How to Explore Bosnia
Ironically, most people who search the internet for places to visit in Bosnia already have a few in mind. Bosnia is a small country that exceeds its weight in terms of well-known tourist destinations.
That’s why I’ve tried to do more than your typical Bosnian top ten, listing places with superfluous facts about them, as if they were based purely on online research. I’ll include personal anecdotes and insights, for example, which will hopefully give you real context for your future trip.
I will also provide a number of tips, although not specific enough to recommend which one packing cubes you use to put the perfect outfits in your bag. It’s actually hard to explain up front – just keep reading to see what I mean.
Is Bosnia worth a visit?
Before we dig into the details of places to visit in Bosnia, let’s tackle a more existential question: should you visit Bosnia in the first place? My opinion on this is probably pretty clear – I’ve written several articles about the country, after all – but I’d like to explain it further. On the one hand, my interest in Bosnia goes back to my childhood, when thousands of refugees from the 90s war have settled in the city where I grew up (St. Louis, MO, USA).
Interestingly, almost everyone I spoke with during my trip to Bosnia knew someone who lived in St. Louis, but that wasn’t the most remarkable thing in my conversations with them. It was how kind and warm they were because I was one of their longtime friends. This is especially extraordinary considering that war criminals literally tried to wipe Bosnia off the map 25 years ago.
My favorite places in Bosnia
When people think about where to go in Bosnia, the small town of Mostar is probably number one on their lists. This is due to the charm of the old town, especially the iconic Stari Most bridge. TIP: Make sure to climb the spire of the city’s main mosque for a breathtaking panorama of the city and its surroundings.
I’m not necessarily sure I would consider Kravice to be one of Bosnia’s hidden gems, at least not anymore. However, when I first visited Bosnia, I didn’t even know the waterfall existed. The person who rented my car to me (spoiler alert: Driving in Bosnia is a mind blowing experience!) Told me to go, and I’m delighted.
If you know anything about the religious makeup of Bosnia, it’s probably because it’s one of the most Muslim countries in Europe. It is obviously a question of crossing most of the Bosnian towns, whose horizons are defined by their mosques. However, the city of Medugorgje in Central Bosnia is one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in Europe.
I feel a little strange listing it as one of my top destinations in Bosnia, given the horrible reason everyone knows the name of this city. However, whether you dig into the history of the massacre or revel in the vitality that defines the city today, Srebrenica is definitely a place that you should visit when you come to Bosnia.
Let’s face it: you are going to visit the capital of Bosnia when you travel to the country. However, make sure that your list of places to visit in Sarajevo is very long. As well as hanging out in the Old Town as I mentioned, be sure to stop at the Eternal Flame and view the town from the Yellow Fortress perspective.
How long to stay in Bosnia
Due to the small size of the country, you can experience the beauty of Bosnia in a relatively short period of time. On the other hand, it is unreasonable to think that you can see all over Bosnia in a day or two, unless you are just visiting Sarajevo or Mostar (but not both). If you visit the five destinations I have highlighted in this article, I would say that a 3-7 day trip (I realize this range is wide) will suit you perfectly.
You have to consider a simple fact. As well as exploring all of the places to visit in Bosnia that I have listed in the previous paragraphs, you will likely explore the larger region as well. For example, you can start your trip to the Balkans with five days The Dalmatian coast of Croatia, before moving up to Bosnia for another 3-5. Then you can travel northeast to Serbia to complete your trip, or further south to Montenegro and Macedonia.
Other FAQs on visiting Bosnia
What is Bosnia best known for?
Sadly, Bosnia is probably best known for the Balkan War of the mid-1990s, which saw thousands of Bosnians killed in cold blood. However, Bosnia has seen new life as a tourist destination in recent years, with Mostar’s Stari Most Bridge and Sarajevo Old Town becoming the top choices for travelers to Europe.
Is Bosnia dangerous for tourists?
Bosnia is an extremely safe country, at least from a petty or violent crime perspective. Bosnians are friendly and honest; many are devout Muslims, which prevents them from committing crimes against others. The main dangers for tourists are car accidents and natural disasters like floods and earthquakes.
What is the most beautiful city in Bosnia?
Most tourists generally find Mostar the most beautiful city in Bosnia. It makes sense, whether it’s because of the stunning Stari Most Bridge, the crystal-clear river flowing below, or the region’s generally beautiful surroundings. However, I personally love the old town of Sarajevo and think it is very beautiful and underrated.
The bottom line
Hope this helped you add a few places to visit in Bosnia to your list. While most travelers plan to stay a few nights each in Mostar and Sarajevo, few extend their Bosnia itineraries beyond. This makes sense of course, given the number of interesting destinations in neighboring countries such as Croatia and Serbia. There’s also the fact that most people don’t spend very long in this part of Europe – two weeks is pretty standard, and some people stay even shorter.