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A woman holding a basket of red, unprocessed coffee beans.

Local Flavor: Supporting Cultures Through Experiences

We love selfies, zip-lining, and window seats as much as anyone else, but at the heart of every great trip is local culture. Here are just a few immersive (and tasty!) experiences that support local businesses, livelihoods, and traditions on tour.

by EF Ultimate Break

In case you need a reminder, we love to travel. We live to travel. We would run off and marry travel if we could. And one of the best parts about seeing the world (no, not the little snacks you get on the plane) is absorbing local culture. Where the locals eat, how they make their living, what their customs are—these are the experiences that truly make a trip special. And if you’re not grilling your own meat on an organic farm in Mykonos, are you really doing it right?

Your travel experience with us directly impacts and supports local businesses and individuals, not to mention all the little insider tidbits and hidden gems your Tour Directors will turn you on to at each destination. Our goal is always to preserve and lift up the cultures of the places we visit, and to have a blast doing it. Keep reading for just a few of the local experiences you can dive into on your travels.

A hand pulling apart a piece of grilled meat.
Greece: BBQ of the gods

Picture yourself in the heart of Mykonos, nibbling loukoumi and dried figs, tasting vegetables right from the earth, and preparing a traditional Greek feast. Too good to be true, you say? Not at the Mykonian Spiti (“home” in Greek) and Farm, where preserving the culture, ethics, and traditions of the island is the farm’s ethos. You’ll observe how this organic farm operates, meet all the adorbs animals, and learn the ins and outs of Hellenic barbecue.

Grill it up on The Greek Islands →

A vineyard on a hill with a lake and mountains in the background.
Switzerland: Wine o’clock

Ahhh, Switzerland. Land of chocolate, yodeling, so much cheese, okay-ish mountain views...and wine! Stroll through vineyards overlooking Lake Geneva at Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage site that produces some of the best wine in the country. Most of the work at this century-old vineyard is still done by hand, respecting the long tradition of the founding vine growers and winemakers. Swirl, sip, and soak up the history.

Raise a few glasses on Hike Europe: The Alps →

Blue sky and a hill covered in green plants and palm trees.
Costa Rica: Caffeine buzz, unlocked

For everyone who considers coffee the sixth food group, this one’s for you. Costa Rica is kinda famous for its java, so a trip to the land of la pura vida isn’t complete without a stop at a coffee plantation. You’ll learn everything about the process, from cultivation to processing to sustainable practices. Head to the roasting room to watch as the little red berries transform into life-giving hot bean water, then sample the freshest cuppa Joe of your life.

Stop and smell the coffee on Costa Rica Adventure →

A plate of pasta and tomatoes.
Italy: Eat as the Romans do

Hey, have you heard? Italy has pretty good food. And if you happen to be in Rome while you’re on tour, there’s a 99.9% chance that you’ll end up at Trattoria Osti Matti, or “crazy host restaurant” if we’re being literal. An unassuming spot tucked away in a residential neighborhood southeast of the city center, this little gem might look informal, but the attention to quality and fresh, hyperlocal ingredients is *chef’s kiss.* Come for the classic Italian menu, stay for la famiglia vibes.

Mangia tutto on Venice, Florence & Rome →

A row of wooden barrels in an old building with wooden beams.
France: Cider, s’il vous plaît

Okay, France, we get it—ya got great wine. But l’Hexagone isn’t all Bordeaux, Sancerre, and Champagne. Grapes are cool, but apples are also hugely popular in France when it comes to producing tasty tipples. Explore a seaside, family-owned orchard full of different apple varieties and learn about production, distillation, and aging of different sips and spirits. Then sample cider, Calvados (apple brandy) and Pommeau (Calvados cut with apple juice), all made right on the farm.

Get spirited away on France: Castles, Coasts & Croissants →

Meat and vegetables on plates and bowls on a carved wooden table.
Thailand: Chiang Mai tastebud high

It doesn’t get any more local than enjoying an authentic meal cooked in an ACTUAL local’s own home. You’ll get a rare glimpse into Thai Lanna culture through a home-hosted dinner in Chiang Mai while learning more about your hosts on a personal level. Prepare to taste more food than you could even dream about, and even try your hand at making a traditional Thai dish before chowing down Khantoke-style—sitting on a pillow at a low wooden table called, you guessed it, a Khantoke.

Noodle around on Thailand Getaway →

Feeling inspired, and maybe a little hungry? Because same—two pizzas and an order of Panang curry were ordered and devoured while writing this. But really, exploring and supporting local cultures abroad, or anywhere you go, is key to an incredible travel experience. At the very least you’ll learn something brand new, and hey, you might even get a snack out of it.

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