Getting to know Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina are one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited in Europe which was part of Yugoslavia and got independent in 1992. The country is almost entirely landlocked, with the exception of its 20 km Adriatic coastline.
The Capital Sarajevo is located in the heart of the Balkan peninsula in Southeastern Europe and definitely and perfect starting point when visiting that region. This beautiful historical capital is very welcoming and has been restored since being destroyed by the war. Another city Mostar which is well known for it’s Old Bridge a UNESCO heritage site is only 126 km from Sarajevo. Its neighbors include beautiful Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia.
The distance between Sarajevo to Dubrovnik, Croatia is only 239 km, the fascinating Split, Croatian city is only 246 km, Zagreb, Croatian capital about 405 km, Belgrade, Serbia about 246 km, and stunning Podgorica, Montenegro is 230 km.
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Best Time to Visit Bosnia
Bosnia and Herzegovina got a relatively dry climate with very hot summers and very cold winters. Spring is typically the best time to visit as the temperature is pleasant between May – June. During this period it’s warm but not overly humid and nights are cooler.
How to Get to Sarajevo
There is always a great travel deal available online to fly to Sarajevo from neighboring countries in Europe. When I was searching for my flight from Moscow to Sarajevo I did not get any direct connection to Sarajevo. The only option for me was to get there with a stopover at one of the major hubs like Zagreb (ZAG), Belgrade (BEG), and Istanbul (IST). I took the cheapest one via Belgrade considering the opportunity for a longer stopover in Belgrade and taking the advantage of exploring in and around the city instead of getting on to the connecting flight on the same day.
The only remaining international train service between Sarajevo and Zagreb has been suspended in December of 2016, all other international lines have been closed for several years.
There used to be two trains a day between Sarajevo and Mostar but was suspended recently due to line repair. Check before your travel date.
Bus services from Croatian cities like Zagreb, Dubrovnik, and Split is very popular among tourist to get to Sarajevo, Bosnia.
Bus from Zagreb to Sarajevo
There is a frequent bus between Zagreb and Sarajevo. The distance is between 236 – 280 miles (380 – 450 km) depending on the travel route. Cost is about US$ 26 (€24) and travel time by bus is about 8 hours. The first bus starts at 6:30 AM from Zagreb and arrives at 2:50 PM in Sarajevo
Bus from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo
The bus commute from Dubrovnik is scenic and it’s a popular route among travelers. The distance from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo is only 150 miles (240 km) but it would defiantly take about 6 hours.
Bus from Split, Croatia to Sarajevo
There are several daily buses from Split to Sarajevo, but most of the buses travel via Mostar, so if you are interested to explore Mostar you can actually take the early bus from Split and then spend the day sightseeing in Mostar then option to continue to Sarajevo by bus.
Driving in Bosnia even in Croatia is very easy. The advantage is you can stop whenever and wherever you like and take your time to enjoy the beautiful scenic view of the countryside, take pictures and getting to know the local people and lifestyles.
I have rented a car from Sarajevo airport and drove around Bosnia and Croatia and found it safe as long as you are patient and conservative especially while driving the single lane roads. Going through the winding road you may often get stuck behind slow trucks or passenger buses where you can’t see ahead enough to pass. So as long as you don’t get frustrated and take unnecessary risks, you definitely won’t have any problems.
You need a passport valid for at least three months past your planned date of departure. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days within a period of six months following the first entry.
My Trip To Sarajevo
It was a short 50 min flight from Belgrade to Sarajevo (SJJ) by Air Serbia, the airport was small so clearing immigration and customs was smooth. Picked up my car from enterprise and headed towards Hotel Bristol in Sarajevo which is only 5 miles (7+ km) from the airport. It took me a while to get adjusted driving in the new country especially when you are driving a stick shift.
Sarajevo is a relatively small city and walkable to all the attractions, especially the oldest and most historically significant part of old town (Stari Grad). The street around there is not car friendly, so parked my car at the hotel and headed towards the heart of old town, Baščaršija the old town market where the city was founded in 15th. century. There are so much to do in Sarajevo, here are a list of places I have visited.
Things To Do In Sarajevo
Visit Ali Pasha’s Mosque, Sarajevo
Ali Pasha’s Mosque was constructed in Sarajevo during 1560-61. Which was heavily damaged by Serbian forces during the conflict of the early 1990s, then renovated in 2004 -2005. It’s worth to pay a visit.
