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Shopping in Poland in General

I am planning on visiting Warsaw and Krakow soon. One of my missions in my European trips is to shop, shop, and shop. I don't usually buy clothing as Euro sized clothing seems too tight for me. I guess our Euro cousins are slimmer than us. However, I would like to buy local food, home decor items, cookware, comfortable shoes, and pet supplies. One of the most important criteria is that they must be quality made in Europe. I don't want to buy cheap junk made in third world countries.

For buying items of my interest, is Poland a good destination? I will also stop in Germany prior to Poland, should I stock up in Germany instead of Poland? I know more about German brands (e.g., Birkenstocks, Emsa kitchenware, Fissler cookware...etc.).

By the way, I discovered an excellent brand of cookware from Austria: RIESS. http://www.riess.at/ These are enamel pots and pans: no teflon! Interestingly, they are slightly cheaper in Germany than in Austria, at least from online vendors.

Posted by
6138 posts

Check out this related thread:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/poland/souvenirs-gifts-mementos-in-poland-krakow

I'm from Poland myself - I believe the following items are Poland's "niche":
- Handicrafts/ home decor items (one major brand is called Cepelia)
- Amber jewelry and other items (you'll see more amber than you've ever wanted to see)
- Pottery (Boleslawiec brand is well known - here's what it looks like: http://www.polishpotteryhouse.com/)
- As far as food goes, I would only get vodka or other alcohol if anything (and I'm not sure I'd want to drag that back either). Polish food is just not that exportable - I can't think of anything except maybe certain kinds of chocolates and sweets or items you may find that you like to eat (I'm vegetarian so I'm totally biased).

Shoes and pet supplies - definitely not. Poland doesn't excel in any type of clothing (unless you want rural colorful folk dancing outfits), and definitely pet stuff is not a major market that distinguishes Poland from other places. Germany has more higher-end stuff but Poland is really good for much less expensive, more rustic type of gifts which are lovely in their own way. Poland is pretty much Germany's workshop for lower-end items due to lower labor costs. So, for example, you'll find that a lot of glass in places like IKEA are from Polish factories. Personally, I would focus on amber and handicrafts - the other stuff is just not worth carrying in luggage unless you're in love with it.

Posted by
4938 posts

My favorite food thing brought back was raspberry honey. Not exactly unique, but they do have a lot of varieties of honey products, including mead and honey flavored liquors (spirits). Definitely amber, and not just women's jewelry, but other things, from chess sets to goblets. You will enjoy the shops and market (rynek) in the old town of Krakow.

Posted by
255 posts

Thanks very much for your quick replies!

What about health and beauty items from drug stores? Are these cheaper than in Germany? Last year, I brought back shower gel and shampoos from Switzerland. They are very good and help with my skin/dandruff problems. I want to load up more this time.

Posted by
4938 posts

Barkinpark, I do like going into drugstores, grocery stores etc., in foreign places and look for local stuff. What I recall about shopping in Poland was that prices were good, but they're fully integrated into the EU and I saw much of the same brands as in the rest of Europe.

Posted by
6138 posts

What about health and beauty items from drug stores? Are these cheaper than in Germany?

Yes, they should be less pricey but reading the labels in Polish to know what the product is and what ingredients it contains is a bit of an obstacle (and probably most of the older ladies working there may not speak enough English to help you). Can you use an online translator tool? Everything is so globalized now that you'll see tons of German and international brands that are no different from other countries (Nivea, L'Oreal, L'Occitane, etc). Since the end of communism decades ago, Western stuff has flooded the market. But you will see Polish products as well (just have someone help with translation or use an online tool)...my Mom has a lot of beauty products from Poland (mostly cremes and shampoos and such) and likes them.

I do love getting local products so I understand. I have some olive creme and lotion from Turkey that I absolutely love and haven't found elsewhere.

Posted by
255 posts

Thanks again! I am into some German health+beauty brands that aren't yet in the mainstream US market. What I can think of are: Sebamed (sometimes found at exhibition stalls in Costco), Weleda (not in the US at all), Alpecin caffeine shampoos (not in the US at all), Schaebens (not in the US at all)...just to name a few.

Posted by
6138 posts

The once nice thing about trying other (non-US) products is that they don't contain certain ingredients/chemicals/additives that you'd find here because they're not allowed or not used as much. I love trying new products.

On an unrelated note, have you heard of "Fa" the German brand? I tried their deodorant and like it but, boy, is it expensive!

Posted by
11613 posts

Definitely Amber and any artisan-made jewelry. I went crazy buying jewelry in Poland.

Posted by
242 posts

If you need something LIGHTWEIGHT, consider trying to find dried mushrooms. I was given some to take back to America and was surprised they were okay with the TSA. Honey is great but is so heavy.

My treasures are the jewelry and the Polish pottery. We carried some back that were bubble wrapped and everything came out of the luggage just fine. I bought salt and pepper shakers for many people as they were inexpensive and lightweight and useful.

I think the prices in Poland are great for foods, local products and hotels.

Posted by
45 posts

I just returned from Poland. In Krakow at the market a friend suggested picking up the homemade ornate wooden boxes at the old market. They come in all sorts of styles, colours, and decor. I regret not bringing back a piece of the gorgeous painted pottery but I knew bag would be too heavy for the ride home.