Nature watching, hiking, beach bumming or sightseeing – travelers are driven by different pursuits, but most of them have one thing in common – the love of chocolate. For how many of us can resist the delicious melt-in-the-mouth experience? Cocoa-fueled trips have become a consistent type of tourism, with festivals, museums, tradeshows, walking tours, factory visits and specialist shops available in bulk around the world. If you too have a sweet tooth, why not add a chocolate flavor to your next vacation? Here are some of the most delectable“chocolate capitals” that promise heavenly delights to any a choco fan.
Barcelona, La Villajoyosa and Alicante - Spain
Mercado de la Boquería. By marcp_dmoz
Little did Christopher Columbus know that the cacao beans he discovered in 1502 would become an obsession that spread across the continent when brought to Europe. Spain is in fact the first country in the world to experience the taste of chocolate and the sweet heritage is manifest at every step. To this day, hot chocolate is a regular breakfast drink and chocolaterias are as much part of the Spanish texture as the sun and fabulous architecture.
Don't miss a chocolate massage at Gran Hotel Balneario Blancafort Thermal Centre and a visit to Museo de La Xocolata in Barcelona, grab some chocolate with churros in Alicante and learn all about the history of Valor, the oldest gourmet brand in Spain, based in La Villajoyosa.
Bournville - England
Keep Cadbury British. By johngarghan
Located on the south side of Birmingham, Bournville is where one of the world's best chocolate brands comes to life. This model village is home to the Cadbury family's mouth-watering delicacies and promises a day full of chocolate-themed fun. A self-guided tour through Cadbury World, a major visitor attraction comprising as many as 14 zones, brims with video presentations, multi-sensory experiences, interactive displays and hands-on activities. Above all, you can have a go at making your own chocolate and eat whatever you manage to produce. Bournville is truly a chocoholic's dream day out.
Turin - Italy
Trick or Treat. By Cristina 63
It turns out Italian hearts beat as much for pasta and good coffee as they do for quality chocolate. Turin, for instance, is believed to have more chocolatiers than Belgium and France altogether, and the number of chocolate related tours and events organized in the city seems to testify to that sweet reputation. The very CioccolaTÒ, an annual two-week chocolate festival run with the most prominent Piedmontese producers, typically draws more than 700,000 visitors eager to fill their stomachs with incredible amounts of Gianduiotto (the specialty of Turin). Also, make sure you get the city's own hot-chocolate-and-espresso drink in one of its incredible cafes. For a chocolate lover, each trip to Turin means an ultimate delight to the senses.
Oaxaca - Mexico
Etla Market: brown sugar and chocolate. By waywuwei
The streets of Oaxaca, Calle Mina in particular, overflow with chocolate, vibrate with the sound of grinding and fill with tempting smells of pastries, candies and hot cocoa beverages that have become part of the city's day to day culture. Festivals, factory tours and even hands-on cooking classes are available, and the range of chocolate products that go with a choice of spices is truly stunning (try Mayordomo to get the best mix in the whole city). In Oaxaca, chocolate is not just a delicious treat. It's a culture and a highly cherished tradition that pleases the soul as much as the eye and the palate.
Cologne - Germany
Chocolate fountain. By Dani.dmd
Here’s a good reason — an irresistible one — to plan a trip to Cologne, one of the oldest cities in Germany: chocolate. Some people come to Cologne to see its fabulous Cathedral, others are drawn by the city's charming, medieval Old Town. Yet another sizable group flocks to its famous chocolate museum for a bit of history, a little knowledge about how chocolate is made and a whole world of exquisite taste. 3,000 years of chocolate-making history, 4,000 square meters of exhibition space and approximately 2,000 exhibits make it a really memorable day in the life of a chocoholic.
Zurich - Switzerland
Switzerland's greatest assets. By gva_pix
The entire country of Switzerland is a chocoholic’s dream come true, boasting such world-renowned names as Toblerone, Lindt, Nestle and Sprungli as well as the highest consumption of chocolate per person. However, it is Zurich that they call the heart of the Swiss cocoa-based paradise. Chocolate boutiques can be found round every corner and factory visits are easily available.
Once on Bahnhofstrasse – Zurich’s main shopping avenue- take a deep breath and let the invigorating, warm, chocolaty hint guide you to Merkur, a gorgeous confectionery with perhaps one of the widest range of chocolate brands you can find. Another great choice is Truffe, a lovely chocolate shop with the chocolate organized by country of origin, and a spot where you can sit and sip a cup of the city's best hot chocolate.
Hershey, PA - USA
Hershey Kisses. By kirsten.michelle
Nicknamed “the Sweetest Place on Earth” or "Chocolatetown USA," Hershey is really synonymous with chocolate. Start off at Hershey's Chocolate World to learn the details of how cocoa beans become Hershey's chocolate and inhale the chocolaty air that fills the entire place. Chocolate Tasting Adventure comes with the package, of course. Then send your hubbies and kids to Hershey Park, where they can enjoy the thrilling rides that Milton S. Hershey (the man behind the famous chocolate bar) built so that his workers could have fun and relax!
In the meantime, let yourself be pampered with a delicious treatment at Hotel Hershey's Chocolate Spa. Just to give you a hint: The 3.5-hour Chocolate Escape Package includes Whipped Cocoa Bath, Chocolate Bean Polish or Chocolate Sugar Scrub, Chocolate Fondue Wrap, Cocoa Massage, and Lunch in The Oasis. This just can't get any better...
World's best pralines. By juntos [OFF/ON]
When a country of 10 million people counts over 2,000 chocolate shops, 16 chocolate museums and 12 factories, then chocolate must truly be a national passion. At the heart of the delicious business is Brussels, the unquestionable “Chocolate Capital of the World,” where Mary Chocolatier, Neuhaus, Leonidas, and Godiva are as much the city's icons as the EU institutions. All sorts of cocoa-based delicacies can be found in abundance, especially at Grand Sablon, a tiny square with some of the most exquisite brands to browse, but it is pralines that rule in Belgium and you just cannot leave without packing a mouthful of those. Chic, elegant and delectable, they're a cornerstone of the luxury chocolate trade and a real treat both to the eye and the palate.
How about you? Will you tell us about your cocoa-infused trips and orgasmic chocolate choices?