What should I bring home from Germany?
So you’re headed to Deutschland! Wondering what to bring home from Germany? Whether you’re exploring the smallest villages or major cities, Germany is a great place to shop for special items for yourself or the perfect gift for friends and family.
The best things to buy in Germany, popular choices include:
- hand-crafted gifts from German artisans
- traditional German items,
- Christmas themed treasures
- edible souvenirs and gifts
- and more! Keep reading, we’ll cover them in greater depth in this article.
What to buy in Germany: Guide to “ must have German souvenirs “
Table of Contents
German souvenirs, made in Germany
Or course, the best German gifts and souvenirs are made in Germany. Germany, just like any other country imports a lot of good but quality products made in Germany are available. If authenticity is important and you want to be sure you are getting the real deal, be sure to look for the “made in Germany” label which identifies Authentic German items.
Traditional German souvenirs and gifts
Some of the best souvenirs from Germany are traditional German items:
Cuckoo Clocks (Kuckucksuhren)
The cuckoo clock is big business in the Black Forest region of Germany where they are handcrafted by artisans. Black Forest cuckoo clocks are renowned worldwide for their craftsmanship. Triberg, home of the Black forest cake and the famous Triberg Waterfalls, is a great place to buy quality cuckoo clocks. I have a comprehensive article on visiting Triberg, where you can read about the World’s biggest AND the World’s smallest cuckoo clocks!
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own.
Beer steins/ beer mugs (Krug, Humpen, Seidel, Maßkrug)
The German’s love of beer is legendary! And no wonder, German Beer is the stuff legends are made of! Germans have been brewing beer for over 1,000 years. The Weihenstephan brewery is reputedly the oldest existing brewery in the world.
In 2020, Germany ranked third in Europe in terms of per-capita beer consumption. A very popular souvenir from Germany is the vessel entrusted with the beloved brew, the beer stein. Steins are a traditional beer mug, many of which have hinged pewter lids with a thumb-lever and are often artfully decorated with intricate designs.
Beer boot glass
While we are on the subject of alcoholic drinks and beer vessels… on first glance the boot shaped beer glass may seem like a modern day novelty but archaeologists have found boot shaped drinkware from as far back as the Bronze Age. Beer boot glasses come in a variety of designs and materials like porcelain, glass and metal and make a fun and unique gift.
I grew up in Germany but have never been a big fan of the typical nutcracker soldier but they come in many other designs. Nutcrackers have been around almost since the beginning of time. The “soldier” made its appearance around 1800. You’ll have no trouble finding nutcrackers in gift shops but if you are looking for a quality handcrafted nutcracker that’s made in Germany see the “Quality wooden gifts, handcrafted in Germany” section below for a couple of the premier crafters of nutcrackers. Visit their website to find a gift shop near you!
Smokers (Räuchermänner, literally “Smoking Men.”)
The first German incense smokers were developed around 1850 in Heidelberg. These decorative smokers burn cone shaped incense. I’m kind of obsessed! I saw this Santa and sleigh at the original Käthe Wohlfahrt store in Rothenburg and had to have it!
I’m currently on the hunt for the perfect “year round” smoker. Germany Christmas markets, here I come! Again, see the “Quality wooden gifts, handcrafted in Germany” section below to discover some of the famous German companies that craft smokers in Germany.
Trachten are the TRADITIONAL garments of German-speaking areas of the Alps. I was once at a German OktoberFest in Omaha Nebraska where organizers and event attendees were wearing traditional Trach. I overheard a young man saying that he had German grandparents and they never dressed that way. I took the opportunity to explain to him that the outfits are indeed authentic German wear but German’s no longer dress that way in their everyday life, the same way we no longer wear pioneer type clothing.
Today Trachten is generally only worn for special occasions like Oktoberfest, and at cultural events as a display of German culture and pride.
For the Frauen (ladies!): A dirndl is a traditional dress. This flattering costume consists of a close-fitting bodice featuring a low neckline, a blouse worn under the bodice, a wide high-waisted skirt, and an apron. Get a custom-made dress for less with a little DIY upgrade!
For the Herren (gents!): Lederhosen are short leather pants / leather breeches. Normally you’ll pair Lederhosen with a button up shirt (checkered is popular) and traditional leather suspenders.
Where to find Trachten: Trachten are especially popular in Southern Bavaria, so if you plan to be in the area this is a good time to shop for some, especially if you plan to be near a large town. A quick Google search will likely return some German stores that carry Trachten. You are now officially ready for Oktoberfest!
Don’t forget the hat! Plan to pick up a traditional alpine hat, they look good on everyone! Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo!
