Category Archives: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia

10 Mouth Watering Dishes From Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnian Dishes Guide

There is much more to food in Bosnia and Herzegovina than ćevapčići (local meat sausages), sarma (stuffed sour cabbage) and ajvar (eggplant and pepper spread)! This guide to Bosnian dishes details the lesser-known food items that locals enjoy so you confidently choose from the menu or even try to make at home yourself.


About The Author

I’m Aida and I run Balkan Lunch Box, a food blog about the art of Balkan cuisine. My time is divided between Sarajevo and Washington DC. 


Bosnian Dishes You Must Try

1. Bosanski Lonac (Bosnian Pot) 

The Balkan and Bosnian equivalent of  the saying “an apple a day…” is “each day one should eat something with a spoon.”

This ingrained belief supports the widespread consumption of soups and stews which often appears at the start of a meal. 

Bosanski lonac, aka Bosnian pot, is one such beloved stew named after the type of a clay pot it was traditionally made in.

It consists of one or two varieties of meat (lamb and veal for example), plus many vegetables (carrots, onion, Romano beans, tomatoes, potatoes and more) simmered together on a low fire for hours.

In a way, the dish is symbolic of the Bosnian past (the dish was invented by miners, as Bosnia was a mining country), and of its present and future (it’s a mix of many traditions and people). 

Local tip: the best place to get stews such as bosanski lonac is in a type of eatery called “aščinca” so be on the lookout for them while visiting.

2. Teleća Čorba (Veal Stew) 

Another popular dish is a veal stew called teleća čorba.

Čorbas are mostly thicker than soups but lighter than stews.

Teleća čorba is the stew of choice for most because veal is popular in the region, and the stew itself is hearty.

It consists of chunks of meat, carrots and potatoes that have also been simmering for hours in a big pot.

Since these types of stew dishes are normally made for the masses (similar to the food prepared in the army), they are hard to  replicate in smaller quantities.

This is why you’ll usually find the best veal stew in a local dive bar.

Local tip: with a quality piece of bread, good teleća čorba is a meal in itself.

Bowl of teleca corba or veal stew with spoon and towel

3. Ružice (Little Roses)

Baklava is certainly the best known dessert in the region.

However, don’t miss out on a similar, even prettier delicacy, called ružice (little roses) or đul-pita (rose pie).

Ružice are prepared with the same ingredients as Bosnian baklava such as phyllo dough, walnuts, simple syrup and lemon.

Yet, the layering method for ružice is differs as they are rolled up and cut perpendicularly.

This allows for each delicious walnut and syrup saturated round to resemble a small rose.

Like a good baklava, you’ll only need one or two ružice to appease your appetite, and they are best consumed along a cup of the local coffee.

Local tip: you’ll recognize a true Bosnian baklava, ružice or a similar dessert by the generous, and sole, use of walnuts. No other nuts are traditionally used.

4. Kljukuša (Hash Brown Pie) 

What would a list of best dishes be without at least one really fun one?

In our case this is kljukuša, aka the hash brown pie. 

Its batter consists of flour, grated potatoes and onions.

The result is a golden brown pie that’s broken into pieces and generously topped with a garnish of yogurt and garlic.

Local tip: kljukuša has a lot of names and variations, so make sure to specify the one you’re asking for.

kljukusa or hash brown pie in a silver dish

5. Somun (Traditional Pita Bread)

Somun is a type of a very soft flatbread that in looks resembles pita bread.

It’s round and about 10-15 inches in diameter, with a checkered pattern pressed into the top, sprinkled with black cumin (caraway) seeds.

Somun is great for sandwiches, delicious when stuffed with ćevapčići or served as a side bread.

However, somun is at its tastiest served on its own with a big dollop of kajmak (local clotted cheese).

Like authentic pizza, somun is hard to recreate at home as it requires a brick oven and lots of patience.

Depending on location, somun is also called lepinja, although Sarajevans swear there exists only one, somun. 

Local tip: the best somuns are found in bakeries during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, one hour before sunset.

pita or balkan pie on a black board

6. Palačinke (Balkan Crepes) 

If you thought crepes are a predominately French thing you’re in for a big surprise.

People all around Eastern Europe and the Balkans have been devouring these delicate and lacy pancakes forever.

Here they’re called palačinke, and are on the menu of every food establishment, from takeouts to high-end restaurants.

Palačinke are not only a dessert in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they are also transformed into savory dishes stuffed with vegetables, meat and cheese, and are sometimes deep fried or baked.

Sweet assortments include palačinke filled with melted chocolate, chocolate spreads like Nutella, whipped cream, walnuts, honey, sugar, jam, marmalade and bestilj (a special kind of sugar-free organic jam). 

Local tip: when ordering Nutella stuffed palačinke, make sure to ask for real Nutella, as sometimes you’ll get regional knockoffs of this hazelnut chocolate spread. 

palacinke or balkan crepes on a blue plate

7. Uštipci (Fried Mini Breads) 

Just think of uštipci as your everyday savory donuts.

These fried mini breads are made by deep frying yogurt-based dough, yet they somehow taste much better than the preparation method should allow them to.

Uštipci are found under the appetizer section of most menus.

They’re even better than local bread, and many establishments allow for a swap.

Uštipci go splendidly with meza (local meat and cheese charcuterie boards or tapas), or you can smear them with loads of kajmak, ajvar or jam.

They range in size and shape, so it’s best to inquire about these details before putting in your order as you may fill up on uštipci and kajmak before your main dish arrives. 

Local tip: some places sell uštipci made with buckwheat flour, but I’m yet to taste some that are as good as the regular kind.

8. Pita (Stuffed Flaky Pie) 

Bosnian pita is a delicacy you’ve probably heard of before.

And even though it’s on every ‘what to eat in Bosnia,’ list, such reputation deserves a place on ours as well.

Pita (not to be confused with pita bread) is a pie made out of phyllo dough that’s stuffed with vegetables, meats or a combination of both.

