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A Cheese Lover’s Ultimate Guide to Travel

Creamy camembert, crumbly parmesan, buttery manchego... there's a cheese out there for every foodie—and for every dish, be it a sweet dessert like kunefe or a savory and indulgent meal like fondue. And while some of the best cheeses might be those found at your local farmer's market, cheese culture is a worldwide phenomenon, and every dairy farm has its own specialties and techniques essential to creating their delicious and unique cheeses. (Some for example, age their cheese in caves.)

So for all the cheese lovers who have caught the travel bug, here is the ultimate guide to some of the world's best destinations that marry cheese, sightseeing and adventure—including what cheese to try, top activities (both cheese-related and non-cheese-related) and where to stay.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning your next cheesy adventure. Our team can help match you to itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

Southern & Eastern Europe

Emilia Romagna

"I loved learning about the traditional, natural process of making Parmesan," says Indagare's Jacqueline Hampton who visited a parmesan factory in Emilia Romagna, "from the bell-shaped copper pots as the workers roll the cheese to the salt baths to the aging. There is a a delicious cheesy smell when you walk into a room of aging Parmesan wheels, and the subtleness of the flavors in comparing 12-, 24- and 36-month aged cheese is divine."

Cheese to Try: Parmigiano Reggiano, Squacquerone di Romagna, Provolone Valpadana Cheesy Activities: Museum of Parmigiano Reggiano; the San Pier Damiani Dairy; Caseificio San Bernadino; dining at Osteria Francescana; cheese tours and tastings Cheese-less Activities: Visiting medieval villages; bike tours; cooking classes; sports car museums (Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani); food tours and wine tastings Where to Stay: Casa Maria Luigia

Campania, Italy

"My family did a food tour on the Sorrentine Peninsula in Campania," says an Indagare member. "Our first stop was a dairy farm where we got to learn and see how mozzarella is made. The cheese was fresh and delicious and the farm tour felt like stepping back in time."

Cheese to Try: Mozzarella Cheesy Activities: Drive the Mozzarella Belt, visiting mozzarella dairies and bufala farms Cheese-less Activities: Lemon farm tour and limoncello tasting; olive oil farm tour and tasting; Pizza-making classes; Paestum Roman ruins; Pompeii; Naples; biking Where to Stay: Day trips into Campania can be arranged from the Amalfi Coast

Setúbal, Portugal

A stone’s throw from the capital city Lisbon, Setúbal is a vibrant coastal municipality with a seafaring past, surrounded by unspoiled nature and a burgeoning wine region. And it gifted the world a delicious creamy cheese.

Cheese to Try: Azeitão Cheesy Activities: Cheese and culinary tours; dairy farm visits Cheese-less Activities: Winery visits like Quinta Da Bacalhoa (also a 16th-century estate); Arrábida Natural Park; visiting Praia de Tróia; Castelo de Palmela; dining on seafood Where to Stay: Sublime Lisboa or Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon (other Lisbon hotels are also within a one-hour drive)

La Mancha, Spain

A plateau tucked between the Toledo Mountains and the Cuenca hills, La Mancha is not just a land of wineries and windmills but one where the popular Manchego cheese was born.

Cheese to Try: Manchego Cheesy Activities: Manchego farm tour and tasting; Manchego Cheese Museum (a one-hour drive from La Mancha) Cheese-less Activities: La Mancha wine region; windmill tour; touring the ancient city Toledo; visiting medieval Cuenca Where to Stay: Day trips to the La Mancha region can be arranged from Madrid

Asturias, Spain

This region of rocky coastline, green forests and medieval towns and religious sites is sometimes referred to as “The Land of Cheese,” an area where most of its cheese is matured in caves.

Cheese to Try: Calabres Cheesy Activities: Touring the Asturian Cabrales cheese caves like Cueva del Quesu; Maín cheese factory Cheese-less Activities: Hiking the Cantabrian Mountains; visiting beaches like Silencio Beach and Gulpiyuri Beach; visiting La Cuevona (a village only reachable through a cave); Guggenheim Bilbao Where to Stay: Day trips to Asturias can be arranged from Gran Hotel Domine in Bilbao

Pag Island, Croatia

This long, narrow island with a moonlike landscape and bright blue bays is the fifth largest island in Croatia—it is also the only place in the world that produces the country’s most famous and popular cheese.

Cheeses to Try: Paski Sir Cheesy Activities: Gligora Cheese Factory; tasting at Gligora Cheese & Caffe bar Cheese-less Activities: Winery visits; dining on lamb and seafood; visiting Roman aqueduct Talijanova buža; birding; quad bike tour; swimming Where to Stay: Pag is best visited on a sea-based Croatia itinerary.

