- Category: Culinary
- Author: Francis Tran
From Beans to Bars: A Chocoholic’s Guide to Europe
This article takes chocolate seriously. In fact, we are aware that it is not always common for one to plan a trip solely for the enjoyment of chocolate. Nonetheless, wine and cheese mark the cultural capitals of the world from Paris to Cape Town. Confectionery should find itself in the same ranks. As one of the most self-indulgent and satisfying pleasures, chocolate tourism provides an experience deserving its own travel guide.
Our guide focuses on the place we love best: Europe. This means we have to ignore many major cities of chocolate, among them New York and San Francisco. We also exclude the all-important “Chocolate Belt”: a band at the equator where cocoa is grown and harvested.
On the other hand, Europe boasts a certain charm that lends itself to chocolate tourism. Imagine tasting truffles by a lake in Switzerland or enjoying the beautiful Cologne of Rhineland with its chocolate museum – luxury of experience carries its highest distinction in our guide.
No chocolate list can exclude Belgium. Yes, Brussels is the ultimate chocolate paradise. Some of the world’s best-known chocolate brands, such as Godiva and Leonidas, are based in the Belgian city. Together, Brussels chocolatiers have put the city on the globe as the Capital of Chocolate. Brussels is also the host city for the European Union and NATO, establishing itself as a centre of international politics, providing a less-sweet attraction for visitors. If you are not into bureaucrats and journalists, take a detour to the city’s famous bar scene and taste some of the best pints in the world, with a side of double-fried Belgian frites.
Take a boat ride around the lake in the summer and then stop in the outlet shop of the flagship factory for the world-famous chocolate brand Lindt & Sprüngli.
The company is best known for its wildly popular truffle balls, but there are plenty of other chocolate choices you can spend your euros on to impress family and friends back at home. Zurich Old Town also has an incredible nightlife, whose modern clubs exist against a backdrop of medieval architecture. And if you are in Zurich in winter – perhaps getting ready to hit the Swiss slopes – you absolutely must indulge in a rich and satisfying hot chocolate.
The German city of Cologne gets on our list as one of the best destinations for chocolate lovers around the world because of its museum for chocolate, the Schokoladenmuseum. It exhibits the rich history of chocolate over the past three millennia, ranging from the early days in South America to 17th century Europe, to the modern age. The museum also features an enormous chocolate fountain and the entire production process for chocolate, going from beans to bars. On a tour you can taste lots of samples along the way, so make sure to not arrive after lunch. Do not miss the city’s famous Great St. Martin Church and the Cologne Cathedral. Hundreds of galleries and museums are scattered around Cologne, cementing its status as one of the cultural centres of Europe.
Started in 1993, the Italian festival EuroChocolate has become the world’s best-known chocolate event. Usually held in the middle of October, the 10-day festival showcases some of the most outstanding chocolates that Italy has to offer, from the regular truffles to flavored liqueur. Exotic treats include fries topped with chocolate sauce, chocolate pizza, as well as ancient landmarks carved into blocks of chocolate. The city is located about a two-hour bus ride from Florence (north) and Rome (south), making it easy to enjoy culture and chocolate confections on the same trip.