fun!

I’m not an expert on Nagoya but I do hope you find this guide useful. I’m only sharing some of the things I’ve learned from my trips. If you have any questions or suggestions, then please let us know in the comment section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well.

Thanks for stopping by and have an amazing time in Nagoya!


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

Canon G7X Mark III
Laptop Carry-on
Hidden Pocket Pants


This Nagoya travel guide contains affiliate links, through which we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking or purchase at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and can personally vouch for. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel guides. Arigato gozaimasu!

How to Make Neapolitan-Style Pizza with the Ooni Karu Oven

I’ll go right out and say it – we LOVE our Ooni pizza oven.

We got the Ooni Karu and it’s been our favorite toy since we used it to make our first Neapolitan-style pizza. I use the word “toy” because it’s so much fun and easy to use that it almost feels like you’re playing when you’re churning out these restaurant-quality pizzas.

Like many people, pizza is one of our favorite comfort foods. We travel for food but I’m almost embarrassed to admit that we’ve never been to Italy. It’s a trip we need to make to try authentic versions of our favorite Italian dishes, at the very top of which is Neapolitan pizza.

Learning to make pizza in Naples is high on our list of priorities and a big reason why we decided to get an Ooni pizza oven. It’s the closest and most affordable way for us to make Neapolitan-style pizzas at home.

If you’ve been on the fence about getting one, then perhaps this article on how to use an Ooni Karu pizza oven will convince you to go for it.

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this guide on Ooni pizza ovens? Click on the save button and pin it for later!


I’ll cover a few topics about Ooni pizza ovens in this article so you’re welcome to jump to any section using the links below.

  1. What are Ooni pizza ovens?
  2. Ooni Fyra vs Ooni Koda vs Ooni Karu vs Ooni Pro
  3. Where to buy an Ooni pizza oven
  4. How to use an Ooni Karu pizza oven
  5. Recommended Ooni pizza oven accessories
  6. Ooni pizza oven tips
  7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Ooni is an outdoor pizza oven company based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The company was originally called Uuni and was started by a husband and wife team who wanted to create restaurant-quality pizzas at home.

Many domestic ovens can’t reach the temperatures needed to achieve that restaurant-quality pizza taste. Wood-fired ovens at the time were bulky and expensive so they developed a portable and affordable wood-fired oven suited for high-temperature baking.

The original Uuni pizza oven was launched on Kickstarter in 2012 and was an instant success. The first model weighed about 5 kg (11 lbs) and could reach temperatures of up to up to 500°C (932°F) in 15-20 mins. This allowed users to cook 12-inch Neapolitan-style pizzas in 60 seconds and give them that restaurant-quality wood-fired taste.

Ooni has since produced several pizza oven models, a few of which have won multiple awards. The company officially changed their name from Uuni to Ooni in 2018 to make it easier for international consumers to pronounce the name correctly. Uuni means “oven” in Finnish and is pronounced the same as Ooni – oo-nee.

Ooni pizza ovens allow you to create restaurant-quality Neapolitan-style pizzas like these in just 60 seconds!


There’s an Ooni pizza oven for everyone. As of this writing, there are five Ooni ovens available on the market – Ooni Fyra 12, Ooni Koda 12, Ooni Koda 16, Ooni Karu 12, and Ooni Pro 16. Each has its pros and cons which I’ll describe in some detail below.


The Ooni Fyra is a hardwood-pellet-fueled pizza oven that can make up to 12-inch pizzas. It weighs in at 10 kg (22 lbs) and can reach 500°C (932°F) in just 15 mins.

• Most affordable Ooni oven
• Highly portable
• Fueled by wood pellets that burn faster and more easily
• No need to chop wood

• No gas option
• Wood pellets may not be as readily available in some countries
• Wood pellets may be more expensive in the long-term


The Ooni Koda is a gas-powered pizza oven that comes in two versions – the original for 12-inch pizzas and a newer version for 16-inch pizzas.

The Ooni Koda 12 weighs in at just 9.25kg (20.4 lbs) and can reach 500°C (932°F) in 15 mins. The Ooni Koda 16 is considerably bulkier at 18.2 kg (40.1 lbs) and takes about 20 mins to reach the maximum temperature of 500°C (932°F).

• Gas-powered so it’s easier to reach and maintain the desired temperature
• Gas may be cheaper in the long-run than wood
• The larger version allows you to cook more dishes

• Runs on gas so it may not be as portable
• No wood-fired flavor


The Ooni Karu is a multi-fuel pizza oven that can run on wood, charcoal, and gas. It comes in two versions – the original for 12-inch pizzas and the latest model for 16-inch pizzas. The smaller version weighs in at 12 kg (26.4 lbs) while the bigger model is substantially heavier at 28.4 kg (62.6 lbs).

Whether by wood, charcoal, or gas, both models can reach the maximum temperature of 500°C (932°F) in just 15-20 mins. In our experience, it takes a little longer to reach the optimal temperature when cooking by gas.

Other than the size (and price), the only real difference between the two is that the Ooni Karu 16 comes with a hinged glass door that allows you to see your pizza as it cooks without having to open the door.

• Best value for money
• Multi-fuel versatility
• Highly portable

• Gas burner accessory not included in base unit
• Need to chop wood

• Hinged glass door

• Most expensive Ooni oven
• Gas burner accessory not included in base unit
• Bulky and not as portable


The Ooni Pro is a multi-fuel pizza oven that’s basically a larger version of the Ooni Karu. It can make up to 16-inch pizzas and weighs in at a much heftier 22 kg (48.5 lbs).

• Multi-fuel versatility
• Larger size allows you to cook more dishes

• Most expensive Ooni oven
• Gas burner accessory not included in base unit
• Bulky and not as portable
• Need to chop wood


Once you’ve chosen the Ooni pizza oven that’s right for you, you can purchase it online through or Amazon. Click on the links below for more information and to purchase your Ooni oven. (Please note that these are affiliate links)

OONI FYRA 12: Amazon

OONI KODA 12: Amazon

OONI KODA 16: Amazon

OONI KARU 12: Amazon

OONI PRO 16: Amazon


If you just purchased an Ooni Karu, then you can follow these step-by-step instructions to learn how to properly use your new pizza oven using firewood.

We’ve been making Neapolitan-style pizzas twice a week with our Ooni Karu. The oven is pretty easy to use and we’re comfortable with the process now, but we’ve made a few mistakes along the way which I’ll share with you in this section.

Setting Up the Wood/Charcoal Tray

This may seem self-explanatory to some but I had to watch the Ooni demo to figure out how to properly set up the wood/charcoal tray. Please refer to the picture below.

The side of the tray with the handle should be facing the front/opening of the Ooni Karu pizza oven. The part with the ventilation slits and Ooni logo comes off and doesn’t fit in perfectly inside the tray. It fits in at an angle so it can be a bit confusing how to properly set it up inside the tray.

The Ooni logo should be right side up and facing the front/opening of the oven. Once you have this properly set up, then you can insert the tray into your Ooni Karu and push it all the way to the back.

