Sarajevo, the heart of the Balkans and the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the city where East and West meet with its long and rich history of religious and cultural diversity. That is why it is sometimes called the ‘’Jerusalem of Europe’’ or ‘’Jerusalem of the Balkans’’. It offers incredible authenticity in terms of culture and lifestyle, so, let’s get to know this city a bit more!
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By Plane: Sarajevo International Airport is the main airport of Bosnia and Herzegovina, located on the outskirts of the city. The most frequent companies you will find there are Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa. Since the airport is located 10 kilometers away from the city center, it will take you approximately 20 minutes to reach the city. That can be done by either taking a taxi or a trolleybus no. 103 or 31e. More information about buses from the airport here → Sarajevo Airport
By Train: Although the train network in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still expanding, there are good connections between the country’s key cities. The international connections such as those with Ploče (Croatia), Belgrade (Serbia) and Budapest (Hungary) have been recently suspended due to construction works while the relation Zagreb – Sarajevo is suspended until further notice. The train station is located 3 kilometers away from the center, so it can be reached by taxi or a public transport (tram line no.1) in around 10 minutes.
By Bus: There are two bus stations in Sarajevo; the main bus station and the East bus station (Lukavica).
- The main station is located near the train station, about 3 kilometers from the city center. It serves for both national and international bus lines. As previously mentioned, right next to it is a tram stop where passes a line no. 1 which takes you to the center, and another option is to take a taxi.
- Lukavica bus station is for the buses arriving from the Republic of Srpska, Montenegro and Serbia. It is located 6 kilometers from the center, and it can be reached by trolleybus lines 103 and 107.
The public transport in Sarajevo is operated by the GRAS transport company and depending on your desired destination, you can choose between bus, trolleybus minibus and tram. The tram is operating in the central parts of the city, while buses, minibuses and trolleybuses mostly connect the center and suburban parts of the city.
More information about public transport in Sarajevo can be found here.
Sarajevo has a large number of historically and culturally relevant sights, and it is definitely difficult to single out just few of them, but here are the ones which are a must-see:
Baščaršija: This heart and soul of Sarajevo is the best starting point when visiting this city. It is the most historic part of the city, and its atmosphere can make you think you are in Istanbul. It has remained pretty much the same since the 15th century, and there you can find old cobbled stone, narrow streets offering copper goods, Turkish coffee, Turkish tea and traditional Bosnian food. One of its focal points is the main square with its iconic fountain at the center, Sebilj, a famous meeting point for the locals.
Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque: Built in 1532, this large Ottoman representative architectural piece by the famous Mimar Sinan is the center of city’s Islamic community. It was the first mosque in the world that received electricity for electric illumination in 1898. The mosque also has a public fountain (šadrvan) for a traditional washing, an outdoor praying area, an Islamic bookstore and the tomb of Gazi Husrev-bey. You will be able to enter the mosque respecting the islamic rules related to the dress code.
The City Hall: This typical Austro-Hungarian piece of architecture, locally known as Vijećnica, was built in 1892-94 and handed to the City Authority. Later, towards the end of the WW2 it was turned into a National library. Since it was the target of the Serbs during the war, it was completely destructed and the majority of the 1.5 million volumes and 155,000 rare books that the library held could not be saved from the flames. The restoration works have lasted for 15 years and today the Vijećnica is finally open to the public again. The interior of this magnificent building is simply breathtaking.
The Latin Bridge: Whether you are a history lover or not, you have to visit this place since it was marked by one of the biggest moments in history, the one that started the notorious WW1. On 28th of June, 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand on his way towards the City Hall, and the rest is history. On the northern end of the bridge, where the assassination happened, you can find a museum which documents the events of that day.
The Yellow Fortress (Žuta Tabija): If staying in Sarajevo long enough to see the sunset, then this is the place where you need to go and witness the amazing view. We recommend hiking up to the fortress to pass the cemetery of young victims of the war, to see such graveyard is an unforgettable experience. During the month of Ramadan you will find plenty of locals here waiting for the sunset to mark the end of fasting for that day. In case you won’t be able to stay till the sunset, we still recommend this place because of its beautiful view of the entire city.
