If there is one country in Europe that can call itself an “insider tip” destination , then it is Bosnia and Herzegovina. We came with no expectations – and in the end we were pretty excited.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is rich in culture and incredibly impressive in terms of landscape . Bosnia is a country for explorers. There is so much to explore, so many places you’ve never heard of before. And: Bosnia is still a fairly cheap travel destination. Sounds a little too good to be true? Bosnia is an insider tip – we say so.
If you’re like us until recently and you have no idea what to expect in Bosnia, then you’ve come to the right place on our travel blog. We introduce you to the most beautiful travel destinations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and give you practical travel tips for planning and preparing your road trip.
1. Bosnia and Herzegovina: FAQs, travel time & first travel tips
Exciting facts about Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Bosnia and Herzegovina is part of the Balkans and has a good 3 million inhabitants.
- The capital and largest city of the country is Sarajevo (almost 300,000 inhabitants). In rural areas, Bosnia is sometimes extremely sparsely populated. You often drive for hours on mountainous roads and only occasionally pass villages.
- In the 1990s, the country was shaken by the Bosnian War , which claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. The war may be over, but the wounds are visible – just from the bullet holes that can still be seen everywhere.
- Since the end of the war (1995) the country has been divided in two: on the one hand there is the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the other there is the Republic of Srpska. More on that in a moment.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina is actually on the sea. However, the coast is only 20 kilometers long. Croatia has claimed the rest of the coast for itself (and, incidentally, recently built a modern bridge to bypass Bosnia.)
- The interior of Bosnia is partly very mountainous and is characterized, among other things, by the Dinaric Mountains . The highest mountain in the country is Maglić at 2,386 meters.
You should know this before you travel to Bosnia
1. There’s a lot more to discover than you think.
Bosnia – that’s the country with the famous bridge and Sarajevo as the capital. And otherwise? Apart from that, are there any highlights at all?
If you find yourself in these thoughts (yep, we felt the same way), then we can promise you: Bosnia will blow your mind. Because there are so, so, so many more highlights than you would think.
There are imposing mountains and gigantic waterfalls, lively cities and remote mountain villages, ancient mosques and opulent churches. The nice thing about Bosnia and Herzegovina: You can still go on a real journey of discovery here . So many places, so many regions you’ve never heard of before.
2. Tourism is in its infancy in many places.
Hip hotels and restaurants? There is, but you have to look for it with the magnifying glass. Of course, Bosnia and Herzegovina is also home to very touristy places. Above all, Mostar should be mentioned here. In the tiny, world-famous old town, one souvenir stand follows the next.
On the whole, however, Bosnia and Herzegovina (especially in lesser-known, rural areas) is not very developed for tourism. This begins, for example, with the fact that official tourism websites in various regions often do not even exist – and if they do, they are not always available in English.
Also be prepared that the standard of hotels is generally a bit lower than in Central Europe. Of course, this applies in particular to the more rural areas. Don’t forget: Bosnia and Herzegovina is a poor country – and of course this is also reflected in the tourism infrastructure.
Very important: People smoke a lot in Bosnia. The fact that a bar can smell of smoke inside is something we have (fortunately) already forgotten about. It’s different in Bosnia. Cigarette smell is a constant companion. Fortunately, the legal situation has been tightening here for some time and the situation will look a little different in the future. But the fact is: There are still smoking rooms in hotels and that an apartment is smoke-free is unfortunately not a matter of course! (Yes, we had to realize that too.)
3. Bosnia is divided in two.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided in two ways: Firstly, there is the geographical division of the country into the northern (much larger) part of Bosnia and the southern (much smaller) part of Herzegovina.
Much more important, however (and also clearly noticeable on site as a tourist) is the political division of the country into two so-called entities.
- Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mostly Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats live here.
- Republika Srpska: Mostly Bosnian Serbs live here.
You only get a rough idea of how torn the country is when you are there. As soon as you travel from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Republic of Srpska, other flags fly, mosques give way to orthodox churches and that alone gives the townscape a completely different impression.
The best travel time
If you want to do a round trip and want to explore multiple destinations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, then we recommend the months of May to October when the weather is mostly warm and dry.
In midsummer it can get very, very hot in some regions. This includes Mostar, which is considered the hottest place in the country. Here the thermometer can sometimes climb to 35 degrees.
