Sarajevo

The Latin Bridge in Sarajevo is directly across the street from where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed by Gavrilo Princip, setting in motion the beginning of the first World War. A historical marker is located at the bridge entrance on the left side of this picture. Another marker is on the building adjacent to the spot where the assassination took place, across the street.

Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a lively city of 430,000 people (urban area), nestled in a valley, mainly within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but with parts in the Republika Srpska.

Understand

Sarajevo is one of the most historically interesting and varied cities in Europe. It is a place where the Western & Eastern Roman Empire split; where the people of the Roman Catholic west, Eastern Orthodox east and the Ottoman south, met, lived and warred. It has been both an example of historical turbulence and the clash of civilizations, as well as a beacon of hope for peace and tolerance through multi-cultural integration. The city is historically famous for its traditional religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting there for centuries.

Today, the city has physically recovered from most of the damage caused by the Yugoslav Wars of 1992-1995. Sarajevo is a cosmopolitan European capital with a unique Eastern twist that is a delight to visit. The people are very friendly, be they Bosniaks, Croats, Serb or other. There is relatively little crime, and the city ranks as one of the safest in South Eastern Europe.

The city is very tourist friendly, especially in the city center.

Get in

If you are not staying at a hotel (i.e. a private residence), you officially should register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival. Failure to register may result in a fine or possible removal, but most likely won't bother anyone.

By plane

The following airlines operate service to/from Sarajevo Airport: National Carrier B&H Airlines has the largest network (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Gothenburg-Landvetter, Istanbul-Atatürk, Zürich), Adria Airways (Ljubljana), Austrian Airlines (Vienna), Croatia Airlines (Zagreb), Germanwings (Cologne/Bonn, Stuttgart, Berlin), Jat Airways (Belgrade), Lufthansa (Munich), Norwegian (Oslo-Rygge, Stockholm-Arlanda seasonal), and Pegasus (Istanbul-Sabiha Gocken, only certain days of the week), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Atatürk).

According to the airport information desk, there are no buses between the airport and the city anymore. However, you can walk 600m to Dobrinja and take a trolley bus from there. Taxi fares to/from the airport are surprisingly expensive for the short distance. Taxi drivers use fake price lists for tourists. The real taxi price to the city is 16 BAM. You can also walk 600m to Dobrinja and take a metered taxi from there (approx. 13 BAM).

By train

From Croatia

The only international train to Bosnia operates from Zagreb. The journey is quite picturesque, and the journey time is comparable to the bus. There is one daily train between Sarajevo and Zagreb in each direction. Tickets cost 59 BAM one-way, 95 BAM return. Trains are not air-conditioned, and the toilets aren't great, but otherwise the train is comfortable. Journey times are about 9 hours, but subject to lengthy delays for passport control on both sides of the border with Croatia. A train leaves Zagreb daily at 09:18AM arriving in Sarajevo at 06:18PM. The return train to Zagreb via Zenica, Doboj and Banja Luka departs Sarajevo at 10:43AM and arrives in Zagreb at 07:49PM. Schedule is available here. The train does NOT have a dining car on board, or any other food provision. Be advised to bring supplies beforehand.

There is no longer train connection from Ploče.

From Mostar

There are two trains from Čapljina to Sarajevo via Mostar (07:06AM and 07:19PM). There are also two trains daily from Sarajevo to Čapljina via Mostar (07:15AM and 06:57PM). Journey takes 2,5 hours and costs 11 BAM.

By car

Roads in Bosnia are often only a single lane in either direction, and due to the mountainous topography tend to be very windy and speed limits are lower (mostly 80 km/h). Beware of trucks and people dangerously overtaking on any road. There are many tunnels, and you must always drive with your lights ON (day or night). However, in recent years significant modernisation has taken place.

By private car or minibus

By bus

There are two bus stations in Sarajevo. On all intercity buses you pay a fee for luggage. This fee of 1 BAM or 1 EUR per piece of luggage is paid to the driver upon boarding. Some drivers are rather picky about being paid in exact change in the correct currency (sometimes a local currency, at other instances requesting to be paid in Euros) and sometimes also refuse to be paid in too small coins. So keep some change ready.

This bus station serves both domestic and international destinations. It is advisable to buy international tickets in advance since these routes fill up quickly. International tickets can be bought online, at the station, or from the Eurolines office near the cathedral between the old bazaar. Information on bus routes can also be obtained from the tourist information offices.

There are several buses a day to/from Mostar which also stop at Konjic and Jablanica along the way. These leave at 06:00, 07:00, 07:35, 08:00, 08:15, 09:00, 09:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 15:30 and up to 18:00, and journey time is approximately two and a half hours. Single tickets cost 13.50KM, return tickets are 19KM. There are also buses to Split (7-8 hours) and a daily bus to Dubrovnik which leaves at 07:00 and costs 40-160KN.

