best things to do in sarajevo

The 11 Best Things to Do in Sarajevo [Bosnia-Herzegovina]

In this article, we’ll cover the best things to do in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina.  Today Sarajevo is a charming city situated along the Miljacka River with a beautiful backdrop of the Dinaric Alps. Although the city has a troubled past, it’s an incredible destination and one that more people need to visit. Whether you’d prefer to explore the city’s interesting streets, taste authentic dishes or simply relax, there are plenty of wonderful Sarajevo attractions to keep you occupied. Sarajevo and Bosnia as a whole are often overlooked as holiday destinations. However, there are so many interesting sights to see that Bosnia should definitely be on your bucket list!

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#1 THING TO DO

Sarajevo War Tunnel

Visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel & Museum

Visiting the Sarajevo War Tunnel – aka the Tunnel of Hope is a truly moving experience and one that you should NOT miss when visiting Sarajevo.

The 11 best things to do in Sarajevo

Sarajevo is a really interesting city to visit. There are parts of it that are beautiful. There are parts that are not. You can still see bullet holes in buildings. You can see the memories of those who died here. And yet there’s a grittiness and a vibrancy to this city that seems to defy all that happened. Come. Stay. Decide for yourself.

1. Visit the Old Town of Baščaršij

The old town of Baščaršij is the historical core of the city and dates back to the 15th century. Within the heart of Baščaršij, you will find the Old Bazaar which is filled with shops and cafes. Don’t miss the opportunity to wander around the maze of cobbled streets, shop for traditional handicrafts, and indulge in local delicacies such as burek or cevapi (see food section below).

old town of Baščaršij

During the 19th century, the bazaar suffered a disastrous fire that destroyed nearly half of its area. Little was done until the historical and cultural significance of the old town was reassessed after WWII. This is a glorious part of Sarajevo to visit – we took a walking tour around the area and learned LOTS. It’s the best way to explore Sarajevo, you can book that walking tour here.

After that point, it gradually became the symbol of the city once again, and today, visiting the old town is one of the best things to do in Sarajevo.

2. See Sarajevo’s Sebilj Fountain

Sarajevo has a variety of fountains scattered around the city, but by far the most popular is Sebilj Fountain.  Sebilj is an Ottoman-style wooden fountain that is found within Sarajevo’s Old Town.

The fountain was built in 1753 by Mehmed Kukavica and is one of the top things to see in Sarajevo. It is one of the most famous landmarks in the city, so is a must-visit.  The water from the fountain is clean and drinkable, so make sure you have a taste. The legend says that if you take a sip, you will return to the city in the future.

Sarajevo's Sebilj Fountain

3. Walk over the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo

Walking over the Latin Bridge is one of the top things to do in Sarajevo. Aside from its unique architecture, the bridge is better known for its significant part in history.  On the 28th of June 1914, this bridge was the site of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination. He and his pregnant wife were both killed that day as the assassin fired a bullet into their open-top car.

The Latin Bridge in Sarajevo

You can even stand on the spot where Gavrilo Princip stood as he fired that fatal bullet.

the site of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination

Due to its unique Ottoman architecture and significant role in history, Latin Bridge is one of the most popular Sarajevo tourist attractions.

4. Catch a Gondola up to Mount Trebević

Catching a gondola up Mount Trebević is one of the best activities in the city of Sarajevo.  The original gondola opened in the late 1950s and was a popular attraction until 1992 when its guard, Ramo Biber became the first victim of the Sarajevo Siege.

Even after the siege ended, the gondola wasn’t opened again until April 2018 because it took so many years to clear the mountain of landmines.  However, today the gondolas are back in action with each one decorated in the colors of the Bosnian flag. The views on the way up are stunning, but just wait until you get to the top!

Gondola up to Mount Trebević

You can also choose to hike up the mountain but it’s not an easy feat, especially in the summer months with the heat.  A great way of doing this is to take the gondola up and hike back down, and that’s not too easy either!  The paths are little more than goat tracks and it’s super steep in places too! We did get a little lost on the way back down, (the Maps.me app got us back on track), and the trails are mostly not signposted or marked at all.

If you are looking for awesome things to do in Sarajevo, then catching a gondola up to Mount Trebević needs to be on your list.

Whether you choose to walk down or not you should definitely explore the area up here, the abandoned bobsled track (a relic from the 1984 Winter Olympics) is fabulous.

