Choose from 14 Fun Things to Do in Bosnia And Herzegovina
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Lying north of the River Miljacka and forming the original heart of Sarajevo’s Old Town (Stari Grad), Bascarsija is a vibrant, bustling Oriental bazaar where several mosques and hammams (baths) date back to 1462, when the country was under the Ottoman rule. Starting life as a caravanserai, with accommodation for travelers and stabling for horses, its foundations were laid by Isa-Beg Ishaković, who was the first Ottoman governor of Bosnia. Over time, Bascarsija grew into a labyrinthine district of cobbled alleyways and shaded lanes, and by the 17th century it was a thriving trading hub with thousands of workshops practicing scores of crafts from coppersmiths to potters and jewelers, all existing amid the mosques and minarets.
Despite an 1879 fire destroying almost half of the bazaar, today its intriguing spider’s web of pedestrianized backstreets spans out from the landmark 19th-century Sebilj Fountain. Many of the alleyways and are still crammed with cluttered artisan stores spilling over with copper pots, gold, ceramics and hand-embroidered shawls, as well as cozy little cafés offering eastern delicacies such as stuffed dolmas and meat-filled burek.
Located in Old Town (Stari Grad), Bascarsija is always open and accessible.
Address: Stari Grad (Old Town), Sarajevo, Sarajevo Canton 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From $ 54
Curiously innocuous considering its momentous role in 20th-century history, the Latin Bridge spans the River Miljacka between Obala Culina Bana and Obala Isa-Bega Ishakovića in Sarajevo. Built in Ottoman times, its four stone arches date back to at least 1565 – although a wooden one may have preceded it – making it one of the oldest bridges in the city.
By the advent of the 20th century, Turkish rule in Bosnia had long been superseded by the expansion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and unrest was brewing across Europe. On June 28, 1914, Serbian mercenary Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie while they were on a state visit to Sarajevo, choosing the northern corner of the Latin Bridge to commit his crime and sparking the political events that lead directly to the outbreak of World War I. Today a plaque marks the spot, and there are portraits of Princip and Franz Ferdinand on the exterior of the Museum of Sarajevo 1878-1918, which stands by the Latin Bridge and chronicles the saga of the assassination and its tragic aftermath.
Located in Old Town (Star Grad), the bridge is accessible by foot and free to visit.
Address: Stari Grad (Old Town), Sarajevo, Sarajevo Canton 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From $ 36
A ‘tekija’ is a Muslim Dervish monastery and the one found near the rural settlement of Blagaj near Mostar has probably the most spectacular location of any religious building in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Built between 1446 and 1520 while the country was under Ottoman rule, Blagaj Tekija is tucked in under a sheer, 200-m (656-ft) limestone cliff face overlooking the emerald-green source of the River Buna. It was constructed for a sect of soldier-monks somewhat akin to the Christian Knights Templar called the ‘bektašije’, and is a striking mixture of Bosnian and Oriental architecture, a whitewashed, half-timbered four-story structure leaning over the water’s edge. Today monks from the Naqshbandi order inhabit the monastery and Dervish ceremonies still take place there; the remains of two 15th-century Dervishes are interred under ornately carved wooden roofs and are the subject of Muslim pilgrimages. This lovely spot is backed by spectacular rock formations and a complex of caverns that lead well underground; boat trips make the journey to explore the subterranean passageways. During snowmelt in spring, 43,000 gallons of water per second shoot over the weir in front of the monastery, sending spray high into the air; several open-air restaurants linked by wooden bridges peer over the river from under colorful awnings.
Open daily 8am–10pm; admission 4 KM. Blagaj is seven km (4.5 miles) south of Mostar and best accessed by car along the M6.1 road.
