Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants in Europe

During my research for my first Europe trip, one concern that had me worried was the fact that I am a vegetarian. I was not sure if I would find vegetarian friendly restaurants in Budapest, and if I did, I was not sure whether the food would be any good and how expensive they might turn out to be. Knowing that there will be other vegetarian travellers like me, I’ve taken the help of some fellow bloggers to compile a sample list of some vegetarian friendly restaurants (or vegan friendly restaurants) in Europe. This is by far not an exhaustive list, and I intend to keep adding to it as and when I get more suggestions.

 

City: Porto, Portugal

Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant: Brick Clérigos

Recommended by:  Maya and Sari of  Chasing Lenscapes

Whenever we travel, we find ourselves spending so many hours on our feet since walking is our favourite way of transportation abroad whenever possible. It is a great opportunity to discover cool local places and really get to know a new city. We stumbled upon Brick Clérigos while exploring the streets of the charming Porto in Portugal (it is located just next to the Clérigos Tower). We always like to have something light for lunch and this place was just perfect!  Various wraps, toasts, salads, vegetarian plates and soups, all looking so healthy and delicious we had a hard time choosing just two dishes (so we stopped there the next day too). They have great choices for vegetarians and some dishes suitable for vegans. The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly and the design is unique, with a big wooden communal table in the middle and hanging pots and pans and lots of plants all around. We tried the wonderful vegetarian salad, the quinoa salad and a couple of great wraps and also had a taste of the delicious roasted veggie soup. Don’t forget to taste their homemade desserts before you leave. You might need to wait a few minutes for a sit but you can also make a reservation in advance. We would definitely recommend it amongst the vegetarian friendly restaurants in Porto.

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Diners sitting at a table inside the Brick restaurant

 

City: Ghent, Belgium

Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant: Plus+

Recommended by:  Bernadette of A Packed Life

Ghent, a medieval gem of Flanders, Belgium, is a wonderful destination in its own right and has also been described as the vegetarian capital of Europe.  Thursday in the city is Veggie Dag, when the whole place goes semi-vegetarian, with most establishments offering way more than a token meat-free offering.  One of my favourite vegetarian friendly restaurants to catch a great veggie or vegan offering is Plus+ on Ajuinlei, just behind the River Leie that runs through the centre of Ghent.

Here you’ll find a daytime selection that lets you build your own meal from scratch.  Choose grains, leaves, and all manner of gorgeous ingredients to create a bowl, and add some warming broth to the mix on a chilly day.  You can see my February choices: a bowl of steaming sweet potato soup, quinoa with a falafel, leaves and other salads.  What you can’t see is the snow starting to fall outside on the river, making this a magical place to enjoy lunch.  You’ll find plenty more places to gladden the vegan or vegetarian soul in Ghent.

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Veggie meal at Plus + restaurant

 

City: Krakow, Poland

Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant: Hamsa

Recommended by: Gabrielle of Up and Gone

Located in the Kazimierz, or Kraków’s Jewish quarter, Hamsa is an Israeli restaurant that prides itself on hummus and happiness. It delivers both in spades—in the form of light and savoury dishes heaped with spices as well as history. The space, though housed in an older building in the Kazimierz, is light and airy, decorated in the whites and blues of the Israeli flag. On the menu, visitors unfamiliar with this cuisine can orient themselves on the different ingredients (chickpeas, hummus, tahini) and their role in Middle Eastern culture. As for the food: their mezze platter was a light and perfect breakfast: spicy hummus, crispy falafel, and labneh, a very soft cheese that was rolled into balls, soaked in olive oil, and served with pillowy pita. Almost everything is vegetarian, with plenty of vegan options as well. If you head over to Hamsa in the evening, they also have a lounge space with a bar and a beautiful patio that looks like it’d be a wonderful spot to enjoy a warm evening. It is one of the more popular vegetarian friendly restaurants in the area.

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Table setting at Hamsa restaurant in Krakow

 

City: Hamburg, Germany

Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant: Kartoffelkeller

Recommended by: Anna of Would Be Traveller

The Kartoffelkeller is a restaurant in Hamburg dedicated to the humble potato. Vegetarians rejoice!

Located on the Deichstraße, this restaurant is in the heart of the city’s action – just a few minutes’ walk from Speicherstadt and the tourist attractions in the area.

