Famous for its cultural and religious diversity, Sarajevo is the place where the East and the West meet. Different than all the others, the city is best described as a mixture of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Yugoslav influences. In the past it suffered a lot. It has undergone centuries of the Ottoman rule and even a 4 year long siege during the Yugoslav war in the ’90. Today, the Bosnian capital is a vibrant place, full of charm and tradition and a great place to spend at least a day at.
What’s the best time to visit Sarajevo?
Sarajevo is beautiful to visit all year round. In warmer months the city just boasts energy and the great atmosphere. The cafe terraces cover the whole city, people hang out outside, in the bars and next to the Miljacka river, parks turn lush. Winter can be especially charming, especially when there’s snow, but there are also less activities and less places open at that time of the year. Not to mention winters can get really cold.
Few facts about Sarajevo:
The city of Sarajevo is nestled in a valley, in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but just a few miles away from the Republika Srpska territory. Historically, it’s one of the most interesting and varied cities in whole Europe. Due to the long Ottoman rule, The Ottoman influence is very present, especially in the Old Town Bascarsija. During the Yugoslav Wars it was under a siege by Serbian forces for almost 4 years and was left quite destroyed. Since then, the city undergone post-war reconstruction and it’s now a fastest growing city in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
One Day in Sarajevo Itinerary
Top things to do in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Sarajevo.
Stroll around the Old town
Bascarsija, or the Sarajevo Old Town is where most of the things from this itinerary are located. It’s actually not that big in size and it’s super easy to explore if you only have one day in Sarajevo.
Start at the Bascarsija square, check out the Sebilj Brunnen Fountain and get lost in the cobblecone streets of the Old Town. The charming streets are lined with the cafes and restaurants in Ottoman style and bazaar shops which will surely give you a certain Turkish feel. Finally, visit the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, the biggest mosque in Sarajevo center, and the place of Islamic worship. The Mosque was built in 1531 as an endowment of Bosnian sandžakbeg Gazi Husrev-Bey.
Try the Turkish coffee
The Ottoman influence can be seen everywhere – from religion to architecture, clothing to food. The same thing with the coffee. The turkish coffee, although spread all over the Balkan countries is most popular in Bosnia. Start your day in one of the many coffee shops in Ottoman style around the Old Town. They mostly serve it with the rahat lokum – Turkish delight based on a gel of starch and sugar, usually with chopped nuts inside. Try it!
Have a burek for breakfast
The best burek in the world is made in Bosnia. It is a pastry made of a thin dough filled with minced meat, cheese, spinach or apple. The best one in the city you’ll find in the Burekdzinica Bosna, very close to the Bascarsija square. The burek is served per grams, so you can try different types. Also, make sure to put some cream on the top.
Shop some souvenirs at Bascarsija and visit the old Bazaar building
The Bascarsija market, the synonym of the Turkish bazaar is the best place to shop for some oriental souvenirs. Most of the products are either jewelry, pottery, metalware or the textiles. Choose between the handmade jewelry, scarf pashminas, traditional Bosnian rugs, metal džezvas (coffee pot) or decorated terracotta plates. They are all very authentic and original.
For a wider selection of jewelry and accessories, visit the Gazi Husrev Bey’s Bezistan, the covered bazaar from the 16th century were during the Ottoman time the textile was traded. Tašlihan, the other bazaar structure next to it, was built during the same time, but was badly damaged in a fire in 1879. Its remains are still present and can be seen from the street.
Visit the attractions along the Miljacka river
Walk along the Miljacka river and check out the place where WWI started. It’s an exact spot where Franz Ferdinand and his wife were shot dead in 1914.
Pass the Latin bridge and or relax a bit at the At Mejdan park. Visit the Music Pavilion in the park and drink something refreshing in the shades of the trees.
Walk east for a few minutes and you’ll notice the Inat house, which translated means the House of spite. The exact same house used to stand on the other side of the river, before the City Hall was built. The stubborn owner didn’t want to have its house demolished so he insisted of removing the house, brick by brick on the other side of the river. Today, the house is a lovely traditional Bosnian restaurant.