Address: Blagaj bb, Mostar, Mostar municipality 88201, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Hours: Open daily 8am–10pm
Admission: 4 KM
From $ 35
With worn steps straggling up a steep and rocky cliff side on the left banks of the Neretva River, Počitelj is a warren-like, stone-built and fortified village with its origins in the late 14th century. Over the following centuries it expanded under Turkish occupation and is now UNESCO World-Heritage listed for its enchanting combination of medieval and Ottoman architecture. Počitelj is wrapped in fortified walls and entry is through a gate topped by a 16-meter (10-foot) clock tower; the soft stone townhouses and winding alleyways are overshadowed by the tumbledown medieval fortress and octagonal watchtower standing guard on the hill behind the village. The ornate minarets of the domed Hajji Alija mosque were built in 1562, destroyed during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s and subsequently restored along with the madrasa (school) and hamam (baths); from the mosque’s terrace there are unparalleled views across the rocky landscape and down the Neretva river valley.
Počitelj was at its most powerful during Ottoman occupation of the Balkans but slowly lost importance following the advent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1878. By the late 20th century, the picturesque village was a haven for poets, writers and painters but it was virtually abandoned during the heavy bombing of 1993. Thanks to investment from the EU, an artistic community is slowly resettling there and bringing the cobbled alleyways back to life.
Best reached by the M17 road from Mostar, which is 30 km (18.75 miles) north of Počitelj.
Address: Počitelj, Čapljina municipality 53205, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From $ 75
The National Museum was founded in 1888 when Bosnia was under control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and moved to its present, regal Art Nouveau accommodation in 1913 as its collections grew. It was closed during both world wars and its complex of galleries was heavily damaged during the 1,425-day Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s. Due to political in-fighting and lack of funding, the beleaguered museum shut again in 2012 but happily reopened in September 2015 to display some of its four million artifacts in a series of light-filled galleries; during this
last closure staff worked unpaid to conserve the museum’s exhibits.
Along with a 300,000-volume reference and research library, the museum has three departments (archaeology, ethnology and natural history) crammed with medieval art, ancient armor, stuffed bears and countless other treasures covering thousands of years of Bosnian history. The ethnology selections are particularly strong, highlighting the multi-cultural nature of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s culture with an appealing mix of Bosnian, Serbian, Muslim and Jewish ethnic costumes. Neolithic ceramics from the excavations at suburban Butmir are the centerpiece of the archaeology collections; and to view the museum’s prize piece, the priceless Sarajevo Haggadah (Jewish Passover manuscript), call two days in advance of your visit.
Zmaja od Bosne 3, Sarajevo. Open Tue–Fri 10am–7pm; Sat–Sun 10am–2pm. Admission adults 6 KM; seniors & children aged six–18 3 KM. Viewing of the Sarajevo Haggadah: 30 KM. Take tram 3 to the National Museum.
Address: Zmaja od Bosne 3, Sarajevo, Sarajevo Canton 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Hours: Tue–Fri 10am–7pm; Sat–Sun 10am–2pm
Admission: Adults: 6 KM; Seniors & children aged 6-18: 3 KM
From $ 31
This city with stunning hillside scenery has a name that literally means “between the mountains”. Its epic landscapes and brilliant green views attract Catholic pilgrims from across the globe, thanks to reports that the Virgin Mary was sighted here. According to locals, apparitions started in 1981. Sice then, some 40 million people have made their way to the town of Medjugorje in hopes of bearing witness or being healed.
Travelers can attend daily mass in English or Croatian at St James Church or one of the other cathedrals that dot the countryside and journey up the well-marked path on Apparition Hill, where one of the first sightings of the Virgin Mary is said to have occurred. It’s possible to stop for prayer and contemplation at the famed Blue Cross statue, which sits at the foot of the hill or climb nearby Mt Krizvec, where a 29-foot high crucifix was built. Visitors will find deep religious roots in this stunning hillside community.
The town is located about 16 miles (25 km) southwest of Mostar, near the border of Croatia.
