The town of Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is located in the Balkan peninsula. The city became famous for its cultural and religious diversity. Many tourists and travellers call Sarajevo „The Jerusalem of Europe“ simply because Sarajevo is the place where the East meets the West. Different than all other places on the Earth, the city is best described as a mixture of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Yugoslav influences. Sarajevo has been suffered a lot in the past times. The city has undergone centuries of Ottoman rule and even a 4 year long siege during the Yugoslav war in the 90’s. Sarajevo is a vibrant place today which attrack more travellers and tourists every year.Also, Sarajevo is full of charm and tradition, and a great place to spend at least three days in.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into two entities (after the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in 1995 and the war was stopped). The city of Sarajevo is nestled in a valley called „Sarajevsko polje“. Its in the entity called Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and just a few miles away from the other entity called the Republika Srpska territory. Historically, it’s one of the most interesting and varied cities in the whole Europe.
The Ottoman influence in Sarajevo is still present almost everywhere in the city. This is due to the long Ottoman rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This can be seen especially in the Old Town called Baščaršija. During the Yugoslav Wars, the city was under a siege by Serbian forces for almost 4 years. Sarajevo was left quite destroyed. Since then, the city has undergone post-war reconstruction. Now, Sarajevo is the fastest growing city in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
THE BEST PERIOD OF THE YEAR TO VISIT SARAJEVO
There is no best time to visit Sarajevo. The city is beautiful and fabuloust all year round. During the spring and summer months, the city just overflows with energy and great atmosphere. The cafe terraces cover the whole city, people hang out outside, in the bars and next to the Miljacka river, parks turn lush. During the autumn and winter months, Sarajevo can be especially charming (when there’s snow). There are also less activities and less places open at that time of the year. In this part of Europe, winters can get really cold.
THREE DAYS IN SARAJEVO ITINERARY
Make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your 3 days tour in Sarajevo.
Day One: Visit Baščaršija- the Old Town
The Sarajevo Old Town or Baščaršija, is where most of the things are located. It’s actually not that big in size. It is also easy to explore if you on foot.
Start at the main square at Baščaršija called the Sebilj Brunnen Fountain. Get lost in the cobblestone streets of the Old Town. The charming streets are lined with cafes, small shops and restaurants in Ottoman style. There are plenty of bazaar shops, which will surely give you a certain Turkish feel. Visit the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, the biggest mosque in Sarajevo center. This is the place of Islamic worship. The Mosque was built in 1531 as an endowment of Bosnian sandžakbeg Gazi Husrev-Bey.
Ottoman influence can be seen everywhere – from religion to architecture, clothing and food. Among other drinks and food, the Turkish coffee, although is spread all over the Balkan countries, is most popular in Bosnia. Start your day in one of the many coffee shops in Ottoman style around the Old Town. They mostly serve it with the rahat lokum – Turkish delight based on a gel of starch and sugar, usually with chopped nuts inside.
Sarajevans will tell you that the best „burek“ pie in the world is made in Bosnia. It is a pastry made of a thin dough filled with minced meat, cheese, spinach or apple. The best one in the city you’ll find in all food shops and restauranst at the Baščaršija square. The burek is served per grams, so you can try different types. You can also put some cream on the top.
The best place to shop for some oriental souvenirs is at The Baščaršija market, a synonym of the Turkish bazaar. Most of the products are either jewelry, pottery, metalware or textiles. Choose between handmade jewelry, scarf pashminas, traditional Bosnian rugs, metal džezvas (coffee pots) or decorated terracotta plates. They are all very much authentic and original.
Alaso at The Baščaršija old town there is a covered bazaar from the 16th century where during the Ottoman time textile was traded. It is called the Gazi Husrev Bey’s Bezistan and is great place for a wider selection of jewelry and accessories.Tašlihan, the other bazaar structure next to it, was built during the same time, but was badly damaged in a fire in 1879. Its remains are still present and can be seen from the street.
Take a walk along the Miljacka river. You can also check out the place where WWI started. It’s the exact spot where Franz Ferdinand and his wife were shot dead in 1914. Pass the Latin bridge and relax a bit at the at Mejdan park. Visit the Music Pavilion in the park and drink something refreshing in the shades of the trees.
Walk east for a few minutes and you’ll notice the „Inat“ house, which translated means the House of spite. The exact same house used to stand on the other side of the river, before the City Hall was built. The stubborn owner didn’t want to have his house demolished, so he insisted on moving the house, brick by brick, to the other side of the river. Today, the house is a lovely traditional Bosnian restaurant.
Finally, pass the „Šeher-Ćehaj’s“ bridge and visit the spectacular City Hall (Vijećnica) in Pseudo-Moorish style. It was built in 1891 (during the Austro-Hungarian rule). The building was renovated at the beginning of 21st Century.
It was used as a library, but was demolished in 1992, during the Siege of Sarajevo. Many books, manuscripts and artifacts were completely destroyed at that time. Visit the exhibition that says more about the building and its history.
Address: Obala Kulina Bana 1,
The entrance fee is 5 KM (Konvertibilna Marka) or app. 2,5 Euro. The entrance ticket is payable in BAM (KM).
When is about a lunch time, you can try some of other Bosnian specialties. The most delicious Bosnian meat specialty called Ćevapćići are a minced meat dish served in a bread with the kajmak cream cheese and onions. There are many restaurants in the city, so whatever your choice will be, you will not make a mistake. Keep in mind they don’t serve alcohol in those places.
You can spend your afternoon in visit of the mountain Trebević above the old town. There is a cable car which will take you up and bring you down. (www.zicara.ba)
Working hours: Mon and Tue from 10.00-20.00 hrs, other days from 9.00-20.00 hrs.
