This year was supposed to be a big year for Alysha and I. We quit our jobs in February to travel the world – a plan that we had been working on for years – and luckily got to spend six full weeks in Colombia before our travel plans were put on hold indefinitely. Three months later, we hit the road in our campervan (read: a slightly modified Honda Odyssey) and got to explore more of the United States than we had planned. We didn’t make it to far flung places like Sri Lanka, or down to Oaxaca in Mexico, but we did discover a few new places that changed our ranking of the best gluten free travel destinations in the world.
This is our updated ranking of the world’s best travel destinations for Celiacs, along with our picks for the must-visit restaurants in each place. Are there other great travel destinations for Celiacs out there? Sure. But if we haven’t been there, it’s not on the list.
The 10 Best Gluten Free Travel Destinations Around the World
Here are ten places that I have personally been, loved, and think you should add to your list of future gluten free travel destinations.
Note: Most of the spots below are dedicated gluten free, but not all. THose that are not are marked with an “*” to indicate that they are NOT 100% gluten free. Always double check for yourself!
#10: Mexico City
I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I’m basically in love with Mexico City. I’ve written about gluten free Mexico City, what to do with 4 days in Mexico City, and where to stay in Mexico City already. What more is there to say, other than that you should book your flights immediately?
Sure, there are some gluten landmines you need to watch out for. Seasonings and sauces that contain gluten, wheat flour used to make corn tortillas more pliable, and contaminated friers. But for the most part, it’s not hard to eat gluten free in Mexico City.
Do yourself a favor and add Mexico City to your travel plans. I was there for Christmas and New Year’s in 2019, and hopefully I’ll be back soon.
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
- La Pithaya Vegana: Two locations, one in Roma Norte and one in Coyoacan, both serving up 100% gluten free and vegan food. Super colorful too, which is nice for the ‘gram. Tacos, taquitos, frijoles. All gluten free, all delicious.
- Pan Filio: A 100% gluten free bakery in San Angel. Baguettes. Donuts. Brownies. Breads. Pizza bases. You name it, they’ve got it.
- *Expendio de Maiz sin Nombre: Hands down my favorite food experience on this last trip to Mexico City in 2020. There is no set menu. And to be honest, I’m not 100% sure what each dish was. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was delicious. When you sit down, one of their lovely staff sits down and asks you a few questions, like where are you from and do you have any food allergies. Then, the first round of food comes out. They explain it to you, and you dig in. “Another?” And the next set of dishes magically shows up a few minutes later.
- *Azul Historico: Classic Mexican fare on a classy outdoor patio, at least at the location downtown.
- *Lalo! Amazing breakfast spot in Roma Norte. I had to ask about specific ingredients – flour and “salsas negras” – but once I did the waiter helped me figure out what was safe and what was out. The chilaquiles were safe, and delicious.
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to Mexico City? Here are some other travel guides to help you do just that.
- The Best Gluten Free Restaurants in Mexico City
- Where to Stay in Mexico City
- A Perfect 4 Day Mexico City Itinerary for First Timers
#9: Seattle, WA
I grew up in Seattle, and was diagnosed with Celiac Disease while living there. So a lot of the places below mean a lot to me, because you always remember your first. My first 100% gluten free bakery, restaurant, AND brewery were all in Seattle. There are some great gluten free options in Seattle, though not as many as you would think given the size of the city. Portland, it’s younger brother, (SPOILER) has a ton more options for Celiacs.
Still, Seattle is an awesome city to visit and there are plenty of great gluten free spots in the city to try.
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
- Ghostfish Brewing Company: Ghostfish might be my favorite gluten free restaurant ever. AND IT’S ALSO A 100% GLUTEN FREE BREWERY! The kitchen and brewery are both 100% gluten free, and you can get classic pub food like burgers and fish and chips without worrying about whether or not there’s a dedicated fryer. Oh, and their beer is incredible.
- Nuflours Bakery: In my opinion, the best gluten free bakery in Seattle. They have a wide array of baked goods, like brownies, donuts, and quiche. It’s in Capitol Hill, which is a great area to explore on your trip to Seattle. They also ship nationwide!
