Bosnia and Herzegovina has become a very popular tourist spot over the last few years. Each year more and more visitors flock in during the Spring and Summer season. It can be hard to choose what to do while you are here, since there is a lot, but all in all it's equally hard to find comprehensive lists by real people who live here that show you what to do and what to see. As I sat down to list these things you have to do while in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I thought about all the places I visited and wanted to visit over the years.
Therefore I compiled a list of places and things you should visit and do while you are here. I hope it will be of use to the new travelers as well as inspiration for those who might want to visit this country one day.
This region is known for natural and historic beauty, and It would take an awful lot of time to name and describe them all. But for the sake of an overview I will try to list the most prominent features of this region. Some of these can be further explored on this blog, others are new additions. For a more extensive overview, head over to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Travel Guide.
30 Things to Do in Bosnia and Herzegovina
1. Visit the Tito Bunker in Konjic
Bosnia and Herzegovina was formerly part of Yugoslavia, and remains from the former socialistic country do remain in a lot of places. One of the more historically interesting spots is the bunker of former leader Tito which is located in Konjic. It's a completely perserved bunker which was supposed to be a facility where Tito would live in case of a nuclear war. It's very interesting to observe the old technology, see food pantries, bedrooms, communication rooms. All of this only a few kilometers away from the city where at the time the bunker was build no one knew it was there. It was a top government secret.
2. Discover the wonders of the Old Town of Mostar
Often talked about here, but surely a very prominent landmark of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the Old Bridge in Mostar. A visit to south Bosnia and Herzegovina would not be complete without a stop in the biggest city of this region. One of the best places to visit in Herzegovina is for sure the Old Town of Mostar, with its beautiful Old Bridge dating back to 1557 (Also included as a UNESCO World Heritage site). Visit the Red Bull diving competition during the summer, or the local traditional jump competition from the Old Bridge held each year in July.
3. Hike in the plains of Mountain Vlasic
Vlašić is a mountain in the very center of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its highest peak is Paljenik with an elevation of 1,943 m. It is famous for its pastures, cattle-breeding and cheese. It is closest to the town of Travnik, which it overlooks. Located on it are hotels (like Hotel Blanka and Hotel Pahuljica) which frequent many visitors on the lookout for mountain exploration.
4. Take a road trip along route M-17
The Neretva River Canyon is in my opinion one of the most picturesque river canyons in Balkan. Driving down the M-17 road from Sarajevo to Mostar will give you great sights to take in. You can take a look at my separate post with images from this road trip to get you in the mood, but following this stretch of road will take you along the plains and hills of Mountain Ivan, you can visit the city of Konjic, see the Jablanica Lake, eat in Jablanica, explore the canyon of the river Neretva and end up in Mostar.
5. Walk the path of Kings in Jajce
The fortress was built in the 14th century, by the founder of the city Jajce. It was the seat of the kings, who engraved their coat of arms on the castle. A part of the wall was found by the Hungarian King and the Ottomans made the powder magazine. It's often an overlooked place, since it's a little bit out of the way from any other tourist spot, but it's definitely a place that will enchant you.
6. See old tombstones Steci in Stolac
Stećak (plural: Stećci) is the name for monumental medieval tombstones that lie scattered across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the border parts of Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, although almost exclusively following the borders of the medieval Bosnian Kingdom. In Radimlja, near the town Stolac, you can find a lot of them in one spot. Lots of visitors flock to this place throughout the year and it's definitely a sight the region is known for. This site is also protected by UNESCO.
7. Shop around in traditional bazaars and modern malls
Bosnia and Herzegovina offeres a lot in terms of authentic souveniers in bazaars (like the Old Town of Sarajevo or Old Town of Mostar). But there are also new and modern shopping opportunities like the BBI mall in Sarajevo, Sarajevo Shopping Center, or Mepas Mall in Mostar. You can browse through most modern stores there but each of those places also offer restaurants, cafes and playgrounds.
8. Discover Olympic game mountain Bjelasnica
Mountain Bjelasnica is located in the central part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, situated South-West, only 25 km from Sarajevo. Beside is Mountain Igman on which most of the Alpine and Nordic disciplines and jumps of the XIV Olympic Games were held. The beauty of the mountain is amplified by the temper of its climate. It is the result of the geographical position of Bjelasnica within the Dinaric Mountains, its geological structure and altitude. The highest part of the Dinaric Mountains, 300 meters in length, towards the Adriatic Sea, represents a border of impact of two climates - Mediterranean and Continental.