Address: Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From $ 21
Spectacular Kravice Falls in Bosnia and Herzegovina are one of Europe’s best-kept natural secrets. Plummeting over 98-foot (30-meter) soft tufa cliffs on the Trebizat River southwest of Mostar, the waterfalls have sliced out a natural amphitheater spanning nearly 400 feet (120 meters) as the river splits into more than a dozen separate waterfalls cascading into the lake below.
The falls are a sheer pleasure to experience. Rope swings are poised over the river and several fish restaurants, picnic areas, and camping facilities are dotted on the shore. During the late spring and hot summer months, an amazing natural phenomenon occurs at around noon: The heat causes some of the lake water to rise and create a mist at the top of the valley. A small grotto full of stalactites is nearby, as is an old mill and sailing ship. Visit the falls as part of a day tour from Mostar, including stops in Pocitelj, Blagaj, and/or Medugorje, or as a day trip from Dubrovnik, Croatia, including a stop in Mostar. Day tours from Sarajevo are also possible.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The lake is most shallow in the summer, making it kid-friendly for swimming.
- There are no lifeguards on duty at the lake.
How to Get to There
The Kravice Falls are 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Mostar by car along the M6 Capljina-Ljubuski road; turn left down the dirt track at the brown sign marked “Kravice Falls” and follow it for almost two miles (about three kilometers). If you’d rather not drive yourself, book a taxi or join a tour from Mostar, Dubrovnik, or Sarajevo.
When to Get There
It is possible to visit Kravice Falls only from May to October. The best time to go is during the spring snow melt, when the falls are at their fullest and the surrounding landscape is a luscious green. The falls are tamer in summer, when several small sandy beaches appear underneath the cascades from which to swim in the icy, emerald waters.
Things to Do Near Kravice Falls
You can combine a visit to Kravice Falls with one or more nearby towns or villages. Stop in the medieval town of Blagaj, once the capital of Herzegovina, or visit the fortified Pocitelj old town, built into the rocky cliffs above the Neretva River. You might also stop at Medjugorje, one of the largest Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world.
Address: Čapljina, Čapljina municipality 88300, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From $ 35
Just a few steps away from Mostar’s landmark Stari Most, the historic bridge that was destroyed in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, lies the Stari Grad, the oldest part of town. The historic and commercial heart of this district is the Kujundziluk (Old Bazaar) overlooking the left bank of the River Neretva, which in Ottoman times was where all the trading and bartering took place. In the 16th century, Turks and Bosnians alike congregated here daily to do business; today the Kujundziluk is just as crowded with international visitors keen to seek out traditional crafts and street snacks from the tiny stalls and artisan shops of this cobbled warren of alleyways backed by pink-painted houses. Colorful geometric-patterned rugs, intricate handmade jewelry and gaudy beads, embroidered scarves, bags and shisha pipes are some of the treasures to be unearthed here; be prepared to bargain for discounts off the initial prices.
Best reached on foot through the Old Town.
Address: Stari Grad, Mostar, Mostar municipality 88000, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From $ 15
Almost on the border with Croatia, the UNESCO-listed Vjetrenica cave system is the deepest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, disappearing 3.7 miles (six km) below the Dinaric Alps into a magical world of subterranean rivers, limestone galleries and glittering lakes. Spectacular tumbling stalagmites and stalactites loom in the semi-darkness of the meandering tunnels and its ever-running waters flow into the Trebisnjica River on the southern edge of the Popovo Polje valley.
Skeletons of bears and leopards have been found in the Vjetrenica caves along with primitive drawings dating back 10,000 years, which can clearly be seen etched into the walls. Many hundreds of rare animal species have been discovered here, including the olm, a salamander-cum-fish with legs, lungs and gills that is peculiar to the region. Visited by thousands before the tragic civil war of the 1990s tore former Yugoslavia apart, infrastructure for tourism at Vjetrenica has recently been upgraded and the caves are once more open to explore. Temperatures underground are at a constant and cool 11°C, so dress warmly as guided tours last around 60 minutes. As the underground pathways are slippery, take sturdy footwear; jackets and hard hats are provided.
