Picnicking in Europe

You probably know that there’s no shortage of outstanding bars, sidewalk cafés, and restaurants throughout Europe.

Even so, have you ever considered buying from the local market to create an authentic European picnic? Picnicking in Europe can be a romantic date, a family affair, or a spontaneous lunch with new friends, and it’s a terrific way to stretch your travel budget. We gathered some great tips on how to put together the perfect European picnic.

Plan Ahead

Save time and money by creating a list of things to buy. Whether you decide to picnic for brunch, lunch, or dinner, you’re only eating one meal and don’t need to go overboard while shopping. Ask locals for suggestions on the best places to purchase fresh produce, breads, cheeses, and meats.

Go Local

For an authentic experience, try to purchase local specialties and in-season produce. Ask market vendors about regional cheeses and meats. You won’t need a whole wheel of Manchego cheese or an entire jamón Ibérico, but shop clerks can prepare smaller portions for you to go. Buy fruits that are in season for the freshest and most affordable meal. Drop by the local bakery for delicious fresh breads and pastries.

Complement your Picnic with Regional Wine & Beverages

Ask shopkeepers and locals, even other travelers, which wines and other drinks they’ve discovered and enjoyed in the area. Beyond wine, many areas of Europe have their own unique alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. If you’re picnicking in Paris, a bottle of red wine is best served with sparkling water during the meal, while a sip of brandy will go down smoothly as an after-dinner digestif. In Madrid, a short glass of Pacharán is served as an aperitif, while tinto de verano (local wine mixed with lemon-lime soda) might be served with food in spring and summer.

Picnic Extras

You will want to pack or buy a couple of additional items to make your picnic experience easier. If you have the space in your luggage, consider packing a tote bag (in place of a basket), a light blanket (this may also come in handy on a long flight), a pocketknife, and a corkscrew (make sure these last two are in checked bags only). When you’re shopping for your meal, remember to pick up some napkins, disposable cutlery, and something to cut cheeses and fruits on.

Dollars & Pounds

Keep the exchange rate and weight conversions in mind when you’re shopping at markets. A kilogram is the standard measurement in most of Europe; one kilo equates to 2.2 pounds. You can easily install Android or iPhone apps to help you measure both kilograms and euros to make picnicking in Europe a little easier.

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