Abandoned Bob Sled Track at Mount Trebević

5. See the Sarajevo War Tunnel

The Sarajevo war tunnel was built during the civil war (1992 – 1995) to link the city with another Bosnian-held territory. This area was located past the airport and was controlled by the United Nations. The tunnel was dug from both sides of the city 24 hours a day and took around 4 months to complete.  It was crucial to the survival of residents, as it allowed medicine, food, weapons, and aid to be transported into the city.

Visiting the tunnels and the museum is hands down, one of the best things to do in Sarajevo.

Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope

You can choose to go on a tour, where an experienced local will be able to give you the history of the civil war. The tours will often take you along Sniper Alley too, which was the main street targeted by those sieging the city. This tour of the Sarajevo War Tunnels includes transport, an English-speaking guide, and covers the key sites of the war, the experience is chilling, informed and essential. Book your place here.

6. Head up the Avaz Twist Tower in Sarajevo

The Avaz Twist Tower is an impressive skyscraper with a unique design. At over 170m tall, the tower is the tallest building in Sarajevo and offers one of the best views of the city.  For €1, you can go up into the observation deck which gives you a 180-degree view of the city.  The tower has incredibly fast panoramic elevators, meaning you won’t have to tackle stairs to get to the top.

However, there is an event called “Avaz Tower Running” held here every year which does focus on the steps. During this event, athletes attempt to run up the 780 steps to get to the viewing point at the top!

7. Look for the Sarajevo Roses

The Sarajevo Siege was the longest-ever siege of a capital city in modern history. It had a devastating toll on the city, and many people lost their lives.

During this period the shell blasts would cause a spreading pattern on the concrete. These patterns were said to look like flowers.  As a memorial to the people who lost their lives during this siege, these patterns were filled in with red resin to resemble a blood red rose.

Sarajevo Roses

Named Sarajevo’s roses, there are around 100 located throughout the city and they act as a reminder of the city’s history and its people.

8. See Sarajevo’s City Hall – Vijećnica

The architecture across all of Sarajevo is impressive, but there is something about the city hall that just stands out.

Although a weird analogy, the City Hall or Vijećnica looks a bit like a custard-layered sponge cake.  The architecture of this impressive building is from Austria-Hungary era of imperial rule as the city hall was built in 1898.

The building suffered extensive damage during the Sarajevo Siege after it was bombed to remove anything of historical importance relating to the local citizens. Unfortunately, 90% of the important books here were destroyed during this time.

Sarajevo’s City Hall – Vijećnica with the Yellow Fortress in the Background
Sarajevo’s City Hall – Vijećnica with the Yellow Fortress in the Background

So although the city hall is also the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina, unfortunately, it doesn’t hold many historical books.

9. Visit Srebrenica Gallery 11/07/95

Gallery 11/07/95 is the first memorial art gallery in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an exhibition dedicated to preserving the memory of the 8372 people who tragically lost their lives during the Srebrenica genocide.

The Srebrenica genocide is a horrific part of Bosnia’s history. The 8372 people who died were all Muslim men and boys, who were slaughtered by Bosnian Serbs over three days in Srebrenica.  Two educational films are played on a loop at the galley; one is about the Srebrenica genocide and the other is about the Sarajevo Siege.

Although an emotional visit, the gallery is one of the best places to visit in Sarajevo.

10. Walk up to the Yellow Fortress in Sarajevo

The view from the top of Yellow Fortress makes this spot one of the best places to see in Sarajevo. The fortress or Žuta Tabija as it’s also known was built in the early 1700s, and although not much of it remains it’s still a popular place in the city.

The best time to visit is just before sunset, so you can head up with a few beers or some food and take in the view of the sun setting over Sarajevo.

11. Visit the Canned Beef Monument in Sarajevo

There are many memorials to those who died in the genocide here, and you should make sure you take a tour to understand properly what happened. There are many memorials to the Siege of Sarajevo. This, though, the ICAR monument to Canned Beef is more than a little tongue-in-cheek.

ICAR Canned Beef Monument Sarajevo

Much of the aid that came into the city (via the Tunnel of Hope) was canned food. Some of it was barely edible left over it said from the Vietnam War and long expired. Popular myths have some of it even refused by cats and dogs. This sculpture is a model of a large can of canned beef, which was commonly supplied to Sarajevo during the siege.

Map of Things to Do in Sarajevo

You can see the full map of things to do in Sarajevo here.