Getting the Fire Started

The Ooni demo shows you how to get your fire going using wood shavings as a firestarter. You can purchase some on Amazon. They advise against using lighter fluid or any type of spirit to light the fire, presumably because it can add an undesirable taste to your pizza. I would agree.

We have a butane torch which makes the process much easier and eliminates the need for a firestarter. I highly recommend getting one. It’s also important to get the right type of firewood and cut them to the ideal size. You can jump to the Ooni pizza oven tips section of this guide for more details.

Layer about 5-6 pieces of firewood into the hatch. It’s important not to put too much firewood at the beginning because you’ll need to keep adding more to reach the desired temperature of about 500°C (932°F). Never put too much wood that you can’t completely close the hatch.

I never have even-sized pieces of firewood so I like to start with the bigger pieces at the bottom and layering smaller pieces on top of that.

If you have a butane torch*, then you can use it to get your fire going. If you aren’t using a firestarter, then getting the wood to burn constantly isn’t as easy at the beginning so I typically blowtorch the wood continuously for about 30 seconds to a minute. Once I have a small fire going, then I switch off my torch and shut the hatch.

It takes about 15 minutes to reach the desired temperature with the Ooni Karu so I set my timer as soon as I first shut the hatch. The time it takes to reach the optimal temperature can vary depending on how quickly you can get the fire raging. Sometimes it takes less than 15 minutes, other times it can take longer.

*Please be extra careful when using a blowtorch. It can be easy to forget just how hot it can burn so always be mindful of the flame when using one. Always point it away from anyone and anything!

Just because you’ve gotten a small flame going doesn’t mean your work is done. You have to keep feeding the hatch with more wood to get the fire raging. During those 15 minutes, I’m constantly checking the hatch and feeding it with more wood to reach the optimal intensity.

You’ll know when the fire is just right when the flames practically shoot out from the back when you open the hatch. That’s the intensity you need to reach the desired temperature of 500°C (932°F). Attempting to cook your pizza at less than that may lead to an undercooked bottom so it’s very important for you to achieve this temperature.

Checking the Temperature

Using your infrared thermometer, open the front of your Ooni pizza oven and point to the middle of the pizza stone to get a temperature reading. You may need to do this several times before hitting that optimal temperature, but be sure to replace the front door right away. Opening the front door releases heat so try to do this as few times as possible.

Cooking the Pizzas

I let Ren know as soon as the temperature hits 400-430°C (752-806°F) so she can start assembling the first pizza. This takes her just a few minutes so by the time she’s done putting it together, I’m confident that the temperature inside the oven is at or close to 500°C (932°F).

At that temperature, it’ll take just 60 seconds to cook your pizza so it’s important to slide the uncooked pizza into your Ooni oven as swiftly and as smoothly as possible. To do that, make sure that your pizza peel is dusted well with flour, preferably with something with a coarser texture like semolina flour or corn meal. Just be careful when using corn meal because it tends to burn when it lands on the pizza stone.

While Ren is cooking the pizza, I make sure that the fire is continuously raging in the back. When cooking with wood in our Ooni Karu, we’ve learned that the temperature can go down as quickly as it goes up so it’s important to keep the fire burning as intensely as possible.

We learned this through trial and error but this is the cooking method that works for us:

  1. Slide in the pizza and immediately close the door.
  2. After exactly 20 seconds, open the door and rotate the pizza 180°.  We highly recommend using a turning peel for this.  Keep the front open.
  3. After exactly 10 seconds, rotate the pizza again.
  4. Watch the pizza carefully.  After another 10 seconds, rotate the pizza again to make sure any undercooked edges are cooked more evenly.
  5. Rotate the pizza again after 10 more seconds, and then one final time after another 10 seconds.  The pizza should be in the Ooni oven for no more than a total of 60 seconds.
  6. Remove the pizza and close the front door.  Chances are, the temperature has gone down a bit.  If you’re cooking more than one pizza, then you’ll need to get it back up again to the optimal temperature before cooking the next one.

On our first ever attempt, we didn’t rotate the pizza and kept the door closed for the full 60 seconds. This led to one side of the pizza crust being completely charred and black.

A few people reported the same problem online so others suggested shielding the top of your pizza with the pizza peel while the bottom cooks. We tried this and while it does work, we found that rotating the pizza a few times works even better.

You may not have to rotate it as often as we do but it’s important to rotate the pizza at least once during the cooking process. You can experiment with this until you find a cooking method that works for you.

We use our Ooni Karu twice a week and make two pizzas every time. If you need to make more than two, then I think cooking with gas would be better. It’s easier to keep the temperature stable, unlike with wood or charcoal where the temperature is more prone to fluctuations.

Check out that beautiful puffy crust! I won’t get into it here but Ren does a long cold fermentation to prepare our pizza dough. This is something she had to experiment with to develop a recipe that works for us.

These are the tools we use ourselves to make pizza-making with our Ooni oven as fun and as easy as possible. Methods vary from person to person so it’s important to come up with a process and set of tools that work for you.

1. Dough Scraper

This is self-explanatory. You’ll need a dough scraper to cut and work with sticky dough. We use a simple plastic dough scraper but you can get fancier stainless steel ones on Amazon.

2. Pizza Peel

You only have 60 seconds to cook the perfect Neapolitan-style pizza with your Ooni oven so you’ll need a good pizza peel to do the job right. We went with Ooni’s 12-inch perforated pizza peel but you have plenty to choose from on Amazon. Just be sure to pick the correct-sized peel for your Ooni pizza oven.

3. Turning Peel

When we first started making pizzas with out Ooni pizza oven, we would turn the pizza using kitchen tongs and a metal spatula. They did the job but the tongs would flatten our beautiful puffy crust and the spatula didn’t have the right build to turn our pizzas easily and efficiently. Again, you only have 60 seconds to cook your pizza so you need a tool that does the job well.

This turning peel was a game changer for us. It enables us to rotate our pizzas so much more easily and with confidence. We purchased a generic turning peel online but you can get one on Amazon.

4. Ooni Gas Burner

This is a no-brainer. If you chose the Ooni Karu, then it’s probably because you wanted an Ooni pizza oven that would allow you to cook with wood, charcoal, and gas. The Ooni gas burner for the Ooni Karu 12 is an optional accessory that you can pick up on Amazon.

5. Infrared Thermometer

You’ll need an accurate infrared thermometer to check the temperature of your pizza stone. They make these for people and for industrial use. Obviously, you need one that isn’t for humans. You can get one on Amazon.

6. Butane Torch

This is a huge timesaver for us. It helps me get the fire blazing much faster and it eliminates the need for a natural firestarter. You can choose from one of many highly-rated kitchen torches on Amazon. Just be careful when you use it to prevent any accidents.

7. Pizza Cutter

You’ll need a good pizza cutter to deftly slice through your Neapolitan-style pizza in one motion. You can pick one up on Amazon.

8. Pizza Stone Brush

The only part of your Ooni oven that you’ll need to clean is the pizza stone. Sauce and ingredients may fall onto the stone while cooking so you’ll need a non-abrasive oven brush to scrape away the charred bits. You can pick one up on Amazon.


