When it comes to food in Europe, the choices here are endless. There’s a plethora of options, but most people tend to think of this continent as a sit-down spot, especially when places like Paris and Rome come to mind. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing meals to be had at a gazillion restaurants that’ll take you all night to enjoy. But don’t be fooled by the movies and generalizations about this multi-cultural mix of countries – there’s so much more to be had in Europe while you’re on the go.
Yes, I’m talking about street food, and Europe’s got some of the best in the world. It’s an obsession that’s becoming more popular every day. Some of the globe’s best open-air markets and street stalls are lining the avenues in cities around Europe, just waiting for you to take a big bite of the best kinds of homemade fast food flavours. From terribly satisfying cheesy treats and juicy cuts of meat with all the best toppings and sauces to sweet cinnamon delights and freshly baked fruity pastries, you’ve got it made on the streets here. And the best part? There are endless options of local favourites alongside all the best flavours from around the world in just about every capital and city.
So move over, Asia, because this is Europe’s turn to shine. If you weren’t already hungry, you better brace yourself. Get ready to lick your chops and plan your next European vacation, because this list of Europe’s 20 best street food spots will have you on the next plane.
20 Paris, France - Those Thin Crêpes
So let’s start with one of the victims of the sit-down generalisation. Yes, France’s dining culture is very much about long, multi-course meals seated with silverware and a table cloth, but there’s a lot of things happening in the streets here, too.
One of the most popular street foods you can get pretty much anywhere in Paris is the crêpe. There are crêperies throughout the city serving up these hot, thin pancakes.
They work for any meal as well, whether you’re in the mood for something savoury or sweet.
Various topping options include ham and cheese, or the always great go-to dessert style with Nutella or fruit. Beyond that, French people are totally getting on board with the street food craze, so there are plenty of avenues dedicated to the craft, as well as food truck hot spots. One of the most popular is Rue des Rosiers in the Jewish Quarter. Here, you can find European favourties like falafel and shawarma wraps. To mix it up even more, try Rue du Faubourg in Saint Denis, another great street for street food cuisine from Lebanese and Indian to Asian and more Middle Eastern options, plus more falafel shops if you can’t get enough.
19 Kraków, Poland - Oscypek Cheese
Polish cooking is downright comforting and maybe even a little over the top, but hey, it’s exactly what you need to survive the cold winters here – or just what the doctor ordered for washing down an ice cold Polish lager in the summer. The street markets here sell delicious dishes like their oscypek cheese speciality from the southern region of the country.
It’s a smokey and salty sheep’s cheese that sounds like it might be strong for some, but they grill it up and serve it with cranberries.
This is seriously a combo of flavours that pretty much should never be turned down. Some more great snacks include the zapiekanka, best in Nowy square. This is the Polish version of pizza – half of a baguette baked with mushrooms, cheese, and topped with ketchup, chives or fried onions. Some places even have more inventive toppings, so look around. Of course there have plenty of grilled Polish sausages everywhere, but you have got to try their obwarzanek, their take on a cross between a NY bagel and German pretzel, topped with sesame or poppy seeds (also awesome with a beer). For your sweet tooth, try a gofry, a Polish-style waffle covered in great toppings like fruits, jams, nuts, ice cream, and whipped cream!
18 Copenhagen, Denmark - Smørrebrød
This Nordic country might not be first on your list of street food hot spots, but they are in fact super into food truck culture. One of the old fashioned favourite street foods they have been serving up for years is the smørrebrød, which you can get at various stops around the city. It’s an open-faced rye bread sandwich with spreads and cold cuts, cheese and herbs.
But if you’re looking for some serious food truck heaven, then you’ve got to cross the bridge from the centre and head over to Papirøen, or ‘Paper Island’. This indoor food stall market is in an old warehouse building right along the river and features about 40 stalls, with everything from Brazilian grilled meat specialities and Korean BBQ to vegetarian Colombian eats and Chinese noodle dishes. If you still are looking for some of that smørrebrød, you can also pick that up here at Handmade. Word on the street is that they’ve just closed temporarily due to a limited lease, but they’ve already had a new project in the works that is planned to open early summer, so May 2018. The new spot is supposed to be three times bigger than the last one!
