Bosnia & Herzegovina- Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its countryside is home to medieval villages, rivers and lakes, plus the craggy Dinaric Alps. National capital Sarajevo has a well preserved old quarter, Baščaršija, with landmarks like 16th-century Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque. Ottoman-era Latin Bridge is the site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which ignited World War I.
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the country. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who requires visa please refer to Bosnia & Herzegovina consulate website: https://bhmc.ae/.
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options. Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette, and how shoppers can take advantage of VAT refunds.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things do & see:
Bosnia & Herzegovina - If you want an affordable Mediterranean destination with everything from medieval villages to craggy alpine mountains and gritty-but-beautiful cities, Bosnia & Herzegovina is the place for you. Often overlooked because the country’s name is still synonymous with the Yugoslavian War of the 1990s, Bosnia & Herzegovina deserves your attention, and my goal with this travel guide is to spark your desire to visit. Not a lot of people backpack or travel through the country but it is rich in history, culture, and natural beauty.
Three major religions (Islam, Roman Catholic, and Serbian Orthodox) all come together in this small area to form a vibrant blend of cultures. You’ll hear the Muslim call to prayer over the minarets one minute, and church bells ringing from a nearby church the next.
Watch skilled divers jump from the iconic bridge in Mostar, or enjoy some hookah at one of Sarajevo’s sidewalk cafes, take a dip in the turquoise pools below the cascading Kravica Falls, or raft down the Tara Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe. Bosnia & Herzegovina may be small but there’s a lot to do here. The country (especially the capital) has become more popular in recent years thanks to increasing tourism in the region and cheaper prices but you can still catch it before the big crowds come! This travel guide to Bosnia & Herzegovina will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, and ways to save money.
Bosnia - The region of Bosnia occupies the central region of the country’s landmass. The capital is Sarajevo. You’ll find Ottoman-style mosques in the different towns and cities. Muslims make up the majority, and life is more consistent with Islamic principles. Geographically, the River Drina and the River Sava make the invisible border to the north and east.
Herzegovina - Herzegovina makes up approximately a quarter of the country covering southeastern regions near the Croatian border. Catholic Croats make up a slight majority to the west of the River Neretva and even more live closer to Croatia’s border. Most of the landscape is mountainous, and some of Bosnia’s best wines come from here. The unofficial capital is Mostar. Bosniaks tend to live to the east of the River Neretva and Croats on the west, making a somewhat divided city. Tourists often feel like they’re passing from one country to the next as they cross the river. Herzegovina has a claim to fame in the Catholic world. A small village called Medjugorje has become a significant pilgrimage site for Catholics since the 1980s, after six children reported seeing Mary, Mother of Jesus in the hills. Since then, 30 million people have descended on the village.
Sarajevo - Bosnia’s capital has a distinct “east meets west” vibe. On the Ferhadija pedestrian road, one end of the street has mosques and a Turkish bazaar, and the other side has Austro-Hungarian architecture and western restaurants. Enjoy some hookah, take the cable car to the top of Mount Trebevic, and visit the Bašcaršija historic market.
Tunnel of Hope - Surrounded by Bosnian-Serb forces, Sarajevo had just one link with the outside world from 1992–1995: an 800-meter long, 1-meter wide, 1.6-meter high tunnel connecting two houses on opposite sides of the airport runway. Eventually, the tunnel was equipped with rails to transport food and supplies. You can walk through part of the tunnel from the house on the western entrance while learning about the story of the siege through informational displays and video. It’s an incredibly moving experience. The tunnel is open from 9am-4pm daily.
National Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina - The National Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina in Sarajevo houses the Sarajevo Haggadah illuminated manuscript, which contains the illustrated text of the Passover Haggadah that goes with the Passover Seder. It’s one of the oldest Haggadah in the world, dating from 1350 and originating in Barcelona. In addition to Greek pottery and Roman mosaics, this museum is also home to a collection of ste?ci (medieval tombstones found scattered around the country). They started appearing in the 12th century for various Christian churches like the Bosnian Church, and most of them are inscribed with the extinct Bosnian Cyrillic alphabet.
Mostar - Mostar is a medieval city best know for its 16th century bridge straddling the Neretva river that people jump off! Explore this historic town and see the ancient Ottoman homes and panoramic views from the local mosque. It’s one of the best cities in the country.