1. Use Hardwood

Ooni recommends using hardwoods in your Ooni Karu or Ooni Pro. Because they’re more dense, they burn longer and produce more heat than softwoods. We get ours from a local supplier but you can purchase firewood for cooking on Amazon.

2. Cut Your Firewood to the Right Size

Standard firewood comes in 8-inch to 16-inch logs so you’ll need to cut them to the right size to fit into your Ooni Karu or Ooni Pro. I use a handheld saw but many people use an axe.

Based on my experience with the Ooni Karu, the ideal size is about 4-5 inches long and 1-inch thick, or even smaller. I find that this is the ideal size for fitting into the hatch when you need to keep the fire going. Any bigger and you may have a more difficult time fitting it in with all the burning wood that’s already in there.

I can’t cut every piece of wood to this ideal size but that’s fine. The larger and thicker pieces like the one on the right below are good for starting off your fire because they burn longer. I place them art the bottom of the tray then layer smaller pieces on top.

3. Clean Your Ooni Pizza Oven Properly

One of my favorite things about Ooni pizza ovens is that they’re easy to maintain. You don’t really have to disinfect them because they burn at such a high temperatures that they basically clean themselves. Just keep the following things in mind when maintaining your Ooni pizza oven.

  1. NEVER use water to clean any part of your Ooni oven.
  2. If you have a wood- or charcoal-burning oven, then you can just wipe down the insides with a dry cloth to keep the soot from building up.  Personally, I use two cloths – one for the interior and another for the exterior. 
  3. Don’t use any abrasive materials like steel wool that could scratch your Ooni oven.
  4. Wipe down your oven only after it’s cooled down completely.

4. Clean Your Ooni Pizza Stone Well

You don’t have to clean your Ooni pizza oven but you do have to clean your pizza stone. The reason for this is that burnt food and flour can build up on the surface of the stone and impart an undesirable flavor to your pizza the next time you use the oven.

Ooni recommends using a non-abrasive pizza oven brush that you can purchase on Amazon. It’s made with bamboo bristles and has a built-in scraper that you can also use to remove any fallen food inside the oven.

5. Wear Gloves if Necessary

I made the mistake of turning the chimney damper while our Ooni pizza oven was in use and burnt my fingers. Ouch!

I bought gloves shortly after but I haven’t used them much because I find them too cumbersome. Instead, I just remind myself that the steel parts of the oven get super hot when in use to keep myself from touching it. I haven’t burned myself since!

But if you do feel the need for pizza oven gloves, then you can pick up a pair from Amazon.


Does cooking pizza with wood or gas make any difference?

Not really. We’ve cooked pizzas with wood, charcoal, and gas and the difference is minimal at best. It may matter for dishes that take longer to cook but for a 60-second pizza, it doesn’t really matter. In our experience, cooking with charcoal is the messiest and most labor-intensive while cooking with gas is the easiest (by far). Cooking with wood is the most fun.

Is it hard to maintain the temperature when cooking multiple pizzas?

It can be, when cooking with wood. Temperatures can fluctuate very quickly so it’s important to keep checking on the fire and feed it when necessary. If you plan on cooking multiple pizzas – ie five or more – then I suggest cooking with gas. It’s much easier.

Are you happy with your Ooni Karu 12?

Yes, 100%. Even with the release of the Ooni Karu 16, I still would have gone with the Ooni Karu 12. I like its portability and multi-fuel capability. Even though pizzas don’t taste much different when cooked with wood or gas, I like having that option for other dishes.


I can’t express enough just how much we love our Ooni pizza oven. Before we chose the Ooni Karu, we considered getting the Ooni Pro because the larger size would have given us the freedom to cook other dishes as well. But after using the Ooni Karu and learning how much heavier the Ooni Pro is, then I couldn’t be happier with our decision.

I truly believe that the Ooni Karu is the best Ooni pizza oven. It offers an ideal balance of versatility, portability, and price. The size of the Ooni Pro would have been nice but not at the expense of portability, which is one of the reasons why this beautiful outdoor pizza oven was developed in the first place.

If you’ve been on the fence about getting an Ooni pizza oven, then I highly recommend just going for it. It’s a great oven that will help you create truly restaurant-quality Neapolitan-style pizzas.

If you have any questions or suggestions, then please let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and have an awesome time making pizzas with your Ooni oven!


This guide contains affiliate links which will earn us a small commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free user guides. Thank you!

Food in Iceland: 10 Traditional Dishes and Drinks to Look Out For

EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater Valur Sævarsson from Reykjavik shares with us a list of ten must-try foods in Iceland.

According to many statistics, Iceland is one of the world’s happiest and safest places on the planet. It’s a remote island with a small population, which resulted in the locals being very peaceful and family-oriented, and there’s a strong bond and trust within the community.

More than a third of the population lives around the country’s capital, Reykjavik, which has over 200 restaurants in the center, serving traditional and modern Icelandic food. A very popular and beloved way to experience authentic Reykjavik food is the walking tours the city offers for tourists to experience the best Icelandic food.

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this Icelandic food guide now? Click on the save button and pin it for later!

Photo by from my point of view via Shutterstock


Traditional Icelandic food is made of all sorts of seafood and grass-fed lamb. Due to Iceland being a remote island south of the Arctic circle, surrounded by the cold Atlantic ocean, with a mostly barren land, there weren’t many foods in Iceland available for the locals to eat, for long centuries.

The hard-built Icelanders (Íslendingar) had to endure the long and cold months eating lamb that they were breeding (since the first settlers brought them over with themselves) and catching seafood.

Luckily, the cold and clean Atlantic Ocean is home to one of the healthiest types of sea life. So while the traditional Icelandic cuisine could be called simple to some extent, it’s one of the healthiest on the globe. The signature alcohol they consume is strong and spirituous, symbolising the relentless people of this land.


1. Hangikjöt (Smoked Lamb)

Icelandic smoked lamb is the preferred Christmas dinner for the Icelanders. It’s everything that a holiday Icelandic dish needs to be: very tender, healthy and delicious.

As lunch or dinner it’s consumed as a warm dish, traditionally served with cooked potatoes, white bechamel sauce, peas, and pickled red cabbage. As a cold snack, it’s similar to ham, that you can put on a slice of bread as topping.

“Smoked Lamb” by Person-with-No Name, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

2. Kjötsúpa (Lamb Soup)

Kjötsùpa is considered by many to be the most national Icelandic food that you can name. It’s originally translated to meat soup, because for long centuries lamb was equivalent to meat. There weren’t any other types of meat to consume or very little.

Kjötsùpa is made from the organic, free-roaming, grass-fed lamb, and the collection of some hearty vegetables that the locals were able to grow on these harsh lands (such as potato, carrots, onion).

It’s still a very popular food in Iceland, served in restaurants or made in households. Perfect for cold winter days to give you an energy boost.

Photo by vvoe via Shutterstock

3. Pylsur (Lamb Hot Dog)

Icelandic lamb hot dog is beloved by locals and tourists alike. Reykjavik’s notorious Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand (which translates to “best hot dogs in town”) has been proudly serving them since 1936, near the harbor.

