Best Places to Visit in Bosnia–Herzegovina in 3-7 Days – An Itinerary
- 1 Best Places to Visit in Bosnia–Herzegovina in 3-7 Days – An Itinerary
It did not take long to fall in love with Bosnia–Herzegovina.
Bosnia–Herzegovina is such an underrated country – without the war in the 1990s, it would probably have been a hotspot already.
Stunning scenery, beautiful and friendly people, cute towns and cities. It surely is not the first place I would recommend to someone who enjoys an All–Inclusive Package at a top resort (no judgment here), but for anyone who is willing to experience the places less traveled, Bosnia–Herzegovina is a great travel destination.
While I did not have many expectations, and knew about the scenery, what surprised me the most (yes, I have my prejudices) was that the people here are not only friendly (kind of expected that actually), but also kind and fair, as in I never felt that people were trying to rip me off.
Before jumping to the Bosnia–Herzegovina itinerary, here are a few travel tips for Bosnia – find out where to go and what to see, how to get around (I did a Bosnia road trip, but there are several ways to see the country), and more tips – plus a bit of background on the country.
Bosnia-Herzegovina Travel Tips
War in Bosnia: The recent history of the country, and its current political system, are quite complicated, so I tried to keep it short and simple:
There are three main ethnicities in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats, and Orthodox Serbs.
Bosnia-Herzegovina became independent in March 1992. Before that, it was part of the Republic of Yugoslavia (which included Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, and a few more countries).
This led to a war and Bosnian Serbs, supported by the Serbian government, fought against this independence.
On the other side, you had tensions between Croats and Bosniaks that also led to war in 1993.
When Bosnia-Herzegovina became independent, the country was more or less divided into different entities – The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska (in the north and east of the country), plus the district of Brcko.
In the Republic of Srpska, you will find mostly Bosnian Serbs; in the southern part (which is actually Herzegovina), there are mostly Catholic Croats; and in the rest of the country, there are mostly Muslim Bosniaks.
BUT, you will find different ethnicities in each part of the country, and before the outbreak of the war, it was quite common to have mixed marriages and the different religions living quite well together. This changed after the war broke out in the 1990s, and nowadays, the wounds have not entirely healed and there are still tensions (which we, as visitors, might not notice).
Since Bosnia-Herzegovina (I might shorten this sometimes and just call it Bosnia, though it is not the politically correct name) was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, you will find a lot of Turkish influence in the country – also in Herzegovina. So, while the political situation is complex, you might not realize the differences from place to place.
Money: The local currency is the Bosnian Mark/Convertible Mark (BAM/KM). Bring cash – most of the time you cannot pay by (credit) card. 2 KM is about 1.05€ (as of May 2019).
ATMs are not available everywhere, only in the larger cities. You can find exchange offices in popular tourist places.
Costs: Bosnia-Herzegovina is probably one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. Food, accommodations, fuel, and activities… I can hardly think of any other capitals in Europe that offer so much for so little money. So, a vegetarian lunch (in a restaurant) including drink is about 3-7€, and it’s not much more for a meat dish (of course, it depends on what exactly you order).
WiFi: Most restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels offer free WiFi in their public spaces.
Security – Travel Tips for Solo Female Travelers
As a solo female traveler, I am always aware of my surroundings. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, I traveled with my little dog though.
However, I felt quite safe in Bosnia – I cannot recall a negative experience. Crime is comparably low -, especially against foreigners. So, it is safe to say, that Bosnia is a safe travel destination and safer than many other “popular travel destinations so the security reason is not something that should hold you back.
Just beware of pickpocketing – especially in touristy areas.
If you plan to hike in the mountains, do not leave the marked paths – some places are still not cleared of landmines.
Food in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Food in Bosnia is influenced by Turkey but you will also find a lot of pizza and pasta dishes. It is based strongly on meat – vegetarians or vegans might struggle (I did, but at the end, I still found enough to eat and actually, unfortunately, did not even loose weight).
Water: You can drink tap water – at least, I did – but double-check with your host about the water in your area.
How to Get Around in Bosnia
Public transportation: I wish that I had used some public transportation in Bosnia – especially since the trains from Sarajevo to Mostar are supposed to offer great views. Trains and buses run from major tourist destinations/cities and you can also book tours to get around.
Driving in Bosnia–Herzegovina: I drove in Bosnia-Herzegovina with my own car (crazy, I know, and I probably would not do it again).
The scenery is amazing and I enjoyed driving in Bosnia more than driving in Italy, BUT I am not saying that it was all easy and smooth driving in this country.