An areal view of the town of Jajce in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The most visited destination in Bosnia attracts tourists to Stari Most. Combine this with a special mixture of Bosniak and Croat cultures on either side of the river, and visitors get two very different experiences. Kujundziluk is Mostar’s Ottoman Bazaar, full of stalls and branching alleys. The Croat side houses Cathedral of Mary, Mother of the Church, and shaded avenues with a Croatian charm.
Tuzla - Tuzla may not appear to be the prettiest destination in Bosnia due to its industrial setting and Soviet appearance. But, dig deeper, and you’ll see the beauty and a lovely old town. Salt production was always the primary economic source and was increased under the Ottomans making the town reasonably wealthy. Today, Ottoman-style buildings and the 16th-century Turalibeg’s Mosque juxtapose against Austro-Hungarian facades along city square Trg Slobode as well as medieval squares.
Visoko - Few outside of Bosnia know about this small town to the northeast of Sarajevo. Visoko’s claim to fame is the Bosnian Pyramids, which may either be the tallest and oldest in the world — or a cruel hoax depending on who you ask. Tourists often take a day trip, but neglect everything else in the former capital of the Bosnian Kingdom. An Ottoman centre with mosques and narrow streets give the town beauty.
Travnik - Ottoman Governors (Viziers) once used Travnik as their seat of power, giving it the nickname ‘the European Istanbul’. The small town with a population of fewer than 20,000 residents is 90 kilometres (56 miles) northwest of Sarajevo in Central Bosnian and Herzegovina. Travnik’s Old Town dates to the 15th century and boasts 28 protected historical and cultural buildings. Walking through the streets gives a sense of being in an open-air museum. One of the highlights is the two 18th-century Ottoman clock towers and Travnik Fortress.
Brcko - Brcko District is somewhat unique with the title of Europe’s only self-governing free city. Sitting on the banks of the River Sava with Croatia to the north, Brcko hasn’t become a victim of segregation. Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats live side by side in this little-explored destination. Walking along Trg Mladih, the main street is lined with colourful Hapsburg architecture and cafes; you’ll get a feeling for Brcko’s soul. Other highlights include the orange and yellow Gradska Vijecnic, which is a government building on Bulevar Mira 1.
Brcko District - After the Dayton Agreement ended the war, the leaders continued arguing over who gets Brcko, a region in northeast Bosnia near both Croatia and Serbia. Unlike other parts, Brcko has mixed demographics. So, in 1999, an autonomous Brcko District was born. Today, the destination is a popular stopover when people travel between Serbia and Bosnia. If you get the chance, visiting this area is one of the most off-the-beaten-path experiences you can have in Bosnia.
Banja Luka - Banja Luka is the economic and cultural centre of the Republika Srpska in Northern Bosnia. Bosnian Serbs make up most of the population while the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour dominates the centre. The Austro-Hungarians developed most the city with the recently reconstructed Ferhadija Mosque being one of the only remaining Ottoman buildings.
Republika Srpska - with Banja Luka as its capital, feels very different from the rest of the country. The region covers large parts of northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as eastern areas towards the border with Serbia. Two regions with a Serb majority in northeast Bosnia and central Herzegovina self-proclaimed their independence in the early 1990s. SAO North-East Bosnia and SAO Romanija with a Serb majority wanted either self-rule or reunification with Serbia. The Republika Srpska absorbed both. An invisible border separates this region from Bosnia, and many in Republika Srpska want more autonomy, independence or reunification with Serbia. Tensions remain high.
Christ the Saviour Cathedral - The large Byzantine-style structure with golden brown and pink bricks from Mesopotamian dominates central Banja Luka. Designed by Serb architect Dusan Zivanovic, the orthodox cathedral opened its doors in 1929 becoming the first significant large-scale project in Bosnia after WW1. The large gold-plated central dome glistens under the summer sunshine as residents sit around the grounds chitchatting or waiting for friends. Frescoes and icons of various Orthodox saints decorate the interior space. However, the beautiful Cathedral you see today surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns had a difficult life. Nazis first bombed the structure in 1941, and, rather than repairing it, the Croatian Ustashe ripped it down. Later it was rebuilt.
