Travel Notes blog
The Best Souvenirs to Bring Back from Your Travels
by Bianca Neal-Shaw
9 min read

The Best Souvenirs to Bring Back from Your Travels

The Best Souvenirs to Bring Back from Your Travels
Which souvenirs will stand the test of time and not end up in the back of your drawer? Read this article to find out our favourite souvenir ideas.
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What do you picture when you hear ‘souvenir’?  The word is usually associated with keyrings that have depictions of famous monuments or fridge magnets of beaches. Unfortunately, as popular as they are, they don’t truly represent the local culture of a destination and more often than not end up in a landfill. However, this doesn’t have to be the case - 2023 and beyond calls for sustainable souvenirs that are authentic, memorable and impactful. At The Thinking Traveller, we’ve compiled our list of the best kinds of souvenirs which will stand the test of time and inspire memories for years to come.

‘Souvenirs are a memory postcard - either to ourselves, or someone else. They serve as a reminder of a gorgeous place; somewhere time stands still and we are permanently OOO. A place where we can sample local delicacies, soak up the sun, and bask in a different kind of appreciation for living.’

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Souvenirs: Friend or Foe?

No matter where they are from or whatever form they take, we all love souvenirs. From excitedly receiving one from a family member as a child, to buying one in a gift shop as an adult. They are bathed in both affection and affectation in equal measures.

We are always guiltily aware that, more often than not, souvenirs are mass produced in bulk or made in a factory that’s nowhere near the country we’re visiting. For the 2012 Olympic games in London for example, only 9% of souvenirs were made in the UK, with the rest being mass produced in China, Turkey and the Philippines. With single use plastic accounting for increasing amounts of global waste and with souvenirs simply adding to this number, there's always a horrible irony in that buying a souvenir you’re doing more harm than good.

However, the fact is, It’s still often far too tempting to buy one. We feel virtually compelled by a force beyond our control to ‘just get a little something’ when we’re on holiday. Not because we’re under any illusion that they’re particularly great gifts, or even well made, but because of the meaning behind them. Souvenirs are a memory postcard - either to ourselves, or someone else. They serve as a reminder of a gorgeous place; somewhere time stands still and we are permanently OOO. A place where we can sample local delicacies, soak up the sun, and bask in a different kind of appreciation for living.

The notion of a souvenir then, is an important one for us psychologically. But it’s not just about us. The right souvenirs, that are locally sourced, ethically made and sustainable can actually be beneficial to the local economy and the world. They can help boost local businesses and communities, as well as providing you with a lifelong memory.

Authentic keepsakes: Souvenir ideas we love

Tangible experiences are what the body and mind remember. The sip of that Beaujolais, the grains of sand between your fingers, the smell of a warm golden Mediterranean evening.

We know that our customers love to take keepsakes home with them from their trip and thanks to the relationships we have built with the people and the businesses in the communities where we offer villas, we know what makes a great keepsake and experiences that capture the location's culture, which you can take with you wherever you go and share with others. Keep reading to see our top picks.

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Authentic and sustainable souvenirs

We’ve handpicked our top souvenirs from our villa locations around the Med. These souvenirs are all specific to their country of origin and are a perfect way to take home a small piece of it with you.

Food souvenirs

Food is always a great way to remind yourself of a holiday multiple times over - and it can be enjoyed from the comfort of your kitchen. It is a way to celebrate local delicacies and use them in your own way. Below are a few favourites from destinations across the Med.

  • Broccui Cheese

    - This is a classic Corsican cheese with a distinctive sweet flavour produced from Ewe’s milk. This can be taken home and used in many meals to come.

  • Kefalonian honey

    - Greek honey is delicious, especially the Kefalonian variety.

  • Olive oil and olives

    - An obvious but essential choice. Delectable from any of the Greek Islands and Puglia where olive groves are abundant.

Homeware souvenirs

The most beautiful homeware is always locally made and completely unique. Not only do they make great conversation starters with guests, they will always remind you of a special place and time. Below are examples of great souvenirs to bring home from the Mediterranean.

  • Ceramics of Grottaglie - These decorative ceramics have been made in Grottaglie, Puglia for a thousand years and are a perfect authentic souvenir to bring back.

  • Caltagirone Pottery - This beautiful pottery is specific to Caltagirone in the Noto area of Sicily. This decadent pottery comes in many different forms and can add a bit of Sicilian culture to any home.

