Blog Article / 22 March 2021
The top souvenirs to buy when visiting Poland
In the answer to the common question “What to buy from Poland?” you can hear such things as exquisite ceramics, amber jewelry, Torun gingerbread, traditional cakes, and much more. We gathered inspirations for souvenirs from Poland with the most famous Polish products and where to buy them!
Whether you are a tourist or an expat, being abroad makes you want to get your friends and family something special. Bringing gifts from a trip is not only about making a nice gesture, but also about getting to know the culture of the country better, feeling closer to its traditions and customs, and bringing a piece of it back home. Very often people who come to Poland ask themselves - “what souvenirs and famous polish products should I get?”. The country's culture and history are very rich, and, therefore, there is a vast number of traditional gifts that visitors can take with them.
Ceramics | Boleslawiec
Poland is famous for its national ceramics, the characteristic decorative elements of which are blue or brown ornaments. The pottery is made in the city of Boleslawiec - a tradition which has been passed down from generation to generation for several centuries, and is famous all over the world. The products combine traditional forms and ornaments with functionality and excellent quality of workmanship. Boleslawiec ceramics are both unique and easily recognizable, as well as extremely diverse in shape, size, and pattern. It is a perfect gift as a house decoration or as a way to enrich somebody’s kitchen with a beautiful dish.
Gingerbread and Nicolaus Copernicus | Torun
One of the cult sweets of Poland is Torun gingerbread. It is baked in cities and towns by specialist bakers, whose profession was, and sometimes is now hereditary. In ancient times, gingerbread was intended for the privileged sections of the urban and rural population. However, already in the 18th century peasants were also able to buy those sweets at local markets. For production, carved wooden forms are mostly used - way less popular is metal. To get deeper into the history of the sweets and to see some real masterpieces, tourists often visit the Living Museum of Gingerbread. The recipe for baking Torun gingerbread is now more simple than it used to be - nuts, orange peel, or other additives are seldomly added to the dough nowadays. You can buy this famous delicacy everywhere throughout Torun, but also in other cities in Poland. Also, before Christmas, all the shops are filled with bizarre figures of knights, kings, angels… You can taste the history and even bring it back home!
Moreover, Nicolaus Copernicus - a world-known astronomer and one of the most famous Poles, is associated with the city. This native of Torun was even curved in bronze at the expense of the residents of the city. The monument is decorated with a Latin inscription, which translates as follows: "Nicolaus Copernicus is a resident of Torun who moved the Earth and stopped the Sun and the sky." You can buy various souvenirs with this legendary individual - magnets, pendants, little figures, or even bags and t-shirts.
Amber jewelry | Gdansk
Amber is a tourist attraction that creates a special climate in the Baltic cities of Poland. Gdansk would not be Gdansk if it was not for its famous Mariacka Street, where every house that is a masterpiece of architecture has an amber gallery! As the city is considered the undeclared capital of amber - jewelry, and products with this stone are extremely common here, and all of them are of excellent quality. An exceptionally great present idea can be amber paintings and mouthpieces, which are especially valued.
Wuzetka and the Mermaid | Warsaw
The best thing to bring from abroad is always food because it is a perfect mirror of a country's culture. Wuzetka is a classic Polish cake, but not many people know that in fact, it is closely correlated with Warsaw. Varsovians have no doubt that the sweet delicacy was born in the capital, probably at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s. It was a time of dynamic reconstruction and expansion of the city destroyed during World War II, and one of the flagship transport investments of that time was the construction of a route connecting the eastern and western districts of Warsaw, i.e. the W-Z route (in Polish east: Wschód, west: Zachód). It was its name that the term "wuzetka" was supposed to come from because the first cake was served in the vicinity of the famous road. Nobody can deny Wuzetka’s timeless character. Its sweet, creamy taste, created from the combination of sponge cake, jam, whipped cream, and chocolate pomade, constantly delights everyone who tries it.
Another idea of a souvenir from Warsaw has to be connected to the famous Mermaid of Warsaw - the most prominent symbol of the city. It can be a magnet, a little figure, or even an eco-bag picturing this beautiful creature. The monument of the Warsaw Mermaid stands on the Market Square, and its image is on the coat of arms of Warsaw. According to the legend, once the creature was saved by one of the city’s fishermen and to thank him, she promised to defend Warsaw forever. That's why the Warsaw Mermaid is armed - she has a sword and a shield to protect the city. Getting something with her picture as a souvenir, you will make sure to bring the best gift from the Polish capital back home.
Obwarzanek krakowski and Krakow Dragon | Krakow
The Krakow bagel - “obwarzanek” is included in the list of products protected by the European Union and plays the role of a geographical "index" of Lesser Poland. The name of the delicacy comes from the verb obwarzać, i.e. to immerse in boiling water, which is in fact part of its preparation. Rounded bread is made from yeast dough according to a special recipe known only to Krakow bakers. Obwarzanek is sold in small glass booths throughout the city with additives such as sesame, poppy, cheese, salt, or traditional ones - without anything. The peculiarity of the Krakow Obwarzanek is that under the crispy crust, sprinkled with salt, hides a sweet and very soft dough. It is easy to pack it with you anywhere you go, thus also to bring it as a souvenir for your family or friends. To visit Krakow and not try a bagel is a real crime!