Ferhat Pasha Mosque - is one of very few remaining Ottoman legacies in Banja Luka. Commissioned by Ferhat Pasha, the 16th-century Ottoman Governor, the old mosque displays distinctive early Islamic architecture. The central minaret on this 450-year-old mosque soars 42 metres (138 feet) into the air. During the Bosnian War, the Serb dominated Republika Srpska ordered the destruction of the mosque to remove all traces of Islam from the region. After the conclusion of the conflict, and the country began to return to normality, reconstruction started. Ferhat Pasha reopened its doors again 16 years later in 2016.
Banski Dvor (Governor’s Palace) - Governor’s Palace in Central Banja Luka was originally the residence of the Ban, or Governor, of Vrbas Banovina in the brief Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1941). The large white Renaissance façade with a few medieval elements thrown in sits opposite Christ the Saviour Cathedral. The history of Governor’s Palace is tumultuous. A military and political centre established itself inside after the end of WW2. It later became the House of Culture in 1955. Ownership changed hands again during the Bosnian War when the newly proclaimed President of Republika Srpska used the building as his official seat. Today, Banski Dvor is symbolic of Banja Luka.
Kastel Fortress - This fortress on the banks of the Vrbas River near Ferhat Pasha Mosque is Banja Luka’s oldest structure. Believed to have Roman origins and built on the ruins of a potential Neolithic settlement, Kastel Fortress is likely to be the oldest surviving building in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thick stone walls protected the medieval town, and military personnel inside defended against hostilities. Ottoman reconstruction reinforced the castle, and it became strategically important in the endless confrontations with Austria. A total of nine bastions and two towers remain. Lawns surround the exterior walls, and a more modern children’s dinosaur park fill the interior courtyard.
Cathedral of Saint Bonaventure - Often called the Bishop’s Church, this building resembles more of a TV tower in a science fiction setting than a place of worship. The unusual modern design, by Alfred Pichler, has a central tower formed by the curved roof. A spiral staircase leads up to the five bells at the top of the 42-metres(138-foot) bell tower. Because of this bizarre appearance, you can understand why it’s one of the most photographed sites in the city. An original catholic church with Gothic features stood on this spot until the 1969 earthquake toppled it to the ground. The current building opened its doors in 1973, and, after suffering damage in the war, reopened again in 2001.
Veselin Maslesa Street - Although not a singular entity, VeselinMaslesa, formerly GospodskaStreet, deserves mentioning. Colourful European-style buildings with lavish neo-renaissance façades line Banja Luka’s main pedestrian street. Decorations and carvings cover the windows and doors of the shops and cafes below. Take a stroll and marvel at some of the older, more elegant Austrian styles in Banja Luka.
Konjic - Imagine a small town along a river surrounded by canyons and mountains, and you have Konjic. Located about halfway between Sarajevo and Mostar and against the backdrop of the Prenj Mountain, this is one of Bosnia’s most beautiful towns. Sultan Mehmed IV’s Stara Cuprija, a six-arched stone bridge over the Neretva River, dominates the centre. The bridge dates to 1683 and is the last grand Ottoman structure in Bosnia, which is also said to be the point where the region of Bosnia meets Herzegovina. Tito’s Nuclear Bunker is a short distance from Konjic, and the canyons attract white-water rafters.
Pocitelj - Few visit Pocitelj, a town of less than 1,000 residents, near Mostar. The medieval town was once of strategic importance before and during the Ottoman era, which the UNESCO Fort of Pocitelj, or Kula, protected. Visitors walk along the maze of cobblestone streets through the old buildings, visit the fort and enjoy the 16th-century Hajji Alija’s Mosque.
Neum - Did you know Bosnia has an Adriatic coastline? Looking at the map, you would need to zoom in to see their 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) sandwiched between the border with Croatia to both the north and south. Bosnia has the second smallest coastline, second only to Monaco, and the main city is Neum. Neum is small with a beautiful stretch of the Adriatic and feels like you’ve stepped back into Yugoslavia. The town may not have architectural beauty, but it makes up for it with its coastline.
Visegrad - Visegrad, on the Drina and Rzav River’s confluence, surrounded by valleys and gorges in eastern Bosnia is approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) from the Serbian border. The main highlight is the 11-arched UNESCO Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge, becoming popularised by Ivo Andric’s ‘The Bridge on the Drina’ novel. Since then, tourism has increased, and the City built Andric’s Town, a district in the centre to honour the writer.