The signature Icelandic hot dog is made out of fresh Icelandic lamb, served on a warm bun, with raw white onions, crispy fried onions, topped with ketchup, remoulade (mayo, capers, mustard, herbs), and pylsusinnep (brown mustard).

“Hot dogs!” by Caitlin, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

4. Atlantic Cod

Perhaps after salmon, cod is easily the most popular and common type of saltwater fish in the world. We’re certain you’ve already tried cod, because it’s sold in supermarkets everywhere around the globe, but the one being caught or farmed in the Atlantic Ocean is the healthiest there is.

Thanks to the rich marine life of the Atlantic Ocean, Icelandic cod is able to consume a lot of healthy seafood and can grow quite large. This results in them not having many natural predators left so they’re able to multiply fast and naturally.

Icelandic restaurants all have fresh cod on their menus, and many of them also offer “catch of the day”, which can happen to be cod. Matur og drykkur, a Reykjavik restaurant that prides itself in being the protector of traditional Icelandic cuisine, also serves codhead, a centuries old dish.

This actually doesn’t look as scary as it sounds. The codhead is being roasted in a barbecue for 40 minutes, and has a lot of tender, rich meat on it to consume.

“Hardfiskur, Iceland” by DavideGorla, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

5. Langoustine soup

The Icelandic Langoustine (meaning small lobster) soup is one of the most sought-after dishes of Sægreifinn restaurant in Reykjavik. Icelandic lobster is caught in the wild (and never farmed) in the South Coast waters of Iceland.

The lobster has a very tender meat, rich in flavor, the lobster soup is creamy and salty, a real delicacy for any time of the year. It’s consumed with either toast or baguette slices.

6. Plokkfiskur (Fish Stew)

Plokkfiskur is the national stew of Iceland. A simple but tasty mix of cooked and mashed Atlantic cod, flour, milk, potatoes and onions, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Centuries ago, the idea was to use and mix up all the leftovers from other Icelandic foods, hence the Plokkfiskur came to be. This practice and some others (for example eating codhead) are perfect characteristics of the old Icelandic mentality: food in Iceland was scarce and hard to come by, so they cherished it and never wasted a bite of it.

Plokkfiskur is a really good combination with homemade rye bread, a special Icelandic type of bread.

“Plokkfiskur” by Sheep”R”Us, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

7. Arctic Char

Arctic char is found in Icelandic fresh waters (Iceland has many crystal clear rivers, lakes and streams). It’s the most common freshwater fish on the island and the country is the largest Arctic char producer in the world.

It’s caught and also farmed, but no artificial products or medicaments are used on them. You might not be that familiar with this type of fish, but it is part of the Salmonidae family, which means it’s closely related to salmon. It has a light, sweet and buttery taste, similar to salmon and also trout (somewhere in the middle between them).

Arctic char has a large variety of ways that it can be consumed. It can be cooked, smoked, grilled, broiled, barbecued, it can be consumed with mushrooms, vegetables, fries, you can get really creative with how you prepare it to fit your own taste.

“Arctic char” by Aitor Garcia, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

8. Brennivín

Now let’s talk about some locally made or consumed Icelandic alcoholic beverages. We must start the list with Brennívín of course, also nicknamed Black Death, because you know, what else should a Viking drink be called?

Brennivín is a strong schnapps made of fermented grain, containing absolutely no added sugar, originating from Scandinavia, and it’s an important part of Icelandic culture since the 16th century.

It is often consumed after main dishes (famously after the fermented shark dish called Hàkarl). It goes well with seafood plates.

“Brennivin from Iceland” by Dennis Yang, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

9. Flòki Whiskey

The Icelandic Floki whiskey is named after the first settler who stepped on Icelandic soil, a Norseman called Hrafna-Flòki. It is strictly made only from ingredients found in Iceland (freshwater, herbs, barley).

Its taste palate is vanilla, white coffee, fresh bread, pepper, and bubblegum, with a spicy finishing taste.

10. Opal & Tòpas

The Icelanders’ favorite liquors taste like menthol and eucalyptus, and are consumed since childhood (OK let us explain).

The company who makes these spirits also produces non-alcoholic chewable candies, with the same flavors, so Icelandic children are already familiar with the flavors of this drink from a young age, before being old enough to start consuming the actual alcohol.

By the time they are allowed to drink Opal and Tòpas, the taste of these beverages are associated with their good old memories, and favorite candies. We can’t decide if that’s genius or mad, but it surely does seem to work in Iceland.


by JB & Renée

We haven’t been to Iceland but it’s on our list. When people talk about it, they’re at a loss for words when trying to describe its unearthly beauty. It’s known to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Many tourists who travel to Iceland are lured by its natural beauty but it’s nice to know that the traditional foods in Iceland are a draw in itself. Thanks to Valur, we now know that Icelandic food is something to look forward to as well.

If you’re planning a trip to Reykjavik and enjoy trying new food, then I hope this Icelandic food guide leads you to some memorable meals.

Thank you Valur for sharing this insightful article on Icelandic food!


Some of the links in this Icelandic food guide are affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if we make a sale at no added expense 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!

Greek Food Guide: 25 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Greece

It was my first time in Greece but Greek food wasn’t unfamiliar to me. It’s a popular and influential cuisine that can be enjoyed in many countries outside of Greece.

Globalization has brought far-flung dishes to our dinner table so I was already familiar with popular Greek dishes like gyros, saganaki, dolmadakia, and moussaka. But like any serious food lover, I wanted to experience each and every one of those dishes in Greece.

In my opinion, until you’ve tried a dish where it’s actually from, then you can’t say you’ve truly had it. It’s like saying you’ve experienced the beauty of a Santorini sunset from looking at a postcard.

As expected, my love for Greek food grew exponentially after visiting Athens and Santorini. I’ve had a lot of amazing authentic Greek food in my life but every Greek dish I knew tasted even better in Greece.

If you want to taste the absolute best Greek food, then be sure to look for these 25 traditional Greek dishes on your next trip to Greece.


If you’re visiting Greece and want to learn more about 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 Greece
  • Cooking Classes: Cooking Classes in Greece

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this article on the best food in Greece? Click on the save button and pin it for later!


Like many of the Mediterranean cuisines, the food in Greece was shaped by the “Mediterranean Triad” of olives, grains, and grapes. These staple crops formed the foundation of traditional Greek food.

Olives and wine are central to the cuisine while wheat is the basic grain. Many Greek recipes call for the use of olive oil and feature vegetables like tomatoes, aubergine, and okra. Common herbs and spices used to flavor Greek dishes include fresh mint, oregano, thyme, and fennel.

The country’s climate and terrain favor the breeding of goats and sheep over cattle while fish and other seafood dishes figure prominently in the Greek coastal diet.

A great variety of cheese can also be found in Greek cuisine, some of the most popular being feta, kasseri, and kefalotyri.


To help organize this list, I’ve broken the 25 dishes down by category. Click on the links to jump to any section.

