Bosnia and Herzegovina Travel Guide
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Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Europe with its breathtaking natural beauties, valleys, national parks, waterfalls and civil architectural structures bearing the traces of different civilizations, is the place where the spark of the First World War was lit.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the country with the largest Muslim population in Europe, where people from different faiths and cultures have lived together for centuries. Like many countries in the Balkan geography, Bosnia and Herzegovina also took place within the borders of the Roman Empire on the stage of history.
Bosnia, which transitioned among many states until the year 1200 when it gained independence, retained its independence for 260 years as the Kingdom of Bosnia. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, which quickly embraced Islam since 1463 when it joined the Ottoman Empire, there are many madrasahs, mosques, fountains, baths and bazaars built during the Ottoman period.
Many of these structures have survived to this day. With the weakening of the Ottoman Empire, Bosnia came under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1878; Between 1918 and 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia experienced an active period of internal conflict and war.
During the Cold War period that began after World War I, Bosnians regained their cultural identity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the borders they reached before 1918. During the disintegration of Yugoslavia after the bloody civil war between 1986-1992, ultra-nationalist fighters dreaming of a great Serbia committed
large-scale massacres and murders on Bosnian territory.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, which gained independence in 1992, began the Bosnian War that same year. In 1995, Serbian troops under the command of General Mladic massacred unarmed civilians in Srebrenica. This event II. It went down in history as the bloodiest event after World War II.
The country’s capital is Sarajevo, which is also known as the Jerusalem of Europe due to its multicultural nature.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has 3.5 million inhabitants. Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian are the three official languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The official currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the convertible mark (KM and BAM). Bosnia and Herzegovina is one hour behind Turkey.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Places To Visit
Sarajevo , the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina , is like a city where Asia ends and Europe begins. While a part of the city is like Austria-Hungary, on the other hand it is like Bascarsija and the Ottoman quarter. The historical district of Sarajevo, Bascarsija, is like an Anatolian bazaar, the like of which you will not see even in Bursa.
While crossing the stone bridges in Mostar , Visegrad and Konjic , the jewel of the Ottoman period , you are actually standing on a symbolic bridge that represents a devastating part of Balkan history. All of them were destroyed in the war. When you’re on the bridge, you’re between past, present and future. All cities are worth seeing.
From the little-known city of Jajce with a stunning waterfall at its center , to the almost deserted and newly revived old Ottoman town of Pocitelj , Trebinje and the country’s second city, Banja Luka , there are many places to see in the country. Dinaric Alps , Pliva Lakes and Kravitse Waterfalls are exquisite places that make you feel the natural beauty of the country.
Still 50% of the country is covered with forests. With national parks such as the UNESCO-listed Hutobo Blato Bird Sanctuary and some of the most impressive peaks in the Dinaric Alps, Bosnia and Herzegovina is also a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. I did not have the opportunity to travel that deep, but maybe you will find it.
Yet despite all its charms, the country is rarely visited. More and more people began to notice the natural beauty and historical significance of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Prices are still reasonable, but getting higher every year. Although many travelers rush to visit the country’s exquisite places, I recommend that you stay at least 1 night in every corner.
2 full days is enough for Sarajevo. It takes at least 5-7 days to see the prominent attractions of the country, and 10 days to see almost everything. You need to allocate a budget of 35-50 USD per person per day for an average hotel, local food, bus and museum fees.
Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city, which stands out with its multicultural identity in the Balkan geography, is a pleasant place to visit with its numerous historical structures, delicious food, cute streets reflecting the Ottoman architecture and always smiling people. The historical core of Sarajevo, ‘Stari Grad’, namely Bascarsija, is the city’s most important attraction.
It is an easy city to explore, as many of the major sights in the city are within walking distance of each other. It is possible to come across a historical building in almost every corner. The best place to start touring the city is Bascarsija, which resembles an Anatolian corner with its well-kept wooden shops lined up left and right.
Among the places to visit in Sarajevo are Bursa Bezistani, Gazi Husrev Bey Mosque, Sari Bezistan, Svrzo House, Latin Bridge , Clock Tower, Catholic Cathedral, Morica Han, Tunnel Museum and the Ottoman Bazaar Bascarsija, which forms the center of the city . The Tunnel of Hope is one of the most critical points for Bosnians during the Bosnian War. It is located close to the airport, which is the only point where there is no Serbian siege.
During the war that lasted for almost 3 years, when entering and leaving Sarajevo became almost impossible, the people of Sarajevo found the solution by digging an 800-meter-long tunnel. The tunnel, which was dug by Bosnian volunteers with 8-hour shifts, was used for transportation, especially for transportation, and for the transfer of drugs and weapons.
In Sarajevo, the weather is usually clear and sunny in spring, summer and autumn (April-October). The hottest month in the city is July. It is possible to ski in the Jahorina Ski Center, where the 1984 Winter Olympics were held in winter. I went in both winter and spring, try to go in the spring months.
