I vaguely remember learning about geography as a kid and thinking Yugoslavia was a funny name, and I wanted to go there someday simply because of that. So even though Yugoslavia broke up into several individual countries many years ago, it has still been a goal for me to get there, only now it means visiting each country that was once part of Yugoslavia. I spent about 10 days in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and it really surprised me. It’s a great country, and I really enjoyed my time there. Here’s a look at my Bosnia itinerary from Sarajevo to Mostar.
Things to do in Sarajevo
My first stop was the capital, Sarajevo. It’s a small city packed with history, and stayed in the old town. I timed my visit to meet up with my friend Gigi and her partner Chad, who were staying in Bosnia for a few months.
Sarajevo food tour
Since food tours are such an amazing way of exploring a city and learning about a culture, we thoguht it would be a great thing to do in Sarajevo. Gigi was able to get us a comped food tour in Sarajevo called Balkantina. It was set for the morning Gigi and Chad arrived from Konjic, where they were staying, and since they couldn’t check into their hotel that early and my hotel wouldn’t let us put her dog in my room, Luna tagged along for the tour. Luckily the tour guide loved dogs and was more than ok with it.
We started at a market where we tried a variety of local cheeses and sausages. Our guide told us the water used to make the cheese is good for hangovers. Interesting, though I don’t think I want to try that.
While walking to our next stop, our guide told us about Bosnia’s history, including the influences of the Austro-Hungarians and the Ottomans. She also told us about the three major religions found in Bosnia. There’s something much more meaningful about learning about a place while actually standing there.
Our next stop was a burek shop. Burek is kind of like a pita or a pie with meat filling. There are lots of other types, but each has its own name. We tried meat, cheese, potatoes, pumpkin, and a few others. All were delicious! But the meat was my favorite.
Next up was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we were served soup, meat, stuffed peppers, and lots of other stuffed veggies. The meat was shredded veal head. It was possibly my least favorite thing on the whole tour. I did enjoy the stuffed peppers though, and these seem to be found all over Bosnia and even into several other nearby countries. I remember eating them in Kosovo for breakfast and loved them.
Our final stop was to try rakija, a local infused liquor. Since the liquor is supposed to be served cold, and it was really hot outside, our shot glasses came to us sitting in bigger glasses filled with ice. We tried pear and walnut, and even though nut flavored liquor isn’t usually my thing, I quite enjoyed the sweet taste of this one.
If your travels take you to Sarajevo, check out Balkantina. In addition to the tour we took, they also have tours that focus more on the grilled meats or desserts. This was definitely one of the most fun things to do in Sarajevo.
After the food tour, Gigi, Chad, Luna, and I hung out off and on the rest of the day. We tried some local baklava, had a picnic dinner in a park, and mostly just enjoyed chatting.
Sarajevo from above
Gigi and Chad went back to Konjic the next day, and I was on my own again. I wanted to see more of the city and decided to book a tour through my hotel. The tour was focused on views of the city, and seeing a place from above is always fun for me. My guide took me to an office building with a look-out at the top, a couple of restaurants on the outskirts of town that look down into the valley where Sarajevo sits, and some old castle ruins that sit high above the city.
Along with the fantastic views, I also learned more about Sarajevo’s sad recent history. He told me about living in Sarajevo as a child and learning to live with the constant bombing coming from Serbian forces. I saw cemeteries everywhere in Sarajevo, and later I continued seeing them throughout the country. Even though the countries are at peace now, there are still a lot of wounds.
Why you should visit Jajce
Jajce isn’t a town I had ever heard of until someone in a travel group on Facebook posted a picture of the incredible Jajce waterfall she had just seen there. I love waterfalls, so I looked into it and decided I had to go. There are day trips from Sarajevo you can take, but it seemed like it would be such a painfully long day, so I opted to go on my own and spend the night.
The Jajce waterfall is just on the edge of the old town and an easy walk from the center. I had to pay a small entry fee, but it was totally worth it. There was a big viewing platform and a bunch of stadium-style benches, so you can sit a little farther back and enjoy the view without getting wet. But if you’re on that viewing platform up front, you’ll feel the spray!
The next morning I got up early to trek up the hill behind my hotel. Up top was a castle I wanted to see, and even though it was small, I loved it. I was almost the only person there. I was greeted by a gorgeous peacock. The castle was in ruins but the walls still remained, so the inside was hilly and grassy, which was really pretty. The tops of the walls were easily reached, so I would walk around and enjoy the views of the town.
It wasn’t the most impressive castle I’ve ever seen, but it was so much easier to enjoy without so many people around. Because it wasn’t restored or super touristy, I could really imagine what it might have been like in its prime. And I had so much fun exploring it!
Jajce might not be on your radar, but I highly recommend spending a day there to see the waterfall and the castle.
Relaxing in Konjic
I probably never would’ve gone to Konjic if Gigi hadn’t been staying there. Since she and Chad are digital nomads, they often spend a month or more in one location, and at this point they were spending almost two months in Konjic. It’s located about halfway between Sarajevo and Mostar.
