Top 6 Things to Experience in Bosnia

by Katie Wells

The country of Bosnia-Herzegovina is a wonderful place, full of rich diversity, delicious food, and remarkable scenery. However, despite the country being so small, there is plenty to do! Sometimes it's hard to figure out where to start. But a few key places are always a good idea.

Stari Most
Stari Most

1. Stari Most, Mostar

The Stari Most is an essential piece of Bosnian history. Originally created in the 16th century, it was later destroyed by the Bosnian-Croat forces during the Bosnian War in 1993. After it was rebuilt in 2004, it became a national monument. It sits over the incredibly beautiful Neretva River that flows through the Neretva-Herzegovina Canton, large, lush mountains surrounding the entire city of Mostar. The Stari Most is also in the center of Old Town Mostar where there is plenty of shopping and coffee drinking to be done! Plenty of little stores sell local trinkets, ice cream, and coffee, which makes any day so much better. During the warmer months, jumpers leap off the bridge, to entertain nearby watchers, into the still icy water below. They especially like to tease their audiences, pretending they'll jump so people throw in money and once the jumper is content with his earnings and audience, he finally jumps.

While Stari Most lies in the heart of Mostar, the rest of Mostar is fascinating to explore as well! From Old Town Mostar to Mepas Mall where the modern stores and cinemas are, Mostar is easy to navigate as well as exciting.

2. Baščaršija (Old Town Sarajevo)

Baščaršija (pronounced Bash-char-she-uh) is located on the far east side of the city where as you walk down the main streets, past lovely shops and cafes, you suddenly hit Old Town Sarajevo and are transported back to the Ottoman Empire. The buildings are shorter, the roads are cobblestone, and the smells of hookah and coffee linger in the air. While it is one of the busiest places in Sarajevo, it is also one of the most interesting. The alleys wind through into an endless maze, making it fun to adventure as you find little shops selling handmade jewelry and traditional clothes. There you'll find the two treasured joys of Bosnia: ćevapi and bosanka kafa (Bosnian coffee).

The Infamous Local Dish Cevapi.
The Infamous Local Dish Cevapi. Photo by Katie Wells

3. Ćevapi and Bosanka Kafa

Ćevapi (cheh-vap-ee) is Bosnia's most well-known food, with restaurants on nearly every block. Ćevapi, also known as ćevapčići (cheh-vap-chee-chee) or meat-fingers, is a grilled dish of minced meat rolled into sausage-like rounds, typically served with onion on a bed of flatbread. Sometimes kajmak (k-eye-mack, a similar taste to sour cream) is served alongside. You can get half plates of five ćevapi or full plates of ten ćevapi. The truly ambitious can get more, but ten is a very filling and satisfying amount. Ćevapi is a south-eastern delicacy and, while most restaurants taste similar, locals will often argue which one is better. In order to fully adore your Bosnian experience, you have to stop at a ćevapi restaurant and once you are done there, you can head over to a café nearby for bosanska kafa (bo-sawn-skuh kah-fa) or Bosnian coffee. It is a strongly brewed coffee, drunk in small amounts with typically a bit of sugar. It is commonly served on a copper tray while the coffee comes in a džezva (g-ezva). Also included is a small cube of Turkish delight or rahat lokum. Coffee is a very social event as you take your time to sip and enjoy, and it's one of the things Bosnians definitely do very often.

4. Ostrožac Castle

Ostrozac Castle is a discovery and a half, located in north-western Bosnia. The castle dates back to the 16th century when the Ottoman Turks established the Ottoman province of Bosnia. Exploring the now deserted castle is an adventure as nothing is roped off. You can explore through the broken walls and disintegrating windows, while you sing Once Upon a December from Anastasia to enjoy the mood of something that was once beautiful and a place of power, which has turned into something hauntingly gorgeous. The castle sits on a cliff overlooking the valley, letting those who visit experience a lovely view as well as tour the castle freely. The courtyard contains sculptures and trees, overall the entire castle is just fascinating to wander.

5. Travnik

One thing Bosnia had plenty of throughout history were forts. However, one of the more popular forts was in Travnik, a small town just an hour and a half north of Sarajevo. Within the city lies the Travnik Castle (most people call it a fort, however), which is only a small hike for such a phenomenal view. Whether it's the autumn with vibrant trees, spring when the cobblestones shimmer under the rain, or any season for that matter, the view alone is something worth seeing. They have also turned the fort into a museum, filled with the history of the fort.

Wandering about the city, you'll come across clock towers (the only city in Bosnia-Herzegovina to have two clock-towers) and a gorgeous colorful mosque, as well as the home of Ivo Andrić, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1961. The homes can be toured, followed by a coffee in the lower floor when you have explored the home. Tour guides speak English to help foreigners fully understand the life of Ivo. The town is quaint and easy to navigate and when all is done being visited, there is always a ćevapi place to eat and have coffee.

Sarajevo
Sarajevo

6. Vrelo Bosne, Sarajevo

On the far east side of Sarajevo lies a large park nestled at the bottom of the mountains. Ponds and streams weave in and out with swans and ducks swimming mindlessly and bridges placed to cross to each point. Within the park are cafes for your daily dose of coffee as well as a restaurant that serves fish from the river. The park is beautiful in all the seasons and truly shows off the beauty that is Bosnia. Then when you are done visiting the park, you can take horse drawn carriages to the edge of the closest neighborhood (i.e. Ilidža) where more cafes and hotels are located, along with many more things to see and do.