Bosnia: Crossroads Of The East And West
Throughout the years Bosnia has seen a lot of pain and suffering from the world wars and during its civil war. When you roam through the cities on this Bosnia itinerary, you will see the history of the country through its architecture and museums.
Bosnia isn’t only famous for its Ottoman architecture. It also has scenic backdrops that provide bountiful and beautiful surroundings of each city. During this trip, you will have the chance to enjoy history, culture and even a bit of dark tourism.
Price Range: $$
Recommended Days: 7 Days
Riding Hours: Approx. 13 hr
Distance: 520 km
Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia is encircled by mountains and contains a rich and deep history of the country as a whole. The city used to be a melting pot of religions, which is evident with the various religious buildings set within the city. From mosques on one street and around the corner a synagogue. It was witness to one of the defining moments of the First World War’s outbreak. And also suffered at the hands of the Second World War. Despite its painful past, it’s a tolerant city that celebrates the mixtures of cultures.
The Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum was integral for the residents of Bosnia during the civil war. They used the tunnel to move aid, food, weapons, and other resources into the city due to the barricade that surrounded the city. Now the tunnel entrance is a museum that allows visitors to understand the impact that the civil war had on the city.
If you want to experience the dark side of Bosnia on another level than just through a museum. Head over to the War Hostel that allows you to experience the siege of Sarajevo. Spend an evening listening to the sound of gunfire whilst you try to sleep on the floor atop a thin mattress and just a blanket to keep you warm. Step into the dark bunker filled with guns on the walls and a variety of posters that fill you with horror. Showing you the true dark side of wartime in a realistic way.
When you want to get to know the city away from the wartime horrors, the bobsled track is a great spot to visit. Located in the hills above the city, you can explore the abandoned track that has been covered in street art and is now an urban playground. It was built for the 1984 Winter Olympics as well as other national competitions until the civil war left it to be forgotten for several years.
Sarajevo Station → Mostar Station | Duration: 1:55h | Transfers: 0 Transport: Train
When travelling from Sarajevo to Mostar there are two daily direct trains you can choose, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. Book here
Mostar: Scenic Vistas
Mostar is a popular destination for travelers due to the beauty that surrounds the city. Mostar has interesting architecture and great places to try the local cuisine. It is also home to a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Stari Most, and an Ottoman bridge that crosses the Neretva River. As you wander through the streets you will find market stalls to peruse and plenty of historic and religious buildings that add to the character of the city.
The first site to visit should be the world-famous Stari Most. Also known as the Old Bridge. It was built during the 16th century and shows the advanced engineering and Islamic architecture of the century. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during the Croat-Bosniak War but beautifully rebuilt and opened in 2004.
Stari Most is home to a Bridge Jumping Club, an age-old tradition where daredevils may partake. If you want to just watch, make a visit when their annual Bridge Jumping Competition is at the end of July. Or when Red Bull makes their stop for their Cliff Diving World Series. From the bridge, you will be able to see the beautiful sights of the city. As well as look toward the picturesque Old Town.
Manage a day trip to the village of Blagaj and visit the famous monastery. Set within a cliff face, the monastery is now home to a restaurant that looks over azure waters. And it showcases the classic Ottoman architecture that is dotted throughout the country. Whilst out of the city, head to the small town of Kravice for its waterfalls. Head along the boardwalk to get up close to the falls and enjoy a refreshing swim in the water underneath the falls. For some retail therapy, head into the heart of the Old Town for the čaršija. You have the chance to purchase rugs, plates, and souvenirs all with Ottoman influences. It is definitely a favorite for tourists and locals alike.
Mostar Station → Banja Luka Station | Duration: 7:23 h | Transfers: 1
When travelling from Mostar to Banja Luka, there are no train connections but there is a direct bus connection. Book your tickets here.
Banja Luka: River Delight
Banja Luka, set against the Vrbas River is the second-largest city in Bosnia. Although it suffered great losses during the civil war, especially in its architecture. It is home to beautiful gardens and boulevards to be explored. As well as delicious restaurants and plenty of historical sites to learn about the tragedy that overcame this city.
Previously a palace for the governor, the Banski Dvor Cultural Centre hosts numerous events such as exhibitions, concerts, and lectures. The building is of a neo-renaissance style with high ceilings, making for a beautiful background for the many cultural events that are hosted in the building.
One of the main features of Banja Luka is the River Vrbas. The river flows throughout the city. Willow trees line the banks, as do quiet cafes that are perfect to visit as you amble alongside the river. Just outside of the city are the famous watermills of Jajce. Wooden huts were once used by local farmers to grind flour into wheat. In the surrounding area of the watermill are the two rivers Pliva and Vrbas, as well as waterfalls making for a picturesque hike.
Banja Luka Bus Station → Bihać Bus Station | Duration: 3:15 h | Transfers: 0
There used to be an option to travel from Banja Luka to Bihac by train (with a transfer in Novi Grad) but until that is up and running again the next best option is to take the daily direct bus (early morning) to Bihac. Book your bus tickets here. The other option is a bit longer (5 hrs) and requires a bus transfer in Jajce but it kills two birds with one stone when you can combine seeing the Jajce watermills on the way to Bihac.
Bihać: Hidden Gems
Although it is not as popular as some of the other cities on this Bosnia itinerary, Bihać is truly a hidden gem. It is home to the beautiful Una National Park and some of the most breathtaking scenery, amongst other things to enjoy. Set on the bank of the Una River, to see a mixture of Ottoman architecture as it used to be the stronghold of Bosnia for invasions.
Not far from the center of the city is the village of Ostrožac, which is home to the 16th century Ostrožac Castle. The castle overlooks the village and allows for incredible photos, and during the summer the castle hosts a variety of live events that have a stunning background. The Una-Sana Canton Historical Museum is set within the old town of Bihać. The Museum tells the history of the area and is set next to the Captain’s Tower which is another great site to see.
Probably the most famous site of the area is the Una National Park. Which is a great spot to visit for hikes as well as heading out onto the water for several different watersports. As you stroll through the park, you may even come across the Strbacki Buk waterfall that falls into the turquoise waters. If watersports aren’t your thing, you can also enjoy mountain biking along the Via Dinarica Green Trail and enjoy a picnic in the green surroundings.
Bihać Bus Station → Sarajevo Bus Station | Duration: 6:40 h | Transfers: 0
There used to be an option to travel directly from Bihac back to the capital, Sarajevo, by train but until that is up and running again the next best option is a direct bus to Sarajevo. Book your bus tickets here.
*Disclaimer: Due to the fluidity of transportation schedules, the information seen on RailwayHero may not be up to date at the time of readíng. Always double-check with the operator for the latest information.