17 Belgrade, Serbia - Cevapi (For All You Sausage Lovers)
Often overlooked as a European destination, Serbia has got it goin’ on when it comes to well spiced dishes and food made with love – and that goes for their street food too. Plus, if you’re a carnivore, the Balkans are where it’s at when it comes to local, well cooked meat dishes. One of the most typical street food favourites is cevapi, sausages that are made from pork, lamb, beef, or possibly a combination of all three. It’s normally served on a piece of flatbread with toppings like sour cream, peppers, feta cheese and onions – you take your pick. Another great meat dish is pljeskavica, a kind of Serbian-style burger of beef and pork that can be served with hot red pepper flakes, onion, garlic sauce, ketchup, cabbage, sour cream, tomatoes, cheese – you can also decide what to load this one up with. You can get great cheap pizza here as well, which they like to drizzle with ketchup, or a quick giant pretzel-like breadstick as a snack. Serbians also love their sweets, so try and save some room for some pastries from a pekare (bakery) that offer everything from giant cream-filled eclairs and yummy crescent-shaped cookies covered in walnuts to cherry strudel with poppy seeds and giant meringues.
16 London, England (Hong Kong Egg Waffles, Anyone?)
There is absolutely no shortage of food in this giant metropolis. The thing to do when you’re in London is definitely hit up all the street markets. You can start at Kerb’s Camden Market, a longtime favourite and funky spot with Londoners from all walks of life. Here you can mow down on everything from a stall that’s dedicated to dishes with Korean kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), to-die-for Mexican dishes like nachos so smothered in toppings you might ask a friend for help (maybe), and Middle Eastern musts like deep fried halloumi fries. For another great market experience, head to ‘London’s biggest Asian food hall’ for some Korean bibimbap, dim sum and super warming noodle soups. You should probably also try some of the Hong Kong egg waffles here too!
Another great spot that’s perfect for summer and the colder months is Flat Iron Square.
It’s hidden under railway bridges near London Bridge and has everything from ramen and dumplings to delicious sandwiches and Middle Eastern go-to’s.
There’s indoor seating here as well as outdoor seating with heaters for that all-too-familiar London climate. If you want to pick up a quick bite in the city to carry while sightseeing, I’d recommend a grilled cheese from the Spa Terminus market.
15 Vienna, Austria - Würstel Stands
Vienna isn’t just about opera and impressive architecture – they’ve always had a very strong tradition of street food too, and they’re here to impress and make your taste buds happy. Obviously we can’t start this discussion without mentioning sausages. One of the favourites with Vienna locals, this street food is, hot, fast and easy to carry, so there are würstel stands serving serving up all kinds of sausages throughout the city. Try their käsekrainer stuffed with cheese, a frankfurter or a curry wurst. You can get all the toppings you want with this on a platter, or just go for hot dog style with a bun. Don’t forget to try their delicious mustard (it’s way better than American) and pickles.
One of the best spots is simply called Wurstelstand Leo and is the oldest in the city. There are also lots of great influences here like Turkish kebab and falafel, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and sauces. This is always a great quick option when you’re on the go. If you’re here in the winter (and it’s extra beautiful then, by the way), you’ve got to try the roasted chestnuts, which are available at stands around the city. You can also try some heartwarming bratkatoffeln (roasted potato wedges), served up around the city to keep you warm during those colder months.
14 Rome, Italy
Rome’s cuisine is constantly on point – who doesn’t love comforting, cheesy, pasta, pizza and all the rest? And
although they also love to have long, indulgent dinners with many courses, they can also make some mean dishes when it comes to their street food.
One of the first that comes to mind? Well, obviously pizza. It’s one of the greatest things to eat in Italy, no matter where you are. To get some great pizza by the slice, head to Pizzarium, close to the Vatican so perfect if you’re out sightseeing. They use stone-ground flour and have a million options for toppings. Another great go-to? Arrancini or the Roman equivalent, supplì, fried rice balls filled with tomato sauce, meat and mozzarella (yes, please!). Try La Casa Del Supplì for these gems – they’ve got pizza, calzones, and lots of other goodies you can get to go. One more thing you cannot miss while wandering Rome? For goodness sakes, get yourself some gelato. This Italian ice cream treat is unlike any other frozen goodies you’ve had, especially when in Rome. So do as the Romans do and try pistachio, bacio (meaning ‘kiss’, packed with chocolate and hazelnut) or Italian lemon flavours. Whatever you like, but the key is to try something you’ve never had before.
13 Brussels, Belgium - Belgian French 'Friets' And Belgian Waffles, Of Course
Brussels has markets galore, tons of street food stalls throughout the city and it’s a great place to wander. Since there’s so much to see here, you’re obviously going to end up a bit peckish. One of the best (and most well-known) Belgian street snacks are their French fries, or ‘friets’.