The cable car riding lasting around 7 minutes. One way ticket is 15 KM, double-way ticket is 20 KM. Pet riding is allowed. Children under 7 years old get free entrance. If you come with your bycicle – the ticket price is plus 4 KM. Once the ride is over, all visitors can enjoy a walk to the restaurants Brus or Prvi šumar. There are other restaurants: Vila Andrea, Level Up, Pino Nature and Trebevićki raj. There is a possibility to visit Observatory Bld. Čolina Kapa.
Day Two: Visit The Sarajevo War Tunnel
Two places which should not be missed (while in Sarajevo) are the Sarajevo War Tunnel and the Tunnel Museum. A small handful of tour companies in Sarajevo offer “Sarajevo Siege Tours” so that visitors can hear first-hand accounts from local guides who lived in Sarajevo throughout the Balkan War, while visiting landmarks out of reach by public transport, including the Tunnel Museum and the War Tunnel. These tours are worth the small splurge: group sizes are typically limited to eight people or less, guides are enthusiastic and eager to share their stories and answer questions. A company worth checking out are Sarajevo Funky Tours, who offer a four hour “Sarajevo Siege Tour” twice daily except on Sundays – for 20 euros (excluding the ten euro museum fee). http://www.sarajevofunkytours.com
This tunnel was built as an underground passage through the whole city during the four-year siege of Sarajevo in the 90’s. Since the city was cut off from the rest of the country and therefore from the rest of the world, it was the only way the life support materials and food could be moved through and into the city. The construction lasted for 6 months, and the whole thing was completely built by volunteers and all by manual labour. The private house in whose cellar the entrance to the tunnel was located today serves as a museum. (www.tunelspasa.ba )
Head up to the Yellow Fortress (Žuta Tabija) right before the sun sets behind the mountains that surround the city. Even if you don’t come at sunset, it’s still a great spot for a breathtaking panoramic view. You can reach the place by taxi or you can climb up the hill and include a visit to the cemetery of young victims of the war on your way there.
If you enjoy a night life, then you should start your night at one of the two parallel streets – Muvekita or Strossmayer. Within this area many famous bars are located. On weekends they usually play live music, so make sure to check the schedule on time and arrive a bit earlier.
After the bars, head to Sloga – the most famous club in Sarajevo. They also play live concerts. Check out their Facebook page if you want to be informed about the events.
Day Three: Visit another places of interest and soak up Art and History at Museums and Galleries (while in Sarajevo)
Almost all museums in Sarajevo are small in size and a morning would suffice
to visit two or three popular spots ( the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Sarajevo City Museum, and the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina). Museum entrance fees range from 4 KM to 10 KM.
Art aficionados might prefer to skip the museums altogether and head to Center Skenderija on Terezije Street, an underground shopping mall in desperate need of revitalization, and in the
meantime the current home to Sarajevo’s contemporary art scene. Tucked away among
corridors lined with nail salons and archaic garment shops are galleries including Charlama Depot and the Collegium Artisticum. http://www.artexchange.com
Located next door to Skenderija is the Ars Aevi Depot, (www.arsaevi.ba ) which will house the Ars Aevi collection of world-class contemporary art until construction of the permanent building – designed by Renzo Piano – is completed. The Depot was designed by Bosnian architect Amir Vuk to resemble a large wooden crate and includes works varying from performance artist Marina
Abromovitch to Bosnian collage artist Jusuf Hadžifejzovic. For the most part, art galleries don’t have entrance fees.
Spend the afternoon outdoors at Vrelo Bosne Park (Spring of Bosna), a large park located only twelve kilometers from Sarajevo’s city center. To get there take tram #3 to Ilidza, the last stop on the line.
The entry to the park is a five-minute walk from the station, past a block of bars and cafes and across a small pedestrian bridge. A beautiful 3-kilometer tree lined avenue leads up to the park. If the thirty-minute walk is too much to handle, you’re in luck: settle into a horse-drawn carriage for 15 Euros. Inside the park wander along one of the many lakefront paths or settle into a bench and watch the famous Vrelo Bosne bubble out from under a forested hill. The park has a playground, food stalls, and two cafes where you can enjoy a snack or late lunch. The Entrace fee is 2 KM (around 1 Euro).
Tip for the afternoon of the day three: Sarajevo’s turn hosting the Winter Olympics in 1984 left a strong stamp on the city’s skyline. Olympic Hall Zetra, which housed ice hockey and figure skating during the Games and then suffered substantial damages during the Balkan War in the 90s, and the Sarajevo Olympic Museum are both located on Kosevo Street and worth the thirty-minute walk (or five-minute taxi ride).
Take the tram back towards the Old Town and exit at the intersection of Alipasina Street and Marsala Tita. Hail a cab or walk north up Kosevo Street. Along the way, you’ll pass the Orthodox graveyard where a large tombstone pays tribute to the burial site of Gavril Princip and five other revolutionaries arrested following Princip’s assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Several blocks ahead is the Zetra Olympic Center, now used for local sporting and civic events.
Located next to the Center is the small Sarajevo Olympic Museum – the original Olympic Museum was bombed during the War (no entrance fee), or walk north of the Zetra for a great view of Sarajevo, the perfect place to take a few photos of the city.
Head back to the Old Town, where as the sun sets, the narrow streets fill with well-dressed locals and camera-toting tourists seeking their watering-hole of choice from the numerous bars, pubs, and sidewalk cafes. Zelenih Beretki Street is home to popular spots including City Lounge Bar and the Viennese Café in Hotel Europe.