Ultimate Swiss Chocolate Tour - Gotta Try 'Em All
It is pure magic, either dark or milk magic, depending on your preference, what the Swiss can do with only four ingredients. They have discovered a way to combine cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk to produce the finest tasting treats anywhere in the world. If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland, you owe it to yourself to ignore everyone else’s opinion of a favorite and to go ahead and try each one for yourself.
How do they do it? The miracle of making chocolate starts with, who else, the master chocolate makers, those great magicians of this fine art, using only the best cocoa beans to extract cocoa butter and grind into cocoa powder. Milk from cows high in the Alps is added to the mixture, preferred for its denser, less aerated qualities, not to mention its convenient location. These ingredients, together with a healthy dose of sugar, are then put through a process known as conching, where the texture of the sugar crystals are reduced so much that the human tongue can no longer detect them, resulting in the smooth, creamy taste we know and love. Having done their work, the master chocolate makers hand the chocolate over to the chocolatier to use in producing a wide variety of irresistible confectioneries for sale.
The Swiss have perfected this process over generations of experimentation and trial and error (if there’s a job posting for taste-tester, please let me know), and they still aren’t done. It was only a couple of years ago, in 2017, that Barry Callebaut unveiled a new chocolate to the world: ruby. Next to dark, milk, and white, we now have a ruby chocolate to enjoy. Thankfully, today we live in a connected world where we can enjoy some of the fruits of these pioneers from our own local grocery stores across the globe, but there remain a few brands that you’ll have trouble finding anywhere but the source. In the noble quest for discovering which is best, you must certainly try each, and likely multiple times, before making that difficult decision for yourself. Where to start? We’ve compiled a list of must-taste brands as well as identified a few of the top chocolate factories and tours in Switzerland. Either focus your entire trip on visiting them all or if your itinerary takes you near one make sure you stop in!
You probably know them as simply Lindt, but this global brand has acquired a number of other brands over its history, making it one of the largest chocolate makers in the world. Other familiar brands under the Lindt banner include Ghirardelli, Russell Stover, and Whitmans. While a visit to Lindt may not be as special while in Switzerland due to its availability globally, the Sprüngli Confiserie in Zurich is much more specialized, and worth a visit.
An immediately recognizable logo, and corresponding iconic shape of the chocolate bar, Toblerone is also a well known, widely distributed chocolate. But did you know that hiding in the logo of the Matterhorn is the silhouette of a bear? Look closely, and you’ll see it proudly representing the town of Bern, where the chocolate is produced.
The oldest brand of Switzerland chocolate still in production, Cailler was bought by Nestlé in 1931, and it was only a few years ago that Nestlé decided to sell the delicious chocolate outside of Switzerland. Today, you can readily order it online via Amazon. Don’t let this broad distribution dissuade you, as the chocolate is still produced in Switzerland, with a process that has been refined over hundreds of years.
A generic supermarket brand, that doesn’t mean it is any less sweet or desirable, and in fact stands up admirably to the other name brands. Plus, this chocolate will likely be the most affordable you will find in Switzerland, but that doesn’t mean it lacks in quality or taste.
Proudly laying claim to the title of best-selling chocolate in Switzerland is no small feat, but is largely due to the fact that Frey is owned by a large Swiss supermarket chain. Still, the chocolate is produced entirely in Switzerland, and given its bold title, should not be ignored.
Our personal favorite chocolate, Läderach has been gaining in popularity in recent years. We found ourselves making daily trips for truffles, like addicts embracing, deepening, our dependency. With shops throughout Switzerland, make sure to stock up before you come back home, as there aren’t many locations outside of the country.
If you want high-end, boutique chocolate, think Teuscher. Made with only the finest ingredients, no chemicals, additives, or preservatives, and only a handful of locations around the world, Teuscher is worth seeking out.
Chocolate Factories and Tours
Where can you find your dream Swiss chocolate experience? There are chocolate shops scattered throughout nearly every town, but to truly immerse yourself in Swiss chocolate seek out a chocolate factory tour for endless samples and a history on what makes this treat so delicious. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Willy Wonka’s Factory, and you don’t even need a golden ticket. Most of the brands mentioned above have factory tours available, plus there are a few smaller names or separate museums offering worthwhile chocolate experiences.
Located in Kilchberg, take part in your own chocolate workshop where you’ll get your hands dirty creating your own chocolate masterpiece.
Go behind the curtain to learn about each stage of the chocolate-making process. Läderach is one of our personal favorites, and their Chocolate Experience will take you from inspection of the raw materials to creation of the final confectioneries.
The oldest chocolate brand in Switzerland, Cailler is a must. In addition to the chocolate museum and workshop, which allows you to take your creations home assuming you have the self discipline for that, there’s even an escape room onsite. We’re not sure why you would ever want to leave.
Mold your own chocolate at the Frey Visitor Center using your desired combination of white, dark, or milk chocolate and a wide variety of toppings.
The name behind Ragusa and Torino brand chocolates, the Camille Bloch chocolate factory pulls out all of the stops, from a production tour to a full service bistro. Plus, you can even engrave your own Ragusa bar!
One of the most unique, fun-filled chocolate tours on this list, the Chocolarium will have you searching to discover how happiness gets into a bar of chocolate. You’ll feel as though you walked straight into Willy Wonka’s factory, as the exhibits have all sorts of levers to pull, buttons to push, and knobs to twist, finishing with golden doors leading to the answer…
A theme park ride through chocolate history, the Swiss Chocolate Adventure takes you through the history and production of chocolate on guided car ride. After the ride, taste some of the delicious creations from Lindt’s chocolatiers.
As their website claims: “Immerse yourself in the sea of pleasure and experience the world of chocolate through all your senses.” Yes please. If that wasn’t enough, Aeschbach is the only place in Switzerland that produces chocolate coins. You can even design and create your own.
More of a store than a factory tour, Teuscher makes this list for simply having some of the finest chocolates around. The price reflects the quality, but it would be a shame to miss experiencing one of their divine creations.
There are dozens more boutique brands to try, and it is up to you to try them all and decide which is your favorite. What brands did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!