Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the most complicated and exquisite cities within the Balkans. I’ve been all around the Balkans (actually I’ve been to each nation within the Balkans) and few locations supply the mix of historical past, historic magnificence, and trendy significance that Sarajevo presents. Sarajevo has maybe essentially the most traumatic and damaging historical past of any European metropolis in trendy instances because it was the epicenter of the Bosnian Warfare of the Nineteen Nineties.
I spent three full days in Sarajevo soaking within the tradition, historical past, and meals. I’ll speak concerning the meals in nice element later however I can safely say that the most effective Balkan meals you could find is in Sarajevo and Bosnia on the whole. You’ll not discover higher cevapi or burek than you’ll find in Sarajevo.
Simply to show I’m not mendacity, ensure to learn my different posts concerning the nations within the Balkans!
Historical past of Sarajevo
Sarajevo as we all know it right this moment was based by the Ottoman Empire through the time they conquered and managed the Balkans. The town was designed within the conventional Ottoman fashion with quite a few Mosques, a conventional market sq., a bazaar, and extra.
The individuals of this space additionally transformed to Islam through the Ottoman empire which gave rise to the Bosnian id. Because the Ottoman empire was collapsing within the late nineteenth century and close by Serbia staked its independence, Sarajevo sought to do the identical. Ultimately, they got here underneath the rule of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1878.
In the course of the subsequent few many years, speedy industrialization and architectural adjustments passed off. A lot of Sarajevo’s iconic gothic fashion structure was designed in these many years and lots of of those have been constructed straight apart the Ottoman outdated city providing a gorgeous distinction of East and West.
After WW1, Sarajevo turned part of Yugoslavia and noticed speedy development for the subsequent many years with numerous Communist fashion buildings going up in and across the outdated metropolis. Communist fashion structure isn’t a lot to write down residence about so I’ll simply preserve it there.
Sarajevo was generally known as the Jerusalem of Europe
Sarajevo was aptly named the Jerusalem of Europe previous to the Bosnian Warfare of the Nineteen Nineties. Sarajevo through the period of Yugoslavia was generally known as the true melting pot of Europe with all religions represented. Muslims, Catholic, Orthodox, and Jews all lived in the identical metropolis in peace. Even the demographic break up between Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox was fairly even.
As you stroll by way of the town, you’ll see the three primary religions of the Balkans superbly represented by imposing church buildings and mosques. For the Catholic Croatian aspect of Bosnia, you had the Sacred Coronary heart Cathedral, a big Gothic period cathedral that also stands proud right this moment. For Orthodox, you may have the Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos which is the second largest Orthodox church within the Balkans. For Islam, you may have quite a few mosques all around the metropolis together with essentially the most well-known Gazi Husrev-beg MOsque within the outdated city.
I’ve been throughout Europe and it’s onerous, if not inconceivable to seek out one other metropolis that shows all three religions in such a grandiose style. Sadly, after the conflict, the inhabitants of Croats and Serbs decreased considerably as demographics have been re-aligned alongside ethnic traces.
Greatest time to go to Sarajevo
Sarajevo is a typical European vacation spot which implies the most effective climate is between Might and October. The winter months from November to April might be fairly chilly as it’s surrounded by mountains so ensure to decorate accordingly. As properly, the mountains additionally guarantee the town doesn’t utterly bake in the summertime warmth which is good.
Should you’re visiting different components of the Balkans like neighboring Serbia, Croatia, or Montenegro, ensure to account for the climate in these areas as properly. The height vacationer months of July and August means locations like Dubrovnik will probably be packed fuller than a Disneyland theme park.
Sarajevo continues to be comparatively off the crushed path so far as European locations go. Tourism has positively elevated in recent times and it has particularly turn out to be common with Center Japanese vacationers. Nonetheless, even whereas visiting in August, it didn’t really feel overwhelming as different European capitals I’ve visited.
The best way to get round Sarajevo
The town of Sarajevo is inbuilt a valley surrounded by mountains. It carefully follows the Miljacka River, that means its form is lengthy and unfold out. From the city’s metropolis middle, the newer residential components of Sarajevo stretch for a lot of kilometers westward in direction of the airport. As a vacationer, you’ll probably by no means go to these areas since there isn’t a lot to see so most of your time will probably be within the Outdated City.
The outdated city of Sarajevo is small and you’ll stroll from one finish to the opposite in 20 minutes so that you don’t must familiarize your self with the trains.
