When we think of souvenirs, our minds tend to jump to the vast collection of magnets, mugs, and keychains collected over the years. However, the world of mementos can be so much more exciting! When you avoid tourist traps and common items, you can find an array of interesting, useful, and beautiful collectibles on your journeys around the world.
Focus on each country’s specialties, and you’ll be surprised by your haul. We’ve compiled a list of the most unique souvenirs you can find in a multitude of countries all over the planet. While some are strange, every single one is dripping with the local culture. Keep an eye out for these on your next international trip!
10 Custom Calligraphy (China)
Calligraphy is one of the most prominent parts of the Chinese culture, with thousands of years of history. If you’re looking for a suitable souvenir from China, look past the cheap pre-made prints of ancient Chinese calligraphy. Instead, you can get custom handwritten calligraphy from a multitude of locations all over China, including Shanghai, Beijing, or any major city.
You can get your family name written in beautiful Chinese characters by a custom calligrapher, usually found on old tourist walking streets in the city. Most artists will also have a selection of frames and bamboo brushes to go along with your purchase so that you can display the art in your home and try Chinese calligraphy for yourself!
9 Handmade Leather Goods (Italy)
Ever since the Middle Ages, Italy’s leather goods have been world-famous for their beauty and durability. Today, Italy is still brimming with quality shoes, wallets, purses, and belts that are unmatched in the world. Cities such as Florence, Milan, Rome, and Venice are particularly well endowed with a plethora of leather shops.
While many big-name brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Ferragamo can be found in these cities, they also have plenty of small, family-owned leather businesses that create high-quality products without the brand name or the price tag. You should ask your tour guide for suggestions based on your interests and make your selection there. A nice wallet from Italy would be the perfect useful souvenir or gift to bring back home!
8 Kit Kats (Japan)
If you didn’t already know, Kit Kats are candy bars that consist of wafers covered in chocolate and usually wrapped in its signature red packaging. While chocolate Kit Kats are hugely popular in the Western world, Japan’s signature flavors put a wild spin on this well-loved treat.
You could have the candy bar in sweet flavors such as strawberry cheesecake, Tokyo banana, or apple pie. If you’re more daring, try going for the bean paste, baked sweet potato, autumn chestnut, or coffee. However, there are some flavors that sound just a bit frightening. Namely, the wasabi, bitter almond, and soy sauce. Whether you’re a fan of the different Kit-Kats or not, they’re a great novelty to share amongst friends!
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7 Delftware (Netherlands)
If you like pottery, then you might have heard of the infamous blue-white earthenware that has been known since the 1600s. Dutch artisans fell in love with the traditional blue porcelain styles from China and mixed the oriental style with their own to create this special form of art.
Natives and foreigners alike are deeply in love with the traditional Dutch patterns and the beautiful, unique coloring. Delftware is available in both dining equipment and as decorative tiles or vases, and both options are highly popular. You can find several locations that sell hand-made delftware in Amsterdam as well as antique stores that carry older versions. Delftware will add that perfect touch to your home!
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6 Whiskey Stones (Ireland)
The whiskey connoisseurs of Ireland have the perfect creation for those of you who appreciate a good drink every once in a while. Instead of putting ice in your next glass of whiskey, try using cubes of these whiskey stones instead! Not only will they chill your drink to the perfect temperature, but they won’t dilute the alcohol as ice will.
Furthermore, soapstone is a non-porous, odorless rock that will not have any effect on the flawless taste of your drink, either. Plus, they work the same way for all types of beverages! Pick some of these up on your next trip to Ireland, as they’ll be perfect both for yourself or as a gift, and they’re certainly a conversation starter!
5 Berlin Wall Fragments
The Berlin Wall is perhaps one of the most iconic historical monuments of Germany. Thousands flock to Berlin each year to see what’s left of the wall for themselves. Interestingly enough, the gift shops in the vicinity sell what they proclaim to be actual pieces of the Berlin wall! You’ll be literally taking a piece of history back home with this shocking souvenir. Most have colorful graffiti paint still attached.
Although there’s technically no real way to verify that the rock was chipped off of the wall, it sure will make a great story to tell. And at the end of the day, aren’t stories and memories the most important aspects of a souvenir?
4 Llama Fetus (Bolivia)
This one’s not for the faint-hearted! The poor little guys in the photo can be found at the famous Witches’ Market in La Paz, where visitors can purchase all sorts of natural trinkets and herbs. Although it may seem gross, llama fetuses are the most popular item sold at the market, due to the fact that locals believe deeply in the good luck that they bring.
In fact, according to tradition, it’s absolutely necessary to have a llama fetus on-site to ward off evil spirits before the construction of a house. If you’re into that kind of thing, a llama fetus could be one of the most unique souvenirs that you’ll ever get to bring home!
3 Bezoar Stone (India)
True Harry Potter fans will remember the mention of this stone and its magical healing properties. However, unlike the character, the stone isn’t fiction at all! The people of India still harvest the hardened, undigested material from the belly of goats, and you can find this special souvenir at various local shops.
Many still believe that ingesting ground up bezoar can cure diseases, but you don’t have to do that with your souvenir! Most people nowadays prefer to wear the material as a special lucky charm, or even use it as a paperweight. The bezoar can also be made into a one of a kind gift for a special someone back home!
2 Thyme Honey (Greece)
A unique and flavorful souvenir from Greece is their infamous thyme honey. Although there are bottled versions in many large local shops, you should go to a small, family-owned business for a truly authentic taste.
The honey could be compared to the nectar of the Greek gods, for it holds an intensely sweet aroma infused with herbal scents. The taste has traces of the sweetest fruits and a hint of dates.
Furthermore, the honey is said to contain anti-cancer properties. There’s nothing better to take with you than a mouthwatering jar of authentic Greek honey! Not only will it go well with plain yogurt, but it can also be used in dishes as well as on pancakes for a sweet twist.
1 Lace (Croatia)
If you’re heading to Croatia, definitely keep an eye out for their gorgeous lace products! Hand-sewn lace has been the trend since the Renaissance era, and the beautiful linen has been adored all over the world since then. Croatia is especially well known for its delicate, unique patterns coupled with quality and durability.
You could opt for some lace trimmings on a dress, or perhaps a new table cloth to brighten your dining room at home. Other lace products include coasters, doilies, and hair accessories. Whichever you choose, you’ll be taking a magnificent artwork of tradition, beauty, and craftsmanship home.