Choose one of the below destinations to indulge both your sweet tooth and your wanderlust. Sample the world’s best and most beloved chocolates from Swiss truffles to spicy Mexican hot cocoa to the classically simple Hershey bar.
When you think of Belgium, chances are the first image to come to mind is silky smooth Belgian chocolate. (Though we’re willing to count waffles and beer as acceptable answers too.) Brussels, the nation’s capital, is the perfect place to get an introduction to Belgium’s chocolate craft. The posh Sablon Square area is chock full of upscale chocolatiers, like Laurent Gerbaud and Pierre Marcolini.
For many Americans, the first name in chocolate is Hershey, native to none other than Hershey, Pennsylvania. Chocolate World makes for a great kid-friendly vacation. The Chocolate Tour introduces candy lovers of all ages to the wonders of chocolate making, with a little help from Chocolate World’s famed animatronic barnyard cows. The tour ends in Hershey’s immense flagship store, where you can stock up on the company’s trademark Kisses.
As popular as chocolate is around the world, it’s important not to forget the cacao bean’s tropical origins. The cacao bean was once so important in Costa Rica, it was used as currency. Trace your favorite sweet treat back to the source with a tour of a Costa Rican cacao farm. The Rainforest Chocolate Tour in La Fortuna will take you from harvesting the fruit to brewing an ancestral hot cocoa blend. If you prefer to stick to the capital San Jose, enjoy a tasting at artisanal Sibu Chocolate.
Belgium may have a world-famous chocolate game, but Switzerland is close on its heels. The landlocked European country has several points of interest for traveling sweet tooths. Chocolate giant Lindt has a factory just outside Zurich, making it easy to include a little truffle sampling on a weekend city break. For a more immersive experience, head to Maison Cailler near the town of Broc. Its Atelier du Chocolat hosts regular chocolate making workshops.
Looking to spice up your chocolate experience. Oaxaca lives and breathes chocolate, but the offerings south of the border may be a bit different from what you nibble on at home. Mexican or Oaxacan chocolate is often ground with sugar, cinnamon, and almonds for a rich, slightly spicy treat. Rich Oaxacan drinking chocolate has its roots in ancient Aztec culture and is the stuff of legend itself. Explore the chocolate mecca and its other culinary delights on a tour with MOC Adventures.
The Spanish were among the first Europeans to succumb to the joys of chocolate. Barcelona is home to the Museu de la Xocolata, a small museum tracing the history of chocolate in Europe. There is also a large display of chocolate manufacturing machines, and the museum often hosts workshops and special events. The Catalonian capital also has its share of luxury chocolate shops, including La Xocolateria and Cacao Sampaka.