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Best Day Trips From Sarajevo, Bosnia- Herzegovina
Written by Anna from Expert World Travel.
Planning to visit Sarajevo? It’s a charming city, and it may even rival many of its neighbor’s, like Croatia! But there’s no reason to spend all your time in Bosnia and Herzegovina just in its capital. And with this guide to the best day trips from Sarajevo, you definitely won’t have to! From captivating lakes to what locals call the oldest man-made pyramids in the world – this small Balkan country has a lot to offer the adventurous explorer.
Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or just want to learn more about the history of this charming country, this detailed guide will provide you with all the information you need.
Skakavac Waterfall is very close to the city of Sarajevo, and it’s one of the most popular sights in the area. You can reach it in just some 40 minutes if you choose to drive, or you can even hike to the waterfall from the city – this is something locals often do, as it only takes about three hours to get to Skakavac by foot.
Once you reach the waterfall after the steep ascent, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of a water cascade falling from a majestic rock, with a wooden bridge in the foreground. Whether you’re up for a picnic or a photoshoot, the scenic area of the Skakavac Waterfall will not disappoint you.
Bjelašnica Or Igman
Bjelašnica and Igman are two mountains that are very close to one another, and just about 30 minutes outside the city of Sarajevo. They’re great for escaping the city crowds, and they’re very popular with the locals in the summer months, when the scorching heats become unbearable in the city. But they’re even more popular in the winter when locals and foreigners rush to the ski trails.
Out of these two, Bjelašnica is the better option for experienced skiers, while Igman is more suitable for beginners.
But honestly, you’re best off heading to Jahorina if skiing is what you’re interested in. Head to Bjelašnica if you want to sit down in a cozy cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee while admiring scenic mountain views. But go to Igman if you’re more up for a picnic, hike or just playing football with your friends on vast plains.
Visoko is a town just some 30 minutes outside Sarajevo, best known for the ancient pyramids. You read that right – while there’s no concrete evidence that the massive pyramid-shaped hills are indeed burial sights, their appearance alone was enough to significantly boost the tourism in the area.
You can also explore underground labyrinths that are situated below the “pyramids”, as well as visit a museum that boasts a significant collection of items that were excavated there. Whether or not you actually believe that these are the oldest man-made pyramids is up to you – but it’s certainly worth visiting and seeing them with your own two eyes.
Mostar is one of the most famous cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, largely thanks to the Red Bull cliff diving series that takes place in the city every year. Divers from all over the world gather in this charming city, and plunge themselves off a platform erected on the famous bridge (Stari Most) into the cold Neretva river below. It’s definitely an exhilarating activity, but it’s something locals have been doing for ages before the Red Bull series caught onto it.
That’s why you can usually spot people in the swimming trunks on the bridge – they’re waiting to collect a certain amount of money before they jump off the bridge for your entertainment. Though Stari Most might be the most iconic city sight, it’s certainly not the only one worth your time. We recommend a visit to the Biscevic House for an insight into how people lived in the olden days, as well as a visit to the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque that offers captivating views of the river.
It takes about two hours to get to Mostar from Sarajevo if you drive, and much longer if you take the local train, which I don’t recommend. I found the trains filthy, slow, and quite frankly, I did not feel very secure.
Jajce is a small town in Central Bosnia, and it lies on the confluence of rivers Pliva and Vrbas. It used to be the seat of Bosnian kings during the Bosnian Kingdom, and even nowadays people refer to it as the “royal town”. One of the things you absolutely must-do if you visit Jajce is to go to the fortress.
It offers a spectacular panoramic view of the town and neighboring mountains, which will have you staring in awe. The same can be said for the magnificent Pliva waterfall. Head to the observation platform to get a really good view of the waterfall, and enjoy the overwhelming sense of calm and serenity of this area.
The city park is also worth a visit, as is the Malo Plivsko Lake that’s just 5-10 minutes outside the proper town area. You can enjoy a picnic in the park, admire spectacular nature and see some really old water mills that look absolutely wonderful.
Sutjeska National Park
As one of the oldest parks in the country, the Sutjeska National Park attracts people from all over the world for a myriad of different reasons. One, it is home to one of the few remaining primeval forests in Europe, Perućica.
With beech trees over 60 meters tall and spectacular views of the Skakavac Waterfall from the lookout point, the national park certainly does not disappoint when it comes to photogenic nature. Obviously it’s not the same waterfall as the one near Sarajevo – they just share the same name! Sutjeska National Park is also home to Maglić, which happens to be the country’s tallest peak at over 2,386 meters. And that’s reason enough for avid hikers and mountaineers who want the opportunity to boast of conquering Bosnia’s tallest mountain.
