Dive into Europe’s most enchanting and mysterious historical wonderland, where East meets West and where stunning natural landscapes coexist with a rich and complex Bosnian history. A country that has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries, offers a unique blend of cultures, religions, and architectural styles.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s history is full of fascinating influences, with traces of ancient Illyrian tribes, Roman and Byzantine empires, and the powerful Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian rules. These diverse influences have shaped the country’s unique identity and contributed to its rich cultural heritage.
Bosnian culture is a melting pot of traditions and customs, with a strong emphasis on family values and hospitality. The three main ethnic groups – Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs – coexist in this land, each with its own distinct language, religion, and cultural practices. The harmonious blend of these diverse elements can be seen in Bosnia’s vibrant festivals, music, and dance, as well as its impressive architectural landmarks, such as mosques, synagogues, and churches.
Exploring Bosnian traditional dishes and local flavours
Bosnian gastronomy is a delightful fusion of flavours and culinary traditions, influenced by its varied historical and cultural background. The local cuisine reflects the country’s diverse heritage and offers an enticing mix of Mediterranean, Central European, and Ottoman flavours.
Begin your food journey with the national dish, Ćevapi, a mouth-watering combination of grilled minced meat sausages served with onions, clotted cream cheese, and flatbread. Another dish you shouldn’t miss out on is the delicious Burek, a flaky pastry filled with minced meat and onions. Burek has several filling options such as cottage cheese mix, spinach or potatoes, but these are all called pies, only the meat pie is called Burek, and this piece of information is very very important so better remember it! For a hearty meal, try the traditional Bosanski Lonac (Bosnian pot), a slow-cooked stew with meat and vegetables.
Bosnian desserts are equally irresistible, with treats like Baklava, Tufahija (poached apples with walnut filling), and Hurmašica (sweet syrup-soaked pastries) ready to tempt your taste buds. To wash all these delectable dishes down there’s nothing better than a cup of strong Bosnian coffee, served traditionally in a copper pot called Džezva.
If you wish to try authentic Bosnian food but don’t feel like travelling all the way to Bosnia, try visiting Taj Mahal, authentic Bosnian Restaurant in Dubrovnik, you will not be disappointed!
Unveiling the beauty of Bosnian cities: Sarajevo, Mostar, and beyond
Sarajevo: the heart of Bosnia
Sarajevo is a city of fascinating diversity, a place where the Western & Eastern Roman Empire split and the people of the Roman Catholic west, Eastern Orthodox east and the Ottoman south, met, lived and warred. It’s no wonder that it has been called the “Jerusalem of Europe” or “Jerusalem of the Balkans”.
The Old Town known as Baščaršija is the main tourist attraction, spreading towards the city centre it is well connected to other parts of the city and surrounding rural areas by public transportation. Bosnian/Turkish coffee is a must-try at Baščaršija, with different types of coffee enjoyed according to the occasion.
Sarajevo hosts several international festivals every year, including the Sarajevo Film Festival, Sarajevo Jazz Festival, and the summer-time cultural festival “Baščaršija Nights”.
Stroll through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, where the city’s rich history is evident in the stunning architecture, including the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, Latin Bridge, and the Eternal Flame.
Mostar: a city of bridges
Mostar is a fairytale destination that should be on your bucket list. This small town boasts of a picturesque Neretva River, cobblestoned streets, and old stone buildings. A visit to Mostar is incomplete without seeing Stari Most (the Old Bridge), which is the highlight of the town. The bridge was built in stone in 1566 and stood for 427 years before being destroyed during the Croat-Bosniak conflict in 1994. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2004.
Mostar can be visited year-round, but the best time to visit is from May to September when the weather is pleasant, and the crowds are less. If you have limited time, you can join a bus tour from Dubrovnik, or Sarajevo. The Old Town is small, and you can explore it within a day. There are charming stone streets, cafes, and souvenir shops. You can also visit the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque and Kriva Čuprija. There are few sites to visit outside the town, such as the Kravice Falls and Blagaj Tekija. All in all Mostar is a perfect destination for a day trip from Dubrovnik.
Banja Luka: rainbow city
The enchanting city of Banja Luka is a place where rainbows adorn the streets! As you stroll down the bustling Gospodska street, you’ll be overjoyed by the kaleidoscope of umbrellas hanging above the street, while the tranquil Vrbas River flows alongside. You shouldn’t miss the magnificence of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, a true masterpiece of intricate architecture.
Banja Luka is the second-largest city in Bosnia after Sarajevo, and the perfect base for exploring the country’s hidden gems. With an impressive number of cafes and bars the city has a thriving café culture, where you can simply unwind and observe life go by. Original Bosnian Dolce far niente.
