Chocoholics unite! National Chocolate Day is near, so there’s no better time to celebrate our favorite sweet treat. Join us for a look at some of the best vacation destinations to experience chocolate from around the world.
Celebrate National Chocolate Day in Mexico
We’re kicking off with a look at the birthplace of chocolate. Mexico has got an impressive chocolate heritage. The country’s history and mythology are intertwined with tales of the sweet stuff. In ancient Mexico, the Mayan people believed that cacao was a gift from the Gods (we can see why), and its revered status saw it used in spiritual ceremonies, for healing, and even as a form of currency. Later, the people of Mexico continued their love affair with cocoa. Montezuma II, an Aztec emperor, was said to drink over 50 cups of chocolate per day. The Aztecs associated chocolate with the god Quetzalcoatl, who legend tells was condemned for sharing chocolate with humans. So, next time you unwrap a Hershey bar, say a quick thank you to the Aztec god who gave it to us!
On your Mexico vacation, you’ll most likely come across chocolate used in traditional ways. This means you might come across savory and spicy variations of this dessert staple. Traditional Mexican hot chocolate is one of the great chocolatey treats of the country. Local spices accompany the chocolate drink to give it a Mesoamerican twist. Mexican chocolate will find its way into your main dishes as well. Look out for Mexico’s national dish, mole, which is a thick and unctuous sauce. Key ingredients are chocolate and spices. If you want to try some Mexican chocolate candy, popular brands include Ricolio and Nestle.
Sample some of the world’s finest chocolate in Switzerland
We find ourselves in Switzerland for the next stop on our National Chocolate Day adventure. The world knows Switzerland for its chocolate, with incredible quality and creaminess. In Switzerland, chocolate is a way of life. Swiss people eat the most chocolate per person in any country in the world – approximately 10.4kg per year! What else can you expect from the country that, until the 19th century, gave chocolate in pharmacies as prescribed by doctors? The most expensive chocolate in the world comes from Switzerland, costing 640 francs for a board. That’s $697, in case you were wondering.
Popular Swiss chocolate brands to look out for include Lindt, Cailler, and Toblerone. The logo on the side of Toblerone’s iconic prism-shaped box is one of Switzerland’s most iconic sights; the Matterhorn Mountain in Zermatt, a sight which will be familiar to anyone that’s been on a European ski vacation. Small, independent and local sellers make some of the best chocolate in Switzerland. Flavors are generally simple and delicious.
For a chocoholic adventure to remember, take a trip on the Chocolate Train in Switzerland. It runs on one of Switzerland’s famed railways between Montreux and Gruyeres, giving guests a taste of Swiss chocolate with a side order of glorious Alpine views.
Visit Grenada for a taste of Caribbean chocolate culture
On ‘The Island of Spice’, cacao is one of the most prolific (and delicious) Local people are so things to grow. Local people are proud of Grenada chocolate, they hold an annual festival to celebrate it. Every July, at True Blue Bay, local producers, sellers, and chocolate fans gather to explore the chocolate heritage and future of Grenada. For even more information about how chocolate has influenced Grenada’s history, you can take a Grenada chocolate tour of the House of Chocolate in St George’s.
For a different kind of indulgence, treat yourself to a chocolate skin treatment at Blue Haven spa. This luscious experience makes pampering a little bit sweeter, with a thick mask of Grenada chocolate used to melt your troubles away.
Experience European chocolate in Italy
The history of Italian chocolate begins in Sicily in the 17th century. Spaniards returning from conquests in Central and South America brought this curious, delicious new ingredient to the Italian island. This ingredient was, of course, cocoa. In the Sicilian town of Modica, locals began to create a unique local type of chocolate. The technique of making Modica chocolate remains the same today. Techniques are the same as Aztecs once used in Mexico. Instead of the smooth, cocoa butter enriched treat that we’re used to, Modica chocolate is made by grinding cocoa nibs in a stone bowl, resulting in a gritty texture. It’s a unique and historic place to visit for chocolate lovers, where you can still enjoy the world’s favorite snack as it used to be, hundreds of years ago.
There is also a grand tradition of Italian chocolate desserts for you to try on your vacation in Italy. Of course, the most famous is chocolate Italian ice cream. That’s not all, you can also try delicious delights such as chocolate custard, Italian hot chocolate, and even chocolate sorbet. This unusual dessert was invented in Naples in the mid-1700s.
