Two things I knew about Sarajevo before arriving:
- You can explore the abandoned bobsled track
- They went through a war in the 90’s
Sarajevo was one of those cities I’d heard of but didn’t know much about. Having spent 10 days in the city I know I’m going to be asked one question: is Sarajevo worth visiting?
Hopefully this article helps you. No two cities are the same. Nor are people. Therefore if you absolutely love nightlife, this city isn’t for you. Does history tickle your fancy? Then you’ll be right in your element.
Here are a few of my thoughts split into three sections:
- a picture of five reasons to and not to visit Sarajevo
- short explanation of the reasons to visit Sarajevo
- short explanation of the reasons not to visit
The Reasons You Should And Should Not Visit Sarajevo
You Should Visit Sarajevo Because…
…it’s still not getting a lot of tourism. I avoided the Balkans during July and August this year on purpose. The temperatures can get insanely hot for days at a time, and the pure number of tourists visiting the coastline is crazy. Sarajevo, however, isn’t on the top of peoples bucket list for their Balkans vacations so isn’t overwhelmed. That is changing though, especially in the Old Quarter, where the foot traffic is tight but there is still room for growth. Remember, shoulder seasons are a great time to travel if possible.
…it is budget-friendly. Sarajevo is definitely going to play nice to everyone’s budget. If you head to the fresh fruit market, you can pick up a punnet of berries for a euro. Bananas are less than a euro/kg and walnuts are about 10 euro/kg which is a steal. Meals at restaurants can be as low as 2 euro (for a hearty meal) and beers are 1 – 2.50 euro for a 500ml draught. Accommodation starts from 7 euro in a hostel and public transit was affordable. A 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola ranges from 0.50 – 0.70 euro.
…it offers a variety of activities. Sometimes the larger European cities get accused of not having much to offer. While that’s usually a lack of creativity and effort on the accusers part, Sarajevo shouldn’t have that issue. You’ve of course got all the history, but then you’ve got the mountains offering abandoned places, waterfalls, hikes and lots of sunset views.
Read The Complete Post: 10 Of The Best Things To Do In Sarajevo
…it is surrounded by mountains. This might be for me, kind of. I just love being in cities that have mountains present. Even if I don’t actually go hiking much, it’s just good having them there (unlike Riga). The mountains here are first littered with houses then you’re in the forest. There are a bunch of trails you can find, or the waterfall, or the bobsled track, or, or, or. You get the idea now?
…Bosnian coffee and cevapcici are wicked good. Full disclosure: I don’t eat either of these, but friends seemed to smile after having both. Bosnian coffee was strong and definitely gave them a good boost. Cevapcici costs 2-3 euro in most places.
Sarajevo Is Not Worth Visiting Because…
…it is full of sadness. There’s no avoiding it in Sarajevo with memorials located around the city in addition to the cemeteries you can’t help but notice with so many plaques dated 92-95. The siege was a tragic event, but the citizens here have balanced the need for creating memorials while moving on with life. If you want a positive spin, the museums can teach you a lot as it was all relatively recent.
…there are no beaches. That’s right, there aren’t even any river beaches which is often a fallback for inland cities (I’m looking at you Warsaw and Poznan). Bosnia & Herzegovina isn’t landlocked though! There’s a small section dividing Croatia that touches the Adriatic Sea called Neum. It’s a 215km or 3-4 hour drive from Sarajevo.
…there is a lack of nightlife. Having just come from Belgrade, which is known for its parties and Mostar, which had some nightlife surprisingly, Sarajevo didn’t have much of a scene. As soon as midnight hit, we found most places called last drinks. There might be some places that stay open later, but they aren’t easy to find.
…the parks in the city aren’t spectacular. This is one of the things I love about most Eastern European cities. Warsaw has the best parks, but I have to put Sarajevo in the bottom three. There are some on Alipasina Street, but that’s still a fair bit from the tourist hub. And these parks didn’t scream out as inviting.
…because of the damn smoking. Every city in the Balkans allows smoking inside. It’s so yuck, but weird how it was the norm not that long ago in New Zealand. As our walking tour guide said, the Balkans are a bit slow on some things…at least we banned smoking in hospitals and schools a few years ago.
Is Sarajevo Worth Visiting For You?
I’ll simply leave you with that question to ponder.
If you’ve got any questions for me about Sarajevo, I’m happy to help via the comments, or email.