German walking canes and sticks
Germans do a lot of walking and it seems like everything worthwhile in Germany is straight up hill! Therefore, Germans love their walking sticks! You’ll see them everywhere, from walking trails to uphill castle treks. Today “hiking poles” are very common but hand crafted German walking sticks make a great souvenir! Pick up a fancy walking stick or cane!
(If you plan to get one and don’t think it will fit in your luggage you may want to do a little research before you go to be sure it is something you are allowed to bring on the plane.)
These charming porcelain figurines are based on the 1930’s drawings of Maria Innocentia Hummel. The popularity of Hummel figurines grew during World War II as American soldiers stationed in West Germany began sending the figurines home as gifts. You can, of course, purchase these popular figurines in the United States and other parts of the world, but one purchased in Germany is a little more special!
Just like everything made in Germany, Birkenstock shoes are crafted with care and are of the highest craftmanship. Pick up a pair of these popular sandals on your next trip to Deutschland! You can easily find Birkenstocks in other countries, but wouldn’t you love to say you got yours in Germany?
All things Christmas: What to buy in Germany
The adorable storybook medieval towns in Germany are the perfect backdrop for a winter wonderland complete with snow dusted Christmas trees and cobbled lanes.
Christmas Market season in Germany is a magical time. Festive wooden huts, draped in greenery and warm sparkling Christmas lights, are filled with handcrafted Christmas ornaments and German Christmas gifts. Delightful smells of roasted nuts, gingerbread, and German sausage waft their way throughout the markets.
Here are some of the best Christmas related souvenir and gift ideas:
Glühwein / Mulled wine mix
Glühwein or Mulled wine is red wine spiced with aromatic spices like cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and allspice. It’s a popular feature at the German Christmas Markets. This hot drink is a great way to warm up on a chilly winter day. Pick up a bottle or a spice mix and make your own when you get home! The burgundy colored concoction is particularly pretty served in clear tumbler type wine glasses. For a festive look add some orange slices, fresh cranberries, and cinnamon sticks.
Mugs: Glühwein is often served in a decorative mug. Bring one home and use it as a coffee mug!
German Christmas Stars
These gorgeous decorations are the “stars” of the German Christmas markets! They are generally made of heavy paper and fold up so you can transport them home. Many are illuminated with a small bulb. Since German plugs are different you may want to buy your own cord.
Schwibbögen (candle arch)
Intricate and delicate wooden candle-holders called Schwibbögen depict ornate and magical worlds. These quality hand crafted items, that originated in Saxony Germany, are not cheap but if cared for can become a cherished heirloom family members can enjoy for generations. Today candle arches are magnificently lit with LED lighting. Here again you may want to purchase your own plug.
(don’t forget to look for the Made in Germany label) You may consider having it shipped home but your biggest problem is going to be choosing one, they are all gorgeous!
Weihnachtspyramide (Christmas Pyramids)
It is suggested that these beautiful wooden Christmas pyramids are a predecessor of the Christmas tree and Christmas pyramids were originally hung from the ceiling of German families’ houses. It’s origins date back to the Middle Ages but these ornately decorated pyramids with moving features are very popular in Germany still today. (source: Wikipedia)
Can’t make the German Christmas Markets?
No problem! Pick up a Christmas Ornament at one of the World Famous Käthe Wohlfahrt stores in Germany, where it’s Christmas time all year round! Käthe Wohlfahrt’s has thousands of traditional Christmas decorations. Be sure to ask about the “made in Germany” section.
Käthe Wohlfahrt locations:
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber (the original store, opened in 1977)
Quality wooden gifts, handcrafted in Germany
These are some of the quality makers of wooden products like nutcrackers and smokers, made in Germany:
Is a world-famous retailer of quality German made nutcrackers, smokers, ornaments, wooden angels and more. Otto Ulbricht founded the company in 1928, Christian took over the business in 1968 and to this day continues to produce unique handmade gifts. Locate one of the dozens of retailers in Germany.
Steinbach has been crafting Nutcrackers, smokers, and ornaments for over 200 years. All products from the world famous company are handmade in Germany. Locate a retailer now.
food related and edible German souvenirs and gifts
German food is in my opinion the BEST food and for that reason in recent years you can now find many German food products in the United States. Most of us can pick up gummy bears (and dozens of other gummy options.) The black liquorice flavored Jägermeister is readily available at any liquor store. The difference is these products are much less expensive in Germany!
Is this your first time in Germany and you’re wondering what to eat? See this article on the best German food!)
