Get ready for an all-round travel experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina! Picture this: you’re onboard the rattling bus and lyrical love songs, local folk music and techno beats are mixed seamlessly in the local radio channel creating an interesting background tunes for your journey. And as you’re passing sleepy villages, you’ll spot men dressed in tracksuits, smoking cigarettes and sipping coffee as if they have all the time in the world. But it’s not all slow motion in Bosnia and Herzegovina, just take a peak into the roadside restaurants serving roasted lamb for truck drivers and people in transit. Pretty picture, huh?
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Bosnia and Herzegovina is a beautiful heart-shaped country on the Balkans, surrounded by Croatia to the north and west, Serbia to the east and Montenegro to the southeast – plenty of gorgeous and exciting places for you to explore on your travels!
The country is lush, rough, mountainous and with lakes and rivers made for fishing, rafting and kayaking. With all the possibilities the country has to offer for explorers there is one, slightly weaker link to ruin the perfect score: Bosnia and Herzegovina hasn’t been, and in all honesty, it still isn’t, an obvious beach destination. But who needs perfection when you can get surprising adventures! That said, the country’s 20 km of coastline can be found around the town of Neum (not far from neighboring Dubrovnik to the south), so take out your swimwear and get ready to sunbathe. In Bosnia and Herzegovina everything is possible.
Besides the gorgeous nature, you should also set time for the charming medieval villages like Blagaj and Jajce. For more than 400 years Bosnia and Herzegovina was an important part of the Ottoman Empire and with minarets, bustling bazaar areas and oriental style coffee and tea hangouts you can clearly see – and taste – the Turkish influence.
In Banja Luka, on the other hand, you’ll admire stunning architecture that lends its influence from the Austria-Hungarians, who also have had their say in the eclectic history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Aside appreciating the architecture, Banja Luka is the place to go rafting: work up an appetite in the rapids of the Vrbas River and then step onto the dry land to meet the locals at cheap bakeries serving delicious filled pastries 24/7.
It’s the people who make the country
Despite the tough history and the long road of recovery and rebuilding you’ll see that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a good sense of humor and an indomitable will to make things work – this comes handy when surprises spice up your travel plans!
A perfect example of their sense of irony, lighthearted minds and relentless attitude is the unapologetic and bold war monument in Sarajevo: meter tall can of ICAR beef on a concrete platform. During the war in the beginning of the 90s UN set up an airlift to support the people. However, the over 3 years long aid operation did not go as planned – not even close. The out of date canned meet became a symbol for the shortcomings of the humanitarian help, and so after the war the people of Sarajevo ironically thanked the international community with this weird monument. Not a light issue but the locals sure seems to know how to move forward!
So much to see, learn and experience
You might know Bosnia and Herzegovina from your history lessons on Bosnian war in the beginning of the 90s but the country has so much more to offer than just a gruesome battle history. Sure, in many ways, the genocide and ethnic tension affect the country still today, but it’s the mixture of religions and traditions that make up the country and makes it also an interesting, colorful destination for the globetrotters.
To move around, hop on a bus and make the most of the relatively extensive bus network, but don’t miss out on some of the spectacular train rides either. If you’re like us and a sucker for a great view, a good place to start is to try the train ride from Sarajevo to Mostar.
It is safe and fun to travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Though, there are placed where mines are still a real threat so take the warning signs seriously, they’re more than just a decoration.
The Must list
Bosnia and Herzegovina is an impressive playground for nature lovers! Check out the handsome Kravica waterfalls that can offer a worthy race even for the Argentinian Iguazu Falls. Or hike in the war-torn old Olympic relic, the bobsleigh track from the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics and marvel how nature and graffiti are taking over of the massive construction. Just be aware of the signs and follow the marked paths for the hillside: the area’s unexploded mines are a very real reminder of the not so distant war.