Sarajevo Airport to the town middle
From the airport, your primary choices are the bus and a taxi. The Sarajevo metropolis bus prices 5 KM and takes about 45 minutes to achieve the town middle. Taxis can be found exterior the airport and are metered. A trip into the outdated city will probably be roughly 20 KM. Fee needs to be in money.
There are additionally many practice and bus connections between Sarajevo and its main southern metropolis of Mostar. As well as, Sarajevo to Belgrade is a well-liked bus route.
The place to remain in Sarajevo
Due to Sarajevo’s measurement and metropolis format, you actually don’t must analysis a lot about the place to remain and the place the most effective neighborhoods are. It’s abundantly clear, keep close to the outdated city. If you’re confused, simply take a look at a map of Sarajevo and easily keep in and across the yellow shaded space which denotes the outdated city.
Staying south of the river can also be an possibility however don’t enterprise too far out as there actually isn’t a lot happening exterior of the outdated city.
Lodging may be very low cost in Sarajevo compared to locations like neighboring Croatia. You’ll be able to anticipate finding Airbnbs for properly underneath $100 an evening even in the summertime months. The week or two surrounding the Sarajevo Movie competition will see elevated costs however even then it’s not that rather more.
The most effective and most central locations to remain is on the Lodge Europe, a 5 star luxurious resort positioned proper within the coronary heart of the outdated metropolis between the Ottoman outdated metropolis and the Austro-Hungarian outdated metropolis.
What to do and see in Sarajevo
Sarajevo is a small metropolis however packs a shocking quantity of issues to see. I didn’t even get an opportunity to do all the things however listed here are a number of the high sights to go to within the Bosnian capital.
Have a shisha within the metropolis sq.
I like an excellent shisha and being in an Ottoman fashion outdated city means you may have loads of choices at night time. There’s a small sq. simply adjoining to the primary sq. the place there are many cafes and shisha lounges. At night time, you’ll see all of the younger locals coming right here for his or her nightly shishas.
Ensure to go to Damask for the most effective shishas at night time between 8pm and midnight. Costs are very cheap and shishas are superb. There are quite a few different spots within the sq. providing shishas and drinks.
Sarajevo has many issues to see nevertheless it’s most iconic monument is the Sebilj. This wood fountain sits in the course of the Outdated City sq. and it’s positively considered one of its most photographed landmarks. It was inbuilt 1753 through the Ottoman empire, offering contemporary water to its residents. One in every of Sarajevo’s most iconic photographs is taken of this monument with the mosque and mountains within the background.
This sq. is often known as Pigeon sq. as big swarms of pigeons congregate behind the Sebilj for individuals to feed. Whoever thought this was a good suggestion is past me. It’s nearly as disgusting because the folks that stored feeding the seagulls in entrance of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. When you have a concern of pigeons, you’ll need to keep away from this sq. utterly!
Distinction between outdated city and metropolis middle
Sarajevo presents some of the distinctive contrasts of any metropolis in Europe. The Outdated Metropolis (Stari Grad) is the realm east of the Ferhadija avenue which showcases Ottoman structure and the town from a whole bunch of years in the past. Every thing west of Ferhadija avenue is the newer a part of city which was constructed after the Eighties when the town was handed to the Austro Hungarian empire.
There’s a plaque on the bottom of this avenue marking the “assembly of cultures” which firmly divides the town between east and west.
Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque
The Gazi Husrev mosque is the biggest mosque in all of Bosnia. This lovely construction holds vital significance within the Islamic neighborhood of Bosnia. The within is superbly designed and is open to the general public. Islam in Bosnia might be some of the liberal interpretations on this planet. Most individuals within the nation should not tremendous non secular and you’ll see it simply by the way in which individuals costume and the quantity of rakija consumed.
Close by, there’s additionally an enormous watchtower with a clock that doesn’t inform the time that you just’re used to however slightly is pegged to lunar time and particularly the hour of sundown.
Miljacka Riverfront and Latin Bridge
The Miljacka river runs by way of the town of Sarajevo and is adorned with quite a few small bridges that join the 2 halves of the town. Probably the most well-known bridge is by far the Latin Bridge.
This bridge was the positioning the place Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Serbian extremists in 1914. This might in fact set off the occasions that led to World Warfare I, the biggest battle the world had seen as much as that time.