You can get these just about anywhere, served in a cone-shaped paper holder covered with Belgian mayo on top,
these really hit the spot in the middle of a sightseeing day.
Another street food that also involves fries is the mitraillette, which is basically an open baguette with fried meat that’s then topped with fries and a sauce of your choice (garlic or béarnaise are popular) – hey, nobody said street food has to be healthy. For something pretty different and relatively healthy, try caricoles (sea snails), boiled in a rich vegetable broth. And of course, the ultimate must-eat is the Belgian waffle. Even though this thing is famous and you can get it seriously everywhere in Brussels, it’s still really great pretty much no matter where you stop. The topping options are endless too, but I like to go for chocolate and strawberries (plus whipped cream if you’re feeling extra indulgent).
12 Sofia, Bulgaria - Banitsa
The street food in Sofia is especially interesting and a departure from the norm when it comes to flavours and styles of street foods around Europe. Here you can start off your day right with a typical Bulgarian breakfast dish. Banitsa is a pastry that’s deliciously flaky and stuffed with cheese normally, but is also made with other savoury options like cabbage or spinach, or sweet options like apples and walnuts. The standard version is made with a sheep’s cheese that is super gooey and hits the spot, so don’t miss this one. Bulgarians like to have a drink called ‘boza’ with this dish, which is a fermented beverage made from cereal flour – it’s definitely an acquired taste, but you should try it just to experience the local flavour. Another much-loved staple? Bulgarians can't get enough of their steamed corn, and you can top it off with all sorts of sauces and seasonings like cheese, butter or mayo, and it’s available in both summer and winter. Another sweet but healthy street food Bulgarians like to enjoy is baked pumpkin. Cooked over an open fire, they top this sweet treat with things like sugar or honey, walnuts and cinnamon – yummy and good for you too!
11 Lisbon, Portugal - Bacalão (Cod)
The street food culture in Lisbon is growing, offering a cool mix between the city’s laid-back vibe, slow eating and window shopping into an all-in-one experience. To see this for yourself, head to Mercado da Ribeira. This food market has been open since 1892 but has gotten a revamp in recent years, turning it into an eclectic mix of small shops and over 30 food stalls.
If you’re unsure where to start, seafood is always an amazing option in this city, with fresh flavours and amazing Portuguese-style dishes, you can’t go wrong.
One very traditional dish is bacalão (cod), cooked in a million different ways, all of them delicious. You should also look for the fried soft shell crab or their octopus dishes. There’s even space to sit outside here so you can enjoy the gorgeous sunny weather. Another great food hall is the Mercado de Campo de Orique, opened in 1934. You can also find anything here like at other markets, from Asian noodles to sushi and more Portuguese specialities. Another great thing about Lisbon? They’ve got little kiosks throughout the city where you can grab coffee, pastries and sandwiches and sit outside enjoying – treat yourself to a pastel de nata, traditional custard pastry with espresso (sooo good!). One of my favs is the BANANACAFE, with a few locations throughout the city.
10 Bucharest, Romania - Covrigi
You might just think of vampires when you hear Romania, but their food culture has been on point for a while now, with newcomers brightening up the scene of late. There are shops all over the city selling great things you can grab and go with. Bakeries and pastry shops are the most common, and my favourite snack they sell is the pretzel, or ‘covrigi’.
The standard versions are covered in sesame or poppy seeds, but you can also get lots of other kinds like with different ingredients like sausage or cheese, or even sweet options like apple or chocolate.
More great quick treats can be found at their bakery or pastry shops called ‘patiserii’ where you can get tons of yummy savoury pastries stuffed with anything from mushrooms to meat and cheese, as well as sweeter options – and everything is unbelievably affordable and fresh. But one thing you can’t leave Romania without trying is the infamous ‘gagoasa’, or donut. There are about a million of these donut shops lining the streets throughout the city that you can usually get plain or stuffed with jam, and boy do they hit the spot. For new-age eats, there are tons of street food festivals throughout the year, so just check before you go and plan accordingly.
9 Stockholm, Sweden - ‘Tunnbrödsrulle’ Invention
Stockholm weather can be very harsh in the winters, so their long-time street food favourites reflect that. You can’t come to this capital without trying their beloved ‘tunnbrödsrulle’ invention. This is a sandwich that has a mix of everything with sausage, mashed potatoes, onions, and shrimp salad all wrapped up nice in a warm flatbread. It might sound crazy, but this thing is different and good, so try it. If you want to see what their up-and-coming street food scene looks like, then come in the summer from April to September and visit the Hornstulls Market on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s in the cool Södermalm neighbourhood right along the water.
