Souvenirs From Bosnia And Herzegovina To Take Home
Whenever a much-awaited trip ends, we often feel kind of blue, especially when we had a good time, discovered new places, and felt really welcome. Souvenirs come to the rescue; they make us feel a bit better and help us keep the memories of our travels alive. If you’re visiting a place like Bosnia and Herzegovina, you’ll probably want to get some Bosnian souvenirs. This Balkan country has a long artisan tradition which makes it easy to find beautiful gifts for our friends and us back home.
The choice is wide; we can pick something to decorate our home, to remind us of a place or a flavor, and to encourage others to visit the country too. Remember, try to leave some space in your luggage for your souvenirs, try to choose practical and easy-to-pack objects and, in case you want to purchase some big or fragile souvenir, always check with the locals as they are often willing to help you pack or even available to ship it home for you.
Let’s see some of the most beautiful and typical souvenirs from Bosnia that will undoubtedly make an ever-lasting memory of your visit.
Garments And Other Objects With Bosnian Carpet Patterns
The Bosnian carpet is a typical carpet with an Oriental-style motif that represents the local cultural values. Carpet making was traditionally a craft taken up by women who would weave rugs for their homes or as gifts recreating a distinctive pattern in bold colors such as red, black, yellow, or blue. The motif, which became a part of the local culture, has been taken up by several modern Bosnian designers who now print it on stylish pieces of garment, including men’s ties, silk scarves, and even more tech objects such as a mouse pad or a coffee mug.
A famous Bosnian designer, Adnan Hajrulahovic, has taken this pattern to the next level with his company HAAD, producing exclusive garments and decorative objects with the Bosnian carpet pattern. These souvenirs might be a bit more expensive than you could buy at a street market but bear a unique Bosnian flair. You can quickly get them at the Sarajevo airport or the souvenir shop in the City Hall (Vijecnica). You can also learn more on the HAAD official website or the HAAD Facebook page.
Bosnian Rugs And Carpets
If you choose a reasonable size and have luggage space available, then a traditional Bosnian carpet or kilim can be a one-of-a-kind present for you or a friend. These handwoven rugs, which became popular in the country during the Ottoman occupation, have simple motifs repeated across the surface, made with bold colors, with red and black being the more popular ones. Although they could prove a little awkward to transport, you might want to take home with you the real thing and not just a reproduction.
Good quality Bosnian handwoven rugs are not as easy to find as in the past. Sadly the craft is being abandoned, and weavers are not so easy to find. However, if you’re on the hunt for a pretty Bosnian kilim, head to the markets in the most important cities, such as Sarajevo and Mostar, to find them. And remember, to be sure about the quality of the carpet, always check the knots on the reverse: the more you see, the better the carpet.
Local Wine And Rakija
Herzegovina is an important grape producer in the region and produces surprisingly good wines. The wine industry, which came to a stop during the Ottoman years, was brought back to life during the Austrian domination, and little by little, wine returned to be an important product of the country.
Alternatively, if you prefer a more potent drink, get a bottle of Rajika. Although this spirit is widely produced in every Balkan country, a bottle of Rakija from Bosnia and Herzegovina can make a remarkable memory of your trip.
Copper Ware And Other Metalwork Objects
With clear Ottoman reminiscence, one of the most distinctive art forms in Bosnia and Herzegovina is metal ware, especially copper work. Anything from decorative plates and trays, tea sets, coffee pots, and even Ottoman lamps with typical designs are some of the common objects you can take back home with you.
These unique handcrafts can be purchased in local markets, but of course, the best place to get your gift is Coppersmith Street in Sarajevo’s Bascarsija. You can also buy metal souvenirs along the streets of Mostar, near the Old Bridge or Stari Most. And keep in mind that it’s always better to buy from working artisans that you see working at their shops to avoid purchasing a cheap knock-off.
If purchasing a metal coffee pot or a decorative dish is something you’d love to do, but there is not enough space in your backpack, yet you still love the local metalwork, then you can settle for a charming pair of earrings, bracelets, or necklaces.
Whether you’re looking for a bold piece to make a fashion statement or a delicate piece to wear daily, you will undoubtedly find unique pieces at quite affordable prices.
Lavender And Other Herbal Products
Another standard souvenir you can buy in Bosnia and Herzegovina (and in many other Balkan countries, as we discussed in our Bulgarian souvenirs article), lavender fields are abundant in this part of the world.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a long tradition of cultivating and collecting medicinal and aromatic herbs (wild berries and mushrooms). The country boasts a rich biodiversity of medicinal and aromatic plants that substantially contribute to the national and local economy. Bosnia and Herzegovina commercializes over 200 medicinal and aromatic plants in the form of dried flowers, essential oils, and different herbal products such as chamomile, mint, balm, sage, and — most of all — lavender.
Although dried lavender sachets are a common and reasonably cheap souvenir, a small flask of pure lavender oil can be a refined and delicate souvenir that many moms and grandmas will certainly appreciate.
