Chocolate and health must be two of our all-time obsessions and it might surprise you to know that you can find both together. Quite apart from the satisfaction of sampling some superbly rich tastes, Barcelona offers options that combine flights of fervent fantasy from the most fanatic chocaholic with health and spa treatments and chocolate-based romance.
The Gran Balneario Blancafort in Garriga has a lovely restaurant and a huge spa complex based around natural hot springs. Try its “Hot Chocolat” body treatment; cocoa-husk exfoliation followed by luxurious chocolate and rich cocoa butter massage. It’s on the C-17 just 20 minutes and 25 km from central Barcelona. The flavonids in dark chocolate make it surprisingly healthy, acting as antioxidants, helping decrease blood pressure, balancing hormones and even helping the heart, so it’s only right to follow the spa treatment with a romantic chocolate-themed late lunch for two. Rather than go directly back to Central Barcelona, hop over to Olivier Bajard’s Patisserie. His prize winning chocolate sculptures, which change every season, are a secret guarded jealously by locals and are so well respected in the trade that chocolate and pastry chefs from all over the world visit him to learn.
The Museo de Xocolata in Central Barcelona gives essential background, but don’t stop there for too many thick cups of hot chocolate because you’ll want some space to sample delights of Petritxol Street, a narrow street of chocolate bars close to Las Ramblas. Stay over in the centre and breakfast on traditional chocolate and churros (long thin donuts) at La Pallaresa in the Gothic Quarter. Their thick, dark drinking chocolate is a perfect source of those antioxidants, and comes with or without whipped cream and with a sachet of sugar for kids or those who prefer sweeter drinks.
Close to Barcelona, neighbouring Aragón is home to the Monasterio de Piedra. It’s said that the monks here were the first to bring chocolate into Europe. This region also started the change from traditional Aztec methods that placed it in hot peppers to the sweeter drinks and snacks that we recognise today. Take an English Language chocolate tour or round your visit off with a group chocolate and wine pairing tasting session at El Garaff. Add romance to the dangerously delightful difficult process of finding the right wine to complement your favourite chocolates will leave you with results that you can share with friends back home.
Other things to try out while in Barcelona
- The popular Dalí museum
- Olympic Stadium for a view of the city
- City & Coast Helicopter tour
- Sample the local tapas
- Visit Girona
- A hot air balloon flight
- A half-day bike tour
- The amazing La Sagrada Cathedral
- National Art Museum of Catalonia
- The Gaudí Museum in Park Güell
- Take the kids to the Maritime Museum