Living in era of mass production I’m always trying to bring from my travels items which are handmade, locally produced and traditional. During my search for unique pieces I often visit flea markets and local workshops.
Slovenia nicely surprised me with many local food products, and traditional handicrafts you can find in many regular souvenir stores. I suspect they still manage to keep it that way since the country is still a bit hidden touristic gem and quality and taste is still somewhat ahead of pure commercial.
If you are planning your visit to Slovenia, check this blog post for my itinerary and suggestions 😉
Below I give you a list of 11 authentic and traditional items worth bringing with home from mesmerizing Slovenia.
I suggest to buy your souvenirs in Ljubljana where you will find the biggest selection of souvenir shops (so they have more competitive prices). Especially in case of buying food, I found Ljubljana food stores having better prices than in Istria (even if olive oil, truffles, salt and many other food products are produced there).
- Crystal from Slovenian Rogaška. This internationally recognized brand has a tradition of 350 year and produces high quality crystal items. Their offer is very vast, from glasses, bowls, plates and trays to decorative vases, perfume bottles or Christmas decorations. The prices vary, from small simple items for 20 euro up to luxurious elaborate pieces for 2000 euro. I recommend to check their online store and visit their flagship store in Ljubljana (make sure to make it to second floor where the display of items continues). Highly recommended! Click here for online shopping.
- Felt slippers. In Slavic countries it is customary to change your daily shoes to slippers when entering home (your own but also when you’re guest). Slovenia is known from their high quality felt slippers made 100% of wool felt. Wool is a natural insulator that regulates your body temperature, keeping your feet warm in winter and dry in summer. This material is also very flexible so it quickly adjust to the shape of the owner’s feet. I bought my felt slippers in local workshop in Ljubljana and I’m very happy with this purchase. The slippers are very comfortable. Click here for online shopping.
- Piran salt. In the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, salt is extracted by hand following the more than 700-year-old methods. Piranska sol has received protected designation of origin (PDO) status and is known for its outstanding quality. Apart from usual salt, you will find also salt flower . Tiny, white to pink pyramid-shaped crystals – these are the best harvest from the Piran Salt Pans. They form on the surface of the brine only when the air is still, for the slightest ripple disturbs them. At harvest time the salt makers use a special webbed spatula to remove them gently from the surface of the salt fields, where they form in a thin layer. In Slovenia you will find in many places a chain of shops called Piranske Soline where you can buy this famous salt (also in little gift boxes). You will also find Slovenian salt in regular supermarkets. Click here for online shopping.
- Salt based cosmetics. When on the search for Slovenian salt, in Piranske Soline shop you will find also many salt based cosmetics from local brand Lepa Vida. They specialize in bath salts, salt body peelings, body milk, soaps and face masks. The cosmetics have short list of ingredients. I didn’t check all the products, but all which I looked at do not contain parabens, paraffin, artificial dyes, and artificial fragrances. Click here for online shopping.
- Afrodita cosmetics. If you like trying local cosmetic brands used by the locals in visited country then try Slovenian Afrodita. They have vast offer of products for face and body. They also sell professional cosmetics for spa treatment. I have also seen their beauty center in Ljubljana. Their cosmetics can be bought in official stores but also in regular drugstores. Their website is not the friendliest one for foreigners, but I give you the link anyway. Click here.
- Istrian wines. The Istrian wine-growing region is home to variety of wines, the most famous ones being Refosco and Malvasia. Red Refosco has a recognizable fruitiness and a slightly lower level of alcohol, while the white Malvasia is discretely sour and has a characteristic flavour. You will also find wines from other Slovenian regions. Before purchasing your wine, I suggest to try them when ordering an accompanying glass to your Slovenian dishes and then buy a bottle of wine which you particularly like. My favourite wine was white and pink Vinakoper.
- Olive oil and pumpkin oil. The extra virgin olive oil native to Slovenian Istria, with a protected designation of origin, is cold pressed from fresh olive fruits. Olive varieties and specific climatic conditions affect the characteristic taste of Slovenian oil. Another type of oil worth bringing back home is a pumpkin seed oil which is a treasure of Slovenia and a gourmet delight. Oil from Styria has a protected geographical indication under the name Styrian-Prekmurje pumpkin oil. I suggest to look for olive oil in souvenir shops since I didn’t find huge variety in the supermarkets (if you decide for supermarket, be careful to not to buy Italian oil), for pumpkin seed oil, I found a good selection in larger supermarkets, but you can also get it in souvenir shops.
- Truffle products (tartufata). In hidden corners of Istrian woods, the experienced truffle hunters and their adorable dogs search for local black and white truffle tubers. In Slovenia in specialty food stores you will find black and white truffles tartufata which is a truffle sauce made from mushrooms, sunflower oil, black truffles (min. 3%) and spices. Tartufata enriches pasta dishes, rice, omelets, eggs, pizzas, coated breads. Due to its distinctive taste, it can be used as a spice in the preparation of various sauces that are offered with meat or fish. It can be added to home-made pasta dough and gnocchi dough. The higher percentage of truffles in the sauce, the better.
- Slovenian honey. Pristine nature of Slovenia makes its local honey of very high quality. You will find jars of honey from different regions of the country. I particularly like honey with added blueberry, a very popular sweet in Slovenia. Highly recommend!
- Wooden products. Slovenia is famous of its wood products. In many souvenir shops you will find wooden kitchen utensils, bowls but also decorative items. I like especially products made of olive tree wood. I suggest searching for such items in Ljubljana souvenir shops for the biggest selection.
- Ljubljana dragon. Ljubljana dragon is famous thanks to mysterious legend about foundation of the city. All around Slovenia you will find plenty of Ljubljana dragon mascots being a perfect gift for children. You will also find magnets, wooden 3-dimensional puzzles of the dragon, dragon figures made of iron and even dragon-shaped bottle racks! Best dragons you will find in Ljubljana 😉