War Trinkets, Recycled Bullets, And Other War Paraphernalia
Like many other Balkan countries which underwent a rather turbulent recent history, war-related souvenirs are also quite typical in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These souvenirs, mostly loved by partners, boyfriends, and male family members, often come from the impressive quantity of ammunition that littered the whole country after the war.
These painful memories were gathered by skilled locals who made them into eccentric souvenirs, pendants, trinkets, and other decorative objects now to be found in the areas of Mostar and Sarajevo, primarily in markets and tourist corners. You can find anything from a pen made from a bullet to helmets, army badges, and varied military garments.
Hand-Knitted Socks And Slippers
It’s a local tradition to remove your shoes when you enter your home in many countries in the Balkans, and this is especially true for Bosnia, where you will receive a pair of house slippers that the homeowners keep for visitors and that are meant to be only worn inside.
And even if you did not have the opportunity to enter any Bosnian home during your trip, you will certainly find artisan stalls and markets selling these typical hand-knitted slippers with pointy tips featuring quite intricate motifs. As an alternative to slippers, you can get a pair of cozy woolen socks that locals use for the same purpose.
A Snapshot Of The Place Where WWI Began
You can get this image in the form of a postcard, a painting, or even a photograph made by you!
As most of us learned back at school, the First World War started right after Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, was murdered in Sarajevo by the Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip.
Today, hundreds of tourists flock to the proximity of the Latin Bridge to see the exact place where these events took place. History and travel enthusiasts often snap a picture of this very spot (and even a selfie)—quite a unique travel souvenir from the Balkan area that history buffs will certainly treasure.
A Coffee Set And Some Bosnian Coffee
A Traditional Bosnian coffee set can easily make the perfect souvenir to purchase during your Balkan adventure. Either for you or a friend, a small traditional set will include a copper (or other metal) coffee pot — locally known as dzezva — and a pair of cups with saucers. Larger sets may come with more cups, but they might not fit in your luggage.
Although they can be a bit on the heavy side, they are the perfect gift for the coffee fan back home. Pair this present with a pack of Bosnian ground coffee which you’re not likely to find once back home.
It is always rewarding to purchase hand-painted pictures of different areas you may have visited in the country. You will not only be helping local artists but there’s something unique and quite personal when you know that your painting is not a print or was not mechanically reproduced. In a way, your souvenir will be a one-of-a-kind, something that might make it even more special.
Head to artisan and public markets or, even better, purchase them from the artists themselves, who can be found painting right on the spot at different landmarks. Get yourself an oil or watercolor painting of unique places such as the Stari Most or the streets of Sarajevo. Frame it and hang it once back home to bring you unique travel memories every time you look at them.
Locally known as lokum or rahat lokum, this common Balkan sweet, similar to the more famous Turkish delight, is a perfect souvenir, lightweight, easy to transport, and fit inside any piece of luggage.
This delicious treat has very clear Turkish origins. In fact, the word lokum (roughly translated as a delight) comes from the Turkish language and means pleasure for the throat. Rahat lokum made its way into Bosnia more than 500 years ago, when it used to be packed in silk and was exclusively served to the high class at the court. Today, drinking Bosnian coffee with rahat lokum and other oriental sweets is a real ritual in local households. Lokum comes in different flavors, the most popular ones being rose and walnut.
Currently, the Bosnian market offers super colorful lokum made with the traditional colors and Bosnian motifs found in old carpets and other woven products.
Get Yourself An Unusual Souvenir!
Have you ever thought about returning home with a souvenir you cannot purchase in any shop or market? Something truly original that — in a way — testifies your visit to the country? Diving off the most famous bridge in Mostar can earn you such a souvenir!
It has long been a common practice for Bosnians to dive from Stari Most Bridge into the cold Neretva River. The local association Mostar Dive Club allows visitors and tourists to attend a half-day training session and then jump right off the bridge.
Divers who attempt the plunge bring back home a diving certificate, becoming a lifetime member of the club. The experience is about 30 euro, which is really an original memento.
Getting Your Souvenirs
No matter where you are in the world, the best places to purchase travel souvenirs have always been street markets and bazaars where local artisans work, and you can choose and sometimes even bargain for a piece you like.
Public markets are also suitable for those keen on purchasing gastronomic souvenirs, be it spirits, wine, spices, herbs, or unique local products. These are the right places, and prices are often affordable, especially when most locals get their food there too.
When traveling to Bosnia, you will probably visit Sarajevo and Mostar, the two most important centers in the country. Both are home to beautiful and well-assorted markets where you can get original and often inexpensive souvenirs.
In Mostar Old Town, head across the Old Bridge to the huge open bazaar in Mostar and take a walk along Coppersmith’s Street, Kujundziluk, to peruse the dozens of stalls in order to find the right gift. This is one of the top things to do in town, no matter whether you buy a souvenir or not.
When in Sarajevo, instead, it’s a good idea to pay a visit to the old bazaar, Bascarsija, where you will get not just unique local crafts but also simple magnets, keychains, and postcards that often make a cute and economic present if you have tons of friends back home waiting for a Bosnian souvenir!