With their imaginations and travel memories fired by spiky minarets, grilled kebabs and the all-pervasive aroma of ground coffee, many travellers see in SARAJEVO a Slavic mini-İstanbul. The Ottoman notes in the air are most prominent in Baščaršija, the city’s delightful Old Town, which is home to umpteen mosques, bazaars, kebab restaurants and cafés. Further afield, burnt-out buildings evoke the catastrophic war of the mid-1990s, though the fun-loving, easy-going Sarajevans do a great job of painting over the scars of those tumultuous years – it’s hard to walk around without being offered coffee, and it’s hard to be invited for coffee without making friends.
Sarajevo gained importance during Roman times, and after a short slumber was reinvigorated as a trading hub during the Ottoman period, but sadly its recent history is far more pertinent. The international spotlight fell on the city as the host of the 1984 Winter Olympics, but less than a decade later the world’s eyes were retrained on it during a siege that lasted for almost four years – by some estimates, the longest in military history. Bosnian Serb forces made a near-unbroken ring around the city, shelling major buildings and shooting civilians dead on their way to work, while years of litter lay rotting in the streets. When the ceasefire was announced in 1996, around ten thousand people had been killed; on the ground you may notice some of the many Sarajevo Roses – flower-like scars of mortar shell explosions, poignantly filled in with red resin, though now badly fading.
The central district of Baščaršija is Sarajevo’s prettiest and contains most of its sights. Heading west from here, the city’s history unravels like a tapestry – Ottoman-era mosques slowly give way to the churches and elaborate buildings of the Austro-Hungarian period, before communist behemoths herald your arrival into “Sniper Alley” and its shells of war.
The powerful waft of grilled čevapi is a sure sign that you’re about to enter Baščaršija, whose pedestrianized streets are a delight to wander around, filled to the brim with cafés, snack stands and trinket stalls. It’s most logical to approach this district from the east, where you’ll find the once-glorious National Library. In 1992, a single day’s shelling destroyed over three million books, but reconstruction of this pink-and-yellow cream cake of faded beauty is now almost complete. A little way along is the central square, home to Sebilj, a small kiosk-like fountain, and Baščaršija Mosque. Far more beautiful is the Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque just down the way, which is worth a peep inside. Further west, you’ll come across the Bezistan, an Ottoman-era bazaar now sadly filled with all manner of fake goods unsuited to such an elegant structure.
Baščaršija is also home to the six buildings that make up the Museum of Sarajevo – by far the largest is located inside the old Bursa Bezistan bazaar, just off the main square, which features a whole host of historical relics, all beautifully presented.
THE LATIN BRIDGE AND 1878–1918 MUSEUM
Modest in appearance, the Latin Bridge has some weighty history behind it – this was the scene of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and, by extension, the start of World War I; a plaque on the wall indicates the exact spot where Ferdinand met his fate. Off its northern end, the small, one-room 1878–1918 Museum commemorates the incident, its most significant exhibits being the pistol used by the assassin, Gavrilo Princip, and the subsequent indictment against the perpetrators (there were seven in all). Across the Miljacka River you’ll see the fascinating Papagajka, a decaying yellow-and-green residential block apparently designed with hovercars in mind – this is how the Jetsons may have lived under Communism.
FERHADIJA AND AROUND
Along and just off Ferhadija, the main pedestrianized thoroughfare, are several points of interest. Dominating the skyline just west of the Bezistan bazaar is the twin-turreted Catholic cathedral dating from the 1880s, while, just behind here, along Mula Mustafa Baseskije, stands the central market place. It was here, on February 5, 1994, that 68 people were killed following a mortar attack in what became the war’s single most infamous incident; a blood red wall is inscribed with the names of all those who died. Adjacent to the cathedral, the superb Galerija 11/7/95 is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
Festivals in Sarajevo
Baščaršija Nights bascarsijskenoci.ba. Ballet, theatre, music and art exhibitions throughout July.
Jazz Fest jazzfest.ba. Excellent jazz festival, with some stellar names, usually held in November.
MESS mess.ba. International, English-centred festival of theatre in October.
Sarajevo Film Festival sff.ba. In August, this is now one of the most prestigious film festivals in Europe, and largely focused on the region’s own output.
