16 Best things to do in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Where to Stay in Sarajevo
Sarajevo has a great choice of modern hotels across the city. We opted for hotels close to the Old Town for our stay and we’d recommend this location for a visit to Sarajevo. Our Sarajevo hotels picks are:
- Residence Inn Sarajevo: a stylish and modern hotel close to the Old Town. Larger rooms are great for families and rooms are equipped with kitchens – check prices now!
- Hotel VIP: excellent boutique hotel with a great location on the edge of the Old Town and close to the Latin Bridge with spacious and clean rooms – check prices now!
- Hotel Garni Konak: close to the Old Town and Bey’s Mosque in the pedestrian area of Sarajevo. A great reasonably priced option – check prices now!
Things to do in Sarajevo
1 | Explore Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s Old Town
In the heart of Sarajevo’s Old Town, the 15th Century Old Bazaar is a maze of cobbled streets filled with shops selling metals, jewellery, pottery and souvenirs. The shop fronts spill out onto the narrow streets and the gleaming copper stalls and traditional coffee sets catch the eye at every turn. Browse the traditional handicrafts, indulge in the local coffee, Bosnian ice cream or the traditional Cevapi dish and admire the architecture from a time gone by. The Old Town is one of our favourite things to do in Sarajevo and a highlight of any visit to the city.
2 | Walk among the pigeons at the Sebilj Fountain
One of Sarajevo’s most recognisable landmarks the Moorish wooden Sebilj Fountain is a must see in the city. Legend has it that those who drink from the fountain twice will return to Sarajevo but we didn’t try the water to test the theory! As well as attracting tourists, the pseudo Ottoman style fountain is also a pigeon magnet and the area is often referred to as Pigeon Square.
3 | Enjoy a Bosnian Coffee
Drinking Bosnian coffee is a rite of passage in Sarajevo’s Old Town. Arriving with the Ottoman influences from the Orient, Bosnian coffee is symbolic of the country. A walk through the streets of Baščaršija shows illustrates the importance of Bosnian coffee in everyday life: behind the storefronts, coffee beans are ground by hand with a huge pestle and traditional coffee sets are for sale among the copper creations.
Best things to do in Sarajevo tip: if you like your coffee sweet then Bosnians have a special way of adding sugar to their coffee. They add a sugarcube to a few spoonfuls of coffee foam and then pour the coffee over both. Some even rest the coffee soaked sugar cube in their mouth and drink the coffee through the sugar for an extra kick!
4 | Watch the Vječna Vatra, The Eternal Flame
Sarajevo has a devastating past. Vjecna Vatra, Sarajevo’s Eternal Flame, is a memorial to the military and civilian victims of World War II in Sarajevo. The open flame burns continuously symbolising that they will never be forgotten.
5 | Stand on the spot that started World War I at the Latin bridge
Rising solemnly over the Miljacka River in Sarajevo the Latin Bridge holds a remarkable place in world history. On June 28, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the next in line to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie were assassinated as they passed by the Latin Bridge with their motorcade triggering a chain of events which lead to World War I. It’s incredible to stand on the Latin Bridge and realise the huge significance of the events that took place here had on world events.
6 | Admire the quirky architecture at Vijećnica, Sarajevo City Hall
Vijećnica was designed in 1891 by the Czech architect Karel Pařík but he stopped working on the project due to the criticism he faced from officials. The building was destroyed in the war and was completely rebuilt. The exhibitions include reenactments of the Hague Criminal Court and a basement museum.
7 | Understand the past at Gallery 11/07/95
Gallery 11/07/1995 is an exhibition to commemorate the Srebrenica tragedy where more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II. The heartbreaking museum contains images, videos and audio documenting the events that took place in the small town of Srebrenica. The museum is one of the most devastating places we’ve visited on our travels and really brought to life the events of the past.
8 | Watch the sunset at Žuta Tabija, The Yellow Fortress
Built in the early 1700s, The Yellow Fortress is one of the most popular viewpoints in Sarajevo and, every evening crowds gather at the fortress to watch the sunset. Not much remains of the fortress but the spectacular views of Sarajevo make this a must see.