Here is what to know about driving in Bosnia:
Streets in Bosnia are okay – some are actually in very good condition, while others are in bad shape. Bosnia showed me what huge potholes look (and feel) like.
Drive slowly to be able to avoid them, and also be prepared for Bosnian drivers, who are fast and like to honk their horns (especially in Sarajevo).
Bosnia was the country in which I drove the least (kilometer-wise). I actually saw three bad accidents, though I probably only drove around 500 km in total (luckily, I passed them when the ambulance was there and did not see them happen).
There are very few toll roads, but you can skip them and won’t have to pay much for tolls.
Gas prices are quite cheap (one of the cheapest in Europe), so fill your petrol up here. Gas stations often accept credit cards, but ask in advance.
Be prepared to drive on mountain roads. Some are small and narrow, and some are great and easy to drive.
Parking in Bosnia is interesting – many people just park anywhere they want. I saw people with parking tickets on their windshields though. Except for Sarajevo and Mostar (and probably Banja Luca), finding parking spots is often quite easy, and by European standards, quite cheap and often even free.
No, I never was pulled out by the Bosnian police and I was not asked to pay any bribe (though I read from travel bloggers who had to pay bribes or fines).
Visit Sarajevo – 1 or 2 Days
Prior to my trip, I had no idea what to expect. I had not done any research, nor did I see images on Instagram or Pinterest. The only thing that came to my mind when I thought of Sarajevo was the war – which is such a pity.
First of all, the war is long over. Second, the capital of Bosnia is a fun and thriving city that is perfect to visit. If you are in Bosnia for three days, I suggest visiting Sarajevo for one day. If you are in Bosnia for 5 days or longer, I recommend staying at least two days.
While it is true that the city suffered a lot from the war in the 1990s, not all of its main attractions are about the war. But you might want to visit a few places where you can learn more about the siege of Sarajevo.
In one day, you can visit the old town of the city and the mosques. There are also the churches (Orthodox and Catholic) and even an active synagogue that you can visit.
Also, head to the Latin Bridge to find out more about World War I – the trigger for the war actually happened in Sarajevo, where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was shot.
With one day in Sarajevo, you should head to one of the vantage points for some great views. Good news: reaching them is not too difficult or time-consuming, so doing it in one day is doable.
Sarajevo is quite walkable, so it is easy getting around. Most of the sights are also close to each other (where else in the world do you have an Orthodox church, a Catholic church, a synagogue, and a mosque exist peacefully in such close proximity?).
With two days in the city, make sure to also visit the Tunnel of Hope and explore other places in the city for more viewpoints, such as the abandoned Bobtrack.
Neretva River, Lake Jablanica, and Konjic – 1 Day
I drove from Mostar to Sarajevo, and with all the breaks, it took me almost a full day to arrive in Sarajevo.
You could do it in a few hours, but what fun is that? Okay, the views are still great, but plan in enough time for breaks.
This route is one of the most beautiful places in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The scenic views, the empty streets, the pretty Lake Jablanica– drive along the E 73 and you will be rewarded with great views.
At the end of the lake (or beginning) is the pretty little city of Konjic. While it is small and not home to many sights, it is great for a stroll and taking lots of pictures.
If you do not want to rush, I suggest staying here a night before continuing your journey.
In Mostar, and also north and south of it, you will find the stunning Neretva River, with a watercolor that is just gorgeous.
The streets here (especially north of Mostar) were my favorites – wide and easy to drive, with the river to your side.
It is just a short drive, so you can do the whole trip from Sarajevo to Mostar in one day. Just make sure to stop here and enjoy the beauty before continuing your trip.
Mostar and Blagaj – 1 Day
If you are short on time, you can combine a trip to Blagaj and Mostar and visit both in one day. If you are not in a rush, I recommend staying in Mostar for the whole day.
Join a free walking tour in the morning, then explore the beautiful old town on your own and watch the people dive from Stari Most.
Stari Most? This is one of the most famous attractions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and is a must-see in the country. Though the bridge was completely destroyed in the war, it was rebuilt in 2004 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Mostar is touristy but still gorgeous. If you can make it happen, spend the evening in the old town as well, as it is quite charming with its cute little shops (if you want to buy souvenirs, this is a good place to do it) and pretty decorations on the houses.
Blagaj is another place to visit in Bosnia and it is easy to get to from Mostar (by bus and car, and there are also organized tours). At the spring of the river Buna, you will find the ancient Dervish Monastery, which was built into a 200-meter-high cliff. You might have seen this image on Instagram already – and it is just as charming in real life.
