Brussels and I got off to a rough start. But I can never hold grudges for long — especially against a country as delicious as this one. Ask any traveler with a Belgian stamp in their passport about their experience and it’s likely they’ll get a hazy look in their eye as they dreamily recall waffles, beer, fries, and most ubiquitously — chocolate.
So when I was researching things to do in Brussels and I came across Viator’s Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop, I knew it was a non-negotiable must.
On my first sunny day in the city — a good omen for a great tour if I’ve ever known one — our small group gathered in the stunning Grand Place, or Grote Markt. Our meeting point in the famous square was the world’s very first Godiva chocolate store, which opened its doors in 1926. I immediately fell just a little bit in love with our guide, Nadia, whose accent was as charming as her winking descriptions and bubbly insights into life in Brussels.
We didn’t linger long — there was chocolate to be eaten, after all.
Our first stop was at Corné, an old pharmacy turned chocolatier in one of Brussels’ grandest shopping arcades. To get there, we’d popped down a hidden alley I’d never have noticed had I’d been on my own, peeked in the window of the city’s oldest (and, according to Nadia, most expensive) bar, and ducked through an 80’s-tastic strip mall. In just a few minutes I felt I’d seen more of Brussels than I had in the several days I’d already been in the city.
So by the time we plucked our almond hazelnut pralines off the elegant tray that was presented to us at Corné, we’d worked up a proper appetite. (Right? Right.)
While I adored window shopping around the elegant shops of the arcade, Corné wasn’t my favorite stop of the day. That was just fine though, as I was about to meet an unlikely but formidable contender. I raised an eyebrow when we paused outside Chocopolis. It didn’t seem to have much in common with the sophisticated chocolate stops I’d seen scattered around Brussels. But you know what they say, never judge a
book candy shop by it’s cover ridiculous name, so I braved on inside.
And what do you know? The mango passionfruit milk chocolate — yes, mango passionfruit — was one of my favorite treats of the day, and I would soon become somewhat of a regular around good ‘ol Chocopolis.
Next up was a pause from the choco-boutique browsing for a more hands on portion of the day — the mini chocolate making workshop. As we were ushered into the tour headquarters, it felt like we were arriving at the cozy apartment of a friend. We took our seats along an oversized wooden table and watched transfixed as Nadia’s colleague artfully demonstrated how to make pralines. Then, while a documentary on the production of cacao played in the background, we played with the treats on the table in front of us — chocolate, fruit, nuts, salts and spices, and more.
And soon we were back on the streets, pounding the pavement in search of the most irresistible chocolate Belgium has to offer. And from the gushing descriptions of our next stop, I was confident that at the very least, we were about to try our tour guide’s favorite.
Pierre Marcolini is the Lamborghini of luxury chocolates. (Sidenote: I literally had to Google “luxury car brands” in order to make that analogy. Wherever the loop is I am out of it.) It just smelled opulent in this place. I have to hand it to them, when it comes to branding, packaging, and creating a beautiful product, Pierre Marcolini was the winner of the day.
While our complimentary tasting was of a selection of the shop’s dark chocolate specialties, as soon as I saw the specialty macaroon counter I knew there was no way I was leaving without a rainbow-colored selection. And holy WOW — it was the first of three separate trips I’d make to that counter over the next week, each one as blissfully extravagant as the last.
Personally, thanks to a lifetime of training, my body can withstand amounts of sugar that would tranquilize a small child. However, I know others can be sensitive to so many sweets, which is why I found this tour to be the perfect balance of snacking and walking off the indulgence.
Unsurprisingly, our route brought us by Brussels’ bizarre mascot Mannequin Pis.
Next on the docket was Elisabeth, which charmed me with its casually elegant atmosphere. We stayed just long enough to taste a truffle and then move on, as the tiny shop didn’t have enough room for both us and the eager customers hoping to stock up on adorably-packaged treats.
All too soon, it was our final stop of the day. And in many ways, we saved the best for last. I still get shivers just thinking about the champagne truffles we tasted at Mary’s — another item that quickly made it into my rotation of Brussels daily indulgences.
As we all started to hug goodbye — yes, hugs were given after just a few hours, that’s how awesome this group was — our creations from the workshop earlier in the day were hand delivered to the door.
I truly can’t describe how much I loved this tour, and how positively it colored by time in Brussels. I’ve taken Viator tours around the world, from swimming with manatees in Florida to white-water rafting in Bali, and this was by far the most outstanding of them all. Much of that credit goes to our fabulous guide Nadia, who is all the things any good tour guide should be — passionate about her subject, genuinely happy to be spending time with her clients, and madly in love with her city.
After this tour, I could start to see Brussels through that lens — quirky and delightfully delicious. And I don’t think it was just the sugar rush talking.
Are you booking a flight to Belgium yet?