The Avaz Tower: This is the Sarajevo’s tallest building, and a great way to experience the most amazing view of the city. To enter the tower you have to pay a 4 KM fee, and on top you will find a cafe where you can enjoy the view. The city from the tower is completely different at day and at night, so it can be a double experience.
Skiing: Winter sports are very popular in Sarajevo since it is surrounded with slopes. Jahorina, Bjelašnica and Igman are also known as the Olympic Mountains where skiers at all levels can enjoy over 40 km of ski lanes. Štitni Do on Bjelašnica is very popular for snowboarding, sledding and snowmobiling. Mountains are easy to reach, being located less than 30 km away from the city, and the destination is becoming more and more popular because of its reasonable prices and breathtaking nature.
Hiking: The Olympic Mountains are also very popular during the spring and summer for all those who love hiking and mountaineering. The prime destinations for all hiking enthusiasts are villages Umoljani and Lukomir where visitors can enjoy pristine nature and tasty meals in one of the village cabins.
Besides skiing and hiking, these mountains offer different extreme sports for all those who crave adrenaline rush. Paragliding is getting more and more popular on Bjelašnica and Jahorina. The surrounding nature is also great for biking, and so far there are approximately 50 km of marked trails on Bjelašnica, Igman and Treskavica. The area also offers several horse-riding clubs which offer riding classes, and a golf course near Slatina. Also, there are some caves in the area for all the speleology enthusiasts of which the most popular ones are Bijambare, Orlovača and Novakova.
If you are staying in Sarajevo for more than one day, there are places outside of the city which are definitely worth visiting. For more suggestions where you can go around Sarajevo, you can check out our recommendations for best day trips from Sarajevo.
Dining in Sarajevo is one big specialty of the city since it offers the ultimate cultural experience with Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Blakan flavors. We will mention just some of the most authentic places:
Avlija: This really special place is located slightly uphill of the tourist area, and while it is hard to describe the interior of that place it is cosy and charming for sure with potted plants hanging on the walls and colorful yard. here you will find generous portions of central-European pub food.
Hodžić: While both locals and visitors are arguing whether Hodžić or Željo serve the best classic ćevapi in town, we will focus on Hodžić. It is located in the very central part of the city, in the middle of Baščaršija. It serves traditional Bosnian food with emphasis on ćevapi, and it is definitely one of the most authentic meals you can get in Sarajevo.
Kibe Mahala: It is also located on the hillside but definitely offers one of the most stunning views on Sarajevo. But that is not the only thing this restaurant offers, it also serves traditional Bosnian dishes with the house specialty – spit-roast lamb. There you can also try a variety of wines from throughout the region. The atmosphere of the restaurant is spiced up with two guitarists playing traditional Bosnian music.
Mala Kuhinja: This is also one of the most exceptional places to eat in Sarajevo, making a fusion of Asian and Balkan cuisine producing a combination of flavors hard to find anywhere else in the world. in there, you won’t find a menu but the waiter will chat with you and suggest dishes that suit you the best. tables are overlooking the open kitchen which means that you can watch your meal being prepared. Most of the food is locally sourced, lactose- and gluten-free.
Inat kuća: Besides a wide range of Bosnian specialties being served in this place, this restaurant has an interesting historical background. When the City Hall was being built, the City Authorities decided to demolish two restaurants and a house. The owner of that house, the old man called Benderija, refused that idea, and demanded from the City Authorities to pay him in ducats and move his house, brick by brick, on the other side oh the river. In the end, his request was fulfilled and the house was symbolically named The House of Spite (Inat Kuća), later turned into a restaurant.
As in many other smaller European cities, Sarajevo’s nightlife mostly takes place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Going out on Sundays is not the best idea since the whole town is asleep. Sarajevo offers a wide range of pubs, bars and clubs where everyone can find something that suits them best.
If you are looking for something easier or simply a place before heading off to any of the larger clubs, Sarajevo has a various offer of different types of pubs and bars. If you prefer an alternative type of music and atmosphere which includes rock, jazz and blues you can decide between Cafe Opera, Zlatna Ribica and City Pub. For a more Balkan experience you can go to Babylon, in the heart of Baščaršija, and enjoy the Ex-Yu Rock music. Aquarius is another popular place located at Grbavica, perfect for a warm up.