Enjoy The Beauty of Baščaršija
The old bazaar in Sarajevo is called Baščaršija, it’s also the historical and cultural center of the city. The word Baščaršija derives from the word “baš”, which means “main” in Turkish so that Baščaršija means “the main street”. It located on the northern bank of the river Miljacka.
Visit Avaz Twist Tower, Sarajevo
It is located next to Sarajevo train station. The Avaz Twist Tower is the tallest building in Sarajevo and offers a fantastic 360 panoramic view of the city from its observation deck.
Got to See Gazi Husrev-Beg Mosque
This is one of largest historical mosque and most typical Ottoman structures in Balkans. Built-in 16th and today serves as the main congregational mosque of the Islamic community of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Beautiful St. Joseph Church, Sarajevo
The Saint Joseph’s Church is a Roman Catholic church in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. It was declared a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2008.
Walk Over Latin Bridge
Latin Bridge is an Ottoman bridge over the river Miljacka in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. The northern end of the bridge was the site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria which initiated the World War I.
Visit Old Clock Tower (Lunar Time)
Located in the historic old town section of Sarajevo, next to the Gazi Hursev-beg Mosque the Old Clock Tower is worth a visit. This clock tower is one of the tallest in Bosnia and Herzegovina also know as “Little Ben”. It is the only public clock that keeps lunar time so at first, look don’t get an impression that the close is off time. The reason it keeps lunar as it aligns with daily religious prayers.
Enjoy At Sebilj in Sarajevo
The Sebilj is a pseudo-Ottoman-style wooden fountain in the center of Baščaršija square in Sarajevo built by Mehmed Pasha Kukavica in 1753.
Visit Vijećnica – The City Hall
Sarajevo City Hall, known as Vijećnica, is located in the city of Sarajevo next to the river Miljacka
Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sarajevo
The Sacred Heart Cathedral is a Christian church in Sarajevo; commonly referred as the Sarajevo Cathedral, it is the largest cathedral in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Šeher Ćehaja Bridge
Šeher Ćehaja Bridge is a bridge which crosses the River Miljacka in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. During the Ottoman rule, 13 bridges were built in Sarajevo. One of the most impressive ones is Šeher Ćehaja Bridge.
Bascarsija Mosque, Sarajevo
It is located on the main square of Sarajevo’s old trading center – Bascarsija. It is believed that this mosque was built before 1528.
While the courtyard of the mosque is not very large, it’s quite pretty and is like a little oasis in the center of Baščaršija, with its small fountain, roses, and two tall poplar trees.
The White Fortress is an old fort overlooking the historic core of Sarajevo. It is a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
How To Get Around
Bus and Tram:
Public Bus and Tram is the most convenient and cheapest way to move around the city. I did not use the bus but tried both Tram 1 and 3. A single ride will cost you 1.60 KM (US$ 0.86) if purchased from kiosks, otherwise 1.80 from the driver. A day ticket is also available for purchase, will cost you 5.30 KM (less than US$ 3) which will cover all trams and trolleybuses but not buses. Note that day tickets need to be purchased form official kiosks only.
Tram 3 starts from Ilidza passes the National Museum and then circles around Bascarsija (old town) frequently (every 4 to 7 minutes). Tram 1 starts from the train station then go around the old town same loop as Tram 3. Trolleybus and regular buses also run through the city and a great way to move around.
The old town is not a good place to drive around, very difficult to find parking even though I rented a car but I parked it at my hotel when I planned to explore the old town (Bascarsija) area. But when you plan to visit the surrounding mountains area then having a car makes it much easier.
There are taxies available in the city but you may need to negotiate the fare often want a fixed price. Sometimes language is going to be an issue to communicate with the driver.
Where did I stay in Sarajevo
I enjoyed staying at this hotel. Conveniently located, only a few miles away from the historical old town as well as only 15 minutes driving distance from Sarajevo airport. Breakfast was great, a lot of items to choose from. The hotel staff was friendly and helpful. While staying there most of the time I took the tram to get to the city center (old town). The closest Tram station Pofalici is only a few minutes walk from the hotel. If you have a rental car then video surveillance secured parking is available at the cost of 20 KM/BAM per night or 3 KM/BAM per hour. Airport transfers by Hotel limousines are only 40.00 KM/BAM (US$ 22), email them for reservation.
My Favorite Local Food
My Opinion and Tips
Have you been to Sarajevo? Any additional tips to share?
Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge.
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