Visit the City Hall
Finally, pass the Seher-Cehaj’s bridge and visit the spectacular City Hall in Pseudo-Moorish style. It was built during the Astro-Hungarian rule in 1891 and renovated at the beginning of this century. It was used as a library, but was demolished in the 1992, during the Siege of Sarajevo. Many books, manuscripts and artifacts were completely destroyed at that time. Visit the exhibition that says more about the building and its history. The entrance fee is 5KM.
Have some Cevapcici for lunch
While in Bosnia, don’t miss to try the most delicious Bosnian meat speciality. Čevapčići are the minced meat dish served in a bread with the kajmak cream cheese and onions. There are many Cevapcici restaurants in the city, but the best ones are Zeljo and Petica. Keep in mind they don’t serve alcohol in those places.
Visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel
Don’t miss a chance to see the Sarajevo War Tunnel and the Tunnel Museum. This tunnel was built as an underground passage through the whole city during the four year siege of Sarajevo in the ’90. Since the city was cut off from the rest of the country and therefore from the rest of the world, it was the only way the life support materials and the food could be moved through into the city. The construction lasted for 6 months and was completely built by the volunteers all by manual labour. The private house in which cellar was the entrance of the tunnel, today serves as a museum.
Watch the most beautiful Sarajevo sunset
Head up to the Yellow Fortress (Zuta Tabija) right before the sun sets behind the mountains that surround the city of Sarajevo. Even if you don’t come at the sunset time, it’s still a great spot for a breathtaking panoramic view. You can reach the place by taxi or you can climb up the hill and include the visit to The Cemetery of the young victims of the war on your way.
It’s time for a Sarajevo nightlife!
Start your night at the two parallel street Muvekita or Strossmayer. It’s the area where the many famous bars are located. On weekend they usually play live music, so make sure to check out the schedule on time and arrive a bit earlier.
After the bars, head to Sloga – the most famous club in whole Sarajevo. They also play live concerts, so check out their Facebook page if you want to be informed about the events.
Where to stay in Sarajevo?
Malak Regency Hotel
Malak Regency Hotel is a luxurious and inspiring 5 star hotel designed in a modern spirit. The hotel features 174 relaxing and comfortable rooms and apartments. The hotel is great for both business and leisure travelers. It’s perfectly located, just by the river with breathtaking view of the mountains!
İsa Begov Hamam Hotel
İsa Begov Hamam Hotel is a luxurious hotel special for its health and wellness facilities like turkish/steam bath, sauna, jacuzzi and all sorts of body massages. It’s actually Sarajevo’s first hammam, build by Isa Begov in 1462 and renovated in 2015. The interior combines historic design and traditional oriental decors and patterns.
Courtyard by Marriott Sarajevo
Courtyard by Marriott Sarajevo is a perfect choice for those who seek for a comfortable accommodation and a convenient location in the center of Sarajevo. It offers modern design and stylish and bright rooms, and provides facilities like an outdoor terrace, fitness center and meeting/ business rooms.
Hostel Kucha is one of the top rated accommodations in the whole city and definitely the best hostel stay in Sarajevo. Its charm, great designs, comfortable rooms and amazing outdoor terrace will make you want to stay there forever.
Extra tips for visiting Sarajevo:
– The official currency in Bosnia is the Convertible Mark. Since 1 EUR is exactly 2 KM it’s very easy to calculate the price. Just divide it by two.
– Taxis in Sarajevo are very cheap, but make sure the driver turn the meter on.
– If you’re planning to visit the Mosque and religion sites, bring some long sleeve modest clothes. At times the women are not required to wear scarves, but in any case, it’s always good to have one.
– Make your trip to Sarajevo even more exciting! Check out Tripadvisor for the detailed list of all the activities and organized tours in Sarajevo or around the area.