|Photo by Freeimages.com/Emma Payne|
Trisha Andres, The Daily Telegraph, December 18, 2015
The great gastronomic destinations of France, Italy and Spain feature heavily on this list. But I’ve also selected some which explore further afield, including a trip to Vietnam, a tour that explores the flavours of India, and a visit to Istanbul which offers a taste of everything from dishes from the Ottoman era, and southern Anatolian fare, to all manner of Turkish sweets.
Prices quoted in this article include return flights from London, accommodation, and admission to sights on the itineraries, unless stated otherwise. They are per person, based on two sharing a twin or double room. Some departures allow for flights from regional airports.
1. Turkish delight
Istanbul is a smart choice for a foodie break. Stroll through the markets at Karakoy; dine on southern Anatolian dishes while marvelling at the views out to the Marmara Sea; and browse the stalls at Beyoglu and spy – and perhaps even buy – octopus from Bodrum, calamari from Antalya and shrimp from Canakkale. Masterchef Travel’s five-day Inspirational Istanbul tour run by Cox & Kings takes in all these culinary highlights and includes an Ottoman cookery class.
May 13, from £795, including a cookery class and most meals. Cox & Kings (020 7873 5000; coxandkings.co.uk ).
2. Under the Tuscan sun
Explore’s eight-day Tuscany walking and wine tour is cast as a gentle walking holiday that meanders through the vineyards and towns of Tuscany’s south where there will be a chance to sample some of Italy’s finest wines including Chianti, Vino Nobile and Brunello di Montalcino. In addition to five wine tastings, there is a visit to a local pecorino cheese producer to try the delicious hard cheese made from ewe’s milk. There is a stay at a small wine estate just outside Montepulciano, plus visits to other highlights of the region, including Campo del Miracoli Medici in Pisa, and the Renaissance cities of Florence and Lucca.
June 5, from £1,136, including most meals. Explore (01252 883 559; explore.co.uk ).
3. Passage to India
Intrepid Travel’s 15-day Real Food Adventure tour explores the flavours of India from Delhi to Goa via Rajasthan, with stops at Jaipur and Udaipur. Wander through the alleyways of Old Delhi and meet a chaiwala or tea-maker who will show you how tea juggling is done. Stay at a palace built as a royal residence for the ruler of Karauli in 1938 and learn how to make bedai and dhaba; visit an Indian chef at his home for a Rajasthani cookery class; and spend an evening in Chowpatty Beach to watch the sun set and eat bhel puri.
March 4, from £1,340, including domestic flights and most meals but excluding international flights . Intrepid Travel (0808 274 5111; intrepidtravel.com/uk ).
4. Flavours of the east
Chef Luke Nguyen, a judge on MasterChef Vietnam, is the guide on this Vietnam tour and Mekong River cruise, run by APT. He leads a 20-day exploration of the cities of Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh, to include a cruise along the Mekong. Savour simmering pho from a side-street stall in Hanoi, join a cookery class in Hoi An, and visit the Ba Do family in Hue to sample homemade rice flour cakes and dumplings. The tour includes stops at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia.
July 29, from £3,795, including return flights, a river cruise and most meals . APT (0800 012 6683; aptouring.co.uk ).
5. Adventures in Istria
This new, seven-day itinerary, Istria: a Gastronomic Adventure, starts with a cruise on a traditional wooden ship along Lim fjord to visit an oyster farm for a tour and tasting. Based in Hotel Palazzo in the seaside town of Porec, it also includes a walk through the vineyards in Momjan en route to one of the region’s best wine cellars in Kabola; a visit to an olive mill in Faana; an excursion to the forests of Motovun with a truffle hunter; and a stop at Pula to meet a local cheesemaker with time to admire the city’s Roman ruins.
April 22, from £1,399 half-board. Adagio (01707 386700; adagio.co.uk ).
6. Michelin-starred Spain
Great Rail Journeys’ nine-day Gastronomic Spain tour chugs from Barcelona and Catalonia into the wine country of La Rioja before making a final stop at San Sebastián. It includes meals at Michelin-starred restaurants and a stay at a 14th-century convent-turned hotel in Haro. Other highlights include a Basque cookery class and visits to Rioja’s most celebrated wine producers, including Marqués de Riscal, Bodegas López Heredia and Bodegas Franco Españolas. The tour takes in key sites, such as the Picasso Museum, Catedral de Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Sagrada Familia.
Departures between May and June, from £2,175, including return rail travel from London and most meals. Great Rail Journeys (01904 521936; greatrail.com ).
7. Great wines of Bordeaux
Bordeaux produces some of the world’s greatest and most expensive wines. This five-day Telegraph Tour – led by Victoria Moore, The Telegraph’s wine correspondent, will explain the nuances and history of winemaking on both banks of the Gironde river. Moore will lead tastings at eight leading chateaux, including Smith Haut Lafitte, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, and the great first growth, Château Lafite-Rothschild.
April 25, from £2,275, including return flights between London and Bordeaux, all tastings and some meals. Telegraph Tours (0333 005 9069; telegraph.co.uk/ victoria-bordeaux ).
8. Bologna tour
This new eight-day trip from Andante surveys a broad sweep of the archaeological heritage and gastronomic history of La Grassa (the Fat One). Led by an archaeologist and an expert in Italian cuisine, this tour takes in the great Torre Ghirlandina in Modena and a 15th-century convent in Ferrara where nuns safeguarded the city’s recipe for panpepato – chocolate cake. You will also hunt for truffles in the Emilian countryside and join a Lambrusco-making session at a winery.
September 15, from £2,495 full-board. Andante (01722 713800; andantetravels.co.uk ).
9. An Andalusian affair
It’s famous, of course, for its sherry, but on the food front, Andalusia now has nine Michelin-starred restaurants, and some of its more delicious core products, such as Iberico ham, lemons, olives and excellent fish are attracting attention from foodies. Martin Randall’s new eight-day Gastronomic Andalusia itinerary includes visits to several of the region’s best restaurants, starting at the La Mancha vineyards, followed by Úbeda and ending in Seville.
April 22, from £2,980 including some meals. Martin Randall (020 8742 3355; martinrandall.com ).
10. A bubbly excursion
This five-day Ultimate Champagne tour from Arblaster & Clarke offers exclusive access to Champagne houses not open to the public. It is based in a five-star hotel and led by Andrew Jefford, the wine journalist. The tour includes tastings at Gosset, the oldest wine-producing property in the region, a visit to Taittinger’s 4th-century chalk cellars and dinner in the middle of the vines at Château de la Marqueterie.
March 7, from £3,095, including return rail travel between London and Lille, and most meals. Arblaster & Clarke (01730 263111; winetours.co.uk ).
- Usually accommodation is in hotels of four stars or higher, but double-check before booking.
- Solos - single supplements are often high, but these trips attract high numbers of single travellers and are a good way of meeting others with similar interests.
- Prices quoted include most meals and wine-tastings.
- If you’d like to bring back wine with you, talk to the tour operator before booking so arrangements can be made.
- Most tour operators cater to food intolerances – but discuss before you book.
More of the best escorted tours for 2016
This article was written by Trisha Andres from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.