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A few weeks after I decided to move to Bosnia and Herzegovina, friends, family, and fellow travelers all asked me the same question – “Is Bosnia worth visiting?”. And as someone who had the opportunity to live there for a couple of months, I can confidently say ‘yes’ without a moment’s hesitation.
When I first arrived, I knew little about Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it didn’t take long for me to fall head over heels in love with its charm. From the moment I crossed the border, Bosnia and Herzegovina captivated me, and it became a place that exceeded my expectations by far.
In this blog post, I want to share with you my 10 reasons why Bosnia is a destination worth visiting. So, let’s embark on a journey through this captivating country and discover what it is that makes it so special!
1) Low Tourist Traffic
One of the best reasons to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina is the low tourist traffic. Unlike other popular destinations, this Balkan country remains relatively undiscovered by the masses. So if you’re looking for a hidden gem in Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina might just be the place for you.
Although this might not be true for the two major destinations Sarajevo and Mostar, which, especially in the holiday season can get very crowded, there is tons to explore where you will find no tourists, and I mean none.
This means you won’t have to deal with large crowds or long lines when exploring most of Bosnia’s less-known but beautiful cities and especially the country’s stunning landscapes. You can take your time enjoying the sights without feeling rushed by hordes of tourists.
Moreover, with fewer tourists around, you’ll get a chance to experience authentic Bosnian culture and hospitality. Locals are more likely to engage with visitors when they aren’t overwhelmed by too many tourists. Not only that, but low tourist traffic also means lower prices. Accommodation, food, and transport tend to be more affordable compared to other European destinations. This makes it an attractive option for budget-conscious travelers who still want to experience something unique.
But don’t wait too long before visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina. As word spreads about its beauty and charm, tourism numbers are slowly increasing each year. So I recommend you beat the crowds and explore this stunning Balkan gem before everyone else catches on!
2) Breathtaking Landscapes
From the moment I crossed the Bosnian border from Serbia, I was stunned by the breathtaking beauty of Bosnia’s landscapes! I know that Serbia has beautiful landscapes, too, but not between Belgrade and the Bosnian border. The roads in between were just flat, with not much to see. And then we crossed the border, and the landscapes changed immediately!
Picture green valleys, rolling hills, rivers cutting through lush forests, and towering mountains piercing the sky. That’s Bosnia and Herzegovina. And not just there at the border, but EVERYWHERE! When I arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but especially on my road trip through the country I saw that there are mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes everywhere, from east to west and from north to south.
Since nature in Bosnia and Herzegovina is rather wild and untouched in most places, one of the best ways to experience Bosnia’s beautiful landscapes is by exploring its many national parks. One place that exemplifies this natural beauty is Sutjeska National Park. This park boasts the largest primeval forest in Europe, where trees have stood tall for centuries. As you hike through the forest, keep an eye out for rare wildlife like lynx and brown bears. But don’t worry – they’re typically more afraid of humans than we are of them!
Another must-see spot in Bosnia is Kravice Waterfalls, which by the way is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Europe to swim in. Imagine standing at the base of a 25-meter waterfall, feeling its mist on your face as rainbows dance across the water below. It’s truly a sight to behold!
But I could go on and on about specific places. From snow-capped mountains to serene lakes, there’s always something new to discover in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so I suggest you just go and see for yourself!
3) Bosnia’s Rich History and Culture
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been inhabited by various civilizations throughout the centuries, each leaving its mark on this beautiful country. The earliest known civilization that settled in Bosnia was the Illyrians, who were present as early as 2000 BC. They were followed by the Romans, who established several cities and roads throughout Bosnia. The Slavs arrived in Bosnia during the 6th century AD and eventually became dominant. In more recent times, Bosnia was ruled by Ottoman Turks for over four centuries, which left an indelible impression on Bosnian culture.
Today, you can still see evidence of its rich history through its architecture, museums, and cultural events. The Old Town of Mostar is a great example of Ottoman architecture with its cobbled streets lined with bazaars selling traditional goods such as copperware and pottery. Sarajevo City Hall and Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque are other examples of Ottoman-era buildings that still stand today. The country also boasts some fascinating religious sites such as mosques, churches, and synagogues.
But it’s not just about the physical structures and monuments, it’s also about the stories and legends behind them. And one idiom that perfectly encapsulates this is “the tip of the iceberg.” The historical sites in Bosnia are just the tip of an iceberg that hides beneath it an incredible depth of culture and tradition.
For instance, did you know that Sarajevo was home to Franz Ferdinand before his assassination in 1914? Or that Mostar has been inhabited since prehistoric times? These little nuggets of information give us a glimpse into the vast history that lies within Bosnia.
Moreover, Bosnian culture is a melting pot of different influences – Slavic, Turkish, and Austrian – which have all left their mark on its traditions. Whether it’s music or food or language or customs, everything reflects this unique blend of cultures. As you can see, Bosnia’s rich history combined with its diverse and unique culture makes for an unforgettable journey through time!
