The Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Things to do in  Bosnia and Herzegovina

The best of both worlds

Ensconced by Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro–-with just a tiny bit of land touching the Adriatic Sea—Bosnia and Herzegovina offers a striking blend of glorious natural attractions and beautiful architecture that reflects centuries of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian influences. Whether you’re a fan of outdoor exploration or more into visiting cities, you’re sure to find plenty of things to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina, from exploring historic towns such as Mostar and Pocitelj to losing yourself in the winding lanes of Sarajevo's Old Town (Stari Grad).

Top 15 attractions in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo Tunnel (Tunel Spasa)

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The Sarajevo Tunnel was a lifeline to the outside world during the years-long siege of Sarajevo. During the war, the Bosnian army smuggled food and supplies through the tunnel. Today, the small museum serves as a memorial to those difficult times, with information boards, video presentations, and audio guides depicting life under siege.More

Latin Bridge (Latinska Ćuprija)

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Curiously innocuous considering its momentous role in 20th-century history, the Latin Bridge (Latinska Ćuprija) spans the River Miljacka between Obala Culina Bana and Obala Isa-Bega Ishakovića in Sarajevo. Built in Ottoman times, its four stone arches date back to at least 1565 – although a wooden one may have preceded it – making it one of the oldest bridges in the city.By the advent of the 20th century, Turkish rule in Bosnia had long been superseded by the expansion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and unrest was brewing across Europe. On June 28, 1914, Serbian mercenary Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie while they were on a state visit to Sarajevo, choosing the northern corner of the Latin Bridge to commit his crime and sparking the political events that lead directly to the outbreak of World War I. Today a plaque marks the spot, and there are portraits of Princip and Franz Ferdinand on the exterior of the Museum of Sarajevo 1878-1918, which stands by the Latin Bridge and chronicles the saga of the assassination and its tragic aftermath.More

Bascarsija Bazaar

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Lying north of the River Miljacka and forming the original heart of Sarajevo’s Old Town (Stari Grad), Bascarsija Bazaar is a vibrant, bustling Oriental marketplace where several mosques and hammams (baths) date back to 1462, when the country was under the Ottoman rule. Starting life as a caravanserai, with accommodation for travelers and stabling for horses, its foundations were laid by Isa-Beg Ishaković, who was the first Ottoman governor of Bosnia. Over time, Bascarsija grew into a labyrinthine district of cobbled alleyways and shaded lanes, and by the 17th century it was a thriving trading hub with thousands of workshops practicing scores of crafts from coppersmiths to potters and jewelers, all existing amid the mosques and minarets.Despite an 1879 fire destroying almost half of the bazaar, today its intriguing spider’s web of pedestrianized backstreets spans out from the landmark 19th-century Sebilj Fountain. Many of the alleyways and are still crammed with cluttered artisan stores spilling over with copper pots, gold, ceramics and hand-embroidered shawls, as well as cozy little cafés offering eastern delicacies such as stuffed dolmas and meat-filled burek.More

Kravice Waterfall (Vodopad Kravica)

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Spectacular Kravice Waterfall (Vodopad Kravica) in Bosnia and Herzegovina are one of Europe’s best-kept natural secrets. Plummeting over 98-foot (30-meter) soft tufa cliffs on the Trebizat River southwest of Mostar, the waterfalls have sliced out a natural amphitheater spanning nearly 400 feet (120 meters) as the river splits into more than a dozen separate waterfalls cascading into the lake below.More

Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque

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Bascarsija is the medieval Oriental bazaar lying at the heart of Sarajevo’s Stari Grad (Old Town), where mosques and hammams (baths) date right back to 1462. The most important and grandest of Bascarsija’s mosques is Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, named after a Turkish governor of Bosnia and built in 1530 in Ottoman style by the Persian architect Adžem Esir Ali. Originally a complex of prayer halls, madrasa (Koranic school), medieval soup kitchen for the Muslim poor, wash room and library, the mosque was badly damaged during the Balkan wars of the 1990s but has been extensively reconstructed; today its distinctive dome once more forms the heart of Bascarsija and its spiky minaret is a landmark visible all over Sarajevo.The ornate entrance to the mosque is surrounded by marble and decorated with gilding; inside its gleaming white walls are adorned with Arabic inscriptions, the ceilings hung with golden chandeliers and the floors covered in handmade carpets gifted by Muslim visitors from overseas. The mosque’s peaceful courtyard is dominated by an elaborate wrought-iron fountain – once used for ritual washing – and is the resting place of many pre-eminent Bosnians, including the 19th-century poet Safvet Bey Bašagić and the leading politician of the 1930s, Dr Mehmed Spaho.More

Blagaj Monastery (Blagaj Tekija)

