Things to Do in Sarajevo; Backpacking in Bosnia

On my trip through every country in Europe, Sarajevo was a real surprise. It was developed, bustling, busy and fun. I’d never have expected it to be like this. The Kravica Waterfalls were a real highlight of Bosnia, and Mostar in the south was beautiful, and it carried that deep Bosnian feel (not least due to the bullet holes in all the buildings) but Sarajevo had a whole different feel, Sarajevo is booming. A major European city, it most certainly is. 

The capital isn’t huge by any stretch, and you’re free to wander around the city on foot, and although they mightn’t be a plethora of things to see here, just chilling in the endless cafes, or rinsing a few beers in a some of the many happening nightspots means that 2 or 3 days can pass in a heartbeat. 

Things to do in Sarajevo
Things to do in Sarajevo

Sarajevo Old Town (& Baščaršija – the old town market)

Sarajevo’s Old Town is THE highlight of a trip to the city. It hasn’t changed much since the 15th century. Think courtyards, mosques, cobbled paths and more kebabs than you can shake a stick at, Old Sarajevo is where it’s at. And the blend of cultures, where Islam and Christianity began to mix is fascinating. Check out the copper stores and rug sellers for sure. Make sure you eat the Cevapi at one of the local haunts (sausage-like meet wedged in a pitta with cheese, delicious). Oh and don’t miss that Bosnian Coffee! 

Things to do in Sarajevo
Things to do in Sarajevo

The Sarajevo Tunnel Museum

This is a good 30 minutes outside the city, but it’s a great reminder about the chaos that went on in the former Yugoslavia just 20 years ago. The tunnel was hand-dug when the city was under siege for about 3 years, without it it would have fallen, the museum really gives you a feel for what happened.

You can take a tour of the tunnels, with a guide to explain the war, for about $20

Things to do in Sarajevo
Things to do in Sarajevo

The Yellow Bastion / Sarajevo Fortress

Standard practice for me when I come to a new city, get to a high point and have a good look at where I am. The Yellow bastion does that for you. The Vratnik citadel isn’t in the best condition, but it’s the views you come for so don’t complain! There’s only one way up, and it’s on foot.

Sarajevo attractions
Sarajevo attractions

The Start Point of World War I

This is the actual spot where WWI started when the Bosnian revolutionary Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, on 28th June 1914. Grim.

TOP-TIP: You can check out the point yourself, but if you’re into War History, you can take an ‘Assassination  Tour’ and learn all about how this moment in Bosnia started the World War

Where WW1 started
Where WW1 started
The Start of World War 1
The Start of World War 1

Sarajevo’s Olympic Mountains The Bosnian Bobsled!

Pre-war, Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics. You can visit the Olympic mountains. Beautiful views and a nice hike. But the dilapidated, unused Olympic facilities hold a very ‘Chernobyl’ theme. A fascinating day-out. You can book that tour for about $45 here

Things to do in Sarajevo
Things to do in Sarajevo

Day Trip to Mostar and the Kravica waterfalls

Bosnia’s most beautiful town Mostar is easily visited as a day trip from Sarajevo. Even better still, you can pop in for a dip at the Kravica waterfalls. One of the best waterfalls in Europe!

TOP-TIP: A day-trip from Sarajevo to Mostar and the Kravica Waterfalls 

Kravice Waterfalls
Kravice Waterfalls

Sarajevo Cable Car

The Sarajevo cable car was actually built way back in 1959, but it had a lot of issues, and then was finally destroyed in the war in the 90s. It reopened in 2018. It’s open from 10am to 9pm daily and costs 20KM return for foreigners.

Sarajevo cable car
Sarajevo cable car

Final thoughts on things to do in Sarajevo

Best time to visit Sarajevo

It follows European seasons, so you can visit all year around. But  winter can reach freezing point, so wrap up warm. Late Spring to early fall is the best time.

Is it safe to visit Sarajevo (& Bosnia in general)?

Thankfully, the war-torn days are behind them. Much like visiting Belfast in Northern Ireland, the troubles are in the past. And the future is bright. It’s very safe. 

How long should you spend in Sarajevo?

You can see all the main sights in 1 day if you needed to. But it’s a beautiful, atmospheric city. I’d stay for 3 nights if you have the time.

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