Thin phyllo dough painted with butter and stuffed with copious amounts of filling and then baked, makes for a flaky and succulent dish you’ll have a hard time forgetting.

Each pita in Bosnia has a name based on its stuffing.

Sirnica, for example, is a pie filled with cheese (‘sir’ means cheese), while krompiruša is a potato pie (‘krompir’ meaning potato). 

Burek is the meat pita, and meat pie only.

Sometimes burek can be a source of confusion, as in nearby countries such as Croatia and Serbia burek is used synonymously for all kinds of pita.

However, if you order “burek with cheese” or something similar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the response will be anything from annoying looks to being asked to leave the establishment. 

Local tip: never buy pita from a bakery as they often buy frozen pita and bake it. Even if they make pita in house, bakeries skimp on stuffing and use too much oil.

Instead, look for places with ‘buregdžinica’ in the name, as those are specialty pita eateries.

9. Zova (Elderflower Cordial)

If you are visiting Bosnia in late spring or early summer, your thirst will be best quenched with a big glass of home brewed zova.

Zova is a cordial (non-alcoholic sweet juice) made from elderberry tree flowers.

This drink perfectly bridges the zone between water and heavier juices.

It’s refreshing and sugary, but not so sweet to leave you thirsty in its aftermath.

It has an unusual, distinct taste, but most people who try zova like it right away.

It’s best consumed after a good piece of baklava or another dessert. 

Local tip: as locals are wary of consuming cold drinks, if you like your beverages on the chilly side make sure to mention that while ordering.

10. Višnjevača (Sour Cherry Liqueur) 

For those of you who like something stronger that’s still on the sweet side, višnjevača is the way to go.

Višnjevača is a liqueur made by fermenting sour cherries and sugar in local type of brandy called rakija.

You’ve probably heard of šljivovica, aka plum brandy, which is the most famous type of regional rakija.

Cherries and sugar are placed in a large jar, submerged in rakija, and then left in the sun for about six weeks.

They require minimal supervision, save for stirring a few times during fermentation.

The result is a thick, sweet, crimson red liquid you can’t get enough of.

Regardless, don’t consume more than 2 or 3 small cups of sour cherry liqueur in one sitting lest you end up very drunk, very soon.

Višnjevača is made to be consumed slowly, and in smaller quantities. 

Local tip: although you can find great višnjevača in most places that sell different rakijas, the best kind is always the kind made by locals. So if you make some friends make sure to ask if they have some home brewed višnjevača. 

Bon appetit, or as we in Bosnia say, “Prijatno!” 

visnjevaca or sour cherry liqueur in a glass bottle with glasses


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10 Fun Things to do in Mostar + Best Photo Spots

Things to do in Mostar, Stari Most bridge

Looking for things to do in Mostar? Most known for ‘that bridge’ in the Balkans, the secret is out on this cute cultural capital of the Herzegovina region. So whether you are stopping by as part of a day trip, joining a tour or staying overnight let’s take a look at what to do in Mostar.

Best Things to do in Mostar

1. Visit Stari Most – Old Bridge

Number one on our list of things to do has to be the star of the show, Stari Most.

Stari Most translates to ‘Old Bridge’ and this old bridge sits in Mostar’s Old Town over the Neretva River.

It will come as no surprise that the old town was built centuries ago in the 15h and 16th centuries by the Ottoman Empire, designed by the chief Ottoman architect, Mimar Sinan.

Later the Austro-Hungarians occupied Mostar during the 19th and 20th century.

As this is the most popular Mostar attraction, expect lots of crowds on the bridge, which you can walk over, during high season.

Note: the bridge is slippy so wear shoes with grips or be careful as you walk over at the very least.


» You may also like | What to eat in Bosnia and Herzegovina



Stari Most Mostar I Bosnia and Herzegovina_

2. Watch the Mostar Diving

The story to share with your family and friends when you return from your trip to Mostar will be about the time you saw locals dive from the Mostar bridge into the Neretva River.

These entertainers jump from the Old Bridge akin to a circus act but like everything in tourist areas, this act is not free!

Diving Stari Most Mostar I Bosnia and Herzegovina_

Divers collect a donation from onlookers and once they are satisfied with their coin they dive the 23m into the water.

This isn’t a tourist fad though. The tradition dates back centuries and it is a rite of passage for young boys in the town to dive, by feet first or by swan diving.

Red Bull has hosted many competitions at the Stari Most.

3. Join the Mostar Diving Club

Yes, you read that right, my friends, tourists can jump off the bridge too.

However, you have to do this with the guidance of the Mostar Diving Club.

Entry fee is 25 euros.

For this, you receive brief training which includes getting used to the water temperature and a chance to jump off the practise board which is half the height of the bridge jump.

Once at the top of the bridge you climb over the small fence and then face your fears.

The instructor will tell you when to jump and when to change your arm placement as you fall.

You will not be doing the spins and summersaults like the profressional Red Bull guys!

After the jump, you need to use your adrenaline to swim through the current, if present, and to the rocky shore.

It is expected that you wear a half jumpsuit and bring a towel.

Take time to make the decision, not many tourists do it and there is a risk of injury if you fail to jump right.

4. Stari Most Viewing Points

This the last recommendation related to the bridge in Mostar, honest.

It’s pretty hard to miss it but there are a few decent spots if you are into photography.

Best Views of Stari Most, Mostar

Place yourself on the main cobbled street of Mostar’s Old Town with Stari Most to your left.

You want to take a path to the right, away from the bridge, walking over the river using another bridge (like in an ‘L’ shape).

Take the stairs down to the water.

There are two viewing areas of Bosnia’s most beautiful bridge.

The smaller area (area 1, see image below) is nearly directly underneath the bridge and next to a cafe.

The larger (area 2) is where I took my best photographs of Stari Most.

There is an elevated area, next to a destroyed building, which shows off Stari Most at a nice angle.

Mostar Viewing Platforms I Bosnia

Image taken from Stari Most 

On the lower half of this viewing area, you can take nice shots of you and the bridge, go on, prove you were actually there.