For those who love to explore, the medieval Kastel Fortress offers panoramic views of the city from the riverbank. Step inside the Orthodox Cathedral and be awed by the dazzling chandelier that lights up the entire space. The Ferhat-pašina (Ferhadija) Mosque is another must-visit, showcasing stunning Ottoman architecture and a rich history.
Beyond the cities
Venture beyond the cities to discover other captivating towns and villages, such as the medieval town of Jajce, with its impressive fortress and beautiful waterfalls, or the scenic village of Blagaj, nestled at the base of a cliff and home to a historic Dervish monastery.
Discovering the breath-taking Bosnian nature: National parks and natural wonders
Bosnia’s natural beauty is truly amazing, with a diverse landscape that ranges from lush forests and sparkling rivers to rugged mountains and serene lakes. The country’s national parks and natural wonders offer endless opportunities for exploration and adventure.
Sutjeska National Park: A Hiker’s Paradise
Sutjeska, known as the ‘Yosemite of the Balkans,’ is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s oldest national park and boasts the country’s highest peak, Mt Maglić (2,386m). The park is a haven for nature enthusiasts with its diverse landscapes, including rocky cliffs, rolling meadows, and the 75m-high Skakavac Waterfall. The park is also home to one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe, Perućica, which is a sight to behold. Thanks to EU-funding, facilities and activities within the park have vastly improved, and there is now a tourist information centre next to Hotel Mladost. Sutjeska is also the main trailhead for the Via Dinarica, and hikers can find more information on viadinarica.com.
Apart from nature, Sutjeska is a significant historical site. The Battle of Sutjeska, won by Tito’s Partisan forces during World War II, took place here and has been memorialized in Tjentište, the park’s main village. Visitors can visit the ‘Valley of the Heroes’ and admire one of the most iconic landmarks found in former Yugoslavia made by a Yugoslav sculptor Miodrag Živković. Every July, one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s best music festivals, OK Fest, takes place in Sutjeska, making it a park for everyone.
To reach Sutjeska, several organised tours from Sarajevo are available. However, if you prefer to plan your own visit, best is to travel either from Sarajevo or Dubrovnik.
Una National Park: stunning beauty and loads of river activities
National Park Una, situated in the western part of Bosnia, is a hidden gem boasting stunning waterfalls and a diverse flora and fauna, making it the perfect destination for those seeking peace and tranquillity.
The park’s largest waterfall, Štrbac buk, is a must-see, standing at an impressive 24m.
For a cultural experience, visit Martin Brod, a small village dating back to the 15th century. Its main attraction is the waterfalls, including Milančev buk, alongside watermills and old washing mills called bučnice, which are now marketed as eco-friendly way of washing clothes. Also nearby is Rmanj Monastery, an old Orthodox monastery dating back to the 15th century.
For adventure seekers, there are plenty of activities to choose from. Hiking is a popular option, with an educational trail, “Along the Paths of Past,” from Ćukovi to Štrbački buk. Cycling trails are also available, with the Drvar – Boboljusci – Martin Brod and Drvar – Cvjetnić – Martin Brod routes being two of the most popular. The waterfalls of Una river offer the perfect location for kayaking and rafting, with several agencies organizing rafting along the 15km long Štrbac – Lohovo route. The best time for rafting is from March to October.
Hutovo Blato Nature Park: a birdwatcher’s dream
Hutovo Blato is a nature park and bird reserve in the southwest of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nestled on the left bank of the Neretva River, this natural paradise is just 20 kilometres away from the stunning Adriatic Sea. Fed by the Krupa River, Hutovo Blato is a unique water-rich Mediterranean marsh that boasts great diversity flora and fauna. In fact, it’s home to several hundred different species of birds, making it a true haven for nature lovers. This area lies on a major bird migration route from North and Central Europe to Asia and Africa, which means it’s an important bird reserve. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy too, including bird watching, photo-safaris, and fishing.
Exciting activities and adventures in Bosnia: hiking, rafting, and more
Bosnia offers a plethora of exciting activities and adventures, catering to all interests and fitness levels. Hiking enthusiasts can conquer the country’s highest peak, Maglić, or explore the picturesque trails of the Prenj Mountain Range. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy rafting, kayaking, and canoeing in Bosnia’s pristine rivers and lakes, such as the Neretva River and Jablaničko Lake. For a more laid-back experience, take a relaxing swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Una River or visit the famous thermal springs in the town of Tešanj.
If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, consider visiting the Tekija Blagaj (Blagaj Tekke), a 600-year-old Dervish monastery. The monastery is nestled at the base of a cliff near the town of Mostar, and its tranquil surroundings offer a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Visitors can take part in a traditional Dervish ceremony and witness the mesmerizing whirling dance of the Dervishes.
