Our Gluten-Free Travel Guide in Italy and Spain is brimming with tips for a delicious & carefree vacation abroad!
Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed gluten free or Celiac, a huge fear about traveling travel and eat gluten free away from home? It’s not difficult! In fact there are amazing gluten free food options available all over Spain and Italy. Our Italy and Spain Gluten-Free Travel Guide is perfect for planning your next vacation. We share what snacks to bring along, and how to locate the best gluten free restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores anywhere in the world.
Cheers to a glorious and most delicious vacation!
Both Megs and I love adventures. We are seasoned with both domestic and international travels. With our common sense tips, you will find comfort and ease wherever you explore!
Camping is another way to see the world! In case you missed Meg’s camping essential guide, click HERE. We grew up camping and would take the entire family of 6 tent camping each year. If you are traveling by car or camping this year do check out Meg’s Camping Travel Guide, tips, market lists, as well as her Camping Essentials. It’s a fantastic way to see our country as well as other countries too! And its budget worthy! Need to rent an RV? Check out Outdoorsy. It’s new way to rent an RV!
Travel Tip #1 Do a Little Homework
Whether traveling in the states or abroad, we encourage doing a little homework researching gluten free restaurants where you are staying. God bless the internet for this! When you type in “best gluten free restaurants near me” up pops trip advisor, yelp and a ton of bloggers. Then check out the restaurants that look good to you, and yes do read a few reviews and look at the photos. Also reach out to friends on your social networks and get their input too. Then make a short list of your options. Being prepared is truly your lifesaver!
Travel Tip #2 . Bring Provisions
We love to bring paleo type crackers, chips, bars, and a grain-free granolas to munch on. These snacks are easy to take along when traveling by car, bus, train, boat or plane. Having snacks is the game changer. As we know meltdowns happen at any age and you want to head them off at the pass. You never want to be in a hankery position with no food or options while vacationing. That’s just no fun.
Being even a little bit prepared has great rewards. Stash food where-ever possible and know there’s always a market that will have something~ even a fresh fruit or protein option. When it comes to food, I feel better being prepared. Think foods with lots of good fats, because it’s the good fats, not the sugar, that keep our moods happy. This year I loved seeing families in airports eating whole avocados for a snack! I was thinking, how awesome is that!
Travel Tip #3 HAVE FUN!
Watch Curry Girls “GO Italy” video for some fun inspiration.
10 Tips for finding gluten free food in Spain or Italy.
1. Google best gluten free restaurants (name your town and country) say San Sebastian, Spain. Do the same for gluten free bakeries and grocery stores. Make sure your location is on. Allow it when it asks. Then take notes.
2. Look for the places to eat that are close to your hotel.
3. Need a good restaurant finder? Try Trip Advisor, Yelp, and The Fork.com for ratings and reviews. Look for a 4- 5 rating. 5 is the top score for a review on Trip Advisor.
4. Be aware, and don’t rely on the rating number. READ the reviews. See if the restaurant sounds like somewhere you’d enjoy with the kind of food you like to eat. Look at photos. Go to the restaurant’s website, and look at the menu. Walk or call the restaurant to check out just how gluten free they really are. Sometimes its just a lure to get you in. We did that often when we could and found some places not as gluten friendly with limited options.
5. Make sure the restaurant is close to where you are located and not 20 miles away. Made that mistake a few times. Drove hours on a dark windy road in Cortina to find the restaurant was not opened.
6. See if the restaurant is pricey and worth it. Read the reviews. Know that Michelin starred restaurants can start at $200+ per person.
7. Find gluten free travel bloggers who have been to where you are going. There’s hundreds of awesome travel bloggers who have done the leg work for us.
8. Tell the waiter you are Celiac. It’s really the best way to communicate, even if you are gluten intolerant or sensitive. They take extreme care.
9. Super Markets in Spain and Italy have designated aisles just for “sanza gluten” food. Purchase a few items just to have with you.
10. Take homeopathic Nux Vomica 30C to settle any tummy aches, as well as Tums. Nux is great for overeating and drinking. Because that is possible.
Traveling to Europe~ Spain and Italy
Pegs and Poppa Tim went to Barcelona, San Sebastian, Spain, and then flew to Italy where Megs met up with them in Florence. We’ve shared all our favorite gluten free friendly restaurants from our Spain and Italy adventures below. This was a foodie adventure like no other!
First, San Sebastian has more Michelin starred chef’s and restaurants per square mile than any other place in the world! Even some of the little tapas bars have Michelin stars! The food truly is delicious and so fresh.It’s super gluten free friends and we found some of the best fish we’ve ever eaten. Tim and I found several restaurants that we enjoyed so much we returned multiple times! The biggest hurdle was not the food in San Sebastian, it was learning how to step up and order your food at the Pintxos bars! It was a blast, but took courage and timing. It didn’t take long before we got the hang of it. And when you don’t feel like going out to eat, OMG the grocery stores are amazing! Everything is so fresh, organic, and ready for you to take home and cook. We were staying in an Air B and B with a great kitchen and outside deck! We made breakfast and lunch most days, and sat outside enjoying the stunning views. What a delight! We loved switching up hotels with Air B and B’s.
