Despite being in Sarajevo for a week, I did not actually get the most amount to look around, as I was there on a work trip a lot of my day was taken up working with the street dogs, but on the occasional early finishes and during the evenings I made the most of exploring the lesser-known Eastern European city and finding out all the things you can do in Sarajevo.
In Sarajevo I found a city that is still evidently overcoming its recent raw history but also a city that is full of culture, welcoming people and glorious rolling mountains, a city that is constantly growing and one that I feel will emerge over the next few years as the next ‘top new city break’ much like we have seen Bucharest, Romania and Ljubljana, Slovenia rise over the past year or so.
As I visited in the winter (January) I saw the mountains surrounding the city covered in snow which completed the beautiful sunsets that conveniently fell over the river that runs through the city, the Bosnian people who I spent my week with gushed about how wonderful the city is during summer and how June – September are the best times to see their home.
I stayed in the Hotel Saraj which is located a ten-minute walk away from the Old Town and boasts incredible elevated views of the city, however, it is a steep walk to and from this hotel, so may not be suitable for disabled visitors unless arriving and leaving by car.
Eight things to do in Sarajevo
Visit Sebilj Brunnen and the old town ‘Baščaršija’
This was one of my absolute favourite things to do in Sarajevo. Sebilj Brunnen fountain, along with city hall is the most famous landmark in Sarajevo, and it lies at the entrance to the old town. I spent many evenings wandering around the old town (also called the old bazaar or Baščaršija) narrow cobbled streets are lined with traditional restaurants and handmade craft stalls. This is the most ‘touristy’ part of the city, so where you can find any souvenirs you may want to buy but due to this it is also where you will find the most expensive food – however the average price I paid for a meal and a drink for one person was roughly £5 (Max £8 in hotel).
City Hall ‘Vijećnica’
Located next to the old town and running alongside the river is one of the most beautiful things to do in Sarajvo – visit the incredibly stunning City Hall. It was actually destroyed in 1992 during the Siege of Sarajevo, including the loss of thousands of books and manuscripts. After the war, the city decided it was to be recreated exactly as it was prior, including all the stunning hand painted interior. It is now open to visit seven days a week between 9am and 5pm so that it can be admired in all its beauty, there is also a museum located on the bottom floor. Entry 5 Bosnian Mark (roughly £2.50)
The Yellow Fortress
I was taken here by the locals that I was with and they called it the best view point in Sarajevo – They weren’t lying. On a clear day, you can see the whole of the city and it is also conveniently facing the right direction for the sunset, so I would suggest to head up in time for that. I visited after dark and witnessed the city come alive.
Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track – Summer activity
In 1984 Sarajevo played host to the Winter Olympics and today the bobsleigh track still stands. Located up in the woods on Mountain Trevevic, it usually only easily accessible when there is no snow. Sadly it was also a place used during the Siege of Sarajevo, so it is also littered with bullet holes during an attack, a very sombre but important place to visit if you want to get a real understanding of the city.
Times of Misfortune City Tour
Join a war-themed walking tour and learn all about the siege and the struggle that the city is still facing today. If you do stay in the Hotel Saraj, they have discount cards to receive 20% off of these tours. Visit Sarajevodiscovery.com to book your place.
Mostar and Vrelo Bune Excursion
One of my main reasons for wanting to return this summer is for to visit Mostar, located roughly two hours from Sarajevo, this picturesque town is a great way to spend a summer’s day. Excursions are again available from SarajevoDiscovery.com.
Sarajevo War Tunnel
A 25m section of the 1m wide, 1.6m high hand-dug tunnel under the airport runway. That acted as the city’s lifeline to the outside world during the 1992–95 siege, when Sarajevo was virtually surrounded by hostile Serb forces. Alongside the tunnel are a museum, a mine field garden and the house that hid the entrance to the tunnel.
As always, one of my favourite things to do in Sarajevo was eat, however Bosnian people are big on meat, red meat. I plan on writing a post on eating as a vegetarian in Bosnia soon, as it is possible. But Bosnia has some really great dishes and amazing sweets called Baklava, they also have some of the greatest and strongest coffee that I have tried. The city is filled with coffee shops and adorable tucked away restaurants so ensure food becomes a part of your trip rather than a necessity. If you are unsure, why not try a food tour, to combine seeing the city while trying all the local food!
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