The 10 Best Dessert Cities in the World

Will travel for sugar

Everyone knows that eating is the best part of traveling. And everyone also knows that dessert is the best part of eating. So, by the transitive property, that means that dessert is the best part of traveling. See what we did there? And to make it easier to plan your next trip, here are our ten favorite dessert cities and what you should eat there.

The 19 Best Cookies in America

1. Paris

When it comes to desserts, Paris has an embarrassment of riches. The good news is, you really can’t go wrong with most anything sweet within city limits. But for the greatest hits, make sure you get to Ladurée for a gorgeous array of rainbow-colored macarons; to Jacques Genin for a towering, made-to-order Mille-Feuille; and to Pierre Hermé for….well, everything (but we particularly love the pistachio-crème-filled Montebello cake).

2. New York

Desserts in New York are both varied and wonderful--just like the city itself. Make sure to sample a range, from the sublime (the extravagant tarte tatin at Gotham Bar and Grill) to the ridiculous (the Salty Pimp cone at Big Gay Ice Cream). You’re also going to need a giant, warm cookie from Levain bakery, a Nutella babka from Breads bakery and a Tres Leches doughnut from The Doughnut Plant.

3. Vienna

Vienna has been the pastry capital of the world since the days of Freud, Lenin and Trotsky. If you want to channel your inner Old World intellectual, head to Café Central, which was a regular hangout for just about every early-20th-century thinker and still makes a killer apple strudel. Next up, stop by Café Sacher for a traditional Sacher torte--a spongy chocolate cake filled with apricot jam. And if you're feeling a little more modern, there's Xocolat, an innovative new chocolatier.

Wing C./Yelp

4. Tokyo

Oh, you thought Tokyo was only famous for sushi and ramen? Shame on you. In a city with more than 200 different kinds of Kit Kats, you can be sure that sugar is a high priority. Make sure to try mochi--little balls of ice cream wrapped in rice flour--at Mochi Cream, and the Japanese cheesecake at Pablo. Then stop by the first Asian branch of the famed Dominique Ansel bakery for a matcha-flavored Cronut.

Loon E./Yelp

5. San Francisco

Perhaps the most famous pastry at San Francisco’s most famous bakery is Tartine’s orange-scented morning bun. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have another one for dessert, too. When it comes to ice cream there are two options: Fight off the tourists for a hot fudge sundae in Ghiradelli Square or fight off the hipsters for a scoop of Secret Breakfast at Humphry Slocombe in the Mission. (Hint: it involves bourbon and cornflakes.) Or, for a little something different, we recommend a glistening Chinese egg-custard tart at The Golden Gate Bakery.

6. Rome

We would come to Rome just for the gelato, which seems to beckon from every corner in perfect, fluffy little piles. Start at Giolitti, which has been serving basically the world’s most perfect gelato for over a century. If you have any room left, check out Biscottificio Innocenti in Trastevere for piles of crunchy almond cookies and Dolce Maniera for brioche stuffed with Nutella.


7. Singapore

Singapore has long been a bit of a melting pot, with a huge ex-pat community, which makes for a fascinating culinary tradition. That carries over to desserts, where European and Asian favorites come together in delicious ways. Try something unusual, like doughnuts with salted-egg-yolk custard at FIX or Butterfly Pea Tapioca at Soi 60 Thai. Or, for a real showstopper, get the edible terrarium at Antoinette.


8. Barcelona

If dunking hot, cinnamon-spice churros into a mug of rich, dark chocolate sounds good to you, Barcelona just might be your town. For a classic spot, try Café Granja Viader, which claims to have invented the tradition a century ago. If you’re feeling fancy, check out Espai Sucre, where you can get a five-course, four-hour tasting menu of desserts, with choices like Manchego cheese tart and smoky tea cream with chocolate, black sesame and yogurt.

9. Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is all about dulce de leche--a sweet, milky, caramel spread that Argentineans use on just about everything. You’ll want to start your dulce de leche tour at Havanna, a favorite chain, for a coffee and a few alfajores--coconut-covered sandwich cookies with dulce de leche or jam in the middle. Continue to Peron Peron for panqueques, which are like French crepes stuffed with dulce de leche. And end with a gelato-like helado, which you can find on just about any street corner. Don’t worry--it comes in dulce de leche flavor, too.

10. New Orleans

We can get behind any city that starts the day with a trio of freshly fried beignets and a mountain of powdered sugar. After Café Du Monde, make sure you get an order of the original bananas Foster at Brennan’s (it actually comes to the table on fire!), a box of pralines at Pralines by Jean and the world’s most heavenly pecan sticky bun at Willa Jean.

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Hannah Loewentheil

Freelance PureWow Editor

From 2015-2017 Hannah Loewentheil held the role of Editor covering entertainment, food, travel and all things nyc.
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