This post was last updated on June 27th, 2018
With summer fast approaching, it’s time to make travel plans. And for those of us who love dessert, and think that food and a culture go hand in hand – why not plan a vacation around food? Specifically, where to enjoy Europe’s best cakes? Holidu, a leading global searching engine for vacation rentals, provides information about and where to find the most iconic delicacies and also recommends fun ways to burn off the calories consumed in each cake’s birthplace. Who knew being a tourist could be the best way to exercise?
Austria, Vienna – Sachertorte
Our gateau-inspired travels start in Austria, where chocolate-lovers can be inspired by the famous Sachertorte. This cake, made of chocolate dough and apricot jam, was invented by the young Franz Sacher while he was still a baking apprentice. He had to create a perfect dessert for Austria’s Prince Metternich. Nowadays, you can try this special treat in the luxury Sacher Hotel – or, if you’re feeling ambitious, bake it yourself!
To burn off the 337-kcal gained from a piece of Sachertorte, you would have to walk for 96 minutes, which you can do exploring Vienna’s beautiful Belvedere gardens. Make it romantic by doing the stroll with your significant other and pausing in front of in front of the vibrant “Kiss” painting by Gustav Klimt, found inside the Belvedere Museum.
France, Paris – Tarte au citron meringue
Considered the favourite and most-sold dessert in France, countries across the world still fight about the tarte au citron’s origin. Many French people claim that it comes from Menton, the city of lemons, where the art of making tarte au citron has been perfected. The precise balance between the sourness of the lemon curd and the sweetness of the meringue has made this cake a favourite of many since back in the 19th century. What could be more French than a picnic in the Luxembourg gardens with a fresh cake from a nearby patisserie?
To burn off the tarte au citron’s 284 kcal, you will need to do approximately 81 minutes of walking, perhaps along the Seine all the way to the top of Montmartre. But let’s be honest – the best way to burn off the calories is by climbing all 600 steps of the Eiffel Tower.
Portugal, Lisbon – Toucinho do Céu
Toucinho do Céu is one of the most traditional desserts in Portugal. Hailing from the convent of Odivelas in Lisbon, this pastry comprises egg yolks, sugar, ground almonds and spaghetti squash-based jam. The name Toucinho do Céu is due to the fact that the original version included lard as an ingredient. It is baked all over the country, with some regional variations, but the most “traditional” version can be tasted in the Pastelaria Faruque, where it was first created, right in front of the convent of Odivelas.
To burn the off the 316-kcal gained from some Toucinho de Ceu, consider a lovely 90-minute walk through the steep and colourful streets of the Alfama neighbourhood in Lisbon.
Switzerland, Zurich – Bündner Nusstorte
The Bündner Nusstorte is a traditional Swiss cake and is essentially a caramelised walnut-filled pastry. It comes from canton Grübunden in the southeast Switzerland. This enjoyable Swiss pastry was invented by a baker named Fausto Pult in 1926. Because the pastry is filled with whole nuts, and not mixed, like most traditional cakes, you’ll find that this cake will be a nice twist to your usual nut-based cake, particularly if you’re really a nut fan.
To make up for the 483 kcal of this caramelised dream, take a 138-minute walk or go hiking in Uetliberg, a beautiful mountain, near city centre. With is 870-metre height, travellers can enjoy the best panoramic view of Zurich.
United Kingdom, London – Victoria Sponge
This fluffy cake is named after Queen Victoria, who loved to eat a piece of it with her afternoon tea. A traditional Victoria sponge is served with raspberry jam and double whipped cream. It’s not too difficult to create this delightful dessert for your own high tea: This cake consists of rather basic ingredients. Presentation and ambience really add to the cake’s glamour, all of which can be experienced in the Park Room at Grosvenor house.
To burn off the Victoria Sponge’s 400 kcal, visit the famous Royal Observatory in Greenwich; from there, follow the prime meridian for about an hour. Enjoy this beautiful “green city” on the exact points where conventional time was born!
