One of the most visually breathtaking corners of Europe, Bosnia-Herzegovina is located in the western Balkan Peninsula. It’s a fabulous fusion of East meets West, where sheep scurry along steep hills and turquoise rivers flow. A next-door neighbor to popular Croatia, it’s easy to reach on a day trip from Split, but there is plenty to do as a destination in its own right. While the 1990s put the country in the spotlight for the wrong reasons with the bloody war, these days you’ll be able to enjoy the warm hospitality of the people who are a unique mix of cultures and faiths. Hear the sounds of rosary beads clicking in a Catholic church, catch a call to prayer for Muslims echoing across the minarets, and breathe in the aroma of incense at a Serbian Orthodox church, all in one day.
Enchanting Mostar is one of the most popular places to stay as the prettiest of Bosnian cities, with family-run apartments and fantastic boutique hotels that make a great base for enjoying the Neretva River that runs right through the center of town. It’s also close to the sacred pilgrimage site of Medjugorje. The capital city of Sarajevo is ideal for historic enthusiasts although it has a vibrant modern side with a thriving food scene too. Bistrik is the best area to stay in if you want easy access to the city center and a more tranquil base to return to.
Things to do in Bosnia
Discover the small town of Mostar
The city was the most heavily bombed of any Bosnian city during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the breakup of Yugoslavia. The Old Bridge, a symbol of Mostar was utterly destroyed in 1993. This beautiful historic Ottoman-style bridge, which spanned the Neretva river in what is considered the historic center of the city. Through combined efforts with the international community, the rebuilding of The Old Bridge was completed in 2004, using some of its original pieces recovered from the Neretva river. The city is now a lively and beautiful destination once again, particularly the area within and around the old town.
Visit Sarajevo the beautiful capital of Bosnia
Sarajevo is a compact city on the Miljacka River, surrounded by the Dinaric Alps. Its center has museums commemorating local history. Landmarks of the old quarter, Baščaršija, include the Ottoman-era Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque. Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all have strong, long-standing presences in the city-earning it the nickname “Jerusalem of Europe”. In the stone-paved streets of Stari Grad (Old Town), shops and stalls selling rugs and coffee sets sit next to cafes, bars, and nightclubs. There are sweeping city views from the 36th-floor observatory of Avaz Twist Tower, with its distinctive glass facade. Outside the city are the parklands of the Ilidža suburb.
Visit a religious place Medugorje
A Catholic pilgrimage town in the mold of Lourdes (France) or Fatima (Portugal). In 1981, six local children in the little mountain-shrouded town of Medjugorje were reportedly blessed with an apparition of the Virgin Mary. It’s said she appeared to the group on the rocky hill of Crnica, which rises just above the center of the town, close to the Croatian border. Millions of Catholic pilgrims a year now flock to the spot where the ethereal figure is thought to have appeared, and there are professional Medjugorje tour guides dedicated to telling the mysterious tale of the religious event.
When to visit Bosnia
Summers are hot and dry throughout Bosnia although it will be cooler in the evenings in mountainous regions. The prices increase as the temperatures rise so you’ll have to be prepared to pay more in this season although the country tends to be more affordable overall than many. Many feel the best time to visit Bosnia is in May and June, or September, when the heat has faded while hiking is idyllic. It will be comfortable for sightseeing and in the fall you’ll enjoy vibrant yellows, oranges and reds splashed across the forests.
Natalie Our Croatia Expert
How many days do you need in Bosnia?
You’ll want at least five days in Bosnia to cover many of the highlights while immersing yourself in the unique culture. As it’s a small country, you can travel relatively quickly from place to place. Perhaps spend a couple of days in Mostar, a favorite with many, and another two days in the bustling capital of Sarajevo. Jajce is worth including too, with a day here to enjoy its small hilltop forest, historical museums, large park, river, and a gorgeous waterfall.
What is the best time to visit for swimming in the Kravice Waterfalls?
Swimming in the stunning Kravice waterfalls is one of the most popular things to do in Bosnia. Summer is the obvious time to come to escape the heat and enjoy a refreshing dip with the temperature never rising above 68 degrees. It can be enjoyable all the way from April through October, and the water will be calm enough for kids to safely swim too.
What are the essential sites to see in Bosnia?
The Stari Most Bridge, or Mostar Bridge as it’s also called, is one of the most photographed spots in Bosnia and a must-see, crossing the river Neretva in Mostar. In the summer, you can watch the locals leap off the bridge right into the water. Even if you don’t swim, you’ll want to see the Kravice waterfalls. Nearby Medjugorje is one of the world’s most famous pilgrimage destinations, renowned for reports of Virgin Mary apparitions. There are many sites in Sarajevo like the old bazaar, Bascarsija, built in the 15th century, and the Sarajevo Tunnel, an underground tunnel with a war-focused museum.
Is Bosnia worth visiting?
If you’re looking for a less tourist, authentic place to enjoy a cultural and historical experience, Bosnia is well worth the visit. It seems that there are few places left in the world like it, complete with majestic mountains, Ottoman Old Towns, and more affordable prices while providing an interesting mix of East meets West. The country’s rich history dates back over a thousand years, a place that was primarily Christian until the 15th century with the arrival of Islamic Ottomans. In 1878, the Austro-Hungarians took over, modernizing Sarajevo.
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