Crete, Greece

Cheese is a lifestyle on the mythical isle of Crete, where they pair this food with honey and honeydew and bake it into pies and pastries. The island produces one of the oldest hard cheeses in Greece as well as a version Graviera known for its burnt caramel taste.

Cheeses to Try: Graviera, Kefalotyri, Mizithra, Staka (best tasted in pies), Pichtogalo Cheesy Activities: Cheese tastings and farm tours; cheese-making workshops; dining at the island’s restaurants Cheese-less Activities: Honey, wine and olive oil tours and tastings; pizza making; cave tours; visiting beaches and lagoons; Ancient Knossos; charming towns like Reythymnon, Loutro and Chania Where to Stay: Elounda Beach Hotel and Villas or Blue Palace

Istanbul, Turkey

While most travelers may dine on their Turkish cheese in the form of borek pastries, gozleme pancakes, kunefe and other delicious dishes (all of which are worth trying on a cheese tour), Istanbul is one of the best places to try the country’s other popular cheese—including those aged in Anatolian caves.

Cheeses to Try: Lor, Tulum, Beyaz, Hatay, Divle Obruk Cheesy Activities: Cheese food tour; shopping the Grand Bazaar; cooking classes; Turkish pastry shops Cheese-less Activities: Food tours; historic Istanbul tour (Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, etc.); cruising the Bosphorus; Istìklal Avenue Where to Stay: Four Season Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, Peninsula Istanbul or Soho House Istanbul

Honorable Mentions: Cyprus, Greece for Halloumi Corfu, Greece for Feta

Northern & Western Europe

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Where windmills and tulips abound, a trip to the Netherlands is not complete without indulging in a slice off the country's famous cheese wheels—and the Netherland's capital, which is surrounded by charming villages and farms, is the best place to start.

Cheeses to Try: Gouda (of all ages), Edam Cheesy Activities: Cheese and wine tastings; Cheese Museum in Alkmaar (~45 minutes by car or train); Thursday cheese market in Gouda (~one hour by car or train); Friday cheese market in Alkmaar from April through September; cheese farm in Edam (~30 minutes by car or train) Cheese-less Activities: Rijksmuseum; Anne Frank House; bike tours; canal cruise; windmill parks Where to Stay: Pulitzer Amsterdam, Waldorf Astoria or Conservatorium Hotel

Gruyère, Switzerland

This tiny, timeless hilltop village, surrounded by cow pastures and forested mountains, gave its name to its most famous product, and visitors here can try it in its original form or in fondues and raclettes.

Cheese to Try: Gruyère Cheesy Activities: Visit the La Maison du Gruyère cheese factory; dine on fondue and raclette Cheese-less Activities: Gruyère Castle; wander the cobblestones and ramparts; Tibet Museum; Maison Cailler (a 10-minute drive from Gruyère) Where to Stay: Day trips to Gruyère can be made from Lausanne or the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern.

Bern Canton, Switzerland

Home to the country’s capital and the classic hole-y Swiss cheese, this picturesque canton is arguably the cheesy center of a cheese-loving country, with the highest concentration of factories and plenty of popular varieties to try.

Cheeses to Try: Emmentaler, Belper Knolle, Berner Alpkäse, Swiss Tilsit, Tête de Moine Cheesy Activities: Emmental cheese factory; La Maison de la Tête de Moine; National Dairy Museum; Appenzeller cheese factory; Alpine cheese factory Marbach Cheese-less Activities: Bern Old Town; Einstein Museum; hiking and biking Where to Stay: Hotel Schweizerhof Bern

Paris, France

"Some of the most memorable moments from our stay in Paris were when we  let ourselves get lost in the charming neighborhoods of the left bank," says Indagare’s Alicia Marucci of her time in France's capital. "We stumbled upon many exquisite pastry shops and seafood markets, but the most impressive culinary stores were the cheese shops—or fromageries. The array of options provided from camembert and gouda to brie and bleu was unlike anything we'd seen on previous travels, and for a couple of foodies this was certainly a highlight."

