6 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Some of the greatest natural wonders in the world can be found in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Within the span of a few hundred years, Bosnians have built an impressive civilization out of the natural rock, earth, and water they found in the country. From the Blue Mosque in Mostar to the historic cities of Mostar and Sarajevo, the history of this nation seems to be written in the very architecture of the land. It has always been a land of great artistic beauty, home to many of the world's greatest religious monuments, and has played a key role in European and World history since the beginnings of the millennium.
Exploring this country is easier than you may think. Most of the places worth seeing are within an hour's drive of Sarajevo, the country's capital. You can plan your trip with our suggested itineraries, taking in the country's top sites and enjoying its most unique and historic sites.
Mostar (which means "bridge") is perched on the confluence of the Drava River and the Neretva, and is both a famous restaurant and a symbol of post-conflict Bosnia. During the civil war, the two rivers (as well as a large number of buildings and residents) were split in half, but they were allowed to meet again in Mostar. Part of the Bosnian enclaves of Srebrenica, Bratunac and Zvornik were also cut in two. The remains of the former West Wing of Mostar, now known as Bihać, is the only part of the city controlled by the Serbs. Today, as the newly constructed mini-Shalom Bridge (of which the most beautiful portion was filmed by Director Steven Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan) spans the Drava, Mostar is back in business as a popular tourist destination. Note that, as this part of Bosnia is made up of four ethnic enclaves, Croatians, Serbs, Bosniaks and some Bulgarians, Mostar is at once fascinating and confusing, a famous Balkan restaurant, and a post-war memorial. Today, the city is gradually being rebuilt and has some of the most remarkable modern architecture on the continent.
Nestled in the hills that surround the capital, this city is Bosnia and Herzegovina's historical, cultural, and spiritual heart. You can spend a day or several days exploring Sarajevo's main sights: the markets, the old bazaar, the National and University museums, the mosques, and the medieval old town. The historic Old Town is a maze of tiny cobbled streets, oriental bazaars, graceful domed mosques, and an atmospheric Old Town Square. Walk the path of the victims of the world's bloodiest atrocity and you'll see wooden homes and shops in many of the streets and alleyways. Visit Sarajevo and see the destruction of the former Yugoslavia with your own eyes at the MS Sarajevo Memorial Museum, created in 1996. It will leave you wanting more.
The small country of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Slovenia. Believed by many to be the focus of the reported apparitions of Our Lady, Međugorje is the most beautiful and most visited site in the country. A small region of approximately 15 square kilometers is dedicated to the visitation of Our Lady and the surrounding hills. The apparitions started in 1981, according to apparitions reported by three children in a small village in the southern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over the next several years, some 850 people claimed to have seen the apparition in an apparition house in Međugorje. At first there were few places in the village where people could go for a night's sleep. In 1983, after a few days of heavy rain, 10 apparitions occurred simultaneously at different locations in Međugorje. In the following months, more than 10,000 people from all over the world visited the site. One of the most important places in Međugorje is the Church of the Apparitions, built by the Carmelites in the mid-1990s. Today, more than 2,500 people live in Međugorje. It is a difficult, but worthwhile place to visit. Buses from Zagreb (60 EUR) and Ljubljana (100 EUR) to Prijedor (50 EUR) go through Međugorje and drop off at the bus station at the bottom of the hill. Take the time to take a bus ride and stay the night at one of the many Bed and Breakfast and guest houses located in the village.
The capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina is Banja Luka, a bustling place known for its bars and nightclubs, as well as being a popular destination for tourists on their way through the Balkans. Today it remains on the periphery of the country and few long-haul visitors make it this far south in any case, so most travelers stay close to the border at Sarajevo. However, Banja Luka makes a pleasant stopover as it boasts one of the oldest and most impressive Baroque architecture in the region. The buildings are a mix of Neo-Gothic, Baroque and Secession styles and the place itself has a quaintness to it that many visitors appreciate. The market is held on Thursday and a Saturday flea market is held in the city center as well.
Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun
This ancient monument, which was built during the Neolithic period around 3500 BC, has been discovered under the village of Staro Nagorici, about 50 km from the center of Sarajevo. The area around the site is quite polluted, but Bosnians and visitors alike enjoy exploring it from the very beginning. Visitors are obliged to pay 3 KM for admission. Once here, you can climb through the huge chambers of the pyramid and admire the beauty of the place.
Stari Most, Mostar
The most widely known example of Byzantine art, the Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is Europe's best preserved Roman Catholic church dating back to the 12th century. The Mostar Bridge is an 11th-century, 84-meter-long Roman stone arch bridge, constructed of stone fragments brought to the site by the Romans, who built the bridge in 73 AD, when they entered the region on their final push against the Byzantines. Pilgrims visiting Mostar since the 14th century have taken refuge under the arch during the three-week-long Easter season as if the church were a safe refuge in a time of war. Mostar itself, with the bridge and its surroundings are now one of Europe's most beautiful and attractive old town areas. Every year, the Mostar Bridge Festival celebrates the architecture, the bridge and its culture. The art here is Byzantine architecture, but the richness of its stone-carved construction is what makes the Mostar Bridge a lasting and most striking attraction. The remaining stones of the bridge were unveiled in 1973 when they were removed to protect them from war damage and rebuilding works. Other than the inlaid stones, the original bridge itself has remained intact. The church itself, also preserved by the locals, is adorned with painted, 17th-century frescoes, depicting the lives of saints, prophets, angels and animals.