- Flying Apron Bakery: I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in Seattle, and Flying Apron was my first 100% gluten free bakery. And for that, I will be forever grateful. They use oats in a lot of products, which I personally avoid, but also display the ingredients of their products so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
- Capitol Cider: A 100% gluten free kitchen and cider bar! Their fried chicken sandwich (or fried chicken and waffles) is pretty incredible, and they always have a bunch of interesting ciders on tap and in bottles.
- *Ester’s Enoteca: Not 100% gluten free, but they have a separate, well, everything to accommodate people with Celiac Disease. You can get arancini, stuffed and fried rice balls straight out of Italy, along with all sorts of sandwiches, salads, and more. The highlight, at least for me, is the small plates, which are all gluten free.
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to Seattle? Here are some other Seattle travel guides to help you do just that.
- The Best Gluten Free Restaurants in Seattle
- Where to Stay in Seattle, WA
- A Perfect 3 Day Seattle Itinerary for First Timers
- Seattle’s Best Day Trips
- Weekend Getaways from Seattle
#8: New Zealand’s South Island
New Zealand was amazing, both as a travel destination for outdoor lovers, and as a gluten free travel destination. I’ve never been to a place with such a diversity of landscapes in such a relatively small area.
Rocky peaks? You’ve got Mt. Cook and Mt. Aspiring.
Stunning blue lakes? Lake Tekapo and Pukaki have you covered.
And sunrise kayaking on Milford Sound is basically a must-do when you’re in New Zealand.
I haven’t even gotten to lush green wine country, the tropical “mountains meet the beach” vibes of Abel Tasman, the California-esque East Coast near Kaikoura, and the rugged and scenic West Coast.
Seriously, New Zealand is amazing.
In terms of eating gluten free in New Zealand, there are definitely ups and downs. On the ups, Queenstown and Wanaka were amazing. On the downs, it was tough to find Celiac-safe gluten free food outside of those two cities.
Obviously, New Zealand, even just the south island, is a big place. Here are some of our favorite gluten free stops.
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
The best places to find gluten free food on the South Island are Wanaka and Queenstown, but you’ll find gluten free groceries at just about every grocery store in the country. We liked New World the most.
- Erik’s Fish and Chips: Celiac NZ certified gluten free fried goodness in both Wanaka and Queenstown.
- Big Fig: Mediterranean-ish fast casual food in Wanaka and Queenstown.
- Taco Medic: Authentic 100% gluten free tacos in Queenstown.
- Soulfood: Organic and 100% gluten free cafe and bakery with locations in, wait for it, Wanaka and Queenstown.
- *Fergburger: Huge, juicy burgers in Queenstown. Not 100% gluten free, but will make your burger “out back” if you tell them you have Celiac Disease.
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to New Zealand’s South Island? Here are some other travel guides to help you do just that.
- New Zealand South Island Road Trip Guide
- Complete Guide to Gluten Free New Zealand
- Gluten Free New Zealand Grocery Store Finds
- Gluten Free Queenstown
- Gluten Free Wanaka
- 3 Days in Queenstown
#7: London, UK
Ah, London. The cosmopolitan capital of the UK is one of the most diverse food cities in the world thanks to the wide-reaching British Empire. Everything from world-class Indian food, to Latin American food, to British classics like Fish and Chips. And because it’s a huge city, there are a TON of 100% gluten free spots around London. I’ve been to London multiple times, and I want to go back ASAP.
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
- Leggero: A 100% gluten free Italian joint in Brompton (between Kensington and Chelsea). If you’re in the mood for pasta (ravioli!), pizza, and tiramisu for dessert, definitely head here.
- Aprés Food Co: A 100% gluten free (and healthy) restaurant that really shines at brunch. Get pancakes, a steak sandwich, or sweet potato and caramelized onion apple fritters. At night, you’ll find an eclectic mix of curries – both Sri Lankan and Thai make an appearance – and burgers, among other items.