The Best Things to do In Sarajevo map

Getting to Sarajevo

Sarajevo International Airport is located around 12km from the city center which makes the city incredibly accessible. There is an airport bus that runs from the airport, or you can choose to get a taxi or public bus to get you there.

Traveling overland into Sarajevo is a great option as it’s often cheaper. There are direct bus lines to the city from many European countries including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, and the Netherlands.

Check buses to Sarajevo here.

Although Bosnia and Herzegovina’s train system isn’t very popular or modern, it is cheap. From Sarajevo, there are daily trains to Mostar and other Bosnian cities.

It’s an easy journey from Sarajevo to Zagreb in Croatia, and from there you can travel to various destinations in Europe. You can also take a direct train to Belgrade in Serbia.

Getting around Sarajevo

When it comes to getting around Sarajevo, you won’t be short of options.

There are a variety of public transport options to get you around the city including trams, buses, minibus services, and the trolleybus. Between all these different route networks, it’s easy to get anywhere within the city.

Getting a taxi to travel around the city is another great choice, as Sarajevo has some of the cheapest taxi rates in Europe. Taxis operate 24 hours, and all legitimate ones will have a taxi sign on their roof and operate with a meter.

If you’re staying in the center of Sarajevo, likely, you won’t need public transport at all. The city is relatively small compared to other European cities, and nearly all the main attractions will be within walking distance.

What’s even better is that a lot of the main walking streets are closed to traffic, making it a lot easier to get around.

The Best Food to Try in Sarajevo

You will find so many tasty dishes to try in Sarajevo! Here are a few of the most popular options:

Ćevapi – Cevapi are small, hand-rolled minced meat sausages that are often made with ground beef or a combination of beef mince, veal, lamb, or pork. They are then seasoned with an array of different spices, left for a couple of hours, and then finished off on the barbecue.

Sarajevski ćevapi – This variety originated from Sarajevo, so is a must-try whilst in the city. This version is often made only with ground beef and salt and then refrigerated for 48 hours. After this, it is grilled and more than likely served in beef stock with dipping bread which is called Somun.

Jabukovača – Jabukovača is another dish that originates from Sarajevo and is a traditional Bosnian apple pie. It is a layered pastry dessert filled with chopped apples, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla sugar, and walnuts.

Burek – served all over the Balkans, burek is a type of pastry filled with meat, potatoes, vegetables, and sometimes cheese (a little like a Cornish pasty).

The weather in Sarajevo

Sarajevo’s summers are known to be warm and mostly clear, whilst their winters are very cold, with plenty of snow.

The warmest month to visit Sarajevo is July when the average high temperature is 27°C. The coldest month to visit is January, with an average low temperature of around -5°C.

The summer season in Sarajevo lasts from June to September, with the cold season lasting from November to March.

The Best Time to Visit Sarajevo

The summer months of June, July, and August are by far the busiest when it comes to visiting Sarajevo. With high temperatures and low levels of precipitation, it’s a great time to visit but accommodation will generally cost more than usual during this period.

If you don’t mind the weather being a bit cooler, September is a great time to visit. The weather is still warm, the crowds are a lot thinner, and accommodation prices start to drop around this time.

Is Sarajevo a Safe Place to Visit?

Sarajevo is generally a very safe city to visit. The local people are incredibly friendly and are willing to go out of their way to help you.

Safety in Sarajevo

Sarajevo is a pretty safe place to travel to.  Follow all the usual precautions that you would when traveling. Crime is on the rise in the capital, but it’s mostly organized crime gangs and doesn’t affect tourists, so isn’t a reason to worry. The main thing to be mindful of is petty crime in the more touristy areas including pickpocketing and scams.

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Travel Insurance for Sarajevo

Sarajevo is a pretty safe location to travel to, but accidents can happen.  If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip to Sarajevo, then you can get a quote from World Nomads for your travel insurance for Thailand

Accommodation in Sarajevo

There are plenty of accommodation options when it comes to staying in Sarajevo. Here are some great options for each budget:

Travel Tips for Bosnia – Herzegovina

Final Words on the 11 Best Things to Do in Sarajevo

Sarajevo is a one-of-a-kind city with culture, wonderful architecture, history, and plenty of tasty food. Although not a popular holiday destination, the city offers so much for travelers in terms of attractions.  You can take a gondola up the nearby mountain, wonder at the city’s unique architecture, or get lost whilst exploring its charming old town. With so many incredible things to do in Sarajevo, this city should be added to your list.

Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.

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