- Amber (Gdansk): What is it about this ossified pine-tar resin that's so mesmerizing? Gdansk grew wealthy over the centuries on the amber trade, and the demand today is as strong as ever. Gdansk, on the Baltic (the source of amber), is the traditional home of the stuff, but you'll find amber at shops all around the country. Just be careful to buy the genuine article -- fakes abound.
- Salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine (Kraków): This might be the most famous salt mine in the world. For years, salt was to Kraków as amber was to Gdansk: the goose that laid golden eggs, and kept laying and laying. Salt is not nearly so important for Kraków these days, but the resplendent Wieliczka Salt Mine is a reminder of how valuable a commodity salt once was.
- Bison Grass from Biaowieza (Biaowieza National Park): This is an especially long, fragrant grass that grows near the Biaowieza National Forest. Despite the name, the bison don't actually graze on it. You'll find a blade of bison grass in every bottle of Zubrówka Vodka, which might be the most practical way to buy (or consume) it. You can even make your own "bison grass" vodka by referring to the instructions on the package the grass is sold in.
- Household Items from the Communist Era (Warsaw and Poznan): Poles tend to shun the retro tea services, ashtrays, and glassware of the Soviet period; however, that doesn't mean they don't have real kitsch value. Skip the upscale antique shops and try looking at flea markets such as Koo in Warsaw and the Antique Market at Stara Rzeznia in Poznan.
- Gingerbread (Torun): Torun is the country's gingerbread capital, and Torun gingerbread is sold all around the country. The gingerbread comes in all shapes and sizes, and usually is sold well wrapped for the long trip home.
- Smoked Sheep's Cheese (Giant Mountains/Zakopane): The closer you get to the mountains, the more likely you are to see mountain people lined up along the road to sell their little rounds of smoked sheep's cheese called oscypek. It's considered a delicacy, and the recipe goes back some 500 years. Buy several different types to see which ones you like best. The salty cheese goes especially well with beer.
- Vodka: Poland is known for the high quality of its vodka. Among the most popular brands, Belvedere and Chopin are considered the best. In addition, you'll find a range of unusual vodkas, including Zubrówka, slightly greenish due to a long blade of bison grass in every bottle, and Miodówka, honey-flavored and easy to drink in large quantities.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.