9. Visit Blagaj and Spring of Buna River
The old town of Blagaj is a small town, only a couple of miles south from Mostar. Blagaj is situated at the spring of the Buna river. It's a spot that enchants emidiately, beginning with the cliffs that bend over the place and the fresh river spring all the way to the many restaurants and cafes that offer food and a calming place to rest. Equally fascinating to explore is the Old Fortres of King Herceg Stjepan located nearby.
10. Walk the Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge in Visegrad
The Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge is a historic bridge in Visegrad, over the Drina river in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was completed in 1577 by the Ottoman court architect Mimar Sinan on the order of the Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic. UNESCO included the facility in its 2007 World Heritage List. The UNESCO summary states: The unique elegance of proportion and monumental nobility of the property as a whole bear witness to the greatness of this style of architecture.
11. Take a swim in Neum
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a maritime country. Even though, the stretch of coastline is very short, there is one prominent city there worth exploring: Neum. The city of Neum, lies on the Adriatic Sea, and is a very popular tourist spot, not only visited by travelers from all over the world, but also by a lot of Bosnians. Neum is very close to Mostar, as well as Dubrovnik, which makes both cities a nice destination for a day trip, or Neum the other way around. Neum is located on hillsides, and you will have to get used to streets constantly going downhill and up again.
12. Stroll the plains of Mountain Jahorina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is rich in mountains and gorgeous mountain scenery. The Jahorina mountain is located east of Sarajevo, only a 30 minute drive. It houses great new hotels, ski slopes, walking paths and places to rest your soul. A weekend spent here will heal everything the big city stole from you.
13. Visit the Sarajevo Film Festival
This annual festival is recognized worldwide and not only do movie stars from all around come and visit Sarajevo in the heat of July, but also a lot of visitors come. Sarajevo transforms during that time of the year. the streets are filled with people and there is lots of activity. I highly recommend you check out the dates online for this years Sarajevo Film Festival and go see one of the many movies that are shown in cinemas throughout Sarajevo.
14. Explore the Gradina Fortress in Srebrenik
The Srebrenik Fortress Gradina is Bosnia's best-preserved medieval castle dating from 1333. It is located in the outskirts of Srebrenik. The castle was occupied by the Ban of Bosnia Stjepan Kotromanić until his death in 1353. It was once considerably larger but some of its walls and structure have since collapsed. Gradina is the birthplace of Tvrtko I Kotromanić first king of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
15. Enjoy the refreshing waves of Una in Bihac
Bihac is a friendly city located in the northwest corner of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most prominent feature of Bihac is the crystal clear river Una which houses annual rafting competitions. The river cascades in various places creating small waterfalls. The close by Una National Park is also noted for its biodiversity, with 30 fish species, 130 bird species, and other animals, including lynx, fox, wolf, bear and chamois.
16. Book a rafting on the river Neretva
With various companies offering rafting opportunities on this river, it's not hard to find one that can accommodate your group. The river Neretva is a fast mountain river in the upper regions of Herzegovina, where it springs, and as it flows down to it's delta, becomes a slow and wide spreading beauty, that emerges into the Adriatic Sea.
17. Eat local cuisine; cevapcici, pies and traditional dishes
When it comes to food Bosnia and Herzegovina can't be beat. Generally speaking food is delicious and affordable. Listing all the restaurants would blow the proportions of the post, but I will say that once you're here try: cevapi (meat sticks), burek, zeljanica, krompiraca and sirnica (various savory pies), dolma, sarma (traditional cooked dishes with meat and vegetables). In the south of the country try delicious fish dishes from trouts caught in the river Neretva to delicious see food.
18. Go deep into the unknown in Vjetrenica Cave
Vjetrenica (which means "wind cave") is the largest and most important cave in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one of the most important caves in the Dinaric Alps mountain range, which is famous worldwide for its speleological riches. It is located in the Popovo field in Ravno, southeast Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vjetrenica is the richest cave in the world in terms of subterranean biodiversity: among more than two hundred different species are registered in it. Guided tours can be booked on the official website. The cave is open to visitors from the beginning of April to the end of October.
18. Explore old ethno vilages
The old is made new again with various traditional vilages. Of course there is the authentic one in Lukomir, but a lot of places have rebulid old vilages and made tourist attractions out of them, like Ethno village in Medjugorje, Ethno village Stanisic near Bijeljina, Ethno village Cardaci near Vitez and many others.
19. Relive past ways of life in Lukomir
Lukomir is an old village located high up in the Bjelasnica mountain. Why not escape from summer to a 1,495 m/4900 ft elevation? But don't be fooled by the altitude, summer can be very warm here as well. Lukomir offers authentic sights into the past. As you drive along the mountain roads you can't help but wonder how people can survive in the harshest conditions. Yes, summer and early autumn here are wonderful, but as soon as the first snow clouds roll in, people have to leave as the roads are cut off until spring arrives.
