Croatia’s sunny Istrian peninsula is edged with historic towns – ports whose trading links to Venice, the eastern Mediterranean and beyond, have influenced the craftsmanship and the designs of the region’s fine fashion, silverware, art and ceramics.
Croatia offers a variety of treasures, from neckties (which were invented in Croatia) to beautiful handmade jewellery. Make the most of Croatian shopping at colourful locals’ markets, flea markets (pic above, in Poreč) and independent shops to find the real star buys – with a focus on artisanal foods like homemade liquors, marmalades and honey.
Or how about a Glagolitic memento. A what? Glagolitic is the oldest known Slavic alphabet – popular around these parts around 1000 years ago. Emblazon your name across a t-shirt or plaque in this ancient Croatian script, or maybe even a secret message!
Croatian prices are comparable to home, but Croatian-made goods tend to be cheaper, so that’s another reason to keep it local.
- Ties and scarves – Ties originated in Croatia, so where better to buy one? Pick up a handmade tie ranging from standard to woven with gold. For womenswear, scarves and pashminas are plentiful too.
- Chocolate – While Croatia isn’t alone in its love affair with chocolate, it certainly is producing some different flavours. Orange blossom and red wine flavoured chocolates are a favourite to bring home.
- Glass – Located near the origin of decorative glass in Murano, Croatia also has a passion for glass-making. Stunning colourful pieces from vases to bowls will make the ultimate souvenir, just make sure you wrap it up well in your suitcase!
- Licitar hearts – For a purely Croatian souvenir, pick up a Licitar heart, an intricately decorated red and white heart as a gift for that special someone. These can be bought in original gingerbread or plastic, and hung around the home or on a Christmas tree.
- Plavac Mali wine – This delicious red wine is produced from grapes grown along the Croatian coast, and often includes cherries and spices.
- Dried fig preserve – Grown on the coast and dried in the Croatian sun, be sure to buy some dried fig preserve while on your travels. Perfect with cheese or even on toast!
Where to head
Atelier Sottomuro – Pick up some unique handmade jewellery and art at this tucked-away art gallery in Rovinj. Beautiful jewellery is available in styles for adults and children, made from local materials like Dalmatian Jasper for a truly authentic Croatian piece.
Vrata pod Zidom 2, Rovinj, Croatia
Pula’s green market – Located at the beginning of Pula’s Flanaticka Ulica shopping street, the green market is a chance to pick up fresh produce like fruit and vegetables during your stay. You should also be able to find lavender flavoured honey, lemon and fig marmalade, olive oil and fruit liquors that will make fantastic gifts for people at home.
Narodni trg 9, 52100 Pula
Aura Distillery – Head to this charming distillery to pick up traditional handmade brandies, made from sage, mint, wild pears, rose petals, rosehip, forest fruits and more! Tours of the distillery to view how the brandy is made are also available for a unique shopping experience.
2.Istarske Brigade 2/1, Buzet 52420, Croatia
Zigante Tartufi – This quaint shop greets you with the mouthwatering smell of Istrian truffles. Hundreds of varieties of truffle based products are available, with truffles all sourced from the local woods. Prices are reasonable and the staff are friendly too.
Matteottijev Trg – Piazza Matteotti 12, Rovinj 52210, Croatia
Micica Atelier – This shop is the creative project of a Croatian sculptor and a printmaker, producing fantastically quirky trinkets and pieces of art that you won’t be able to find anywhere else – from hand painted shells to necklaces that blend touches of elaborate Victoriana with modern, graphic art splashes. Wonderfully unique.
Ulica Svetoga Krizha – Via Santa Croce 26, Rovinj 52210, Croatia
The brother and sister team behind this Zagreb-based funky leather workshop have opened up a store on the seafront at Porec, showcasing their seriously cool handbags, briefcases, wallets, flip-flops and accessories. Definitely worth a look.
Eufrazijeva 28, Porec
In the know
- When visiting markets be sure to see what the locals pay for their fruit and vegetables, you may be charged a tourist price if you don’t haggle!
- In summertime many shops will be open seven days a week until midnight, perfect for a spot of late night shopping.
- The best Croatian olive oils can get very expensive at nearly 50 euros a litre in souvenir shops and delis. Save yourself money by buying directly from producers, many of whom have stalls in markets in Rovinj (north of the main town square M.Tito, in the port of Valdibora).
- Learn a few basic phrases in Croatian for dealing with market sellers and shop owners to show your gratitude, this will show respect to the locals and will be appreciated.
- Buy Christmas ornaments in summer! Croatia is a fantastic place to pick up pieces to hang on your Christmas tree.
- Stop off for a cup of coffee on a shopping break, Croatian coffee is delicious and very reasonably priced. And it’ll give you all the energy you need to power through your retail adventures!