It’s not a very touristy place, though some people do come on day tours from Sarajevo to see the town, visit Tito’s underground secret bunker, and sometimes go rafting. Gigi and I considered going to the bunker, but ultimately I decided I was more in the mood to just hang out with my friend and relax. We spent a day wandering around town, and while it was pretty, I can see why it’s not so popular with tourists.
Things to do in Mostar – See the famous bridge
Mostar is one of the most popular places to visit in Bosnia. It’s close to the Croatian border, making it somewhat easy to reach, and the old town is gorgeous. You may have even seen the famous old bridge in photos because it’s one of the most well-known things to do in Mostar. I can understand why so many people go there, but for me, after spending almost a week in not so touristy places, I was overwhelmed by the crowds. The temperature was also creeping higher and higher, reaching almost 100F while I was there, and I was just done.
I didn’t really do much in Mostar. I wandered around the old town several times. There’s a minaret at a mosque that you can climb for views of the town from above, but the heat scared me off. You know it’s bad when I pass up a tower climb for a view. I watched the guys who jump from the bridge into the river, but as impressive as it was, I was turned off by their overly pushy tactics to get money from the crowd in order to jump.
I also met up with a woman named Gabrielle, who Gigi met while she and Chad were staying in Mostar, and we had a nice time chatting and having a few meals together. We looked into a few tours that visited the nearby Kravice waterfalls, but again with that heat and the fact that the lunch stop wasn’t until about 3pm, we decided against it. Maybe next time!
So I still think Mostar is worth visiting because it is really pretty. But try not to go in the height of summer. I really would’ve done more things if it hadn’t been so incredibly hot.
How to get around in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Getting around Bosnia & Herzegovina was pretty easy. I didn’t have any buses booked ahead of time, and it all just worked out. The buses were really easy and covered almost every route you’d need as a tourist. I used Balkan Viator and Get By Bus to check schedules, but then I bought my tickets at the bus station the day I was traveling. Konjic was the only city that didn’t have a real bus station, so I had to buy my ticket from a little kiosk that also sold drinks, snacks, and newspapers.
The one route I couldn’t seem to make work was Jajce to Konjic. This is apparently not a popular connection, so my only option would’ve been to back track to Sarajevo or go all the way to Mostar, and then switch buses. This felt really time consuming to me.
Instead, I took a bus from Jajce to Jablanica, and from there I had a prearranged taxi. Gigi used this taxi service in Bosnia a few times and recommended him to me. He was great, and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re traveling in Bosnia (I think he might even go to a few neighboring countries) and have a tricky route. I paid 15 euros for a 30-45 minute ride.
From Mostar, I left for Montenegro. The bus routes were pretty bad because, for some reason, they went west into Croatia and then south along the coast. This means they would cross back into Bosnia at some point, then back into Croatia a second time, and then finally into Montenegro. Since none of these countries are in the Schengen Zone, that would mean going through border procedures FOUR TIMES! No thank you.
Instead I found this hostel in Montenegro that arranges transfers, so I booked a ride to Kotor through them. The driver was really nice and even stopped at a couple places for me to take pictures of the pretty views. I definitely recommend doing this to get between Mostar and Montenegro.
Where to stay in Bosnia & Herzegovina
I absolutely recommend Garni Hotel Konak in Sarajevo. The three guys who ran the hotel were fantastic and super helpful. When I mentioned my dietary restrictions, they offered to pick up some gluten free bread for me for breakfast. One of them was my guide on the city views tour and was really great to talk to.
The room was really simple, but it was perfect for what I needed, and my bed was really comfortable. The location was great too, right in the old town. My stay here got me an entertaining story, and if I ever end up back in Sarajevo, I will definitely stay there again.
In Jajce, I didn’t have a lot of options. I think it’s more of a day trip town for most people so there didn’t seem to be a lot of hotels, but I’m glad I spent the night for a more relaxing visit. I stayed at Hotel Stari Grad in the old town, which happens to be #1 on TripAdvisor for Jajce.
It was simple, but again, my room had really comfortable beds. The owner was really helpful and showed me how to get to the Jajce waterfall and the castle. It was also a quick taxi ride from the bus station. This was a good choice for where to stay in Jajce.
My hotel in Mostar was the Rooms Villa Downtown. It was in the old town and a short walk from the bus station. My room was really modern and pretty, but the bed was rather firm. The guy who ran the hotel was really helpful and friendly, and it was a small place. So it wasn’t a bad hotel, but you have to like firm beds.
Bosnia & Herzegovina was a great country to visit. The people were friendly, everything was cheap, and it was really pretty. The food wasn’t the best – in fact, I found it rather boring, but I guess you can’t have everything. Many people rush through Mostar and don’t see much else of the country, but I’m so glad I added Sarajevo and Jajce to my Bosnia itinerary and spent 10 days in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
You might also enjoy:
- My Montenegro Itinerary: Kotor and Budva
- How Much I Spent Traveling in Kosovo
- How Much I Spent Traveling in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro
- Hidden Towns in Andalucia, Spain