Backpacking Bosnia-Herzegovina

Hello to all seasoned and aspiring backpackers!

Bosnia-Herzegovina – for many it’s just one of those countries that was established after the collapse of Yugoslavia. If you cannot find it on the map right away, you are definitely not the only one. However, this also means that not many tourists decide to go on holiday there, which makes Bosnia-Herzegovina the perfect place for all those people who want to stay away from hordes of tourists.

Unfortunately, the country has not been very successful in the division of its borders. Croatia, its neighbouring northern country, has managed to keep most of the coastline, while Bosnia remains with a ridiculous 5-kilometre coast, the so-called Neum Corridor. So close to the sea and yet so far!

However, the inland has so much to offer that it makes up for its missing beaches. With a population of around 3.5 million inhabitants on 51.000 km², the country is sparsely populated and offers countless possibilities to admire still undisturbed nature. As the landscape is mostly mountainous, there are numerous valleys with vast forests in which crystal-clear rivers run. Hiking these valleys is an absolute must, since the view from above is simply breath-taking! This is the perfect opportunity to let your mind wonder amongst the stunning greenery.

Throughout history, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been the scene of important events, so why not embark on a journey through time in the country’s historical cities and get to know the country in all its forms.

Like its neighbouring countries, Bosnia is a very affordable destination. However, as the country is just beginning to establish itself as a tourist destination, there are limited choices of accommodation facilities and tourist info points. You can find a place to sleep in a hostel for about €10, while hotel rooms cost approximately €30. Food and drinks are very cheap as well and the cuisine in Bosnia is very similar to other Balkan countries. A burek, a salty dough snail filled with spinach, feta, or even meat, is available for less than €1. We also recommend ordering dolma, which consists of cooked vegetables like cabbage and onions together with minced meat.

The official currency of the country is the convertible Mark. However, the Euro is also accepted in many places. Linguistically, the country is mixed, as Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian are very similar, resulting in many locals speak a mixture of different languages: the so-called Serbo-Croatian. The Latin alphabet is widespread nowadays but you can still spot streets different signs and menus in Cyrillic, as the Bosnian language used to have the Cyrillic alphabet as an extension.



See below for the perfect Bosnia-Herzegovina itinerary for an unforgettable journey:


Important Basics

Official Languages

Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian

Basic Vocabulary
EnglishBosnian
YesDa
NoNe
ThanksHvala!
HelloZdravo!
ByeCao!
Capital City

Sarajevo

Form of Government

Parliamentary Republic

Phone Country Code

+387

Currency

Convertible Mark

Climate

Highest temperature by day: 7 to 31 degrees Celsius

Highest temperature at night: 0 to 17 degrees Celsius

Summer is from June till September, winter is from December till February

Fun Fact

Bosnia has the tenth highest consumption of coffee per person in the world.

Cities

Sarajevo

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.

Mostar

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.

Pocitelj

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.

Trebinje

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.


Sarajevo

Sarajevo

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.

Mostar

Mostar

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.

Pocitelj

Pocitelj

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.

Trebinje

Trebinje

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.

Bosnia-Herzegovina Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Sarajevo
Home - Sarajevo
Flight
50
eight-bed dorm
11
2. Sarajevo
Sarajevo
-
eight-bed dorm
11
3. Sarajevo - Mostar
Sarajevo - Mostar
Bus
5
eight-bed dorm
9
4. Mostar
Mostar
-
eight-bed dorm
9
5. Mostar
Mostar
-
eight-bed dorm
9
6. Mostar - Pocitelj
Mostar - Pocitelj
Train
4
double room
35
7. Pocitelj
Pocitelj
-
double room
35
8. Pocitelj - Trebinje
Pocitelj - Trebinje
Bus
15
10-bed dorm
15
9. Trebinje
Trebinje
-
10-bed dorm
15
10. Trebinje - Dubrovnik - Home
Trebinje - Dubrovnik - Home
Bus+Flight
53

Total price.

Flights 100,00
Transportation 24,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 149,00
Total273,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Doughnuts:  in Bosnia, doughnuts are often served for breakfast. Filled with jam and sugar, they taste simply delicious.

Soups

Begova Corba: this chicken soup is a classic and it is also often served as an appetizer.

Grah: this is the Bosnian bean soup, which is usually made from white beans and a broth of tomatoes and spices.

Main Courses

Cevapi: these are small meat skewers of lamb and beef, which are often served with pita bread. Moreover, they are served with a dip sauce and vegetables. 

Dolma: this is a vegetable stew made with eggplant, peppers and zucchini. It is served with a spicy garlic sauce and bread.

Burek: the puff pastry pockets are either vegetarian, filled with cheese, or also with meat. They are usually served together with salad. .

Klepe:  the Bosnian dumplings are filled with minced meat and boiled in a spicy broth. They are served with a creamy sauce made of yoghurt and garlic. Simply delicious!

Sarma: cabbage leaves are here boiled and filled with mashed potatoes. An absolute favourite!

Drinks & Snacks

Coffee: Bosnians sure love their coffee.

Pivo: the Bosnian beer is not only cheap, but also very good. Backpacker-approved!

Bosnia-Herzegovina

The exchange rate for 1 Bosnian convertible Marka is around 0.1 Euro (as of March 2020). You can see the prices for certain products as well as the cost of living below.

Cost of Living

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Local food: try the local restaurants here because this is where you will find by far the best food.

Go out into nature: leave the cities behind and explore the great nature of the country.

Laughter: in Bosnia, laughter is a sign of gratitude and happiness. Give the locals your laughter and you will definitely get one back.

Stay on the path: it is better when you stay on the beaten track, since, especially in the forest or in the mountains, it can be dangerous.

Don'ts

Politics: try to avoid political topics and other topics about the country in general because there are several discordant opinions.

Giving flowers: in Bosnia, flowers are considered a sign of death and are mainly used for funerals.

Carelessness with valuables: in Bosnia, you always have to check twice that you have everything. Always keep a safe eye on your values, since theft is not uncommon.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

Yes

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert Koch Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel Documents must be valid for at least three months at the time of departure, and longer for entry.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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