If you’re thinking of travelling to a destination that hasn’t been overly hyped up, check out the fantastic yet underrated, Bosnia & Herzegovina. You’ll find lots to love and below I have outlined 10 reasons why you should add Bosnia to your travel destination bucket list.
First of all where is Bosnia?
The country of Bosnia & Herzegovina is located in Eastern Europe and was part of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. Today, it is part of the Balkan region and situated in between Croatia and Serbia.
As a developing and up-and-coming tourist destination Bosnia is very affordable for those travelling on a budget. The national currency is called the Konvertibile or Bosnian Mark, but Euro’s are widely accepted through out the country. You could easily get away on a budget of $35-$50 a day. In comparison to other European countries the cost of food, transportation and living in Bosnia is significantly cheaper.
A Unique Cultural Experience
The reason Bosnia & Herzegovina offers such a unique cultural experience is because it is comprised of various ethnic and religious diversity. Visitors should respect the customs and traditions of the various groups. The main ethnic groups are the Bosniaks or the Bosnian Muslims make up about 50% of the current population, the Serbs (35%) and the Croats (15%). Each group is diverse and has important differentiating characteristics in language, religion and customs.
The traditional Bosnian dishes are a major feature of visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina. I think it’s so important to try the foods that are native to a region because they have mastered preparing that particular dish. If I could recommend the best two choices below it would be the Ćevapi and Burek.
- Ćevapi – Bosnian kebabs: small grilled meat sausages made of lamb and beef mix; served with onions, kajmak, ajvar and Bosnian pita bread (somun)
- Pljeskavica – a patty dish.
- Begova Čorba (Bey’s Stew) – a popular Bosnian soup (chorba) made of meat and vegetables.
- Burek – pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as phyllo and are filled with either meat, cottage cheese, spinach and cheese and potatoes. These can all generically be referred to as pita.
- Burek – meat
- Sirnica – cottage cheese with spinach and cheese zeljanica, with
- Zeljanica – cheese and spinach potatoes
- Krompiruša – potatoes
If you want to beat the heat of the summertime, visiting Bosnia during the springtime would be best in either May and June.
Bosnia gets extremely hot reaching temperatures of 40 degrees during the Summer time. Things get sweaty.
Pro Tip (brought to you by personal experience): If you’re travelling in the peak of summer, stay near the rivers or take a quick trip to the Croatian coastline (it’s only 2 hours away!). Since Bosnia is landlocked I would recommend avoiding doing any long periods of walking or touristing because it just gets way too hot! When I was in Mostar, the locals said it was hot enough to fry an egg on the concrete. Don’t forget your sunscreen and hats!
There is little snow in Bosnia but it has very mountainous regions with cold winters. Skiing is popular during this time. Olympic skiing on mounts Bjelašnica, Igman and Jahorina is ideal in January through to March.
Close Proximity to Major Tourist Destinations
Adding Bosnia to your bucket list is easy if you are already visiting major tourist destinations in Croatia. For example, Dubrovnik, Croatia is a 2.5 hours drive away from Mostar and about 4.5 hours away from the capital city of Sarajevo. Split, Slapovi Krka, Plitvice Lakes, and Makarska in Croatia are all between 3 – 5 hour drives away from Sarajevo.
A Less Visited Travel Destination
It seems that almost everyone who plans a trip to Europe goes to the expected cities usually including Paris, London and Rome. However, I think that some of the best experiences come from stumbling on a country or city that has not been hyped up. As a traveler, I appreciate the local lifestyle, culture and realize that the greatest rewards can come from hidden and less travelled destinations. There are plenty of places to see in Bosnia & Herzegovina that are under the radar. A few of these cities include:
- Banja Luka
- Počitelj, Čapljina
Beautiful Landscapes and Natural Beauty
Bosnia is rich with natural beauty. From lush green landscapes, mountainous views, unspoiled nature, flowing rivers and thick green forests Bosnia fulfills the nature enthusiast in us all.
Bosnia & Herzegovina offers an interesting source of cultural and historical experience. For those who are are familiar with it’s history, the former Yugoslavian region experienced complicated ethnic and religious conflict with its neighbouring republics. Srebrenica is an important city to visit on the list above – especially if you are passionate about history. In July of 1995 more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks, mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War were massacred. When I visited Srebrenica we were just passing through the city but the destruction of the Srebrenica massacre lingered throughout the city. In the moments that we stopped to pay our respects for the thousand of graves of the men and boys who died I realized that some moments cannot be explained – they can only be felt. It was truly an overwhelming experience. The remnants of the massacre could be felt throughout the city even 20 years later.
Central to Experiencing the Balkans
Bosnia & Herzegovina is central to experiencing it’s neighbouring countries, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro which are all in driving distance to each other. From here it is easy to access major cities as I mentioned above, Dubrovnik, Croatia as well as Kotor, Montenegro (see previous post blog post here).
The people in Bosnia & Herzegovina are very friendly. There is diversity in every village. In terms of communicating with locals it would be useful to learn a few basic words and phrases because the country is still developing their tourist industry and finding locals who speak English may be challenging in some less travelled areas.