4) The Bosnian War
In the previous section, I didn’t mention one of the most significant events in Bosnia’s history – the Bosnian War. The war lasted from 1992-1995 and resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people. It was a devastating period for Bosnia, but it’s also an essential part of its history.
Now why would I mention the war as a reason to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina? Simply because it’s a crucial part of the country’s history, and visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina today serves as a reminder that even after experiencing great tragedy and adversity, life can still go on. It shows us that we must never give up hope or lose sight of our dreams for freedom.
As you explore Bosnia’s cities and towns, you’ll see reminders of this conflict everywhere. Bullet holes still scar buildings throughout Sarajevo, while abandoned structures stand as silent witnesses to the horrors that took place during those dark years. However, despite these visible scars of war scattered across Bosnia’s landscape, there is hope and life in this country. The resilience of its people is evident in every corner, from the bustling markets to the lively cafes.
One interesting statistic about Bosnia is that it has one of Europe’s youngest populations with more than half under 30 years old. This means that there is fresh energy and vitality throughout the country, something that many visitors often remark upon when they experience Bosnian hospitality firsthand.
I must admit, I could not bring myself to visit museums like Gallery 11/07/95 in Sarajevo which features personal and tragic stories of the Bosnian War. I was recommended to go there, but I was rather fascinated by the positive energy in the city. But if you desire to witness firsthand how human resilience can conquer even the darkest days, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and especially Sarajevo are worth visiting.
5) Sarajevo: Where East Meets West
When it comes to Bosnia, one of the most captivating cities that you absolutely must visit is Sarajevo. Sarajevo is the place I used to call my home for several months, and although it’s the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I never felt like being in a capital city.
Located between the East and the West, Sarajevo is a melting pot of different religions, traditions, and customs. As you walk through Sarajevo’s winding streets, it becomes clear that the city has been influenced by centuries of Ottoman rule as well as the Austrian-Hungarian occupation. From architecture to cuisine, both worlds collide uniquely.
But what makes Sarajevo truly special is that it doesn’t just blend these two cultures haphazardly – it celebrates them. The city’s landmarks are testaments to its diverse history: mosques and synagogues sit alongside Catholic cathedrals and Orthodox churches.
Perhaps the most iconic symbol of Sarajevo’s east-meets-west identity is the famous Baščaršija bazaar. This bustling marketplace dates back to Ottoman times and still sells traditional goods like copperware, textiles, and jewelry. It serves not only as a hub for commerce but also as an important cultural center where locals gather to socialize over coffee or tea.
But despite its rich history and cultural significance, Sarajevo isn’t stuck in the past. Today, you can enjoy modern amenities like trendy cafes, art galleries featuring contemporary works by local artists, and even music festivals showcasing international acts. The fusion of ancient customs with modern sensibilities creates an atmosphere unlike any other in Europe – one that captures both tradition and innovation simultaneously.
6) Outdoor Activities
If you are like me and crave freedom and the great outdoors, then Bosnia should definitely be on your travel bucket list! With its stunning natural landscapes, Bosnia offers plenty of outdoor activities that will satisfy even the most adventurous souls.
Did you know that over 40% of Bosnia is covered in forests? That means there are endless opportunities for hiking and trekking, with trails ranging from easy to challenging. One of the most popular hikes is to the top of Bjelasnica Mountain, which stands at an impressive height of 2,067 meters (6,781 feet). The hike may be steep but once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views.
If you’re looking for something more adrenaline-pumping, then white water rafting down the Neretva River is a must-try experience. The river flows through stunning canyons and rapids, making it a perfect spot for rafting enthusiasts.
And for winter sports fans, Bosnia and Herzegovina has some great ski resorts where you can enjoy skiing or snowboarding down slopes surrounded by stunning views of alpine meadows and snowy mountains. The resorts also offer other activities like ice skating or tobogganing which make them perfect destinations for family holidays too.
But if all these activities seem too intense for your liking, don’t worry, there are plenty more laid-back options too! You can simply take a stroll along Sarajevo’s Miljacka River or have a picnic at one of many national parks like Una National Park.
7) Affordable Prices
If you’re looking for a destination that won’t break the bank, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the perfect place to go. With affordable prices across the board, you’ll be able to experience all this Balkan gem has to offer without worrying about your budget. From food and drinks to accommodation and attractions, everything in Bosnia and Herzegovina is reasonably priced.
You can enjoy a delicious meal at a local restaurant for a fraction of what you’d pay in other European countries. And if you’re a fan of coffee, Bosnia’s café culture won’t disappoint, with high-quality brews available at incredibly low prices. Even in the most touristy areas in Sarajevo and Mostar, you will not pay a fortune for a delicious meal or a cup of coffee!
But it’s not just about cheap eats and drinks. Accommodation options are also very affordable, whether you prefer hotels or hostels. You can rent an Airbnb for as little as $20 per night and get access to stunning views with all the comforts of home. Plus, many hotels offer discounted rates for those willing to book ahead of time or if you book something for longer.