Mostar Stari Most I Bosnia and Herzegovina_
There is a step/wall which is useful for setting the timer for solo travellers or romantic couple shots!

Mostar Stari Most Images I Bosnia and Herzegovina_

I took the below shot from the viewing area #1 (next to the cafe), it didn’t smell great so we moved on quickly!

Mostar Stari Most Divers I Bosnia and Herzegovina

5. Rafting in the Neretva River River

Prefer to be on the river? Some tour in Mostar use the river as the road.

A professional tour guide takes you through the city, tackling rapids and sharing tales about Mostar.

The adventure kicks off in the morning so it is advised to stay in Mostar the night before which means you will get the town to itself after the tour buses leave.

Pack swimwear, sunscreen and a towel.

6. Mostar Old Town

The Old Bridge is part of Mostar’s Old Town. Both are protected by UNESCO.

You can easily lose an hour wandering about the pebbled streets of  theOld Town popping into the small shops which sell coffee sets, lanterns and souvenirs.

7. Drink Bosnian Coffee

If you are an avid coffee drinker you may be excited about trying a new kind of coffee, Bosnian coffee.

Coffee connoisseurs should prime their tastebuds for something a little different to the coffee in the likes of the UK or North America. However, it is not as bitter as Turkish coffee.

Here, coffee isn’t served in a takeaway cup with a misspelt version of your name.

Coffee drinking is a process and experience to be enjoyed over time and quality conversation.

The coffee will be presented in a copper-plated džezva pouring cup with an empty cup for you decant your coffee in to. On the tray, there should also be water, sugar and if you’re lucky a kind of Turkish delight treat, lokum.

However, this is not Turkish coffee and locals will ensure you know it!

Spoon the cold water into the džezva to help the beans sink to the bottom. Use the spoon to help create a creamy texture.

Next, add a layer of the foam into the empty coffee cup with your spoon before pouring the body of the coffee from the džezva into the cup. Enjoy.

We visited on a sunny Saturday and commented on how different our culture is to that of locals in Mostar who were spending a lazy afternoon catching up, drinking coffee while sitting at outside cafes.

In Scotland, if the sun is out on a Saturday, it’s ‘taps off’ and down the nearest pub with a suntrap for cider.

Check out Cafe de Alma in Mostar for traditional coffee with some training!

8. Mostar Tour From Sarajevo

Learn about the history behind the city and that iconic bridge on this Mostar tour.

Your tour guide will pick you up at your Sarajevo accommodation and drive you along the beautiful journey to Mostar whilst sharing stories of war and progress.

Highlights

  • 5/5 rated tour with ‘excellent’ knowledgable guide
  • First stop, Konjic – a town known for its wood carvings
  • Lunch (not provided) in Mostar
  • Marvel at the Stari Most bridge
  • Return to Sarajevo
Read more reviews and check availability here

9. Bosnian National Monument Muslibegovic House

This building has a dual purpose.

Firstly, it is a preserved traditional house/museum which used to be the home of noble families in the 17th century.

Secondly, it is an award-winning hotel so you can sleep overnight in the museum!

10. Shopping in Mostar

Walk the (very tight) cobbled streets of Mostar which are lined with tourist shops selling fringe magnets, clothes, art, and jewellery.

Buy some gelato/ice cream and watch holidaymakers slip on the shiny floor surface of the Stari Most!

Stari Most, Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina

11. Mostar Sniper Tower

A crumbling high rise building with bullet holes in Mostar.

This ex-bank is now a street art mural gallery.

You have to be ‘inventive’ during entry and mindful of the staircase.

12. Mostar Mosque

Koskin-Mehmed Pasha’s Mosque is a mosque built during the Ottoman Empire which allows tourists to enter for 6 euro.

Visitors say it is well worth the fee to see the decor and views of the bridge.

15. Museum of War and Genocide Victims 1992-1995

13. Mostar to Kravice Waterfalls

With the increase in photography being shared on social media, visitors to Kravice Waterfalls has increased in popularity!

It is best to go by a tour to see the ‘Mostar waterfalls’ but you can go independently by hiring a driver in Mostar or by taking a public bus to  Ljubuski which takes around one hour and then hiring a taxi from there.

To enter the falls cost around 12 KM.

Pack your swimming gear if you fancy a dip but be mindful of your belongings.

Lunch/drinks can be bought at restaurants at the falls.

14. Dervish Tekke

Another short trip worth taking is one to Blagaj Tekija – the cute monastery under a cliff.

The white building sits stark against the turquoise waters with cliffs towering over it. Very photogenic.

Visitors can take a boat ride into the cliff.

Check out this tour from Sarajevo which includes both Mostar and Blagaj Tekija.

Practical Information for Visiting Mostar

Mostar War

If you look at the buildings on the streets of Mostar (away from the Old Town) you will see very clearly the destruction that this scenic city faced during the Siege of Mostar in ’92.

This is when the Croats and Muslims fought against the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army.

The siege occurred again in ’93 – ’94 when the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) and the Army of Republic of Bosnia fought against each other this time, both aiming to gain control of Mostar (obviously a far more complicated story than this summary).

This period of conflict created refugees, death, and damage – including an attack on Stari Most itself.

In ’93 the bridge fell while under attack by Croatian shells.

Post-war, as the people of Bosnia began to build their own bridges, an international scientific committee established by UNESCO helped restore Stari Most, and much of the Old Town, to its former glory.

Fun fact, Croats and Muslims in Mostar could not agree on a whose statue would stand as a symbol of peace in their city so they finally agreed on… Bruce Lee!

If this aspect of Mostar’s history and culture interests you, there is a museum called the Museum of War and Genocide Victims 1992-1995 in Mostar.

Read more: a guide to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital city

Accommodation in Mostar

Mostar Hotels

Hotels in Mostar are modestly priced for such a touristy town.

Mostar Hostels

Hostels are a great option for solo travellers looking to make friends and for couples of groups on a budget.