- Niche: “Gluten free, but you wouldn’t know it” is their motto. This is a great spot to get a famous Sunday roast in London that is also 100% gluten free!
- Cookies and Scream: A 100% gluten free and vegan bakery that makes delicious cookies. The highlight is the cookies, but they also have all sorts of brownies, pies, and more. Oh yeah, and ice cream sandwiches. Run, don’t walk, when you’re in London.
- *Olly’s: When you’re in London, you’ve got to eat fish and chips. Olly’s is the best place to find Celiac-safe gluten free fish and chips – they’re certified by Coeliac UK.
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to London? Here are some other London travel guides to help you do just that.
#6: Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, land of the 100% gluten free bakeries. Seriously, there are at least six. It’s insane. We’re not huge fans of LA, since we favor walkable neighborhoods, which LA comes up short on, but we found a real appreciation for LA’s gluten free scene on our last weeklong trip full of donuts, scones, and pizza.
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
- Kirari West: The best 100% gluten free bakery in LA. So good that if you gave them to Alysha and asked her if they were gluten free or not, she might not be able to say definitively. Get the Almond Brioche, which is light, fluffy, and not too sweet, and was definitely the highlight for us.
- BreadBlok: The food is incredible – from brioche donuts and honey lavender cake, to artisanal gluten free breads (their chestnut bread is fantastic). But you’re going to pay about 40% more for it than at other places. Still, it’s absolutely worth trying when you’re in LA.
- Honey Hi: A 100% gluten free cafe with stellar brunch in Echo Park. They focus on sourcing high quality local ingredients from Southern California’s bounty of amazing produce. Like I said, go for brunch.
- *Pikunico: Japanese fried chicken – karaage – that is naturally gluten free! The only thing that isn’t is the bread for sandwiches (make sure to double check). It’s tucked away in Row DTLA, a shopping center in the Arts District.
- *Guisados: So we love tacos, and “tacos de guisado” which are filled with a slow-simmered, flavorful stew rather than grilled meat (which is more typical, we’ve found) should be high on your list. They have locations all around the city, and your fillings will be tucked into a thick handmade corn tortilla. Get the sampler plate to try six different tacos! Avoid the shrimp and vegan tacos, which are not gluten free, and double check that nothing has changed since our trip.
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to LA? Here are some other Los Angeles travel guides to help you do just that.
- The Best Gluten Free Restaurants and Bakeries in Los Angeles
- Where to Stay in Los Angeles
- A Perfect 5 Day Los Angeles Itinerary for First Timers
#5: New York City
I remember when I was on the Celiac Project Podcast (you can listen to the episode I was on here) and they asked me what I thought about the best gluten free travel destination in the USA. My head immediately went to Portland, where there are so many great gluten free options that I’ve been there 5+ times and STILL haven’t tried them all. But the second city that came to mind is New York City.
Before 2019, I had spent almost exactly 36 hours in NYC, and the majority of that was in a conference room. In early 2019, I spent a whole week in New York City, and I LOVED it.
There’s no other city in the world (at least that I’ve been to) with so much energy 24/7. Get up early to go to the gym at 5am? PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Go out with a friend to grab a drink and walk home at 1am? PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. It’s awesome.
Obviously, as you’ll see below (SPOILER) there’s another city that has since jumped NYC in my ranking, but New York is still an amazing gluten free food city.
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
- Senza Gluten: My #1 pick for Celiacs in NYC. 100% gluten free Italian food. Plus, Glutenberg gluten free beer. Get the tiramisu, and stop by their cafe down the street for 100% gluten free pizza and pastries.
- By the Way Bakery: My favorite of the gluten free bakeries in NYC, located on the Upper East Side. Their “Amy Cakes” are to die for.
- Modern Bread and Bagel: You can’t imagine how frustrated I was when this place announced they would open their doors like 8 days after I was in NYC. 100% gluten free bagels and schmears? Count me in. Plus, a full brunch menu.
- TAP NYC: Brazilian-style tapioca crepes, which are unique, stuffed with your choice of sweet and savory fillings. Plus, pão de queijo, a Brazilian cheese bread. And it’s ALLL gluten free.
