Salt-crusted sea bass, lemony razor clams, pan-seared pulpo – the menus of Europe rely heavily on the local catch. Those edible finds you make across the continent are some of the finest in the world – especially the seafood. Whether you’re scouring a Norwegian fish market or sharing plates of jaquinziho (fried mackerel) in Lisbon, the sea-fresh seafood is worth splashing out for.
Pearlescent scallops, tender lobster, and cod so fresh it’s almost wriggling: it doesn’t get much better than dock-hugging Bergen for seafood. Your star stop should be Fløien Folkerestaurant to sample the famous fiskesuppe – a creamy Norwegian fish stew. Other dishes include skinned salmon fillet and digged trout, fresh from crisp, neighbouring waters: all come with gorgeous blue-green views of the harbour, islands, mountain and North Sea beyond.
Nowhere in Portugal does sardines quite like Lisbon. Whole fish, grilled over charcoal, are served by the bucket-load – and we’re not talking tins. Salty, grilled, fresh, crispy sardines in everything from fisherman-owned shacks to fine dining restaurants. If it’s the tins you want, though, you’ll find gorgeous retro designs at Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon’s largest fresh food market. Rest that seafood-filled belly by retreating to the award-winning Heritage Av Liberdade Hotel, an 18th-century townhouse designed by world-renowned architect Miguel Cancio Martins.
Home to the oldest oyster festival in the world, Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, this coastline-crammed county is a seafood lover’s dream. Every September since 1954, the festival hosts live music, beer tastings, World Oyster Opening Championships, and plenty of boat-to-plate oysters fresh from Galway waters. If you haven’t had your fill of fish, multi-award winning Cashel House Hotel serve up lobsters, mussels, trout, turbot, clams, scallops, salmon, mackerel and brill straight from Cashel Bay.
Nothing beats fish just-caught from cold, clear waters and the calm seas of Wales provide the perfect catch. In-the-know seafoodies will make a beeline to Pembrokeshire: restaurant-cum-hotel Llys Meddyg serves up the freshest lobster caught at Cwm yr Eglwys beach, with foraged delicacies to boot. For a spa stay in the area, head to St Brides Spa Hotel – expect white, flakey, soft cod and stack-’em-high cardamom and coconut mussels served with clifftop views. Outside of Pembrokeshire, set your compass to Harbourmaster in Aberaeron. The hotel and restaurant specialise in harbour-fresh seafood complemented with a frenzy of flavours – from crab cakes tinged with pink grapefruit to line-caught haddock drizzled in cider and saffron sauce.