Saravejo Winter sarajevskazima.ba. Artistic festival (music, film, visual and performing arts) each February.
Drinking and nightlife
Sarajevo has a fair few quirky underground bars, which come and go with alarming regularity, so ask around. Locals go out late – most bars only start filling up after midnight and kick on until 1 or 2am at least.
Occupying roughly four-fifths of the country, mountainous Bosnia contains some of the country’s most appealing towns, and helpfully all can be visited on a fairly straight route linking Sarajevo and Zagreb. First up, get a sense of medieval history in Travnik, Bosnia’s former capital, then head to Jajce, a tiny town with a waterfall crashing through its centre. Lastly there’s laidback Bihać, one of Europe’s best rafting hotspots.
Just a couple of hours out of Sarajevo, TRAVNIK is a good day-trip target, though its position on a main transport route detracts slightly from a delightful setting. This was the Bosnian capital during the latter part of Ottoman rule, and the residence of high-ranking officials known as viziers – you’ll see their tombs (turbe) dotted around town. Travnik also gained fame as the birthplace of Ivo Andrić, a Nobel Prize-winning novelist whose Bosnian Chroniclewas set in his hometown.
The best place to soak up Travnik’s history is its majestic fifteenth-century castle, built to hold off Ottoman forces but completed a few years too late. It’s now great for a clamber around, and provides spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Just under the castle is Plavna Voda, a quiet huddle of streamside restaurants where you can eat trout caught further upstream.
Whereas Travnik has grown a little too busy for its size, little JAJCE is simply adorable – even its name is cute, a diminutive form of the word “egg”, and therefore translating as something like “egglet”. The name is said to derive from the shape of a hill jutting up in the Old Town, ringed with walls and topped with an impressive citadel. In the Middle Ages, Bosnian kings were crowned just down the hill in the Church of St Mary; the last coronation, of Stjepan Tomašević, took place here in 1461, but two years later the king had his head lopped off during the Ottoman invasion. Opposite the church are the catacombs, essentially an underground church, complete with a narthex, nave, presbytery and baptistry; if you’re lucky, you’ll find the keyholder in the restaurant opposite. Further downhill, the 21m-high waterfalls are a splendid sight, despite the pounding they took during the Bosnian conflict.
Herzegovina has no shortage of great rafting locales, but Bosnia’s BIHAĆ beats them all. The crystal-clear River Una rushes through town, though it’s a little further upstream that you’ll find the best rafting; the river is highest in the spring and autumn. Adventure sports aside, Bihać is a pleasant, compact town with a cheerful pedestrianized zone in the centre. Here you’ll find the Church of Zvonik and Fathija Mosque, both visitable, but most interesting is the Captain’s Tower, once a prison, now a museum.
Rafting in Northwest Bosnia
Rafting in the Bihać area is possible year-round – the continuous flow of tourist traffic means that you’ll usually be able to join a group (6–10 per boat) in any month, though the main season runs from March to October.
Kostela-Bosanska Krupa An easy 24km, 5hr stretch that’s best for novices.
Kostela-Grmuša Short, but packs in some meaty rapids on a 13km, 4hr course.
Štrbački Buk-Lohovo An absolutely terrifying 15km, 4hr route featuring a 25m rapid.
Wedged into the far south of the country, little Herzegovina is less known than its big brother, Bosnia, but this land of muscular peaks and rushing rivers arguably has more to see. Pride of place goes to Mostar and its famed Old Bridge, but it’s worth venturing outside the city to see little Blagaj, or to absorb the religious curiosities of Medugorije. Those on their way to Dubrovnik or Montenegro should also call in at Trebinje, by far the most pleasant town in the Republika Srpska.
On arrival at the train or bus station, you may be forgiven for thinking that the beauty of MOSTAR has been somewhat exaggerated. There then begins a slow descent to the Old Town, during which it becomes more and more apparent that it really is a very special place indeed. Attentive ears will pick out rushing streams, salesmen crying their wares, as well as church bells and muezzins competing for attention, while steep, cobblestoned streets slowly wind their way down to the fast-flowing, turquoise-blue Neretva River and its Old Bridge, incredibly photogenic even when the Speedo-clad mostari – the brave gents who dive from the apex – aren’t tumbling into the waters below. The city is becoming ever more popular with tourists, though the dearth of high-end accommodation means that most visit on a day-trip – bad news for anyone on the Old Bridge around lunchtime, though great news for anyone staying the night; the best time to come is first thing in the morning or early evening.
