Switzerland is a true fantasyland with stunning nature, superb skiing, and the tastiest chocolate on Earth. Famous for its delectable milk chocolate that most agree is the best in the world, Switzerland has several museums and factories where visitors can learn about each brand’s history, sample from free-flowing fountains and create personalized chocolate. A rich history of chocolate-making is embedded in Swiss culture, and a joyful luxury is that one is never far from a chocolate factory. Tourists are welcome to visit and discover how the use of the finest ingredients, traditional techniques and a strong tradition of craftsmanship create the world’s most beloved chocolate products. Each brand shares its unique history and factory experience, with plenty of free tastes along the way. It is a delicious way to learn about this most enjoyable aspect of Swiss culture.
1. Lindt Chocolate Factory, Kilchberg
One of Switzerland’s most famous chocolate factories is the Lindt Home of Chocolate, located in Kilchberg, a mere 20-minute drive from Zurich. Lindt & Sprüngli AG was founded by David Sprüngli and his son, Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann, in 1845, early in the industry’s beginnings in Switzerland. The father-and-son team produced solid chocolate bars and other confections made from high-quality cocoa beans. Rudolf Lindt then invented his breakthrough conching technique; he refined the chocolate through continuous stirring and aerating, imbuing it with the smooth and silky texture that is quintessentially Swiss. When the demand for Lindt’s velvety chocolate outsized its production capabilities, Sprüngli made a splendid partnership with the brand that has lasted to this day.
An aroma of rich chocolate wafts through the air as you approach Lindt’s main production facility and home to the brand’s tour experience. In the entrance hall, visitors are greeted by an impressive chocolate fountain standing more than nine meters tall. And it is more than a showpiece as the fountain holds 1,400 kg of real chocolate, setting an impressively grand tone for the museum experience.
The factory tour takes you through an immersive experience of the history and production process of the renowned Swiss chocolatier. Through interactive displays and exhibits, visitors discover the brand and the chocolate creation process in an educational and entertaining tour that appeals to all ages. Included are a detailed description of the cultivation of the beans, the transformation from beans to chocolate bars, the conching process and the finishing of the products with their final packaging.
There are multiple opportunities for tasting along the way – multi-chocolate-flavored fountains, a tasting game to assess the keenness of your senses and free samples of assorted Lindor truffles, one of their signature products. Visitors can also learn to create their own chocolate with hands-on experience in the Chocolateria (the chocolatier workshop) or have a Lindt chocolatier create a fresh, personalized bar to complete a delicious day at the factory.
2. House of Läderach, Bilten
As the master of chocolate inventions go, Lindt owes some of its truffle success to the inventor of the truffle, Rudolf Läderach Jr. Rudolf founded his company, Läderach, in 1962, focusing on the production of chocolate products and goods for the confectionery industry. He, too, turned chocolate-making into a family venture as his son Jürg joined the company and took over the business. Läderach’s innovative and creative approach to chocolate-making helps the brand stand out in the competitive market. Their signature, hardest-to-resist product is arguably their artisanal creation, FrischSchoggi. This chocolate bark is a handcrafted layer of chocolate topped with various nuts, dried fruits, and other delicious toppings. It’s the brand’s most iconic product due to its quality and artisanal craftsmanship.
Läderach maintains tight control over the entire production process and high-quality standards in their two Swiss production facilities. Architect Kurt Merki Jr. recently designed the House of Läderach, a new headquarters, event center, museum and home to the factory tour that opened its doors to the public as a new experience in 2020. It is a true luxury to take in all the sights, sounds and smells of the factory. The guided tour offers insight into the House of Läderach’s process and all the steps involved in their method, education on identifying great quality chocolate using all five senses, and the opportunity to fill a few healthy spoonfuls at the multi-flavored chocolate fountain. A chocolate-making masterclass is also available for visitors who desire a hands-on experience. A master chocolatier will educate guests on making their own seasonal creations. Discovering Läderach’s tour is a must for all chocolate lovers, as the quality and craftsmanship of this gourmet brand are undeniable.
3. Camille Bloch, Bern
One of Switzerland’s most beloved and well-respected chocolate brands is Camille Bloch, founded in 1929 in Bern, Switzerland. Through the generations and the company’s growth, it has remained family owned, with the third generation now managing its operations. This continuity and dedication to the family’s values and traditions are a source of pride for the brand and appeal to its loyal following.
The company’s primary production site and factory tour is located in Courtelary, about an hour outside Bern. The experience begins with a free bar of chocolate to set the mood before commencing a self-guided tour to learn about the history of the Camille Bloch company, the chocolate-making process, and the family’s values and commitments. Old commercials play with messaging that puts the brand’s development in context with historical events, making it a fascinating and riveting look back in time.
During the tour, chocolatiers joyfully perform their art and explain their technique at two stations where they demonstrate their skills in creating signature Torino and Ragusa products. Copious samples of various flavors and varieties are available from both brands. Once you’re full, you can meander to one of the fun photo opportunities along the tour, ride a Vespa or rest on a beautifully decorated flower swing.
Several chocolate workshops are available, allowing visitors opportunities to create personal seasonal chocolates. And at the end, guests can relax in the cafe or gift shop while the littlest visitors shake out their excess sugar on the small playground outside. The gift shop has a wide selection of Camille Bloch’s signature chocolates, treats and souvenirs to bring home.
Switzerland has a rich and storied history in the world of chocolate, and its factories are a top-tier attraction for all curious travelers. Not only do you get to indulge in the finest chocolate in the world, but you also get to witness the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into every delicious piece. Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff or simply someone with a sweet tooth, touring Switzerland’s chocolate factories is an experience not to be missed.