Germany used to be considered a country of carnivores thanks to its love of schnitzel and sausage, but it also has one of the fastest growing vegetarian populations in the world (10% of Germans are now vegetarian!). Because of that, it’s quite easy to find good vegetarian food in Germany now, and a large number of vegetarian friendly restaurants.

There’s plenty of choice on Kartoffelkeller’s menu for vegetarians. I chose a delicious potato, spinach and cheese gratin, but I had a hard time choosing between that and the traditional potato pancakes that came in a huge variety of different flavours and toppings.

Sadly for vegans, the potatoes are often covered in cheesy or creamy sauces, but a couple of the potato salads may be suitable.

It goes without saying that you’ll need to like potatoes if you go here!

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An exterior shot of Kartoffelkeller restaurant from across the street

 

City: Manchester, UK

Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant: Little Aladdin

Recommended by: Chris Behrsin of Being A Nomad

Manchester isn’t quite what it used to be when I was growing up there. Every time I visit home, I’m amazed to see how expensive things are. Nowadays, it’s difficult to eat out there for under £10 ($13) a person.

Which is why we were pleasantly surprised to find the Little Aladdin vegan restaurant, on High Street, just a stone’s throw away from Market Street and right on the edge of the hip-and-happening Northern Quarter. Its location makes it ideal for those returning home after either work or early after a night out, and looking for vegetarian friendly restaurants.

Best of all, it’s cheap and 100% vegan. Every day, they cook up a selection of different vegan curries, and you can get a plate of them with rice for £5 (approx. $6.50). When we tried this, the dishes were basic but tasty, and we certainly got our money’s worth.

A favourite amongst the locals for cheap vegan lunches, this is also an excellent option for budget travellers to Manchester, a city that’s famous for its curries.

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City: Ios Island, Cyclades, Greece

Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant: The Octopus Tree

Recommended by:  Cristina of LooknWalkGreece

I’ve been vegetarian since 1999. I visited Ios Island, Greece, as I was “transitioning” to vegan, in May 2017. I’ve always been a fan of the Greek cuisine and knew how many vegetarian and vegan options it included. Luckily, my Greek friend also knew this and promptly asked me to the official season opening of the Octopus Tree. The taverna serves fusion Greek and Spanish dishes. What does it mean for you? A lot of vegetarian options. The Classic Greek Salad (Horiatiki) is a must try – and make sure to ask for the local cheese, not only feta. They also make an amazing potato salad. Pair it with beetroot salad. And don’t forget to try the spicy feta dip and tzatziki. Indeed, we tried the mezedes every time we went and, each time tried something else. For 2 adults you can order 3-4 mezedes and you are set for the night.

Their menu lists the ingredients in each dish so don’t be afraid to check them or ask the friendly staff if you have any doubts.

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Greek Salad with cheese

 

City: Helsinki, Finland

Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant: Fafa’s

Recommended by: Anna of Hammock Stories

Fafa’s is a super cool, laid back chain restaurant based in Finland, concentrating on Middle Eastern street food, and it’s a popular vegetarian friendly restaurant option. It has become quite popular and has started spreading from Helsinki to other cities in Finland and even Tallin, Estonia. There have even been talks about Fafa’s trying to expand into the UK! I recently visited their Helsinki location, Siltasaarenkatu 12.

They make awesome pitas, salads, a few side-dishes and yummy sweet potato fries. The prices are moderate, around 9-11 Euros if you are a vegetarian/vegan. My favourite portion is the falafel, hummus and eggplant pita. I just love everything with eggplant. Sometimes I want to give myself a treat and order a dish with cheese in it. You can have the eggplant one with feta. Or you could go for either a falafel & halloumi or goat cheese & pesto pita. The pitas usually have lettuce, tomato, parsley, tabouleh, matbucha, cucumber and tzatziki, just to name a few. It really is quite filling, but luckily not too heavy.

In selected restaurants they have beer, but mostly its lemonade, ginger beer, juice and so forth. If you are on a budget, you can choose tap water and may I say, in Finland, we have the best tap water. No use ordering expensive bottled water here!

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Veggie in pita bread

 

City: Budapest, Hungary

Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant: Trattoria Mamma

Recommended by: Me!