River Drina - The long meandering Drina has always been historically significant, forming the Roman border, separating Ottoman Bosnia from rebellious Serbia, and later Austro-Hungarian Bosnian from Serbia. Standing on the banks, you’ll watch the foaming green waters flow with high foothills as the backdrop. Photographing the River Drina in all its glory is a must-do in Visegrad. If you want to get close and personal, join a River Drina Cruise.
Visegrad Spa - Apart from the bridge, Visegrad Spa is another must-do when in town. The spa has its origins in the 16th century and shares a close relationship with the Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge. As the Ottomans mined stone, they discovered thermal water and soon made Turkish Baths.
Pain-reducing radioactive carbons have therapeutic effects on the body’s systems and bubble away at 34°C in the forests approximately five kilometres (3.1 miles) from the town. And no, they’re not harmful. The spa has an on-site hotel, Vilina Vlas, Turkish Baths, and the Church of St Jovan, a former wooden building less than a kilometre away. If you’re visiting Visegrad for longer than a day trip, check out the giant Russian Cross on the western side, the Town Art Gallery, and the Emperor’s Mosque sat elegantly along the banks of the River Rzav, just before Andricgrad. The 14th-century Dobrun Monastery (12 kilometres or 7.5 miles from Visegrad), with 15th-century frescoes, makes for an informative excursion too.
Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge - Towards the end of the 16th-century Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic asked Mimar Koca Sinan to design a bridge. Sinan was one of the best Ottoman architects who created the 11-arched Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge, spanning 180 metres (591 feet) over the river. Then, it stood on the main road leading to Istanbul; now it’s the top Visegrad attraction and a key stop in backpackers’ trips to Bosnia. Mehmed Pasa suffered damage during both World War I and II. It was later rebuilt retaining its original elements.
Andricgrad - Andricgrad, also known as Stone Town, on the confluence of the River Drina and Rzav, serves as a theme park to honour author Ivo Andric. Film director Emir Kusturica designed the artificial town to include a mixture of Ottoman, Byzantine, and Classical architectural styles creating a recreation of Visegrad from the time of The Bridge on the Drina. After opening in 2014, it became one of the top things to see in Visegrad. As you enter the complex through the stone gates, a pedestrianised street with souvenir shops lead around Stone Town. You’ll find Town Hall, the Church of Saint Lazar, Fine Arts Academy, and the Ivo Andric’s Institute inside. But, despite the fairy tale exterior and today’s magical atmosphere, Andricgrad was once the site of a Bosnian War detention centre.
Ivo Andric House - A few minutes to the north of Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge and almost directly opposite the Ivo Moment on the other side of the river, sits a pink coloured house. The house with a pyramid-shaped roof was the former childhood residence of the author himself. Ivo was born near Travnik before moving here. Tourists can’t go inside, but you can take photographs from the street.
Virgin Mary Church - Almost concealed behind the trees on the southern side of the bridge is the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church. Orange roofs surround the white-washed exterior with a towering onion dome. Dating back to 1884, the Virgin Mary holds the position as the most important church in Visegrad. But Orthodox Christianity wasn’t always the dominant religion in the municipality, which makes up almost 90% of today’s population. Muslim Bosniaks made up half the population before the 1990s War.
Pliva lakes - The Pliva lakes are two emerald lakes surrounded by wooded mountains, just outside Jajce. With its rivers, waterfalls, and easy bike paths, outdoor lovers flock here to swim, paddle, bike, and explore. For something unique, plan your visit around the annual waterfall jumping competition held here each August.
Kravica Waterfall - These marvelous cascades drop 25 meters into a bright emerald pool. There’s a little café next to the water where you can grab a snack or a cold beer. Admission is 10 BAM ($6 USD), and swimming is allowed. To see the falls as part of a day trip from Mostar or Dubrovnik.
River Una - Hidden inside a natural border between Croatia and Bosnia is a National Park named after the River Una, another spectacular waterfall. If you’re brave enough, you can go river rafting here, too.
Buna Springs - Dervish House in Buna Springs is one of the most visited places in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a beautiful mixture of natural beauty and architecture.
Zepce - Located between Doboj and Zenica is Zepce, a beautiful town in the valley that’s surrounded by mountains. The roaring River Bosna flows through.
TrebinjeTrebinje -is situated on a scenic lake ringed with mountains, Austro-Hungarian ruins, and ancient monasteries. Hike to the Serbian Orthodox Hercegovacka Gracanica monastery, enjoy some time on the lake, and treat yourself to some of the region’s famous wine.