Since Bosnia and Herzegovina is fortunately not a very tourist destination (apart from some places like Mostar), summer is not as crowded as it is in neighboring Croatia. We ourselves were in Bosnia in July and can highly recommend this month.
2. The most beautiful travel destinations & highlights
What a city! Sarajevo, the country’s vibrant capital, is one of those Bosnian destinations that should definitely be on your itinerary. It is the exciting mix of cultures that makes Sarajevo so incomparable.
If you walk through the old town of Sarajevo, the so-called Baščaršija, you could almost think you have landed in Istanbul. It smells of charcoal, you can hear the muezzin calling and coffee is served in copper pots on every corner.
A sad historical event: Sarajevo was besieged for three and a half years during the Bosnian War . Thousands lost their lives. The war is long over and yet omnipresent. Several memorial museums commemorate the atrocities of that time. So, if you want to delve deeper into the country’s history (and we’d definitely recommend it), then Sarajevo is the place to be.
Here you can find our detailed blog article: Sarajevo travel tips
Next to Sarajevo, the small town of Mostar is probably the most famous tourist destination in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the country’s most important sights and landmarks is enthroned here : the Mostar Bridge.
The striking one-arch bridge spans the Neretva River and makes for what is probably the most iconic photo opportunity in the country. Strange but true: For centuries it has been a tradition to dare to jump 20 meters from the bridge.
Mostar is a comparatively tourist destination in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We would strongly recommend staying the night to experience the old town in the evening or morning hours without day visitors.
Here you can find our detailed blog article: Mostar Tips
The famous Dervish Monastery (“Tekija”) of Blagaj is another destination you shouldn’t miss on your trip through Bosnia and Herzegovina. The small town of Blagaj is located near Mostar and is ideal for a day trip.
Located at the source of the Buna (“Vrelo Buna”), the Dervish Monastery is a real postcard motif even from the outside. The majestic rock walls rise up directly behind it – what a backdrop!
It is definitely worth taking a look inside the monastery. You instantly feel as if you have been transported back in time and can easily imagine how people used to live here.
The picturesque town of Trebinje in the extreme south of the country was one of the biggest surprises on our trip. The spectacular location in front of the mountain massif as well as the magical and untouristy old town make Trebinje an extremely worthwhile travel destination in our eyes.
Trebinje also knows how to impress with some unusual sights. First and foremost there is the Serbian-Orthodox monastery Hercegovačka Gračanica , which is enthroned on a hill above the old town.
Here you can find our detailed blog article: Trebinje travel tips
Another positive surprise! The small town of Travnik is one of the lesser- known destinations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, when looking at the history of the country, Travnik is of great importance: In the Ottoman Empire, Travnik was once the capital of Bosnia.
One of Travnik’s most important sights also dates back to the Middle Ages: the well-preserved fortress. It sits enthroned in an elevated position above the old town and is definitely worth a visit.
Also worth seeing is the Colorful Mosque (“Šarena džamija”), which got its name from the colorful window glass. You should definitely visit the inside of the mosque as well. For us it is one of the most beautiful in the country.
Our tip: We had an excellent meal at the Ex Ponto Bar & Restaurant. You would otherwise expect such a hip bar in the capital Sarajevo. Here you can find modern cuisine at very fair prices.
3. Transportation in Bosnia: getting from A to B
It is possible to travel through Bosnia by bus, but we would personally recommend the car because of the flexibility.
With your own car through Bosnia and Herzegovina
Would you like to travel to Bosnia with your own car? It works – we did it too. However, there are a few things you should be aware of.
Depending on where you are at home, the journey can take a long time. It takes about 9 hours from Vienna to Sarajevo and 11 hours from Munich. If you start further north, it will of course take longer.
Also good to know: You cross several countries and therefore tolls are due – more precisely in Slovenia, Croatia and of course Austria.
The so-called “green insurance card” for your car is important for crossing the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina . The card proves that you have valid insurance. If you can’t find it (it usually comes with the policy), you can request it from your insurance company.
The card may not be checked, but if it is and you don’t have it with you, you will have to take out additional insurance for your car at the border.
Tips for booking a rental car
Experience has shown that traveling in a rental car is much more relaxed – provided, of course, that it is insured accordingly. In this respect, our first important tip: When booking a rental car, make sure you have fully comprehensive insurance with no deductible or with reimbursement of the deductible by the rental company.
