Romania is a land of many stories and traditions. When you visit Romania, you can’t help but notice the love that Romanians have for their culture. Whether it’s ladling you another scoop of polenta or performing a traditional dance, Romanians are always proud to share their culture with travelers, and they love when you take home a piece of their culture with authentic Romanian souvenirs.
Romania has a long history of craftsmanship, from their impeccably painted eggs to their intricately carved wooden products, meaning that lovers of the arts will find plenty of Romanian souvenirs to stuff their bags with. Lovers of all things spooky and dark will also find plenty to take home, with a large selection of Dracula and Bran Castle themed merchandise, perfect for recalling your Transylvanian memories.
Wondering what to buy in Romania? After spending several weeks traveling the country, we have had the privilege of meeting many of the artists and craftsmen who keep Romania’s heritage alive through their work. We’re pleased to partner with Art & Craft Romania to share with you some of our favorite traditional Romanian gifts and souvenirs for you to take home on your next trip to this beautiful Balkan country.
Our Favorite Romanian Souvenirs and Gifts
1. Painted Eggs
One of the most beautiful and traditional Romanian gifts you can bring back is a Bucovina painted egg. When in Romania, Stephanie and I had the opportunity to visit two large collections of painted eggs. We saw one collection in Ciocanesti (an adorable village in which even the houses are painted like eggs!) as well as the Museum of Decorated Eggs in Vama, Bucovina, the largest collection in the world and home to over 7,000 painted eggs!
You’d think an egg would be tough to transport as a souvenir, but you’d be wrong! My egg survived weeks of backpacking and made it all the way to Bali! With proper care, an egg is a perfect souvenir and surprisingly durable!
Duck, chicken, and goose eggs are the most common. The eggs are hollowed out, covered in wax, and intricately patterned with natural dyes to create a one-of-a-kind, entirely handmade Romania treasure. Watch the video below to see one of the egg artists of Bucovina at work!
2. Traditional Hand-painted Ceramics
It’s impossible to travel around Romania and not be jealous of the beautiful ceramic collections you see everywhere from restaurants to cafes to people’s homes. Since Stephanie and I ate in many local restaurants in small towns across Bucovina and Transylvania, we got to see a beautiful variety of these ceramics. It’s a great way to remember our time in the country, and it also reminds me of the kind hosts we met along the way.
The town of Horezu is the center of the Romanian ceramics tradition. In fact, Horezu pottery is on UNESCO’s list of protected intangible heritage. Steph picked one up while she was visiting Horezu Monastery (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) on a day trip from Bucharest, but you can find it all over the country in shops and markets. Horezu ceramics come in many forms, from rustic pitchers to decorative plates to beautiful cups.
3. Traditional Romanian Blouses
Wherever we went in the country we found women and men proudly wearing their traditional Romanian blouses. This is one of the things I really love about traveling the Balkans – you can learn so much from the different blouses and other traditional garments worn across the different regions! Romanians are extremely proud of these garments and love when visitors choose one to take back as a gift or memento.
Some of our friends attended a traditional Romanian wedding performance where they got to see what a village wedding would be like. While there, they were dressed in local attire, and I know this was a huge highlight for some of the folks on the trip.
Just looking at the blouses, it’s hard to tell exactly how much work and care goes into keeping these traditional fabric traditions alive. Watch this video to see how Romanian artisans weave intricate patterns and make beautiful traditional fabric, keeping this important cultural tradition alive today:
4. Wooden Products
Along with the beautifully painted eggs, Romania is known for its tradition of elaborate wood carving. Throughout the country, you’ll see beautiful wooden objects carved into intricate, beautiful artwork. One of my favorite carvings I saw was on these traditional monastery doors in Bucovina.
While you obviously can’t bring home your own monastery door, you can take back a beautifully carved spoon, flute, flask, or other wooden product as a token from your visit.
5. Transylvania and Dracula Merchandise
While we were in Transylvania, we went to a Dracula-themed hotel and also saw the building where the real Vlad the Impaler was born. While the actual novel Dracula was written by the Irish writer Bram Stoker who never went to Transylvania, that doesn’t mean Romanians haven’t fallen in love with the tale. Aside from Romanian homemade crafts, why not celebrate this Romanian tale and pick up some Dracula souvenirs? Romania has capitalized on vampire fever with tons of Dracula-themed hotels, museums, and of course — souvenirs.
Art&Craft Romania has tons of different Dracula and Transylvania themed products, whether it’s their humorous Bloody Famous mugs and clothes, the spooky-themed Transylvania knickknacks, or the delicious Kisses from Transylvania marzipan pralines.