Zavala. Opening hours: Apr–May Mon–Sat 10am–2pm; Sun 12pm–2pm. June–Oct Mon–Sat 10am–6pm; Sun 12pm–6pm. Outside these months, visits can be arranged on request. Admission: adults 10 KM; seniors & students 8 KM; children 4–15 5 KM. If coming to Vjetrenica from the Croatian side of the border, a passport is required.
Address: Zavala 88370, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Admission: Adults: 10 KM; Children: 5 KM
From $ 131
Constructed in 1566 during the Ottoman occupation on the sight of an earlier wooden bridge, the Old Bridge (Stari Most) in multi-cultural Mostar straddles the Neretva River; it was designed in a single stone span by Turkish architect Kodja Mimar Sinan and built by Mimar Hayruddin, who was threatened with execution by the Sultan if the bridge should collapse. Thankfully it stood the test of time until its destruction by shells during the Balkan Wars, but now once again soars over the river, 30 meters (98.5 feet) in length and standing 21 meters (69 feet) at its highest point. Today the Old Bridge is world famous for several reasons: it unites the city’s Muslim and Christian residents between the Ottoman left bank and the largely 19th-century Austro-Hungarian enclave on the right bank; it was blown apart in 1993 when the two communities of Mostar turned on each other; and yet has come to symbolize peace and reconciliation since its restoration – using the original white limestone dredged from the river – and reopening in 2004 with a reinforced metal framework. In summer the youth of Mostar use the UNESCO World Heritage-listed bridge as a diving platform in a spectacular display of foolhardy bravery; an annual diving competition is held in mid-August, watched by up to 15,000 spectators.
The bridge is open 24/7, there is no charge and it is best reached on foot through the Old Town.
Address: Old Town (Stari Grad), Mostar, Mostar municipality 88000, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From $ 15
Bascarsija is the medieval Oriental bazaar lying at the heart of Sarajevo’s Stari Grad (Old Town), where mosques and hammams (baths) date right back to 1462. The most important and grandest of Bascarsija’s mosques is Gazi Husrev-beg, named after a Turkish governor of Bosnia and built in 1530 in Ottoman style by the Persian architect Adžem Esir Ali. Originally a complex of prayer halls, madrasa (Koranic school), medieval soup kitchen for the Muslim poor, wash room and library, the mosque was badly damaged during the Balkan wars of the 1990s but has been extensively reconstructed; today its distinctive dome once more forms the heart of Bascarsija and its spiky minaret is a landmark visible all over Sarajevo.
The ornate entrance to the mosque is surrounded by marble and decorated with gilding; inside its gleaming white walls are adorned with Arabic inscriptions, the ceilings hung with golden chandeliers and the floors covered in handmade carpets gifted by Muslim visitors from overseas. The mosque’s peaceful courtyard is dominated by an elaborate wrought-iron fountain – once used for ritual washing – and is the resting place of many pre-eminent Bosnians, including the 19th-century poet Safvet Bey Bašagić and the leading politician of the 1930s, Dr Mehmed Spaho.
Sarači 8, Sarajevo. Open daily 9am–12pm, 2.30pm–4pm,
5.30pm–7pm. Admission to mosque 2 KM. Best accessed on foot through pedestrianized Bascarsija in Sarajevo’s Old Town. Be sure to dress appropriately when visiting the mosque; ladies must cover their heads, arms and legs; no shorts for men.
Address: Sarači 8, Sarajevo, Sarajevo Canton 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Hours: Daily 9am–12pm, 2.30pm–4pm, 5.30pm–7pm
Admission: 2 KM
From $ 30
Located southwest of Mostar close to the Croatian border, Apparition Hill is a popular Catholic pilgrimage site and the famous home to sightings of apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Officially called Podbrdo Hill, it now draws more than a million visitors each year, making it the third most popular apparition site in Europe.
