This time of year, chocolate bunnies have us surrounded, and our thoughts can’t help but turn to the sweeter things in life. But if you’re going to indulge in a cocoa treat, why not take a bite of the best? Our Expert Travellers share where in the world you can find their favourite chocolate delights. After all, to adapt the famous words of author Jane Seabrook, “if there’s no chocolate on my vacation, I’m not going!”
Long before Spanish colonization, cocoa beans held a deeply significant place in Mayan and Aztec cultures. Today, Mexico is not only a prominent cocoa cultivator, but an esteemed global leader of chocolatiers, with award-winning chocolate shops found all over the country.
Explore Mexico’s flavours with Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and complement your sweet voyage with the exhilarating cuisine onboard. Just ask Expert Traveller, Amber Morall, who is still picking her jaw up off the floor after trying a chocolate dessert at Wonderland, the ship’s coolest dining experience:
“I took one step closer to diabetes with "The World" dessert, but it was 1000x worth it! It’s a perfect chocolate globe, and you are treated to a show as the waiter pours warm caramel sauce over it, causing it to open up and reveal delicious peanut butter ganache, Valrhona chocolate mousse, & salted caramel ice cream inside,” she says.
Belgian chocolate is enjoyed across the globe, but any true choc-a-holic knows to make the trip at least once in their life for the most authentic sweets.
To satisfy even the weirdest of chocolate cravings, visit The Chocolate Line in Bruges or Antwerp. Heralded for their creative and daring takes on cocoa confections (like chocolate lipstick, sake infused chocolate, and chocolate covered hemp seeds), cofounders Fabienne Destaercke and Dominique Persoone certainly know how to turn heads.
Try exploring Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, and Brussels (where Expert Traveller, Vik Maini, found “the best chocolate I’ve ever had”) at your own leisurely pace with Trafalgar’s Best of Holland Belgium and Luxembourg 10-day tour. With well over 300 chocolate shops dotting the country, why not sample as many as you can?
If milk chocolate is your biggest vice, make your way to the birthplace of Nestlé and Toblerone chocolates. We have Swiss founders, Henri Nestlé, Emil Baumann & Theodor Tobler to thank for some of the sweetest chocolate confections this side of the late 19th century.
As addicting as the world knows Swiss milk chocolates to be, no country eats as much of it as Switzerland itself. Join in on the obsession and try a hands-on tour of one of Switzerland’s many chocolate factories and chocolatiers, visit Sprüngli, a luxury chocolate shop that’s been specializing in ultra-decadent truffles since 1836, or plan your European getaway around Festichoc, a spellbinding annual celebration of all things chocolate in Geneva.
The USA might not be the most traditional chocolate destination that comes to mind, but it’s certainly one of the most innovative. Just think- while cheese fondue has Swiss origins, chocolate fondue actually originated in mid-century Manhattan.
Today, New York City is still one of the best places to indulge in a sinfully delicious chocolatey dessert (or dinner, or breakfast). Case in point, Expert Traveller, Denise Grasso shares, “For breakfast, I highly recommend Max Brenner Chocolate Bar in New York City. This place has chocolate infused into their breakfast menu- the best chocolate chip pancakes!”
By the way, how well do you know your proper fondue etiquette? You should always dip just once with your fondue fork under the cascade, not in the pot. Then use a second fork to slide each bite-sized treat onto your plate- never eat from your fondue fork.
“Good chocolate, made with pure cocoa, without preservatives or dyes, is good for the human body and for health.” Those are the words of world-famous Peruvian chocolatier, Giorgio Demarini Basagotia. The works of chocolate art he sells in his Lima chocolate shop, Roselen, earned him a rightful place on National Geographic Travel’s list of Top 10 World’s Best Chocolate Shops.
Tasting session at Roselen are only the tip of iceberg for an authentic Peruvian chocolate experience. Not only is Peru one of the top cultivators of high-quality cocoa in the world, its many distinguished chocolatiers take the sweet, sweet world of confection competitions by storm each year.
Dive into Salon du Chocolat, Lima’s annual summer chocolate carnival or stay overnight at a cocoa farm with Intrepid Tours and see the full transformation from seed planting to the final, tasty product.