Souvenirs for children

Traditional souvenirs that can be used to teach children (or adults) about the cultural significance of a place you visited. We have listed a few perfect examples of authentic gifts to bring back for loved ones.

  • Evil eye talisman (Mati)- The evil eye talisman is steeped in Greecian history. You can also double check when you buy one that it is made locally.

  • Greek bouzouki - If you are musically inclined, this traditional greek guitar can be a perfect souvenir.

  • Komboli worry beads - These beads are used symbolically in Greece to guard from bad luck and omens. Worry beads are created from most materials, but look for more natural or organic options like amber or coral.

Our top experience souvenirs

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Learn how to cook an authentic local recipe

Get stuck in, literally, and use your holiday as a time to learn a new skill and experience in-villa cooking lessons from a local culinary expert. Try your hand at in-villa cooking lessons. Our expert will guide you in making a number of specialty dishes, whilst also telling you their story of how they connect to the history and culture of this fascinating Island. Take your pick from traditional cuisine, street food or a pasta masterclass - all accompanied with a healthy side of local cheese and delicacies. Don’t be concerned as we offer in-villa cooking classes in all our villa locations across the Med, making our classes the perfect Italian or Greek souvenirs.

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Learn how to create world-famous delicacies

If you’d prefer to learn how to make local delicacies in an authentic setting, then cheese making might be for you. This unique experience allows you to learn from artisan cheesemakers in an authentic beautiful setting and is another one of our favourite Italian souvenirs. Start your day with a walking tour of quaint Alberobello with its rows and rows of trulli, then delve into the art of cheesemaking in a country that is famed for this mouthwatering delicacy. After your lesson you will be invited to sample your handmade mozzarella, fresh ricotta, aged cheeses, fresh bread, wine and some of the farm's delightful produce.

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Channel your inner Sommelier with wine tasting experiences

Discover another Sicilian delight at the foothills of Mount Etna Another must have souvenir from Italy. Unique flavours are being produced from this select region, with a new generation of Sicilian wine producers recognising the full potential of the mountain's climate. Soak up the wine, and the equally impressive views, as you’re taken on a chauffeured wine tasting tour -  with a delicious lunch included.

Just across the pond, sample the delectable grapes of Corsica in local wine tasting. We've combined two wineries nestled between Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio, creating an experience that showcases the unique blend of tradition and innovation and capturing the distinct characteristics of the diverse local terroirs. Expect a good helping of wine and grape-specific knowledge from a local sommelier.

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Take a tour through the ages across the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean offers unending historical wonders - spanning ancient empires that globalised the world and changed the course of our modern existence. Listen to our deeply knowledgeable guides, as they take you on a journey through Sicily’s vast Greek heritage, Napoleon’s hometown of Ajaccio, the Roman-Byzantine UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint, and the underwater museum of Peristera in the Sporades Islands. An authentic souvenir from Italy in the form of education about a historical epicentre.

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Exploring islands in unique way

Feel the wind in your hair and get back in touch with nature as you explore Corfu on horseback. Ride along the coastline through unspoiled beaches, olive groves and wild fauna. You can do this at sunset for the full romantic experience, or take a dip in the Ionian with your horse. This is one of our favourite souvenirs from Greece that will inspire memories more than any typical memento.

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Submerge yourself in nature

See the world through a different perspective and appreciate the tranquil power of scuba diving. If you’re looking for a memorable Greek souvenir, the crystal clear waters of the Aegean sea are beautiful from land, but even more fascinating from underneath the waves. Whether you're a novice looking for an introductory experience or seeking to obtain a full PADI certification, we offer a range of options tailored to suit your preferences.

The best souvenirs inspired by locals

Each of our Think Experiences involves working with local experts - sharing their deep knowledge which spans across the Mediterranean. Working with local people and businesses is part of our ethos; ensuring both you and them get the most out of an experience possible.

If you still want a physical keepsake to take home from your travels, aim for locally crafted items with an element of sustainability (recycled materials, locally sourced, supporting local craftsmen). However, we think the best kind of souvenir is something you can immerse in, experience and share with others - one that you can treasure forever.

At The Thinking Traveller, we have luxury villas across the Med in stunning locations. With our extensive expertise and years of experience, we specialise in creating unforgettable holidays. If you're seeking a reliable partner to assist you in planning an extraordinary trip, reach out to us and we'll assist you in finding the perfect villa that suits your group's needs and occasion.