We often hear about the term “Tourist Trap.” This term refers to the practice of locals who con unwitting foreigners into spending more for a mediocre service or food. Sadly, every tourist destination has them.
This is why it’s important to do your research first before venturing into a strange country. There’s being adventurous and there’s also being foolish. Although we admit that sometimes the line between spontaneity and naiveté is blurred.
We know your busy and don’t have the time to be wasting on browsing through all the amazing and terrible restaurants listed on TripAdvisor. So we will do the hard work for you. For this list, we travel across Europe, even as far as Russia—or the European side of it, at least—to scour for the best restaurants we can recommend and the biggest warning sign we could come up with to avoid the latter part of our list.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best and worst restaurants from all over based on the reviews on TripAdvisor. In case you find yourself in their neck of the woods, you will know which restaurants to look for and which to avoid.
So without further ado, here they are. Let's start with 10 of the best rated restaurants in Europe.
20 Amazing: White Rabbit
First we go to Moscow, to the famed White Rabbit. It’s located in Smolenskaya Square at the heart of the city. It’s consistently listed among the top restaurants in the world and it’s a reputation that is well-deserved. The glass dome will provide you with a 360-degree view of the commercial district, which only adds to the ambiance. Most of the food here is homemade and they have a certain Muscovite flavor to them, even the pasta. Don’t forget to order the homemade Tagliolini with Caviar and Bottarga and capped it off with a glass of wine. If you are feeling adventurous, ask the chef to surprise you.
19 Amazing: Osteria Francescana
This is 3-Michelin fine-dining restaurant located in Modena, Italy. Let your palate dance to the music that only Chef Massimo Bottura can manufacture out of thin air by the magic of his dexterous hands. The waiters are very knowledgeable about the menu and they can answer all your questions. If you feel overwhelmed by all the choices, just ask around and they would be more than willing to make a recommendation. The restaurant itself has clean lines and quite immaculate and simple in terms of decor. After all, the food is the star of the show, everything else is just gravy.
18 Amazing: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
You will be treated like royalty from the very moment you walk into the door of the restaurant until you leave. You might be extremely picky if you don’t walk out with a smile on your face. British celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal, really knows how to tease and satiate your palate. Dining here is more than just whetting an appetite but rather an experience in itself. The atmosphere is unpretentious, which only makes that food all that surprising if you have no inkling who the chef is. You do not feel rushed when you eat, which allows you to savor each morsel some more.
17 Amazing: Mirazur
Located in Menton, France, it’s very near the border to Italy so it certainly adds to the curiosity. The restaurant is awarded 2 Michelin stars so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, it manages to make the place feel like home. You certainly won’t feel discomfort and will immediately forget the Michelin rating once you are seated. Then again, you will be reminded why when you taste the food. In fact, once you have that first bite, you will momentarily forget where you are—near the border between France and Italy, in one of the most romantic places in the world.
16 Amazing: Steirereck
Located in the capital city of Vienna, Austria, Steirereck offers a true Michelin-dining experience. It’s a good introduction to what a Michelin star is all about. Most of the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced but the end product is world-class. Those who are vegan are advised to call ahead so the chef can prepare a meal fit for a king without offending their sensibilities. The portions are well-sized, which is perfect for people who love their food. Each dish is well-presented, which shows you that the preparation was given a lot of thought. There’s also a good selection of wine to open up your palate and allow you to savor the dish even more.
15 Amazing: Fäviken
This Swedish restaurant is an experience. And we mean that in every sense of the word. Ask each of the diners and they would tell you a different experience anytime. That’s because eating here is like a personal journey—a Mecca of sorts. Go ahead. We dare you to buy into the hype. Get your expectations very high up and we promise you this little gem will blow those expectations away. The only downside is the difficulty of booking a spot. There are only 16 seats and that’s why there’s a certain intimacy in the way the chef personally serves the food.
14 Amazing: Gourmet Restaurant Vendôme
The name indeed is a mouthful but at least it portends of things to come. Located in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, this restaurant is attached to a hotel (well, a castle really) which is why some people may have some prejudices about the experience and the food. We promise you, however, that the buzz is well-deserved. We suggest that you start early so the restaurant won’t be rushed to prepare the four-course meal for you. You will also have more time to relish each dish. The list of wines served is original and ask the knowledgeable waiter on the best wine to pair for each dish for an even better experience.
13 Amazing: Geranium
Now we go to Geranium in Copenhagen in Denmark. The restaurant fully deserves each of the three Michelin stars it got. The service is excellent and the food is even better. There’s a good balance of formal and casual to the whole atmosphere, which is very hard to do. The décor is elegant without screaming luxurious. The food is another matter, however. Some of the dishes have presentations that are simple enough but the complexity of the food is evident when it explodes in your mouth after a bite. Some of the dishes, however, are a work of art in themselves. You might even have a hard time cutting into the food with your knife or fork just because it looks exquisite.
12 Amazing: Maaemo
Located in Oslo, Norway, Maaemo will introduce you to the Norwegian cuisine as it’s meant to be served. The interior is quite modern and there’s plenty to see in the décor that will keep you preoccupied while waiting for your food. On the downside, this is quite an expensive restaurant so if you have no extra money on your holiday, steer clear of this one. However, if you are saving up then you will leave the restaurant knowing that it’s money well-spent. The food is flawless and so is the service. You would be hard-pressed to find a fault in this restaurant.