And when it comes to attractions, many museums and historical sites are free or have very low admission fees. And the beautiful side effect is: Bosnia’s affordability means you can stay longer and truly immerse yourself in its unique culture!
8) Unique Experiences
As the old saying goes, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”And in Bosnia, that journey is full of unique experiences that will leave you with memories you will never forget! Here are just a few reasons why this Balkan gem should be on your travel list.
First up is the diving competition from the iconic Stari Most bridge in Mostar. This annual event takes place every year in mid-summer (end of July) and sees daredevil divers leap from the 24-meter-high bridge into the icy waters below. It’s an adrenaline-fueled spectacle that draws crowds from all over Europe!
For those who prefer their thrills on solid ground, there’s the trek to Lukomir. This remote mountain village is like something out of a fairy tale, with stone houses and cobbled streets seemingly frozen in time. The hike itself takes you through stunning landscapes and offers breathtaking views over Bosnia’s rugged terrain.
If ancient mysteries are more your thing, then head to Visoko to explore the Bosnian pyramids. Yes, you read that right, Bosnia has its own pyramid complex! While some archaeologists dispute their authenticity, there’s no denying that these structures are fascinating to explore. I have my doubts, too, but I recommend you go and see for yourself.
For nature lovers, Vjetrenica Cave is a must-visit destination. Located near the town of Ravno, this underground world boasts some of Europe’s most spectacular cave formations and an incredible array of flora and fauna.
And last but not least are the Stone Spheres of Zavidovići mysterious orbs scattered throughout a forested area outside this small town north of Sarajevo. No one knows for sure how or why they got there, but they make for an intriguing stop on any Bosnian road trip!
9) Delicious Food and Drinks
Have you ever heard of the phrase “food for the soul”? Well, in Bosnia, they take that quite literally. The cuisine is a perfect blend of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian influences, creating a unique flavor that will leave your taste buds dancing.
Let’s start with the most famous dish and my favorite – Ćevapi. These grilled meat sausages are served with onions and pita bread, creating a flavor explosion in your mouth. You won’t be able to resist taking another bite. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try it with Kajmak (a type of cheese) on top.
But Ćevapi isn’t the only star of Bosnian cuisine. Burek is a flaky pastry stuffed with either meat or cheese, making it the perfect savory snack for any time of day. And don’t forget about the Bosnian pie (pita). It’s filled with spinach, potatoes, or meat and always baked to perfection.
Now let’s talk drinks, Bosnians love their coffee! But not just any coffee – Turkish coffee brewed slowly over hot coals and served in small cups called Fildzani. It may be an acquired taste for some, but once you have it, you’ll never go back to regular coffee again.
And finally, we have Rakija, Bosnia’s national drink made from fermented fruit such as plums or apricots. It’s strong enough to knock your socks off but has a smooth taste that will make you want more. Visiting Bosnia solely for its food and drinks would be worth it alone!
10) Friendly and Welcoming Locals
Having spent several years in almost all of the Balkan countries, I can say that the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are among the friendliest I have met so far. I always liked the people in the Balkans. I got to know them as straightforward, sometimes a bit harsh or unapproachable, but not so in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The people of Bosnia are warm, welcoming, and hospitable. You’ll feel right at home here as they go out of their way to make visitors feel comfortable and welcome. They’re always ready to lend a helping hand or offer advice on where to go and what to see.
I remember several occasions when I was asking for help, and even more where I didn’t actually ask for help but people saw I could need some. Whether I was trying to catch the right bus, find the right train, rent a car, or needed someone to look after my cat while I was exploring the country, there was always someone happy to help.
Symbolically speaking, that’s how my neighbor once put it, Bosnian people represent freedom itself – a nation that has overcome adversity throughout history yet still manages to maintain strong bonds between people of different religions and ethnicities.
Bosnian people also take pride in their culture and heritage, which they love sharing with visitors from around the world. Whether it’s joining them in traditional festivities or exploring unique attractions together, Bosnians enjoy introducing tourists to different aspects of their lives. So if you’re looking for an authentic travel experience with a personal touch, I highly recommend you go to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its friendly locals will make your trip unforgettable!
You’ve heard the stories, you’ve seen the pictures, and now it’s time to experience Bosnia and Herzegovina for yourself! From its breathtaking landscapes to its diverse culture and cuisine, there is truly something for everyone in this beautiful Balkan country.
Go explore the ancient ruins of Mostar or take a hike in Sutjeska National Park. You won’t regret taking a trip to this underrated gem of the Balkans. It’s an adventure that will stay with you forever! For more inspiration, make sure to read my blog post “From Sarajevo To Višegrad: The Ultimate 7-Day Bosnia Road Trip“. And if you would like to make Bosnia and Herzegovina part of a Balkan road trip, the three-week itinerary in my blog post “The Ultimate 3-Week Balkan Road Trip Along The Adriatic Coast” might be just right for you!
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