EUROPE
Interior of chocolate vault with a sign at the end that reads “Chocolate Nation”

Interior of chocolate vault (Tamala Malerk)

Nestled in the city of Antwerp, Belgium is the ultimate stop for chocolate lovers, Chocolate Nation. Here, there is a a self-guided tour through multiple rooms and learn the history and process of making Belgian chocolate. At the end, there is a tasty surprise.

Chocolate Nation is the “largest Belgian chocolate museum in the world,” and yes, it is a total tourist trap. However, I think tourist traps have their place. There is a reason they attract tourists and Chocolate Nation is a perfect place to take the entire family when visiting. You can reach it easily by taking public transportation or driving to Antwerp Central Station, which is conveniently located across the street.

Purple neon sign that reads “ Dear Belgian chocolate I love you...”

Neon sign (Tamala Malerk)

Your tour begins just beyond the entrance doors where you are handed an audio guide in your choice of Dutch, English, German, French or Spanish languages. Tours begin every five minutes, which is roughly the length of time it takes to explore each room — it’s like they planned it out intentionally. What I enjoyed about this constant rotation is that it kept group sizes small. There were only four other people who went in with me, so it didn’t feel overcrowded. It takes about one to two hours to tour (depending on how long you spend in the final two rooms, but I am jumping ahead), and the last tour begins at 5 p.m.

Upon entering each room, you “scan” your audio guide at the QR code and follow along with the photos, videos or animatronics in the room. The next set of doors will automatically open when the audio guide is done. My favorite room had an artificial chocolate machine, plus light and sound effects that made me feel like I was in a scene from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” But I promise, each room delivers something special; from a mock restaurant to a room filled with chocolate statues, there are selfie stations throughout and a staircase filled with chocolate molds that seem to go as high as the ceiling. There is a room guaranteed to appease all.

A mountain of fake ruby chocolate that is dipped in gold on the bottom

Ruby chocolate mountain (Tamala Malerk)

The tour ends in a tasting room where you turn in your audio guide and can try chocolate from all over the world. Okay, this might have been my favorite room. I discovered a love for ruby chocolate, which is a newer type of chocolate created in 2017. I also enjoyed the chocolate from Madagascar. In true tourist trap fashion, you must go through the gift shop to exit and, yes, I bought some chocolate and pralines to take home with me.

Chocolate Nation is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and it is recommended to purchase your tickets online before you go. There is a restaurant onsite offering Belgian cuisine and chocolate (of course) that is open Wednesday through Sunday. To book your tickets and to learn more about the museum go to chocolatenation.be.

author picture
Tamala Malerk is a writer and editor with Stars and Stripes Europe. She has been with SSE since April 2022 writing articles all about travel, lifestyle, community news, military life and more. In May 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in History and promises it is much more relevant to this job than one might think.

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