Sweet tooth's in Sydney, rejoice. This trio of sweet treats: chocolate, macarons and ice cream is available as a self-guided tour in the City. Think of me as your silent tour guide. As this tour is self-directed, and you have some level of self-restraint (particularly with the paid for tastings and other purchased treats), you're able to keep this tour for free as no professional guidance is provided, apart from this article. Best advice: have this article open up on your smartphone or similar, as it will act as a map for you simultaneously. There are no set times or days. Provided all of the shops are open, you're fine. Anytime after 10:30am any time of the day is good.
A glimpse of the Valentine's Day stock at Haigh's Queen Victoria Building.
1. Haigh's, Queen Victoria Building
A great place to start. This is an elegant chocolatier that was founded by Alfred Haigh in 1915. The first ever Haigh's to open was in Adelaide's King William Street. The Haigh's you're standing at now was first opened in December 2012. A spacious Haigh's, and the second to have opened in Sydney. They've launched some beautiful truffles. Quite recently they've launched a Mango & Chilli Truffle. It is a hit. Other top picks include the Blueberry Mousse, Salted Caramel, as well as their milk and dark chocolate pastilles.
Tastings: Free with any purchase.
2. Sublime Gelato, Queen Victoria Building
Keep walking inside the Queen Victoria Building until you come across some escalators to take you down to the Town Hall Station level. Immediately you will find this ice cream place. Freshly made on the premises, and their chocolate dipped cones are the next best thing to those you will discover in Manly.
Tastings: Ask. They usually give you a scoop of ice cream for free.
Outside T2 at the QVB
3. T2, Queen Victoria Building
A tea house. A diverses selection of detox and other herbal teas are found here, as well as the accessories needed to brew at home. After all, tea and dessert go hand in hand right?
Tastings: Free tea tastings throughout the store. No need to ask.
Macaron paradise at Laduree
4. Laduree, Westfield Sydney
Keep walking towards Westfield Sydney. Find yourself on Pitt Street Mall and head straight into the new Westfield building (Centrepoint side) and head up the escalators to level 3 until you find yourself at Laduree. An elegant French macaron patisserie and tea house. Stunning macaron flavours, as well as aromatic candles - of which come with a keepsake cup.
Tastings: To be paid for. Each macaron is roughly $2. Otherwise it is free to look and admire.
The best of both worlds at Coco Noir
5. Coco Noir, Westfield Sydney
Beautiful hand made pralines and macarons live here. Great to admire. Tastings are to be paid for. Uses coffee from The Grounds of Alexandria. Has been in business since Westfield Sydney opened in December 2010. Pretty busy.
Tastings: N/A - purchases only.
Just a small glimpse of chocolate at food halls
6. David Jones Food Hall, Market Street
Head towards the health food store nearby, and turn right. Keep walking until you're at the David Jones Food Hall. Head towards the far end of the store, and chocolate paradise awaits. Admire some beautifully crafted hand made chocolates by the Belle Fleur chocolate company. The clearance table sells a variety of different chocolate stock, including gourmet chocolate pizzas at reduced prices. Their stock rotates often. Chocolate board games (made from real Belgium chocolate) is also found here. Bathroom facilities are nearby, just in case.
Godiva, Lindt and Hotel Chocolat chocolate flavours also feature here. Once admired, head towards the Noodle Bar and then turn right. Immediately you will find yourself at the Serendipity ice cream stand. This stand arrived in December 2013. Good news, ask for a free taste. Otherwise a scoop of ice cream is only $5.
Next door, the chocolate dipped fruits. Yum. If you cannot give into temptation here (yours truly's favourite treat) then go ahead and buy yourself a chocolate dipped fruit from $3 - $4.50 each. Head towards the greengrocers section, and you might be lucky to watch them being made. The chocolate only takes ten minutes to set.
Tastings: Free ice cream tasting.
The Nut Shop
7. The Nut Shop, Strand Arcade
You've left food halls, and you've now walked a bit of Pitt Street Mall. Now you're in one of Sydney's most elegant buildings. Find yourself at The Nut Shop, a family based business that has been around for 75 years (as at the time of writing this). Their vienna almonds are their best seller. They have a factory in Waterloo. Great treats here. A bit of savoury (perhaps) to balance out the sweet.
Tastings: Generally no. Purchases are worth it though.
Outside Sweet Infinity
8. Sweet Infinity, Strand Arcade
Their signature treat is the chocolate brownie, featured prominently on their window display. It is only $6 a pop, and quite filling with a fudge like centre. Also love their macarons, of which come in two different sizes. This is also the cheapest place to buy some quality manuka honey in Sydney.
Tastings: No. Full purchases only.
Coffee break - optional. I highly recommend Gumption by Coffee Alchemy right across the road. Take away coffee is cheaper than sitting down there.
9. Josophan's Fine Chocolates, Sydney City
Leave the Strand Arcade, turn right and head to the intersection on the corner of King and George Streets. On the Louis Vuitton side, walk towards Darling Harbour, and on the corner of King and York Streets you will find organic and fair trade chocolate paradise. An elegant boutique founded by a chocolatier who studied at schools such as Le Cordon Bleu. Initially started in Leura, and this store has been open in the city for 18 months. They're famous for the beautiful ganaches at the front counter. Further reading on this establishment can be found by clicking here.
Tastings: Free to ask.
Beautiful pralines at Bon Bon
10. Bon Bon Chocolates, Queen Victoria Building
Head back towards the Apple Store on George Street, and keep walking back towards the Queen Victoria Building. Cross the lights on the corner or George and Market Streets. When back in the Queen Victoria Building, you will find this chocolatier on the right hand side. Has had a lick of paint once since opening in 2003. Home to some beautiful pralines and hand made chocolates. Dark chocolate frogs - yum.
Tastings: Unfortunately, no. They're only available at The Strand Arcade store. This store does not come recommended by your silent guide here for personal reasons.
Macarons at Parisi
11. Parisi, Queen Victoria Building
Keep walking ahead until you come to Parisi. A cafe situated right in between both walkways. Lovely macarons and chocolate dipped treats. They've been open here since December 2013. The original Parisi in Sydney opened in Darling Harbour.
Tastings: To be paid for if interested.
This is the end of the tour. If you wish to extend it a little, keep walking down George Street until you get to Event Cinemas. Across the road you will find Mizuya's. From 11am to 5:30pm daily, you can buy yourself a green tea soft serve for only $1. Again, this is optional.
Enjoy the tour.
Rating: 10/10 (Unfortunately there are some picky guests who attend guided tours for great ticket prices, and don't even give this well-deserved score for a well thought out tour. That's disappointing.)
Where: Starts and ends at the Queen Victoria Building.
Why: Greater appreciation and awareness of the top sweet treats trio (chocolate, macarons and ice cream) in the city.
Cost: Free. There is a cost if you want to taste some of the treats at some of the venues. Of course, there is a cost if you wish to make purchases along the way.
When: Up to you, but keep shop trading hours in mind.
Good for kids: Yes. For kids ages 5 and up. You may need to pay for some of their tastings though to keep them interested.
Take away: Definitely, and flexible.