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The Blagaj Monastery (or Blagaj Tekija) enjoys a tranquil setting beside a towering cliff and the gentle Buna River near Mostar. Since 1520, this Ottoman monastery has served as a place of contemplation for the Muslim Dervish fraternity. Today, you can learn about the monastery’s resident mystical order and cultural importance on a visit here.More

Old Bridge (Stari Most)

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Constructed in 1566 during the Ottoman occupation on the sight of an earlier wooden bridge, the Old Bridge (Stari Most) in multi-cultural Mostar straddles the Neretva River; it was designed in a single stone span by Turkish architect Kodja Mimar Sinan and built by Mimar Hayruddin, who was threatened with execution by the Sultan if the bridge should collapse. Thankfully it stood the test of time until its destruction by shells during the Balkan Wars, but now once again soars over the river, 30 meters (98.5 feet) in length and standing 21 meters (69 feet) at its highest point. Today the Old Bridge is world famous for several reasons: it unites the city’s Muslim and Christian residents between the Ottoman left bank and the largely 19th-century Austro-Hungarian enclave on the right bank; it was blown apart in 1993 when the two communities of Mostar turned on each other; and yet has come to symbolize peace and reconciliation since its restoration – using the original white limestone dredged from the river – and reopening in 2004 with a reinforced metal framework. In summer the youth of Mostar use the UNESCO World Heritage-listed bridge as a diving platform in a spectacular display of foolhardy bravery; an annual diving competition is held in mid-August, watched by up to 15,000 spectators.More

Neretva River (Rijeka Neretva)

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Running 225 km (140.5 miles) from Lebrsnik in the Dinaric Alps to Ploce on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, the Neretva River (Rijeka Neretva) is Bosnia’s longest river. The waterway is fed by five tributary rivers, including the Buna (overlooked at its source by the Blagaj Tekija monastery) and Trebižat (home of the awesome mini-Niagara at Kravice Falls), before flowing through Lake Jablanicko and turning southwest toward Mostar. The icy upper reaches of the emerald-green river near Glavaticevo flow through dramatic canyons and limestone gorges, but lower down the current is managed by four large hydroelectric dams.On its way into Croatia, the Neretva flows underneath the historic Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, which has come to symbolize reconciliation between the Christian and Muslim communities since the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. From there it meanders past the historic town of Pocitelj, which sits high above the river amid the ruins of a medieval fortress and the Ottoman Hajji Alija mosque. Once into Croatia, the Neretva broadens out into a delta fringed with reeds and lilies and covering more than 260 square kilometers (100 square miles).More

Medjugorje

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This quiet, unassuming town nestled in the hills of Herzegovina became a pilgrimage site for thousands of Catholics in 1981, when the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to six local children. Since then, thousands of visitors have flocked to Apparition Hill to pay respects or simply enjoy Medjugorje’s meditative surroundings.More

Apparition Hill

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One of Europe's most important Marian apparition sites, Apparition Hill has been a place of Catholic pilgrimage since 1981, when a group of six local children first claimed to have seen apparitions of Mary. Today, the hill and its nearby St. James Church draw in more than a million visitors a year.More

Kujundziluk (Old Bazaar)

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Just a few steps away from Mostar’s landmark Stari Most, the historic bridge that was destroyed in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, lies the Stari Grad, the oldest part of town. The historic and commercial heart of this district is the Kujundziluk (Old Bazaar) overlooking the left bank of the River Neretva, which in Ottoman times was where all the trading and bartering took place. In the 16th century, Turks and Bosnians alike congregated here daily to do business; today the Kujundziluk is just as crowded with international visitors keen to seek out traditional crafts and street snacks from the tiny stalls and artisan shops of this cobbled warren of alleyways backed by pink-painted houses. Colorful geometric-patterned rugs, intricate handmade jewelry and gaudy beads, embroidered scarves, bags and shisha pipes are some of the treasures to be unearthed here; be prepared to bargain for discounts off the initial prices.More

Vjetrenica Cave

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Located in Bosnia and Herzegovina and within day-tripping distance of Dubrovnik, Croatia, the Vjetrenica Cave system offers a fascinating glimpse of what lies below the Dinaric Alps. Along with underground rivers and massive stalactites and stalagmites, the cave is full of over 200 types of cave-dwelling insects and other species, many of which aren’t found anywhere else on Earth.More

National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Zemaljski Muzej)

