If you like to be on the cusp of travel trends, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the perfect destination for you. And, if this is the case, you should actually be considering all of the Balkan countries - countries such as Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania are hidden jewels in eastern Europe with so much to offer and as yet unaffected by mass tourism. A small-group tour that features the best of many of these countries is really the best way to experience them in an authentic and immersive manner. Here’s why we love Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sarajevo, a Vibrant Capital City
We love an engaging European capital, and Sarajevo delivers. While nearly three-quarters of the city was destroyed or damaged during years of war, much of the capital has returned to its former glory. Combining eastern and western European influences, Sarajevo boasts both Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian influences. Look for copper-green domes, narrow alleyways teeming with craft stalls, cobblestone streets around Bascarsija and grand relics defining Ferhadija. Of course, there are somber reminders of the war-torn years, as well, in the surrounding hillside cemeteries and shrapnel scars on buildings..
Charming, Historic Towns
Get out of the city and explore Mostar, famous for its Ottoman-era architecture and famous Stari Most (Old Bridge), which was bombed during the Croat-Bosniak war in 1993, but has since been rebuilt. You might see a young local diving off it into the freezing waters of the River Neretva - it’s a rite of passage in these parts. While you’re in Mostar, try one of many upscale restaurants, then wander through the old town, where multicolored lanterns light up cobblestone streets at night. Don’t miss Pocitelj, another Ottoman gem in southern Herzegovina, near Croatia, for its castle, lantern and lace shops and stunning medieval and Ottoman-Mediterranean architecture. Visit Jajce in northwest Bosnia for its majestic medieval fortress. Off-the-beaten-path Konjic offers a range of architectural styles surrounding a river running through the center of town, small accommodations and a handful of waterside restaurants.
Engaging Coffee Culture & Delicious Cuisine
As with its neighboring Balkan countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s everyday social life revolves around coffee and cafes. While you’ll find a few ancient Ottoman traditions steeped in the local coffee-making methods, the cafes have mixed in European traditions, too, like serving delicious cakes alongside strong coffee. Practically every city you’re in will have numerous options for sitting back with a steaming mug of coffee and a pastry while watching local life unfold before you.
As for the dining, it’s first-rate, with an emphasis on meat - minced, stuffed, sliced, any way you like it. Then again, they also eat a lot of doughnuts, cheese and honey, so there’s something for every taste. Try flaky burek filled with white cheese or shopska salad with freshly baked flatbread.
If you’re one to pack an extra bag just to bring home all the treasures you find on vacation, you will love shopping in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The prices are low and the craftsmanship is exquisite. Look for hand-hammered copper goods, handmade lace, traditional carpets and weavings and locally made jewelry. For a truly unique and meaningful gift, pick up a pen from the market around Sarajevo’s Bascarsija. The pens have been crafted from bullets from the war 20 years ago.
Intrigued? Let’s find a small-group tour of the Balkan countries perfect for your interests. Let’s chat. You can sign up to schedule a consultation or sign up for my weekly newsletter for more inspiration.