- *Friedmans: Gluten. Free. Chicken. And. Waffles. And they’re great at keeping cooking surfaces and spaces separate, even though it’s not 100% gluten free.
There’s so many more – see them all in my guide to the best gluten free restaurants in New York City
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to New York City? Here are some other NYC travel guides to help you do just that.
#4: Paris, France
You might be a little bit surprised to see Paris on this list, because it’s not exactly known for gluten free food. Croissants! Baguettes! Etc. etc.
But there’s actually a bunch of dedicated gluten free spots in Paris that will make planning a trip to the City of Light with Celiac Disease a breeze.
All five spots below are 100% gluten free, too!
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
- NoGlu Paris: The first gluten free bakery I ever went to outside of the US (or outside of Seattle, really). Their location in St. Germain was a formative gluten free travel experience for me, where I learned that you can, in fact, get a gluten free croissant in Paris.
- Chambelland Bakery: The best gluten free bread in Paris, and I don’t think it’s close. They also have a bunch of pastries, like tartlets and choux pastries, which look delightful.
- Biosphere Cafe: A 100% gluten free brunch spot in Paris just north of the Champs Elysees where you’ll find crepes! Most crepes in Paris are going to be off limits for Celiacs because they cook the gluten free and regular ones in the same area, but this spot is the best place to find safe gluten free crepes in Paris, among other things.
- Little Nonna: 100% gluten free Italian food in Paris! It’s just north of the Arc de Triomphe, so it’s a perfect place to grab dinner after watching the sunset from the top of the Arc.
- Yummy and Guiltfree: 100% gluten free waffles topped with your choice of sweet or savory toppings. Super Instagrammable, too.
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to Paris? Here are some other travel guides to help you do just that.
- The Best Gluten Free Restaurants and Bakeries in Paris
- Where to Stay in Paris
- A Perfect 4 Day Paris Itinerary for First Timers
#3: Denver & Boulder, Colorado
So, prior to our trip to Colorado in 2020, when we spent four weeks in the Denver and Boulder area, it was not high on my list. I’d been to Denver several times, since Alysha has family in Colorado, but never really had enough time to really explore.
Lo and behold, the gluten free scene in Denver is off the chain (is that what the kids are saying these days? I can never keep up).
I used to think the ranking for gluten free cities in the US went Portland / NYC / everywhere else, but recently have moved Denver into that second spot between Portland and NYC. It’s that good.
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
- Quiero Arepas: We lovvveee arepas, which are essentially a corn sandwich, and this spot that has an outpost in south Denver, along with locations in both Avanti Denver and Avanti Boulder, make some of the best we’ve ever had. They’re Venezuelan style, which means they’re stuffed full of delicious goodies. Get the queso, which has fresh mozzarella, avocado, and sweet plantains stuffed between a perfectly-cooked arepa. And get a side of plantains with melted cheese and green sauce, while you’re at it.
- River and Roads Coffee: A 100% gluten free bakery, cafe, and coffee shop all rolled into one. Get the sweet potato breakfast fries. You won’t regret it. And the donut holes too, as an appetizer.
- Fresh Thymes Eatery: Located in Boulder, this is a really solid 100% gluten free option for both lunch and dinner. They have a full menu, including pizza and burgers, and a rotating selection of hot plates, where you choose 1, 2, or 3 options out of the ten or so they have ready to go. They have all sorts of paleo, vegetarian, and vegan options too.
- Holidaily Brewing: Out in Golden, Colorado, which is roughly half an hour west of Denver or south of Boulder, you’ll find one of the best gluten free breweries in the country in what is essentially an office park. Their blonde ale is one of my favorites, and they have all sorts of more experimental gluten free beers on tap at their taproom that I always find myself drooling over when they post them on Instagram. They have a nice outdoor patio where you can enjoy a flight and soak in the Colorado sun.
