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. Kravata (The Cravat)
Kravata or more commonly known as cravat is a neckband that originates from the 17-century military unit known as the Croats. Yes, you read that right – Croats were responsible for the creation of one of the most staple pieces of modern dressing! Kravata in Croatian means a tie, and there is no better place to buy an original, quality tie than Croatia! The Croats even dedicated a day to the famous invention – October 18, when people are taught how to tie their kravatas in all possible ways.
Kravata can be found all over the country and bought as a wearable souvenir starting at 150 kunas, but maybe the best place to go seek for a really quality piece would be Croata – a shop with a great legacy of producing kravatas since the 1990s. You can find their shops in the capital Zagreb as well as all over the coast.
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.
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.
4. Crystal & kremšnite from Samobor
If you’re looking for a souvenir that would be perfect as a decoration for your home, you should stop by Samobor, a small town not far from Zagreb.
Samobor is known as a home of two incredibly rare things – one is edible, and is probably one of the best desserts you’ll try in your life. Kremšnite is a cream cake dessert featuring a puff pastry based and custard filling, and there is a famous saying that claims that “you haven’t eaten a proper kremšnita until you’ve been to Samobor”.
After you’ve eaten an incredibly delicious dessert, you should go to the factory of crystals and purchase a souvenir that can sparkle in your home! All of the crystals in the family-owned factory in Samobor are handmade and one of a kind.
Licitar is a red-colored heavily-decorated biscuit that’s made of sweet honey dough. It is considered to be the heart of Croatian’s cultural heritage, and it comes 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.
6. Glagolitic script
Before Latinic, Croats used Glagolitic script from 9th till the 19th century. It is considered to be one of the biggest piece of Croatian cultural heritage and it was famously recorded on a stone tablet called Baška tablet that has been discovered at the end of the 19th century on the island of Krk in a small church. The Baška tablet dates back to year 1100. If you visit the island of Krk, you can buy small replicas of the tablet all over the country, while the original tablet can be visited in the St. Lucija church in Jurandvor on the island of Krk.
7. Vučedol dove
Vučedol is one of the first known occupied areas in Croatia and a very famous archaeological site. The Vučedol culture dates back to 3000 b.c.
Vučedol ceramics are famous worldwide, with most famous ornaments usually featuring motifs of the constellations of Orion and Venus. The biggest symbol of Vučedol is the ceramic dove that is not only the remind of the rich history of the area but was also a symbol of peace during the national war in the 90s and has been considered the symbol of the city of Vukovar ever since.
Purchasing the Vučedol dove is considered to bring the peace to the house at which the dove will later reside at.
8. Croatian interlace (Pleter)
Pleter is one of the oldest symbols of Croats and croatian culture and it’s one of the most popular motifs featured on souvenirs, mainly crosses. It originates from churches that were built between 9th and 12th century during the early medieval kingdom of Croatia. There is also a civil and military decoration today called the Order of the Croatian Interlace.
It can be purchased on a variety of ornaments all over the country and is one of the best reminders of Croatia as a culturally rich destination.
Croatia has three different kinds of incredibly unique and area-specific lace. One originates from the island of Pag, one from the island of Hvar and the last can be found in the village of Lepoglava at the east of the country.
Hvar lace is made out of incredibly thin parts of agave plants and is a heritage originating from the benedictine monastery in Hvar.
Pag lace is made out of very thin thread, but once made it is exceptionally firm and can last for decades. Each lace piece is a symbol of its maker – a modest, anonymous and self-sacrificing woman.
In order to purchase any of the three types of lace you will have to splurge as they are very expensive considering they take long to make and each piece is unique.
10. Olive oil
Nine Croatian olive oils are considered to be in the top of the worldwide list of the best olive oils. Along the coast, one can purchase extra virgin olive oils made by family-owned businesses who grow olives and produce olive oil. They can be purchased anywhere on the coast, sometimes even by the side of the road where small stands are set up during the tourist season.
Updated: June 30, 2017