Swiss chocolate has a reputation for being some of the best in the world. This may be an unpopular statement BUT I have had Swiss Chocolate (purchased IN Switzerland) and I have had German chocolate. I am here to tell you, German chocolate is far superior in my opinion. There, I said it! Creamy Ritter Sport is my favorite! Ritter Sport chocolate is so good that it has become a popular import to the US and is fairly easy to find HOWEVER…it is comparatively quite CHEAP in Germany! Stop in at a grocery store and toss a few in your bag to bring home!
Condiments travel well since they don’t require refrigeration. Duck into a German grocery store or local market. It’s the best place to get some inexpensive edible souvenirs and gifts to buy in Germany.
- Curry ketchup! if you’ve tried Currywurst or Pommes (fries) with curry ketchup you are going to want to bring some home!
- Mayo: did you try those Pommes with curry AND mayo? It’s a delicious combination! Why not grab a squeeze bottle of this creamy concoction?
- German Mustard: There are many delicious varieties of German mustard. My personal favorite is Lowensenf Bavarian Style Sweet Mustard. It’s great on all types of sausages, and just about anything for that matter!
- Red Currant Jam (Rote Johannisbeer) My favorite jam flavor of all time, red currant, is very popular in Germany. This sweet and slightly tart jam is perfect on Brötchen with a big pat of butter!
Spätzle or Spaetzle Maker
Consider picking up one of the most popular German kitchen utensils, the Spätzle Maker. Why? because Spätzle, a tiny egg dumpling, is delicious! Bring a Spaetzle Maker home and you can have this simple but delicious dish any time you want!
With the right tool, Spätzle is super simple and easy to make at home. Below is a photo of several different types of Spaetzle makers. I had the one on the bottom right and I do not recommend it. I was pressing to get the dough to go through the holes and my hand ended up in the boiling water! Pick up one at: shopping malls / major department stores.
Egg Cups (Eierbecher)
Soft boiled eggs are a popular traditional German breakfast item. Egg cups are used to hold the egg upright. They come in glass, metal, porcelain and ceramic. From functional to fancy!
East Frisian tea
East Frisia or East Friesland is a historic region in the northwest of Lower Saxony, Germany. The North sea coast region is cold, wet and dreary. Locals like to warm up with a cup of hot tea! East Frisian tea is a very dark, very strong tea blend that is served with cream and lumps of crystalized rock sugar. Pick up some tea bags and make some at home for a special treat.
make a visit to the candy store
As a kid living in Germany we didn’t have ice cream trucks making rounds in our neighborhood. Instead, we had a beer truck, a brotchen lady, and a candy car!
Candy and confections are another great edible gift or souvenir. A few decidedly German treats (other than gummy bears)
- Black Liquorice: It wasn’t invented in Germany but alas, Germans like their black liquorice! Not only will you find this flavor profile in liquor stores (Jägermeister) but it’s a common item in candy stores too!
- Hazelnut is also a widely popular flavor in Germany. Some of my favorites are Hanuta (crispy wafers with a chocolate hazelnut center, and Knoppers (similar but with the addition of a cream layer)
- Marzipan is a very popular confection in Germany. I particularly love the (sometimes naughty) pigs.
- King Ludwig II Balls (Kugeln) Pistachio marzipan and nougat coated in chocolate.
- Liquor laced chocolates. German’s like to fill chocolates with various flavors of liquor. I’ll never forget the look on my mom’s face when she bit into one, assuming it was just candy!
German gifts and souvenirs for children
Wondering what to buy in Germany for the young person on your list? Here are a few of the best German souvenirs for kids:
Wooden toys have a great nostalgic feel to them and they can last for generations. I brought this collection of toys made in Austria and the Czech Republic home from our last trip.
Steiff Teddy Bears
Stieff is the Germany company that was one of the original inventors of the Teddy Bear! If you’re looking for “cute things to buy in Germany” then look no further! Steiff crafts high quality teddy bears and other cute stuffed animals. You’ll have no problem finding Steiff toys in Germany. Simply step into any toy store.
Playmobil toys are one of the most popular brands of toys in Germany. They are manufactured in Germany and are an iconic fixture in German toy stores. A wide range of products and accessories, buildings and vehicles, as well as many sorts of animals, are also part of the expansive Playmobil line of toys.
Tracthen for children and babies
Those outfits are OH SO CUTE on babies and children. Plan to pick up some for the little one in your life!
What to buy in Germany cheap
Magnets are my go to souvenir. I like them because I can put them on the fridge and see them every day (mine go on the SIDE of the fridge, I like to keep the front clean and uncluttered) . They are inexpensive, lightweight, and take up next to no room in my luggage! Bonus, my grandkids enjoy playing with them!
