Locally produced food and drink products, as well as traditional folk arts and crafts are the most popular souvenirs from Slovakia. Make sure you leave adequate space in your bag to take home a few well-chosen souvenirs, so that you can savor your memories of visiting this special country for years to come. Here’s our guide on what to look for when you’re shopping for souvenirs in Slovakia.
Traditional folk embroidered clothing
Especially for women, this is one of the best Slovak souvenirs you can chose. T-shirts, tank tops, and dresses are embroidered with traditional folk patterns in bright colors and sold at many souvenir shops throughout the country. The quality of the embroidery can vary from shop to shop, so pay attention to the level of detail while you are looking. One great shop that specializes in traditional embroidery of everything from costumes to shirts to towels is Parta, which has a location in Bratislava and another in Detva.
Decorated wooden crosses
In central Slovakia, especially the Podpoľanie region, tall carved wooden crosses are placed on the side of the road, in front of churches, and other sacred places. These crosses are decorated with colorful paints in traditional folk patterns, symbolizing different Biblical stories and principles. It’s unlikely that you would like to bring home a life-size four- or five-foot-tall cross, but the craftsmen also produce smaller versions to hang on the wall of your home. They are a perfect souvenir to give as a gift to religious friends or family.
Slovakia is home to six different wine-producing regions in the south of the country. You can find red, white, and rosé varietals. If you like white, try the rulandske biele. If you like red, try the frankovka modra. If you like rosé, try the alibernet rosé. Before buying a bottle, try several glasses of Slovak wine at Grand Cru Wine Gallery in Bratislava’s Old Town.
Yet another type of wine you must try in Slovakia is medovina, or honey wine. There are dry and sweet varieties, best served after dinner as a dessert wine. Slovakia also produces fabulous flavored honeys, and honey-covered nuts are very popular. At Ceramel in Bratislava, you can find all sorts of edible honey varieties as well as honey bath and body products.
The most typical Slovak alcohol is slivovica, a super strong liquor with a plum taste. The alcohol content is between 30 and 50 percent, with most being closer to 50 percent. Slovaks enjoy shots of slivovica while watching sporting matches or at a local pub with friends. You can also try several different flavors, such as blueberry, raspberry, or apricot.
Valaška, an ornamental shepherd’s axe used for ceremonies
This type of axe is more symbolic than for any use in cutting down trees. In fact, it doubles as a walking cane and is used in many traditional folk dances. It is a primarily decorative axe produced by skilled craftsmen. One of the best shops in Bratislava is ÚĽUV, the Center for Folk Art Production, where you can buy valaška and several other products made from wood.
This souvenir might be difficult to pack if you are traveling by plane, but if you go to Slovakia by train, bus, or car, be sure to get some bryndza cheese to take home and enjoy the week after your trip. You will probably eat bryndza cheese several times while in Slovakia – it is the key ingredient in the national dish, bryndzové halušky. It is a soft, spreadable sheep cheese with a distinct flavor. It also tastes great on toast at breakfast!
A shot glass to wear around your neck
If you are a collector of shot glasses, don’t miss getting one of the uniquely decorated shot glasses covered in leather that you can wear around your neck. These are called pijacka poharik and are very handy to use at a festival or a party, as you will never lose your glass.
Corn husk dolls
This traditional folk craft is still a very popular souvenir for children. The corn husk dolls offer different perspectives of rural life in Slovakia and are often clothed in traditional folk costumes.
Herbal teas are recommended by doctors and available in all pharmacies and convenience shops. Many are locally produced in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Look for teas from Baliarne Obchodu a.s. Poprad, a Slovak company that produces more than 600 tons of more than 150 different types of tea per year.
Tatratea is not a natural, healthy tea, but rather an alcoholic variety. It is a tea-based herbal liqueur that comes in six different flavors of differing levels of alcohol. The strongest variety is the Tatratea Outlaw, at 72% alcohol. Slovaks often drink Tatratea while skiing or hiking in the mountains.
Another name for this wafer bar with a peanut cream filling is “mountain cake,” because Slovaks always take these bars along on trips to the mountains. The bars are available in peanut, chocolate, milk, coconut, and hazelnut varieties. Peanut is the most popular and most traditional choice.
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