Cheeses to Try: Roquefort, Roblochon, Muenster, Epoisses de Bourgogne (Napoleon’s favorite), Abondance, Camembert, Brie de Meaux (and anything on a baguette) Cheesy Activities: Cheese and wine tastings; cheesemaking workshops; cheese shops like Barthelemy, Le Ferme Saint-Aubin and Fromagerie Laurent Dubois; shopping at outdoor markets Cheese-less Activities: Chocolate tastings and chocolateries; Paris’s many museums; Jardin du Luxembourg; shopping; day trips to chateaus, like Versailles and Fontainebleau Where to Stay: Hôtel Lutetia, Relais Christine or any other top Paris hotels 

Jura Valley, France

“In between Burgundy and Switzerland, France’s picturesque Jura Valley has a string of exceedingly charming stone villages, separated from each other by rolling hills dotted with vineyards. Those vineyards produce unique blends of Poulsard, Trousseau and Savagnin—including the distinct Vins jaunes, or “yellow wines”—which are surprise stars of many Michelin-adored wine lists. The town of Poligny, meanwhile, is the center for France’s comte cheese. The semi-hard cheese is similar (almost identical, in fact) to Switzerland’s gruyere.” - Indagare’s Peter Schlesinger

Cheese to Try: Comte Cheese Cheesy Activities: Maison du Comté in Poligny (~1.5 hours from Lausanne); shopping at Badoz Vins & Fromages in Poligny; Le Routes du Comte; fondue-making classes Cheese-less Activities: winery and vineyard visits; day-trips to villages like Château-Chalon, Arbois and Baume-les-Messieurs Where to Stay: Château de Germigney and La Closerie Les Capucines

Normandy, France

Most visitors may add Normandy to an itinerary for its historical significance, whether to see its World War II sites or its castles—but this northern region of France also gifted the world with some of its most popular cheeses, and the Normandy Cheese Route is a great adventure for foodies.

Cheeses to Try: Camembert, Brie, Neufchâtel, Livarot and Pont-l’Eveque Cheesy Activities: Fromagerie Graindorge in Livarot-Pays-d'Auge; Fromagerie Durand in Camembert; Ferme du Champ Secret farm in Champsecret; Réo cheese dairy museum and tasting in Val d’Ay Cheese-less Activities: Mont-St.-Michel; 360 Museum; D-Day sites; American cemetery; visiting the coastal town of Deauville; visiting Normandy capital Rouen Where to Stay: Château La Chenevière or La Ferme St.-Siméon (each are between a 45-minute and 1.5-hour drive from the cheese farms, museums and factories)

Cheddar, England

Unlike wines like Champagne or Bordeaux, what makes cheddar cheddar is not where it come from. Arguably of the most popular cheeses in the world, cheese lovers have the charming village of Cheddar in Somerset, England to thank for it, where the first cheddar cheese producer matured this delectable snack in the caves of Cheddar Gorge beginning in 1871.

Cheese to Try: Cheddar Cheesy Activities: Visit the Original Cheddar Cheese Company for a cheese experience tour and to shop their store (one to one-and-a-half-hours by car from the Cotswolds) Cheese-less Activities: Cheddar Gorge and Caves; Cheddar Village; Highgrove Gardens in Tetbury; Beaufort Polo Club in Westonbirt; Corsham Court in Corsham Where to Stay: Calcot Manor, Whatley Manor, The Rectory or Bovey Castle

Honorable Mentions:

Auvergne, France for Saint-Nectaire Bordeaux, France for Tomme des Pyrénées, Barousse and Ossau-Iraty Gloucestershire, England for the cheese rolling competition Torjulvagen, Norway for Kraftkar

The Americas

Vermont, United States

“Cheese stands are a must-stop at all New England farmer’s markets, but at the grocery store, for me, nothing competes with Cabot’s,” says Indagare’s Abby Sandman. “Every time, I drive up to the Stowe area, it’s a given that I’m stopping at the Cabot Farmer’s Store, no matter what time of day—their cheese tasting makes for a great snack (or meal) on the drive home from a Stowe ski trip.”

Cheeses to Try: White Cheddar, Gorgonzola Cheesy Activities: Cabot Farmer’s Store; farmers markets; traverse the Vermont Cheese Trail (including stops at Grafton Village Cheese Company, the cheese museum at Plymouth Artisan Cheese, Billings Farm & Museum and more) Cheese-less Activities: Ben & Jerry’s Factory; skiing; hiking; biking; canoeing Where to Stay: Twin Farms or house rentals

Sonoma County, California

What is a wine tasting without exquisite cheese to pair with it? Luckily for foodies, this particular wine country is in fact cheese country as well, a sprawling region of pastures, farms and creameries where cheese tastings can be enjoyed with or without the fruit of the vine.