20. Discover the natural wonders of Rostovo
Rostovo is a mountain plain in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's a perfect place to visit when on a drive from Sarajevo to Jajce. In Rostovo you will find an old ethno village called Babici as well as restaurants and hotels with beautiful scenery to gaze upon.
21. Visit the old Town of Pocitelj
Počitelj presents one of few urban ensembles in Bosnia and Herzegovina preserved in their integrity to the present time developed through the several phases of the history, beginning with the medieval period. Its important strategic role during the 13th to 17th century gave the power of its inhabitant to build up one of the most important, and best preserved ensembles within the city walls in this region. You can find it easily alongside route M-17 on your way south from Mostar. You can explore it easily in one afternoon. Make sure to get a souvenir in one of the shops located at the foot of the hill the old town sits on.
22. Venture towards Hajducka vrata
This is really only for the adventorous hikers. It takes a long time to get here, but the rewards are breathtaking. The so called Hajducka vrata (Rebel's Door) is located on the east side of the Cvrsnica Mountain. Located at 2000m/6500ft, the stone formation is a natural wonder and the product of wind erosion, that brings in hikers from all around the country. It's not easy getting here, and most visitors even make a weekend trip out of it.
23. Explore wildlife in Hutovo Blato
Hutovo Blato is a nature reserve and bird reserve located in the southern parts of Herzegovina. It is primarily composed of marshlands that were created by the underground aquifer system of the Krupa River. The reserve is on the list of BirdLife International's Important Bird Areas. It is the largest reserve of its kind in the region, in terms of both size and diversity. Make a drive to nearby Capljina and enjoy some local cosine in restaurant Calipso.
24. Take a stroll down Bascarsija in Sarajevo
Bascarsija is the old town center of Sarajevo, and a place that is always filled with tourists, that are exploring the various narrow streets that cut through the old houses, bazaars, mosques and many many restaurants and sweet shops. On Bascarsija there are several important historic buildings, such as the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque and sahat-kula. Today it's the major tourist attraction of Sarajevo. You can see more from Sarajevo and the Bascarsija in my three part travel series.
25. Visit the Spring of the River Bosna
The river Bosna emerges nearby Ilidza, which is near Sarajevo. This oasis is a perfect spot for people who seek refuge from the busy city life. Here you can find walk paths, restaurants, ducks on the river beds and general ease and joy of life.
26. Camp at Boracko Lake
Boracko lake is a popular camping and swimming destination in the summer, but can be equally fascinating to visit in spring and autumn. It's located about 20km from the city of Konjic, in the Prenj mountain. One of the more picturesque landmarks of Herzegovina. Make sure to visit a local tourist center to get informations on camp grounds
27. Experience the city life and visions from the past in Banja Luka
The name Banja Luka is interpreted as "Ban's meadow", from the words ban ("a medieval dignitary"), and luka ("a valley" or "a meadow"). You can spend some time here and head back, but for me personally I would rather spend the night here and explore the city a bit further. And there is lots to see here like the Kastel Fortress (image above), Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Banski Dvor Cultural Centre, Ferhadija Mosque and Mladen Stojanovic Park.
28. Discover the beauty of Kravice Waterfalls
Kravice waterfalls are located on the Trebizat River. It is 10 km (6 mi) south of the city of Ljubuski and 40 km (25 mi) south of Mostar. Its height is about 25 m (80 ft). The Kravice waterfalls area also has a little cafe, a rope swing, a picnic area, and a place to camp. The best time of year for visiting is during the springtime when the fall is at its fullest and the arid landscape turns a bright green. Even though it's a landmark the area always feels fresh and new, when exploring. Summer brings in lots of crowds.
29. Explore religious tourism in Međugorje
Though not officially recognized by the Roman Church tourists still visit Medugorje a lot during the year. It is told that the Blessed Virgin Mary was seen as an apparition in 1981 by local kids. Even though this was never proven and stories have changed over the years, curious visitors do come to see for themselves. Seeing is believing, I guess.
30. Relish in the natural beauty of Nature Park Blidinje
Traces of Illyrian graves and Roman roads indicate that Blidinje has been settled for at least 2,500 years. The large necropolis at Dugo Polje indicates that the waves of Slavs that came in the 7th century also made this area their home. The park is set in long sweeping valleys. In the winter time you can also venture out to the ski center here or make a road trip through the mountains.
I hope that these places and things to see and do in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be of use to you. If you have any questions let me know in the comments below. What place in my country appeals most to you?