Little traffic light man (Ampelmännchen)
The Ampelmännchen is a beloved symbol in former East Germany, After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Ampelmännchen acquired cult status and became a popular souvenir item in the tourism business. If you are visiting Berlin you’ll find the Little Traffic Light Man in almost any of the souvenir shops located on a tourist shopping street.
Looking to save money? you may be interested in my Ultimate Guide to traveling to Germany on a budget!
Do you like to save money? You may be interested in this “cheapest cities in Europe” article!
Wanting to learn a little bit of the German language? Children’s books written in German are a great way to work on your German language skills! I have a great affection for children’s book illustrations so I like to collect children’s books. I brought a few home from Germany. Not only do they have lovely artwork but also serve as a learning tool! win/win! (I recommend small quantities of books as souvenirs, they can get heavy!)
Coins and old currency
Coins and old currency are a great German Souvenir for the coin collector in your life. German currency has been around since medieval times. Popular German currency for collectors:
- The Reichsmark: was the currency of Germany from 1924 until 20 June 1948
- The Deutsche Mark: after Germany split into east and west in 1948 the Deutsche Mark became the official currency of West Germany until the Euro was adopted in 1990.
- The East German Mark: during this same period of time the official currency of East Germany was the East German Mark.
Good places to shop for collectible coins and paper bills are antique stores and pawn shops.
Bring home artwork and every day you’ll be treated to a view of the place your heart longs to be! Check the local shops and pick out some artwork. The last time I was in the German city of Rothenburg, a special place close to my heart, I was captivated by a quaint painting of the medieval village. I didn’t get the painting and still regret it. I am headed back to Rothenburg this year for the Christmas markets, I will be bringing a painting home with me! (or having it shipped) I’ve got the perfect place for it!
Interesting fact: A painting of Rothenburg ob der Tauber saved this treasured little town from complete destruction in WWII, something I learned on the Night Watchman’s tour!
Bring home a piece of the Berlin wall
A piece of the wall is a good gift or souvenir for World War II and German history buff’s. During Germany’s long history there was a time when the country was split into East and West Germany. During that time a wall separated the two countries.
In 1990 there was a reunification and the wall came down. The remnants of the wall are popular tourist attractions in Berlin, a popular destination among tourists to Germany. Pieces of the wall are one of the most popular items to bring home from Berlin and an inexpensive souvenir from Germany. The gift shop at the Wall Museum in Berlin is a great place to purchase various sizes of the wall to bring home.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas for the best souvenirs to bring home from Germany and hope I was able to answer “What do tourists buy in Germany” for you. Viel Glück ( good luck ) finding that perfect souvenir!
Shopping in Germany
Bring your own bag
European countries are, in general, very environmentally conscious so bring your own tote bags or shopping bags. If you forget to bring one along you will be offered a bag but don’t be surprised if they charge a small fee for the bag.
Hours of operation
Stores, small shops in particular, operate on limited hours in Germany. They often close for a couple of hours midday, and many are not open on Sunday. If you plan to do any shopping, you’ll want to do a little research on when the shops in the area will be open. Otherwise, you may miss out!
How to get it all home!
Shipping is easy but EXPENSIVE. Here are two of my best travel guide travel tips for getting souvenirs and gifts home. Add them to your packing list!
Bring a box
I like to bring an empty tin in case I buy something fragile that needs a little extra protection. A tin with a lid weighs next to nothing and doesn’t take up any extra room in your luggage if you stuff something like socks in it. The one I have I actually purchased in Germany because I needed to get some stuff home in one piece. Alternatively you could bring a plastic box with a lid.
packable duffel, a good way to get it all home!
This is a handy tip if you only travel with checked luggage and don’t bring a carry on (I never travel with carry on luggage). I bring a packable duffel with me when I travel. IF I buy more stuff than I can fit in my luggage I bring out the duffel and stuff it with clothes, thereby freeing up space in my suitcase for my purchases. I then use the duffel as my free carry on.
protect your investment
Traveling to Germany? There’s no better way to protect your investment than with “cancel for any reason” trip insurance. Did you know that pandemics, as well as a LONG list of other situations aren’t covered by most trip insurance policies (including those airlines offer when purchasing tickets)? MOST of these scenarios are covered when you purchase a “cancel for any reason” policy! Shop for one at Travel Insurance.com! It’s where I shop for travel insurance. BUT don’t delay, most CFAR policies need to be purchased within 14-21 days, depending on the policy. (regular policies can be purchased often up to the day of travel) Find more money saving resources on my “Travel Resources” page!
Want to hear more about my travels around Germany and the rest of our amazing planet? You may be interested in my Germany page and be sure to submit your email address to my travel blog subscriber sign up at the end of the page to be the first to know when a new blog publishes!