  1. Appetizers
  2. Soups / Salads
  3. Dips / Sides
  4. Meats / Seafood
  5. Desserts
  6. Greek Food Tours
  7. Greek Cooking Classes


1. Dolmadakia

Dolmadakia (or dolmades) is the Greek word for a family of stuffed dishes popular in the Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

Grape or cabbage leaves are stuffed with a variety of ingredients like onion, parsley, mint, dill, and rice. Minced meat is also used though the meatless versions are more common. Depending on the filling, they can be served hot or cold with or without a dip or sauce.

Dolmadakia are shaped like short cigars and boiled until the leaves are very tender. Like many traditional Greek dishes, they’re drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.

2. Saganaki

Strictly speaking, a saganaki is a small Greek frying pan. But it also refers to a number of Greek foods that are prepared using this pan, the most well-known being an appetizer of fried cheese.

Saganaki can be made with a variety of cheeses like halloumi, graviera, and kefalograviera. To prepare, the cheese is melted in the pan until bubbling and served with a spritz of lemon juice, pepper, and some bread.

Saganaki is one of my favorite Greek foods but I’ve only had it with cheese. Other saganaki dishes include shrimp saganaki and mussels saganaki.

Outside of Greece, particularly in North America, Greek restaurants will often serve saganaki flambeed. The servers will shout “Opa!” before dousing the flames with lemon and serving you the dish. They didn’t do that in Greece.

3. Tirokroketes

Like saganaki, cheese lovers will find their taste buds dancing with this next dish. Tirokroketes are Greek cheese balls made with a combination of various cheeses like feta cheese, graviera, and gouda. They’re coated in bread crumbs and deep-fried before being served with tzatziki or tomato sauce.

Photo by ld1976

4. Ntomatokeftedes

Ntomatokeftedes is one of the dishes you need to try when you visit Santorini. It refers to these crunchy and juicy tomato fritters made with Santorini’s famed cherry tomatoes.

Keftethes (or keftedes) in Greek means meatball. It’s a staple in Greek cuisine but people who couldn’t afford to make it with meat used whatever ingredients they could find. Throughout the country you’ll find fritters made with different types of legumes, vegetables, herbs, and seafood.

In Santorini, a local type of cherry tomato (ntomataki) is produced which led to the invention of ntomatokeftedes. Like the island’s vineyards, ntomataki isn’t irrigated. It receives all its moisture from evening mist which results in a sweeter and less watery type of tomato.

Ntomatokeftedes is made with a thick, deep-fried batter of Santorini tomatoes, onion, pepper, mint, and oregano. It’s considered a staple dish in Santorini cuisine.

5. Spanakopita

Spanakopita refers to a type of Greek spinach pie made with feta cheese and spinach. Meaning “spinach pie” in Greek, it’s a type of borek pastry that’s also common in Turkish cuisine.

Spanakopita is typically made with spinach, feta cheese, onion, herbs, and egg. Feta is the preferred type of cheese though other types of white salted cheese like kefalotiri may also be used.

To prepare, the filling is wrapped in phyllo pastry with butter or olive oil. It’s typically rolled into triangles or layered in a large pan and cut into individual servings.

“Spanakopita” by Rebecca Siegel, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom


6. Greek Salad

Most Greek foods are simple dishes that highlight the freshness of their ingredients. No Greek dish exemplifies this better than the classic Greek or horiatiki salad.

Greek salad is made with fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, capers, and kalamata olives. It’s topped with a block of feta cheese and dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano.

In Santorini, they make it with the island’s famed cherry tomatoes and capers. We had this Greek salad at the lovely Tavern Tzanakis restaurant in Megalochori. It’s a family-owned restaurant that serves delicious home-cooked Greek food.

7. Fassolatha

Fassolatha (or fasolada) is a classic Greek bean soup made with dry white beans, vegetables, and olive oil. This traditional Greek dish has existed since ancient times and is widely considered to be a national dish of Greece.

Recipes vary but fassolatha is typically made by simmering white beans with tomatoes and other vegetables like onions, carrots, parsley, and celery. It’s a simple but comforting wintertime dish that’s often enjoyed with olives, crumbled feta cheese, and some crusty bread.

Photo by NoirChocolate

8. Magiritsa

Like fassolatha, magiritsa is widely considered to be a Greek national dish. It refers to a dense and filling Greek soup made with lamb offal, greens, onions, and dill. It’s the opening meal that breaks the Greek Orthodox Fast or Lent.

Magiritsa is made with the lamb’s head and neck, along with its intestines, heart, and liver. The lamb parts are cleaned and boiled whole before being cut up into smaller pieces and simmered. It’s prepared on Holy Saturday and consumed immediately after the Easter midnight church service.

In North America, Greek immigrants refer to magiritsa as “Easter soup”. Its use of lamb as its main ingredient is symbolic of the roasted lamb served at the Paschal meal.

Photo used with permission from The Glutton Life.


9. Fava

Like ntomatokeftedes, one of the dishes that best represents Santorini cuisine is fava. It refers to a classic Greek dish made with pureed yellow split peas served with onions, herbs, capers, and olive oil.

In Greece, fava refers to yellow split peas so it shouldn’t be confused with fava bean dip that’s made with broad beans. I like to think of it as the Greek version of hummus. It’s mildly flavored and delicious to eat with crusty bread.

10. Tzatziki

Tzatziki is a popular Greek dip made with strained yogurt mixed with cucumber, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Lemon juice is sometimes used along with herbs like fresh dill, mint, and parsley.

Tzatziki exists in various forms in the cuisines of the Middle East and southeastern Europe. It can be consumed as a dip, sauce, or even a soup, but in Greece, it’s commonly served as a meze or appetizer. It’s meant to be eaten with bread and vegetables like fried eggplant or zucchini.

I’ve had this dish many times before but the tzatziki in Greece is so much better. We had this thick and creamy tzatziki as a side dish to our souvlaki at Lucky’s Souvlakis in Santorini.

11. Taramasalata

Taramasalata refers to a traditional Greek dish made from tarama, the salted and cured roe of cod, carp, or grey mullet fish. It’s eaten as a type of meze or spread with bread.

Taramasalata is traditionally prepared in a mortar and pestle. The roe is mashed into a grainy paste with olive oil, lemon juice, bread (or potatoes), and other ingredients. It can vary in color from creamy beige to pink depending on the type of roe and ingredients used.

Photo by asimojet


12. Keftethes

Kofta refers to a family of meatball dishes popular in the cuisines of many countries in the Balkans, South Caucasus, Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. In Greek cuisine, they’re known as keftethes (or keftedes).

Keftethes or Greek meatballs exist in many forms but at its most basic, it’s a ball of ground meat mixed with spices, herbs, and other ingredients. It’s typically fried and served as a meze with tzatziki or Greek yogurt.

“Κεφτέδες” by George M. Groutas, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

13. Giouvetsi

Giouvetsi or youvetsi is an oven-baked Greek pasta dish made with kritharaki (similar to orzo pasta), meat, and tomato sauce. Meats like chicken, lamb, or beef are often used though it can be made with seafood as well.

