Europe’s Best Ice Cream: The Bucket List
Is there anything that says ‘holiday’ more than eating a big, fat, delicious, sticky, melty ice cream in the sun? For lovers of soft-scoop, gelato and 99s everywhere, we’ve created the ultimate European bucket list of ice cream worth flying for. Grab a tissue, this may result in some drooling…
Koun, on Panksa Street in Bratislava, pretty much always has a queue outside it. All day. Don’t let that discourage you; some things on this earth are worth waiting for and Gelato from Koun is one of those things. The shop is ridiculously pretty, the owner studied at Italy’s Gelato Academy (yes, that exists), it’s in the lovely Altstadt, and they make the best ice cream in the city. In a few cities, probably. They serve regular ice cream and sorbets, and they have flavours like lemon cheesecake, violet, and ricotta & fig. Scoops are only €1.20 each and they are very, very pretty indeed (which is always nice), not to mention mind-bogglingly delicious.
It’s a little outside the city centre, but worth travelling for – not least because you can combine the indulgence with a trip to either Dun Laoghaire pier or Donabate strand. Scrumdiddly’s is the place to go in Dublin for mind-blowing sundaes. For a fiver, you can get one of their specials – real dairy ice cream layered with chunks of whatever decadent filling you desire, and smothered in homemade sauce. The snickers sundae might just be the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. For only €2.50, you can get a scrummy tub; ice cream with three different toppings (jellies and chocolates) and some sauce – the place is just as good for children as it is for adults. The only thing sweeter than the ice cream is the ethos of the shop – that a family of four should be able to go there for a tenner. That was their aim when they opened, and they’ve stuck to their word.
Rome: Come Il Latte
Rome’s huge, and it’s got more gelato shops than you could possibly hope to explore in a lifetime, never mind a weekend city break! There plenty of mediocre places and there are lots of really great ones, but Come Il Latte is something truly special. It’s on Via Silvio Spaventa, about 10-15 minutes from termini by foot. It’s worth walking for, worth queuing for, worth getting fat for. The pistachio ice cream from Come Il Latte will change your life. The salted caramel flavour might end you. You can get your gelato dipped in melted chocolate too, which takes it to a whole new level. It’s not as crazy busy as some of the other gelaterias in Rome either, so the time you spend walking there is time you won’t spend queuing somewhere else!
Budapest: Gelarto Rosa
The Ice Cream Team at Gelarto Rosa in the heart of beautiful Budapest is fantastic for two reasons. 1: the gelato is absolutely beautiful, and 2: they actually make every cone into the shape of a rose (hence the name). Of course aesthetics don’t matter if the ice cream sucks, but Gelarto Rosa tick both boxes! It’s in a really central location just minutes away from the Basilica, and the ice cream is very good value – the biggest cone with four flavours will only set you back €2.50. Try the elderflower and the pistachio with basil if you feel like trying something a little different.
Milan: Cioccolati Italiani
Pure, unadulterated decadence that even comes recommended by the fabulous blogger and ultimate expert on all things Milan Chiara Ferragni (The Blonde Salad). Cioccolat Italiani is beautiful in every way. In a city famous for its fashion and beautiful people, it’s not surprising that they have ice cream so aesthetically perfect that it’s almost painful to eat it. Almost….
But not quite, because as soon as that cold, sweet, creamy stuff hits your taste buds you’ll forget all about how pretty it is. It tastes incredible. If you want something seriously decadent, you can even get ice cream accompanied by a cone full of melted chocolate – dark, milk or white. So, we’re all off to Milan I take it?
London: Chin Chin Labs
Chin Chin Labs takes the London ice cream crown on pure ingenuity. You don’t go here to simply eat ice cream; you go here to have your ice cream frozen to order in liquid nitrogen. It’s the Heston Blumenthal of frozen treats, and it’s epic. They don’t have a huge overwhelming menu here either, which is always a sign of lovingly created and freshly made ice cream. You can choose Valrhona chocolate, Pondicherry vanilla, or one of two specials (one of which is a low-fat dairy-free sorbet). The specials can be pretty fancy – Peach Ice Cream with caramelised nuts and dehydrated blue cheese anyone? They have brilliant toppings, you can have your ice cream in a brownie sandwich, and the ice cream is as pretty as a picture. Chin chin indeed.
Fennochio is Nice’s most famous ice cream place, and with very good reason. It’s been serving up little scoops of heaven since 1966, and apart from its perfectly made gelatos, its big selling point is that it has a mind-boggling range of flavours; over a hundred in fact. It has all the fruit, nut and chocolate classics you’d expect from any self-respecting ice cream shop, but it also has off-the-wall creations like Tomato & Basil, cactus, and lavender (and this one is definitely worth a taste, after all you’re in Provence, home of those gorgeous lavender fields). If you needed any more proof… this place comes recommended by the France-based food writer to be trusted above all others, Mr David Lebovitz.
