What are Souvenirs and why do we buy them?

If the word ‘souvenir’ brings to mind one of those small novelty gifts you receive when someone in the family, or one of your friends, gets back of their holidays then quite rightly so. However souvenirs are not always just miniature donkeys wearing sombreros from Spain or T shirts emblazoned with the slogan 'Went to London and all I got was this lousy t-shirt'...

What Are Souvenirs?

Although usually connected with holiday gift shop merchandise, the word ‘souvenir’ is actually a French word meaning remembrance or memory. Souvenirs are also referred to as keepsakes or mementos and can be any item that somebody keeps for the memories it brings back.

Why Do We Buy Souvenirs?

Many people like to take a little something home with them as a reminder of their travels, something to show for where they have been, something they can use to look back and reminisce about the fantastic experience they had during their holiday. Not to mention, displaying such a memento around the home can be a great conversation starter when you have guests. After all, buying souvenirs is part and parcel of the fun holiday experience.

Tourists also tend to take lots of gifts and novelties back home for friends, relatives and work colleagues. It’s a nice way to show you have been thinking of them while you have been away on your vacation.

There are some of us who just can’t resist walking into a gift shop and coming out with something. This can happen a lot especially if you are on holiday with children!

Nonetheless, souvenirs are not always linked with destinations though. Many people collect commemorative memorabilia of special events such as Royal Family weddings and merchandise to show support for their favourite popular football or basket ball teams, or even entertainment merchandise which features their favourite movies.

Souvenirs that are typical of a particular geographical location are often used a gifts at special events as well as wedding favours.

Buying Souvenirs Online

Nowadays lots of holiday makers are doing their souvenir shopping online, sometimes even prior to or after they travel from the comfort of their own homes. This is mainly due to the increase of online shopping and the availability of such items on the internet. There are many good reasons to do this and although many people prefer to pick up gifts during the actual trip, it is a great idea for those who don’t want to get to the airport lumbered with bags, because your order will be delivered to your door. Without traipsing through shop after shop, trying to find the right gift at the right price, and remembering everyone you have to buy for, ordering through the internet conveniently allows you to make the most of your time on holiday and sort the presents out when it suits you best.

Also once your trip has come to an end, if you have forgot to buy for someone, or in the unfortunate event that you may have lost or broken a souvenir that was very dear to you, you would be able to come across and purchase the same item on the internet in order to replace it.

Free Souvenirs

A souvenir does not have to be something that has been purchased from a store. During your travels, there are quite a few delightful little objects that can be acquired along the way, which can more often than not have some sort of sentimental value over products that you have bought from a gift shop. These types of things could be quite possibly insignificant to someone else, although having a great deal of importance to the owner, and mean a lot as a symbol of a past experience.

From travel size toiletries from the hotel you have stayed in (it’s always a nice idea to leave a tip) to stickers, badges and other treats for children that are frequently handed out in places such as theme parks. Or even cardboard coasters from various coffee shops, bars and restaurants where you have enjoyed your meal or evening out, there are numerous ideas for charming little keepsakes that can be picked up here and there. Natural items such as shells, pine cones, pressed leaves and flowers are also quaint ideas for personal keepsakes which look spectacular when displayed in glass vases and jars.

Souvenirs From Around the World

Different parts of the world have their own version of souvenirs and collecting unique items from around the world is a wonderful way to commemorate your adventures or your love for that particular country or place.

There are so many different types of souvenir ideas to choose from. From the classics such as a Statue of Liberty replica from New York, an Eiffel Tower model from Paris, Russian Matryoshka dolls, miniature Dutch Clogs or a Leaning Tower of Pisa figurines from Italy to the more obscure, unique gift ideas. An authentic item which has actually been made in the country you have travelled to is a superb idea, such as a decorative marble plate from India, a traditional wooden Kokeshi doll from Japan or even possum wool gloves from New Zealand for example.

Food that you can’t buy at home is another good souvenir idea, especially for foodies and people who have limited space to keep hold of decorative items or for those who are a bit difficult to buy for. Besides, who wouldn’t fancy a green tea flavoured Kit Kat from Japan?

London Souvenirs

London is a hugely popular shopping destination, pulling in thousands of tourists from around the world each year. There are so many shops offering multitudes of gift ideas, you can really end up spoilt for choice. To make things easier, we have put together a break-down of a few of the great gifts that you can take home from the city.