In the summer months, you can also do a boat tour and visit the cave. But if you don’t fancy a visit to the monastery itself, you can just enjoy the little waterfall in front of the monastery and have a lunch/drink at one of the restaurants lining the river.
Pocitelj and Kravica Waterfalls – 1 Day
These two places are south of Mostar and can easily be visited in one day (if you are in a rush, you can even visit both of them and Blagaj during your one day in Bosnia).
The Kravica Waterfalls are one of the most beautiful places to visit in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and you can combine them with a trip to Pocitelj on your way to Mostar.
They are located in the Veljaci village near Ljubuski, and were created by the flow of the tufa on the Trebizat River – the waterfall is about 26-28 meters. You can rent a boat and go very close to the waterfalls.
There is another, smaller waterfall. The Kocusa Waterfall is only 5 meters, but the length of about 50 meters makes up for it.
It is not as big as the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, and depending on if you want to go on a little hike and chill, it will probably take between 1-6 hours here.
From there, you can head to the next place.
If you come from Croatia, this will probably be one of the first places that will cross your itinerary for Bosnia-Herzegovina:
Pocitelj lies about 20 kilometers from Croatia and 30 kilometers from Mostar.
The village is tiny – seriously tiny – but it is still one of the best places to visit in Bosnia. While it is not overly famous among western travelers, it is quite famous with Turkish visitors, and buses bring them in large groups to Pocitelj so it can get busy.
If you are wondering why mostly Turkish visitors flock here, my explanation would be that this village is a perfect example of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Bosnia for several hundred centuries. So, the mosque and village center are typical examples of the Ottoman Empire – and it still looks untouched.
For the best views, head to the top – from the Fort of Pocitelj, you have great views over the village, the pretty Nevreta River, and its surroundings. There was no one to collect an entrance fee for the fort, but I am not sure if that is always the case. Either way, I think it would be quite cheap if there was an entrance fee.
On the way down, you can visit the mosque for a small entrance fee.
The sellers further down have some snacks, which have a beautiful presentation. You can also buy fresh fruits, fresh juices, rugs, clothes, and a lot of different souvenirs (they use a lot of plastic, so I made sure to always have my cotton bags with me when I went shopping).
Down there are some restaurants (which get full once the tourist buses come) that have WiFi – and you can park your car for free.
I guess it takes between 1-4 hours to explore this little village.
From there, you are not too far away from Kravica – another great stop on your Bosnia vacation.
Neum – 1 Day
Do you have more than 5 days in Bosnia? Then here are a few more tips on places to visit and things to do in Bosnia.
Do you want to spend time at the beach? I am not a beach person and the weather was not beach-perfect when I was there, so I stayed in Neum for two days to recharge and work a bit.
However, if you are a beach person, you could visit Neum, which borders Croatia to the east and west.
The town of Neum is the only town situated along the 20km coastline of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The city state of Dubrovnik gave up some of the coastlines in the 17th century to the Ottoman Empire, so they would defend them and help them fight against the Venetians.
You have to cross the 20km coastline of Bosnia if you want to drive from the region of Dubrovnik, Croatia to other areas of Croatia in the north.
To me, it did not look as fancy as some parts of Croatia, but it is quieter than some other beaches on the Adriatic Sea, and it is much cheaper than a beach day in Croatia.
Rakitnica Canyon– 1 Day
Are you up for some adventures? Then Bosnia is the place to go – whether you like white water rafting, canyoning, mountain biking, or hiking adventure.
When I drove from Bosnia to Montenegro – on the M 18, a beautifully scenic, but also bumpy, road with many potholes – I realized how big adventure is getting in Bosnia. It is not that I dislike outdoor adventures, but it is not my priority when I travel, so I did not seek out these activities.
However, there are many spots in Bosnia that are great for outdoor and adventure lovers.
You can go on a canoeing trip through Bosnia’s longest and deepest canyon – Rakitnica Canyon.
If you plan to visit Montenegro, too, then go to the border and do some white water rafting before continuing your journey in (the more expensive) Montenegro, and enjoy some time in the Tara Canyon (which looked absolutely gorgeous), or you can do more activities.
More Places to Visit in Bosnia-Herzegovina
If you head north, you will find the second largest city in the country. It is located in the Republic of Srpska and it is the capital. If you want to head to Serbia afterward, this is a good place to visit.
I did not get to visit Banja Luka, but it is supposed to be beautiful – with a lot of nature close by!