Bajadera is perhaps Croatia’s most popular chocolate product. It is basically a layered nougat with almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts, and it was invented and has been produced since 1954.
This chocolate is widely used as a gift-giving chocolate in Croatia (if you’re invited over to someone’s house, Bajadera makes the perfect gift to bring to your host).
Another option is Fontana (which is an icy-minty kind of chocolate) which is shaped in a cube (I assume to resemble an ice cube). It has a kind of smooth, melting center and it gives your mouth a refreshing feel!
3. Licitar hearts
They are mainly used as beautiful decorations (especially around Christmas time), and they make a special gift to give someone you love. It’s said that young men used to give these hearts to young women they adored and the hearts acted as a symbol of the heart of the person giving it.
These hearts are traditionally bright red in color, and vary in size from tiny hearts to ones as big as your head :) Licitar hearts are an interesting part of the old Croatian heritage.
Here’s the short story - back when Croatian soldiers were fighting under the French Flag in the Thirty Years’ War, their girlfriends and wives used to tie handkerchiefs around their necks as a symbol of their love and that they would be waiting for them. When the French saw this new look, they called it wearing a handkerchief “the Croatian way” and it became a new trend that lasted!
A necktie is a perfect gift for your dad, grandpa or friend and I can recommend a store called “Croata.” All ties are made of 100% silk and the store offers an incredible selection of different colors and designs. They are all hand finished, and beautifully unique.
5. Šestine umbrella
The art of making the Šestine umbrella in the traditional craft Cerovečki is part of the List of Protected Intangible Cultural Heritage of Croatia. The Šestine umbrella is known for its red cotton canvas with multicoloured stripes, a thick wooden pole and a chestnut handle.
The big open market (Dolac) in the center of Zagreb is very recognizable by the Šestine Umbrella pattern! You can see a sea of the umbrellas when it’s rainy, or even in the summer to protect the vendors from the hot sun. They have definitely become a trademark of Zagreb.
You can buy Šestine umbrellas in the store called Kišobrani Cerovečki which is located in Ilica 49 in Zagreb. The owner is Thomislav Cerovečki and all his umbrellas are handmade. He’s also a very nice guy, very willing to share his knowledge and craft with everyone who visits his shop.
The essential herb is wormwood and in ancient times it was believed that wormwood purifies the blood and strengthens the stomach.
Today Pelinkovac is the most popular alcoholic drink in Croatia and you can buy a bottle in almost every Grocery store. The closest thing I can compare it to would be the German Jagermaister but in my opinion it’s much, much better, with a more distinct and delicious taste.
7. Croatian football/soccer jersey
It had numerous squares, which was the start to today’s very recognizable checkered pattern (which was based on the historical Croatian coat of arms).
You can buy this jersey in different stores around Croatia (like Nike stores) and you can also find them in many souvenir shops all over the country (but the ones from souvenir shops likely aren’t originals ;)
8. Startas sneakers
In 2016, the online edition of American Vogue mentioned a cute Startas sneaker with unicorns and recommended it to their readers as a fun, playful style.
Startas are pretty inexpensive, but great quality, and if you come to Croatia and want to grab a local fashion piece, these shoes could definitely be it! You can find them at most “Borovo” stores which are scattered all around Croatia.
9. Mechanical pencil
If you know someone who appreciates a fine writing tool, consider this as a gift! It’s practical, meaningful, and it’s Croatian!
The company TOZ Penkala (the Zagreb Pencil Factory) was founded in 1937 as the legacy of Slavoljub Penka.
Nowadays, you can buy these pencils in Zagreb in the craft store called “Peroklinika” which is located on the main square, Jelacic square 15.
10. Croatian jewellery
The stores “Zaks” and the silver shop “Argentum” offer very nice jewellery collections inspired by these rich Croatian traditional designs. Rećine, Rozete and Dalmatinke are just some of the lines within the collection of Croatian traditional jewellery.
11. Croatian Wine
Don’t forget to grab a bottle or two for yourself, as well! Then you can reminisce about your trip while sipping a part of Croatia.
12. Andrea’s Pisac cookbook
I think that these are just the perfect gift idea for anyone who likes cooking. They are incredible homemade recipes and these books could be best described as your “lost gramm’s recipe books” as Andrea says.
The books are written in English, and the great thing is they have measurements in all units, so you don't have to do any conversions while your hands are tied up in the middle of cooking! There are also many stories about the recipes and very helpful step by step photos throughout!
You can buy these cookbooks through the links below:
Those are my top gift ideas if you’re visiting Croatia and want to bring something unique and authentic back home (either for yourself, or someone you love).
You can’t go wrong with any of the above, and we think they’re a more meaningful “souvenir” than a simple magnet or key chain :) (unless of course you’re really into collecting magnets and keychains, in which case you can find them all around town, in pretty much every souvenir shop you’ll come across!