This post was brought to you by the iPhone video editing app Together. I am a member of the Viator Ambassador initiative and participated in this tour as part of that program.
Oh my god, you had me practically eating my phone as I gawked at the chocolates teasing me from the screen! I would have spent half my food budget at those amazing-looking shops!
Believe me… my wallet was not as happy as my stomach 🙂 My daily rounds to Pierre Marcolini, Mary’s and Chocopolis did not come cheap!
This looks like so much delicious goodness! Chocolate is my weakness…can’t get enough!
Any kind of sweets are mine! I have the biggest sugar addiction of anyone I know. I could eat candy for breakfast… and sometimes I do!
I will definitely take this tour if I’m ever in Brussels! Champagne truffels sound unreal.
They are TOO GOOD. And now I’m stuck fantasizing about them from half a world away… better for my waistline, though! 🙂
I should probably avoid Brussels, I would gain about 1000 pounds camping at chocolate shops for the extent of my stay. It looks like you had a great tour though.
Ah, yep. That would be exactly what happened to me 🙂 Luckily, I was heading straight off for a bikini-clad tour of the Greek islands right after! (Facepalm.)
I’m so glad I’m planning on going to Belgium in June next year. I’m adding this tour to my list of things to do! I have a feeling that I will leave Europe 10 pounds heavier than I left!
Definitely add this one to your to-do list! You’re going to love it. Tell Nadia I said hi 🙂
This looks AMAZING! I’m going to be honest, I never think about doing tours in new cities (sometimes that’s a time constraint, other times just a choice) but seeing all of your awesome Viator tours makes me really re-think that. !!
Thanks for another fab post!
I have learned a lot about what I like and don’t like when I travel, as I’m always open to trying new things. I find that tours like this, I LOVE — small, quirky, specialized, led by a passionate guide, etc. I love the local insight. The ones that I need to learn to take a pass on are the big group ones with a monotone guide barking at us to be back on the bus at X time. Those just don’t do it for me 🙂
A chocolate tour seems like the perfect way to discover Brussels! I didn’t really care so much for the city when I visited a few years back (I wasn’t as much of a chocolate addict back then, so that may be the reason), but now I’m longing to go back just to have some of these delicious goodies! 😉
I think this tour would make a visit worthwhile 🙂 I’ll definitely be back to Brussels some day to check out the museums I miss, probably as a short trip when I eventually visit Amsterdam or another nearby city. And I will absolutely be back to my favorite chocolate shops then!
OMG – LOVE chocolate – how did I not end up on this tour when I visited Brussels?! haha. Just another reason to visit again!!
Exactly 😉 I always like to leave a new city with a good reason to come back!
OH MY LORD. Everyone knows Belgium is know for their chocolate but it’s never really been at the top of my to-visit list until this post. Holy smokes. Everything has changed.
Ha! That’s what I like to hear 🙂 Peddling chocolate, changing lives!
Brussels, chocolates and Viator..you cannot go wrong with that. I was there this May and loved every moment of my stay and double fried french fries which i had were the best ever so far. Miss you Brussels and your post revoked memories of this beautiful place.
So glad you had a great experience in Brussels. Those fries are hard to beat!
All I did in Brussels was eat chocolate, drink beer, and load up on 1 euro waffles. This post makes me want to go back!
Sounds like the perfect Belgium itinerary 🙂 Glad you had a great trip!
Did you go elsewhere in Belgium? Because while Brussels is fine and all, I’ve never been a huge fan, but Antwerp and Brugge? FORGET ABOUT IT. Gorgeous.
My next post is about Bruges and Ghent! Didn’t spend nearly enough time in either. Must go back! They were stunners.
HAH! #literalLOLz at this: ‘Sidenote: I literally had to Google “luxury car brands” in order to make that analogy. Wherever the loop is I am out of it.’ — Right there with ya, sister! 😛
I work in a shared space with some friends so I asked them too, “What is a really nice car?!” And we were all totally clueless. I guess I was asking a group of people who drive broken down old mopeds 🙂 Ah, Thailand.
I’ve actually had a little more in the past week than we expected given the Mexican heat (thankfully there is the odd place we’ve found respite)
It all looks delicious, although if I could get Sarah to enjoy that Passionfruit & Mango treat (two flavours she’s never been friends with), that would be an achievement!! 😉
Ah, it is SO GOOD. I’m not usually a fan of mixing fruit and chocolate actually so I was pretty suspicious but… it defied all expectations!
Haha, “We didn’t linger long — there was chocolate to be eaten, after all.” I cracked up. Thanks for this! I’ll definitely have to add it to my list.