We had this terrific seafood giouvetsi with shrimp and mussels at Metaxi Mas, a small restaurant in Exo Gonia considered by many locals to be one of the best restaurants in Santorini.

14. Paidakia

Lamb is featured prominently in Greek cuisine. It’s used in many traditional dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, magiritsa, and kleftiko. We had lamb often in Greece, but one of our favorite dishes was this platter of paidakia or Greek lamb chops.

Lamb chops are marinated in olive oil, mustard, thyme, and garlic before being grilled over hot coals or on a grill pan. They’re seasoned with salt and pepper and typically served well done. From what I’ve read, most Greeks aren’t fans of medium rare.

Greek lamb chops are usually served with lemon wedges and a side of roasted potatoes. We enjoyed ours with some pita bread and tzatziki at Mikas Grill House in Paiania.

15. Moussaka

Moussaka is one of the most well-known Greek foods. It’s a Greek national dish made with layers of minced meat (typically lamb) and eggplant topped with bechamel sauce. You can think of it as a type of Greek lasagna.

The modern-day version of Greek moussaka consists of three layers that are cooked separately before being assembled and baked together. The bottom layer consists of sliced eggplant, the middle layer of ground lamb, and the top layer of bechamel sauce. The layers are assembled in a pan and then baked until the top layer is browned.

We has this terrific moussaka at the O Thanasis restaurant in Monastiraki. I found this restaurant when doing research for the best places to eat in Athens.

16. Pastitsio

If moussaka makes your taste buds do the sirtaki, then you’ll probably enjoy pastitsio as well. It refers to a Greek baked pasta dish made with ground beef and béchamel sauce.

Greek pastitsio can be made in different ways but one of the most popular versions consists of a bottom layer of bucatini (or some other tubular pasta) mixed with cheese or egg. The pasta is topped with a mixture of ground beef (or a mixture of ground beef and ground pork), tomato sauce, cloves, and cinnamon before being coated in béchamel sauce flavored with additional spices like nutmeg and allspice.

If you’ve been to Egypt, then you may recognize this dish as makarōna beshamel.

Photo by bernjuer

17. Stifado

Stifado refers to a type of slow-cooked Greek beef stew. It consists of large cuts of beef that are stewed till tender in a tomato-based sauce with kokaria onions, cognac, red wine vinegar, herbs, and spices.

Like moussaka, stifado is a much loved Greek comfort food, especially in the wintertime. This traditional dish is often paired with orzo pasta, hilopittes (Greek egg pasta), or french fries topped with crumbled feta cheese.

Photo by myviewpoint

18. Gyros

Outside of Greece, gyros is arguably the most famous dish in Greek cuisine. It’s a dish made with grilled meat shaved off a vertical rotisserie, much like shawarma or the Turkish doner kebab.

Pork and chicken are often used though gyros can be made with lamb and beef as well. It can be served in pita bread as a wrap (pictured below) or as a plated portion with fried potatoes, vegetables, tzatziki, and lemon.

The gyros wrap is one of my favorite dishes in Greek cuisine. It’s a simple but delicious Greek street food that’s easy to eat on the go.

19. Souvlaki

Like gyros, the souvlaki is a popular Greek street food and one of the most well-known dishes in Greek cuisine. In fact, it looks quite similar to gyros and can lead to confusion between the two.

Souvlaki consists of grilled pieces of meat served on a skewer. Like gyros, it’s served in plated portions with vegetables, fried potatoes, pita, and tzatziki. But it can also be served in a wrap. So what exactly is the difference between souvlaki and gyros?

I did a lot of digging to find the answer and based on what I’ve read, the main difference seems to be in how the meat is prepared and cooked. Souvlaki is made with small pieces of skewered grilled meat while gyros consists of meat shaved from a vertical spit.

There may be other differences but it doesn’t really matter. Both are delicious and two of the best dishes you can have in Greece.

20. Octopus

Due to its long coastline, seafood favors heavily in the Greek diet. Visit the Greek islands and you’ll find a plethora of seafood dishes made with fish, shrimp, mussels, lobster, and squid.

One of my favorites is octopus. You’ll find it served at virtually every Greek restaurant in Santorini. It’s usually prepared simply, just grilled and seasoned with olive oil and fresh herbs. With seafood this fresh, that’s pretty much all you need.

For a memorable seafood dinner in Santorini, try booking a table at Ammoudi Fish Tavern. It’s located in Ammoudi Bay, a tiny fishing port about 300 steps below the town of Oia. It’s a great place to have seafood while watching Santorini’s legendary sunset.


21. Baklava

Baklava is the most famous dessert on this list. It’s a rich and sweet dessert pastry made with layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and held together with syrup or honey.

The exact origins of baklava are unclear but it’s a much disputed dish that’s claimed by many cultures. It’s popular in Greece and in many other countries in the Balkans, the South Caucasus, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Egypt.

Whatever its true origin, baklava is considered a part of Greek cuisine. It’s a delicious dessert and a must-try dish in Greece.

22. Galaktoboureko

Galaktoboureko is a Greek dessert made with semolina custard baked in a phyllo pastry. Its name means “milk borek” and like spanakopita, it belongs to a family of filled pastries made with phyllo dough.

Galaktoboureko can be made in a pan with phyllo layered on top and at the bottom, or it can be rolled into individual portions. It’s coated with a clear sweet syrup and may be flavored with lemon, orange, or rose.

I loved this dessert. It’s rich and creamy with a silky, custardy texture similar to flan.

23. Kataifi

Kataifi refers to a Greek dessert made with buttery and crispy kataifi dough. It’s stuffed with chopped walnuts and scented with ground clove and cinnamon before being doused in a lemon-scented syrup.

Like baklava, kataifi is a dessert that can be found in the cuisines of many Middle Eastern, Balkan, and South Caucasus nations. In Turkey, we enjoyed a terrific cheese-based version called kunefe.

“Kataifi” by JB, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

24. Loukoumades

Loukoumades are bite-sized puffy dough balls soaked in a sweet honey syrup. They’re deep-fried so they’re crispy and golden on the outside but fluffy and airy on the inside.

Loukoumades can be served as is or sprinkled with other ingredients like cinnamon and finely chopped walnuts. You can think of them as the Greek version of doughnuts.

“Loukoumades” by Alpha, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

25. Samali

Samali is a type of semolina cake that belongs to a sweet and sticky class of Greek desserts known as siropiasta. It’s made with coarse semolina instead of flour and Greek yogurt instead of milk. It’s also made with mastic resin which is what gives the cake its unique flavor and aroma.

Like many of the desserts on this list, samali seems to exist in other cuisines within the region. In Turkey, we tried a very similar cake called sambali.


Needless to say, no one knows Greek food better than a local so what better way to experience Greek cuisine than by going on a food or wine tasting tour? A food-obsessed local will take you the the city’s best spots and explain all the dishes and wines to you in more detail.

We went on a wine tasting tour in Santorini and enjoyed every minute of it. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of food and drinking tours in different cities throughout Greece.


