Top 7 Travel Destinations for Chocolate Lovers
Calling all chocolate lovers! We’re counting down the best places in the world to get your chocolate fix.
The Chocolate Lover’s Bucket List
There’s no sugar-coating it: we Canadians love our chocolate. In fact, we recently placed ninth overall in world chocolate consumption, with each Canadian eating—on average—6.4 kilograms of chocolate a year. But where are the best places on Earth for a nation of chocolate lovers to satisfy their cravings? We asked the experts at The Travel Corporation Canada to count down the best destinations for indulging in the world’s most decadent chocolate. Ladies and gents, commence drooling…
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It should come as no surprise to see Switzerland topping our bucket list for chocolate lovers. It is home to the world’s finest chocolate, after all! Channel your inner Willy Wonka and make a beeline for Maison Cailler (above)—one of Switzerland’s oldest and most renowned chocolate factories (although sadly devoid of Oompa-Loompas). Among the many surprises in store for the first time visitor is that from the outside, the Maison looks more like a manor house than an industrial production line. Surrounded by lush meadows, the factory sources its fresh milk for from the 2,000 cows that graze within a 20-mile radius.
Immerse your senses in the wonderful world of chocolate by travelling on Luxury Gold’s 11-day Majestic Switzerland journey where you’ll be able to witness the different stages of chocolate-making at the Maison. Through live cameras, you can watch as the ingredients of chocolate are processed, then grab fistfuls of fresh-made chocolate. Sounds like a dream itinerary to us!
Can’t wait for Switzerland? Indulge your sweet-tooth today with these 10 decadent chocolate recipes.
2. Bariloche, Argentina
It’s with good reason that Bariloche in Patagonia has earned the moniker, “the Switzerland of South America.” Not only does it resemble a Swiss mountain town, but it’s also a major destination for chocolate lovers, and is often referred to as Argentina’s “chocolate capital.” If you’re planning on making a cocoa-pilgrimage, you’ll want to visit the many chocolate museums that dot what Argentines call “The Avenue of Chocolate Dreams” (Mitre Avenue). Stroll down the avenue to explore the region’s Mayan and Aztec roots, as well as its connection to confectionary, observing the production process and sampling some sweets for yourself. Consider Mamuschka (above) a must-see. Widely regarded as the major player on Bariloche’s chocolate scene, the store stocks every type of chocolate imaginable, from white chocolate Baileys-filled eggs to bars of 90 per cent cocoa dark chocolate. For the full experience, get a seat in the café located at the back and order one of the thickest hot chocolates you’ll ever have the pleasure of sipping. You’re welcome! While you’re in Argentina, be sure to check out these 10 essential experiences in Buenos Aires.
3. Turin, Italy
Chocolate is deeply ingrained in the rich history of Turin, first catching on in the 17th century when chocolate makers began to proliferate and the town’s answer to hot chocolate was born. Known as Bicerin, this highly addictive beverage combines espresso, drinking chocolate, and whole milk—and the recipe remains the same today as it was 300 years ago. Experience a taste of the town’s history first-hand by grabbing a seat in one of the local cafés to enjoy a Bicerin and Biscotti. You can also join Trafalgar’s week-long gastronomic Piedmont and the Italian Lakes adventure, which continues on to the picturesque Piazza San Carlo with its striking 17th century façades, and the Church of San Lorenzo. Buonissimo! (While you’re at it, check out these 10 unforgettable experiences in Rome.)
4. Hunter Valley Chocolate Company, Australia
Just a couple of hours north of Sydney lies the picturesque Hunter Valley; the heart of Australian wine country—and a mecca for chocolate lovers. Here you’ll find the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company (above), which specializes in handmade artisanal chocolate and fudge. There are three locations to visit in the Instagram-worthy valley, but the most immersive is the Twenty-3-Twenty Chocolate and Fudge Factory, where indulgent Belgian couverture is combined with Australian fruit and nuts, as well as fruit oil infusions.
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5. Vienna, Austria
Craving some truly decadent chocolate? Look no further than Vienna’s Hotel Sacher, home to the often-imitated, never-duplicated velvety Sachertorte (above). This chocolate cake, which boasts an apricot jam filling and is often served with a dollop of whipped cream, is one of Austria’s most famous desserts. So famous in fact, there was a spat in the early 1900s between Hotel Sacher and competing bakery, Konditorei Demel, over who had the rights to claim ownership of “the original Sachertorte.”
The decades-long “Cake War” ended in 1963 when both parties agreed that Hotel Sacher could use the phrase, as long as Demel had the right to decorate its tortes with a triangular seal reading “Eduard-Sacher-Torte.” But which bakery does it better, you might ask? On Insight Vacations’ 12-day European Rhapsody journey, chocolate lovers have the chance to try both as you soak in the elegance of the city’s architecture, from the Vienna State Opera to the imperial Hofburg Palace. Don’t miss these 21 beautiful and wildly underrated cities in Europe, either.
6. Quito, Ecuador
Chocolate has been part of Ecuadorian culture for centuries, which makes it a natural travel destination for chocolate lovers. While the cacao itself is cultivated on plantations in the Amazon rainforest, it’s in Ecuador’s towns and cities that chocolatiers transform it into truly crave-worthy treats. In Quito, make a visit to the popular Mariscal Foch plaza which will provide an in-depth cacao tour with three local chocolatiers. Republica del Cacao, Pacari and Kallari not only grow their own cacao, but also offer highly exclusive options for serious chocolate connoisseurs. Here are eight more places you’ve never considered visiting—but should!
7. Costa Rica
Long before coffee, Costa Ricans drank chocolate. In fact, cacao has such a long-standing history in this tropical destination that cacao beans were used as currency by indigenous tribes in Pre-Columbian times—a tradition that continued up until the 1930s! Most of the country’s cacao comes from its Caribbean coast which provides the perfect growing conditions, as it requires a great deal of rain. For those looking to feed their chocolate addiction, Contiki’s 9-day Pura Vida adventure includes a locally-guided visit to a traditional cacao plantation in the Tirimbina Biological Reserve. To get to the reserve, which is near Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, you’ll be taken through a rainforest, and across the longest hanging bridge in the region—a thrill in itself!