There are several buses a day from the main bus station to Banja Luka. These leave at 05:00, 07:55, 09:15, 14:30, 15:30 and 16:30. Journey time is approximately 5 hours.

There is a daily bus to Graz and Vienna, leaving from the main bus station at 08:00, reaching Graz at 19:45 and Vienna around 2 hours later. A one-way ticket costs €44. You will have to pay the driver 2 KM to transport luggage. There are frequent stops on the way, including for food and toilets. Do not rely on these "food stops" as they are basically just shops to buy coffee and you will need local currency to buy anything.

Eurobusways operates direct service between Sarajevo and Budapest.

Buses to Tuzla leave from the main bus station approximately every hour every day. The journey takes approximately 3 hours, and costs around 11 KM.

There is a bus every day from Pristina in Kosovo at 18:30 from the main bus station. The bus is listed on the station schedule as travelling to Novi Pazar, Serbia. From there it travels on to Sarajevo. You can buy the ticket to Novi Pazar at the bus station, or from the controller on board the bus for the whole journey. You might have to change buses in Novi Pazar (which is surprisingly hassle-free). The price from Pristina to Novi Pazar is €7, from Novi Pazar to Sarajevo is €15, and payment is possible in Euros or Serbian dinars. The bus arrives in Novi Pazar around midnight, and Sarajevo around 06:00. Make sure you have the proper travel document to enter Serbia (see Kosovo Get in section) as the controller will not issue you tickets without seeing them first! Another possibility is to book a bus to Podgorica in Montenegro, and then travel from there to Pristina.

There is one bus per day from the main station to Belgrade, at 06:00, costing 40KM.

Click here for main bus station time table

To get here, it is probably easiest to book/order a taxi (around 15KM). If using public transport, take 103 or 107 bus/trolleybus, or the 31E, all from Trg Austria and exit at the last station, and ask people how to get to Lukavica bus station (buses and trolleybuses to the city centre depart from a terminal around 200m from where the international buses arrive). Arriving at Istočno Sarajevo Bus Station, continue on the main road, having the bus station on your right - you will see the Dobrinja trolleybus stop to your right. Buy ticktes at the booth. If you need Bosnian currency there is a Visa/Mastercard cash machine (bankomat) in the nearby Tom shopping centre. To get there walk into the opposite direction of the trolleybus stop, having the bus station to your left. The shopping centre is at the next big traffic light. There are 2 cash machines (Unicredit and NLB) outside and you'll find a supermarket inside.

Note that the Lukavica 'Eastern' station is actually to the West of the 'main' bus station, and is basically to the west of most of Sarajevo's suburbs.

The bus ride from Lukavica bus station to Podgorica (35KM) in and Budva (40KM) Montenegro takes 7 hours (35KM) but is an absolutely amazing ride through some wonderful countryside on the route Lukavica-Trnovo-Rataj-Foca-Brod-Hum-Goransko-Niksic-Danilovgrad-Podgorica (sit on the right side of the bus for the best views). Buses leave at 08:15, 09:00, 14:00 and 22:30. Payment in Euro is accepted.

Bus departure times for Lukavica - Belgrade are: 08:00, 09:45, 12:30, 15:00 and 22:00 daily. One way ticket cost 40KM.

Click here for Lukavica bus station time table

Hitch hiking

From Mostar, hitching a ride through the beautiful mountains up the M-17 road to Sarajevo is quite easy. Make sure you have a sign though and a Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language phrasebook would be useful. If you have trouble getting out of Mostar, change the sign to Jablanica where traffic will branch of NW to Banja Luka and then hitch on to Sarajevo from Jablanica. Sarajevo is a long thin city so try to get a lift into the centre. If not, get one at least to the tram tracks that go there from the west of the city limits.

Get around

Buy a map

An excellent map of Sarajevo is available at bookstores, all of which are located downtown and not open early or late or on holidays. Maps aren't sold in gas stations or other stores. Alternatively, the kiosk next to the Latin Bridge (a.k.a. the Princip Bridge) also sells maps. Lastly, asking Sarajevans for directions is an exercise in futility. People don't know the names of streets a block from the building they've lived in all their lives. However, they won't tell you this, and as a rule will point you in some direction, usually not the right direction. Taxi drivers can't be expected to find anything but the most obvious addresses unless you tell them where to go, in Bosnian. So buy the map before you go to Sarajevo, and when you get there walk around a bit instead of taking taxis. It's a small, beautiful city with many landmarks. Getting lost is next to impossible if you have the map, and maybe a compass.

By foot

In Sarajevo, street signs are few and far between, and small and on the sides of buildings too far away to see when you're standing on a street corner. Building numbers are more or less consecutive but don't follow the "hundreds" styles of the United States, e.g., 23 Bjestiva street may be blocks from 27 Bjestiva street.

By public transport

GRAS operates public transportation in Sarajevo.