Mostar’s history is irrevocably entwined with that of its bridge. Like hundreds of locals, this was to fall victim in 1993 when the Croats and Muslims of the town, previously united against the Serbs, turned on each other: the conflict rumbled on for two long years, each side sniping at the other from opposing hills. Locals claim that, prior to the war, more than half of the city’s marriages were mixed, but the figure has since dwindled to nothing; while relations are now much improved, the truce remains uneasy.
The Old Town, spanning both sides of the Neretva, contains most things of interest in Mostar, and in its centre is the Old Bridge, focal point of the city and the obvious place to kick off your sightseeing. On the eastern bank is the more interesting Muslim part of town, while the west is mainly home to Catholic Croats.
The Old Bridge
Transit point, dungeon, tourist attraction, war victim and macho launchpad, Mostar’s small, hump-backed Stari Most has led an interesting life. With tradesmen terrified by the rickety nature of its wooden predecessor and the fast-flowing Neretva below, it was built in the 1560s at the instigation of Suleyman the Magnificent. Those employed to guard the bridge were called the mostari, a term later borrowed when naming the city, and then used to describe the men who dive from the apex, 21m down into the Neretva. After 427 years in service, the bridge was strategically destroyed by Croat forces in November 1993, symbolizing the ethnic division of the city. There then began the arduous process of rebuilding it piece by piece, using new materials but following the same techniques used in its initial construction, before it reopened in 2004. The mostari are still there, day after day; they’ll try to work the crowd into shelling out an acceptable fee – typically around €25 – before taking the plunge. Join them if you dare, especially in July, when the annual diving festival marks the highlight of Mostar’s year.
Closest to Mostar is the village of BLAGAJ, just 12km to the east and accessible by local buses. Once you disembark, carry straight ahead through the town to the Tekija. Huddled into a niche in the cliff face, this wonky wooden building was once the residence of dervishes, and the interior – prayer rooms, washroom and kitchen – are all suitably spartan. The hammam, meanwhile, remains as it was. Right next to it, a never-ending torrent of water gushes out of the cliff, apparently reaching levels of 43,000 litres per second; some of this is skimmed off to make tea and coffee, which you can order at the adjacent terrace, including a chunk of lokum (Turkish delight).
Twenty six kilometres south of Mostar is the curious village of MEĐUGORIJE, a mere non-entity until June 1981, when a group of teenagers claimed to have been spoken to by the Virgin Mary here. Unlike Lourdes and Fatima, this has not been officially recognized by the Vatican, but that doesn’t stop pilgrims arriving in such numbers that there are now thousands of rooms available to accommodate them. The main sights here are the Church of St James and the nearby “Weeping Knee” statue, so named as it apparently flouts the laws of thermodynamics by dribbling out a constant flow of fluid.
Pocitelj and the Kravice Waterfalls
A few kilometres south of Međugorije is the hillside village of POČITELJ, one of the most traditional in Herzegovina. The place is quite stunning, and dotted with remnants from the fifteenth century, most notably a citadel and a terrific mosque. Unfortunately there are no direct buses here, so it’s best to join a tour. Groups will likely swing through to see the nearby Kravice Waterfalls, which are not accessible on public transport. High, wide and handsome, the pool below is a great place for a dip.
The Republika Srpska’s most appealing town by a country mile, TREBINJE is tucked into Herzegovina’s southern extremity, and its proximity to Dubrovnik and the Montenegrin border makes it the ideal start or finish line to a race through the country. It’s most famed for the sixteenth-century Arslanagić Bridge – a longer version of the one in Mostar – which sits a ten-minute walk from the town centre; in what must have been quite a feat, it was moved here, stone by stone, from the village of Arslanagić some 5km away, in 1972.
Back in the centre is the Old Town, a pretty warren of streets now largely filled with cafés; better yet for coffee-slurping is elegant Jovan Dučić Trg, home to a daily market and almost totally cloaked with maple leaves (platani).
