Chocolate is the world’s most popular sweet treat. We get through more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans every year! And of course we don’t leave our chocoholic tendencies behind when we go on vacation. If anything, we scoff even more of our favourite food.
Image by Moya on flickr
Good news Choccie-fans! There are plenty of cacao-infused destinations to explore, whether you want to learn more about the history of the “food of the gods” or simply stuff your face with more chocolate than you can shake a Toblerone at.
1. Take your pick of chocolate-box Bruges
Is there a place more chocolate-box perfect than medieval Bruges? There’s a chocolate shop on every corner – including a few deemed worthy of a mention in the Michelin Guide – and the Choco Story museum, which covers the history of chocolate and runs workshops. It’s hard to know which chocolate shops to visit but, as a rule, the best chocolatiers make their goods on-site. Don’t miss the famously crazy concoctions of The Chocolate Line, the more traditional, even creamier wares from Dumon, and the sleek, jewel-like displays at BbyB.
2. Ride Switzerland’s choo-choo-chocolate (and cheese) train
A vintage train, a medieval town, cheese and legendary Swiss chocolate are all part of this foodie-friendly journey. Climb aboard one of The Chocolate Train’s Belle Époche-Pullman 1915 vintage coaches (or a modern panorama coach) and chug past mountains and flower-filled meadows – as you slowly (or quickly, it depends on your level of self control) fill up on Swiss chocolate and cheese over nine drool-worthy hours. Learn all about everyone’s favourite Swiss cheese at the Mason du Gruyère, explore the castle in the medieval town of Gruyères, then uncover the secrets of one of Switzerland’s best chocolatiers, Maison Cailler. Chuffing delicious!
Image by Paula Funnell on flickr
3. Cover yourself in Hershey’s Kisses in Pennsylvania, USA
If you grew up in the United States, a whiff of Hershey’s chocolate will likely take you right back to your childhood. Indulge in a more grown-up take on the brand at The Spa At The Hotel Hershey – a.k.a. The Chocolate Spa. It’s not enough to merely eat the stuff here. Instead, you can bathe in it, polish yourself with it, and smear it all over youself – all in the name of beauty and relaxation, of course. I like the sound of the Chocolate Immersion package: a Chocolate Bean Polish followed by a Chocolate Fondue Wrap.
4. Explore the serious side of chocolate in Colombia
Wild Frontiers’ Tastes of Colombia: A Chocolate Tour with Amelia Rope is a 14-day journey into the heart of Colombia’s cocoa industry. It promises to be as fascinating as is delectable, covering both the traditional, cultural side of cocoa in Colombia and its links to the drug trade. Amelia, an award-winning ethical chocolatier, will guide you from Bogota, Colombia’s lively capital, deep into the countryside to visit large- and small-scale cocoa farmers and to see ancient sites, colonial cities and wild national parks. There’s an emphasis on food throughout, so you can expect to sample Colombia’s finest savoury food as well as chocolate.
Image by USAID on flickr
5. Eat chocolate and go cross-country skiing in chocolate New Hampshire, USA
If you like your chocolate with a dash of exercise and oddity, this is the experience for you! Mt Washington Valley Ski Touring & Snowshoe Foundation holds an annual chocolate festival known locally as “the sweetest day on the trails”. Work up an appetite as you cross-country ski or snowshoe from inn to inn (driving is an option too, but where’s the adventure in that?) and refuel on chocolate dished up in every way you can imagine by participating venues: chocolate fondues, brownie sundaes, chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate tarts, hot chocolate – there’s no limit to the chocolately culinary imagination here! There are trailside chocolate stops too. The next Chocolate Festival (Sunday 24 February 2019) will be the 30th event, so expect it to be bigger and chocolatier than ever.
If you’re still hungry for more, check out these breaks for serious fans of serious chocolate