Bosnia is highly underrated as a travel destination and yet the country is stunning, the people are so warm and the visible struggle to overcome the atrocities of the recent conflict makes traveling to Bosnia and understanding the culture highly rewarding.
Cities in Bosnia & Herzegovina
General Bosnia & Herzegovina Travel Tips
Bosnia is still flying under the radar of the travel industry even though its neighbor, Croatia, has become incredibly popular. English is not widely spoken throughout the country, even in some of the touristy areas, so go with a sense of adventure and patience – they’re so friendly and willing to pantomime with you if that’s what it takes! A phrase book may help in many cases if you plan to be there for a while.
Vegetarian Friendly?: No! These countries are flat out hard to travel through as a vegetarian. I always had an apple in my bag to stave off hunger. Plan on eating a lot of spinach and cheese bureks – they’re a great lunch item…and sometimes dinner too. This culture is very meat based so plan accordingly; supermarkets are abundant. English is also not widely understood in many parts so you must learn “I’m vegetarian and I do not eat meat” in Bosnian.
Internet Accessibility: ** out of *****. Yes you can find it, but because tourism has not yet exploded you have to look for it and it’s more designed for locals than backpackers and travelers. Once you do find it though, it’s fast and efficient; find accommodation with WIFI and the rating goes up to **** out of *****.
Transportation: The train system in Eastern Europe is extensive fantastic for getting into Bosnia and the bus system takes over nicely from there. It’s not the cheapest travel in the world – neighboring countries are on the Euro and that has inflated the costs a bit. Buses will get you everywhere but may take a bit of planning if you want to head anywhere but Sarajevo and Mostar since there are only a couple each day into the smaller cities.
Need more general tips? Check out our Round the World FAQ Resource!
My Favorite Travel Experiences in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Sarajevo’s Lively Cafe Street Culture
Bombing Damage in Mostar, 10 Years Later
Favorite Sweet Eats Around the City
Being Vegetarian in Bosnia and Herzegovina
A Cultural Faux Pas Setting Foot in Bosnia
Travel Books You Should Read Before You Go!
Check out my recommended books, music, and movies to inspire and learn about the Baltic Region – why not grab one and read it on the plane?!
Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through HistoryBalkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History by Robert D. Kaplan: Fascinating travelogue and history of the Balkan region as the author delves into the roots of some of the Balkan conflicts and how they are manifested in the modern Balkan states.
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (Penguin Classics) by Rebecca West: Beautiful and lyrical book that combines the author’s travelogue with a history of the region and insights from the region right as World War II began. A compelling way to read about Balkan history though it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction throughout.
The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric: The book is a vivid depiction of the suffering history has imposed upon the people of Bosnia from the late 16th century to the beginning of World War I. It has been hugely well received and will give political insights to the region and Balkan and Ottoman history.
The war torn past is pretty recent so read if you can’t get any of these recommendations then read up on the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina online before you travel there – it will smooth over any awkward moments and really give you a richer experience – knowing the history of these two countries is more important here than in some other places. You may step on toes without even knowing it like I did!
Travel in Sarajevo, Bosnia
Sarajevo is a completely consumable size for a city – it’s the capital of Bosnia and the biggest city in the country, but it’s small enough that you can stand in the center of town and see the gently green rolling hills all around and dotted with little houses. I truly loved Bosnia and the fact that Sarajevo has great ratio of locals to backpackers since it’s not entirely on the beaten path yet!
Buy your bus tickets from the all-purpose magazine stands and shops – the transit police will come on board regularly to check tickets. You don’t want to get caught. Trust me.
Activities in Sarajevo, Bosnia
- Shop in the Turkish Quarter: The Turkish quarter of Sarajevo has weaving, cobblestone streets and tons of tiny little shops selling fun little souvenirs and post cards. Give the streets a wander and find a hole-in-the-wall burek restaurant for a delicious lunch amid the locals – this is where they head for lunch as well!
**My experiences in Sarajevo’s cafe street culture
- Beys Mosque: Hunt it down, it’s gorgeous.
- Hike Outside the City: The city is nestled into the hills and there are some great landmarks in the distant hills. Ask your hotel or hostel for a path and set off – even if you don’t make it to the right place, the hike is gorgeous as are the views of Sarajevo.
- Eat a Lot!: This was my primary activity in the city – definitely try a sampling of baklava, the traditional burek, and take the time for full tea, sugar, and Turkish Delight experience.
**My favorite sweet eats and vegetarian options
- Residence Rooms: s.h.muvekita 1. I’ve heard great things about this spot. Good wifi and they’ll help you arrange fun activities in the city. Right in the heart of where you want to be in Sarajevo. Good for a short stay in the city since it’s so close to everything!
- Hostel and Guesthouse SA: A bit of a walk from the heart of things, set in the middle of an old, historic neighborhood. This is a great alternative choice if you want to relax a bit more.
Tons of cafes and quick eats: I can’t emphasize enough, go sit in the crowded little restaurants, sharing tables with the locals and the heat from the ovens permeating the space – the bureks in these spots are worth it – as are the conversation!
Also check out all of my Bosnia travel experiences.
Travel in Mostar, Bonsian & Herzegovina
Small and touristy, this little city in the south of the region is such a lovely little town to visit despite the fact that hordes of cruise ship passengers day trip it in the early afternoon from Dubrovnik, Croatia. A general recommendation is to steer clear of the touristy area in the mid afternoon hours – it get’s so hot though anyway that it’s best to stay in the air-conditioning or sit in an outdoor cafe.
Activities in Mostar, Herzegovina
- Explore the town: There aren’t a ton of particular activities in the area, but the town was recently war torn and that is still incredibly evident in many of the buildings, and certainly the vibe. Explore the shops, buy souvenirs and strike up a conversation with anyone who speaks English (they can be few and far between!). Bosnia has an outdoor cafe culture, so that’s where you’ll find the locals too.
- Hike to the Kris na Humu: This is not a popular hike for tourists (because it takes some decent walking outside the tourist center), but from the streets of Mostar you can see the huge cross on a nearby hill. The views over Mostar are gorgeous and you can spot a unique angle on the Stari Most bridge (rebuilt after war damage and a sign of hope for the city) from there.
**Hiking the Kris na Humu outside of Mostar
- Stari Most: Read up on the history of the bridge so you understand just why this is such a well-loved landmark for Bosnians. Kinsd of like the Taj Mahal, it looks totally different depending on the time of day, so plan to visit it several times!
Hostel Dino: I simply loved this small and impeccably clean hostel. Wifi, air conditioning, newly built, private rooms, and the family running it are incredibly sweet. Their son, Dino, even met our train at the station and walked us to the hostel to ensure we didn’t get lost! It’s affordable and they were so kind.
Also check out all of my Bosnia and Herzegovina travel experiences.