What is more, most souvenirs in Krakow are with drawings of a dragon. Believe it or not, this reptile is everywhere in the city - it often appears on houses as an element of decor, drains or gargoyles are also made in the form of it. Even one of the Krakow-Warsaw trains is called the Wawel Dragon. There is Smocza Street (Polish: street of the dragon), one of the awards at the local film festival is also named after it. And in June there is a two-day festival-parade of dragons, while in bookstores, half of the children's books are also about the reptile. As you can definitely see, one has to buy a gift with this magical symbol of the city.
Oscypek cheese and Tatras Tinctures | Zakopane
Oscypek is a traditional Polish smoked cheese made from sheep's milk. This is a symbol of local mountain culture associated with Gorals - Polish highlanders. The taste of oscypek can be different - each Goral family has its own recipes for this delicacy. Where to buy this famous Polish cheese? You can get it at the Christmas markets in different cities, where it is a very common snack, but also in stores or local markets. It is also sold in vacuum packaging, and therefore can be transported for a longer distance (perfect for a gift!). However, the best oscypek is bought in Zakopane - the capital of the Polish Tatra mountains. Here it will be the most original - on an open fire, smoked cheese is grilled and served with cranberry jam. This combination creates an incredible aroma and taste! Though you have to remember, that the smell of oscypek is quite strong, so when traveling you better pack it well.
Moreover, for many years have the locals in Zakopane been using traditional herbs as the basis for the preparation of regional dishes, tinctures, and syrups. Tincture - a homemade alcoholic beverage very common in the Tatra mountains. Ripe cherries, currants, raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries, blackberries, plums, and thorns, together with various herbs, are poured into a bottle and sprinkled with a little sugar. The berries are juicy, the sugar dissolved and thus the infusion is fermented in a warm bright place for two to three weeks. Then it is drained, and the berries can be further used in baking. Depending on the product of the tincture, they are named: cherry, currant, raspberry, plum, etc. Some of them are the outcomes of centuries-old traditions and mysterious recipes. They are usually sold in bottles of different sizes, which makes them even easier to bring as a present with you. It is for sure that after experiencing the whole atmosphere and trying exclusive Tatras tinctures, you will definitely want to come back here again and again, as well as bring some for your friends or family.
Koziolki and St.Martin’s Croissant | Poznan
Number one symbol of Poznan is the Poznan goats (Koziolki), which every day at 12.00 run out in front of the clock on the town hall and start butting. A bloodthirsty, but a well-ending legend is associated with them. Once upon a time, important guests came to the bailiff of Poznan. Naturally, on this occasion, it was decided to arrange a feast and goat meat dishes were supposed to be served at the table. The cook prepared two pretty little goats for the slaughter but hesitated. When he went out to buy spices, the animals took advantage of his absence and fled. And they did not go anywhere but to the roof of the town hall. The cheerful animals climbed onto the roof, and, as is the case with children, they forgot about the recent danger and began to play and butt right in front of the guests of honor. This made those present so amused that it was decided to pardon the goats and in memory of this amazing story a clock in the Poznan Old Town was made, which tourists can still see. As a symbol of the city, you can see the goats pictured on every possible souvenir which you can choose according to your preference.
Another, sweet symbol of Poznan is St. Martin’s Croissant - a delicious treat that is typically sold in the city. Its name comes from St. Martin, who celebrates his name day on November 11th. On this day, Poznan bakeries traditionally sell mainly St. Martin’s croissants, but the fame of the delicacy is so great today that it is also exported to other Polish cities. Thus, you can buy St. Martin’s Croissant not only in bakeries in Poznan but also in other cities such as Warsaw or Krakow. The croissant is crescent-shaped, smeared with pomade, and sprinkled with crushed nuts. It is baked from yeast dough filled with white poppy seeds. Thanks to its amazing filling and aroma, St. Martin's croissants have a unique almond flavor and can be a great and very original souvenir.
Wroclaw Gnomes | Wroclaw
Wrocław Gnomes (Wroclawskie krasnale) is the name of a growing number of bronze dwarf statuettes installed in Wrocław since 2001. It is currently one of the biggest tourist attractions of the city, loved by everyone. Next to the Old Town, Wroclaw Stadium, Wroclaw Christmas Market, or the Sky Tower, the dwarfs have already become the symbol of Wroclaw and attract millions of people every year. If being attentive, you can spot these adorable little creatures everywhere you go - in different poses and different places. It is worth buying a little figure of the dwarfs in one of the souvenir shops and with that, bring a smile to your friends’ faces.
Kremowka Papieska | Wadowice
Kremowka is yet another sweet delicacy and a symbol of one of the Polish cities - Wadowice. The history of the invention of this cake is not completely known. Some confectioners claim that Kremowka comes from the French cake mille-feuille from the 17th century. One thing is clear, this dessert won the hearts of Poles and local masters gave it its name and form. The cake is in the shape of a rectangle, there are two layers of brittle French dough, and inside there is a creamy vanilla creme. Interestingly, Kremowka was a favorite cake of Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla). This is why it is often called “Kremowka Papieska” - Kremowka of the Pope. In Poland, most cafes, as well as bakeries, have these cakes on the menu, especially in Wadowice. Therefore, you can easily buy this treat as a souvenir from Poland.
Tip: remember to always check beforehand in your country what you can and cannot bring from abroad, e.g. it might be forbidden to carry dairy products or alcohol in your luggage. The cakes (Kremowka and Wuzetka) are slightly harder to transport and it is better to take them when traveling by car and if you have a little fridge.
Author: Olena AB Poland Travel
Posted on: 22nd March 2021
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