Bosnia and Herzegovina Travel Guide
Charming medieval cities, stunning unspoiled sceneries and the locals’ overwhelming hospitality contribute to a steadily growing number of visitors to this Balkan country. Formerly part of Yugoslavia, it borders Croatia to the north, west and southwest; Serbia to the east; Montenegro to the southeast, and forms a small coastline by the Adriatic Sea. Before the 1990s war, Turks, Serbs, Muslims, Croats and Jews lived here together in peace for many hundred years which doesn’t mean that they are averse to having a glass of plum schnapps together every now and then – except for the Muslims, of course.
National dishes are the omnipresent Balkan kebab and different variations of pita. Bosnian food is extremely rich in flavor and mostly organically grown. Restaurants mainly offer Mediterranean, Viennese, Italian and local cuisine. Beer is delicious and cheap, and so are the dry white wines and aromatic reds of Herzegovina, while the very strong homemade spirits are consumed at all times. Turkish coffee is a further common beverage. When invited to a Bosnian home for a coffee, remember never to light up before having offered everyone else a cigarette as well – this is the unwritten rule, even if you are a non-smoker.
When to Go
Summers are hot and winters are generally quite cold, but along the coast, they are rainy and mild. The higher you get, the shorter and cooler the summers are and the longer and harsher the winters become.
Getting There & Away
Commercial airport service is restricted to Sarajevo and Mostar. The main carriers to Sarajevo are Adria Airlines, British Airways, Alitalia and Croatia Airlines; the latter flies also to Mostar (via Zagreb). The railway goes from Sarajevo via Mostar to Croatia’s coast and from Sarajevo to Budapest. Daily buses depart to many Central and Eastern European destinations.
Health & Safety
Approximately 600,000 unexploded landmines, mainly in remote regions in the countryside and mountains, still represent a sincere danger. It might not be too beneficial for your life-expectancy to leave paved areas and streets or enter the numerous vacant houses, which are booby-trapped with mines. Also, be alert of pickpockets in Sarajevo’s touristy areas. And if you expect German autobahn-like road conditions, you are definitely in the wrong place. Furthermore, your medical insurance should include evacuation by air ambulance.
Two days in the capital, Sarajevo
Two days in Mostar
One day at Medjugorje
Two days at the coastal resort of Neum
Two days at Jajce
Two days at Morića Han
Sarajevo: placed between high mountains, the nation’s lively capital is home to 400,000 people. The old town Bascarsija is one of the most fascinating market centers in the area. The Turkish quarter seems far away from Europe, reminding visitors more of the Middle East, especially when the call-to-prayer begins. Sarajevo also hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1984 and has some outstanding sporting facilities.
Jajce: known for its colossal waterfall in the center, this is a medieval city in a mountainous countryside on the highway to Zagreb, Croatia.
Morića Han: when ancient Sarajevo used to be a stopover between the East and West, this was a tavern, which is still filled with historic ambience. Here weary travelers can enjoy a few cups of the region’s thick coffee or take a comatose nap on one of the adjacent benches after a glass of sljivovica.
Mostar’s Old Bridge: rebuilt using 16th century techniques, this bridge is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Day tourists come here from Croatia to watch young men diving 70 feet into the Neretva River; in July, professionals come together for a yearly contest. Should you be some kind of dare-devil, you might join them and get a diploma from the local diving club for ‘only’ 25€.
Medjugorje: often compared with Fatima and Lourdes, this location has become one of the major prayer centers on earth, with 20 million pilgrims having visited in the last 20 years.
Neum: located on the Adriatic coast, this touristy town is the sole Bosnian seaside resort.
Visoko: neighbors the ‘Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun’, the first detected pyramid in Europe.
Cultural sightseeing: well-preserved Franciscan monasteries, and mosques and bridges built by the Ottomans are witnesses of the Middle Ages.
Exploring nature: you might go hiking through the highlands, hunting, world-class fly fishing, whitewater rafting and kayaking, caving or bathing in spectacular waterfalls or observe the exciting wildlife in the forests.
Skiing: from January to March, Olympic skiing on the Bjelasnica, Igman and Jahorina mountains is just the thing.
Beach life: Neum, with the emerald Adriatic Sea and a sunny and warm weather year-round, offers a special holiday for you and your family.
Spas and health treatment: numerous thermal sources with mineral and radioactive though healthy water can be found in Ilidza (near Sarajevo), Tuzla, Olovo, Fojnica and Kiseljak.