It is virtually unthinkable to take a trip today and come back without a souvenir. It is the souvenirs that remind us of a country and bring back memories. So we have compiled a list with some of the best Croatian souvenirs.
Souvenirs are nowadays readily available; there are many souvenir shops in the city centers, however we must ask ourselves how many souvenirs actually have been made/produced in their respective countries, and how we recognize an authentic, genuine souvenir.
Croatia is rich in history and every town or village has its own folklore and rich customs, thus the souvenirs also follow those themes. Small towns and villages mostly have ethnographic/history museums so one can buy souvenirs directly from them. In larger towns, you cannot go wrong if you buy any product that has “hand-made” or “made in Croatia” on it.
The most famous accessory in the world. This authentic Croatian product took the world by fire in the 17th century via Croatian soldiers in the Thirty Years’ War. It was first accepted by the French, and later by the rest of Europe and the whole world. The cravat is usually made of silk, but can be from other materials too. The Croatian Parliament gave great importance to the cravat so there is even a National Cravat Day in Croatia, celebrated on October 18.
Penkala – the mechanical pen
Slavoljub Penkala patented the first mechanical pen in 1906 and the first ballpoint pen in 1907, of which the Penkala Admiral C is the most prestigious. It is one of the most authentic Croatian souvenirs and a shining example of Croatian history and traditional handicraft with lifelong guarantee. It is a very nice memory of Croatia.
Lace is an independent, porous, unique creation first found during the Renaissance in the Mediterranean area. The skill of making lace lies in needlework and interlacing with small clappers. Lace is made for traditional national costumes.
Today, agave lace is made exclusively by Benedictine nuns on the island of Hvar. They have a 130-year-old tradition which is handed down generation after generation. Making lace requires a lot of effort; from a fresh agave leaf, threads are extracted, later on processed in a very specific way and trimmed for use. Hvar lace is on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. If you opt for agave lace from Croatian souvenirs, you will bring home a valuable and unique memento.
Konavle embroidery and silk
Cultivating silk moth in Dubrovnik area, in Konavle, dates all the way back to the 15th century. Producing thread took place every spring in maidens’ rooms. Until their marriage, the girls had to cultivate enough bugs to produce their own thread for embroidery.
Konavle embroidery is an important element of the traditional costume; it developed its own art style and is much more than just a simple decoration. To keep the tradition alive, embroidery is used for making various decorative and usable objects.
The limestone is definitely the soul of the island of Brac. The stone has a special status in architecture. The most famous buildings made of Brac limestone include the Diocletian palace, the White House, the Pope’s altar. Nowadays various souvenirs and jewelry are made of it too.
A traditional Croatian cake dating back to the Renaissance. It is a cake made of honey, walnuts and spices, especially pepper. The secret is in the correct proportion. Its origin is Zagreb, but it gained so much popularity it can be found on tables all over Croatia, especially during Christmas time. It is a great memory of aromas, scents and flavors of Croatia.
Klapa (pl. klape) music is on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is a kind of multi-voice and a cappella singing, unique to Dalmatia, islands and the very south of the country. Historically, there have been klape whose members used instruments, unique to Dubrovnik area, where people were wealthy so could afford to buy instruments and create music.
We hope during your stay you will listen to klapa live and truly enjoy the sounds of this unique way of singing and maybe purchase a CD as a great memento of Croatia if you like it.
An intoxicating blue/lilac/violet beauty. It is an exceptional Mediterranean plant, rich in essential oils. Lavender oil is one of the rare types of oil you can apply directly to the skin. It also helps alleviate respiratory and rheumatic problems. Lavender in small bags will refresh your living areas, protect clothing in your closets from moths and drive the pesky mosquitoes away. Lavender is warmly recommended as one of the Croatian souvenirs.
1. Nadalina chocolates and pralines, enriched with local and exotic herbs and spices and fruit, red pepper and cinnamon, dried figs, prosecco, carobs, almonds, lavender and premium cocoa are the ultimate culinary delights.
2. Bajadera is one of the most famous brands of Kraš, a confectionery manufacturer established in 1911. Bajadera is a queen among desserts; it has a fine nougat flavor with almonds. It is the first confectionery product marked authentically Croatian.
3. Jams and marmalades – these sweet delicacies from Mediterranean fruit made according to the old recipes from family farms are a perfect gift for your family and friends to sample the flavors and aromas of Croatia.
1. Dolls in traditional costumes are another great example of Croatian souvenirs for your living room. Croatia has a very rich folklore; every town and village has its own tradition, songs and costumes, so this souvenir can evoke memories of the very place you visited.
2. Tovar (a local word for donkey) is Dalmatia’s trademark, a symbol of perseverance and endurance. Tovar was and is the cutest and the humblest animal and the most popular living souvenir. We definitely recommend a souvenir with a little Dalmatian donkey.
3. Dalmatian – the most famous dog brand in the world, who delighted everybody with its black spots. Here is another adorable suggestion from Croatian souvenirs.
Croatia is famous and well known for its wines. It catches most foreigners’ attention and it is unthinkable not to complete a meal with a glass of good wine. When talking about wine, one avoids saying this one is the best since the best is the one that suits you best, so you are sure to find something for yourselves.
As we have a few autochthonous wine varieties, unique in the world, we recommend a bottle of wine as a great Croatian souvenir which will remind you of flavors and aromas of Dalmatia long after you are back home.
We hope you enjoyed these suggestions and got an idea for pick of authentic souvenirs that are not “touristy”. Croatia has much more domestic and authentic products that can be found on every corner, proudly displayed for everyone willing to try them, but not all secrets should be revealed. We’re leaving you to discover it yourself when you visit.
Note to be aware off
The Republic of Croatia has Law on the protection of cultural goods, including regulations on the trade of historical and religious artifacts, and is a Party to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species in the country.
Some species not found on CITES list but endemic and protected in Croatia are Noble pen shell, Wildcat, Degenia velebitica and Primrose (Primula kitaibeliana).