We haven’t done it in Greece but taking a cooking class is one of our favorite things to do when traveling. You understand a foreign cuisine so much better when you actually work with the ingredients and methods that go into making it. If you’re visiting Greece, then check out Cookly for a list of cooking classes in Athens and in other cities in Greece.


When I was writing an article on the world’s best countries for food, Greece was originally on it. It was part of our top twelve, but then I remembered Singapore.

I wanted to cap it at twelve so I had to choose between the two. In the end, I went with Singaporean food based on personal preference and what I perceived to be a greater diversity in culinary influences. Plus, I already had Turkish food on the list and both cuisines share many similarities.

But that doesn’t take anything away from Greek food. It’s still one of our favorite cuisines and something we’ll look for no matter where we are in the world. It would definitely be in Ren’s top twelve.

I find that the food you grew up with is usually the food that comforts you the most. Well, I didn’t grow up eating Greek food but I still find it to be very comforting. You just feel good when you eat it.

Do you feel the same way about Greek food? Is it one of your favorite cuisines? Let us know in the comments below!


Some of the links in this Greek food guide are affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if we make a sale at no added expense 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!

Stock images via Depositphotos.

10 Essential Things to Do in Granada, Spain

Granada is our favorite city in Spain. Of all the places we visited, it’s one of two cities that we could really see ourselves living in. Oviedo is the other.

Framed by the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains, there’s so much to love and so many things to do in Granada. The Alhambra is remarkable but what we enjoyed the most was the city’s atmosphere and its relaxed university vibe. It’s slower in pace than bigger cities like Barcelona and Madrid, which is just right for middle-aged travelers like us.

But more than anything, we loved the Spanish food. We visited over ten cities and towns in Spain and Granada was the only place that offered free tapas with every drink. That alone merits a more permanent stay.

The Alhambra Palace is the main draw but there’s so much more to love about this intriguing city in the Andalusian region of Spain. If it’s your first time visiting, then recommended in this guide are ten of the most popular things to do in Granada.


To help you plan your trip to Granada, we’ve put together links to top-rated hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.


Recommended hotels in the city center, the most convenient area to stay for first-time visitors to Granada.

  • Luxury: Alhambra Palace
  • Midrange: Palacio Cabrera – Lillo
  • Budget: Residencia Ziri


  • Alhambra: Alhambra Ticket and Guided Tour with Nasrid Palaces
  • Flamenco Show: Flamenco Show at Cuevas Los Tarantos Tickets
  • Food Tour: Tapas Tasting Guided Tour


  • Visa Services
  • Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
  • Airport Transfers
  • Car Rental


If you’re visiting Granada for the first time, then be sure to check out our detailed Granada travel guide. It’ll have all the information you need – like where to stay, whch tourist attractions to visit, where to eat, etc. – to help you plan your trip.

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this guide on the best things to do in Granada, Spain? Click on the save button and pin it for later!


1. Enjoy Free Tapas

We travel for food so it’s no surprise that Granada’s free tapas is first on our list. If you travel for food like we do, then it’s one of the most fun things to do in Granada. As far as I know, it’s just one of a handful of cities in Spain that gives you a free plate of tapas with every order of a drink.

When we were checking into our AirBnB, our host was describing to us the magic of Granada’s tapas bars. She explained that any bar that tries to charge you for tapas is a tourist trap. Turn around and walk out because local bars will never charge you for it.

I did my research beforehand so we knew where to go, but understand that most bars in Granada will give you a free plate of tapas each time you order a drink. To avoid any tourist traps, be sure to check out our food guide for some of the best tapas bars in Granada.

Theoretically, you never have to order a la carte in Granada because the tapas they give you are real Spanish dishes like boquerones, albondigas, and paella. No peanuts or pretzels here! They come in small portions but order three or four drinks and you’ve got a full meal. Pictured below is a plate of lomo or pork tenderloin good for three people.

We never stayed for more than two drinks at any bar, but you can expect a different dish with each drink. If you enjoy bar hopping, then you’re going to fall in love with Granada.

2. Explore the Alhambra

Without question, the Alhambra is the top attraction in Granada. It’s one of the hottest tickets in Europe and the main reason why people visit Granada. Built in the 8th century, it’s a remnant of the Nasrid Dynasty – the last Islamic kingdom in Western Europe – and is the only surviving palatine city of the Islamic Golden Age.

The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning around 10.5 hectares (26 acres) of land. Protected by 2 km (1.2 miles) of fortress walls, it’s a massive structure that needs several hours to fully explore.

As described, the Alhambra Palace is one of the most popular attractions in Granada so it’s highly recommended that you purchase your tickets as early as possible.

We were happy to explore the Alhambra on our own so we bought entry tickets from the official website. If you’d rather go on a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.

The Alhambra consists of three main sections – the Alzacaba (for soldiers), the Medina (for court officials), and the palatial zone. The palatial zone is where you’ll find the Nasrid Palaces. It’s the most spectacular part of the complex with nearly every square inch of space covered in elaborate carvings.

Exploring Nasrid Palaces is one of the most fascinating things to do in Granada. It’s by far the most popular section of the Alhambra so to keep it from getting clogged with tourists, each person is given a maximum stay of just 30 minutes.

When you purchase a ticket through the official website, you’ll be asked to select a specific time slot. You can’t ask for a later time slot if you miss yours so make sure you arrive on time!

The Generalife was the summer palace of the Nasrid rulers. Located about a 10-15 minute walk from Nasrid Palaces, it was built as a place of rest and relaxation for the sultans residing in the Alhambra.

It contains a few modest structures but it’s main draw are its many large gardens that are considered among the most well-preserved Moorish gardens in Spain.

Purchasing a general ticket will give you access to both the Alhambra (including Nasrid Palaces) and the Generalife.

Operating Hours: 8:30AM-6PM (Oct 15 – Mar 31) / 8:30AM-8PM (Apr 1 – Oct 14)
Admission: EUR 14

3. Shop at the Alcaiceria and Calle Elvira

Aside from drinking beer and eating free tapas, one of the most interesting things to do in Granada is to explore its network of narrow alleyways filled with interesting shops.

Colorful shawls, bags, and farolas are hung from shop fronts so it feels like you’re walking through a centuries-old bazaar, which is exactly what the Alcaiceria is.

The Alcaiceria was once home to the Great Bazaar of Granada. At its peak, it was a labyrinth of streets packed with more than 200 shops selling silk, spices, and other precious goods. It was built in the 15th century but much of the original bazaar was destroyed by fire in the 19th century.

Today, all that remains is this one street that begins at Calle Reyes Catolicos and extends to Granada Cathedral. Among the many items for sale are Arabic crafts, farolas, ethnic clothing, and other knick-knacks.

Calle Elvira is one of the most popular shopping streets in Granada. It’s similar to the Alcaiceria, though perhaps a little less formal. Aside from its many shops selling items like slippers, teapots, and hookahs, you’ll also find many restaurants and bars along the street.

Operating Hours: 10AM-2PM, 5-8PM, daily

4. Get Lost in the Albayzin

Getting lost in the Albayzin (or Albaicin) was one of my favorite things to do in Granada. It refers to a medieval Moorish district with predominantly white houses and miradores offering dramatic views of the Alhambra.

