What are the best souvenirs from Poland? If you’re headed to Poland you’ll probably want to buy some Polish souvenirs to remember your trip by. Or, maybe you have Polish heritage and want to buy some special heirlooms for family members that are unique gifts from Poland.
Either way, here are some tips and ideas for which souvenirs in Poland you should buy and which you shouldn’t.
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General Tips For Buying Polish Souvenirs
Nowadays, many cheap souvenirs from around the world are actually made in China (it’s true, start checking the tags in souvenir shops!). These are usually not sustainably made and often something that you’ll just throw away soon after you get home. So, if you want to buy a souvenir that you’ll actually use and that is unique, think about spending a bit more and buying things that will last like jewelry, hand-made goods or clothing.
Before you leave home, think of what constraints you’ll have in terms of space, money, and customs requirements. Ask yourself when and where you will wear it or use it. If you buy that beautiful vase or picture frame, where will you put it?
- How much room will you have in your suitcase?
- If the item is fragile, are you confident you’ll be able to protect it in your suitcase?
- If you don’t have space, is it worth paying to ship something home?
- Could you carry it on the plane with you?
- How much money will you allow yourself to spend on souvenirs?
- Are there one or two special items you want to splurge on?
- Who have you promised to buy a gift for?
- Check your home country’s customs for what you can and can’t bring in
- Common food products that are prohibited are meats, fruits and vegetables, seeds, and certain animal products. (I even got in trouble once for bringing my packed ham sandwich from the Colombia airport through customs!)
- Think about Duty Free shops if there are alcohol or perfume products you want to buy
What to buy in Poland
Bolesławiec ceramics are handmade in Poland and famous worldwide. You can buy these dishes, plates and cups all over Poland, but they are made in the small town of Bolesławiec in western Poland. They are usually blue and come in many different patterns and styles. If you don’t have much room in your suitcase, try something small like this ceramic wine stopper or this salt and pepper shaker set.
Because of the formation of the geologically newer Baltic sea, Poland has an abundance of Baltic amber. Amber is made from pine resin that is millions of years old. Amber is often found on Poland’s Baltic beaches and floats in the waves. It’s very light, and its succinic acid also has medicinal properties. You can buy amber all over Poland, but Gdansk is probably the best place to buy. I toured the Amber Museum in Gdansk and bought a few pieces of jewelry there, knowing that I was getting the real thing.
Amber jewelry is very reasonably priced and comes in many colors from white (the most expensive) to yellow, brown, green and black. You can get rings, earrings and small necklaces for under 100 ZL, about $20 US. Chunky amber bracelets and necklaces will last forever and are a good value for the money.
The succinic acid in amber is said to have medicinal healing properties, so if you are into natural remedies, grab some for your use at home. If nothing else, it smells nice and makes a nice body oil.
Other fun things with amber
An amber sun catcher is a fun way to remember your trip and doubles as a Christmas ornament. I bought this one in Warsaw and can’t wait to put it on my Christmas tree.
Foods and Packaged Food Products
Poland is a major producer of apples, beets and potatoes. A guide said they make the McDonald’s French fries for most of Europe. In the fall, take advantage of all of the dishes made with apples, from cocktails to pastries.
You’re bound to fall in love with eating pierogi when in Poland. While I didn’t see this product for sale in the country, if you want a great food souvenir, you can order this pierogi Christmas ornament!
Wedel is the Polish Chocolate brand par excellence. Some of their most loved chocolates include chocolate-covered marshmallows and a chocolate-covered wafer cake, the Torcki Wedlowski that you can order on Amazon.com. Their website has info on where to find products outside of Poland.
Poland is home to lots of types of vodka, the most well-known probably being Belvedere. A unique choice would be the Żubrówka Buffalo Grass Vodka. Buffalo grass grows in the Białowieża forest and is included in the bottle, giving this vodka a grassy, floral flavor.
While the actual authenticity of these folk designs is questionable, there is no question that they are beautiful. Notebooks, pens, even kitchen towels would make a bright and useful memento of your trip. Folkstar is the leader in these designs and has both online and brick and mortar stores all over Poland. If you aren’t in Poland you can find some things, like this bright tablecloth, online.
Danzig Goldwasser or Gdansk gold water in its original German, is a unique spirit. It’s a clear liqueur with flakes of 22 karat gold in it! It contains 21 types of herbs, including anis, so it tastes licoricey, and cinnamon, and while it’s a strong spirit it goes down very smooth and a bit sweet. You can buy a bottle to take home and also visit the Goldwasser restaurant for a meal
I loved these creative magnets with bits of amber in them. They aren’t expensive but are something original from Gdansk.
Brovarnia in Hotel Gdansk is the oldest operating brewery in Gdansk. They claim they brew the best beer in Poland, so if you believe their advertising then you should buy some brew to take home. Try the bottled Octoberfest or the Old Gdansk Dark.
Palace of Science and Culture Prints
Warsaw’s Palace of Science and Culture dominates the Warsaw skyline and souvenir scene, so you’re sure to find some replicas for sale. This is also the symbol you’ll see on everything from bags to socks.
Warsaw is home to the composer Frédéric Chopin, so for the music lovers a music box with one of his songs would be a nice way to remember Warsaw. You can also buy his piano music and busts of him.
There is also Chopin brand vodka, which comes in potato, rye and wheat versions. Nothing like drinking Chopin vodka while listening to his music!
Cheese and Sausage
Krakow has it’s own famous sausage, Krakowska! Check refrigeration and customs if you are planning on packing this to take home, but if nothing else buy some for a picnic while you are in Krakow.
Oscypek cheese is a uniquely shaped smoked cheese made from sheep’s milk. It looks like bread or cookies, so don’t be fooled. It can only be produced in the countries south of Krakow to be authentic, but you’ll find it for sale around Krakow.
Salt Mine Products
If you visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine, you’ll know that salt was and is big business. It’s no surprise that you can buy cooking salt, but the mine sells a number of other products with a pinch of salt, like bath scrubs and facial cream.
How many cheeky gnome statues did you see in Wroclaw? These are not only cute, they are historical, since they are a nod to protests against the communist regime. Little gnomes make fun gifts, as do pictures of them.
I hope this post gives you some good ideas of things not to miss during (or after) your trip!