Classic London Souvenirs

Some of the best souvenirs you can buy in London include:

The Models


The red Routemaster bus is a well known symbol of London and loved by many. It is not surprising that Double Decker bus models are exceedingly popular souvenirs and collector’s items. A vibrant red die-cast replica of a London bus would make a fantastic addition to any model collection.


Any avid model collector will tell you that a replica Black cab is a must-have. The jet black London taxi which can be seen around the city is a striking icon of London and acknowledged internationally as a symbol of the British capital.

Big Ben

A visit to the capital is incomplete without casting your eyes over the iconic London skyline and hearing the chimes of Big Ben resonating throughout the city. Why not capture the magnificence of this distinguished London clock tower with a stunning replica Big Ben model, complete with a real working clock.

Fridge Magnets

Magnets are very good for keeping important notes to hand by sticking them to your fridge door. Not only will you keep track of those to-do lists, you can keep magnets featuring the places you liked the most during your visit to capital. Any collection of fridge magnets from around the world is incomplete without a magnet from London!


Keyrings are great to personalise your belongings when you are out an about. They are popular collector’s items and one of the most liked souvenirs. A no-nonsense gift idea as it is good for keeping your keys secure and serves as the perfect reminder of your stay in the great city of London.

English Tea

Tea is the quintessential gift from England. Give the gift of tea or get with the British tea drinking culture yourself with one of these fantastic decorative tea caddies filled with the finest blends of English tea.

London Souvenirs by Theme

You can buy matching souvenirs from London with different themes which include:

Keep Calm and Carry On

The famed Keep Calm motto, which adorns numerous souvenirs from mugs to iPhone covers, has taken its inspiration from motivational British wartime posters. Often worded in white on a vibrant red background, there are many variations of the text such as ‘Keep Calm and Drink Tea’ and ‘Keep Calm in London’.

I Love London

If you love London, then say it out loud with one of these fab mementos incorporating the trendy I ‘heart’ London slogan, which will be happily received by anyone who loves the English capital. This distinctive design usually includes a red love heart on a white or black background.

Union Jack

Items featuring the Union flag make for a very British gift and the dynamic red, white and blue design is immensely popular around the world. Union flags, bunting and Union Jack souvenirs are ideal for British themed parties, also clothing featuring the Union Jack can be worn show your support at special events or as a fashion statement.

Everything London

There is a vast range of unmistakably British souvenirs that feature colourful compilations of well-known London images. These are great as many of the famous places you make have visited during your stay in the capital have been captured on to one object and will bring back several fond memories whenever you see it.

7 Best London Souvenirs for Kids

When shopping for presents, usually the first people who come to mind are the little ones. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose what to buy for children, therefore we have put together a compilation of some of the most popular London souvenirs and gifts for children, so you can't go wrong.

1. School Kits

Make going back to school after a trip to London more fun with a school kit or pencil case featuring images of the places that your children have seen. They will enjoy sharing their holiday stories with the friends in school too.

2. Royal Guard Teddy Bear

Everyone adores a cute and cuddly teddy bear and these soft and fluffy bears dressed in their Royal Guardsman attire are no exception to the rule. These teddies are well liked by children of all ages and are superb for giving that London look as part of the children's room decor.

3. T Shirts

There is nothing like a T shirt to show you have been to London and as well as being light in weight to take home, they make practical gift ideas for children, especially if you are not planning on buying more toys or you have a lot of kids to buy for.

4. Mini Cooper Model Car

Lots of children love to play with toy cars and the Mini Cooper complete with a Union Jack roof is a classic gift from the UK. These models are so realistic as you can open and close the doors and due to the friction wheels, you can pull the vehicle back and then watch it go. We are sure plenty of adults will love these too!

5. Wristbands

Kids and teenagers love to collect wristband that promote the things they love and snap wristbands are particularly cool because of the way they wrap around and secure themselves when gently tapped against the wrist.

6. Post Box Money Box

This vivid red replica post box is a great idea as a piggy bank for children to keep their pocket money as you can post the coins through the letter box slot just like you would post your letters in a British pillar box.

7. Soft Toy Corgi Dog

It is a well known fact that the Queen of England adores her Pembroke Welsh Corgis and any dog lover, young or old, would most definitely welcome one of these brilliant toy Corgi dogs, complete with a Union Jack coat and lead.