Italy, Rome – Torta caprese
Italians are true chocolate and cake-lovers; when combining the two, you get the amazing Caprese cake, named after its birthplace, the island of Capri. There are different stories about its origins and according to the most famous one, three gangsters, sent from Al Capone himself, went to Carmine Di Fiore’s bakery in Capri and asked for a chocolate cake. Because of the rush to finish, and to avoid irking the gangsters, Carmine forgot the flour – one of history’s most fortunate mistakes. The result – this flourless cake – is dense and delicious, and perfect if you’re preparing sweets for anyone with gluten sensitivities.
To shed the 418-kcal gained, you can go to the Vatican Museum and walk the 7km length of the rooms, while admiring some of the most beautiful paintings in the world.
Sweden, Stockholm – Prinsesstårta
This Swedish cake was originally called “green cake” due to its colour. But the inventor Jenny Åkerström, who was a teacher, tutored some royal students who loved the green cake so much that it was renamed as “Prinsesstårta” (“princess cake”). The last week in September is dedicated to this green delicacy, making it the perfect moment to try creating a green-hued princess cake of your own.
The best way to burn the 290 kcal from Prinsesstårta is to do an 83-minute city stroll. Walk along “Montelius street” (Monteliusvägen) to enjoy a nice view over Stockholm and around “Djurgården” to relax in a more natural setting.
Spain, Madrid – Tarta de Santiago
This Galician cake became famous all throughout Spain – and then the world – because of the Camino de Santiago (the way of Saint James pilgrimage). The cake is an icon in Santiago de Compostela, the Galician capital, and is most frequently consumed in the summer as part of the July celebrations honouring the Biblical apostle, St. James. Now, however, you can find the cake in almost every café and bakery all over the country, all year round.
You can more than compensate for the 337-kcal earned by the Tarta de Santiago walking for about 108 minutes. Why not push yourself and do the pilgrimage route, starting from Madrid and culminating at Santiago de Compostela? That way, you’ll definitely deserve an entire cake!
Germany, Berlin – Käsekuchen
The oldest cheesecake recipe in the world comes from Greece, but the Germans have been doing their own version of it since the 16th century. Since then, there have been a wide variety of flavours all over the country: sometimes with a yeast-dough bottom, sometimes with raisins in curd cheese, sometimes with cream. This is your opportunity to get a little bit creative with the recipe. To get an impression of the many different ways to enjoy cheesecake, try Cafe Dreikäsehoch in Berlin, which offers more than 40 different variations.
You need to walk for 44 minutes to burn off the 152-kcal gained from your Käsekuchen. To do this, you may consider taking the 300 steps up to Siegessäule (Victory Column), while also enjoying an incredible view.
Poland, Warsaw – Napoleonka
Napoleonka is a Polish cream pie comprising two layers of puff pastry filled with whipped cream. It can be decorated with powdered sugar or icing on the top. This cake is so delectable that even Popes love it! In 1999, Pope John Paul II said that to celebrate finishing an exam, he and his friends made a bet about who could eat the most Napoleonkas. He managed to put away 18 cakes and still didn’t win the bet!
To burn off the 429 kcal of the Napoleonka (from one slice – not 18), walk for about 123 minutes, or climb the stairs of the 42-floor Palace of Culture and Science.
“Travel and food – they belong together. The heart and soul of a place often lie in its unique dishes. Cakes, in particular, have always been served during special occasions, and so they tell stories about the history of a place. They reflect the culture of a region in a very special way,” says Sarah Sullivan, spokeswoman for Holidu. “Those who travel want to discover and experience something new. Holiday lettings offer a lot of flexibility to let you try out as many things as possible and to experience a city with all your senses – taste included. You can also get the ingredients and bring that sense of wonder back home with you, to remind you of the restaurants, cafés and markets at which you ate.”
About this study
The cities chosen in this ranking are among the most important metropolises in Europe. The calories per cake refer to a portion of 100 grams and have been calculated using MyFitnessPal application, as well as the time to burn calories, calculated by considering a person with an average weight of 70 kg.