One of the very best ways to experience a new culture when you’re travelling is experimenting with street food. The flavours tell the story of local agriculture, climate and cooking — it’s a wonderful way to absorb different cultures. Street food is also a great way to eat on a budget, allowing you to sample a wide variety of treats for a small amount.
European food safety laws have pushed a lot of vendors off the streets and into tiny storefronts along major roads, but street food culture is still thriving. Explore the culinary wonders available to you throughout Europe, and start your tummy-based travel to-do list today!
Where to find it: St. Petersburg, Russia
- Very similar to a meat pie, a pirozhki is typically filled with minced meat and fried instead of baked.
- Fillings tend to be savoury (other popular choices are chicken, potatoes and vegetables), but some street vendors offer sweeter options filled with fruit.
Where to find it: Helsinki, Finland
- An appetizing street pie filled with white rice and butter, then topped with a soft boiled or poached egg. Some vendors offer variety from the original with carrots, potatoes and other fillings.
- These street pies are not like the hand pies you see walking the streets of London. The Karjalanpiirakka looks like a small, oval-shaped pizza but with a folded, pleated crust.
Where to find: Riga, Latvia
- Soft, fresh-baked buns stuffed with minced onion and chopped bacon make for a filling but affordable snack.
- Street food in Latvia isn’t as prominent as in other countries, so you’ll most likely find this snack in a bakery.
Where to find it: Stockholm, Sweden
- Try the lightly breaded herring on its own or as a knäckis, a fried herring sandwich topped with cucumbers and red onion.
- Stockholm is one of the most expensive cities to visit in all of Europe — street food is a great option if you’re on a budget.
Where to find it: Istanbul, Turkey
- A wrap filled with typical tasty kebab ingredients like spiced lamb, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and yoghurt-herb sauce.
- The döner kebab you find in Germany is inspired by the Turkish dürüm, stuffed with similar ingredients but wrapped in a thicker pita.
Where to find it: Berlin, Germany
Cost: £2 – 3
- Bite-sized slices of pork sausage smothered in ketchup and curry powder; often served with French fries.
- An estimated 800 million currywursts are consumed in Germany every year.1
Where to find it: Reykjavik, Iceland
Cost: £2 – 3
- Reykjavik hot dogs stand out from other hot dogs. They’re comprised mostly of lamb, with some pork and beef.
- Typical toppings: spicy brown mustard, ketchup, raw onions, crispy fried onions, and mayonnaise with minced pickles.
Where to find it: Split, Croatia
- Try these popular grilled spiced beef and pork sausages stuffed into toasted pita pockets. Ćevapi is usually topped with diced onions and red pepper spread.
- Similar dishes are found all over Eastern Europe in places like Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Where to find it: Vienna, Austria
Cost: £2 – 3
- While leberkäse may not look appealing, the dense, salty meat found in the center of this sandwich is simply delicious. Try it topped with bacon, onions, cheese, pickles or chilli.
- You’lll also find leberkäse in the southern part of Germany, but they will use significantly fewer toppings.
Where to find it: Paris, France
Cost: £3 – 5
- Crêpes are a super versatile street food that can satisfy your appetite for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or a snack.
- Try a savory crêpe filled with ham and cheese or a vegetable medley. Sweet crêpes vary just as much — try them stuffed with nutella, fruit preserves, or custards, or just order one dusted with powdered sugar.
Where to find it: Athens, Greece
- Greek souvlaki is a must-have when walking the ancient streets of Greece. Marinated and spiced pork is wrapped in a thick, fluffy pita topped with onions, tomato and tzatziki sauce.
- Sometimes you’ll find veal instead of pork. Internationally, chicken is also used but marinated and spiced in a similar fashion.
Where to find it: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Fried mashed potato balls filled with ground beef, rolled in spices and bread crumbs.
- After World War II, kroketten started to be mass-produced by many suppliers.2 Today, you can even get kroketten on a bun at McDonalds!
Where to find it: Brussels, Belgium
- Slices of Bintje potatoes, deep-fried twice and served in a cone — what’s not to love?
- While fries may seem like a common commodity, Belgium excels at dipping sauces. Garlic mayonnaise is a popular choice.
Where to find it: Kiev, Ukraine
Cost: £2 – 3
- Vareny are boiled dumplings, similar to pot stickers, served in sets of 3 – 5 savory or sweet pockets.
- There are more than 50 flavor combinations to choose from, so ask the street vendor if you can mix and match flavours.
Where to find it: Florence, Italy
Cost: £3 – 4
- Gelato, the smoother cousin to traditional ice cream, can come in hundreds of flavors. Pick some up from a gelateria for the best quality.
- Italian law dictates that gelato must contain at least 3.5% butterfat.3
Where to find it: Barcelona, Spain
- Deep-fried sticks of dough, rolled in a mix of sugar and cinnamon.
- Try this sweet treat on its own, or paired with a hot chocolate or coffee.
Where to find it: Budapest, Hungary
- A traditional Hungarian pastry spiraled over a broad spool and baked over a wood fire.
- The flakey layers make it easy to break apart and share with your traveling companion.
Pastéis de Belém
Where to find it: Lisbon, Portugal
- These pastries are light and flakey with a subtle taste of cinnamon and sugar. The shell is filled with a sugary, creamy egg-based custard to balance out the crust.
- Over 19,000 tarts are sold daily at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém in Lisbon.4
1Connelly, M. A. (18 December 2014). 20 must-try street foods around the world. Retrieved 10 August, 2016, from http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/20-must-try-street-foods-around-the-world#!15-currywurst
2Wikipedia. (n.d.). Croquette. Retrieved 10 August 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croquette#Netherlands
3Wikipedia. (n.d.). Gelato. Retrieved 10 August, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelato
4Lonely Planet. “The 11 best street foods worth blowing your diet over.” Lonely Planet. N.p., 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 11 Aug 2016.