Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country in southeastern Europe. It is often overshadowed by neighboring Croatia and its mesmerizing Adriatic coast, but those who actually visit Bosnia know how easy it is to fall in love with this picturesque country. With scenic landscapes, historic towns and a breathtaking capital, it’s hard not to love this charming European country. The best place to start is by checking out the things to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina and I bet, those are the ones that will make you fall in love with this wonderful country!
- 1 History of Bosnia & Herzegovina
- 2 Is it safe to travel to Bosnia?
- 3 How to reach Sarajevo?
- 4 Where to stay in Sarajevo?
- 5 Things to do in Bosnia and Herzegovinia
History of Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina attained its own independence in the 20th century, after years of conflict. The first traces of its history goes back to the Roman age. Once the Roman Empire collapsed, the country survived as the Kingdom of Bosnia until the 1460s. This is when the Ottoman Turks took over. They ruled for quite some time and expanded the small kingdom to include the present-day Herzegovina. It was in the 1800s, that the empire came under the Austria-Hungary.
Unfortunately, under this rule, Bosnians suffered a lot. It did not end even after World War II when it came under Yugoslavia. The Bosnians fought for their own independence which finally, came to be in 1992. Today, the country has its capital at Sarajevo and the three sections of their society – the Bosnians, Serbians, and Croatians – have found its happiness. With their troubles just subsiding, there are not many tourists to Sarajevo, which makes it even more attractive as a traveler. The uncrowded Bosnia tourist attractions are bound to take your breath away with its simple charm and elegance. Check them out.
Is it safe to travel to Bosnia?
Bosnia and Herzegovina have been plagued with terrorist activities in the past. However, it is deemed to be as safe as most European countries today. You might see several travel advisories warning you of landmines in the unexplored and quieter parts of Bosnia. This is where you need to heed to the safety signs and keep a guide with you as a precaution. As long as you stick to the populated parts of the country, especially Sarajevo, you should be good. As an additional safeguard, refer to your country’s travel advisory before heading to Sarajevo.
How to reach Sarajevo?
- The Sarajevo International airport is well connected to the rest of the world, especially the various cities of Europe. It is just 12 km from the city center.
- Roads are a great way to get to Sarajevo. There are plenty of buses from neighboring European countries like Croatia, Austria, and Hungary. Alternately, you can even drive down by renting a car to get you to Sarajevo.
- You can book yourself into one of the many trains to Sarajevo. Check out this website to get details on the various trains running to Sarajevo. The same list will also, give you train options for the other places to see in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Where to stay in Sarajevo?
While you can stay in the other cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, keep Sarajevo as your base. The country being a small one, you will most likely end up spending your maximum time in its capital. You can even do a lot of day trips from Sarajevo to the towns mentioned on my list of places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It is best to opt for hotels in Sarajevo that are close to the key attractions of the city. Clearly, there are two major hubs that you can pick from.
Sarajevo Old Town – Baščaršija
From popular Bosnian cafes to the main Sarajevo Sightseeing places, you will find everything within walking distance if you choose to stay in Baščaršija. You will be amazed as to how these 10 popular Sarajevo Old Town hotels fit into your budget while offering you a comfortable stay. The proximity to the tram stations also, makes it easy for you to explore the other important tourist attractions of Sarajevo. If you wish to check the rates and availability of these hotels, consider clicking through this link. The same link will allow you to book accommodation in Sarajevo.
Marijin Dvor or the Avaz Twist Tower area
This is a slightly more modern area of Sarajevo. The Avaz Twist Tower area is not too far from the old town and if you so, wish you can actually walk it down. The locality also, has a popular mall of Sarajevo called BBI Center. Check the rates and book one of the many accommodations in this area by using this booking link.
Things to do in Bosnia and Herzegovinia
1. Explore Sarajevo city
The capital of the country should definitely be at the top of your itinerary. Sarajevo is a city that’s very easy to fall in love with, and very hard to leave. One of my favorite tales about the city’s charm is that of an Italian man who visited Sarajevo for the first time and loved it so much that he decided to move there and open up a restaurant.
The city lies in a valley between five major mountains and many forested hills, all of which offer spectacular views of the city’s panorama. In fact, you can just head to one of the Sarajevo cafes that’s a little outside the city center, and which serves great coffee with a side of a scenic view.
Baščaršija is Sarajevo’s Old Town, and it truly is the heart of the city. The cobblestone alleys are lined with ćevabdžinicas (fast-food restaurants that serve ćevapi), souvenir shops, hookah bars and jewelers. Definitely visit one of the traditional cafes and try a cup of authentic Bosnian coffee – but only if you’re there in the early afternoon, as it is really strong. The area goes back to the days of the Ottoman Turks and you will find plenty of souvenir shops with relics of the past.
It is impossible to miss the wooden fountain of the Turks in this old town. Along with it, a visit to the Latin Bridge is merited to see the spot where the famous Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. Add the City Hall to this list of things to see in Sarajevo, especially for its rare collection of books.
There are plenty of interesting Sarajevo tours available on GetyourGuide. In case you are looking for a Walking tour, you should consider this one that covers the history from Ottoman Turks period to the civil siege of Sarajevo. You might even want to consider a special Under Siege War Tour to cover the cemetery, Tunnel of Hope and the White and Yellow Fortresses.
With the fusion of cultures in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the city of Sarajevo is almost akin to Jerusalem with its own collection of churches, mosques and synagogues. If you take one of the many walking tours of Sarajevo, they will include some interesting sights like the Gazi Husrev mosque, the Ashkenazi Synagogue, and the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. Don’t miss the second largest Jewish Cemetery of Europe.