Amorefrato is pure decadence. It’s a small place on Rua Passos Manuel in Porto where all kinds of magical, wonderful things happen. You know from the moment you walk through the doors that these guys know exactly what they are doing, and have serious passion for making beautiful desserts. They keep their menu short, very sweet, and full of gorgeous flavours that change regularly – from the usual fruity and chocolate-y ones to some slightly more unusual ones like gelato made with local Port wine. And look at the presentation… look at the love that goes into it! Scoops cost €1.70 each which is a little pricier than some other ice cream places in Porto, but we say that if you’re going to do something, do it properly. And this is proper…
Angelato is awesome – and it comes recommended by the guys at Taste of Prague (if it’s good enough for those gourmet gurus, it’s good enough for us)! The thing is, like most wonderful places in Prague, its very well known, so be prepared to queue for a few scoops of this lovely stuff. But also, be prepared to realise, as you take those first licks, that it was totally worth the wait. The ice cream is smooth, creamy and fresh, and comes in classic gelato flavours with the odd curve-ball thrown in. They have a second store in Ujezd too, where the queues are shorter. It’s right at the base of the funicular, so why not combine your cone with a trip up to Petrin Hill for some great views of the city?
Berlin: Vanille & Marille
There’s a little pink shop on Hagelberger Street in Kreuzberg, Berlin’s coolest neighbourhood. It actually manages to even look delicious and tempting from the outside, and in one of those rare cases of being able to judge a book by its cover, the ice cream inside totally lives up to its lovely décor. Vanille & Marille have nailed it. Sorbets, fro-yo and classic ice creams; this place has them all, and they are sehr gut. Go for the classics, or go wild and choose one of their more unusual flavours, it really doesn’t matter. You’ll love it. So much, that you’ll probably go back for more (and scoops are only €1.20 each so go nuts!).
This is the perfect dessert to have after a Mustafa’s kebab, by the way, which is less than 5 minutes walk away on Mehringdamm.
When it comes to ice-cream in Lisbon, Santini’s is the one to beat. So say the queues that snake down the hilly streets of the Chiado neighbourhood from the city centre branch of the family-run business. Since 1949, the Santini family have been serving up 100% natural ice-cream to beach-goers visiting the Lisbon coastline. For the ultimate Santini’s experience, take the 30-minute journey to the original shop in the seaside town of Cascais. Hop on the train at Cais de Sodré, grab a seat on the left hand side and watch some of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks zip past you. As soon as you begin to see surfers tumbling over dramatic Atlantic waves, you’ll know Santini’s and the sunny beaches of Cascais are just minutes away. Order the mouth-watering mango flavour, tastes just like a refreshing chunk of the real thing.
Malta is a beautiful island. What’s more, it’s a small island. The main advantage of this is that you are never more than an hour away from SottoZero, the gelato factory on the north coast in Buggiba. SottoZero is an absolute belter of an ice cream shop. Big portions, a huge range of flavours, and even sugar free, lactose free and dairy free options for people who need them. They’ve come up with some really beautiful and unusual gelatos – rice krispies, black chocolate (and yes it is actually black), and they’ve even made a gelato based on the sweet Maltese delicacy Helwa Tat-Tork (try it, it’s beautiful). It’s only €1.50 per scoop, so go absolutely nuts and try as much of it as you possibly can. Sure you’re on your holidays…
Ibiza: Vivi’s Creamery
Even the most committed sessioner should take a little break from the massive rigs and beach parties to enjoy a little ice cream in Ibiza, and Vivi’s creamery is the place to do it. In Ibiza’s old town, Vivi’s is committed to using local ingredients as much as possible – the lemon sorbet is flavoured with lemon’s from the owner’s garden, as is the orange-blossom (oh, and the owner is Vivian Rosberg, wife of Formula 1 driver Nico).They open for the season in April, announcing their new flavours via their facebook page… spicy mango, black vanilla with Hawaiian black salt, and salted peanut with caramel are on the menu this year. The shop is beautiful too, with big glass jars full of all kinds of lovely toppings and additions for your ice cream. They’ve just nailed it. Make it part of your holiday.
While Berthillon is probably the most famous glacier in Paris (and deservedly so), Pozzetto really knows how to whip up a mean, sticky, sweet gelato that’ll send you to your happy place in one lick. They make their gelato fresh every day, and they make it well. They do 12 classic Italian gelato flavours, all natural and all made to taste exactly like what they are supposed to. If you’re the sort of person who has a hard time making their mind up, this is the ice cream joint for you – if you buy a cup of ice cream, they will fill the cup with whatever combination of flavours you want. It’s only a ten minute walk from Notre Dame cathedral, so it’s easy to include as part of your itinerary. As an extra plus point; Pozzetto makes truly excellent coffee. What are you waiting for?
Well. That was intense. We’ve covered some pretty awesome ice cream in this article, but we’re very aware that we’ll have left some out; Europe is a big place with a whole lot of ice cream…
If you know of any seriously good ice cream or gelato places in Europe that deserve a mention, please let us know in the comments below so we can try them for ourselves!