Slovenia is the land of dragons, wool, and sea salt. What? You thought it was the land of beautiful castles and gorgeous cities?
Well okay, it’s that too. But when it comes to shopping in Slovenia, you want to think less about lakeside palaces and more about wine and thermal mud. Which honestly, I want to think more about wine anyways. So if you’re headed to Slovenia and can’t wait to shop, imbibe, and peruse to your heart’s content, here are our picks for the best Slovenian souvenirs and gifts.
Our Favorite Slovenian Souvenirs & Gifts
We’ve curated this list with the aim of sharing our favorite locally made Slovenian goods, delicious drinks, and items significant to Croatian heritage. Whether you’re looking for a Slovenian gift for children, something delightfully alcoholic for a friend, or something elegant and refreshing for yourself, here are our picks for the best Slovenian souvenirs.
In Athens, I count cats. In Sofia, I count dogs. In Ljubljana, I count dragons!
Okay, not real ones, but you can’t walk ten feet in Slovenia’s capital without seeing a dragon, whether stuffed or on a t-shirt or on the gorgeous Dragon Bridge. So while you can’t bring home an Art Nouveau bridge, you can easily find your own dragon or dragon-inspired souvenir to remind you of this magical city.
In Slovenia, its considered rude to wear your shoes in a house. Instead, Slovenians exchange their shoes for felt slippers when they come home. Cozy and made with the wool of the Slovenian Jezersko-Solčava Sheep, these are to Slovenia what Icelandic sweaters are to Iceland. But priced much, much better!
Isn’t it fantastic when you can shop and know that at the same time you’re supporting a country’s heritage? Idrija Lace is a UNESCO Intangible Heritage, and it’s also simply gorgeous. From UNESCO’s inscription:
Bobbin lacemaking in Slovenia is a handicraft skill of making lace by crossing and twisting thread wound on special wooden sticks known as bobbins. Using locally recognizable patterns with local names, bobbin lacemakers make lace in bands or in finished shapes.
The bobbin lacemaking process follows a specific pattern: a drawing on paper is attached to a cylinder pillow in a wicker basket or on a wooden base. The lace is used to adorn clothing and fashion accessories, church and home textiles and representative spaces, but bobbin lacemaking also serves as an inspiration for artistic creations in fields such as the contemporary visual arts, design, architecture and culinary design. It is the creative expression of all those involved in the process, including the pattern designer and the bobbin lacemaker.
In Romania, you get Palinka or Tuica. In Bulgaria, you get rakia (or rakija). In Slovenia you get Slivovitz. While they’re basically the same thing (a plum brandy), don’t tell them that. Instead, appreciate the Slivovitz like its the only plum brandy you’ve ever had, and bring a bottle back with you to celebrate your trip (or as a gift to punish a friend…)
Am I the only person who didn’t realize sea salt actually came from the sea? I can’t be, right? Well if you love cooking, or you’re looking for a gift from Slovenia for the chef in your life, pick up some Piran Sea Salt. Made right on Slovenia’s Adriatic Coast, it doesn’t get more “made in Slovenia” than that!
After going on a wine tasting, what better way to remember your trip than by bringing home some local wine? Since it is not widely exported, you are likely not going to get another opportunity to have it when you’re done with your trip. This is also a great souvenir from Slovenia to bring back for friends, family, or coworkers. Especially if any had to do your job while you were off enjoying charming Slovenia instead.
Beehive Panels & Honey
While Balkan honey is fantastic, we do recommend getting it in quite a few Balkan countries like Croatia and Serbia. However, painted Beehive Panels are a uniquely Slovenian souvenir. This tradition started in the eighteenth century:
An interesting and a unique feature of beekeeping in Slovenia are colorful paintings that are decorating the front panels of beehives and are called panjske končnice. Typically, the motifs on such work of art are biblical or are depicting scenes and characters from folk tales. Having the front panel of a beehive painted, it is much easier for a beekeeper to remember the position of a specific bee colony in a beehive and to distinguish between many of them…
While beekeepers no longer paint their panel in this way, artisans copy the original motifs to keep this tradition alive in the form of local crafts, making perfect Slovenian gifts or souvenirs.
Fango CosmeticsSlovenia has a number of natural spas, and what’s better to bring home at the end of your spa vacation than products you can use at home to keep the relaxation and beauty going? Fango is Slovenian for mud, and you can find Slovenian fango for sale at spas and cosmetic stores around the country, made with local therapeutic natural mud.
This would also make a great gift for her if you have a loved one back home who could use some magically relaxing mud. (Okay it’s not actually magic, it just feels like it is).