11 Amazing: El Celler de Can Roca
With 3 Michelin stars, the expectations for this restaurant in Girona, Spain is very high indeed. However, the three brothers who won the restaurant managed to surpass those expectations and more! If you ever decide to come in for a visit, make sure you’ve lifted a few weights on your local gym because picking up the heavy wine list would be a chore. The price is very reasonable considering its pedigree. For a full course meal, you will spend at least two and a half hours to finish it. The orders are served fast and just the right temperature for you to take a bit immediately.
10 Not The Best: Svejk Restaurant
This restaurant can be found in the capital city of Prague in the Czech Republic. When people prefer to go to McDonald’s than eating here, then that’s saying something. To sum up the experience of TripAdvisor reviewers, the food is expensive, the servers need to learn some manners, and they demand a tip from the customers. One reviewer equates the experience to a “daylight robbery.” Even if you don’t eat the piece of bread or pretzel on the table, you are going to pay for it so might as well. In fact, they basically charge you every time you breathe inside the restaurant.
9 Not The Best: Made in Correeiros
As far as TripAdvisor reviewers are concerned, this restaurant in Portugal should come with its own warning. There should be a flashing neon sign that reads, “Tourist Trap,” or “A Total Ripoff.” The prices of the food are apparently five times more than they are worth. In fact, this wasn’t the original name. However, the restaurant got buried in bad reviews that it was forced to change its name. Apparently, the change was only cosmetic. Just to give you an idea of how bad things are, the police have been called so many times by irate customers who complained of the price and service.
8 Not The Best: Miniera d'Oro Ristorante Pizzeria Bar
The only consistent thing about this restaurant is the “terrible” rating given by 95% of the nearly 1,000 reviewers on TripAdvisor. That’s no small feat to be offending almost 10 out of 10 of your visitors. If you are ever in Italy and had the bad luck of going here first to dine, then it will certainly change your perspective about Italian cuisine. That’s how bad it is, according to the reviews. The food is expensive and the cost only accrues because you end up not eating your whole plate because it’s unpalatable. It is said that in Italy, no good restaurant is open after 8 o’clock in the evening. This one opens until 12 midnight.
7 Not The Best: Grafin vom Naschmarkt
Worst restaurant ever! Well, at least that’s what one reviewer remarked. Unfortunately, this is the theme of most of the reviews with 87% of them rating this Austrian restaurant as “terrible.” Customers complained about finding alien objects in their food, with hair being the most common. And better drink a lot of liquid to counteract the amount of salt on each food on the menu. Customers also complained of a foul odor emanating around the café, which probably explained why nobody was complimenting the food. Well, to be fair, the food itself could be just as bad even without the stench dulling your senses.
6 Not The Best: Nova Caffe
Surprisingly enough, another Italian restaurant made the list. Just 1 star out of 1,200 reviews is saying a lot about the kind of place you can expect. You can always tell if the restaurant has class by the way the toilet is maintained. For this one, just hold your kidney in. If you need to be reminded about peeing somewhere else, just eat the nasty and overpriced food. Now, if it hurts your ego when you step out of the restaurant, maybe you can convince yourself that you are paying for the ambiance. It’s near St. Peter’s in Vatican, of course.
5 Not The Best: Don & Donna
This restaurant can be found in Greece. With 93% of the almost 500 reviewers in agreement that this place is terrible, you clearly know to steer clear of Don & Donna. Everything is paid for in cash, so it suspiciously reeks of tax evasion. But that’s the problem of the Greek government. What you will get, however, is bad food, overpriced menu and service, and very pushy servers who will force customers to order the most expensive dish. When they don’t, they get an attitude from the waiter. The only good thing going for this place is the amazing view. But then again, you get the same view if you walk several paces forward to another restaurant.
4 Not The Best: Le Bailli de Suffren
This French restaurant nestled on the Avenue de Suffren will make you forget that the French have one of the most sophisticated palates in the world. It’s not called a tourist trap for nothing. The food is supposed to be overpriced and most of the servers are arrogant. (To be fair, the French have the reputation for not being the friendliest.) One reviewer commented that they were treated like a rat because they were told to eat fast so they can leave so other customers could be seated. Not a few customers noticed the dirty tablecloth, which makes you cringe at the thought of how dirty the kitchen might be.
3 Not The Best: La Taverne Brugeoise
This Belgium restaurant proves the benefit of reading up on the reviews first before visiting any place. Even if you have little to no expectations, this place still ends up disappointing you. If they can’t do French Fries right, then you really can’t expect them to do much of anything else. Don’t let the inviting food photos fool you. What you will get on your table is far from what the photos suggest. Then you will be charged a lot of money for mediocre dish and service. Unfortunately, this tourist trap continues to lure in visitors because of its good location.
2 Not The Best: Monarchia Old Restaurant & Pizzeria
Let’s see: bad service, check. Awful food, check. Expensive menu, check. If you are ever going to prepare a list of what you think a bad restaurant should be, this one should check all the boxes. When you order, better bring in some crackers because the food will arrive in about an hour despite the 10-15 minutes waiting time as promised by the server. And we are just talking about salads and soups here. When the food arrives, you will get a slop of a meal, a hodge-podge of hopefully digestible ingredients. Even the bill will arrive 30 minutes late in this restaurant in Budapest!
1 Not The Best: Restaurante Tobogan
This Barcelona restaurant has built a dubious reputation among TripAdvisor reviewers for having terrible food. In fact, the chef should be sued for attempted homicide for giving a veritable death warrant on every plate. It seemed as if they were cooked a few hours earlier and just warmed up when you came. The pasta is soggy, the meatballs are cold and frozen, the oil in the paella did not help the taste, and avoid the salmon if you can unless you want to spend a lovely evening holed up in your hotel toilet. The service is very slow. Even a glass of tap water will arrive 10 minutes late. The servers will make you feel like they would rather be somewhere else.