Depending on your preferences, you can continue your night in some of the Sarajevo’s popular clubs. Cinemas Club Sloga, located at Mejtasi, is the city’s premier rock club where the music style depends on the night but it varies between rock, jazz, blues and similar, and the club also tends to host lots of live shows. Another semi-underground place which hosts live music events is Jazz Club Monumentum. It is located in the old town, and the atmosphere is lively and exciting.
For those who prefer the music burning out of the speakers with great DJs should visit Hacienda, a lounge bar on Baščaršija with unforgettable nights with Sarajevo’s best DJs. Bambus lounge bar is another stylish nightlife venue full with locals which often plays live music interchanged with DJs spinning the latest hits. If you want to get fancy, visit Colosseum Club, it is a casino and a club which hosts interesting pop concerts from time to time with affordable prices. Where the Saturday night out inevitably ends is at Buddha bar, a dark basement where the party ends in the afternoon the next day.
Sarajevo is the place where the east and west converge so the city offers both the international brands and products made by local producers. The main shopping zone is definitely Baščaršija together with Ferhadija and Titova Streets all the way to Marijin Dvor. There you can find plenty of souvenirs, handmade crafts, jewelry, copper items, oriental carpets and clothing which all together remind of the Turkish bazaar. Also, make sure to check the souvenirs, clothing, fashion accessories and items made by local designers in the stores such as BH Crafts, Thara Concept, Burtuquaali, Maksuz, Galerija Egoist etc. If you want a guarantee that you are buying authentic Sarajevo products, check whether the shops display the seal of Original Sarajevo Quality.
Besides the places with authentic products, Sarajevo’s most popular shopping centers are BBI Center and Sarajevo City Center. The first one is located in the center and has a lot of stores, once again combining the western and eastern fashion. The center has several cafes and restaurants where you can take a break between the shopping. The second one is Sarajevo’s biggest shopping complex, located in Marijin Dvor, with two smaller shopping centers nearby, Alta and Importanne. There you can find products of popular western fashion.
The city offers a lot of open markets with organic products, fruits, vegetables, spices etc. City Market (Tržnica) is great for buying domestic meat and dairy products, while in the vicinity you can even find some fish markets offering fresh seafood.
It is important to remember that the currency in Bosnia and Herzegovina is Convertible Mark or shortly ‘’KM’’, and the international financial term is ‘’BAM’’. Euro is being accepted at several places but we recommend always getting hold of local currency. There is a high number of ATMs in Sarajevo, so getting a local currency should not be a problem. The exchange rate for the Convertible Mark is fixed to the Euro, 1.95583 BAM equals 1 Euro.
The majority of exchange offices in Sarajevo work from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, and most banks work from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm during the week, and from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays. The main post office works from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm from Monday to Saturday.
While in Sarajevo, always look for a monitored parking lot, never leave your car parked improperly and never leave your valuables inside. The city has 3 parking zones and ‘’Parkomats’’ have been installed in all public parking areas, and paying is obligatory 24/7 including weekends and holidays.
Parking rate in the Zone 0 and Zone 1 is 2 KM per hour with the exception of the Zone 0 as the only zone where the maximum parking time is 2 hours since it includes the very center of the city. Parking rate for the Zone 2 is 1 KM per hour.
You can also look for the underground garages such as those at BBI Center, Sarajevo City Center, Hotel Europe etc.
You can find the exact map of all the parking lots here.
BiH country code: +387
Sarajevo area code: (0)33
East Sarajevo area code: (0)57
- Medical Emergency: 124
- Police: 122
- Fire Emergency:123
General Hospital: 285 100
Airport: 289 100
- Bus Station: 213 100
- East Sarajevo Bus Station: 317 377
- Railway Station: 655 330
- Baščaršija: 272 300
- Novo Sarajevo: 713 830
- Dobrinja: 766 380
- Marijin Dvor: 552 130