Belgium vacations for chocolate lovers
If there’s one place in the world synonymous with chocolate, it’s got to be Belgium. This tiny European country punches well above its weight in terms of chocolate production. It makes up 600000 tons of the stuff every year. It’s home to the world’s biggest chocolate factory, Wieze East Flanders, and the Belgian chocolate industry has been churning out truffles, pralines, and bars for almost 400 years.
The thing that sets Belgian luxury chocolates apart from the rest is that they contain 100% cocoa butter. Most chocolate from other countries is cut with lower quality fat products. This attention to a high-quality output means that there is a set standard for producers, ensuring that all Belgian chocolate is the best Belgian chocolate. Look out for a particular brand of Belgian chocolate seashells, called Guylian. These are some of the most popular Belgian chocolates that you can buy. You can also try all manner of filled Belgian chocolate truffles, with creamy, boozy, or nutty fillings.
Indonesia’s secret chocolate heritage
Indonesia might not be the first place that you think of when you are looking for great places for a chocolate-themed vacation, but it is the world’s 3rd largest cocoa producer in the world. There are 1.5 million hectares of cocoa fields across the county. Cocoa farmers in Indonesia rely on the crop for their livelihoods and have discovered an unexpected ally in their quest to grow the world’s best beans. Indonesian native Sulawesian toads protect the valuable harvest from Yellow crazy ants which otherwise ravage the cocoa beans.
Some of the most famous chocolate in Indonesia comes from a special type of cocoa. Java Criollo grows in just 10 percent of the world. It also holds the title of ‘noble chocolate’ because of its high quality.
A German chocolate odyssey
Germany has a long history of making fine chocolate and is a fantastic place for a chocolate lover’s vacation. Did you know that a German chocolatier made the largest cuckoo clock made of chocolate in the world? It proved too delicious to resist, and was sold off in pieces at auction, but has still become known as the ultimate symbol of Germany’s most famous exports. Some of the best German chocolate brands to look out for are Ritter, Milka, and Moser Roth. Chocolate generally comes in slabs and bars in Germany, with additions including fruit, nuts, and caramel.
You might be hoping to try some German Chocolate Cake while on your vacation in Germany. Unfortunately, the name is misleading, as German chocolate cake is not from Germany! It is named after Sam German, an American (or maybe a Brit, depending on what you read), who invented a sweet type of baking chocolate. So you’ll be more likely to find a slice of German chocolate cake in your local US bakery than in any German bäckerei. There is, however, a very famous chocolate cake from Germany that you can try. The Black Forest Gateau is an icon of the Black Forest region. Layers of chocolate sponge, cherries, jam, cream, and kirsch make up this rich, moreish cake.
Chocolaty UK vacations
The UK has been making waves on the international chocolate scene for quite some time. UK chocolate comes in a couple of forms. There are UK chocolate brands, such as Cadbury and Hotel Chocolat, which are familiar to international cocoa fans. But where the UK really excels is in artisan, organic chocolate production. The best chocolate in the UK generally comes from small independent shops. Local flavors and products enhance chocolate bars, truffles, and slabs. Shops have a huge choice of dark, milk, and white varieties available.
Although the UK takes chocolate making quite seriously – the first chocolate bar was made here in 1842, after all – British people are not against the idea of having a little bit of fun with everyone’s favorite sweet treat. Every October, the country has a chocolate festival, with prizes awarded to the nation’s best chocolate products. The UK also created the largest chocolate bar ever made. It was made in celebration of chocolate brand Thornton’s 100th birthday, and weighed a whopping 12770 lbs!
A Taste of National Chocolate Day in America
We couldn’t complete this list without talking about the world’s biggest consumer of chocolate; America. People in the USA wat almost 50% of the world’s chocolate, and Hershey’s produces 70 million Kisses every day. That will make a 300000-mile line in a year, enough to go around the Earth 12 times! Some of the best American chocolate brands include the aforementioned Hershey’s, Reese’s, and Mars. The best-selling chocolate in the USA is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They’re a delicious combination of smooth, sticky peanut butter, enrobed in thick sweet chocolate. The real selling point of American chocolate is the sheer variety that it comes in. Every imaginable flavor, color, and type of chocolate is widely available. Desserts and drinks also use chocolate as a flavoring.
Book your vacation home with Top Villas
Get ready for a sweet holiday to celebrate National Chocolate Day when you book a luxurious vacation rental with Top Villas. With properties around the world, including the USA, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia, wherever you’re heading, there’s a home for you. Our stunning homes come with added indulgence, with Travel Extras such as private chefs and chauffeurs available. To book, head to our website and find a home with availability for your dates.