  • Rooms Deny: The owner, Deny, also offers tours. Guests love the community he creates. Dorms and private rooms.
  • Hostal Majdas: Solid reputation. Family-run hostel with breakfast.

Airbnb in Mostar

Airbnb apartment rentals are available. An entire apartment averages at 108 KM but go as low as 56 KM.

Mostar Campsites

There are three campsites in Mostar.

Mostar Packing List

  • A waterproof coat like Marmot Precip US / UK or Mountain Equipment Rupal US / UK
  • Comfortable walking shoes – Such as my Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK
  • Camera and battery
  • Battery pack for your phone – Anker US / UK
  • Osprey bag cover US / UK for rain, protect your gear
  • Eco water bottle such as the Tree Tribe US / UK
  • Or Water to Go Water To Go [quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off]
  • Bamboo cutlery set US / UK, skip single-use plastic
  • Skross universal travel adaptor with USB options US / UK
  • Pacsafe safety net US / UK to secure belongings
  • Hydration tablets US / UK if participating in some Mostar drinking
  • A towel and sense of adventure if you plan to jump the Mostar bridge!

» » Don’t travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina without travel insurance
Read how to choose here « «

Mostar Bridge I Bosnia and Herzegovina_

 

Restaurants in Mostar

  • Sadrvan: Grilled meat dishes.
  • Cafe de Alma: Traditional coffee with a lesson.
  • Food House: Popular with all visitors. Vegan options in keeping with the local menu.

Mostar Weather

Mostar experiences all four seasons with the warmer months starting June 10th and ending September 8th.

The hottest day in July can reach temperatures of 34 degrees.

The cold season starts November 22nd to March 7th with temperatures reaching lows of 1 degree.

November and December see the most rain but it is also prevalent throughout the year.

We planned our trip to Mostar on the sunniest day during our time in Bosnia as there is more to do in the rain in Sarajevo than there is in Mostar.

Best Time to Visit Stari Most, Mostar

To avoid the Mostar tours which flood the Stari Most, arrive in Mostar in the morning.

If you have the time, stay overnight. See our accommodation advice below.

Mostar Currency

Bosnia-Herzegovina Convertible mark is the main currency in BiH. You can check today’s rates here.

Major credit and debit cards are accepted in most accommodation, shops, supermarkets and bigger restaurants.

ATMs are widely available. Currency exchange is also available in the Old Town.

Tipping is not expected but shows gratitude for good service. Rounding up or 10% is acceptable.


» Budget saving: How much does it cost to backpack around Europe?


Languages in Mostar

Most PRs, tour guides, shop assistance, etc speak English but the official languages spoke in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Bosnia, Croatian, and Serbian.

Sarajevo to Mostar By Bus

The bus station in Sarajevo is close to the Avaz Twist Tower.

Don’t be fooled by the small number of bus stances at the front of the station, there are more through the turnstile inside as well as a cafe and toilet.

It is advised to book your bus ticket a day before you intend to travel, the booking office is at the station too. There is also an ATM.

Tickets have seat numbers but no one followed them (our numbers didn’t even exist!)

  • Bus from Sarajevo to Mostar
  • Price: 17 KM
  • Duration: Approx. 3 hours
  • Picture of Mostar Bus Station

Mostar to Sarajevo Bus I Bosnia and Herzegovina_

Best Seats: Sarajevo Mostar Bus

‘It’s not just about the destination, it’s the journey’ as the quote goes.

The bus journey to Mostar offers a bit of eye candy!

The best side to sit at is the right (window seat) on the way there.

On the way back the left had a bit of a view but again the right trumped it!

Mostar to Sarajevo Bus Views I Bosnia and Herzegovina

Click here to see a short (very amateur!) video of the journey taken on my vintage iPhone 4s.

Sarajevo to Mostar by Train

Trains run every day from Sarajevo to Mostar and takes around 2-3 hours. You can book tickets at the station.

Sarajevo to Mostar Private Pick Up

Arrange a private hire which collects from your accommodation here.

Croatia to Mostar

There is a bus that runs from Croatia’s Dubrovnik to Mostar every day and costs around €15 per person.

The Bus Croatia website shows three departures 16:00 and 17:15.

The journey takes around 3-4 hours.

It is likely that it is cheaper to book directly at the bus station but we used this online booking service between Slovenia and Croatia and recommend it.

There are four buses from Split to Mostar that run throughout the day.

The journey is 3-4.5 hours long and the price depends on which bus around €16.

Mostar to Montenegro

GetByBus offers a bus from Mostar to Kotor leaving early in the morning.

There’s a night bus going from Kotor to Mostar too.

The Montenegro Hostel was very helpful when I enquired about transport between Mostar and Montenegro (which we ended up not doing).

According to their information, there is a bus from Mostar to Budva, Montenegro (via Dubrovnik) at 7am (£28) or a direct bus at 4pm (£24).

Both journeys take 8 hours.

The hostel also organises car transfers for the same price as the €35 bus.

The car journey takes around 4.5 hours.

We have no affiliation with the hostel, they were just super helpful, we now plan to head to Montenegro next year.

Check out this post on where to go in Montenegro to see why I am pining!

Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina

Final Words

Regardless of the bustle in Mostar, it is still worth a visit. The town really is beautiful, and I encourage tourists to put money in the pockets of Bosnians, regardless of the 90s conflict being over, there is still a daily struggle for many with around 40% off the country drowning in unemployment.


Further Reading

Heading to Sarajevo? Don’t miss our gushing review of one of our new favourite European cities!


Going to Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Hover over and pin to your Pinterest board!
Essential guide to Stari Most, Mostar - the Old Bridge where divers plunge for entertainment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Tips on what to see, do, and eat.

Over to you! Any questions about Mostar or Bosnia and Herzegovina?

How To Get To Sarajevo Bobsled Track + Video

Abandoned Bobsleigh Track Sarajevo Bosnia I Avaz Tower I Balkans_

There something slightly creepy yet cool about the Sarajevo bobsled track /bob steza which sits hidden by nature at the top of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) Mount Trebević. In 1984, less than a decade before the Bosnian war and the Sarajevo Siege, Bosnia’s capital city, Sarajevo, played host to the Winter Olympics.

