As snow covered the streets of New York yesterday afternoon, one thing was apparent: New Yorkers are in desperate need of a getaway. With Spring Break just around the corner, our minds are already wandering away from our desk, daydreaming of vacation-worthy escapes beyond the reach of the cold grasp of the concrete jungle. Of course, no holiday would be complete without the opportunity to savor edible delights, especially chocolate! Inspiring its own tourism around the world, chocolate-producing countries near and far are highlighting the sweeter side of what it means to really taste the country you’re visiting.
Chocolate cravings to satisfy? Check out these five dessert destinations that will undoubtedly leave you with a sweet tooth — without the cavity.
Producing over 172,000 tons of chocolate per year and home to over 2,000 chocolatiers, Belgium is no stranger to the chocolate front. Renowned for its pralines, the native “chocolate bonbon” was first created in 1912 by local Belgian chocolatier Jean Neahaus. Since conception, this small country has been a go-to destination for chocolate lovers world wide. Brussels, the epicenter of the Belgian chocolate industry is home to countless chocolate factories, chocolate-making workshops, and even a museum (Musee du Cacao et du Chocolat) dedicated to the history and process of such tasty delights! Though it might be impossible to see and eat it all, a good way to start would be to opt for the Chocolate Walking Tour & Workshop, a three-hour guided walk through several of the city’s artisanal chocolate boutiques, a hands-on lesson in praline-making, and, of course, a wealth of free samples.
Just a short hop from Belgium, Switzerland is continuously competing for the title of Chocolate Capital of the World. Consuming an average of 20 pounds per resident, per year, it’s no surprise that most of the chocolate eaten yearly originates from this small European country. Aside from being a home to upscale chocolatiers like Teuscher and notable purveyors like Nestle and Lindt, Switzerland’s chocolate tourism goes into full effect in the Summer when thousands of tourists climb aboard The Chocolate Train; a full day excursion from Montreux to Gruyeres with a quick snack-stop at the Cailler-Nestle Chocolate Factory in Broc. A fun-filled day for of noshing and taste-testing, it’s a big dose of sweetness to any Swiss holiday
Home to the rarest type of chocolate Pure Nacional (was thought extinct until a few years ago!), Peru has helped pave the way for a rediscovery in chocolate tourism in South America. Unlike Belgium and Switzerland, Peru’s tourism is based on producing chocolate while still growing its own cocoa beans. Paying homage to its chocolate richness, Peru has several museums that showcases the Americas’ role throughout chocolate history and its traditions, like the Choco Museo. Other destinations from Lima and Cuzco also allow you to experiment, making your own chocolate truffles with tours of the nearby cocoa plantations.
New to the industry, Costa Rica is currently experiencing a steep rise in chocolate tourism. No surprise considering they offer up just about everything, from a Rainforest Chocolate Tour (yes, such a thing exists!) where you harvest and grind cacao seeds to make your own traditional beverage, to other local tours and tastings. For the ultimate chocolate connoisseur a must-stop destination is Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate, a one-week package dream where visitors are given the tools to fully immerse themselves in the bean-to-bar experience.
Though one might not expect it, for five weeks every February, Hong Kong’s iconic Harbour City Mall is transformed into a chocolate wonderland, literally. With decorative cocoa trees, exclusive pop-up chocolate shops, and live demonstrations by master chocolatiers from around the globe, Hong Kong’s Chocolate Trail draws chocolate fans from all around the world to indulge in workshops for refining your taste buds, complementary pairings of chocolates and Chinese teas, and showcasing the offerings of other global chocolate-boasting countries.