unique souvenirs from around the world
Featured, Travel Blog, Travel Tips

Unique Souvenirs from Around the World

Gifts Your Friends Won’t Stop Talking ABout

When I travel, I strive to find unique, memorable gifts for my friends and family back home. Of course, I’ve caved and purchased magnets and postcards, but I try to avoid those status quo items. Inspired by a post I saw in the Facebook group, The Solo Female Traveler Network, I created this blog based on suggestions for what to purchase in their home countries shared by other female travelers.

Who better to listen to than the experts who live where you’re visiting?!

If you have travel dates on the calendar for any of these countries, set a calendar reminder with the appropriate suggestion, so you don’t forget what to look for while shopping.

This article has taken on a life of its own and keeps growing thanks to all of the input I’ve received. Many Facebook users have helped grow this list beyond the intial list.

I am a travel affiliate and am dedicated to helping others achieve their travel dreams, while I pursue my own. In order to do this, I place sponsored links in my posts. If you click some links in this post and make a purchase, I will hopefully earn a little dough at no extra cost to you.

I’ve put these in alphabetical order by country to give it some organization.

Please feel free to comment what unique items from your country or state travelers should buy.

Australia

James St. John / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Opal – South Australia is a major producers of opals, including matrix opal, crystal opal, and black opal. You can also find opalized fossil remains!

Owen65 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Didgeridu – The Didgeridu is a unique wind instrument developed by the Australian Aboriginal peoples. If you want a great conversation starter, bring back a didgeridu and place it in your living room.

Tourism NT / Attribution

Bushfood (also called Bush Tucker) – Bushfood is any food native to Australia used by Indigenous Australian, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as sustenance. Bush tucker includes fruits, vegetables, insects, fungi and other items found in the natural environment. While on tours, you will have the opportunity to experience bushfood. Make sure to bring some back for your friends and family.

Toby Hudson / CC BY-SA 3.0 AU (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/au/deed.en)

Australian Wool Clothing or Shoes – The wool of Australia is excellent quality. While visiting pickup Ugg boots, slippers, a jumper, or a coat. You won’t be disappointed.

cogdogblog / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Kangaroo Leather – Something you won’t find anywhere else…kangaroo leather goods. You can pick up a wallet, purse, bag, boots, hat and more.

Nick-D / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

R.M. Williams – Originally designed for the men and women working in the unforgiving outback, R.M Williams is a brand of leather goods. While visiting snag a pair of boots or a jacket and it will last you a lifetime.

Bulgaria

michael clarke stuff / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Rose essence products – such as rose water, rose cream etc. The Rose Valley in Bulgaria, near the town of Kazanlak, is one the major producers of roses in the world. Very inexpensive to buy in-country and an excellent gift, including for men.

Other items: Wool socks, Eastern Orthodox icons, colorful tablecloths with Bulgarian motifs and spice mixes.

Popoff / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Rakia – A sweetened, anise-flavored, alcoholic drink. A local remarked that the rakia sold in the tourist areas and stores aren’t as good, and suggested you find small batch rakia.

Canada

Sapsassin / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Mukluks – Soft boots traditionally crafted from reindeer, caribou, or sealskin

Other Items: Pick up a handmade mitts or moccasins.

Our indigenous communities make INCREDIBLE, traditional, handmade winter gear and it is extremely warm.”

Croatia

Merien 1985 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Bajadera – A Croatian layered, nougat with almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts. It is traditionally served on Christmas. You can find commercially produced bajadera by Kraš confectionery company of Zagreb, Croatia.

Rice Chocolate – Croatians were the first to create rice chocolate. More on the history of rice chocolate in Croatia.

Vegeta Seasoning – A unique spice blend native to Croatia.

Smoki – A puffed, snack food flavored with peanuts and salt made from cornmeal grits.

England

Valerie McGlinchey / CC BY-SA 2.0 UK (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/uk/deed.en)

Lace – English bobbin lace varies based on which district it was made in. Notable types of lace include Torchon, Bucks Point, English Midland/Bedford Lace, and Honiton. Full article on English lace

Germany

Tomas er / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Wine – German wine is predominantly produced in west Germany, along the Rhine and its tributaries. The majority of German wine is white, coming from the Riesling grape variety.

Mtaylor848 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Christmas Decorations – The outside Christmas markets are to die for. You can get mugs of hot wine and rum mixed with Gluhwein. The mugs are labeled with the city and market name and make great gifts or keepsakes. The markets also feature unique Santa Claus figures and nutcrackers.

Other Items

Neuschwanstein Street Art

Handcrafted Wind Chimes

Tea Sets

Greece

Македонец / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Mastika Liqeuer – A liquor seasoned with mastic, pine or cedar-like flavored resin from the mastic tree. Mastika from Greece is sweet and is produced from the resin of Chios. Typically, mastika is enjoyed at the end of a meal.