The country opened its doors to the international community to celebrate sport, winning their first medal as part of the Yugoslavia team. During the Sarajevo Siege (’92 – ’96) the bobsled (or bobsleigh) and luge track were used by the Bosnian Serbs as a base for artillery but today it is walking museum which has been attacked by graffiti artists!

So let’s take a look at the five ways to get to the Sarajevo Olympic bobsleigh and luge track. 

Sarajevo Bobsled Track I Mount Trebevic I Bosnia and Herzegovina

How to Get to Sarajevo’s Bobsled Track by Foot

It is totally doable to reach Sarajevo’s abandoned bobsled track by foot but it is tricky.

It does involve walking up Mount Trebević and through a local village.

Sarajevo’s Bobsled Track Map

You will need a smartphone with GPS and a map app that can read coordinates.

Input the coordinate 43°50′28″N 18°26′32″E (click here for Google Maps) this will take you three-quarters of the way.

I’ll guide you through the rest (you might want to copy and paste this article into an email, send it to yourself then make sure it is saved to your phone emails).

Be warned, this trek to the track is not for the faint-hearted, put on sunscreen, take water and wear sensible shoes.

Read more: day trip to Mostar to see bullet holes and ‘the bridge’

Sarajevo’s Bobsled Location and Route

To begin with, the GPS directions will take you upstairs, through houses (some old, some new), past men washing their cars, a couple of sporadic local shops, kids playing football, a few stares, and some hellos – just smile and say ‘Dobar dan’ (hello)!

These houses are built on a hill, some of the uphill is at a 30-degree incline, work those buns!

This part of the journey is paved. It should take around 1 hour 15 mins.

Towards the end you will be faced with a grassy patch to your right, some cars may be parked there.

You will see a couple of houses to your left and a path which curves to the right and then up.

Take that path, the pavement will end soon.

Sarajevo Bobsled Track I Bosnia and Herzegovina

The next part of the journey to Sarajevo’s abandoned bobsled track is a man-made path of orange stones.

There are two paths, both will take you to the same elevated point.

The track ends at two bombed outhouses with graffiti on them. Take in the views!

The leg from the top of the lived in houses, should take around 20 mins.

Sarajevo Bobsled Track By Foot
To the right of this (where Craig is standing) is a path, head along it then up, you’ll meet a paved road which curves up to left, more abandoned houses then…

You’ve reached Sarajevo’s bobsled track location.

Phew! That should take around 5 minutes.

Do you recognise the mural on the building? That’s  the internationally renowned street artists, M. Chat. 

Bobsleigh Track by Public Transport

Initially, we planned to reach the bobsled track by bus and walking but decided against it when we realised it was only an hour or so to get there by hiking.

However, I did find public transport instructions in Matt The Roaming Canuck’s blog (no longer running) – his instructions are as follows

  • Go to Tourist Information (address)
  • Photocopy Hiking Mount Trebević (from Jarcedoli) from hiking book
  • Take minibus #56 from bus stop across  from Latin Bridge
  • Ask for unofficial stop ‘supermarket’ (well known apparently)
  • Turn back towards the market and go up
  • Go past houses and ask locals where bobsled track is
  • Go off-road and climb dirt track to the bobsled track

Naturally, I can’t vouch for these instructions, please do share your experience with us in the comments below!

Bobsled Track in Sarajevo by Taxi

According to TripAdvisor, you can take a taxi to the abandoned bobsleigh and luge track.

  • Taxi to Hotel Pino.
  • Turn your back on the hotel, walk through the car park and the road on the right.
  • Follow the path until the bobsled track.

Sarajevo’s Cable Cars!

As of April 2018, Sarajevo’s 32 cable cars have now opened.

Thank you to a reader for updating us.

I’m extremely excited at what this symbolises for the city. Please tell us in the comments about your experience.

Bobsled Track Tours in Sarajevo

If hiking isn’t your thing, and the public transport route puts the fear in you, you could take a tour with a local company.

Although there are no tours which directly focus just on the abandoned bobsled track, it is built into bigger trips, for example, Insider’s  Olympic Tour.

It’s a Jungle Out There

The forest around the bobsleigh/sled track itself is pretty overgrown and there are pine needles inside the track but we could still walk around it, admiring the graffiti and pretending to be a bobsled team.

Anyone born in the ’90s will have fond memories of the film Cool Runnings, probably most people’s education on bob-sleighing is from this cheesy film!

We met three people on our trek one of which was a local couple who were taking photos for her Instagram (I assume!)

Sarajevo Bobsled Track Skateboarding

Craig was gutted that he hadn’t packed his rollerblades (from the 90s) when he saw the track.

We bumped into an Aussie on the way down, skateboard in hand.

There are definite signs skateboard/skatewear and tear around the track, you might need to brush off the pine needles then you’d be good to go.

Craig has simulated what bobsledding down the abandoned track must have been like so you can get the picture…

Sarajevo’s Winter Olympics 1984

There was no trouble during the Winter Sarajevo Olympics in 1984.

It’s baffling to think a decade later every sixth person in this city would be injured by the war. In 1984, Yugoslavia won its first Olympic Winter Games medal.

Who runs the world?

GIRLS – a Finish athlete won all three women’s cross country skiing events and became the only woman to have competed in six editions of the Winter Olympics.

British skaters, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean shook up their standard performance which resulted in them collecting a gold medal.

24 million sets of eyes on Sarajevo. Eight years later this happens.

Abandoned Bobsled Track & Sarajevo Siege

From ’92 – ’96, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital city, Sarajevo, was under siege from the Bosnian Serbs (backed by the Yugoslav People’s Army). The aim?

To carve up Bosnia taking land to create a pure Serb nation, Republika Srpska. 

The Bosnian Serbs had a stronghold on three-quarters of the mountain range which surrounded the city, giving them the power to set up artillery.

