Sarajevo is the most loveable capital city in the Balkans (sorry Belgrade). Charming, cute and cosy, you’ll absolutely love the place (or, at least, I do).
So in this speedy guide, I’ve brought you the 11 top things to do in Sarajevo.
Best Thing to do in Sarajevo When You First Arrive: Wander around Baščaršija
Baščaršija is Sarajevo’s old town, and it’s the place you’ve all seen pictures of. But in case you haven’t, here’s another one:
See, that’s Baščaršija. Cute isn’t it. It’s filled with cobbled lanes, old trinkets, ancient architecture, and lots of lovely places to eat and drink. It’s walking through the labyrinthine streets from the Harry Potter movies or something, if Harry Potter was set in a mainly-Muslim country, and if I’d actually seen any of the movies.
So just go for a little walk, and you’ll find places to, eat, drink and spend time. I love cities where you’re rewarded just by wandering around – and Sarajevo is absolutely one of them.
Feed The Baščaršija Pigeons
Yeah, I know, you’ve all seen pigeons before.
But Sarajevo’s pigeons are different. They’re like Mafia bosses from a movie. They seem friendly on the surface, but they’re ain’t scared of no-one, and they’ll do whatever they want to get what they need.
I know this because I fed them. Wander to Sebilj Fountain, right in the middle of Baščaršija, where all the pigeons are, then find a local person selling bird seed. Buy some bird seed, and watch as the pigeons jump on your arms, your head, and your face, and scratch your eyeballs out like they think you’re Tippi Hedren.
Really though, it’s fun, and it’s genuinely one of my favorite things to do in Sarajevo. Just don’t blame me if you end up all covered in bird turds.
Visit Some Mosques
Bosnia is a Muslim country, so it has loads of mosques, with (allegedly) around 2,000 in the nation.
The biggest and most famous mosque in Sarajevo is Gazi Husrev-beg, the largest mosque in the entire nation, but they are lots more lovely ones.
So wander around, visit some mosques, and see if you can get an imam (that’s an Islamic priest) to take you on a tour. If you’re lucky, and if they have time, they often will.
Eat Loads and Loads of Food
Bosnian food is tasty.
Make sure you eat both burek and ćevapi. The first is something between a pastry and a pie (pictured below) filled with various different things (but usually meat), while the second is little sausage-shaped pieces of grilled meat, served with bread and white onion.
Eat as much as you can, but at least eat those two things. For your burek, go to Sač, which loads of people (including me) reckon serves the best burek in the city. Traditionally, it’s eaten for breakfast (yeah, seriously).
Drink some Bosnian Coffee
Bosnian coffee is basically the same as Turkish coffee. I’m sure there’s probably some nuanced difference that only locals can detect, but it’s all the same to me.
Have a look at the picture below, and you’ll see what I mean.
(You even get a piece of Turkish Delight with it).
Bosnian coffee is thick and strong, and served with grounds in the bottom. You’re not meant to drink the grounds, so stop slurping before you reach the end of your cup.
You’ll find the best coffee in the local places, not touristy chains. So find a smoky little cafe filled with wrinkly old men, and drink a coffee there.
Best Thing to Do in Sarajevo If You’re Interested in History: Go to the Srebrenica Gallery
This place is bleak.
The 11/07/95 Srebrenica Gallery marks the Srebrenica genocide, which occurred in the small Bosnian town of Srebrenica back in July 1995.
The place has photos, videos, and an audio description. It’s absolutely unmissable if you want to understand Bosnia and its people, but don’t be surprised when you cry. It’s about as sad as Auschwitz.
Best Thing to Do in Sarajevo if You Like Hiking and Views: Wander Around the Old Bobsleigh Track
Probably Bosnia’s most famous tourist attraction, this old bobsleigh track was built for (and used in) the 1984 Winter Olympics, which were hosted in Bosnia.
A few years later, between 1992 and 1996, during the siege of Sarajevo, the bobsleigh track was repurposed into something much more grisly, when Bosnian Serb forces used the place as a artillery range. From here, snipers and shellers shot and bombed the people of Sarajevo.
So the place is worth visiting for two main historical reasons. And on top of that, if you’re into all that urban exploration stuff, it’s a cool place to see.
I’ve been to Sarajevo twice. The first time, I hiked up the the bobsleigh track.
The second time I visited (a few weeks ago), there was a new cable car, which has presumably been built in the last 6 years, since I last visited. This time, I was lazy little fatty and took the cable car instead of hiking.
What I’m saying is: there are two different ways to get the the top. But whichever way you get up, make sure you do it. If you’re not short on time, I reckon the walk is best – it’s a lovely hike, and takes 4-5 hours as a round trip.
Explore the Two Fortresses
If you don’t want to walk all the way up to the bobsleigh track but you like hiking up to vantage points, go to one of the city’s two fortresses instead.
The Yellow Fortress is about a 30-minute walk from the centre of the old town. The White Fortress is around 30 minutes from the Yellow Fortress. They’re both free to enter, and they’re both good picnic spots (if that’s your sort of thing).
Look at the Latin Bridge
There’s not really much to do here. But everyone visits, because it’s the place where the First World War (sort of) broke out.
While Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was having a nice little walk on this bridge (maybe he decided to go there after reading my brilliant blog post about it), he was shot to death by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian-Serb political activist.
This led to all sorts of political problems and controversy, which ultimately led to the start of World War 1. Silly Gavrilo.
Anyway, I don’t know the full history, but what I do know is this: lots of people like to go the Latin Bridge, then point at it and say vague things like ‘oh, that’s where one of the World Wars started, or something, I think.’
So, you should too.
Visit the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum
I’ve never been here. I didn’t even know it existed until I found it on Google five minutes ago.
But anyway, it sounds quite good, so you should go. Next time I’m in the city, I will too. Maybe meet you there?
The Sarajevo Tunnel Museum is inside a genuine escape tunnel that was built over a period of 6 months. Clocking in at 800 meters long (that’s around 2,600 feet), the place was used to move food, aid, weapons and supplies in and out of the city during the siege.
See Some Saravejo Roses
These things aren’t really roses (apologies to any keen florists who’ve accidentally found themselves on this page).
Instead, they’re tragic reminders of the recent troubles and conflicts in the city.
The city is full of holes in the floor, caused by shells that were hurled at the city during the siege of Sarajevo. Artists and locals have painted them red, as a sort of poetic reminder of how much the local people suffered.
Things to Do in Sarajevo: Final Thoughts
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