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Ten gourmet getaways that offer unique food experiences, plus where to eat, sleep, shop and drink.

Oxford, UK
Home to medieval limestone buildings, fields, canals and some of the country's most beloved pubs, this quintessential university city also has an excellent local food scene with thriving farmers' markets at Gloucester Green, Cowley and Wolvercote, and a number of restaurants, such as The Vaults, that locally source or even grow their own produce. (

Set in an 1898 Victorian conservatory, Gee's is an Oxford culinary landmark serving locally sourced, seasonal British dishes such as pan-fried river trout in brown shrimp butter with steamed spinach, £15.50, and duck confit, celeriac mash and caramelised shallots, £17.25, plus a great value two-course dinner menu, £23.50, served Monday to Saturday.

The stalls and shops of the 18th-century Covered Market include Pieminister with their award-winning Chicken of Aragon pie with roast garlic, vermouth and tarragon, £3.95 (add mash and gravy for £1.85), and Oxford Cheese Shop for the semi-soft Oxford Blue.

At 769 years old, The Bear Inn is Oxford's oldest pub. Come for pints of Scholar and Prospect ales from the local Shotover Brewery, both £3.40. (01865 728 164; 6 Alfred St)

Bedrooms at Ethos come in neutral tones and floral prints and feature king-sized beds with leather headboards, power showers and kitchenettes. A breakfast basket stocked with muffins, fruit and orange juice is delivered each morning. Doubles from £102.

San Sebastian, Spain
On the Southern coast of the Bay of Biscay with gorgeous beaches and an enchanting promenade, this culinary powerhouse offers scores of pintxos bars and more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere in the world. Its Cantabrian Sea is known for Bonito tuna, baby squid, crab and tender, silky anchovies. Learn to cook local seafood dishes such as txangurro al horno (baked spider crab - see recipe), with San Sebastián Food, classes and tours from £55. (

Modern, lively bistro La Fábrica offers local dishes such as txipirones rellenos en su tinta (squid in black ink sauce), koxotxa (hake cheeks in parsley sauce) and marmitako (fisherman's stew) as part of their bargain three-course dinner, £20, including wine.

Pick up some sliced Jamón Ibérica de Bellota, from £57.66/kg, txistorra (Basque chorizo), £1.95, and Masia El Altet extra virgin olive oil, £12.95, from gourmet deli Zapore Jai. Look for Eusko Label products, which ensure Basque authenticity.

Head to traditionally decorated and local-frequented pintxo bar Gandarias for sagardoa, tangy Basque cider, 85p, locally harvested Txakoli white wine, £1.35, and patxaran, a sloe berry and anise liqueur, £2.53.

Effusive innkeepers Leire and her mother Carmen run Bellas Artes, a smashing little guesthouse with comfy, simple doubles featuring exposed brick, tiny balconies and fresh flowers. Doubles from £60.

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin's food revolution has brought the Irish capital numerous specialist shops, great restaurants, cute cafés and cookery schools (try and - to say nothing of the many pubs that have been there for centuries. Spend a while getting to know the city's culinary secrets on a tour with Fabulous Food Trails. (

Following his reign at Mint, Michelin starred chef Dylan McGrath now presides over casual Rustic Stone. Try his lean sweet chilli peppers stuffed with tuna tartare and avocado, £2.75, then a beef fillet topped with mushroom duxelles and hollandaise of chervil and tarragon, £24.70, served sizzling on polished hot stones.

Pick up sausage rolls at Lolly and Cooks, £3, brown soda bread at upmarket Fallon & Byrne, £1.53, and Killeen goat cheese, £22.15/kg at Sheridans. Beshoff serves what many Dubliners consider the world's best fish and chips, £6.40.

Down a Guinness at fabulous conversion The Church, where Handel practised his Messiah. Fitzgerald's is good for cinnamon and whipped cream hot chocolate, £3.83. After eating at Michelin-starred Chapter One, finish a meal with the city's best Irish coffee, £6.

Number 31 is set off a quiet mews and features a sunken lounge and lush gardens. They have won awards for their breakfasts, served on a glassenclosed terrace, of kippers, homemade granola, mushroom frittata and cranberry nut loaf. Doubles from £115.

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