If you want to experience an otherworldly sight in this national park, head to the Valley of Heroes. It is home to some truly eye-catching monuments, which are actually a memorial for the fallen soldiers of the Battle of Sutjeska during WWII.
Konjic is a small town about an hour away from Sarajevo, and it’s home to one of Yugoslavia’s best-kept secrets – an underground nuclear bunker, which happens to be the hottest attraction in the town. The underground structure spreads over some 6400 square feet, with residential rooms, offices, strategic planning rooms, and other areas.
It was built to house the then leader of Yugoslavia – Josip Broz Tito – and some 350 of his closest confidants. The construction of the bunker began in 1953, and it lasted for about 26 years, costing around $4.6 billion. What’s baffling is that the bunker remained secret until after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 90s.
We also recommend that you go on a walk around the town of Konjic – it’s pretty small, so it won’t take more than several hours to see the majority of it. But you just might get captivated by the spectacular views of the Stara Ćuprija (bridge) – with tall mountain peaks in the background, photographers will have the time of their life capturing the sights.
Konjic is also a very popular rafting spot in the country, making it an excellent place for the adrenaline loving traveler. The untamed Neretva waters are no joke, and pose a challenge even to the most experienced rafters there are – an adrenaline rush is guaranteed when you’re rushing down the wild river.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is heaven on Earth for climbers, hikers, and alpinists alike, thanks to the abundance of different mountain ranges. And Čvrsnica happens to be one of the most popular mountains for hikers, thanks to a variety of different trails that are suitable for people of all skill levels.
About an hour and a half outside Sarajevo, this mountain lies partially in Blidinje Nature Park – another phenomenal sight worth visiting, should you have the extra time. But, by far the best known Čvrsnica attraction is a natural rock formation known as Hajdučka vrata.
This natural phenomenon has attracted hikers from all over the world, both because of the picturesque scenery and ease of ascent. The trail that takes you directly to the famous rock formation is fairly easy, and it is suitable even for people who have very little hiking experience. But, we recommend you have at least one person who knows what they’re doing with you, just in case.
Just some 90 kilometers west of Sarajevo lies Travnik – a charming little city characterized by a fortress, a rushing river, and some of the best ćevapi in the country. Ćevapi are the most popular traditional dish in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and if you don’t get the opportunity to try them in Sarajevo, the second-best place in the country is Travnik! But don’t go there just for the food – instead, make sure to visit all the popular spots first, so you can build up your appetite.
We highly recommend that you visit the Ivo Andrić Museum – the birth home of the renowned Bosnian writer was turned into a museum, and it offers some insight into the early life of the Nobel Prize-winning author.
Another sight you shouldn’t miss here is the Travnik fortress. It was built in the first half of the 15th century, and today it remains one of the best-preserved fortresses in the country! It’s a truly wonderful sight, but it offers even better views if you climb to the top.
As the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina and de facto capital of the entity of Republika Srpska, Banja Luka is definitely another town you should visit if you get the opportunity. The only issue is that it’s more than three and a half hours away from Sarajevo by car, and the journey’s even longer if you’re thinking about taking the bus or train. However, it is more than worth the effort.
For one thing, the city has its own variance of the popular ćevapi dish, which you absolutely have to try. But let’s not dwell on the food too much, especially with so many gorgeous sights in the area. There’s the medieval Kastel fortress, which lies in the center of the city, right on the bank of the Vrbas river. Another popular sight in the city is Christ the Savior Orthodox Cathedral.
The majestic church is stunning both inside and out, and we highly recommend going inside it if you have the extra time. There’s also the Ferhadija Mosque, which was built way back in the 16th century.
The Ottoman mosque and its gardens were destroyed during the war, and rebuilt in the early 21st century. Today, they stand tall as a reminder that people of all religions and ethnicities are capable of coexisting in this wonderful country, although the nasty nationalist politicians want you to believe otherwise.
Where To Stay In Sarajevo
- Built in 1882 and featuring a mix of Oriental and modern Austro-Hungarian architecture, the Hotel Europa is perfect for a luxurious stay in Sarajevo.
- A short walk from the Baščaršija District, Hotel Bosnia is a great base if you prefer walking around the city.
- A stone’s throw from the Kalaja Fortress in Old Town, the simple 4-star Hotel Tiffany offers great views of the city.
- If you want a relaxing break where you can enjoy luxurious spas, saunas and more while your kids enjoy Kinderland, choose the Hotel Hills Sarajevo Congress & Thermal spa resort.
- Right in the heart of Sarajevo, the Hotel Sana offers rooms and suites close to all the attractions, markets, and supermarkets.
- Another great hotel right in the heart of Old Town, the oriental-styled Isa Begov Hamam Hotel offers free access to the onsite sauna.