What makes a great souvenir from Croatia? Maybe you want a magnet for your fridge, a postcard, or stuff you find on the beach. But, maybe authentic souvenir is what you crave? Here’s a list of authentic great souvenirs from Croatia to take home with you.
What makes a great souvenir from Croatia?
When you travel, you see and visit many wonderful places, meet new people, and learn new things. However, people love to take something home to remember this new experience they had. Taking a great souvenir commemorates the wonderful time they spent on their travels.
We all know that our neighbors, the Italians, are really fashionable, but did you know that the favorite business accessory, a symbol of rebels and fancy add-on for men – the tie – is a Croatian invention. Well, at least we popularized it. A long-strip neck-cloth was worn by the Croatian military. During the Napoleon wars in the 17th century and was quickly embraced by the French. Another legend says that the women would tie their scarfs around their man’s neck as a symbol of faith before they would leave to war.
Don’t get surprised if you see sculptures in Zagreb wearing a red tie. Or if you see one wrapped around the Amphitheatre in Pula. We’re proud to be a part of fashion history. Maybe a tie would be a suitable and useful thing you can take home with you. The most famous brand of ties in Croatia is Croata. Be sure to check out Academia Cravatica for more history.
If you find yourself in Zagreb
The most common thing you’ll buy as a great souvenir from Croatia is perhaps a Licitar Heart or a cookie called Paprenjak.
Licitar heart is a symbol of Zagreb but originates from Northwestern Croatia and Southern Slovenia. This colorfully decorated biscuit is given at celebrations of love. For example, weddings, at birth, St. Valentine’s day, or even at Christmas. Therefore, yes- they’re edible, but not meant to be eaten. 🙂 If you visit Hrvatsko Zagorje, you’ll see these gingerbread hearts and other shapes sold at fairs. So don’t hesitate to grab it for your loved ones, or even for yourself.
Paprenjak on the other hand is meant to be eaten and enjoyed not only visually. The main ingredients are honey and black pepper, so it has a nice kick. Usually made by Zagreb families on Christmas. It is also found on Hvar island, with a slightly different recipe. Paprenjak is decorated by pressing the dough in a wooden mold. The symbols used are usually Christian or pagan (like fish, wheat, sun, and cross).
Visit the main farmers market in Zagreb
While we’re in Zagreb, let’s look at its main farmers market – the Dolac. The first thing you’ll see are bright red umbrellas striped with green, white, and yellow thin stripes near the edge. Like it? Us too!
It’s Sestinian umbrella, Sestine being an old neighborhood in the northern part of Zagreb. Therefore it’s also a fashionable and usable souvenir. Which will surely brighten up your rainy days? Or any day at all – use it as sun protector!
If you have a chance to cook with someone Croatian, you’ll see the overuse of Vegeta. Perhaps you use it yourself at home, or you heard about it. But it’s another thing Croatian people are proud of and would tell you is a good souvenir. This condiment was developed in 1959 by Zlata Bartl and her team. Therefore it is since produced by Podravka, located in Koprivnica. Basically, it’s salt with added vegetable flavor. Often discussed whether it’s healthy or not, due to its saltiness. However, all of us have been eating eat for years now and are totally fine – so give it a taste!
A great souvenir from continental Croatia
If you go to eastern Croatia, the thing you want to remind you of this place is Vucedol dove. It is the ritual vessel made between 2800 and 2500 BC and found in 1938. Near Vukovar. The 19,5 cm high ritual vessel is made from baked clay, and replicas can be found in souvenir shops in Croatia. The “Vucedol Dove” is the oldest dove figure found in Europe so far.
When traveling to Slavonia, tasting spicy, dried meat sausages is a must. You should drink some Slivovitz after heavy foods, as locals say „to push it down“. Kulen and Kulenova Seka, literally Kulen’s sister, as this sausage, is thinner and smaller than Kulen. They are made of low-fat meat, rather brittle and dense. The flavor is spicy. With the hot red paprika bringing it aroma and color, and garlic for additional spice. Yummy! You NEED one to take home as a great souvenir from Croatia.
The most famous one: Rakija 🙂
As mentioned before, Slivovitz – rakija, schnapps, or fruit brandy is a strong alcoholic drink, made out of plums. Though it’s not authentic to Croatia, as it’s more popular in Serbia and well known in other Balkan countries. But Croats will say that Slavonian Slivovitz is the best, as an aperitif, digestive, a cure for many illnesses. Of course many use it for cleaning windows and grease in general. 🙂 Usually, it’s yellow as it matures in oak barrels. In which it acquires its unique aroma and recognizable smell of homemade rakija.
The best ones are made at home, by grandpas and their family, and usually sold „over the fence“. So pull over if you see the „Prodajem rakiju“ sign. You won’t regret it! We invite you to read more about Croatia following our blog. Maybe you get inspired and start planning your own trip to Croatia.
Hope to see you there in 2021 🙂