While neighbouring Croatia has exploded in terms of tourism recently, Bosnia and Herzegovina (or BiH for short) remains a relatively unexplored corner of the Balkans. Luckily for you, we’re here to shine a light on exactly what people are missing out on in our Bosnia and Herzegovina Travel Guide!
Want to learn more about Bosnia and Herzegovina?
When is the best time to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Summer to early fall is pretty much the best time to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina across the board. That being said, July can get fairly hot in parts of the country (especially in Herzegovina). Finally, if you want to ski you should probably visit during the winter.
Where is Bosnia and Herzegovina?
BiH is located in Southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula. Much of the country borders Croatia (to the north, west, and south) while also bordering Serbia (east) and Montenegro (southeast). The country also boasts a scenic 20-kilometre coastline on the Adriatic Sea.
How do I get around Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Buses and trains are the main forms of public transportation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Buses are more regular however trains can be cheaper (although are generally slower). As much of the country is rural, getting your own car could be the best course of action – thanks in part to some very picturesque roads.
Language in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Three mutually intelligible languages (Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian) can be heard throughout the country. You should encounter a decent amount of people who speak some English, but you should still have some phrases on hand to help you get by.
Explore Bosnia and Herzegovina
Walking through the alleys of Sarajevo, you might be forgiven for not realizing there was a brutal siege here just over 20 years ago. With restored historical architecture and a burgeoning, cosmopolitan air, the Bosnian capital is a city that combines history and the cutting edge in a way few places can. A mix of Central European and Turkish aesthetic makes Sarajevo one of the more diverse and intriguing Balkan capitals. With a stunning Old Town and ample ‘hip’ new bars and cafes, this is a city that is sure to appeal to all sorts of visitors.
Close to Sarajevo is one of the main ski hills used during the 1984 Winter Olympics, and a great and often overlooked place for ski bums to hit the slopes. While it may not boast a massive, luxury resort on par with some of the Alps or Rockies finest, that won’t matter one bit once you’re roaring down the mountain at top speed. Between 6 and 9 at night, you can enjoy night skiing under the floodlights – a must-try for even casual slope enthusiasts.
Recognized for its classical bridge, Višegrad is a fairly small town that is worth a look if you have a bit of extra time on your hands. The town is mostly populated by Serbs today – giving it a different vibe than some of the Bosniak majority cities and towns elsewhere in the country. Višegrad rests on the shores of the picturesque River Drina, with some stunning canyons and lazy meanders worthy of a cruise on the water.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is full of fairy-tales, but we found that most of them happen to be told on the shores of the beautiful Una River. Cutting through peaceful towns, rushing rapids, and imposing landscapes, the Una Valley and River hit some of the highlights of the country. Sample great food at Kostelski Buk, test your luck on some of the rapids, relax in the calmer patches with a kayak, or float lazily downstream. Both calm and exciting, the Una River exemplifies what’s so great about Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It might be one half of the country’s name, however the region of Herzegovina only covers about a fifth of the land. Luckily for visitors, it includes some of the most beautiful and best attractions in BiH. The region enjoys a Mediterranean climate (as well as featuring a tiny strip of coast along the Adriatic), and features everything you’d expect to go along with that. You’ll find vast and peaceful vineyards, famous cave systems, towns alternatively pulled straight from Turkey or Austria, and much more. The town of Trebinje definitely merits a visit, featuring a small but robust Old Town and a distinctly un-touristy atmosphere.
The crown jewel of Herzegovina however is Mostar, the de facto capital of the region. It’s a historian’s dream (thanks in part to some highly touted architectural works) but is also large enough to serve as a modern centre of culture. The Old Bridge is the city’s most recognizable landmark, while other styles transcend continents and ethnicities throughout the cityscape. Without a doubt, Mostar is the one place in BiH that’s worth visiting just for the photo-op – however you might just find yourself staying a bit longer than you thought.
Flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina
A round-trip flight between Toronto Pearson and Sarajevo starts at about $1200 Canadian. You could potentially save by flying into nearby cities (such as Zagreb in Croatia) and making your way to BiH an alternative way. Be sure to shop around, especially if you plan on visiting multiple countries anyways.
Prices in Bosnia and Herzegovina ($$)*
Bosnia and Herzegovina is, on average, a bit cheaper than many Western and Central European countries. Expect to spend about $71 Canadian a day with a budget of $31 for accommodation and $28 for food. That being said, you can drive costs all the way down to about $29 a day if you’re thrifty while the higher end of travel will likely set you back about $176 a day.
*Cost rating on a scale of ‘$ to $$$$’, or ‘cheapest to most expensive’
Is Bosnia and Herzegovina safe?
While there is no nationwide advisory in BiH and the country is mostly safe, a high degree of caution is recommended throughout mainly due to the danger of old landmines or other munitions left over from the war in the countryside. Stay on marked paths and roads and be sure to report any suspicious objects. Beyond this, the crime rate is pretty low (although petty crime is an issue in cities). If you plan on driving, be aware that some roads and conditions can be dangerous.
For more on travel safety, check out the Canadian Travel Advisory for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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