Together with Generalife Garden and the Alhambra, it’s one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Granada. At its peak, it was home to an estimated 40,000 inhabitants and thirty mosques.

The Albayzin is about 1.5 km (1 mile) from Calle Elvira and can be reached in about half an hour on foot. You’ll be going mostly uphill through narrow meandering alleyways and streets, many of which have steps.

It’s a lovely and very clean-looking neighborhood that’s far less crowded than the areas around Calle Elvira and the Alcaiceria.

I didn’t have any particular destinations in mind when I found myself in the Albayzin, which I think made the experience even more memorable. I had fun just aimlessly walking about and getting lost in its labyrinth of alleyways.

The Albayzin is a pleasant area that’s described as one of the best places to appreciate Moorish architecture in Granada. You can easily visit on your own or go on a guided tour. It’s adjacent to Sacromonte so many tours will cover both areas.

5. Enjoy the View from Mirador de San Miguel

If you continue up the hill past Albayzin, then you’ll find several miradores offering breathtaking views of the Alhambra. Mirador means “lookout” or “viewing point” in Spanish.

Of the many miradores in these hills, Mirador de San Miguel is one of the most popular and offers some of the best views, both of the Alhambra and the Albayzin. From here, you can appreciate just how grand the Alhambra really is. It’s a great spot to just sit and while away the time.

Not too far from Mirador de San Miguel (about 1 km) is Mirador de San Nicolas. Located at Plaza de San Nicolas, it’s another great lookout point that you may want to check out as well.

6. Watch a Flamenco Performance Inside a Cave

Watching a live flamenco performance inside a cave is one of the most memorable things to do in Granada. The passion these women dance with will leave you breathless (and a little lightheaded). When they stomp on the floor, you feel it in your chest.

Flamenco is a Spanish art form made up of three parts – song, dance, and guitar playing. It originated in the Andalusian region of southern Spain and is thought to have evolved from the centuries-long intermingling of cultures between the nomadic Romani people (gitanos) and the Sephardic Jews and Moors.

Romanis from Rajasthan migrated to Spain between the 9th and 14th centuries and settled in Sacromonte, where they carved their cave dwellings from the hillsides. Inside these caves is where you can experience some of the most unique and memorable flamenco performances in Spain.

Guests are served glasses of sangria to enjoy during the show. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience so I wanted to find the best venue to watch flamenco in Sacromonte. My research led me to Zambra Maria la Canastera, a venue that’s been showcasing flamenco performances for over half a century.

I put in a reservation request through their website. It costs EUR 29 per person with pickup from Granada, and there are options that include a full-course dinner as well. You can also book Sacromonte flamenco shows through Get Your Guide.

7. Visit Granada Cathedral

Walk through and out of the Alcaiceria and you’ll find yourself looking up at the magnificent Granada Cathedral. It’s the biggest church in the city and considered one of the most beautiful in Spain.

Started in 1523, it took 181 years to complete the cathedral which is considered a masterpiece of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Interestingly, it was built over the former site of the Great Mosque to symbolize the end of 600 years of Muslim dominance in Granada.

You can visit Granada Cathedral on your own, but if you’d like to go with a guide, then you can book a tour on Get Your Guide (Option 1 | Option 2 | Option 3). These tours will take you to the Royal Chapel as well which is located right next to the Cathedral.

Photo by Valery Bareta via Shutterstock

Hours of Operation: 10AM-6:30PM, Mon-Sat / 3-6PM, Sun
Admission: EUR 5 (audioguide included)

8. Eat Pionono

Around town you’ll find many shops selling these Spanish pastries called pionono. They’re originally from Santa Fe which is a small town about 12.5 km (7.8 miles) west of Granada.

As you can see from the picture below, a pionono consists of two parts – a bottom layer of rolled pastry drenched with syrup and a crown of toasted cream. Soft, sweet, and spongey, it’s typically consumed in just a few bites.

There are many pionono shops in Granada but Pasteleria Casa Ysla is said to be one of the best. We tried it at Pasteleria Lopez-Mezquita.

Photo by Jimenezar via Shutterstock

9. Soak in an Arab Bath

If you like thermal spas, then you’ll enjoy Hammam Al Andalus. It’s an Arab bath just off Calle Carrera del Darro near the Alhambra.

Interestingly, these Arab baths were a point of religious contention centuries ago. To Arabs, water was a symbol of purity and these public Arab baths, like mosques, were key components to Moorish social life. But to Christians, they symbolized decadent and hedonistic behavior so the Catholic monarchs had them banned and destroyed.

Five centuries after they were shut down in Spain, Hammam Al Andalus was the first to reopen in 1998. It’s housed in a 13th century building and features seven pools with varying temperatures. Soaking in these pools is one of the most relaxing things to do in Granada.

You probably won’t need reservations to soak in the pools but if you’d like to get a treatment, then it’s a good idea to book ahead. Get Your Guide offers vouchers for a bath session at Hammam Al Andalus with an optional massage or bundled with a ticket to the Alhambra.

Photo by javi_indy via Shutterstock

10. Take a Stroll Along Carrera del Darro to Paseo de los Tristes

After soaking at Hammam Al Andalus, you can take a leisurely stroll along Calle Carrera del Darro. It’s a lovely and romantic cobblestone street that takes you to Paseo de los Tristes, a plaza that was once the busiest gathering spot in Granada.

Located near the Alhambra, Carrera del Darro runs parallel to the Darro River. You can start from Plaza Nueva and walk along Calle Carrera del Darro all the way to Paseo de los Tristes. The area is filled with interesting shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. If you have time to kill, then this is a great place to grab a coffee (or beer) and do some people-watching.

I enjoyed Carrera del Darro but it’s a narrow street that sees a good amount of foot traffic. It’s perhaps best appreciated early in the morning.

Located along Carrera del Darro is El Bañuelo, a well-preserved Arab bath that escaped destruction by the Catholic monarchs centuries ago. It’s one of the few that survived and is believed to the oldest and most well-preserved Arab bath in Spain.

Photo by Iakov Filimonov via Shutterstock

Hours of Operation: 10AM-5PM (Sept 15 – Apr 30) / 9AM-2:30PM, 5-8:30PM (May 1 – Sept 14)
Admission: EUR 5 (includes admission to Dar al-Horra Palace, Horno de Oro House, and Corral del Carbon)


Granada is mesmerizing. We fell in love with it within minutes of arriving. It has an ideal balance of size, atmosphere, and pace. The food is fantastic and the fact that you can get free tapas each time you order a drink makes it all the more alluring.

Like many people, the Alhambra is what drew us to Granada but the city itself is what makes us want to stay. It was one of our favorite cities in Spain and a destination we’ll definitely visit again.

Thanks for reading and I hope this guide on the best things to do in Granada helps you plan your trip. Have an incredible time in Spain!


This article on the best things to do in Granada, Spain contains affiliate links, from which we’ll make a small commission if you make a purchase 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 this helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!