Although living in a valley is great for winter sports, it’s tragic for war.

The soldiers pointed their weapons in and down on the residents of the city, for almost four years. 11,500 Sarajevans were killed – Bosniaks, Serbs, Croats, Atheists, men, women, old, young. 1500 children were murdered.

Sarajevo’s abandoned bobsled track made for great shelter for the military, you can see that some of the track has broken off – it’s cement, that doesn’t happen naturally over two decades.

This strategy of firing down and it caused a lot of damage, 60% of the city was destroyed according to our Tunnel of Hope tour guide.

Naturally, war is two-sided and the Sarajevans did retaliate (some of these soldiers were Bosnian Serbs themselves, fighting for independence, many in interfaith marriages).

Although the city defenders were not as big or as well equipped, they were smart and knew their city’s tight streets well.

Sarajevo Rose I Sarajevo Where To Stay and What To Do

Sarajevo Rose marks the location where victims lost their lives


Planning a trip?
Pin to your Bosnia and Herzegovina’s planning board?

Sarajevo Bobsled Track - an abandoned hangover from the 1984 Winter Olympics. How to get there by foot, bus, taxi, and tour.

Final Thoughts

It’s a hard hike to the abandoned bobsled track but a unique thing to see in Sarajevo.

I read on another blog that they had heard people were getting mugged on the way up, so take only what you need (we only took one phone for GPS).

Over half of young people are out of work in BiH, I’m sure like there are opportunists like there are in every city. 

We were wondering why the government doesn’t regenerate the abandoned bobsleigh track and create dry runs?

This would, in turn, make jobs. Tourism is steadily increasing in Sarajevo so watch this space.

Obviously, this thinking comes from a position of privilege and I understand that projects need money. 

Anyway, as I mentioned previously, the hike to the bobsled track offers some of the best views of this beautiful Bosnian city!

Read next: How much will it cost to travel around Europe?

Further Reading

Have you been to Bosnia? Would you like to go?

12 Cool Things to do in Sarajevo [Updated]

Latin Bridge, Things to do in Sarajevo

Are there still snipers in Sarajevo? Genuine question our walking tour guide received via email. No, there hasn’t been snipers in stunning Sarajevo for two decades. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) capital, Sarajevo, is a charming city in a valley which wears its heart on its sleeve and shows its scars on its buildings. This Balkan city is often cited as a place where east meets west. Here’s a guide to the top things to do in Sarajevo including cevapi naturally!

Things to do in Sarajevo

1. Sarajevo Walking Tours

Learn the lay of the land by joining this walking tour in Sarajevo.

Sarajevo is a very historically significant city, its landmarks come with a story so it is recommended taking a walking tour of Sarajevo on your arrival.

Sarajevo is a small city so these walking tours are a great way to get your bearings and local recommendations as well as the backstory and personal accounts of the events this city has suffered and celebrated such as the Sarajevo Siege, the longest siege on a capital city in modern history.

You’ll see the Rose of Sarajevo (below) highlighted around the city, on this spot, 3 – 20 people were killed by one shell during the ’92 – ’95 attack on Sarajevo.

There are around 100 Sarajevo Roses.

According to our guide, one of the most frustrating things about living in Sarajevo is that Sarajevans wanted, and continue to want to, live in peace – Bosniaks, Serbs, Croats, Atheists, and now the increasingly popular group, Jedi, living together.

The city has been referred to as ‘Little Jerusalem’ to represent this cohesion.

These groups fought against those behind the snipers and the shells to continue living in this cohesive community.

Tours cover the Sarajevo attractions, Bascarsija Square, Sebilj and the Eternal Flame Monument.

Sarajevo Rose I Things to do in Sarajevo

*Note to those who attend walking tours – we love them, it’s our first port of call when we arrive in a new place but we want to listen to the guide, not your regurgitated information from YouTube videos we’ve already watched.

Was your life in danger every time you were sent to collect water or food packages?

No, then we’re not interested. Take a private tour if you want to be teacher’s pet.

2. Latin Bridge

Let’s go back, way back to 28th June 1914, the day that saw an event which (apparently) kicked off World War I and changed the world forever.

Latin Bridge is where the assassination in Sarajevo took place.

You can stand on the corner where Gavrilo Princip stood during the plot kill the Archduke of Austria-Este, Franz Ferdinand. Every Brit aged 30+ now has this tune in their head.

Princip successfully hit his target and the pregnant wife, Sophie, all because the driver of the open-top car didn’t have GPS and couldn’t navigate the one way streets!

Interesting fact, Princip wasn’t given the death penalty like his counterparts as he was only 19 years old when he committed one of the most influential crimes in history.

This Ottoman bridge over the river Miljacka is definitely one of the main Sarajevo attractions.

  • Location: Stari Grad Sarajevo, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Latin Bridge, Sarajevo Bosnia I Sarajevo Where To Stay and What To Do

3. Vijećnica/City Hall

The architecture in Sarajevo is just as interesting as the history is.

You’ll see a mix of grand and ghastly!

Austro-Hungarian craft sits side by side with the ‘function over frills’ soviet-style bland buildings!

The most decadent of them all is City Hall which looks like a big layered sponge cake close to Latin Bridge.

The architect responsible for the design was Czech, Karel Pařík. Pařík was designed over seventy buildings in Sarajevo where he spent most of his time.

This hall is also the National and University Library of BiH but it does not hold many historical books because the original library was bombed in ’92 during the Sarajevo Siege – a tactical move to remove any historical importance relating to the citizens of Sarajevo and BiH. 90% of the books were destroyed during the bombing.

60% of the buildings in Sarajevo were damaged during the ’92-’95 siege. City Hall was stripped of its looks during the conflict but reconstructed in 2014.

It is an important symbol in the city today.

  • Location: Obala Kulina bana, Sarajevo 71000, just in front of the Old Town Sarajevo
  • Opening times: 10am – 5pm

Sarajevo City Hall I Vijećnica I Library I Sarajevo

4. House of Spite – Man v The System

City Hall did not always sit on that spot at the start (or end) of the Old Town. Previously a little man’s house was in the prime location but the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy wanted it.