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The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Zemaljski Muzej) was founded in 1888 when Bosnia was under control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and moved to its present, regal Art Nouveau accommodation in 1913 as its collections grew. It was closed during both world wars and its complex of galleries was heavily damaged during the 1,425-day Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s. Due to political in-fighting and lack of funding, the beleaguered museum shut again in 2012 but happily reopened in September 2015 to display some of its four million artifacts in a series of light-filled galleries; during thislast closure staff worked unpaid to conserve the museum’s exhibits.Along with a 300,000-volume reference and research library, the museum has three departments (archaeology, ethnology and natural history) crammed with medieval art, ancient armor, stuffed bears and countless other treasures covering thousands of years of Bosnian history. The ethnology selections are particularly strong, highlighting the multi-cultural nature of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s culture with an appealing mix of Bosnian, Serbian, Muslim and Jewish ethnic costumes. Neolithic ceramics from the excavations at suburban Butmir are the centerpiece of the archaeology collections; and to view the museum’s prize piece, the priceless Sarajevo Haggadah (Jewish Passover manuscript), call two days in advance of your visit.More

Kajtaz House (Kajtazova Kuća)

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Tucked away in Mostar’s historic Muslim Quarter and overlooking the east bank of the River Neretva, Kajtaz House (Kajtazova Kuća) is a perfectly preserved late 16th-century Ottoman nobleman’s mansion built behind high walls to protect the women of the family from unwanted attention. Once the home of Mostar’s Turkish governor, it is surrounded by a shady, fountain-filled courtyard garden, pebbled in circular patterns representing the five daily prayers of an observant Muslim.Crafted from stone, the two-story building is whitewashed and supported by wooden stilts; the overhanging roof was designed to shade the lower floors. Inside it is furnished in its original form, with separate living quarters for men and women, brightly patterned kelims covering the floors and traditional low sofas lining rooms that are dotted with centuries-old, ornately carved wooden furniture. The ancient kitchen is crammed with copper cooking pots and utensils, while upstairs, traditional harem pants and fezzes hang on the walls.More
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Pocitelj

Pocitelj

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Built on a karst cliff on the banks of the Neretva River, the fortified town of Počitelj offers a glimpse into more than 500 years of history and is often described as an open-air museum. Though the earliest documentation of Počitelj dates back to 1444, many of the town’s key structures were built later, during Ottoman times.More

Top activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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All about Bosnia and Herzegovina

When to visit

Bosnia and Herzegovina is at its finest in spring and fall, when the weather is pleasantly warm. Summers can get stiflingly hot in much of the country, and popular destinations such as Mostar and Sarajevo often get crowded. Plenty of people also visit in late winter to take advantage of the skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the Olympic Mountains.

Getting around

There are plenty of options for getting around Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many of the towns and cities are walkable. If you come as part of a tour that includes free time, your driver will probably drop you off in a central area and leave you to wander. Bus service connects cities and other points of interest around the country, though many visitors prefer the flexibility of renting a car or joining a private tour.

Traveler tips

For great food—and great views—in Mostar, head to Restoran Kaldrma, a restaurant just a few steps from the Mostar Old Bridge. Dine on hearty traditional Bosnian dishes or vegetarian-friendly plates of grilled vegetables in the rustic main-floor dining area, or head up to the rooftop dining terrace—complete with a cooling mist system for hot summer days—to take in views of the historic town.

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People Also Ask

What is Bosnia best known for?

Bosnia is known for its natural beauty and its fantastic architecture characterized by multiple influences, from the Ottomans to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Mostar and Sarajevo are among the most interesting cities to explore, while Kravica Waterfall, not far from Mostar, is a great place to cool off—and take photos.

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Is Bosnia good for tourists?

Yes, Bosnia is good for tourists. Bosnia and Herzegovina has a great tourism infrastructure, with hotels, tour operators, and restaurants galore. The country also offers all sorts of historic, natural, and cultural sights worth checking out, without the same level of crowds that you'll find in more touristed destinations.

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Can US citizens visit Bosnia?

Yes, US citizens can visit Bosnia. Bosnia and Herzegovina is not currently part of the EU, but it is a candidate. For now, visitors from the US and many other countries can visit the country for up to 90 days without a visa.

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How many days are enough for Bosnia?

The amount of time you spend in Bosnia will vary depending on your interests. Some people find that a day trip from Croatia is enough. Taking a tour from Split or Dubrovnik to Mostar is a popular way to get a quick, easy introduction to the country.

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Is Bosnia cheap or expensive?

It's on the cheap side. The cost of meals and hotels in Bosnia and Herzegovina is cheaper than many other European destinations, particularly in Western Europe. If you’re coming from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, or most EU countries, you’ll likely find it cheaper than in your home country.

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Is Bosnia safe for solo female travelers?

Yes, Bosnia is safe for solo female travelers. Like anywhere in the world, you should take precautions such as not walking alone at night and keeping loved ones informed of your whereabouts. Bosnian people are generally hospitable, so if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, ask for help.

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