Sarajevo is a good starting point for your road trip. The country’s largest international airport is located here, with direct flights from various cities in German-speaking countries.
Incidentally, we never choose the smallest rental car class for safety reasons. In Bosnia in particular, we would recommend a mid-range car as you spend a lot of time on country roads.
Here you can search for cheap rental cars: Sunny Cars
Traffic on the roads & road conditions
First of all, the good news: we found driving in Bosnia and Herzegovina relatively relaxed. You often drive on well-developed country roads. It is not uncommon for the roads to lead through very mountainous areas, so that it is not exactly easy to move forward. In general, you should be prepared for a comparatively slow travel speed.
The motorway network in Bosnia is currently still under construction. Some sections of the motorway have already been opened. In this case, you are happy to pay the toll because you can reach travel destinations much faster.
Occasionally roads are riddled with potholes . You should always be prepared for this and adjust your speed accordingly.
What can also happen: Suddenly landing on an unpaved (i.e. not asphalted) road. If you are looking for your route using Google Maps, then we recommend taking a look at the roads to be driven. On the whole, however, you don’t have to worry about main traffic routes between cities . In any case, we were able to reach all destinations on paved roads.
You can find helpful tips and legal requirements (including blood alcohol limit, speed limit, etc.) on the ÖAMTC website: Reiseinfos Bosnia .
4. Eating & Drinking in Bosnia
We would like to warn you at this point: Bosnian cuisine is quite hearty. Bad news for everyone who eats vegetarian food: Most specialties are prepared from meat. You can always find vegetarian options, but unfortunately you can’t eat really varied in the long run.
Eating out in Bosnia is a very cheap endeavor. For about five euros per person you can often eat really well. A little tip: It is customary to give a tip of around five to ten percent.
Ćevapi: Everyone knows it. The grilled meat rolls are something like the No. 1 fast food in Bosnia. They are served on every corner, preferably in the so-called “Ćevabdžinicas”.
Burek: Burek is also a popular snack between meals. Traditionally, this puff pastry dish is stuffed with meat, often rolled into a kind of snail, and then baked. There are also bureks with other fillings, but these are not called bureks, but according to their fillings (e.g. “Sirnica” for cheese.) Restaurants that specialize in preparing bureks are called “buregdžinica”.
Dolma: Dolma is stuffed vegetables (“dolma” = “stuffed”). Mostly peppers, but also onions or tomatoes are used and filled with a combination of meat and rice.
Bosanski Lonac: This rich stew is one of the national dishes of Bosnia. It usually consists of meat and vegetables and is cooked for hours.
Tufahije: One of the most popular desserts in Bosnia and Herzegovina is Tufahije. You can expect an apple stuffed with walnuts, steamed in sugar water and then served with syrup and whipped cream.
Bosnian coffee: It is drunk on every corner and at any time of the day: Bosnian coffee. It is reminiscent of Turkish coffee, but is a little milder (still very tart!) and is served in a copper pot. When the coffee grounds have sunk, pour the coffee into small mocha cups. It is traditionally served with a lump of sugar and Lokum, an oriental sweet.
5. Accommodation in Bosnia
The accommodation offer in Bosnia differs greatly depending on the destination. For example, while there are modern hotels run by international chains in Sarajevo, it is much more difficult to find great accommodation in some more rural regions.
The accommodation prices are quite cheap. However, one must also be aware that the standard in Bosnia and Herzegovina is generally a bit lower than in Central Europe.
Important tip: Especially in private apartments, it is not uncommon for smoking to be allowed! Therefore, always read the room description very carefully and, if in doubt, it is better to ask. For example, we booked an extremely well-rated apartment in Travnik, which stank terribly of stale smoke. In no evaluation we would have found any reference to it.
Mostar: Shangri La Mansion
A family run, stylish boutique hotel in the heart of Mostar. The rooms are very comfortable and furnished to a high standard. A highlight is the roof terrace, where you can spend relaxing hours, especially after sunset. You can reach the famous bridge of Mostar in just three minutes on foot. Top!
Here you can book the hotel: Shangri La Mansion
Trebinje: Herceg Vila
A gem in southern Bosnia! The nicely furnished hotel is run by a Bosnian-Canadian couple and is an absolute feel-good place. You will hardly find a better price-performance ratio anywhere else in Bosnia.