After a fabulous trip in Spain off we flew to Venice. We stayed at the fantastic Hotel Savia e Jolanda on the Grand Canal~ Highly recommend. Venice was quick but we literally ate with the locals for dinner both nights at a hole in the wall restaurant~best local gluten free dinners! I’ll keep looking for it’s name. For breakfast, our hotel was amazing! A full gluten free spread each morning. We were impressed!
We rented a car and headed to the Alps. Cortina, altho off season, was gorgeous. OMG those mountains! Finding a restaurant was a little tricky. We got lost on narrow mountain roads in search of “the must go to” restaurant. When we finally found it, sadly it was closed…However in town 5 minutes from our Air B and B, there was a wonderful gluten free friendly hotel/restaurant. We were happy.
The drive through the Alps was spectacular! We arrived in Malcesine, Lake Garda and stayed at the fabulous family owned waterfront boutique Hotel Vega. The small town of Malcesine (pronounced Mal-chez-nay) we adored. Walking streets, biking around the lake (although the road is a bit dangerous to ride the entire 30 miles on bike, there was plenty to see and do in this town. The food was amazing so we ate dinner and lunch at Ristorante Al Gondoliere. With lots of GF options! We went to the very reasonably priced Vecchia Malcesine Michelin starred restaurant . The food and service were excellent. The chef was very easy going with our dietary restrictions, which isn’t always the case.
On our way to L’ Spieza to drop off our car, we stopped in the last town on Lake Garda, Sirmione. There we were surprised to see an amazing castle and Roman ruins. We loved the amazingly well preserved Roman ruins and highly recommend a visit!
Off we sped to drop off our car and train to Vernazza, Cinque Terra. The town of Vernazza is exactly the picturesque town shown in all the photos of Cinque Terra. However what isn’t said is how crowded the small towns get with the tour boats. You really don’t spend too much time in your town, other than to eat and sleep. If you want a great village to stay in that’s close by, our recommendation, is to take stay in Levanto. There you will find a great beach, wonderful food and no crowds. Our favorite place to eat was the Osteria Tumelin.
Cinque Terra is a seafood heaven. It goes beyond fresh; lobster, crab, shrimp and squid were in abundance. It was super exciting to find so many amazing gluten free options everywhere! As you walked off the train, right in the middle of each town you’d start to see signs for “gluten free”. Smack in the middle of Vernazza was the wonderful Lunch Box cafe. We ate there daily for 3 days. They made delicious crustless quiches and sandwiches. We found treasure in each of the villages. Our favorite village was in Manarola where we found a Bakery with ice cream and pastries that were unbelievable! The best dinner and lunch spot is the famous Restorante Belforte in Vernazza perched on a rock. The views are spectacular and the service outstanding. The waiters were hilarious!
30% of Italians are gluten intolerant or Celiac. Italian restaurants take it seriously. Just ask again once the food is delivered as we had 1 hiccup in Luca with a waiter in training who brought us the wrong pizza. We survived. It’s easier tho in a foreign country to just say you are a celiac. They understand the word celiac not gluten intolerant.
More to come on the Cinque Terre in an upcoming Italy post. We will share our finds in all the towns of the Cinque Terre and our time in Luca and the magical Tuscany villages we ate in, shopped and visited.
Poppa Tim flew back home. Meg and I met up in Florence before heading off to our cooking adventure at Villa Jovial Foods. Watch our fun “Curry Girls GO Italy” adventure video of some incredible foodie spots in Florence. You will see the best gluten free bakery, farmers market and restaurant hands down.
Don’t let your gluten free lifestyle keep you from traveling. We want to assure that you won’t go hungry when you travel. You just need to prep a little and do some investigating. Bring some snacks so you are never without food. If you’re traveling to other countries like Japan, that can be a bit trickier. However, google gluten free travel bloggers who’ve been there.
Enjoy yourself and Happy travels!
Barcelona favorite foodie places we loved!
BEST Paella: Paella Bar . OMG truly an experience and totally casual! It’s just outside of the Boquiera market place.
Bar Canete~ Amazing food. Sat at the bar had the best time with the chefs!
My Fucking Restaurant~ I just had to go, and it was worth it! OMG the name alone made me want to go!
Jansana Gluten Free Bakery Calling all pastry lovers, this place is the bomb!smoked whitefish at Canete Restaurant in Barcelona
San Sebastian favorite restaurants
Best Pintxos (tapas) Bars Here’s a great blog that shares great information. It’s how we found our favorite pintxos. It’s best to read up on eating GF in San Sebastian or whereever you are going and then choose a couple spots that sound good to you. Then I’d map it out, as the pintxos and the streets are packed with people. Simply ordering is a wild ride. You just got to get on up there and be bold. Otherwise you wont get food 🙂
Our favorite pinxto was Gandarias Jatetxea. We ate there twice because it was so delicious, you could sit down and order from a designated gluten free menu.
Arzak. It’s pricey. I’m told is one of the best 3starred Michelin restaurants. Make reservations in advance. We didn’t get in, but I’ll go one day…
Martin Berasategui Meg loved her 3 star experience!
The markets all around the city were fantastic. We’d pick up vegetables and charcuterie and just enjoyed it on our rooftop patio!
San Sebastian and Barcelona are beautiful cities in Spain. If you are a foodie or simply love a good place to explore with tons of shopping, eating, and fun, then we highly recommend going to both cities! If we can help in any way, please reach out or comment below.
BON Voyage! Happy Travels!
If you have any questions, please reach out to us and comment below!
Love Megs and Pegs