- *Stem Cider & *Acreage: Stem is one of my favorite cider companies in the country, and they have a taproom in Denver’s RiNo District that is a perfect spot to try their ciders. However, if you can swing it (aka if you have a car), head out to the Acreage, which sits on top of a hill in nearby Lafayette, and watch the sunset over the Rockies to the West while you sip on cider and eat gluten free apple cider donuts.
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to Denver & Boulder? Here are some other travel guides to help you do just that.
- The Best Gluten Free Restaurants in Denver
- The Best Gluten Free Restaurants in Boulder
- Where to Stay in Denver, Colorado
- A Perfect 3 Day Denver Itinerary
#2: Rome, Italy
Rome? That can’t be right. *checks notes*.
You’re telling me that Italy, land of pizza and pasta, is actually a good place to travel with Celiac Disease?
Yes, yes I am. Because the food culture in Italy is one of inclusivity, and they jump through all the hoops to make sure you can enjoy their food, which is a huge part of Italian life, even though you can’t eat gluten.
It’s incredible, and truly is one of the experiences that changed my outlook on living with Celiac Disease and made me realize that it is in fact possible to make your travel dreams come true, even if you have to be careful to eat strictly gluten free.
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
- Risotteria Melotti: A 100% gluten free restaurant focused on the delectable northern Italian staple that is risotto. Most things are rice-based, and you can get a ton of different traditional risotto preparations.
- La Pasticciera: The best 100% gluten free bakery in Rome, and it’s right near Termini station, which means it can be your first and last stop in town.
- *Mama Eat: This is my #1 recommendation in Rome, though it’s not 100% gluten free. They have a whole separate kitchen for people with Celiac Disease, and are accredited by AIC – the Italian Celiac Association! Pasta, pizza, and more all prepared safely for you.
- *La Soffitta Renovatio: Safe gluten free pizza near the Vatican. AIC certified, and take all the precautions to make sure there’s no cross-contamination with regular pizzas.
- Gelato! There are at least three 100% gluten free gelato spots in Rome – Fiocco di Neve, Fatamorgana, (multiple locations), and Grom – where you can get safe gluten free gelato AND cones!
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to Rome? Here are some other Rome travel guides to help you do just that.
- The Best Gluten Free Restaurants in Rome
- Where to Stay in Rome, Italy
- A Perfect 4 Day Rome Itinerary for First Timers
#1: Portland, Oregon
Portland has topped my list of the best gluten free travel destinations for years now because of the sheer number of dedicated gluten free options in the city. Two dedicated gluten free breweries. More 100% gluten free bakeries than I can count on one hand. And amazing gluten free options for people with multiple dietary restrictions, particularly dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan.
5 Incredible Places to to Eat
- New Cascadia Traditional: The best gluten free bakery in America, in our humble opinion. You’ll find us here multiple times during a weekend in Portland. At breakfast, they have amazing brioche donuts and a killer biscuit breakfast sandwich. AND THE PIZZA. Their gluten free pizza is easily the best I’ve ever had – we get it every time we’re in town (which, recently, has been a lot). The crust is light and fluffy, which is hard to find, and it’s about seventeen times the size of your head. Go here. Now. Fast. You can order their bread online to be shipped to your doorstep – the Rustic Italian loaf is our go-to.
- Tacovore PDX: 100% gluten free tacos? YES PLEASE. We love tacos. Of all kinds. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we’re in for tacos. And you can order everything on the menu at Tacovore.
- DesiPDX: When in Portland, you have to eat at a food cart. I think that’s a rule. When in Rome, right? In any case, DesiPDX should be the one you choose. It’s 100% gluten free and delicious, serving up Indian food made with fresh local ingredients. Get the pakora waffle and the cardamom chai chicken.
- Pollo Norte: We still daydream about the succulent Mexican-style rotisserie chicken from Pollo Norte. It’s 100% gluten free, except for the beer they serve, and make sure to get the fresh corn tortillas and all the salsas to go with it.
- Little Chickpea: Did someone say 100% gluten free and plant-based ice cream? Located in the Pearl District, Little Chickpea has gluten free ice cream made from, you guessed it, chickpeas. Though you’d never know it from the taste or texture. Waffle cones are gluten free too!