Ha, thanks Alexandria. Always great to know someone appreciates my valiant attempts at humor. 🙂
It’s nice to hear that you warmed up to Brussels. It sounds like the tour really did the trick! I love it when tours introduce you to parts of cities you wouldn’t have found otherwise. The city looks amazing. Oh, and so does the chocolate 🙂
Yeah, I hear a lot of mixed reviews on Brussels but I think had my box incident not occurred I would have had nothing negative to say! Ah well, you can’t win ’em all 🙂
Oh my gosh, this just makes me want to go back to Brussels and eat sweets all day! If your pictures and descriptions are this scrumptious, I can’t imagine how the actual reality is! (And I love that you made return trips back to a lot of these places while you were in Belgium!)
Ha! I actually did twice… maybe three times?! Yikes! I mean, I had to bring Heather once she arrived, right? I would have been a bad friend otherwise!
I so need to do that tour.
I’m so going to do that tour.
Give me the chocolate already!!!
When you do, let me know so we can compare notes 🙂
Wow! I love Belgium chocolate. Having lived all my childhood just around the corner from Belgium, I am now missing it a lot!!! Your post really reminded me that I have to go there again!!! Thanks and have a wonderful day!!!
You are so welcome for the sweet reminder, Jana 🙂
I’ve got a serious chocolate craving going on right now…not sure I can find anything as decadent here in Sri Lanka!
Thailand neither 🙁 Although that might be for the best, health-wise!
I need to kiss the feet of the person who invented the champagne truffle.
Hahahaha. I can relate!
It’s only 10 am here, but now I’m REALLY craving chocolate!
I didn’t do a chocolate tour when I was in Belgium, but I’m definitely adding it to the list for next time!!
Tomorrowland aside, it was the highlight for me!
Chocolate and Brussels what not to like. Next time I am in Brussels I will look out for the tour.
Let me know if you do! Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Those chocolates look delicious! I am signing up for that chocolate tour.
Have a delicious time, Angelica! 🙂
Sounds like a great tour! I did some chocolate truffle making in London – so messy and so fun! We also did a bean to bar chocolate class at the Chocolate Museum in Antigua, Guatemala which was so interesting – taking us through the journey of the chocolate from bean form to becoming chocolate, we roasted and crushed the beans ourselves and tried the Mayan style hot chocolate. We took home a bag of chocolate too that we had set in moulds. Definitely recommend if you find yourself in Guatemala!
Sounds awesome! I had some amazing chocolate in Latin America, amazing in a different way. Less about the packaging and presentation and more about the production. Loved seeing both sides!
Wow, best Viator tour ever? That is saying a lot! Chances are I’ve mentioned the fact that chocolate-tasting in Belgium is on my bucket list (and beer tasting. and fries tasting…) but now when I go, I’ll know which tour to choose!
PS — love your admission that you googled around for the car analogy. i do that shit all the time!!
Ha. I shuffled through a few different luxury ideas but realized I don’t know luxury brands in ANY genre, except I suppose for travel 🙂
So much chocolate!! I need to go to Belgium. I’m loving the blog design also!! 🙂
Thanks so much Jasmine! It’s such an exciting change!
Sounds like a fantastic tour
It was indeed! Thanks for reading, Emma!
You had me at chocolate!! Hahaha. Those look just incredible – how on earth did you choose which ones to try and which ones to leave in those beautiful displays?? And Brussels looks charming too – I love the cobble stones and faded elegance of the buildings.
For the most part, I took Nadia’s suggestions — she was the professional, after all 🙂 I was not led astray!
Ah, sounds like a good strategy. Imagine that on a business card – “chocolate professional”. Nice!
I absolutely love Brussels and I ABSOLUTELY ADORE CHOCOLATE! This post is great and your photos are lovely! 🙂 x x
Thanks so much Aimee! Brussels won me over in the end, as well 🙂
yumm! I haven’t had good chocolate in a long time.. best you get here is cadbury brand and it’s ok! Wish Viator had more variety in tours in India- they’ll all the same in each city.
Maybe if you come across some great ones you could suggest them to Viator 🙂 They are always on the lookout for amazing tours!
I’m just catching up on your past posts and just been reading you’ve been to my home town! I love the pics, thanks for sharing, makes me miss home.
So happy I could give you a smile, Anton! You have a beautiful home.
Wow! Belgium chocolate is the best and this tour look perfect! I will defenately try it when in Belgium!
One of my favorite day tours ever! Let me know how you enjoy it!
I’m going to Belgium this June, and I definitely want to sign up for this tour after reading this post! As a Viator Ambassador, you don’t happen to have discounts for your readers, do you? Just thought I’d check!
Hey Kristina, unfortunately not at this time! I have requested on though and I’m working with Viator to make it happen at some point — fingers crossed!
Make note to self to add chocolate budget for Brussels trip omg. If I take the tour my husband will have to occupy himself elsewhere (he’s allergic to nuts and has to be careful around desserts especially in Europe). Maybe he can do a beer tour.
Oh bummer! But I do think that sounds like the perfect split day — beer and chocolate!