As far as we’re concerned, one of the best habits you can have as a traveller is leaving room for dessert!
Every bite showcases the rich history, unique local ingredients, and extra care it takes to create those decadent flavours putting a smile on your face. One thing we’ve noticed is that sweet treats often take up a special place of celebration in many cultures. There’s nothing like a little bit of sugar to help celebrate weddings, birthdays, and holidays.
So get a taste of our top destinations for desserts and sweet treats around the world, and make your travels all the more delightful.
Where in the World is the Best Dessert?
1. Baklava in Turkey
In between shopping sprees at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, you can’t go wrong with indulging in a sticky sweet piece of baklava. Every crispy layer of filo pastry, dewdrop of honey, and crunch of chopped nuts is a bite to savour. If you have a chance, visit the two-century-old Karakoy Gulluoglu for some of the best baklava in Turkey.
2. Gulab Jamun in India
A traditional gulab jamun recipe can take hours to make, but try as you might, it’s almost impossible not to devour every sweet bite in seconds. Especially if you’re enjoying the excitement of Diwali. Each ball is formed from khoya (milk solids), paneer, and flour then deep-fried and soaked in a sugary rose-water syrup.
3. Cannoli in Italy
A tour of the Eternal City isn’t complete without experiencing icons like the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Sistine chapel, and an outrageous plate of cannoli. Duck into Ciuri Ciuri pasticceria to sample a variety of modern spins on the delectable ricotta-based treat from Sicily.
4. Flan in Mexico
Flan travelled far and wide to become a well-loved favourite in Latin American cuisine. Spanish colonization brought the delicate dessert to the Yucatan Peninsula, but before that it was a traditional recipe of the Roman Empire. For one of the most miraculous examples of what eggs, milk, and sugar can achieve together, make a reservation at Hacienda Teya in Cancun.
5. Mochi in Japan
Pound naturally sweet sticky rice into a paste, mould it with care, and what do you get? A toothsome sweet treat for New Year’s Day (or just because). Spend a day in Tokyo and you’re bound to see tempting varieties of mochi cakes on virtually every corner. Try them toasted, filled with red bean paste, paired with strawberries, or even stuffed with ice cream!
6. Polvorones in Spain
The perfect pairing for strolling through Seville and admiring the lazy canal and historic architecture is munching on a few polvorones. These Spanish shortbread cookies are often enjoyed around Christmas time. Stop at a food market in the morning to stock up on the crumbly snacks.
7. Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel) in Austria
After exploring the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, there’s nothing better than satisfying your id and indulging in apfelstrudel, the classic Austrian pastry made of impossibly thin dough layers and a spiced apple filling. Pop into Café Eiles and you’ll see why it’s been a Viennese staple since the mid-19th century for sugary delights.
8. Tub Tim Krob (Thaptim Krop) in Thailand
People are slowly catching on to Thailand’s “red rubies” sweet treat, but you’ll still find the best renditions at the source. Made from chopped water chestnuts cooked in red syrup, jasmine-infused coconut milk, and crushed ice, you can easily find this refreshing treat while you’re exploring Bangkok.
9. Sticky Toffee Pudding in the United Kingdom
Whether you’re crawling pubs in London or marvelling at castles in Nottingham, the perfect way to close off your adventures is with some sticky toffee pudding. The secret to getting that perfect texture is the chopped dates, and you’ll enjoy every morsel of toffee-drenched sponge cake. Just promise us you won’t ask about the calories.
10. Rum Cake in Jamaica
Here’s a hint: you won’t find the real deal at Montego Bay airport. For the rich, dense and aromatic dessert served at weddings and holidays, discerning travellers will need to scout out authentic mom and pop restaurants or have some connections with locals. Jamaican rum cake (also known as black cake, fruitcake, and Christmas pudding) requires days or even months of soaking fruit in port wine before the baking can begin, and not a few family recipes are kept under lock and key.
11. Crêpes Suzette in France
Take a short walk from La Tour Eiffel in virtually any direction and you’ll find vibrant bistros and cafés to perch in. Satisfy your sweet craving with a popular member of the French cuisine canon, Crêpes Suzette. Though you could get away with enjoying this for breakfast, the fresh treat topped with sugar, butter, citrus zest, and triple sec makes for a mean dessert.
12. Dulce de Leche in Argentina
Creamy, caramelly dulce de leche is as abundant in Buenos Aires as peanut butter in North America. Drop by Dulce de Leche Co. to taste test the rich flavour featured in everything from alfajores to sandwiches, liquors, and coffee. Don’t blame us if you get hooked.
13. Pastel de Nata (Pastéis de Nata) in Portugal
Reverse the sands of time when you visit the exact site that Portuguese tarts were first invented. The Jeronimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is just minutes away from Fabrica de Pasteis de Belem, which bought the monks’ original recipe in 1834 and still sells them today. While regional variations of pastel de nata are now common in many countries, including Japan, there’s nothing quite like this timeless experience.
14. Picarones in Peru
Walk the streets of Lima and you’ll undoubtedly get a tempting whiff of picarones sizzling in street vendors’ deep-fry stations. Go ahead and indulge in the crunchy, fluffy treats made from squash and sweet potato dough and smothered in a sugary syrup. You’ll be dreaming of Peruvian doughnuts gone by when you’re back home.
15. Halo Halo in the Philippines
It would hardly be an overstatement to say that halo halo is every single beloved dessert all in one. This Filipino hurricane of sweets in a cup features ube ice cream, flan, shaved ice, condensed milk, a number of fruits, red beans, navy beans, and tapioca; plus, you can customize this monster of a dessert with all manner of other tasty ingredients. The only thing sweeter is hiking to the gorgeous Chocolate Hills in Bohol.
If you’re as addicted to travel as you are to dessert, get your fix with Flight Centre!
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