Head out to the War Childhood Museum that rings with the tales from the struggle for independence. It can be quite a melancholic journey as you see the memories of the people who have survived this tough siege. These are just some of the places to visit in Sarajevo and enough for you to realize that you need to plan a lot of time here.
2. Eat In A Restaurant In Jablanica
You can’t go to Bosnia and Herzegovina and not try the staple dishes. Food in Bosnia is an important part of the tradition of the country’s people – so much so that they even have a word for a person that really loves to eat (poguzija). However, I doubt the vegetarians will have a fun time here, as meat is the most important ingredient of every single traditional dish.
I recommend heading to Jablanica, a small town and municipality in the south of the country. Jablanica is a popular rest-stop for people who are traveling through the country, and for Bosnians and Herzegovinians who are returning home from a summer vacation in Croatia.
If you are considering a vacation in Split, you must try out this list of things to do. The post not only tells you the best places to visit in Split but also, gives you interesting information and helpful tips about Split.
When I was driving through here, I noticed an abundance of restaurants on either side of the road. They all offer a roasted lamb, and it’s seriously difficult to say which one is the best. I personally loved Kovačević, not just for the butter-soft meat that melts in your mouth, but also for the scenic views of the Neretva river below.
3. Go Hiking
Bosnia and Herzegovina is heaven on Earth for hikers, trekkers and mountain climbers. With many tall peaks and rocky trails, the only issue is deciding where to go. And if you have limited time in the country, you really need to go somewhere spectacular – which is why I recommend heading to Visočica, a mountain range in the southeast of the country. It’s less than three hours away from Sarajevo and less than an hour away from Mostar – the two most popular cities in the country.
There are many different trails to explore here, but I really enjoyed the one that takes you to the Vito peak. The hike begins in Tušila, and it takes two hours to reach the peak. If the weather is nice and there is no snow on the ground, this is considered an easy, beginner-friendly hike. But if you’re doing it during the winter, you will need some more technical equipment, including crampons and an ice ax. So, give it a miss unless you know what you are doing!
4. Visit Jajce – a Bosnia & Herzegovina attraction
Jajce is a hidden gem in Central Bosnia. It is often overlooked by visitors because of the weak economy and lack of tourist hotspots. But I found that this town is definitely a place you should check out. Especially if you want to enjoy untouched nature and some breathtaking views.
Jajce is often dubbed the ‘royal town’ because it served as the capital during the Bosnian Kingdom, in the 14th century. You can still see the remains of the city’s citadel, and enjoy some absolutely wonderful views from the top.
In addition to that, this town is also known for the Pliva waterfalls, which are an exquisite sight. I headed to the city park to see the waterfalls and all the watermills in the area. This was obviously a very popular spot for locals who want to escape the summer heat and go for a swim in the lake. There’s a very tall platform from which you can jump into the lake, which is guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush. I personally did not do it as it was a little cold, but feel free to try it yourself!
5. Hit The Mountains
To my surprise, I found that there are lots of mountains in the country, and not all of them are great for just hiking. In fact, the mountains that surround Sarajevo are extremely popular for winter sports. A local told me that they attract skiers and snowboarders from the entire region and wider. And it’s also fine if you’re not into any sports. Unlike the rocky peaks of Visočica, the mountains near Sarajevo are great for many different varieties of fun. You can just walk around and enjoy nature, have a picnic, or go for lunch in one of the many restaurants.
Bjelašnica is a great spot during the warmer months, especially if you’re traveling with children. There’s a vast plain just minutes away from all the hotels and cafes, where you can play football, tennis, baseball or pretty much anything you feel like.
You should also try to get to Trebević. It is famous for the abandoned bobsleigh track and the Sunnyland adventure park. There’s a cable car in Sarajevo that will take you to the mountain in about 7 minutes, and the ride is amazing, with panoramic views of the city below.
6. Go On A Road Trip
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country, with many beautiful towns and mesmerizing landscapes. Rent a car and go visit all the historic towns and monuments – Konjic, Mostar, Bihać, Banja Luka, Travnik etc. You could explore more than half the country in just a week!
In case you are looking for a private tour of Mostar, Konjic and Blagaj, you should consider booking this one online. This day trip from Sarajevo covers the landmark bridge of Mostar, gives you a taste of the traditional Wood carving work at Konjic and the authentic Bosnian flavors of Blagaj.
Our favorite road trip begins in Sarajevo and takes you to Buško Blato, an accumulation lake near the southern border with Croatia. You go from Sarajevo towards Nova Bila, Bugojno, Kupres, Tomislavgrad and then the lake. This road trip is fairly easy to do – most of the road goes through open plains, and there’s only one tricky part where you have to be careful.
This is a great way to explore the smaller towns of the country, where there’s not much else to do other than walk around and admire the historic monuments. And you also get to enjoy nature, with unbelievable views of the mountains, lakes, rivers and open plains. Don’t hesitate to park on the side of the road and admire the majestic untamed horses and picturesque landscapes.
I am pretty sure that you are now convinced to plan your next holiday to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Just pin this up and get ready for a fantastic vacation.
This Guest Post and the Photographs have been contributed by Mike. Mike is addicted to both adventure and travel, so he decided to combine the two to form TheAdventourist. There he shares his journey from one adrenaline rush to another, always exploring new places as he goes. You can find him sharing his travels on Facebook.
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