Although Travnik is a small historical city, it deserves to be added to places to visit in Bosnia. The city surrounded by mountains has an air of miss. During the Ottoman period, Travnik has been the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina for over 150 years. I would not say that the residence of the Bosnian viziers is fascinating for the city, but I can say that it is a ‘living museum’.
The city’s appearance has not changed much since then, though a great fire that started in September 1903 with a spark from a locomotive train destroyed most of the town’s buildings and houses. It is pleasant to walk in the Old Town with traditional houses. It did not suffer much damage in the Serbian conflict.
Many houses, mansions, mosques and two clock towers dating to the Ottoman period have survived to the present day in near-perfect condition. The best preserved of the houses is home to the ethnographic museum. The Colorful Mosque, also known as the Süleymaniye Mosque, is worth seeing. The house of Ivo Andri from Bosnia and Herzegovina, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, is also open to visitors as a museum.
It’s perfect to get lost in the small side streets of the historic city of Stari Grad. Travnik Castle dates from the pre-Ottoman era when the former Christian Kingdom ruled the area. Well preserved and meticulously restored. The view of Travnik from the hill is magnificent. Even start your tour from the castle.
Travnik is located 90 kilometers west of Sarajevo. There are buses from Sarajevo to Travnik almost every hour. I went to Travnik for the day by bus and came back. A one-way trip takes a little less than 2 hours.
If you have time, see the Pliva Waterfall and the town of Jajce , 52 km outside the city . The walled city of Jajce is a place full of history from the Middle Ages to the founding of Yugoslavia. You can see monuments and museums to prove it. Jajce Castle, catacombs, old town and mosques are worth seeing.
3. Pliva Lakes and Pliva Waterfall
Pliva Lakes and Pliva Waterfall are two emerald lakes surrounded by forested mountains just outside of Jajce. With its rivers, waterfalls and bike paths, nature lovers flock here to swim, paddle, cycle and explore. Pliva Lakes may not be the most impressive lakes I’ve ever seen in my life, but it’s nice to see the surrounding pine forest and watermills.
Located on the Pliva River, these two natural lakes are approximately 5.5 kilometers east of the nearest settlement, Jajce. The twin lakes, one big (Veliko Plivsko) and the other small (Malo Plivsko), were formed where the Pliva river expanded towards Jajce. Due to its proximity to Jajce, Pliva Lakes is a popular destination for both local families and tourists, especially in the summer months.
The Pliva River, which meets the Vrbas River in the town, has created the impressive Pliva Waterfall. The Pliva River, a tributary of the Vrbas that flows into the Sava, runs east to Belgrade, where it joins the Danube. A waterfall jumping competition is held here every August. A nice place to swim in the summer. The Watermills (Mlinovi), built on the Pliva River since the Middle Ages, are worth seeing.
4. Banja Luka
Banja Luka is the de facto capital of the autonomous administration Republika Srpska located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Banja Luka, which means ‘Saint Luke’s Bath’ and is the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has a long history that goes back to Illyria, Dalmatia and ancient Rome. There really isn’t anything beautiful to see in an industrial city in northern Bosnia.
The city itself is quite small and there is nothing touristy to do. Located at the confluence of the Vrbas and Vrbanja rivers, the city is a spacious and lively city with its parks, wide boulevards and architectural texture. Prices are very cheap as it is not a touristic place! You can have the cheapest meal here. The Medieval Castle, Orthodox Church and Ferhat Pasha Mosque in the city center are beautiful.
Veselin Maslesa Street, Banja Luka’s main pedestrian boulevard, is a great place for walking and people watching. The entire street has buildings covered with gorgeous Art Nouveau facades painted in pastel colors, such as Širok Street in Bitola.
Located close to the Croatian border, Banja Luka is easily accessible by bus from Zagreb or Northern Serbia. Especially don’t get up and go to see it. Visit if it’s on your way from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, as most travelers do.
Mostar is a more popular city than the country’s capital, Sarajevo. The Old Town of the city, full of old stone houses, and the Mostar Bridge, built on the Neretva River, are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The most valuable heritage of the city is scattered around the Stari Most, the Mostar Bridge. The Mostar Bridge is a 16th century Ottoman bridge connecting the two halves of Mostar’s historic centre.
The bridge, the symbol of the city, which was bombed and destroyed in the Bosnian War, was fortunately rebuilt. Both sides of the bridge form the historical center of Mostar. Stone houses made of gray limestone have an incredible view. Cruise the east bank of the river by following Mostar’s Old Bazaar and the road to Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque.
Since it is within range of the Croatian coast, it can get quite crowded with excursionists at times. My advice is to start your tour early in the morning. Take your pastry at the pastry shops, sit in the coffee shop and have your breakfast. Avoid the crowded tourist area during the afternoon hours. Explore the cobbled alleys of the Old Town or dedicate this time to day trips to Balagaj, Kravitse and Pocitel.