Bjelašnica Mountain - Bjelasnica, a mountain in Central Bosnia to south-west of the capital Sarajevo, has a popular ski resort. During the Winter Olympics in 1984, the mountain hosted the men’s alpine skiing. Some areas are still at risk of unexploded mines, but it’s safe if you stick to the tourist trails.
Volujak Mountain - is on the border between Bosnia and Montenegro in Republika Srpska. Hiking this beautiful mountain can be a fun challenge for outdoor enthusiasts.
Maglic Mountain - is part of the mountain range on the border between Bosnia and Montenegro. The best photos are often from the heart-shaped lake, Trnovačko, in Montenegro.
Pocitelj - on the banks of Neretva River, makes a great place to visit while on a trip to Mostar. You can find medieval castles, ruins, and even hike up the hills for amazing views of the town. Natural beauty surrounds the ancient town, making it a perfect place for a photo.
Kupres - is an ideal place to enjoy winter sports and to go paragliding in the summer. A range of trails makes hiking in this picturesque landscape a must.
Janjske Otoke - near Sipovo, is one of the most popular places for camping, hiking, and off-road cycling in Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can enjoy the forests, the river and waterfalls like the one below.
Ostrožac Fortress - This Gothic castle in the Una Valley is one of Bosnia’s most photogenic landmarks thanks to its brick torrents and stone wall running along the valley’s edge. Ostrožac has plenty to explore within its grounds, including a sculpture garden, ramparts, towers, and a manor house dating back to 1286. You can visit the castle during the summer (it’s only open then).
Kajtaz House - Kajtaz House in Mostar was once the harem (women’s) area of a large 16th-century homestead built for a Turkish judge. This well-preserved house looks a lot like it did during its heyday, with much of its original furniture and decoration intact, including colorfully embroidered seat cushions and rugs. The family still officially owns it. To visit Kajtaz House, you will need to take a tour. It’s only open daily from April to October between 9am-6pm.
Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic Bridge - Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic Bridge was built in Višegrad, in 1571 and was designed by Mimar Sinan, the famous chief architect for the Ottoman Empire. He was the master builder behind both the Sehzade Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, and this 11-arch bridge is the only confirmed work he completed in Bosnia & Herzegovina. It stretches 179 meters across the Drina River, and although it’s now closed to traffic, you can still appreciate this perfectly symmetrical beauty from land.
Watermills of Jajce - Jajce is known as the “city of falling water” thanks to its giant waterfall that connects the rivers Pliva and Vrbas. During the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918), the small wooden huts standing on stilts over the gushing water used to ground local farmers’ wheat into flour. The huts are genius because instead of using one large water wheel, they aggregate the water power. You can’t go inside, but you can see the huts up close.
Tito’s Bunker - In the bank of the river Neretva, just outside of Konjic and hidden behind a seemingly normal house, the once-forgotten bunker was built under the command of the Yugoslav revolutionary Josip Tito. It was kept secret for many years — even the construction workers were blindfolded until they arrived on site. The bunker costs billions of dollars to build and is now home to a contemporary art biennial called D-0 ARK Underground. You can only visit as a part of a guided tour with Visit Konjic.
Bosnian Pyramids - Located near Visoko, the Bosnian Pyramids are a set of four pyramids dating back to 12,000 years ago that have perfect cardinal alignment, some reaching to heights of 220 meters. While most of the scientific community has debunked the theory that an ancient civilization built these structures, it’s a pretty amazing coincidence that they’re so aligned with the north. There are no official tours, so you’re free to explore on your own.
Galerija 11/07/95 - One of the most tragic events of the Yugoslavian War was the Srebrenica massacre, the largest genocide since WWII carried out by Bosnian Serb forces. With 8,372 victims, the gallery stands as a memorial to those that lost their life while also sharing survivor stories. It’s a powerful exhibition made up of photography, video footage, and audio testimonies.
Whitewater Rafting - Whitewater rafting on the Tara River Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe, is one of the most exciting things to do in the country as you tackle rapids and fast-flowing water. Other than navigating 15 miles (25 kilometers) of white water, your guide will take you to waterfalls, springs, and swimming holes. I recommend Rafting Center Drina Tara. Their full-day tour costs 49 BAM ($28 USD) and ends with a delicious traditional dinner of homemade goat pies, soup, grilled lamb, and drinks.