You can book accommodation here: Herceg Vila
Sarajevo: Hotel Sana
A nice city hotel in Sarajevo that could hardly be better located: You can reach the Baščaršija (old town) in two minutes on foot. The rooms are quite small, but you have everything you need. We felt very comfortable.
You can book the hotel here: Hotel Sana
6. Travel expenses Bosnia: How much money do you need
Currency & Payment in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the convertible mark . It is abbreviated by the abbreviation “KM” or “BAM”. 1 convertible mark is in turn divided into 100 fenings .
The exchange rate is conveniently linked to the euro. (Once it was the German mark.) 1 euro is equivalent to 1.96 convertible marks. So the conversion on site is relatively simple, because you only have to divide the price by two and you know the euro amount.
Even if the euro is not an official means of payment, it is often accepted. (Famous attractions sometimes even have euro prices listed.) We’d still recommend getting Konvertible Mark though.
With an EC card (bank card) you can easily withdraw money locally in Bosnia and Herzegovina . Please note that fees and charges may apply when withdrawing. In Bosnia, the fee for withdrawing from us was about 3 euros. Alternatively, you can also change money. We would always do that on site in Bosnia – not in your home country, because you usually get a much worse exchange rate there.
Travel expenses in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Good news for you as a traveller: Bosnia and Herzegovina is a very cheap travel destination – especially compared to other European countries, but also compared to other Balkan countries. Croatia and Montenegro are significantly more expensive.
You can save a lot on accommodation and eating out. Of course, there are also higher-priced options here, but if you have to/want to be on the lookout for money, you can still find real bargains in Bosnia.
How much does it cost in Bosnia and Herzegovina…?
- Overnight stay in a pretty double room: approx. 100 euros per night (ie approx. 50 euros per person)
- Rental car (middle class) for one week: approx. 300 to 400 euros
- Main course in a nice restaurant: 10 to 20 KM (about 5-10 euros)
- Burek (large piece): 4 to 6 KM (about 2 to 3 euros)
- Bosnian coffee: 3 to 4 KM (about 1.5 to 2 euros)
- Admission Kravica Waterfalls: 20 KM (approx. 10 Euro) per person
- Admission Dervish Monastery Blagaj: 10 KM (about 5 euros) per person
- Ticket cable car Sarajevo ascent and descent: 20 KM (approx. 10 Euro) per person
7. Security in Bosnia and Herzegovina
It is “thanks” to the terrible war in the 1990s that Bosnia and Herzegovina have still not really been able to free themselves from the image of a dangerous country. And that’s just incredibly unfortunate, because the opposite is the case.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a safe travel country. As always, we would like to refer you to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Austria) or the Federal Foreign Office (Germany) for an up-to-date, objective assessment of the security situation.
An important note: You should definitely keep in mind that there are still uncleared landmine fields in Bosnia ! For hiking trails, for example, you should always stay on the marked paths.
Otherwise, the same safety tips apply to Bosnia and Herzegovina as everywhere else in the world: carry valuables close to your body, do not leave any valuables in the car and ideally park the car in a guarded parking lot.
A few more words about our own experience: We never felt uncomfortable or unsafe in Bosnia – quite the opposite! We have consistently had positive experiences and found the locals to be incredibly friendly and helpful.
8. Internet: stay online during your trip
Important to know: Bosnia and Herzegovina is not part of the EU and data roaming is therefore not free. But on the contrary! It can even cost you quite a bit if you accidentally surf the web in Bosnia with your mobile data.
Personally, we’ve gotten so used to being able to research something online (e.g. restaurants nearby) when traveling that we don’t want to do without it anymore. If you want to surf mobile in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you have two options.
Variant 1: You buy a roaming package for Bosnia and Herzegovina via your mobile phone provider. Because the price-performance ratio here usually leaves a lot to be desired (read: few data for a lot of money), we would only recommend this option if you are staying in the country for a short time.
Variant 2 (our tip): You get a local SIM card in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For example, we recommend the haloo SIM card, which you can get in many shops (supermarkets, post offices, etc.). For just a few euros you can surf practically throughout your entire trip. Important: Your smartphone must be activated for all networks. And: If you only have one SIM card slot, you can of course no longer be reached on your regular telephone number.
Transparency: Affiliate links
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!