They’ve got everything you could want in a weekend here, with a flea market and tons of food trucks lined up to keep you happy while you browse. Pick up anything from tacos and grilled sandwiches to sausages and Swedish go-to’s.
This is the best street food setup in the city, but there are also street food trucks throughout in different spots every day, usually during lunchtime. To find out where to go, download their street food app to find the kinds of cuisine you’re in the mood for.
8 Prague, Czech Republic - Klobásy
The Czech Republic’s capital city, Prague, is a sight for sore eyes. The majestic hill with a castle, all of the impressive architecture and small shops hidden around every corner, and the best part – unbelievably good comfort food that’s affordable and available throughout the streets. Very much underrated as a foodie destination, this fairy-tale city is where it’s at for traditional street food fare. One of the most popular is flame-roasted ham, which you can get at most of the open meeting place areas like the Old Town square. They roast large hocks of ham over an open flame, ready to slice you off a piece. Klobásy, or sausages, are also a great option, served with seriously good rye bread that’s some of the best I’ve ever had. Try yours with their old-style mustard that packs a punch. One of my favourites? Fried cheese. No, this isn’t really that healthy, but who cares? It’s so darn good it’s worth it, and you can pick some up from stalls in the streets in sandwich form, or it’s available in almost every restaurant as a main vegetarian dish. If you do happen to be an herbivore, do know that you’ll probably have a lot of cheese while you’re here (I’m not complaining). And don’t forget to try ‘trdelník’, rolled pastries covered in cinnamon and sugar.
7 Madrid, Spain - Empanadas
Madrid is one of those spots very well known for late long lunches and even later dinners, plus quite a few wines, but they’ve got a lively street food culture too – it’s not just about tapas and sangria here. This pastime goes back to the old markets, which are still speckled throughout the city and are definitely the best spots to sample all of Spain’s best flavours. Mercado de San Miguel is one of the most famous and it’s near Plaza Mayor, so stop in while you’re sightseeing. Here you can try everything from olives and artisan cheeses and cured meats to tiny tapas of Galician octopus or the best Spanish anchovies. Just wander around and try things because there’s nothing bad here. One of my favourite indoor markets is Mercado Vallehermoso, tucked away in the Chamberí neighbourhood. You can enjoy anything here from delicious coffee, empanadas, cured Spanish meats and American reubens to spicy Thai dishes, sushi and craft beer.
Come here for a meal and treat yourself with each course. Another cool market is Mercado San Fernando, nestled in the funky Lavapiés neighbourhood. Get yourself some delish Greek food here, yummy fresh fish and seafood dishes, or even some feel-good vegan plates.
6 Athens, Greece
Greek people are very passionate about their food culture, and this is very evident in their street food. So let’s start off with their traditional favourites, which you can find at shops and stalls throughout the city, like their souvlaki.
This portable fast food is a great meal on the go – a fluffy yet crunchy pita that’s packed with grilled pork or lamb or chicken, potatoes, doused in yogurt sauce with tomatoes, onion and parsley.
Try Kostas, opened in 1946 and still run by the same family in Agias Eirinis Square. Their tomato sauce is something you’ll want to write home about. Another great Greek speciality is their pies. Try the ‘kourou’ cheese pie from Ariston, open since 1906 near Syntagma square with more than 100 different kinds of pies to choose from. Another great snack food you’ll find around the city is ‘koulouri’, a bread ring that’s kind of like a pretzel/bagel but totally different, plain with sesame seeds or other flavours like cheese and olive. One of the best bakeries serving this up since 1960 is called To koulouri tou Psyri, or you can also find it at stalls lining some streets. There are also shops selling falafel, Indian-style wraps and burgers too, so be on the lookout and ready to try all Athens’ streets have to offer.
5 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Stroopwafel
What’s going on in Amsterdam’s street food scene? Well, I can tell you it’s much more than just pancakes and pickled herring. There are some wonderful open-air markets here like the Albert Cuypmarkt. It’s a market for everything from flowers to home goods, but you can also snack while you browse here. I suggest to grab some Dutch cheeses, meats, olives, hummus and other spreads or dips with bread. This makes the perfect combo for a street picnic. There are also spots to grab sandwiches, burgers or fries, and pickled herring if you dare. Finish it all off with a fresh stroopwafel – this is seriously a must-eat at Dutch markets, a warm and gooey waffle cookie sandwiched with caramel in the middle.
