Serbian Culture: 8 Stunning Souvenirs From Serbia

Souvenir stand with trinkets and candies from Serbia

Do you want to buy a souvenir that perfectly captures Serbian culture, but just thinking about it makes you want to lie down for a nap? We know the struggle.

Souvenir shops are overflowing with possibilities, yet choosing the right one has never been more frustrating. If you’re familiar with this feeling, you might be a victim of choice overload.  

To help you avoid the hassle, we made a list of practical souvenirs to impress your friends. No more I love Serbia T-shirts or trinkets that end up in a trash can.

So, follow our suggestions, and the next time you’re in Serbia, buy souvenirs like a pro. When you know what to look for, it’s prosto k’o pasulj (a piece of cake).

8 Souvenirs That Capture Serbian Culture

1. Ajvar

Your friends will love ajvar. This inexpensive red dip is a must-have for every zimnica (food preserving for winter). Since it’s tricky to find in other countries, why don’t you bring a taste of Serbia to your home country?

Made of simple ingredients like bell pepper (paprika), garlic (beli luk), and vinegar (sirće), it’s mild and satisfying. It goes well with everything; you can spread it on a slice of bread or eat it as a salad. 

And you don’t even have to worry about finding a souvenir shop since you can easily pick up a few jars at any supermarket and throw them into your suitcase. 

Plus, Serbs are generous hosts, so next time you visit Serbian friends and they serve you their homemade ajvar, shower it with compliments, and you’re bound to go home with a couple of jars. Works every time.

2. Rakija

Rakija is an integral part of Serbian culture. This fruit brandy is the national beverage, so it’s the ultimate choice if you want to introduce your friends to something authentic. 

And never mind if they don’t drink alcohol because rakija is so much more than a drink — a medicine, wound disinfectant, and cleaning agent all at once. True story. 

Šljivovica (plum rakija) is the most popular variant, but you can also try kruškovača (pear), lozovača (grapes), or dunjevača (quince). And if you’re into something sweeter, try medovača (honey rakija). You’ll love it.

And best of all, you can buy rakija just about everywhere. But, since most countryside households in Serbia double as mini distilleries, you might even get a free bottle. Živeli! (Cheers)

Bonus tip: When toasting with rakija, it’s good manners to maintain an eye-contact with your fellow drinkers. Do this, and you’ll make a good impression with zero effort.

3. Local Honey

A jar of honey with a honey dipper on top
That’s too much honey — said no one ever

What’s better than a jar full of delectable honey (med)? It goes well with tea, cookies, or on its own. Plus, it will boost your immune system and ease a sore throat.

But be careful about fake honey. Avoid supermarkets and, instead, look for bee signs along the road. These will lead you to the local people who sell genuine, local honey products.  

If you’re lucky, you’ll bump into a honey stand. You can sample different variants and find your favorite there. Choose between livadski med (meadow honey), bagremov med (acacia honey), or lipov med (linden honey).

4. Sirogojno Sweater

Sirogojno is a village famous for its wool-knit garments. If you drop by, you can enjoy the rural idyll and buy some super-warm sweaters, cardigans, or socks. Plus, you can find some unique designs and traditional patterns that will get you noticed. 

And we all know how important it is to bundle up because — promaja (draught). The danger is real. Don’t make Serbian baba (grandmother) scold you — ne idi bos/bosa po pločicama. (Don’t walk barefoot on kitchen tiles.)

A blue and pink knit sweater and knitting needles on top of it
Bundle up! Promaja kills 😅

5. Ratluk

Ratluk (Turkish delight) is the best friend of coffee. If you get invited to someone’s home for gossip and a cup of coffee, you’ll probably hear-Uzmi ratluk uz kafu (Take a ratluk with your coffee). This soft candy is a delicious, inexpensive souvenir that won’t take up much space in your luggage. 

You can buy it in any shop, but visit Bombondžijska radnja Bosiljčić for premium quality and an authentic experience. This last surviving family-owned candy business in the center of Belgrade is a must-see for anybody with a sweet tooth. While you’re there, stock up on svilene bombone (hard candy), karamele (caramel), lizalice (lollypops).

6. Coffee Pot

Speaking of coffee, this one is perfect for your caffeine-addict friends. Džezva (coffee pot) is essential for making domaća kafa (Turkish coffee). Coffee drinking is huge in Serbian culture, but you’ve probably noticed that from cafes brimming with customers at all times.

Choose a brass one, or go online for more adorable designs. After all, a cute pot can make the coffee-making ritual extra special. And in case all your friends are caffeine-free — don’t worry. It can serve as a cute pencil holder or a flowerpot.

A shiny coffee pot surrounded by hazelnuts
Domaća kafa a day keeps the grumpy away

7. Serbian Literature

Serbian literature is rich, and there’s something for everyone. Also, don’t worry if you aren’t yet comfortable reading in Serbian. There are lots of translated novels to choose from. 

Delfi and Vulkan bookstores offer a variety of great Serbian authors — Meša Selimović, Milorad Pavić, and many others. If you want to read in Serbian, we recommend visiting second-hand book stands you can find all over Belgrade. On top of saving money, you might discover rare books not available in bookstores. 

And if you want to learn more about Serbian culture and all the little quirks, check out Momo Kapor’s A Guide to the Serbian Mentality.

8. Cosmetic Products

From handmade soap bars to high-quality hair and skin care, cosmetic products are portable and practical souvenirs. Sure, you can buy shampoo in your home country, but trying local goods is much more fun. 

Our top picks are Lafy Natural — for hair products — Srbuška, and Klementina — for hair and skin care. Most of these small businesses make natural products with safe and high-quality ingredients, so on top of having a keepsake in a charming bottle to take home, your skin and hair will look fabulous. 

How to Talk About Souvenirs and Shopping

Shop assistants in the capital will probably speak English. However, the farther you go from Belgrade, the chances of finding English speakers get slimmer. For this reason, it’s best to learn some basic phrases to make shopping stress-free.

Here are some phrases related to shopping and souvenirs:

  • Koliko košta? (How much is it?)

Use this phrase to ask for the price of products.

E.g. Koliko košta ova rakija?

  • A, bre, baš je skupo! (Darn, it’s so expensive!)

This one will help you express your dissatisfaction with the price. And who knows? If you complain enough, you might get a discount. However, never try to haggle in supermarkets or shopping malls. Still, this tactic might work in small souvenir shops and outdoor markets. 

  • Praznih ruku (empty-handed) 

Ne ide se u goste praznih ruku — it’s bad manners to visit someone’s home empty-handed, so you should always bring a small gift. You don’t need to spend a fortune; a bag of coffee and sugar will do just fine. After all, small gestures go a long way.

Don’t go home empty-handed

Souvenir shopping can be nerve-racking, especially when you don’t know what to look for. Sure, you can always get something at the airport on your way home. Even if you’re in a rush and buy something impersonal, at least you won’t go home praznih ruku (empty-handed).

However, if you’re eager to impress your friends with a souvenir that screams Serbian culture, pick an item from our list. 

Finally, shopping is always easier if you speak the local language. So, if you want to learn more handy phrases and feel more confident in these situations, check out our online Serbian lessons with certified teachers. You’ll have fun learning, and, before you know it, you’ll be shopping like a native!

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