On the northern finish of the bridge, you’ll discover a mural and plaque that marks the spot of the assassination. You’ll even discover two footsteps embossed within the floor that reveals precisely the place Gavrilo Princip, the assassinator stood whereas firing the gun.
It’s inconceivable to keep away from the legacy of the conflict and nobody in Sarajevo is making an attempt to. You’ll discover bullet holes all around the buildings starting from condo buildings, to industrial buildings, to hospitals, and even within the outdated city. There are scars of the conflict in every single place you go.
You’ll additionally discover patches all around the metropolis that have been beforehand mortar harm that has now been crammed in with purple coloured resin. These aptly named “Sarajevo Roses” mark spots the place lives have been taken through the conflict. You’ll discover them all around the metropolis as you stroll round which serves as a grim reminder of how harrowing life was 30 years in the past but in addition how far the town has come since.
Sarajevo Genocide Museum
The Sarajevo Genocide Museum is a should go to for vacationers visiting the Balkans. It’s a small museum devoted to the plights and struggling endured by thousands and thousands through the Bosnian conflict between 1992 and 1995. Sarajevo suffered massive casualties and was underneath siege for 3 years however the worst atrocities have been dedicated exterior of the capital metropolis. Whereas the capital metropolis had some type of protection towards invaders, the small villages round Bosnia didn’t.
The museum has many pictures, interviews, and even diary entries from folks that misplaced their lives to the massacres dedicated within the Nineteen Nineties by the fingers of the Serbs. I’m not going to lie, it was very powerful to learn a number of the issues on the museum however that’s the complete goal. It jogs my memory of my go to to the Rwandan genocide museum which shockingly sufficient, occurred similtaneously the Bosnian Warfare. The parallels between the 2 genocides is particularly excessive because it was primarily two teams of folks that for all intents and functions have been the identical individuals however attributable to extremely nationalist rhetoric, atrocities have been dedicated.
The craziest factor to me about this complete battle is that younger Serbians don’t find out about these genocides in the identical gentle that younger Germans find out about World Warfare II. In Germany, there isn’t a denial or any kind of filtering given to WW2. Germans know they did unspeakable issues and know 100% they have been the unhealthy guys. In Serbia, there are nonetheless faculties of thought that deny what was executed within the Nineteen Nineties, as if there was one other aspect to the story.
Trebević Cable Automobile
The most effective issues to do in Sarajevo on a transparent sunny day is to take the town’s cable automotive. Inbuilt 1958, this cable automotive system linked the town middle with the mountain Trebevic. Through the years, it’s seen quite a few repairs and shut downs earlier than lastly reopening to the plenty in 2018.
The trip is 8 minutes and takes you 1.2km above sea stage to unbelievable views of the town and surrounding panorama.
Free Strolling Tour of Sarajevo
The free strolling tour of Sarajevo is a should do. The tour walks across the outdated Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian components of city and is an effective way to be taught concerning the metropolis. There are excursions that depart each day at 10:30am and 3pm from the Stari Grad.
The tour visits the entire large highlights of Sarajevo together with the Ottoman outdated city, the Latin bridge, the Vijecnica, Caravanserai, and rather more.
The Vijećnica is that lovely Neo-Moorish constructing in entrance of the river on the fringe of the outdated city. It was as soon as a metropolis corridor earlier than coming a big library after WWII stuffed with uncommon books and paperwork. In the course of the conflict, it suffered in depth and deliberate harm from the Serbian shelling and numerous books have been destroyed.
These days, it has principally been restored to its former glory and you’ll enter the constructing for a go to of the outdated library.
Outdated Bezistan Lined Market
Within the outdated Ottoman city of Sarajevo, essentially the most well-known market is the lined market of Bezistan. That is just like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul however simply at a fraction of the dimensions. Whereas metalworkers and jewelers operated open air, those that made and offered textiles known as this indoor market residence for hundreds of years. You’ll be able to stroll by way of the gorgeous stone construction and purchase any souvenirs that fit your fancy.
Off alongside the surface of the Bezistan Lined Market, you’ll discover the open air ruins of the Tašlihan. I believed these have been Roman ruins at first however they have been constructed within the sixteenth century however solely ruins stay within the trendy instances.
Have a drink at S One Sky Lounge
For the most effective views of Sarajevo with a drink, ensure to go to the S One Sky Lounge. This fashionable lounge presents lovely views of the outdated city and is ideal for a fast drink earlier than dinner on a sunny day. Drinks listed here are costly compared to different bars nevertheless it’s anticipated as you’re additionally paying for the view!