1 full day to visit Mostar is enough to see almost every corner of it easily. It takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes to go from Sarajevo to Mostar by bus. It takes 2 hours by private car. If you don’t want to go this way again, you can even come and visit this beautiful city for a day in Sarajevo. I have visited 2 times so far and every time I come, I spend a few days in the city, it certainly deserves it.
Blagay is a dervish house next to a spring and probably one of the most beautiful places in Bosnia. It lies at the source of the Buna, a tributary of the Neretva River, which is one of the longest rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and runs under the historic Mostar Bridge. The building, constructed in 1520 during the Ottoman Empire, is open to visitors.
One of the country’s
most surreal sites and built next to a cave, Blagay Lodge played an important role in the conversion of Bosnians to the Islam.
Located just 12 km outside Mostar, this holy place is popular with pilgrims and tourists alike.
Known as the capital of the Herzegovina region in the Middle Ages, Blagaj is located just 12 km southeast of Mostar . Blagay Lodge, which literally means ‘bookkeeping’, houses sacred books and relics, as well as the sarcophagus of Sari Saltuk, grandson of Ahmet Yesevi and the lodge’s first sheikh. I highly recommend checking out the impressive
7. Kravitse Waterfalls
Kravitse Waterfalls (Vodopad Kravica) is one of the best places in Bosnia and Herzegovina outside of Sarajevo and Mostar. When I saw the magnificent falls I was surprised that I had never visited them before! One of the biggest waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina, definitely worth a visit. The falls are located between Mostar and the Croatian border in a quiet forest.
It’s quite a wide waterfall that runs along a long ridge.
The waters of the Trebizat River gushed out like tulle from 25 meters high, forming a large and inviting emerald green lake at the bottom. It has a magnificent view that will not tire your taste. It is also possible Cool off with a dip in the lake during the hotter months.
The Kravica Waterfall is a popular swimming and picnic spot for locals and tourists alike. There are also restaurants.
It is located about 43 km south of Mostar and 110 km south of Sarajevo. It is located about 140 km from the Old Town of Dubrovnik and about 135 km from Split. The entrance fee is 20.00 km.
There is no public transport to Kravica Falls.
I rented a car with driver in Mostar and visited Balagay Lodge , Kravitse and Poçitel Village for one day. Best to rent a car and drive alone. The roads are fine , no is a parking problem. Guided tours can also be booked.
8. The Vacationer
Pocitelj is an exquisite Ottoman village 32 km south of Mostar that we can call an “open-air museum”. The village, which dates back to the Middle Ages, was founded on a hill on the Nevreta River. The town, which was a border post during the Ottoman period, was largely abandoned after losing its military value.
When the Bosnian War knocked on Pocitelj’s door in 1993, many of the village’s
residents were displaced and a Much of their priceless Islamic art and architecture was destroyed.
Only a dozen families decided to return after the war ended. What was left of Pocitelj was being restored when I visited the village.
The government-initiated program to protect the Monuments of the city still persists. The stone houses connected by steep stone paths are uniquely beautiful. From the foundation to the roof, the best way to see the beauty of the stone houses is to climb the walls above.
When you are in Mostar, be sure to visit Balagay Lodge along with Kravitse Waterfalls.
Pocitelj is located next to the road connecting Mostar with the Croatian border. You can visit Pocitelj as a day trip from Sarajevo, but I think it makes more sense to visit it as part of an extended itinerary from Mostar or Sarajevo to Dubrovnik or Split or Montenegro.
9 . Needs
Trebinje is located on Lake
surrounded by mountains, Austro-Hungarian ruins and old monasteries.
If authentic places are your thing, then Trebinje is for you. Within the walls of the old town, the locals go about their normal business. There are hardly any tourists. The small inner city of It has a nice atmosphere.
Walk to the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Hercegovacka Gracanica, spend time by the lake and enjoy some of the region’s famous wines.
Biking along the river and paragliding from the surrounding mountains are some of the unique activities here.
There’s even a man-made beach on the river where you can relax among the locals. If you are traveling through the Balkans, traveling to Croatia or Montenegro, Trebinje is a good place to stay. Budget conscious travelers often stay in Trebinje to avoid Dubrovnik’s incredibly high accommodation prices during the summer months.
10. Visegrad and DrinaBridge
Višegrad (Visegrad) is a small town 100 km from Sarajevo. After Mostar Bridge, here is the most famous bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bridge owes its fame to the writer Ivo Andrić, who was born in Travnik and grew up in Visegrad. His 1945 novel The Drina Bridge immortalized the stone structure.
Once the scene of some of the region’s saddest events, the bridge is still used by locals for their daily commutes.
Located next to the bridge on a small peninsula stretching to the Drina, Andrićgrad was built for one of Emir Kusturica’s films. Andrićgrad feels impressive but a dystopian ‘city’ that no one has ever experienced. Una National Park is one of the best national parks in the Balkans. The National Park is in Bosnia and Herzegovina and shares its border with Croatia.