My absolute favourite spot for street food here though is Foodhallen, an old tram depot on the west side that’s been converted into shops, a theatre, and a giant food hall. They switch out the stalls every few months, but you can get everything here from fresh oysters and dim sum to Vietnamese bahn mi and vegan dishes like tempura fried asparagus. Even though it’s not the cheapest place to eat in the city, I love this giant food hall with picnic tables and a great bar in the middle. Come early to grab a seat!
4 Istanbul, Turkey
The street food culture is extensive in Turkey’s bustling capital that straddles Europe and Asia.
Because of this meeting of cultures, there are so many flavours and styles of food to enjoy, with plenty of food carts to satisfy your roaming hunger. It’s a cultural pastime to meet in the streets here and enjoy a little meal together, so join the locals and dig in.
One of the best street snacks you’ll find just about everywhere is simit, a twisted ring of dough that’s somewhere in between a bagel and pretzel, but something altogether different. It has a slight sweetness thanks to the sesames on top, and is great any time of day. Another favourite go-to are döner kebabs (shawarma), which have become popular all throughout Europe, packed with spiced lamb, beef or chicken and topped with tomato, onion and sauces. You can also get the meat alone on a stick called ‘shish kebab’. Istanbul inhabitants also love their grilled corn and roasted chestnuts, which you’ll find at carts around the city. A more daring option is stuffed mussels filled with rice and then steamed. Squeeze some lemon on top to bring out the flavour. For dessert, definitely get some ‘lokma’ or big donut balls, usually topped with a nice herby syrup – delish!
3 Berlin, Germany - Falafel Pita
Berlin is one of my favourite street food spots in Europe, with many reasons why. The culture has been alive for a while, and the most popular snacks you can pick up in just about any neighbourhood include the mighty falafel pita packed with halloumi and delicious sauces (my preferred mix)—or shawarma if you’re more into meat—as well as the currywurst spiced sausage, smothered in curry powder and ketchup and best enjoyed with a side of fries.
These go-to’s are great at any time of the day, but especially late at night when you’re experiencing an after-dinner-and-drinks craving. Beyond that, they have many amazing market halls lined with food stalls galore like the Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg on Thursdays, you can get anything your heart desires here, paired with some beautiful wines or always delicious German beers. Another relative newcomer organizing great food truck festivals and parties is Bite Club, with lots of festivals planned throughout the summer, plus a funky boat on the river Spree with open-air parties. They’ve got vendors from every corner of the world’s cuisine serving up tacos and BBQ to arepas and ‘humble pies’, plus Levantine favs and cakes and ice cream – oh hey, Berlin!
2 Budapest, Hungary
I’ve been holding out for this one because it’s got to be one of my top favourites in all of Europe. I hadn’t heard much about the cuisine beforehand, all I knew it was supposed to be heavy like its Eastern Europe counterparts. This may be true, but all those calories are absolutely worth it. My favourite snack—okay, we might as well call it a meal—is lángos.
This street food is a paradise of frisbee-sized fried dough topped with tons of garlic, sour cream and shredded cheese, and my god is it delicious. You can get this golden treasure just about anywhere in the city, and it’s especially great in the extremely cold deep winters here.
Another of my favourite food havens is the Great Market Hall close to the beautiful river Danube. You can also enjoy yummy Hungarian snacks here like spicy sausage and more fried treats. Another great spot to check out is Karaván Street Food Court where you can chow down on a burger, crêpes, Indian curries and Thai noodle dishes. There’s some outdoor space as well as inside the tent with heaters for the colder seasons. And just in case, they’ve also got more lángos if you’ve worked up an extra craving.
1 Helsinki, Finland
Street food is a booming business in Helsinki up north, and it’s as varied as in any other European street food hot spot on this list. There are food trucks and stalls all over the city, very popular street food festivals during the year, as well as other smaller celebrations. In addition to the delicious Finnish-style hot dogs and buttery pastries like ‘piirakka’ you can pick up just about anywhere in the city, there is a street food craze occurring, so get ready for new pop-ups every day. For an easy start, check out the trucks parked around the central railway station. These change regularly, but you can find anything from local fish dishes to burgers. One of the big favourites is Street Gastro, with unbelievably good sandwiches like their spicy chicken sandwich or two great vegan options stacked with toppings. Fafa’s is also another beloved name, with tons of locations now since their humble beginnings as one food truck, famous for their falafel, which you can pretty much have any way you want – go for the adored falafel and halloumi option. You can also enjoy some yummy Thai dishes from Twisted Street Kitchen like coconut curry or spicy chicken wings.