Fæ / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Honey – Always get honey from Delphi – even if it constitutes as touristy. With thousands of years of tradition and expertise, Greece is a prime apiary country. Honey is one of the national products of Greece, and it’s consider some of the best in the world.

Other items: table runner or pillowcase

India

screaming_monkey / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Saree – A traditional cotton or silk dress. As a woman living in India shared, the fabric quality is supreme and the colors vibrant.– A traditional cotton or silk dress. As a woman living in India shared, the fabric quality is supreme and the colors vibrant.

Indonesia (Bali)

“Near Baguio, Mine’s View” by George Donnelly is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wooden penis Bottle openers, necklaces, and many other items are made from wood in the shape of a penis. The wooden penises were believed to ward off evil spirits and are now good luck charms.

Italy

Rome

Waltramp / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Eyeglasses – There are eyeglass shops throughout Rome selling the most stylish, unique glasses.

Abruzzo

Naotake Murayama / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Wine – The most notable wine from Abruzzo is made with Montepulciano Sangiovese grape.

Burano

star5112 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Lace – Lace making is a cherished artform in Burano. Even  though some lace is now made by machines, you can still find handmade lace by local women. Learn more

Amalfi Coast

Handmade Sandals – Positano sandals are world-famous and are made by hand by master shoemakers.

Florence

Phil Robinson 44(0)161-291-9 / CC By
 IPTC Photo Metadata.

Leather Boots – Florence is known for leather, but when shopping in Florence, make sure the leather smells musky/natural and the leather is supple, feeling smooth, not stiff. Guide to buying leather

Japan

Rice Scoop – The world’s largest rice scoop can be found in Myajima, Japan. Traditionally made from bamboo, wood or lacquer, rice scoops are large flat spoons used to stir or serve rice.

Samuraiantiqueworld / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Handmade Fan – A recognizable symbol of Japanese culture, the fan originates in Japan and not China. The best fan retailers are known to be in Nihonbashi, a neighborhood in central Tokyo. Full article on Japanese fans.

Kenya

Wawerumacha / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Maasai Shuka – Traditionally worn by the Maasai in East Africa, this beautiful, colorful cloth has a rich history. It is consists of red and black stipes. Learn more

Tmwatha / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Swahili Sandals – Beaded, leather sandals

Fanny Schertzer / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Kanga, or Leso – A rectangular, cotton, printed cloth with a decorative boarder.

Latvia

Philaweb / Public domain

Knitted Mittens – Mittens are an important aspect of Latvian traditions, especially weddings. The mittens are very unique and exceptionally beautiful.

JIP / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Riga Black Balsam – Made using a single-barrel infusion technology, Riga Black Balsam is a traditional Latvian balsam. Balsam is an herbal, high alcohol liqueur. It can be enjoyed on the rocks or mixed with schnapps, akvavit, vodka, warm tea, coffee or black currant juice.

Myanmar

Paul Arps / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Thanakha – A natural sunscreen, thanakha is a yellow-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark and is commonly applied to the face and arms of women and girls. 

Norway

color line / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Brunost: Norwegian Brown Cheese – A tan-colored, caramel flavored whey cheese. Local traveler suggests you try it with waffles or buttered toast.

Other items: Knitted sweater in a traditional pattern

Pakistan

Bettenburg at German Wikipedia / Public domain

Pashmina ShawlPashmina is a modification of spun cashmere made from the soft undercoat of the Changthangi goat.

Smsulari / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Peshawari Kehri Sandals – Commonly worn men’s summer footwear.

Chandio / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Ralli Quilt Cushions – Traditional quilts made by Pakistani women in complex geometrical designs. You can find cushions and bed covers.

Anything handcrafted basically, we take so much pride in our crafts.”

Philippines

Judgefloro / CC0

Dried Mangoes – Bring home local, dried mangoes dipped in chocolate

Poland

Bachelot Pierre J-P / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Żubrówka – Flavored Polish vodka liqueur containing a bison grass blade. Żubrówka is a brand name differentiated by the blade of grass in every bottle. The grass comes from the Białowieża Forest.

Scanned by User:Piotrus / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Pierniki – A traditional gingerbread originating in the Middle Ages. Pierniki Toruńskie is an icon of Poland’s cuisine. 

Joanna Pędzich-Opioła / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Boleslawiec Pottery – Pottery characterized by the blue decorative pattern on a white background. You can find Boleslawiec teapots, plates, jugs, platters and other pieces.

Peru

Don Fulano / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Pisco – A type of brandy, distilled from fermented grape juice.