Like most men with power do, they tried to make this citizen move but he was stubborn!

He finally caved into the negotiations with the result that he was paid handsomely and his modest house was moved, brick by brick, over the river Miljacka, directly facing the new City Hall.

The House of Spite (Inat Kuća) is now a restaurant.

  • Location:  Veliki Alifakovac 1, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia & Herzegovina

House of Spite I Sarajevo

5. The Old Town/Sarajevo Baščaršija

Stroll through the cobbled streets of Baščaršija, grab a coffee or shisha and people watch or buy some trinkets from the cute shops which line the small Old Town lanes.

Look out for landmarks such as Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque.

There are plenty of shops ran by friendly locals selling items such as Bosnian coffee sets.

Nearly half of Sarajevans are unemployed so I encourage you to spend money in this city.

BiH has the highest young unemployment rate in the world according to the World Bank.

Positively, further education is practically free, so don’t be surprised to see many young locals drinking coffee alongside you midweek.

Younger citizens have been faced with the ‘brain drain’ dilemma, stay in Sarajevo or leave?

The Old Town is safe to wander at night too.

Close to the Baščaršija is the Serbian Orthodox church, St. Michael the Archangel.

This is one of the oldest houses of worship in the city dating back to the 16th century. Thanks to the reader who introduced the church.

Bascarsija Old Town Sarajevo I Sarajevo

6. Sebilj Fountain

Like Ljubljana in Slovenia, Sarajevo has lots of fountains sprinkled all over the city.

This water is clean and drinkable so fill up! Sarajevo can get very hot from May, stay hydrated.

The most visible fountain is Sebilj Fountain in the Old Town.

Take a sip and legend says you’ll return in the future!

Like pigeons? You can buy some feed and act like the Bird Lady from Mary Poppins. No thanks!

  • Location: Baščaršija, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Pigeons in Sarajevo

» » Don’t travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina without travel insurance
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7. The Yellow Fortress/Yellow Bastion

One of the prettiest things to do in Sarajevo at night is to take in the sunset and city views (there is a better viewpoint to come) from the Yellow Bastion/Yellow Fortress.  Take some beers and join the locals to watch the day disappear.

How to Get to The Yellow Fortress

  • Walk past Sebilj Fountain, leaving the Old Town behind you. Take one of the roads in front of you to the right.
  • You’ll walk past shops before reaching the Muslim graveyard (check the dates on the tombstones, so sad, such loss).
  • After passing the graveyard you will see The Yellow Fort, there is a set of stairs which will take you to an elevated point, be cautious of the signs advising you to leave your guns, knives, cannons, and alcohol at home during Ramadan (what?!)
  • If you continue to walk a little further you’ll reach The White Fort, for an even higher viewpoint. Enjoy
  • Location: Jekovac, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sunset over Sarajevo Bosnia from Yellow Fort I Sarajevo

What to do in Sarajevo in the Rain

7. Srebrenica Gallery 11/07/95

Over 100, 000 (some reports state 200, 000) people died during the (nearly) four years of the Bosnian War.

Over 8000 of them were Muslim men and boys, slaughtered by an army of Bosnian Serbs over three days in the United Nations ‘safe area’ – Srebrenica in the East of Bosnia.

This is genocide, it is harrowing but it happened, and we did nothing at speed. It took 14 years to find General Ratko Mladić, The Butcher of Bosnia.

Gallery 11/07/05 has two large televisions which play educational films on a loop.

One TV tells the story of Srebrenica, one film shares the stories from distraught women who never saw their husbands and sons again, many of which never had the chance to even bury them because the bodies of their loved ones were not identified in the mass graves.

The other TV focuses on the Sarajevo Siege, giving you an insight into how the citizens of the city (Bosniaks, Serbs, Croats, Atheists) survived by running fast and sharing dark humour!

You can take a tour of the museum with a guide who will explain the images on the walls, most of which are stills used in the films.

If you are on a budget, skip the tour and head straight to the films. Learn about the history, an interesting thing to do in Sarajevo.

  • Website: Gallery 11/07/95
  • Location: Trg Fra Grge Martića 2, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Srebrenica Museum Sarajevo

8. Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope/Tunel spasa

800 metres of man-made underground tunnel connected the city of Sarajevo with the United Nations ‘safe place’ at the airport.

This tunnel was dug by citizens from both sides of the city and took 4 months to complete. It allowed for the passage of medicine, food, and artillery which helped the locals survive and the army fight during the siege.

I’d highly recommend taking a tour for two reasons.

Firstly, it’s pretty far out of the city so you will have to take a taxi but the tour gets you there by minibus and also takes you along Sniper Alley, the main street targeted by the army.

Secondly, landmarks with such complex history require an explanation from an educated and/or experienced local.

The tour took us to the Tunnel of Hope via minibus with an extensive discussion around the causes, characteristics, and consequences of the Sarajevo Siege included an entry fee and the opportunity to walk through part of the tunnel open to the public.

The bus then dropped us off back at the office in town.


Book the 5/5 Tunnel of Hope tour – click here to read reviews and check prices

Tunnel of Hope Sarajevo

» » Read more: take a day trip to Mostar to see the Stari Most bridge + bullet holes around the city

9. Avaz Twist Tower

Another excellent view of the city is the 35th floor of the Avaz Twist Tower which is 176 m tall.

This shiny building has a cafe/bar which sells hot and cold drinks, such a nice venue let down by smoking.

Sarajevans are big smokers and the ban on smoking in public places hasn’t filtered through here, it’s the only thing that lets the city down.

For a small fee, you can reach the observation deck on the next floor which gives you 180 degrees views of the city from behind a cage.

If, like me, rooftops with views are your thing, put Avaz on your Sarajevo sightseeing bucket list.

There is even an unusual annual event called the Avaz Tower Running where athletes attempt to blitz the 780 steps to the viewing point!

