Bosnia-Herzegovina presents a long, rich history dating back to the stone age, with cities dotted by UNESCO World Heritage sites, stunning scenery from mountains and waterfalls to medieval forests, and unique Bosnia tourism attractions including pilgrimage sites.
The diverse country has cemented itself as one of the must-sees on a Balkan or southeast Europe tour, but is just off the radar as a major tourist destination, which means when you tour Bosnia-Herzegovina you get the most authentic experience.
Take a look at our tour comparison Bosnia to find the itinerary for you, and be sure not to miss any of the must-see attractions we’ve compiled below!
History, cultural diversity and welcoming locals in Sarajevo
Known as the ‘Jerusalem of Europe’, Sarajevo has had a tough past, releasing itself from the siege of war. Nowadays, Ottoman-era minarets call peacefully next to cathedral spires, and Hapsburg streets tie with Soviet apartment blocks where locals are welcoming and more than willing to share their culture. Sarajevo is truly bewitching visitors as an up and coming European city with an historical eastern twist.
Traverse the Tunnel of Hope
The Tunnel of Hope in the capital is an important pre-requisite to attempt to understand the moral strength of the Bosnian people during the 1992-1995 Sarajevo siege. Learn the stories of the supply chain that bypassed international embargoes and kept the city alive with courage, with the help of a local tour Bosnia-Herzegovina guide.
Marvel at magical Mostar
Rebuilt Stari Most (‘Old Bridge’) forms a promising link between the Bosniaks and Croats on both sides of the Neretva river. The iconic bridge is protected by UNESCO, and is the heart of the city in the warmer months particularly. Scrape together some coins to tempt the Speedo-clad mostari guards turned free divers to plunge the 24 metres to the water below.
Experience the intersection of cultures
Bosnia-Herzegovina is home to great diversity in its people, in large part due to the atrocities during the Yugoslav war when Bosnian Muslims were driven out of entire regions. As a result, different parts of the country vary greatly, and you will find diverse ethnic groups, including Bosniaks – or Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs.
See Sniper Alley
Appreciate the fact that you can now walk safely down the city’s main boulevard, nicknamed Sniper Alley because of the numerous sniper posts along the street during the Yugoslav War, which made it a dangerous place for civilians.
The sights of Sarajevo
Keep a look out for Sarajevo Roses – scars in the concrete caused by mortar shells which were since filled with red resin, watch the coppersmiths at work and pick up a souvenir in Coppersmith Alley, and do not forget the plaque marking the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Make your way to Medjugorje
Hundreds of thousands of annual visitors continue to follow the holy significance of the small village south of Mostar. Virgin Mary apparitions have been claimed since 1981 and Catholics keep on coming, despite the Vatican not yet recognising it as an official pilgrimage site.
Take in the varied architecture
Bosnia-Herzegovina is home to a diverse mix of architectural styles, with cities built and developed during the medieval, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Yugoslav periods to create eclectic metropolises just waiting for you to discover them.
Snatch a bargain at Bascarsija
Sarajevo’s old Bascarsija is a bazaar built in the 15th century, which is recognised as the historical and cultural centre of the city. The bazaar is sadly much smaller than it once was due to a fire in the 19th century, but is a must on any tour Bosnia-Herzegovina nevertheless.
Beginners lessons in Cyrillic
Bosnians use both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, though Latin is now the more favoured alphabet for every day use. Visitors will certainly see their fair share of Cyrillic however, so why not try your hand at learning a few letters?
Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC