If you’re heading off to Bihać, then you’re in for a real treat. Not only is this destination one which is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking scenery and nature you’ll ever set eyes on, but there are plenty of things to see and do.
We were invited to Bihać by a group of locals, who wanted us to share their special town with you – I had no idea what to expect, but let me just say – whooah were we impressed!
When visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina, most people tend to focus on the capital Sarajevo and Mostar, but Bihać is a fantastic destination worth spending a few days in. A plus point of heading here is that you’ll avoid the major crowds that somewhat ruin a place, and in Bihać, you’ll be unearthing a hidden natural gem – Una National Park!
We visited two months ago and told you already about the wonders of Una National Park. So now, let’s explore the city of Bihać and what else you can do out and about close by!
Bihać has less than 60,000 inhabitants, and it lies on the banks of the Una River in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina and is just 150km from Zadar, where I live. Bihać was once a significant fortification of the Ottoman Empire in the far west and served as a starting point for Ottoman invasions on Croatia’s borders.
Bihać is a top place to check out, but you’ll need to know what exactly you can see and do while you’re there. Let me help you explore the best of Bihać.
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This is one of the most beautiful mosques that you will ever set your eyes on, and it’s super old – it dates back to around 1266. The mosque was a former church, named the Church of St Anthony. It was built in a typical Gothic architectural style; however, when the Ottomans took over the city in the 1500s, it was converted to a mosque.
The design still bears many old church features, but there is a fascinating blend of the two religions when you head inside. The mosque is very centrally located, so it’s a definite must-visit while you’re sightseeing around the center of the town.
In the picturesque village of Ostrožac, not too far away from the center of Bihać, you will find Ostrožac Castle. This castle goes as far back as the 16th century and was built by the Ottomans.
Located high on a hill, this is a definite photo moment, and if you visit during the summer months, you can enjoy the odd concert and live entertainment show, so be sure to look out for the summer calendar.
You can also wander around the grounds, set in the middle of the lushest, and green environment you can imagine. If you are traveling with kids, you should save time to saunter around and check out the sculptures. My 5-year-old had a blast running from sculpture to sculpture, so I’d suggest you do this at the end of the day to tire little legs out.
Captain’s Tower – Kapetanova Kula
If you’re a fan of history and mythology, then Captain’s Tower, or Kapetanova Kula, is for you. This is one of the oldest buildings in the town, and a famous legend revolves around it. It is said that when Bihać was young, in the hands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the tower itself was responsible for saving the life of King Bela IV, who hid inside the tower from horsemen who had an obvious task to kidnap him.
The tower is now a museum of Bihac’s history, and is open six days a week, and is listed on the National Monuments of Bosnia-Herzegovina list.
Una-Sana Canton Historical Museum
Set within the Old Town, you can easily fit in a visit to this museum while you’re wandering around. The Una Sana Canton Museum tells you the story throughout the history of the local area.
The museum is located handily next to Captain’s Tower, so you can easily fit in two top spots within a short amount of time.
You’ll notice that a lot of the older history left in the Bihać area is thanks to the Ottomans, and the Ottoman Turbe is another example of that. This is an Ottoman mausoleum, but it is designed slightly differently from the other types of mausoleums you might have seen before, in that it is octagonal in shape and surrounded by green trees and old stone walls.
Rafting In Una National Park
All of that nature is put to great use in Bihać, and you can enjoy several adrenaline sports. The most popular is rafting! The Una River might look lazy, but as you head into the Una National Park, the waters become ideal for rafting, with high drops to get your blood pumping.
Countless companies organize rafting trips so that you can shop around for the best price. This is usually a full day out, and you’ll need to ready yourself for some serious heart-in-the-mouth moments! Great fun, though.
Una National Park
We just mentioned rafting, but if you’re not the biggest fan of adrenaline sports and you’d prefer to stay on dry land, Una National Park has plenty to offer. Basically, the landscapes are jaw-dropping, and if you want to breathe in some fresh country air, checking out some of the most stunning views, this is the place for you.
The most famous spot in the national park is Strbacki Buk, a beautiful waterfall, dropping down into turquoise waters. You can hike, mountain bike, walk, or simply take a picnic by the waterfall and enjoy the scenery. The Via Dinarica Green Trail runs through the park, so you can don your comfortable walking shoes and explore.
The Una National Park is a day out for either adventure or relaxation, whatever you’re in the mood for!
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Eat Dinner At Restaurant River Dock
You won’t get a better location to eat dinner in Bihać than sitting on a wooden boat bobbing on the Una River in the little village of Ripač. Head to the River Dock for lunch or dinner (dinner is better thanks to the sunset!)
As the last rays of sunlight glitter on the water’s edge, you’ll be off on your merry way, chugging slowly towards a waterfall as you enjoy traditional Bosnian food. Sounds made upright? I promise it is indeed true!
The surrounding green scenery makes you feel like you’re a million miles from anything, and the food is, of course, rather outstanding too. Cevapi and meats, trout, soups, you choose! The experience lasts an hour, and if you are not keen on being on a boat for that long, then you can also enjoy the tasty local cuisine in the restaurant by the shade of the garden where there is an ideal place for kids to roam and play!
Head To Caffe Rb, And Eat The Best Ice Cream In The Balkans
Who doesn’t love ice cream? Seriously, nobody. If you’re searching for hands down the best ice cream in the Balkans, it can be found here at Caffe RB, right in the heart of Bihac! Known for its huge ice cream menu, there is something here for every taste, and you could even mix and match to give yourself a new taste sensation! If you’re traveling with the kids, this is an ideal pitstop for half an hour or so.
The family-owned cafe has more than a hundred years of family tradition (the above picture is the century-old documentation) whipping up award-winning ice creams. My boys were raving about the realness of the chocolate – and how the cheesecake tasted just like a real cake.
Drink A Preminger Beer
While at Caffee RB, ask for a Preminger beer – the beer is brewed by Bihaćka pivovara is a Bosnian brewing company based right in Bihać. Talk about ‘local drink.’ Cheers!
Spend An Afternoon At Restaurant Mlin
All that rafting and exploring the Una National Park will make you hungry – so head to his excellent restaurant located on the riverbank of the Una River.
It is a few kilometers outside of city Bihać, but it’s only a few minute’s drive away. Once there, you’ll enjoy traditional Bosnian cuisine, with a breathtaking view. You’ll be literally sitting on the river, so in summer you can enjoy being in the great outdoors.
If you love eating lamb, do not pass up the opportunity to try the spit-roasted lamb (as seen in the picture above), get some locally sourced salads, and enjoy with a glass of wine.
Eat A Meal At Kostelski Buk Hotel
One of the few luxury hotels in Bihać, this is a top choice and one of the most popular places to stay in the area. When you see the natural surrounds of where it is located, you’ll understand why we’ve been raving about our stay here at this hotel.
In addition to all of the luxury, the on-site restaurant is the stuff of foodie dreams. You don’t have to be staying at the hotel to enjoy the restaurant, but you may need to book during busy times though (we had trouble getting a table on Sunday), just to be on the safe side.
You can try all manner of delicious international and local dishes, and the service is second to none. If you’re visiting Bihać for a special occasion, this is the place to dine.
Wander Japodski Otoci
Located in the center of Una National Park, you will find Japodski Otoci, which basically translates to ‘Japanese Islands.’ Grab your walking shoes and take a wander around the area, which consists of five different islands linked by rivers and waterfalls.
This really looks like something from a fairytale book, and you’ll find a restaurant and plenty of spots to sit and catch your breath.
This is a sublime place to let the kids run free. There is lots of room for the little ones to spread about and loosen up.
Art Natura Eco Village
At the entrance to Una National Park, you’ll find Art Natural Eco Village. This is a small section of the park dedicated to historical art and is a fabulous way to learn more about the culture of the area and check out the scenery.
This is definitely one for family visitors, as kids will love the eco playground, and there is also a mini zoo with farm animals.
Eat (And Sleep) At Čardaklije, Vrtoce
Čardaklije gives you the most authentic, rural experience, and eating here, either lunch or dinner, will take you away from all your cares and worries. The grounds are so incredible.