There are also a couple of still-functioning hilltop monasteries, notably fourteenth-century Tvrdoš 6km west of Trebinje, which are a delight to roam around and well worth the climb.
Sports & nature
Thirty years later
These days, Sarajevo is preparing the celebrations for the thirty anniversary of the Winter Olympics (1984-2014). The celebrations are organised also in other countries in the world, where over a million Bosnians spread after the war. In Melbourne, Australia, organisers invite fellow country-people "to relive the Winter Games, to be together and revive, for a moment, the flame within us".
Thirty years later, the symbols of the Olympics are still present in Sarajevo. The mascot "Vučko" (the pet wolf) is now the biggest selling souvenir for tourists, and its faded image can still be seen on the façades of several buildings. Road signs point to "the Olympic mountain", people like to talk about it and many, sighing, remember the times when "we were happy and united".
But today the Serbs ski on mount Jahorina, the Bosnians on Bjelašnica.
Treat yourself with the sweet taste of nature and the excitement and serenity of our untouched wilderness. Come and discover your next eco adventure!
Bosnia and Herzegovinadoes not only represent culture and tradition. The great wealth of this country is beautiful landscapes and wild primeval nature. Thick forests, wild rivers, rare and unique endemic plants and animals, sharp mountains and beautiful hills or mysterious caves can be found in our country. Whether you want to take a walk, take a hike, or just conquer a mountain peak, one day out in the nature will make a strong impression on you. A day in the mountains where air is fresh and clean, and flowers and pine trees smell wonderfully, or just one view of numerous hills and mountains will provide you with pleasure, serenity and unforgettable experience.
For more then 60 years, this unique landscape has been protected by different National and Nature Parks. If you want to feel the power of nature you should go rafting on the rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Neretva, Drina, Vrbas, Una and Tara – MASTER DMC will make sure that memories of these rivers will never fade. Some parts of breath taking wild canyons and rapids are very demanding. Only a team can conquer these challenging parts of the river, and at the end they can sit around the campfire and talk about the wonderful adventure... People from all around the world come to participate in Regatta. The Una River in North-western Bosnia is already known internationally. Each year the Una Regatta is organized as well as other international weekends of rafting, kayaking and canoeing. All of these attract lovers of river adventure on the sparkling waters of Una and Sana - the beauties of northwest Bosnia. In summer of 2009, World Championship in rafting was held on rivers Vrbas and Tara.
Hiking and walkingthrough the highlands and learning about the ancient lifestyles thriving in the mountainous area are an unforgettable experience.With MASTER DMC you could visit village Lukomir, on Bjelasnica Mountain. At almost 1,500m, the village of Lukomir, with its unique stone homes with cherry-wood roof tiles, is the highest and most isolated village in the country. Indeed, access to the village is impossible from the first snows in December until late April and sometimes even later, except by skis or on foot. The residents of this highest village in Bosnia and Herzegovina maintain one of the oldest traditional lifestyles in Europe, wearing authentic dress and living without contemporary comforts like electricity or running-water. From there, you can do some magnificent hiking in the area along the ridge of the Rakitnica Canyon, which drops 800m below. The natural beauty of its surroundings is the most striking in the area.
In summer time, crystal-clear lakes are real refreshment for swimmers.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is very proud of its water resources: mineral and thermal springs, rivers and waterfalls, lakes, as well as a small piece of the Adriatic Sea. Unique geographic position lends itself to warm Mediterranean climate in the south and cooler continental temperatures in the Alpine North, providing nature lovers with a wide array of landscapes, flora and fauna, and thrilling outdoor activities.
Drina, the mystical Bosnian river, begins its way by winding through picturesque narrow passages and thereafter forms fast rapids on which rafting becomes a truly unique adventure that you don’t want to miss.
Without the Neretva River, Herzegovina would not be what it is- a Mediterranean oasis offering all kinds of experiences: from mountainous terrain to religious tourism and excellent cuisine. In the Upper canyon you will find some of the most breathtaking views in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is said that rafting down the Neretva River is one of the most wonderful things a person can experience.With MASTER DMC and rafting clubs you can experience an unforgettable but safe and comfortable passage through the 23 km long Neretva canyon.
