The capital of Bosnia is home to approximately 300.000 inhabitants and was of great historical significance in the past. During an official visit to Sarajevo in 1914, Franz Ferdinand and his wife were shot to death on the streets of the capital by a supporter of the Serbian nationalist movement. This eventually led the government in Vienna to declare war on Serbia and marked the beginning of the First World War.
The country, which has only existed since 1992, has moved on from the tragic events of the past and is now looking at the new challenges of the modern future. The cityscape is dominated by towers of the Romanesque churches, onion-shaped towers of Orthodox churches and minarets of the mosques, meaning you can immediately spot how the different cultures have come together here.
The Ottoman Bazar is the main square of the city. The daily lives of the local population used to take place here, where food and animals were traded. You can also find the Gazi-Husrev-beg mosque, which was built in the 16th century. Architecture of the Austro-Hungarian period can also be seen in the city, such as the Yellow Castle, which was erected on the Jekovac cliffs and looks down on the city.
If you want to explore the surroundings area, you should hike the Dinaric Alps, which start just outside the city of Sarajevo. The hiking routes are very well marked on the maps and there are different lengths for each level.
The numerous hookah bars of the city are a common evening meeting point for young people. Here you can drink a glass of beer or a cup of Bosnian coffee as well as share a shisha with your friends.
The choice of the hostel is still relatively limited. Regardless, we can recommend the Franz Ferdinand Hostel, where you can find the typical hostel feeling and meet new people. A bed in an eight-bed dorm is available for €11.
After a 3 hour bus ride you will reach Mostar for only €5.
The place that has made the city so famous is the Stari Most Bridge, which crosses the river Neretva and connects the two districts of Dum and Mazoljice together. Due to its perfect symmetry, which makes it the ultimate photo motif, photos of the bridge can now be found on countless travel accounts on Instagram and Pinterest.
The fact that an event of the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series is held on the bridge of Mostar has certainly contributed to its popularity. During the 7 stops of the Tour, the world’s best cliff divers show people what they are capable of. The event, which takes place in the old town, is something particularly special because of the scenery and the historical bridge. If you’re lucky the date of the competition might even coincide with your trip!
However, the city has so much more to offer than just the historical bridge. In Mostar there are some abandoned buildings that are worth exploring, such as the Sniper Tower, a remnant of the Bosnian War. Today, this war relic is often used as a canvas by graffiti artists. When you walk along the river, one building will certainly catch your eye: the Neretva Hotel. Built in the city centre and just next to the river, this opulent construction and its eye-catching glass front stands out from the rest of the cityscape. The hotel was erected by order of Josip Broz Tito, former head of state of Yugoslavia, and has stood empty since the state’s collapse. The abandoned, underground aircraft hangar, used during the Yugoslavian Empire, is also an attraction that you won’t see anywhere else.
The people of Mostar have found numerous creative ways to brighten up the grey and decayed mementos of history and let them shine in new splendour. At every corner, you will find a colourful pieces of street art that gives the city a new lightness.
If you want to escape from the city, you will find peace and pure nature at the Kravice Waterfalls. The 25-metre high waterfalls and the natural swimming pool below them represent the perfect place to refresh yourself on a summer day.
Hostel David, located in the historic old town, can be considered the perfect “base camp” for your trip through the city. A bed in an 8-people room only costs €9.
After a short train ride for only €4, you will reach the southwestern part of the country. The medieval small town of Pocitelj is situated on a hill by the river Neretva. During the Bosnian War, the old town and Hajji Alijia Mosque were badly damaged. Furthermore, the mosque was restored only on the outside, meaning you can only see how the inside used to look in pictures..
The best view of the charming village can be seen from the top of the octagonal tower, called Gavrakapetan. The entire town centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its combination of medieval Hungarian and 18th century Turkish architecture.
At first glance, Pocitelj may not look inhabited, but approximately 8000 people live here. While the choice of restaurants is limited, you can definitely get a nice plate of Begova Corba (a stew made of potatoes, celery, and cooked lamb meat) and a big beer in one of the small pubs.
Accommodation facilities are rather scarce as well; there is unfortunately no hostel here yet, which means your best choice is a double room in the RIverside Guesthouse, located directly at the river, for approximately €35.
Going further south towards the Balkan triangle between Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro, you will reach your destination. The bus ride costs about €15.
Trebinje is completely unknown to most people, even though the city perfectly combines the different characteristic of Mostar and Pocitelj: a picturesque place by the river, ruins of a medieval castle, and few tourists.
The old town, built on the hills, is quite the trek to visit. Still, this is a good way to burn calories after a plate of rich Bosnian food. To explore the surrounding area, you can either rent a bike or take a taxi towards one of the two directions (or maybe both).
The highest mountain of the region is Mount Leotar. This place is also a famous starting point for paragliding. To get a bird's-eye view of the city, the hills, and the course of the river, get yourself an instructor and climb to unbelievable heights: the view cannot be topped!
Wine is also cultivated here, and many former monasteries in the surrounding area have been converted into wineries.
You can get a roof over your head and a comfortable bed at the Hostel Polako. Here, a bed in a ten-bed dorm costs €15.
Since you are already in the south, it is easier to go home via Dubrovnik. The city on the Croatian riviera is only an hour away.