A trip abroad is rarely, if ever, about staying healthy — they’re a chance to explore and indulge, to uncover treats and uncover gems.
Cities across Europe are full of backstreets smelling of fresh bread and sugared buns; those tempting scents, promising comfort by the bite. Everything from buns to babkas to baklawa can be found across the continent in a stop-by-stop tour of bakeries, just as we’ve detailed below. And while discovering these places for yourself is half the joy of it, sometimes knowing there’s a reliable favourite nearby can be just as good — especially first thing in the morning when a pressing hunger outweighs any sense of wandering curiousity.
So, from a London spot documenting its own failures to an Irish-themed bread-maker in Budapest, here’s our guide to Europe’s best bakeries.
Anges de Sucre, London
So confident of its capibilities that it’s unafraid to showcase its worst attempts from the past, Anges de Sucre’s failure page is something of a subtle flex, as it highlights just how good the cakes are now (and how far the team has come). While it’s a shame the bakery has shifted to a delivery-only model, it does mean you can browse their “bold, beautiful and totally bonkers” cakes — their name, not ours — at your leisure online. Choices range from silky, Swiss meringue to lush ganache drips to chocolate and macaron toppings. Ideal for those days when you can’t face heading out.
Ferry Quays Courtyard, 56-57 High Street, TW8 0AH, angesdesucre.com
Du Pain et des Idees, Paris
It’s all but impossible not to post about this cult spot’s most famous marvel, the escargot pastry. Although no actual snails are involved, the name is a nod to shape of the layered, pistachio cream filled and chocolate flecked pinwheel. Dozens of other treats fill the window — tarts and turnovers are a given — but Du Pain et des Idees is best known for its warm loaves and mini-pavés (small loaves with savoury fillings like cheese or vegetables). Fast paced owing to its popularity — and closed on the weekends — enjoy your flaky find and go.
34 Rue Yves Toudic, 7501, dupainetdesidees.com
Zimtschneckenfabrik, Café Fraulein, Munich
“Let the good buns roll” Zimtschneckenfabrik writes on its spiral logo. Known best for its sugary cinnamon rolls, the tongue-twisting name is also a nod to its specialty, as the German phrase basically means “cinnamon snail factory”. The apple and raspberry varieties are particularly good, as are the other sweets like cremetorte (cream pie) and a surprisingly good New York Cheescake. A cosy München find.
Chiemgaustraße 81, 81549 München, zimtschneckenfabrik.de
A classic Czech bakery in Nove Mesto (New Town) that has stood the test of time, surviving since 1911 before, after and during Communist rule. Czech traditions weigh heavily in this historical shop alongside some modern takes like the choux pastry venecek shaped like a finger. Good coffee, which often takes a backseat to the baked goods in Prague, is a solid staple of Mysak. Their “alzirska kava”, coffee with whipped cream and eggnog, is incredibly indulgent.
710/31, VodiÄkova, Nové MÄsto, 110 00, mysak.ambi.cz/en
Flour, water and salt makes this bakery’s simple specialty: bread and more bread. Gleba’s baker, Diogo Amorim, started his bread-making journey at the Fat Duck in Bray, but it’s his Portuguese roots that shine through here, with his use of Portuguese cereal grains from across the country. Barbela wheat, an original national variety from Trás-os-Montes, is one such grain, whis is left to ferment for 24-hours to create that perfect long-lasting crust. Amorim is a master of his craft.
R. Maria Pia Nº 2 4, 1350-208, mygleba.com/pt/lojas-gleba
Sat alongside the Swiss river Sihl, breakfast at Babu’s is the way to start your morning in Zurich. A broad-reaching menu is initially overwhelming, but keep your eyes on the prize: pancakes and waffles drizzled in a choice of sauce — blueberry is the one — and more than just a sliver of some sumptuous cakes. For more of a brunch feel, try the buttery, biscuity quiches that are available all day.
Löwenstrasse 1, 8001. babus.ch
Antica Pasticceria Carraturo, Naples
The Porta Capuana district in Naples is home to Carraturo, open since 1837. What was previously a popular tourist spot has mellowed into a reliable bakery for locals. With passed down recipes of Sfogliatella or “little leaves”, the old ovens produce impeccable pastries for just €1.50 or so. Several other filled pastries line the L-shaped interior, along with an espresso bar. Mouth-watering limoncello frosting deserves a special mention, as does the almondy Torrone and Mostacciolo Duro, which is essentially chocolate dipped honeycomb.
Via Casanova, 97, 80139, carraturo.it
La Rose de Damas, Brussels
Going here and ordering a typical Belgian chocolate tray is the wrong move — instead, pay attention to all the eastern confections piled high in this hole-in-the-wall store. You can find gem-studded Arabian sweets including baklawa and, living up to its moniker, rose-flavoured nougat and fruitcakes. Not two minutes from Brussels’s Grand Palace, it’s impossible not to enjoy the majesty.
Rue du Marché Aux Herbes 19, 1000, rosededamas.be
This old Irish-inspired craft bakery — Arán meaning bread in Gaelic— in Budapest’s upscale Jewish quarter is run by a couple who spent a decade in Ireland. Kinga and Attila Pécsi’s bakery serves the likes of cruffins and soft cinnamon buns and pays homage to its location on Fridays by serving challah-type sweet rolls, called kalács. Not exactly a spot for Hungarian classics, but the place is popular, so visit early before the pastries run out.
Wesselényi u. 23, 1077, aranbakery.hu/home