Vrelo Bosne / Spring of Bosna River
The Spring of Bosna, with its natural beauty, emerges at the gate of Sarajevo. A three kilometer long avenue, bordered by plants and sweet chestnuts leads from Ilidža to the source of Bosna. There, at the foot of Igman, are the cold springs of the river that gave the whole country its name. This is a natural park in which there are many springs and streams that form pools and small islets. The spring of Bosna is constitutional, hydrological, botanical and horticultural phenomenon and one of the favorite excursion spots of Sarajevo.
This river is for many the most beautiful river in the entire country. Over one hundred and seventy types of medicinal herbs grow along her banks. Twenty eight kinds of fish make their home in the Una. Beautiful and rare chamois seek refuge in Grmuca Canyon carved by the Una's constant flow and small crayfish can be seen darting along the crystal clear sand basin. The sometimes steep corridors are not always conducive to navigating her beautiful waters, yet one of the most frequent views of Una are the small boats with anglers and the ever-increasing number of rafters and kayakers. This river has created a harmony with man, fish, birds, willows, bridges and old mills rarely seen today.
Vrelo Bune / Buna River springs
The Spring of Bunais the natural and architectural ensemble near the small town Blagaj and it’s a declared to be Historical and Natural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here it is impossible to separate the natural values from the cultural and historical heritage - since its enormous value is in the coexistence of the natural and the man-made, in the integration of the building structures into the surrounding landscape and nature.
The most known building is the world famous and renowned dervish tekija (lodge) which is here. The Buna Spring is one of the largest and most beautiful in Europe and is of interest to all nature lovers, especially to 'cavers' who still have not fully explored the mysterious underground of this veritable water miracle in the heart of Herzegovina. But the Buna also poses a true challenge for Muslims who come here every year in the second half of May to attend 'mevlud' and 'zikr'. The 'mevlud' accounts for the biggest gathering of Muslims in Herzegovina. Mediterranean climate and comfortable restaurants give pleasant moments of sojourn, walk and relaxation to its quests. The possibilities of hunting, in the Podveležje plateau and fishing in the river of Buna, then swimming in the clean and cold Buna River and in mineral, medical water of Bunica are the extra motives to visit this jewel of the nature.
The Tara River
A jewel among the world's natural heritage spots with its clean drinking and navigable waters, it's eye soothing views and soul warming ambience... 30 kilometers of the deepest canyon in Europe borders two countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Second only to the Colorado River in depth, this 1300 meter canyon provides the best rafting, kayaking, and canoeing in Europe. This paradise and protected area has a long tradition of extreme water sporting and easy family outings.
The Vrbas Canyon is an ideal place for water adventures like kayaking and rafting and for softer adventures upriver – hiking, walking, camping and fishing. The eco-activities organized on the Vrbas are done so by an extremely dedicated group of young professionals that will give you an authentic and organic taste of the beautiful nature on and around the Vrbas River.
Highlands around the canyon gives you an unforgettable view of the river below. The canyon and its walls are habitat to hawks, eagles and falcons as well. The highlands are dotted with many old villages that offer a stark contrast to the beat of the Banja Luka city center.
Hutovo Blato (Hutovo Wetland)
In the south of Herzegovina, 30km from Mostar, you can find Hutovo Blato – a nature and bird reserve, the famous reserve of migratory birds.
The Nature Park has been a shelter over 200 species of birds and game. The whole zone is well protected from human impact and functions as an important habitat for many plants and animals. It stretches over an area of about 7,411 ha and represents the one of the richest wetland reserves in Europe. Its waters are rich in eel, carp and other fresh water fish and the splendor of this unique area of untouched nature is home to 610 plant types. The Park is ideal for fishing, bird watching and photo safaris and it also offers regular boat rides with professional guides. We warmly invite you to one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's most unique nature parks and only bird reserve which is listed as a wet-land of international importance, and is registered as such in UNESCO's directory in Paris. It is one of the most protected areas in the Balkans. Bring your binoculars and your camera... you don't want to forget this experience!