I was travelling with a friend and I am a vegetarian while she isn’t, so I didn’t wish to go to a place that served only vegetarian or vegan food. We found this Italian place near the St Stephan Basilica, and liked the outdoor seating. The menu had enough options to make it qualify as a vegetarian friendly restaurant so we decided to give it a shot. We tried the bruschetta and different kinds of pasta, and of course wine. I guess the wine must have been really good because I don’t really remember what I had for dessert lol! If you are okay with eating cheese, and enjoy Italian food, then this is a good place , specially for dinner. Their lovely outdoor seating overlooks the Basilica area, and afterwards, you can walk over to the famous ice cream place Gelarto Rosa to get yourself an ice cream shaped like a rose!

 

So there you are, just some ideas for vegetarian friendly restaurants (or vegan friendly restaurants) in Europe. I will add to this list as and when I receive more inputs from bloggers. If you are travelling and looking for vegetarian food in Europe, there are some great resources online that you could refer to such as Happy Cow. Using this and websites like Tripadvisor, you will easily be able to find suitable vegetarian or vegan food options for yourself or your companions, wherever you are.

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Suggestions for #eating-out in various #destinations in #Europe when you are #vegetarian or #vegan. #Veggie-friendly #restaurants and #resources

 

 

Remembering my first solo trip: Scotland – Part One!

I love travelling solo. Why, you might ask. I have listed a few reasons here. This post though is about my first solo trip, which happened in the summer of 2010. I travelled to London, stayed with a friend for a couple of days and then took a week’s trip (alone) to Scotland. It turned out to be one of my most memorable trips ever.

How it began

Early on a June morning I took the morning train out of King’s Cross to Edinburgh. The journey takes about 4 hours, and the trains are very comfortable. The train was also a great way to see more of the countryside, which was truly beautiful. I realised that all the cliches I’d read about were true: rolling meadows, cows in peaceful pastures, picture-book cottages and houses with sloping shingled roofs.

Finally getting to Scotland was both exciting and scary. I didn’t know a single soul there, had never travelled alone this far from home, and had no idea what lay in store. So yeah, there were definitely some butterflies in my tummy as the train pulled into Waverley station. It was overcast and a drizzle started up almost immediately; luckily the hostel I had booked was just a 5 minute walk away.

Edinburgh the Medieval Beauty

My first evening in Edinburgh was also the day I fell in love with the city. Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town and the 18th century mostly Georgian New town are both World Heritage Sites, and one can spend days just exploring them. I stayed in the city for three days here and spent hours just walking everywhere.

On this first evening I was still too jet-lagged to do much, so I just took an exploratory walk up the Royal Mile.  The Royal Mile is a cobblestoned street connecting the Castle with the Holyrood Palace. It actually measures about a 100 yards more than a mile. The part of it closest to the castle is where you will find most of the souvenir shops, restaurants, T shirt sellers, and all the usual suspects. But it is still an interesting walk, with medieval buildings on both sides and dozens of narrow alleys (called Wynds or Closes) leading off from it. Go down any of these wynds and you never know what you might find. A part of the Mile is pedestrian-only.

Edinburgh solo trip image
Edinburgh – The National Gallery in the foreground

I also walked across Waverley bridge to the New Town side of things, and took a look at the Monument, the Royal Academy, the adjacent National Gallery, the Mound etc. Old Town and New Town used to be divided by the Nor Loch – the town’s water supply/sewage dump. This was eventually drained and converted into a beautiful green area called the Princes Street Gardens. It’s a great place to sit and people-watch. You also get great views of the Castle, and some decent ice cream!

By the time I finished my walk it was around 8pm, and it was still bright and sunny. To somebody used to night setting in by 7-7.30 pm in summer, it was strange at first to see dusk extending as late as 10pm here. It was a little disorienting, especially since all shops and cafes shut by 6pm.

My first day in Scotland turned out great. I managed the train connections safely, found myself in a beautiful city, and made friends with my hostel roommates, Amanda and Melissa. After three days exploring Edinburgh I continued into the Highlands and Skye. More on that, later! In the meantime, if you are planning to visit Edinburgh anytime soon, do check out this list of top things to do.

Getting there: Edinburgh is well connected by flight, train and National Express coach services