Puerto Rico

Roca Ruiz / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Rum – Rum making dates back centuries to when sugarcane production began on Puerto Rico.

Xauxa Håkan Svensson / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Mundillo – A handmade bobbin lace with intricate designs. Mundillo means ‘little world’, referring to the cylindrical pillow used by the lace maker. During the creation, wooden bobbins are used to wind thread and create patterns. Depending on the piece, anywhere from a few to dozens of bobbins may be used. 

See page for author / Public domain

Cigars – Puerto Rico produces some of the finest hand-rolled cigars found in the Caribbean. The cigars in Puerto Rico are not required to be fumigated, like they are before they are imported to the US. Fumigation is believed to damage the flavor.

Scotland

Clan Mcdonald / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Tartan – A crisscross patterned fabric reminiscent to plaid, originally made of wool. Tartan is primarily associated with Scottish kilts.

by morberg / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Scotch Whiskey – As of 2018, there were 133 Scotch whisky distilleries operating in Scotland. Schedule a visit and tour of a few of the distilleries in the areas you’re visiting and make sure to grab a bottle or ten.

South African

Żółwiciel / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

Rooibos Tea – Tea derived from the Rooibos, meaning red bush, a broom-like bush growing in South Africa’s fynbos. It is caffeine free and rich in antioxidants. The tea is described as smooth and gentle with a slightly nutty taste and a little natural sweetness.

Olga Ernst / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Biltong – A dried, cured meat derived from beef or game meats, like ostrich or kudu. The meat is cut into fillets or strips and is spiced, similar to beef jerky.

Luca Nebuloni / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Melktert – A sweet pastry that looks like a pecan or pumpkin pie. It has a crust and is filled with a custard. Depending on how you’re traveling and for how long will determine if you can actually bring this home, but if you can, do so.

Jérôme Loubès / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Hanepoot Wine – A sweet wine made from Muscat d’ Alexandrie, or Hanepoot. It can be red or white wine.

TwinMosia / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Veldskoen – Walking shoes made from vegetable-tanned leather with rubber soles.

Sweden

© Traumrune / Wikimedia Commons

Cloudberry Jam – Native to northern Sweden, Cloudberries are a golden berry with a similar taste to raspberries.

See page for author / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Västerbottensost Cheese – A hard cheese made from cow’s milk with a taste similar to Parmesan cheese.

Image by Swedish Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Lovikka Mittens – The small village of Lavikka is famous for mittens.

Switzerland

“swiss chocolate” by osde8info is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Chocolate Chocolate from Switzerland is a must. You won’t find better chocolate.

ElooKoN / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Watch – Swiss watches are well-made, reputable and abundant in Switzerland. Know your budget before shopping. If you’re interested in a luxury watch, head to Zurich or Geneva. If you’re looking for a particular brand, shop Geneva. You can take the Geneva Watch Tour.

Other items: Glassware

Thailand

Coconut Bowls – Beautiful bowls formed by nature, personalized by local artisans. Colorful, lacquered coconut bowls are found throughout the markets of Southeast Asia. While shopping, you may find stacks of these bowls, not the best way to show off their beauty. Make sure to unstack and look through the bowls to find the perfect gift.

Turkey

See page for author / Public domain

Priapus Figure – Priapus is a mythical god of procreation and fertility who was supposedly born in Turkey. The photo above an artist’s rendering. I couldn’t find a creative commons image to share. You can find small figurines of Priapus sporting a large penis.

United States

Kentucky

Buffalotrace / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Bourbon

Florida

“Waterton-July2010” by MikeLawton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Alligator Jerky

Arizona

“2016/366/354 Fresh Cactus Jelly” by cogdogblog is licensed under CC0 1.0

Prickly Pear Jelly or Hot Sauce

Humboldt, California

“Redwood Regional Park” by sfbaywalk is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Redwood Oil Perfume

Louisiana

Satanic Bible – New Orleans

Uruguay

7iago1990 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Gemstones and Jewelry – Uruguay is rich in quality gemstones, Amethyst in particular. While visiting pick up raw gemstones are gorgeous jewelry made with local stones.

Please feel free to comment what unique items are from your country or state.

4 thoughts on “Unique Souvenirs from Around the World”

  1. Haha, Vegeta from Croatia 🙂 that is a great choice! Whenever we visit our relatives and friends abroad, they always beg to bring them Vegeta 😀 And in the Middle East (I guess it’s the love for spieces) there are even fake Vegetas in the market

    Like

      1. Bajadera too. I always recommend it to my tourists. Growing up our moms always put it in the bowl mixed with other, cheaper, chocolates and whenever we reached for Bajadera (because it was the best, ofc), mom would slap our hand and yell: don’t touch that one! it’s for the guests!

        hahaha

        Like

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