The Statue of Our Lady was built on top of the hill to mark the 20th anniversary of the first apparitions, which occurred in 1981. There are also 15 bronze reliefs representing the rosary that line the rocky path leading up the hill. In addition to its religious importance, the hill offers panoramic views around the valley below.
Apparition Hill is often visited on a day tour of Medjugorje from Dubrovnik or Split in Croatia. Choose a tour that includes time for a mass at St. James Church or a visit to the Kravice Waterfalls for a more tailored experience.
The nearest village to Apparition Hill is Medjugorje, located about 25 kilometers southwest of Mostar. You can arrive to Medjugorje from Mostar via the 48 bus, which runs throughout the day and is about a 45-minute ride. There is also a daily bus from Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia. For those wishing to stay overnight in Medjugorje, the town experienced a development boom after the Bosnian War and now has more than 1,000 hotel and hostel beds available for visitors.
The site includes a steep and rocky footpath up to the top of Apparition Hill, and is not accessible to wheelchairs. The hike may be challenging to beginning hikers, and it is not recommended to climb if there is a decent chance of rain, as the hike gets very slippery. If visiting the site in June and August, consider taking an early morning tour to avoid the high temperatures.
Address: Podbrdo Hill, Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From $ 199
The Sarajevo Tunnel is an underground tunnel turned war museum, and the best way to learn about the Siege of Sarajevo in Bosnia. Dug out by hand with shovels and picks, the 2,625-foot (800-meter) tunnel served as a lifeline for the city in 1993, connecting the Dobrinja and Butmir neighborhoods to the free Bosnian territory just beyond the Sarajevo Airport. After the Bosnian War ended, the house whose cellar served as an entrance to the tunnel was turned into a museum.
Visitors can watch an 18-minute movie about the war, the blockade and the tunnel experience, and view photographs, maps, military equipment and uniforms, as well as a variety of tools and documents. Visitors can also enter about 20 meters of the tunnel. The museum is a stop on nearly all war-themed tours of Sarajevo and guides can offer valuable insight and perspective.
The Sarajevo Tunnel and museum is located at Tuneli bb 1 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and spans from the Dobrinja and Butmir neighborhoods to the Sarajevo Airport. The museum is open 9am to 5pm from April through October, and 9am to 4pm November through March. Admission costs 10 KM for adults and 5 KM for students with a student card.
The tunnel is accessible by public transport, taking tram 3 to Ildiza (the last terminal of the line) and switching to bus 32 toward Kotorac. Get off on the last stop, cross the Tilava Bridge and then turn left to walk down Tuneli for about a third of a mile (500 meters). Getting to the tunnel can be tricky: the bus runs every 90 minutes on Sundays, and you may have to walk about 30 minutes from Ilidza. Consider taking a taxi or joining an organized tour for easier access.
Address: Tuneli bb 1, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Hours: Daily: 9am–4pm
From $ 22
Running 225 km (140.5 miles) from Lebrsnik in the Dinaric Alps to Ploce on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, the Neretva is Bosnia’s longest river. The waterway is fed by five tributary rivers, including the Buna (overlooked at its source by the Blagaj Tekija monastery) and Trebižat (home of the awesome mini-Niagara at Kravice Falls), before flowing through Lake Jablanicko and turning southwest toward Mostar. The icy upper reaches of the emerald-green river near Glavaticevo flow through dramatic canyons and limestone gorges, but lower down the current is managed by four large hydroelectric dams.
On its way into Croatia, the Neretva flows underneath the historic Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, which has come to symbolize reconciliation between the Christian and Muslim communities since the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. From there it meanders past the historic town of Pocitelj, which sits high above the river amid the ruins of a medieval fortress and the Ottoman Hajji Alija mosque. Once into Croatia, the Neretva broadens out into a delta fringed with reeds and lilies and covering more than 260 square kilometers (100 square miles).
Much of the course of the Neretva can be followed by car; upriver it is a popular destination for white-water rafters and climbers in summer. Glavatičevo is the main destination for rafting adventures on the river.
Address: Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
From $ 15