Find so many more spots to eat in my guide to the best gluten free restaurants in Portland, Oregon.
4 Amazing Places to Drink
Portland is a great city for gluten free folks who love beer and cider. There’s a seemingly unlimited number of cideries to choose from, and even a couple of gluten free breweries. Here are our four favorites.
- Groundbreaker Brewing: If you find yourself in Portland, you absolutely cannot miss Groundbreaker Brewing, one of the OG 100% gluten free breweries in the country. No gluten-reduced garbage here – they brew exclusively with gluten free grains. They have a couple of flagship beers, along with a rotating selection of seasonal selections.
- Alter Ego Cider: We only discovered this spot, which is literally across the street from Groundbreaker, on our latest trip. Amazing cider from former winemakers. Get the rose, if they have it. It’s one of Alysha’s favorites.
- Swift Cider: Another discovery on our latest trip, Swift is on the northern side of the city and their hopped cider is out of this world. Floral, bubbly, and light.
- Schilling Cider: Schilling, which also has a 100% gluten free kitchen with corn dogs and tater tots, is one of my favorite cider spots in Seattle too. Grab a cider from one of their 40+ taps (helpfully color-coded from sweet to dry) on a warm summer day and sit on the patio overlooking Belmont St.
Want to plan an unforgettable trip to Portland? Here are some other Portland travel guides to help you do just that.
- The Best Gluten Free Restaurants in Portland
- Where to Stay in Portland, OR
- A Perfect 3 Day Portland Itinerary for First Timers
- Portland’s Best Day Trips
- Weekend Getaways from Portland
Even More Gluten Free Travel Destinations on My List for the Future
Here are five places that I haven’t been to, but I’ve got my eye on.
Give me more of Mexico, please. I’ve had a few friends that have spent time in Oaxaca, and they RAVE about it. Tacos, rich Mexican culture, and Mezcal – what’s not to love?
I’ve heard great things about Spain, but I’ve only been to Barcelona for 24 hours. I’ve met people, both from Spain and who visited Spain, and they’ve all commented on how it’s super easy to find safe gluten free food in Spain, and that they have an active Celiac association. Sounds great to me!
This is mainly for the hiking and scenery. I have dreams of a road trip from Lake Bled, through the Julian Alps, into Italy, and back to Ljubljana. I’m hoping to make it happen in 2021. Not sure what the gluten free scene looks like yet.
Update March 2020: We did it! We spent 6 weeks in Colombia – read my gluten free guide to Colombia here.
Alysha, my wife, and I have been talking about Colombia for a while now, ever since we’ve read it on every “where to go next year” list for the past three years.
It looks amazing with a broad and diverse range of things to do, scenery, outdoor activities, and more.
Plus, the coffee region looks REALLY special, and I’d love to spend some time learning about coffee from the people who know it best.
Asia is the last continent on my list. I’ve been to the other 5 (I don’t count Antarctica as a continent for now – no desire to spend several days on a boat to get there), and I need to make it to Asia in the future.
I’m interested in Japan, but I’ve heard it’s pretty difficult to navigate. I’d love to do Taiwan, but ran into the same problem. Same with Korea.
So I’m going to start in Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia, and build my way up to the others.
10 years later, and I still sometimes run into the same anxiety I had before my first trip to Rome almost a decade ago.
Those are my thoughts on ten amazing gluten free travel destinations I’ve been to, and five that I’m hoping to make it to in the near future. What places are on your list for the future? I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me a note, or let me know in the comments.
Here are some other posts you might like about gluten free travel to inspire and empower you to travel the world 100% gluten free:
- Gluten Free Travel: My best Tips, Apps, and Guides
- The Complete Guide to Dining Out Gluten Free
- Gluten Free Europe: How to Travel to Europe with Celiac Disease
- My Favorite Resources for Traveling the World Gluten Free
If you’re not already following me on Instagram, head over and give me a follow to stay up to date on my travels. And for ALL the gluten free food porn.
Check out my gluten free travel page for tips for traveling gluten free and all of my gluten free city guides.