The center of Sarajevo is served by a spinal tram network which makes a counter clockwise loop around the central district. This tram network opened in the mid-1870s and was the first in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Tickets should be purchased in advance from kiosks labeled tisak on the street or from the driver, where they cost slightly more (around 1.80KM). Tickets should be validated upon boarding the vehicle and are valid for a one way trip only. Changing tram or bus means validating a new ticket. A day card valid for unlimited travel on all local public transport in Zone A is available for about 5KM. Please note that inspectors board public transport very frequently: if you can't reach the validator machine because the tram is too crowded, then don't board the tram.

By taxi

Be careful taking taxis from the main train or bus station and the airport. Firstly, drivers are known to charge far more to tourists who have just arrived and do not know the area, so you can easily end up paying at least double the (usually very affordable) normal price. It is advisable to get an idea of the maximum cost of a taxi before you arrive (ask your hostel/hotel) and negotiating the price with the driver in advance. Should there be a problem when you arrive at your destination and the driver suddenly speaks less English, ask at your accommodation for help - they will be used to dealing with this scam. Secondly, the other well-known "taxi scam" operates in Sarajevo, where the unsuspecting tourist will be taken to a more expensive hotel than the one he or she has asked to be taken to, and the driver and receptionist will swear that the new arrival is in fact in the right place. Have a picture of where you are staying ready, or at least be familiar with its appearance. Many accommodation options will offer a pickup from wherever you arrive, and this is usually free or at a very minimal cost.

If you still would like to order a taxi, try 033 663 555.

See

There are several free walking tours that that give visitors the chance to see the city from a local's perspective.

View from a hill in Sarajevo

Museums

Sarajevo's museums are in disrepair, due to disputes over which arm of the government is responsible for funding them. However, they are still worth visiting.

Religious buildings

Islamic cemetery in Sarajevo

Do

Events

Sarajevo is a vibrant city that lives all year long. Sonar compiles the city's regular calendar of events to make it easier to plan your visit.

Winter Sports

Sarajevo offers excellent possibilities for winter sports, with two nearby Olympic grade mountains: Bjelasnica and Jahorina. These mountains include over 28km of ski trail and 5,000 tourist beds.

Buy

If you can't afford the carpets and local copperware on sale there’s cool t-shirts for 20KM in the souk area. One such shop is Maloprodaja, Saraci 21.


Clothing

Bookstores

Eat

For information on typical Bosnian foods, see Bosnia#Eat.

Budget

Sarajevo has countless shops selling burek (meat pie, sold in layers by weight or by piece), ćevapi and pizza stores. Pita (burek, sirnica, krompirusa, tikvenica, zeljanica etc.) is a filo type pasty pie generally offered in several varieties - meat (meso), cheese (Bosnian cheese called "young cheese" similar to ricotta and never aged) (sirnica), cheese and spinach (zeljanica), pumpkin (tikvenica), and spicy potato (krompirusa). It is usually served with a traditional yogurt sauce which resembles sour cream. Most Cevapi places do not serve alcohol.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Sarajevo has vibrant night life with a plenty small thematic bars. Clubs are usually opened until early morning. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are hot days to hang out despite the rest of the week offers quite good night life.

Cafes

Bars

Clubs

Sleep

Budget

If you arrive late at night, the weather is right and you have a tent with you, you can camp quite undisturbedly in the park next to the Miljacka river. Chances are that there already some more tents put up. Follow the road on the west side of town, stay close to the river and end up around. In summer there is a public toilet. Be aware that this is wild camping, and there is no guard or anything.

It is also easy to find a room in the house of a local.

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

There are still many minefields and unexploded ordnances in the Sarajevo area and its surrounding suburbs. Never go into damaged buildings (which are really rarely seen) and always stick to paved surfaces avoiding grassy hills that surround the city . Areas that are not cleared are marked by yellow tape or signs, but still not all minefields have been identified due to the lack of resources and the lack of International help. Paved roads are always safe. Crime against foreigners is very rare and the city is safe to visit. (As with any country in former Yugoslavia, be careful not to get into sensitive discussions about politics with people you do not know, but even those can be very educational when you come across a person who's willing to discuss it.) Be aware of pick pockets who usually operate on public transportation vehicles.

A final point on health and safety is that the air in Sarajevo can be noticeably thick with pollution, so that asthmatics or those with other chest problems may find themselves short of breath a lot of the time, particularly at night. Please do ensure you have ample medication, just in case.

Cope

France, Mehmed bega Kapetanović Ljubušaka 18,,  +387 33 282 050, e-mail: .

Greece, Obala Maka Dizdara 1,  +387 33 211 794, fax: +387 33 211 756, e-mail: .

Macedonia, Splitska 57,  +387 33 810 760, e-mail: .

United Kingdom, 11 Petrakijina St,  +387 33 282 200, fax: +387 33 282 203, e-mail: .

United States, Alipasina 43,  +387 33 445 700, fax: +387 33 221 837.

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