Slovenology & Local Books
Slovenians love and respect books. They’re an extremely popular Slovenian gift, and they are almost always bought at full price. Because of Slovenia’s respect for books, they rarely hit any kind of “bargain basement” price, instead they are purchased with love and become people’s prized possession.
My personal favorite book I bought in Slovenia is Slovenology: Living and Traveling in the World’s Best Country, a fantastic book that’s part travelogue and part travel guide. You can listen to my interview with the author here. If you come across a copy in Slovenia (it’s hard to find outside the country), grab it! You’ll enjoy it immensely and it will make your trip that much more special.
Otherwise, don’t miss an opportunity to go into a Slovenian bookstore and peruse what’s available. The country has put a lot of effort into translating Slovenian literature into English. While these volumes aren’t cheap, you can do what Slovenians do and treasure them always.
People love travel kitsch for a reason. What do I mean by kitsch? Silly signs. Seashells with local cities painted on them. T-shirts that would make Captain Holt proud (this might be a niche joke, but I’m keeping it in). Or it might simply be an item for a collection of refrigerator magnets. Whatever it is, it’s typically not local. Instead, it’s something schlocky that you can get anywhere. Except you got yours here, in Slovenia. And that’s cool.
If you love getting t-shirts or hoodies or spoons or whatever, then get them! We one hundred percent support kitschy souvenirs. And you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of places, especially in Ljubljana, where you can shop kitsch to your heart’s desire.
Where to Buy Slovenian Gifts & Souvenirs: Slovenia Shopping Tips
While you’ll find tons of stores for international brands in Slovenia, especially in the heart of Ljubljana, we find that travelers are looking for Slovenian souvenirs that are more special.
While we hate to use the word authentic when it comes to travel (and shopping), we know that if you’re forking over your hard earned dollars for something special, and you want this object to remind you of your trip long into the future, then you want to get something more connected to the country. And that includes not only what it is, but where you get it.
Here are our picks for where to shop in Slovenia to get the best souvenirs. While shopping, always double check that the items you’re looking at were made in Slovenia.
The most famous market in Slovenia is the Central Market in Ljubljana, but its not the only market in the city. You can also hit up the Art Market on Saturdays, the Open Kitchen Market on Fridays (excluding winter), and the Antique Market on Sundays. So if you really want to get your shopping in Ljubljana fix, make sure to be in town on the weekends.
You can also find markets all over the country. The smaller the town, the more likely the market will sell a little bit of everything (and that makes them all the more fun to visit).
Directly from Local Producers
Buy your wine at the vineyard where you go on your wine tasting. Pick up honey from the beekeeper him or herself. Purchase your Idrija Lace in Idrija proper. It doesn’t always mean things will be cheaper this way, but you know that your money is going to the artisan who crafted your souvenir and not to overhead in a mall somewhere.
Some museums just sell international art prints, and that’s fine. That is not, however, what I mean when I say you can find the weirdest, coolest Balkan souvenirs at museums. Instead, look at the gift shop of any museum you visit and see what’s there. Where else can you get a local, cool, and inexplicable mine souvenir if not an actual Slovenian mine?
Souvenir Shops & Stands
While not my favorite place to shop, occasionally you just need to hit up a normal souvenir stand. They carry a bit of everything, and you know that they will probably have something that will catch your eye. Souvenir stands and stores are great, provided you follow these guidelines:
- Check prices at a few different places so you know you’re not being ripped off.
- Make sure the product was made in Slovenia.
- Compare the goods in a few different places so you know you’re not buying the most generic options.
Some people hate shopping in souvenirs stores and stands, but I think this is silly. You just need to do so with your eyes open so that you make sure you’re getting something that’s still local and priced fairly.
Slovenian Souvenirs Online
There are Slovenian souvenirs available on Etsy and other online retailers, and you can find many Slovenian books on Amazon. If you forget to bring something home with you, you can have it shipped directly to your house.
Slovenia Travel Resources
If you’re just starting to prepare for your trip to Slovenia, read our guide to planning a trip to Slovenia which features an 11-step checklist!
For all of our resources on Slovenia, check out our Slovenia travel page as well as our Balkans guides. We post new content on the site almost every day, so keep an eye out for new posts or click around to find more content if you are planning a multi-country Balkan trip.
Finally, Don’t Go without Travel Insurance!
Make sure you always travel to Slovenia and the Balkans with a valid travel insurance policy. While the country is safe, accidents can happen anywhere. If you experience an accident or theft, travel insurance will help you recover your costs and enjoy the rest of 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.
Have you purchased any Slovenian souvenirs while in the country or at home? Are you researching an upcoming trip? Let us know what your favorite souvenirs from Slovenia are and leave any questions you have below!
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Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.