Jahorina: Bosnian best ski resort
Jahorina is one of the highest mountains in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a breath-taking sight to behold. In summer, the greenish Borovan pastures, blue skies, and fresh mountain air creates a picturesque view making it ideal for hikers and campers. However, winter is the best time to visit Jahorina since in the winter it becomes a truly idyllic ski resort, with its highest peak reaching a height of 1916m (Ogorijelica). In 1984, the mountain was one of the stages for the Olympic Games held in February in Sarajevo. Ski enthusiasts can enjoy 20km of trails for alpine skiing, which are connected by four lifts and four ski lifts with a total capacity of 7000 skiers per hour. There are also modern ski schools, ski service, and ski rental services available to ensure an enriching experience. The winter tourism season runs from December to April, depending on the snow conditions.
The mystery of the Bosnian pyramids: fact or fiction?
The Bosnian Pyramids, located near the town of Visoko, have been a subject of debate and controversy for many years. Some claim that these pyramids are the largest and oldest man-made structures on Earth, older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge. However, others dismiss these claims, stating that the structures are simply natural formations.
Despite the controversy, the Bosnian Pyramids have become a popular tourist attraction in Bosnia, drawing visitors from all over the world. Explore the underground tunnels and chambers and learn about the latest archaeological findings. Whether you believe in the mysterious pyramids or not, visiting them is a unique and fascinating experience.
Srebrenica: a place of horrifying massacres
In July 1995, Srebrenica, Bosnia was the site of the largest mass murder in Europe since World War Two. The Army of Republika Srpska, led by General Ratko Mladić, murdered around 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, mostly men. Despite being declared a “safe area” by the United Nations Security Council in 1993, killings continued, culminating in a three-day massacre. The Serbian army entered the town and began their campaign of genocide, including mass executions, deportation, and rape.
Srebrenica is a great place to visit and reflect the horrors and devastation of war, and pay respects to the victims.
Essential travel information: when to visit, how to get there, and things to know
When to visit Bosnia?
The best time to visit Bosnia is during the spring, summer and fall months, from April to November. During these months, the weather is mild making it easier to explore the country’s attractions and natural wonders.
How to get to Bosnia?
Bosnia is well-connected to major European cities, with several international airports, including Sarajevo International Airport and Mostar International Airport. You can also reach Bosnia by train or bus from neighbouring countries, such as Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro.
Things to know about Bosnia
Bosnia uses the Bosnian Convertible Mark (BAM) as its currency, but euros are widely accepted in most tourist areas. English is spoken in most tourist areas, but don’t get stressed out even if you encounter someone who doesn’t speak English, because people of Bosnia are generally known to be amazing hosts, very warm and friendly even with the language barrier.
Is it safe to travel to Bosnia?
Bosnia has come a long way since the end of the Bosnian War in the mid-1990s. The country has made significant progress in rebuilding and revitalizing its tourism industry, and it’s now considered a safe and welcoming destination for travellers.
However, as with any travel destination, it’s always wise to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid isolated areas at night, keep your valuables safe, and be cautious when using public transportation. If you’re planning to hike or explore the national parks, make sure to check weather conditions and trail safety beforehand.
Top 10 must-see attractions and experiences in Bosnia
Stroll through the cobbled streets of Sarajevo’s Old Town Baščaršija and sample traditional Bosnian coffee and delicacies.
Enjoy a traditional Bosnian Ćevapi and Burek in a cozy eatery and soak up the country’s laid-back vibe.
Walk across the iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar and explore the Old Bazaar.
Hike to the top of Bosnia’s highest peak, Maglić, and enjoy breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains.
Visit the ancient Peručica forest in Sutjeska National Park, one of the last primeval forests in Europe.
Take a relaxing swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Una River.
Witness the mesmerizing whirling dance of the Dervishes at the Blagaj Tekke.
Visit Srebrenica and pay your respect to the thousands of Bosnian victims massacred by the Serbian army.
Visit the towns of Jajce and Banja Luka and marvel at their impressive fortresses, churches and beautiful riverside.
Book a skiing trip to Jahorina in the winter.
Bosnia is a land of enchantment, mystery, and natural beauty, waiting to be explored and discovered. From its fascinating history and vibrant culture to its breath-taking natural wonders and exciting adventures, Bosnia offers something for every type of traveller.
Whether you’re into history, a nature lover, or thrill seeker, Bosnia is sure to captivate your heart and leave you with unforgettable memories.
For day tours to Bosnia from Dubrovnik check out Plura Travel’s Bosnia Tour. They offer tailored private tours to Bosnia catered to your liking.