You may also be interested in our post on what to eat in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Avaz Twist Tower I Sarajevo

10. Mount Trebević

I’ve saved the best for last, my third and final viewing point of Sarajevo is Mount Trebevic.

This hike is not for the faint-hearted (as in 30 degrees angled vertical hills) but worth it for the views of the city.

Views of Sarajevo Bosnia from Mount Trebevic I Sarajevo Where To Stay and What To Do

… and the hidden discovery at the very top of the mountain…

11. Sarajevo’s Abandoned Bobsleigh Track

Did you know that Sarajevo played host to the ’84 Winter Olympics?

The bobsleigh and luge track still stands (in most parts) at the top of Mount Trebević Sarajevo, a visit is a pretty unusual thing to do in Sarajevo!

The abandoned bobsleigh track was used by the Bosnian Serbs during the siege as a base for their attack on the city, you can see that some of the concrete tracks have fallen from the impact.

Now, the track has been attacked by the street artists of Sarajevo and makes for interesting photos to spruce up your Instagram with!

As of April 2018, Sarajevo’s 32 cable cars are now open which makes reaching the mountain and bobsleigh travel easier.

Craig says take your skates.


Don’t want to hike? Take a tour of all the Winter Olympic spots


Read more: How to get to Sarajevo’s bobsled track

Abandoned Bobsleigh Track, Sarajevo Bosnia

Practical Information
Getting To Sarajevo

Sarajevo’s airport/Sarajevo aerodrom is called Sarajevo International Airport or Butmir Airport.

There’s a bus service which connects the airport to Sarajevo City Centre (5KM). It takes around 30 minutes.

It is possible to move between the following cities and towns from Sarajevo by bus:

  • Sarajevo to Mostar (which you can also reach by train)
  • Sarajevo to Belgrade, Serbia
  • Sarajevo to Split, Croatia

Getting Around

The bus station in Sarajevo is close to the Avaz Twist Tower. There is an ATM, booking office, toilets, and cafe.

Sarajevo’s Railway Station is in operation. It was closed when we visited and were casually told that it planned to open, “maybe next month”.

Trams, as well as buses and taxis, run within the city.

Sarajevo’s cable cars have now opened after 26 years of being out of action. Great progress for the city which makes reaching the mountain easier.

Private pick up from the airport can be booked here.

Sarajevo: Where to Stay

Many of the hotels in Sarajevo are condensed in the Old Town.

Hotels in Sarajevo

Hostels in Sarajevo

Hostels in Sarajevo are a great option for those on a backpacker’s budget and solo travellers.

Sarajevo Packing List

  • A waterproof coat like Marmot Precip US / UK or Mountain Equipment Rupal US / UK
  • Comfortable walking shoes – I like my Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK
  • Camera and battery
  • Battery pack for your phone – Anker US / UK
  • Osprey bag cover US / UK for downpours, protect your gear
  • Eco water bottle such as the Tree Tribe US / UK
  • Or Water to Go Water To Go [quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off]
  • Bamboo cutlery set US / UK, avoid single-use plastic
  • Skross universal travel adaptor with USB options US / UK
  • Pacsafe safety net US / UK
  • Hydration tablets US / UK if participating in some Sarajevo partying!

Currency

Bosnia-Herzegovina Convertible Mark is the main currency in BiH. You can check today’s rates here.

Major credit and debit cards are accepted in most accommodation, shops, supermarkets and bigger restaurants.

ATMs are widely available. Currency exchange is also available in the Old Town.

Tipping is not expected but shows gratitude for good service. Rounding up or 10% is acceptable.

Food in Sarajevo

It is relatively inexpensive to eat out in Sarajevo.

Cevapi is one of Bosnia’s main dishes – a naan type bread filled with small sausages (also popular in Slovenia), sour cream and fried onions.

There are lots of restaurants which serve this Sarajevo food in Baščaršija with the option to sit in or outside. One plate will cost around £3. Cheap as chips, or sausages.

Another popular dish is Burek – meat or vegetable-filled pastry snakes served on a metal plate (like Cevapi is). This quick meal will set you back £2.

Bosnians love coffee! It is similar to Turkish coffee, bitter.

Sarajevo’s freshest beer is stocked at the brewery. The national beer is Sarajevska Pivara.

Best Restaurants in Sarajevo

  • Vidikovac Zmajevac – Coffee, food, shisha and views
  • Revolucija 1764 – Ferhadija St (main street), modern, varied menu
  • Pirpa – Popular kebab, falafel, burger shop
  • Konyali Ahmet Usta – Traditional menu
  • 4 Sobe Gospođe Safije/The Four Rooms of Mrs. Safija – Foodies love it

Cevapi Food Sarajevo

Cevapi – the national dish (with some onions!)


FAQs

Where is Sarajevo?

Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It is the biggest city in the country and has a river called the Miljacka running through it.

Is Sarajevo safe?

Sarajevo is safe.

I felt safe walking at night.

As with every European capital city, be aware of where your wallet and phone is at all times.

While the streets are not overpopulated with visitors, tourism in Sarajevo is on the increase.

What are popular events in Sarajevo?


 Thinking of going to Sarajevo?

Why not pin to your Bosnia board…

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Overall: Surviving Sarajevo

The conflict in Bosnia is complicated. I would encourage anyone interested in history, politics, human survival, to do a bit of research before you visit Sarajevo if you intend to do any of the above-related activities.

It’s surreal being in a country which was at war when you were old enough to ‘kind of’ comprehend what was going on.

The girls in the videos look like me, I was 7 – 10 year old, I wore sports tops and tracksuit bottoms like the girls in the video (and Sporty Spice) then progressed to wearing white jeans and dark lipstick like the teenagers in the videos.

Visiting Sarajevo has moved this war from ‘textbook’ to reality, and for that, I urge everyone to do the same.

As one video in the museum reminds us ‘It happened, therefore it can happen again’ – Primo Levi, Holocaust Survivor.


Over to you – have been to Sarajevo, have I missed anything?
Would you like to go?