Collapse of Yugoslavia Day tour
Shortly after the strolling tour, I made a decision to affix their afternoon personal guided tour overlaying the autumn of Yugoslavia and the conflict in Bosnia. As you’ll rapidly be taught, Sarajevo was the epicenter of the battle through the Yugoslavian conflict of the Nineteen Nineties and the town was underneath fixed siege for 3 years. As the town is surrounded by mountains, it was a very simple metropolis to put siege to because the Serbian navy may simply arrange store on the mountains and rain down mortars and bullets from above.
It’s estimated there was 400,000+ bullets that got here down on Sarajevo in these three years.
This tour was unbelievable. Our information was an area millennial Bosnian that lived by way of the conflict as a toddler and advised tales of their each day struggles and what life was like in these instances. The tour additionally talked concerning the historical past of Yugoslavia and why the battle turned what it in the end was. I had already realized rather a lot about this battle from my earlier travels by way of the Balkans however realized much more throughout this journey.
One of many primary causes for the atrocities dedicated in Bosnia was the arms embargo that was inflicted on all of Yugoslavia which wasn’t lifted when the conflict began. Serbians managed the remnants of the Yugoslavian military so they’d loads of weapons however Bosnia had no approach of acquiring any weapons from the surface.
The tour drove round Sarajevo to varied factors of curiosity displaying what life was like throughout these few years. Sniper Alley was considered one of these areas that’s now a primary industrial avenue. Throughout these three years, sniper alley was a particularly harmful avenue that was monitored by Serbian snipers able to shoot anybody crossing. Civilians must dash throughout these streets or bike as quick as doable throughout these instances.
Tunnels of Sarajevo
The tunnels of Sarajevo are a should go to for any customer to the town. Positioned close to to the airport, this impromptu tunnel was created through the conflict as a solution to smuggle items out and in of the town with out the detection of the Serbians. This 800m lengthy and 1.6m excessive tunnel was a lifeline to the town as actually there was no different approach of acquiring fundamental provides.
You’ll be able to truly stroll by way of the tunnel for just a few meters retracing the steps of people who needed to stay by way of the carnage.
Greatest Cevapi in Sarajevo
Cevapi, or Cevapcici, is the most well-liked meals of the Balkans. It’s on the coronary heart of each Balkan individual to eat and love cevapi. I’m not Balkan however I can safely say I’ve eaten my approach by way of all of the completely different cevapi variations in every nation. Each nation has their model however none examine to the cevapi in Bosnia, and notably Sarajevo.
This scrumptious meal of floor beef served in a scrumptious lepinja bread with onion and kajmak is among the should attempt dishes in Sarajevo.
There are numerous cevapi eating places in Sarajevo and each resident has their favourite. Ask one individual and also you’ll get a totally completely different reply than another person. These are combating phrases in spite of everything.
I sampled quite a few cevapi eating places in Sarajevo and the most effective cevapi I had was at Cevabdzinica Zeljo. The key to an incredible cevapi is scrumptious meat that has the flavour of the charcoal grill, bread that’s delicate however crispy, and kajmak that’s wealthy however not tremendous buttery.
Zeljo had the most effective of all of those and it was total my favourite. The opposite additionally very respectable choices are Fertahovic, Nune, and Cevabdzinica Specjial. You received’t go improper at any of those locations! Simply understand that an excellent cevapi store doesn’t serve alcohol as a result of they don’t want the additional earnings. The menus are fairly fundamental and also you’re right here only for just a few easy issues. Should you discover a restaurant serving cevapi with beer, keep away from it as they don’t seem to be making their very own contemporary cevapi.
Greatest Burek in Sarajevo
Burek is a lifestyle within the Balkans. This scrumptious pastry full of meat, cheese, potatoes, or spinach is among the most well-known dishes you’ll be able to have within the area. I’ve had Burek in every single place and I can safely say that Sarajevo has the most effective burek on this planet. It’s even higher than the burek I had in Istanbul or those I had in Kosovo.
The Bosnian fashion of Burek is exclusive in that it’s cooked in a sac; which is a conventional spherical pan that’s lined with piles of charcoal. Bosnian burek can also be well-known in that the outer crust of the burek is remarkably delicate but crunch, and is stuffed with toppings with out falling aside.