Best things to do in Sarajevo tip: there’s a low key cafe at the Yellow Fortress which is perfect for sunset drinks or quenching your thirst after making the climb from the city centre!
9 | Walk among the past at a Sarajevo cemetery
Overlooking the city, the Alifakovac Cemetry and the Old Jewish Cemetery are the final resting place for many high profile locals.
The Alifakovac Cemetry dates from the 15th Century and is located in one of the oldest settlements in Sarajevo. The cemetery is named after Ali Faqih, an Islamic scholar who served as a witness when Sarajevo’s deed of endowment, a document which marks the beginning of Sarajevo, was signed.
The weather-beaten Old Jewish Cemetry dates back to 1630 and contains almost 4,000 tombs. It’s strategic hillside location resulted in it being held by Bosnia Serbs during the war on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The cemetery suffered extensive damage from the front line fighting and almost 70 landlines had to be removed before the Old Jewish Cemetry was accessible after the end of the war.
10 | Gazi Husrev-beg ‘Beys’ Mosque
The Classic Ottoman style 16th Century Bey’s Mosque is an architectural highlight in Sarajevo. The interior is adorned with text from the Koran and the mosque exudes serenity and beauty.
11 | Ride the Gondola to Mount Trebević
From 1959, the beautiful Mount Trebevic was serviced by a gondola which ferried passengers from Sarajevo to the lush green mountain. The gondola service came to an abrupt halt on March 2, 1992, when its guard, Ramo Biber, became the first victim of the Siege of Sarajevo. From 1992 to 1995 bullets and mortars rained down from Trebevic Mountain claiming thousands of victims in the centre of Sarajevo and, even after the Siege of Sarajevo ended, it took years to rid Trebevic of landmines. In April 2018 the gondola came back in operation and visitors have returned to Trebevic to explore its scenery and hikes and 32 gondolas decorated in the colours of the Bosnian flag and the Olympics make the 2km ride from the city centre.
12 | Retrace the 1984 Winter Olympics at the bobsleigh track
Sarajevo was awarded the 1984 Winter Olympics and a bobsleigh and luge track was constructed at the top of Mount Trebevic. The track was used as an artillery position by Bosnian Serb forces during the Siege of Sarajevo and suffered some damage but its still possible to walk the length of the track today. The track is covered in graffiti and surrounded by overgrown grass but its historical and sporting significance make it a poignant place to visit. After visiting we watched some coverage of the 1984 Winter Olympics and the contrast was startling to see.
Best things to do in Sarajevo tip: the bobsleigh and luge track is a short walk back down the mountain from the gondola station.
13 | Admire the most beautiful mosque in the Balkans at the Emperor’s Mosque
The 1457 Emperor’s Mosque was the first mosque to be built after the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia and was dedicated to the Sultan, Mehmed the Conqueror, who conquered Constantinople. The mosque is one of the most beautiful Ottoman mosques in the entire Balkans and its river location makes for a stunning setting.
14 | Explore Katedrala Srca Isusova, The Sacred Heart Cathedral
The Neo-Gothic Sarajevo Cathedral is the largest Cathedral in Bosnia and Herzegovina and boasts beautiful stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings. A statue dedicated to Pope John Paul II, who visited Sarajevo in 1996 and 2003, sits in the front square of the cathedral.
15 | Relive the reality of the Sarajevo Siege at the Sarajevo War Tunnel
The Sarajevo Tunnel was built by the Bosnian Army during the Siege of Sarajevo to link the city with other Bosnian held territory. It allowed food, weapons and aid to be transported into the city and was a lifeline for Sarajevo. Today, the tunnel and its museum offer a fascinating insight into the history of the city.
16 | Understand the wounds of the past with the Sarajevo Roses
Walking around Sarajevo it’s impossible to miss the blood like stains marking the city pavements. During the Siege of Sarajevo, the city was bombarded by hundreds of shells hitting its streets every day and which left crater-like holes all over the pavements. The craters were filled with red resin in memory of the casualties and are known as Sarajevo Roses. The roses are slowly disappearing from the city streets as Sarajevo rebuilds and regenerates.
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