6. Vladut merchandise for kids
If you think regular Dracula stuff is a little too spooky for the little ones in your life, they’ll love Vladut. His story goes that once he discovered sweets, he lost the taste for blood, and now you can buy delicious sweets prepared from traditional recipes bearing Vladut’s name.
There are also other Vladut products, like friendly-looking stuffed toys and Vladut shirts, perfect for children who want a softer version of Dracula! We especially love this idea if you’re looking to bring back a Romanian gift for any children back home!
7. Folk mascots made of wood
Some of the cutest traditional Romanian gifts are the wooden folk mascots which are painted to wear the traditional clothing of their region. For example, you can buy a boy and girl figurine with clothing styled from Bihor, Valcea, Oltenia, Tara Oasului, and other regions.
One of the many traditions of Romania includes Mărțișor, the celebration of impending spring. It occurs every year on the first day of March when friends and family exchange folk figurines and red and white bracelets. The figurines are connected by a red-and-white string which symbolizes the coming of spring.
I left Romania with my very own Art&Craft snowglobe of Bran Castle. It’s sitting on my coffee table right now, as a reminder of the friendships I made in Romania and some of the cool stuff I did while I was there, like riding horses at Potcoava or photographing Romania’s beautiful castles.
There are a bunch of different beautiful snowglobes to choose from so you can pick one that reminds you the most of your trip. I really love this red musical globe – maybe something for my next trip!
Romanians are huge fans of their desserts. Anyone who’s been to Romania has likely tried the delicious papanași. A fried donut stuffed with sour cream and jam, it’s definitely too messy to bring back with you — but you can share a taste of Romanian desserts with some travel-friendly Transylvania-themed chocolates.
This is an especially great option if you’re looking to bring back a Romanian gift for family, friends, or coworkers since it takes up so little space and nearly everyone loves delicious chocolate!
10. Romanian Wine and Spirits
While Romanian wine isn’t known much outside of the country, I’ve sampled quite a few Romanian wines and I can attest that they are delicious and would make an excellent souvenir! Similarly, you could also pick up a bottle of ţuică as a Romanian souvenir for a loved one back home.
Țuică — which is similar to Hungarian palinka or Bulgarian rakia — is a strong but traditional plum brandy spirit that is often served to guests as a welcome when they arrive. If you are bringing home some ţuică cups, make sure to bring some ţuică back to fill them!
Where to Buy Romanian Souvenirs from Art&Craft During Your Trip and After
At the Airport in Bucharest
The airport is a great place to purchase souvenirs since you’ve already weighed your luggage and gotten the go-ahead that your carry-on isn’t oversized. Instead of making room in your bags, you can purchase something on your way out that doesn’t count against your luggage allowance. Check out the Art&Craft Romania inside Bucharest-Otopeni Airport on your way home.
If you feel like you’ve spent your whole trip in Romania seeing site after site, it’s a relief to know that you can use your airport time wisely to get in some extra shopping, letting you maximize your trip time! Check out this great video with recommendations for what to see in Bucharest.
When you get to the airport, head to the Art&Craft after security, and take advantage of the fact that none of this will count towards your luggage alotment.
If you get home and regret that you didn’t get that Horezu plate you’d been dreaming of or that super cute Romanian blouse, never fear! You can always have something shipped home that you know is authentic. Check out the collection online, and skip the part where you have to make sure you don’t break it on the ride back to your house! This is by far the easiest way to get your Romanian souvenir home with you!
We were thrilled to partner with Art&Craft Romania, who we met while touring Romania last autumn. Whenever I buy a souvenir, I want to know something about the people behind it. Is my money going to help the country, or go to a big multi-national conglomeration? What are the ethos and ethics of the company? How “authentic” is it? Because we met them during a passion project, we knew that the local partners were the kinds of companies that cared more about bringing people to Romania than their bottom line, and they’re the kind of companies interested in sharing Romania with the world.
Speaking with their team, Alexandra told us that “Romanian crafts are special because there is a lot of work, talent, passion, and skill for realizing an authentic product. The products made by Romanian craftsmen are full of love and value. We (Art&Craft) are proud to be one of the few companies ﬁghting to maintain Romanian traditions and values beyond the borders of our country, and that is why our mission is to creatively embody and illustrate the folkloric Romanian universe and to promote it to a contemporary audience, by creating new and authentic products. We have a set of values that we believe in, which deﬁne the character and brand of our company, each value naturally becoming part of our daily language and thought.”
Planning a Trip to Romania? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Make sure you always travel to Romania with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here includes outdoor activities and travel to highly touristed sites. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or fall victim to theft. Travel insurance will help you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Note: This post was produced in partnership with Art&Craft Romania, who we met while touring the country with Experience Romania. Stephanie has also previously traveled through Romania as a solo traveler.