When visiting Switzerland you’ll find it hard to resist the temptation of high-quality chocolate for which this nation is renowned. With chocolate makers and shops across the city, there’s plenty to choose from. Find out how Switzerland’s chocolate-minded innovators turned the nation into producers of the world’s most-loved treat, and (of course!) discover the top brands to taste when visiting Zurich.
The short history of Swiss chocolate
Chocolate was popularized in Switzerland in the early 19th century, when François-Louis Cailler opened one of the world's first chocolate production businesses, Cailler of Switzerland, near Vevey. Switzerland went on to mastermind some major innovations in chocolate production, which would ultimately make the industry what it is today. Henri Nestlé refined the process for making condensed milk, which enabled Daniel Peter to invent milk chocolate by combining the two ingredients in 1875. Then, Rodolphe Lindt opened his own chocolate factory in 1879, when he developed "conching," a process that made the world’s first chocolates with the celebrated melt-in-your-mouth effect.
Lindt & Sprüngli
In 1836, Confectioners Sprüngli & Fils opened on Zurich's Marktgasse and branched into chocolate production nine years later. The company was eventually divided between his two grandsons. One was put at the helm of the chocolate factory and the other was placed in charge of Sprüngli, which remains a small family-run business to this day. You can sample their handmade treats at their shop on Paradeplatz, which includes a café, restaurant and bar. In 1899, Sprüngli acquired Rodolphe Lindt’s famous chocolate factory, and Lindt & Sprüngli, today known simply as Lindt, was born. You'll find shops all over Zurich full of their famous chocolates.
A half-hour drive from the city will lead you to the Frey Visitor Center. Here, you can learn about the varieties of the cacao plant and the journey that chocolate makes from plant to confection. Feast your eyes on the Chocolate Show and taste a variety of treats before visiting the aroma laboratory. The visitor center also has a café and shop, so you won’t leave the experience empty-handed.
The chocolate giants in the city should not be missed but they’re not the only companies producing mind-blowing candy in Zurich. The Sweet Zurich Tour promises to bring you to all the spots that aren’t in the guidebooks, introducing you to divine lesser-known chocolatiers and even picking out their finest individual truffles and pralines for you to taste. The tours take place in downtown Zurich, a short drive from the Radisson Blu Hotel, Zurich Airport.
Mountains, cheese and chocolate
Need to temper your sweets with some savory flavors and beautiful views? The Mountains, Cheese and Chocolate Tour offered by the Zurich Tourist Office provides all of the above in a day excursion departing from Zurich. Hop on a bus to admire the idyllic Lake Zurich and Rapperswil's medieval castle. Along the way, you’ll visit a Lindt chocolate store and Appenzeller Cheese Factory.
Take in spectacular views of Appenzellerland, Rhine Valley and Vorarlberg with a belly full of chocolate and cheese before returning to the city. Although friends and family back home are certain to appreciate some holiday snaps of the delectable feasts, make sure you remember to bring back some delicious treats too.