5 Posh Gifts from London

If you are looking for that extra special gift from London for a loved one, something really fancy that you won't find in regular gift shops. We suggest anything from a collectable tin caddy of tea, biscuits or a lavish box of chocolates from Fortnum and Mason or perhaps a beautifully scented candle by Molten Brown. For that special someone in your life that loves their smellies, then luxury bath and body products by Crabtree and Evelyn are a must. Here is a break-down of five great ideas to get you started.

1. This Luxury Teddy Bear Snow Globe is a perfect memento of a trip to Harrods.

2. This Household Blend Tea in a Heritage Caddy from Fortnum and Mason would make a stunning addition to any kitchen.

3. This Ylang-Ylang Single Wick Candle by Molten Brown would be a welcomed gift to anyone who loves their indulgently scented candles.

4. An elegantly packaged Rosewater Bath & Body Duo by Crabtree and Evelyn, comprising of two skin-indulging luxuries and conveniently presented in a gift box with their striking spring design is a wonderful gift idea for her.

5. This 100ml bottle of Neapolitan Bergamot Eau de Cologne by Crabtree and Evelyn, with its classically Italian inspired citrus aromatic blend would make a fantastic gift from London for him.


  1. Johnny McCarron
    December 18, 2019, at 12:49 am REPLY

    Oh, I love how you mentioned that a souvenir can be something that you can just acquire on the way without spending money. Still, I think it's always fun to look for shirts in place to which you travel. That way, you can be reminded of a fun adventure every time you look in the mirror.

  1. Taylor Wright
    December 27, 2019, at 4:24 pm REPLY

    I'm glad you talked about how Mini Cooper models are great gifts for adults. Next month I'll be in London for a vacation and I need a good list of souvenirs to take back to my family. Thanks for the tips and I'll keep this in mind as I travel across the pond.

  1. David Noriss
    January 14, 2020, at 8:30 pm REPLY

    I like how you said that people can buy souvenirs to remember their travels by or as novelty gifts for friends and family. I feel like both are great ideas because the item that you buy gets sentimental value whether it's for yourself or for someone else. That item will be cherished and used to remember the vacation or the person who gave them the gift.

  1. Franca Whyte
    March 27, 2020, at 4:50 pm REPLY

    Very excellent piece you've shared here. Thumbs up for a great job.

  1. Jammy Hernandez
    May 7, 2021, at 8:41 am REPLY

    thumbs up for sharing this! Hoping to visit London soon for these cool stuff souvenirs

  1. Eve Mitchell
    May 19, 2021, at 6:58 pm REPLY

    My family is taking a trip to Texas. I have young kids that will want souvenirs and I like your tips. I especially like that you said that they can be a great part of the holiday season.

  1. Luke Smith
    January 20, 2022, at 12:36 am REPLY

    I totally agree with what you said that bringing back souvenirs to your friends and family is an indication that you're thinking of them while you're away. I'm planning a backpacking trip soon, because I really need a breather from my responsibilities at home. I appreciate my wife for allowing me to go alone, but I'll surely be thinking of her and the kids while I'm away. That being said, before I get home, I'll make sure get them wonderful souvenirs from a good shop in town.

  1. Jaden Smith
    June 9, 2022, at 2:41 pm REPLY

    can e talk about the political and economical state of the world right now

  1. Anna Collins
    July 27, 2022, at 1:13 am REPLY

    I agree with what you said about how buying souvenirs is part of the fun holiday experience since they will serve as a reminder of your travels and be used to look back on the experience. I'm going on a business trip to Texas next week, so I was thinking of getting souvenirs and for my friends once I'm done will all the work the company tasked me to do. I was planning to buy Bluebonnet gifts once I find a souvenir shop there.

  1. Taylor
    January 3, 2023, at 1:53 am REPLY

    I completely agree with you when you mentioned that giving your friends and family mementos from your trip shows that you are thinking of them while you are gone. This is precisely the reason I want to buy my pals mugs as presents on my return from my holiday trip. We all enjoy hot lattes, so I thought matching cups would be good.

  1. Elaina D'Agostino
    January 26, 2023, at 5:19 am REPLY

    I agree that it's best to buy a souvenir that is authentic and made in the country that a person has traveled to. My only mistake was that I missed the part about souvenir buying when I visited Japan. My sister is asking for something, so right now, I guess I'll just go shopping in a local Japanese store.