A go to to Sarajevo with no go to to one of many many buregdzinicas will not be an entire journey. The very best burek in Sarajevo are at Buregdzinica Bosna and Buregdzinica Sac. Burek is a well-liked breakfast dish however is eaten all all through the day. It’s historically served with kajmak, the Bosnian model of bitter cream.
Drink Bosnian Espresso and Eat Baklava
Bosnian espresso is a should attempt when visiting Sarajevo. It’s primarily the identical factor as Turkish espresso however individuals drink it right here like there’s no tomorrow. You’ll see locals hanging out on the numerous cafes within the outdated city sipping on their coffees for hours. The very best place to do that is at Cafe Divan positioned contained in the Caravan Saray – Morica Han. This conventional fashion cafe was as soon as a caravan home that housed vacationers and merchants from all around the world.
These days, Cafe Divan is a conventional espresso home that serves vacationers and locals alike. The wood inside and abundance of bushes contained in the courtyard makes all the things really feel just a few levels hotter than on the primary avenue.
Eat scrumptious Balkava at Cafe Jasmin
I’m not a giant sweets individual however I completely love Baklava. This Turkish desert is legendary all around the Center East. Because the Balkans have been part of the Ottoman empire, these nations even have a storied historical past of manufacturing and consuming Baklava. Whereas conventional Turkish baklava is made with Pistachio, Bosnian baklava is made with walnuts have been are most abundantly accessible within the nation.
You’ll discover baklava actually on ever avenue nook however for the most effective, ensure to go to Cafe Jasmin or Baklava Ducan within the outdated metropolis. Anticipate to pay 2-3 KM per piece and I’d solely suggest to eat 1 piece at a time as they’re tremendous wealthy.
Two Day Itinerary of Sarajevo
Sarajevo will not be a giant metropolis and also you don’t actually need greater than two days to see the entire metropolis. I spent extra time on this metropolis as a result of my companion had roots on this metropolis and I may spend a lifetime consuming burek.
Nonetheless, you probably have two days in Sarajevo, that is how I’d plan the journey.
Day 1 in Sarajevo
9:00am: Get an early begin to the day by having breakfast at one of many many burek outlets within the metropolis. Burek is a lifestyle within the Balkans and also you’ll discover it everywhere however nothing beats the burek of Bosnia (not even being biased right here). Go to Buregdzinica Bosna for the most effective burek you will get. There are a number of varieties of burek however the most well-liked are with meat. Get a aspect of Kajmak with it as properly and also you’ll be in heaven. Transfer over French croissants, that is most likely some of the savory and scrumptious breakfasts you’ll ever have.
10:00am: Stroll in direction of the Sarajevo Sebilj for some of the iconic views of the town. The town sq. must be bustling by now so it’s a good time to get a really feel of the outdated metropolis. Stroll by way of the slender streets and take a look at the crafts and items on the market.
10:30 – 12:30: Be a part of the free strolling tour which explores numerous the outdated city of Sarajevo. It is a nice solution to get acclimated to the town and get the historic perspective from an area.
12:30 – 13:30: Time for meals once more. Eat a cevapi at one of many numerous cevapi eating places on the town. My favorites are Zeljo and Fertahovic however you’ll be able to’t go improper with both possibility. 10 items of cevapi will probably be sufficient for a hungry dude.
14:00 – 16:00: Head to the Caravanserai at Morica Han to take pleasure in a day Bosnian espresso with baklava. Lounge right here and discover the outdated city afterwards to your need.
18:30: Have a drink on the lovely S One Sky Bar whereas soaking within the views of Sarajevo and the close by mountains.
20:00 – Dinner out in town adopted by a shisha session within the outdated city
Day 2 in Sarajevo
9:00: No day is compete with out burek so identical to the day earlier than, go to your favourite burek store to eat the most effective burek within the Balkans.
10:30 – 14:00: Go on the guided Fall of Yugoslavia tour. This tour will drive you across the metropolis visiting essentially the most iconic spots devoted to the conflict in Sarajevo together with the tunnels, sniper alley, and extra.
14:00 – 15:00: Time for lunch which is simply extra cevapi in my books. Don’t actually need to get a lot else moreover your each day meat coma.
15:00: Go to the Sarajevo Genocide Museum devoted to the lives misplaced and the mass struggling of the Bosnian individuals through the wars.
16:00: Take the Trebevic cable automotive to the highest of the mountain for gorgeous views of the town.