Cheeses to Try: Not known for one particular cheese, each of Sonoma’s cheesemaker have their own specialties using goat, sheep and cow milk. Cheesy Activities: California Cheese Festival; Sonoma Cheese Factory; visiting cheesemakers like Vella Cheese, The Marin French Cheese Company, Bohemian Creamery and Cowgirl Creamery Cheese-less Activities: vineyard tours and wine tastings; cooking classes; biking; kayaking; canoeing Where to Stay: SingleThread Farm, MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa or Farmhouse Inn

Montreal, Canada

Quebec’s largest city may be best known for its bagels and poutine, but it is also the epicenter of French-Canadian culture—so it should come as no surprise that this city (and the province in general) has cultivated its own cheese culture, blending French and Quebecois techniques.

Cheeses to Try: Oka, Belle Crème, Friulano, Allegretto, La Sauvagine, Cantonnier, Brise du Matin, Doré-mi Cheesy Activities: Farm tour of La Ferme du Grand Pré; Jean Talon Market; shop at fromageries like Fromagerie Atwater; dining at Toqué; Abbaye Saint-Benoît-du-Lac (1.5 hours outside Montreal) Cheese-less Activities: Food tours; Notre Dame Basilica; The Biosphere; Montreal International Jazz Festival Where to Stay: The Ritz Carlton Montreal, Hotel William Gray or W Montreal

Oaxaca, Mexico

“When you try to describe different Mexican dishes,” says Indagare Jenny Schroder, who has lived in Mexico City for six years, “you begin realizing that they all have the same ingredients, just in different presentations and preparations—a tortilla filled with some meat or vegetable, slathered in salsa and topped with cheese. This is a very simplified explanation, of course, but it goes to show just how much of a staple cheese is in Mexican cooking. And while different regions of Mexico have different cheeses, there is perhaps none more beloved than the Oaxacan quesillo. While my local friends will often refer to quesillo as 'Mexican string cheese,' which isn't necessarily wrong, this term is highly misleading and, in my opinion, very much underselling this wonderful ball of white, elastic, salty cheese. If you haven't yet, this should definitely be at the top of your list of things to try next time you're in Mexico.”

Cheese to Try: Queso Oaxaca (or quesillo as it’s known in Oaxaca) Cheesy Activities: Touring the Etla District; cheese-making class; food tour; dining in Oaxaca—quesillo is popular in quesadillas and sometimes served as an appetizer at restaurants Cheese-less Activities: Mezcal tasting; cooking classes; Tempe de Santo Domingo; ruins of Monte Alban; paper-making tour; Day of the Dead celebrations Where to Stay: Casa Oaxaca, Casa Carmen or Hotel Los Amantes

Honorable Mentions: Wisconsin, United States for Cupola, Muenster, Colby and Marbled Blue-Jack


Though Asia does not have the same cheese culture as many places in Europe and North America, there are still a few notable cheese dishes to incorporate into an itinerary.

New Delhi, India

Anyone who has glanced at an Indian menu is likely to notice the repetition of “paneer” throughout. This cheese features in a number of popular Indian dishes, and Delhi’s restaurants are known for preparing some of the best of these meals, like Paneer Tikka and Shahi Paneer.

Cheese to Try: Paneer Cheesy Activities: Paneer is best experienced in New Delhi’s dishes, either on street food tours or in restaurants like Indian Accent or Bukhara. Cheese-less Activities: Humayun’s Tomb; Sunder Nursery; shopping; Old Delhi; Red Fort Where to Stay: Lodhi, The Imperial or The Oberoi, New Delhi

Acre, Israel

An hour outside of Tel Aviv is the walled port city of Acre (or Akko), a UNESCO World Heritage site and the birthplace of the traditional Middle Eastern sheep’s milk cheese Akkawi, often used in dishes like manakish and sambusak.

Cheese to Try: Akkawi Cheesy Activities: Old City Market tour and tasting Cheese-less Activities: Hospitalier Citadel; Turkish Bath; Templar’s Tunnel; Treasures in the Walls Museum Where to Stay: Day trips can be arranged from Tel Aviv

Manila, Philippines

The capital of the sprawling archipelagic country blends history and modernity with its old city sharing real estate with modern skyscrapers. A gateway into this South Pacific destination, Manila is also a great place to try the most popular traditional Filipino cheese.

Cheese to Try: Kesong Puti Cheesy Activities: Mama Jessie’s Kesong Puti; shopping at Holly’s Milk; weekend markets Cheese-less Activities: Walled City tour; Fort Santiago; Manila Cathedral; museums, including the Ayala Museum, National Museum and Pinto Art Museum Where to Stay: Peninsula Manila

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning your next cheesy adventure. Our team can help match you to itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

Published onAugust 10, 2023

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