There are several farm stay opportunities around Bihać, but in terms of food, you can expect homegrown, locally sourced products, all thanks to brothers Zdravko & Zoran Radošević. It’s all just delish- be sure to try the fresh juices.
Čardaklije is a short distance from the center of Bihać, and the drive is beautiful, and there is loads of parking and places for kids to run about safely.
This is a working farm but allows visitors to head there to learn more about the work that goes on there, conservation, the environment, and of course, simply to check out the landscapes and relax.
This is a small village, consisting of a bakery and kitchen, a Čardak (a building where milk and meat are prepared traditionally), a children’s corner, a workshop, a “House of Fun” where you can sample locally made schnapps, and a guest house.
As well as a place to head to for fun, this is a wondrous place to stay. Accommodation is available in two country homes, equipped with 4 to 6 beds. Other accommodation options are Apartment Draginja and hostel Čardaklije. All accommodation types are very reasonably priced for the incredible experience that you will undoubtedly get.
Above all, you must come here for at least the food & homemade juices. We ate lunch here, and my taste buds are still tingling from the heavenly fried bread they served.
These are just a few of the main hotspots of Bihać. Of course, there are plenty more hidden gems to unearth while you are there!
Where To Stay In Bihać
So, now that I have convinced you to head to Bihać, you need to know where to stay. If you’re visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, you’re generally spoilt for choice of places to sleep, and Bihać is no different.
There are many choices, so let’s check out some of the best on offer.
Hotel Kostelski Buk
Hotel Kostelski Buk is one of the most famous and popular in Bihać, and with good reason! Constantly rated as fantastic, this four-star hotel is set in a beautiful location and is just 8km away from the center of town. The hotel sits in a lush, green, natural habitat, located right on the Una river, and is ideal for those who mainly want to chill the hell out during their stay!
My family stayed here, and wow. We loved it!
You only have to gaze out the window at the waterfall, and you’ll be impressed. You can keep everyone back home updated (and jealous) with what you see via the free WiFi throughout the property.
Rooms are very modern, and all offer air conditioning, which will be a godsend during the summer months. You can enjoy the minibar and flatscreen TV, as well as the balcony to gaze upon the nature around you, or venture down to the on-site restaurant and bar and be a little sociable at the same time. The restaurant is actually one of the star attractions of this hotel, and it served international dishes and some of the most delicious local choices.
Probably one of the main reasons why this hotel is so popular with visitors, aside from the stunning location, is because it literally has everything you could ever need while you’re there. There is free parking on site, a gym, a lively bar, a private beach area for topping up your tan, and there are family rooms on offer too.
Do be sure to book the accommodation well in advance, as they get snapped up quite fast. If you do want to venture out of the hotel (always recommended), then you don’t have to go too far to find plenty to see and do.
Overall, Hotel Kostelski Buk is an excellent choice for couples, families, and even lone travelers too.
Another top choice and one which is a must for nature fans is Japodski Otoci. You’re right in the heart of nature once more with this accommodation, and you can enjoy stunning views of the river and gardens every single morning.
With this accommodation options to choose from, you can either opt for a waterside bungalow, or you can go for a chalet. Both offer modern and comfortable surroundings, but the main difference is how many they sleep. The bungalow will comfortably sleep three people and is really like a home away from home, with your own private cobbled path, terrace, and natural surroundings.
The chalet is a similar deal, but this can sleep more people, up to five, which makes it ideal for larger groups and families. Both options have air conditioning as standard and a flatscreen TV for chilling out. You’ll find free WiFi across the entire property.
The on-site restaurant offers local and international meals, and you can enjoy either a continental or vegetarian breakfast choice every morning. After that, head out and enjoy the on-site activities – there’s plenty to choose from!
Rent a bike, head out cycling, grab your walking shoes, explore on foot, or hire a car and explore. There is also a private beach area on the grounds for total rest and relaxation.
If you’re traveling with your furry friend in tow, the Hotel Emporium is a good option, as pets are totally welcome here! Aside from animals, this hotel has plenty to keep everyone occupied and relaxed, with an on-site wellness center and very comfortable surroundings.