Thanks to Perućica, Sutjeska National Park is unique in the region and in Europe. Perućica is the last primeval forest in Europe, an untouched jewel in which no logging has occurred. Some parts of it remain unexploredIn the unexplored wilderness dotted with deep canyons, fast flowing brooks, clear mountain lakes and mystical forests, one can both camp and mountaineer. A section of Maglić lies within the Natural Park and its 2,386 meters above the sea level is the highest mountain peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Kozara National Park
This National Park is primarily famous for its forests and diverse wildlife. This large mountain complex is bordered by four rivers: the Una, the Sana, the Sava and the Vrbas. Kozara is also known for historical reasons as Tito's partisans fought a major battle on its slopes.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has huge potentials for the development of village tourism- authentic villages with magnificent landscapes, preserved nature and first of all, warm hearted people. Sincere hospitality has always been a characteristic of people in these areas.
Sarajevo Guide has checked out the nightlife in Sarajevo and on this page we will share with you the best places to go out and have fun. Our night out guide will give you the best advice for your nights out in Sarajevo and ensure many highpoints in your evenings. Should you like to share with us your experience you are free to contact us and we will gladly publish your adventure in Sarajevo. Have fun!
Tip: Don't bother going out on Sundays, everybody is at home sleeping. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are the days you mustn't miss as the atmosphere is great everywhere.
Coloseum Club is a fancy place located at Terezije b.b.. It is a club and a casino so in order to get in they require an identification card from you. However this place hosts some interesting pop concerts from time to time and the prices are the same like everywhere else so your budget won't suffer.
Culture and history info
Identification. The name "Bosnia" is derived from the Bosna River, which cuts through the region. Herzegovina takes its name from the word herceg, which designated the duke who ruled the southern part of the region until the Ottoman invasion in the fifteenth century. The two regions are culturally indistinguishable and for much of their history have been united under one government. Although cultural variations in Bosnia and Herzegovina are minimal, cultural identity is currently extremely divisive. The three main groups are Muslims (Bosniacs), Serbs, and Croats. Before the recent civil war, many areas of the country had mixed populations; now the population has become much more homogeneous in most regions.
Location and Geography.
Bosnia is in southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula, bordering Slovenia to the northwest, Croatia to the north, and Serbia and Montenegro to the south and southwest; it has a tiny coastline along the Adriatic Sea. The land area is 19,741 square miles (51,129 square kilometers). Herzegovina is the southern portion of the country; it is shaped like a triangle whose tip (surrounded by Croatia and Yugoslavia) touches the Adriatic. Northern Bosnia is characterized by plains and plateaus. The central and southern regions are mountainous. The Dinaric Alps that cover this area also extend southward into Serbia and Montenegro. These regions, including the area around Sarajevo, the capital, are conducive to skiing and other winter sports and before the civil war were a popular tourist destination. Much of the land (39 percent) is forested; only 14 percent is arable. Most of the farmland is in the northern part of the country.
The climate varies from cold winters and mild, rainy summers in the mountains to milder winters and hot, dry summers in the rest of the country and a more Mediterranean climate near the coast. The entire region is vulnerable to severe earthquakes. Bosnia also suffers from air and water pollution because of poorly regulated industrial production in the years before the civil war.
Food in Daily Life.
Bosnian food has been influenced by both Turkish and Eastern European cuisine. Grilled meat is popular, as are cabbage-based dishes. Bosanski Ionac is a cabbage and meat stew. Cevapcici are lamb sausages that often are eaten with a flat bread called somun. Pastries, both sweet and savory, are common; burek and pida (layered cheese or meat pies), zeljanica (spinach pie), and sirnica (cheese pie) are served as main dishes. Baklava, a Turkish pastry made of phyllo dough layered with nuts and honey, is a popular dessert, as is an apple cake called tufahije. Kefir, a thin yogurt drink, is popular, as are Turkish coffee and a kind of tea called salep. Homemade brandy, called rakija, is a popular alcoholic drink. Alcohol use is down since the rise in Muslim influence, and in certain areas of the country drinking has been prohibited.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. For Bosnian Muslims, the end of Ramadan (a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset) is celebrated with a large family meal and with Turkish-style sweets and pastries. Both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers celebrate Easter with special breads and elaborately decorated eggs. Christmas is an occasion for special family meals among the Christian population.