The best thing to bring from any trip you go on are souvenirs that will make you think of that vacation whenever you pass by them in your home. Souvenirs can also make for incredible gifts – if you know what to buy and where to get them!
In this post, we decided to show you how to choose the best Croatian souvenirs, how to recognize and pick them in the sea of cheap replicas, and we guide you as to where to buy them and how much they usually cost.
1. Šestine umbrella or Šestinski kišobran
It came to be a part of the Šestine folk costume, but people stopped wearing their costumes around the 20th century, so the umbrella almost disappeared from the everyday life. They are pretty big and they are known for their special design. These kinds of umbrellas can be bought all around Zagorje, but the best known and the original maker of these umbrellas is the Cerovečki store in Zagreb, so if you want a special and original umbrella for yourself or your loved ones, visit them and buy one! An interesting fact is that the same design can be found on the parasols on the Dolac farmer’s market, the most famous farmer’s market in Zagreb!
2. Šibenik cap
Croats love to decorate their military uniforms! This iconic piece originates from Drniš, a small place next to Šibenik, one of the most prominent cities on the coast. The cap is made out of red wool and then additionally decorated with an embroidery called “bule” and it was specifically intended to be worn for weddings during the 18th and 19th century.
It is still worn during major manifestations and celebrations by men. Not only is it an incredibly rare souvenir – it can only be bought in the Šibenik area in many small local souvenir shops and is also very stylish. The fact that this souvenir can’t be bought anywhere is what makes it so genuine.
3. Pocket-sized kažun
A kažun is a round building, usually in a field and it’s made out of stone bricks, with one door and without any windows. These buildings are the most characteristic for Istra, but they can be found in other parts of the seaside as well. They were used as a safe haven if the shepherds or cattlemen were caught in the middle of a storm out there, and they kept their tools in it so they would all be at hand. Today these buildings are a tourist attraction and you can buy a mini sizedkažun in the souvenir shops.
Morčić is the name of a small porcelain head of a dark-skinned person wearing a turban and it is one of the main pieces of 17th and 18th-century jewelry originating from Kvarner, a northern part of the coast situated around the city of Rijeka. Morčić as a character is featured on earrings, rings, brooches, and necklaces. It is modeled using a technique that is very similar to the Venetian Moretto.
The story of how Morčić came to be, goes back to the 16th century when the Turkish army was allegedly killed by a storm of rocks that fell from the sky and the only thing that was left was their turbans. As a way to celebrate that victory, men had earrings made with the motif of Morčić for their wives. Morčić as a gift is supposed to bring good luck.
5. Shooting stad with a bottle of wine
Shooting stads are really well known around Croatia since hunting is a main hobby for people in this country. They have many hunting societies which means that the country is filled with hunting stads. These special wooden structures became a symbol of many regions here, so naturally, it became one of the main Croatian souvenirs to buy in some parts. If you’re a fan of hunting or you just want to show something special to your friends, you can buy a big shooting stad which you can use as a wine bottle holder. If you ask me, it’s pretty neat!
These bags were once a part of a folk costume in Croatia. They were handmade and worn only on Sundays or special holidays. Also if they went on a trip, they packed their food and drinks in this bag. It is made out of woolen fabric and there are several different types of design (for example with horizontal stripes or like the one on the photo above).
Today these bags are used as a stylish accessory and people love it because it’s traditional but colorful and pretty. If you have someone who loves fashion or bags, you should buy them a zovnica.
7. Licitar Heart
Licitar is a red-colored heavily-decorated biscuit that’s made of sweet honey dough. These Croatian souvenirs are considered to be the heart of Croatian’s cultural heritage, and they come in exactly the same shape – a heart. Licitar is one of the symbols of the capital of Croatia, Zagreb. Even though it is technically a dessert, it is not to be consumed. Instead, it is considered a gift of love and is given to those you live as an ornamental gift.
It is often featured in weddings and on St. Valentine’s Day. Many also use licitars to decorate their Christmas trees, and the city is full of licitar ornaments during that time. In 2010, UNESCO added licitar on their list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Licitars can be purchased all over the country in various sizes, and are also made out of porcelain as a more long-lasting version.
Čokanjčić is a small and special bottle for alcoholic beverages, but it’s used mostly for schnapps. They were used, and are still used in weddings. They put it on the table and if someone wants to try the drink, they pour a little bit into their glass (or drink the whole thing). These kinds of bottles were used in taverns as well instead of the small glasses. Allegedly the drinks taste better from a čokanjčić than a regular glass. If you’re looking for souvenirs in Slavonia, make sure to buy this item, it will be a nice decoration for your home!
9. Slavonian hat or Slavonski šeširić
The Slavonian hat is a big part of the tradition in Slavonia. As a couple of other items on this list, this one was also a part of the folk costume people wore in the previous century (and even before that). Today it is worn only on special occasions like folk concerts, special gatherings or in some villages on holidays. A normal sized Slavonian hat is really difficult to find in souvenir shops, but a small sized bottle cap cover is a bit more typical (and also affordable).
If you have someone who would love to have a piece of Slavonian tradition in their home or they just like cute bottle cap covers, this is the right item for you!
Zlatovez is another Slavonian phenomenon. It is a special kind of embroidery which is done with a golden thread. It is also a big part of the Slavonian tradition and it is one of the best-known symbols of these parts. It appeared in the 19th century and it was worn by the members of the wealthier families.
This kind of embroidery spread out to other parts of Croatia and Europe as well. It can be found not only on dresses, headwear, and shoes but also on jewelry, key chains, bottles, and bags as well. You can also frame it and put it on your wall!
11. Čuturica – Croatian flask
Čuturicais a bottle mostly for alcoholic beverages. It was used throughout the whole country and it is interesting because of the decoration on it. There are a couple of different sizes you can choose from, from really small to really big, depending on the beverage you want to put the bottle.
The traditional čuturica was made out of wood with metal hoops while the newer ones are made out of porcelain or glass. The čuturica is a big part of the wedding tradition in Slavonia, but it was used in other parts of the country as well and can be found in almost every souvenir shop in Croatia.