At just over five minutes’ walk away from the beach, Hotel Emporium is only ten minutes away from the center of town and is relatively new (built in 2012); the rooms are very modern and minimalistic. Free WiFi is available across the property, and flatscreen TVs in every room, a minibar, and air conditioning. Parking is also free on-site, so you can venture off and enjoy the local attractions quite easily.
The on-site restaurant is a magnificent spot for your evening meal, with international and traditional choices aplenty. You can also enjoy a cocktail or a coffee in the lounge bar at whatever time you want, or perhaps head off for a massage in the wellness center.
The Una River is just 15 minutes away by car, and you can easily visit Plitvice Lakes National Park too. You can enjoy rafting, walking, biking, and a wide range of other outdoor activities at the Una River site. There is a local bus station just a stone’s throw away, making exploration easier.
If you’re looking for a high-quality budget hotel, then Hotel Paviljon is a fantastic option. This three-star hotel is situated in the center of town, and you can check out the beautiful Una River from your window. All rooms feature air condoning and WiFi as standard, and you can park your car for free during your stay too.
Rooms are large and comfortable, with a minibar and flatscreen TV. The on-site restaurant is of high quality and serves all manner of different dishes, including many traditional ones, which are certainly worth trying. There is a bar with a terrace area, too, so certainly check that out during the summer months for a stunning view over the water. If you’re traveling with children, the playground will also keep them occupied for a couple of hours at least!
Overall, Hotel Paviljon is a perfect base for exploring everything that Bihać offers at a reasonable price. The room is large, and the home away from home feel is ideal for couples or small families.
If you want to stay close to the center of Bihać, but you don’t want to be right in the heart of the action, Hotel Rekic is an excellent choice, another good quality budget option. You’ll find the central bus station just over 2km away, which is ideal for heading out and exploring the region further, and the main desk will help you with any car hire inquiries too.
Rooms are large and comfortably decorated. Each room has a flatscreen TV, as well as a minibar and air conditioning, of course. You can enjoy a beverage or two at the on-site bar, and the restaurant also offers the usual international and local dishes, as well as a plentiful breakfast to fuel up for the day.
The main plus point of this hotel is its location. You can easily venture out and explore further afield, with the bus station being so close and the car hire facilities that the hotel offers on-site. Couples, in particular, will find this hotel is excellent value for money, although there are pre-bookable family rooms on offer too.
Swiss Plus Hotel
The Swiss Plus Hotel is an excellent choice for families, couples, and groups. The hotel is centrally located and is only five minutes walk away from the beach, and 1km from the main center of Bihać, offering plenty of scope for exploration – a must-do!
Rooms all have air conditioning and free WiFi. There is a fact screen TV and a seating area in each room, which tells you that the rooms are pretty spacious. You can also pre-book a family room too. There is a small kitchen in each room, featuring an oven and a fridge, as well as a private bathroom. You’ll really feel like you’re at home here, despite the on-site facilities making your life much easier overall!
A couple of minutes’ walk away from the hotel you will find swimming baths and sports courts, where you can play tennis and other games. The Una National Park is only 18km away by road, and as mentioned, the beach is literally a stone’s throw away too.
Put simply, this hotel is a good option for enjoying everything the area offers and then returning home at the end of the day, probably exhausted!
Amal Grand Villa
One of the best-rated places to stay in Bihac, Amal Grand Villa consistently gets rave reviews and five-star ratings. Located only about 35 km from Plitvice Lakes, it’s an excellent base for day trips to Croatia’s most famous national park. The villa itself, however, features plenty of space and amenities. You might not even want to leave!
With no fewer than eight bedrooms, a kitchen with microwave and dishwasher, seven bathrooms with hot tubs, private parking, air-conditioning, complimentary WiFi, and flatscreen TV, it’s the absolutely perfect accommodation for families or groups of friends. Outside, you’ll find a sun terrace, barbecue facilities, and a children’s playground. Its setting along the scenic Una River offers additional opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and fishing.
I hope that you enjoy Bhać; I know that we did! Leave any comments below on other things to do there and where to stay!