Beat The Crowds: Sarajevo
The Balkans are rising in popularity among British travellers and Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a brilliant place to start your exploration of this less-trodden part of the world. The city is breathtakingly pretty and offers plenty to see and do, from exploring its rich history and Ottoman architecture, to hiking in the surrounding mountains and chowing down on mouth-watering street food. What’s more, it’s still not too tourist-heavy, and boasts that all-important cool factor. Best of all, if you’re travelling on a budget there are plenty of cheap flights between the UK and the Bosnian capital. Upon arrival you’ll find the cost of living is wonderfully low too.
Fly to Sarajevo and discover an enchanting city, ringed by mountains, with a thrilling east-meets-west culture inspired by its Turkish and European heritage. A historic melting pot once known as ‘the Jerusalem of Europe’, Sarajevo has been home to people of diverse cultures and religions over the years, and there are still beautiful Catholic churches, mosques and synagogues around the city.
Where to start? The Citybond team has put together a guide to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this spellbinding city.
Planning your trip
The weather in Sarajevo isn’t vastly different to the UK’s climate. Wrap up if you’re planning a winter trip: in January, highs plummet to just 4C. In summer, August is the hottest month, when the average high hits 28C. It rains as much in summer as winter though, with seven to ten rainy days, so pack your mac whenever you’re visiting. The official currency is the Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark (BAM), and one mark is worth roughly 46p. It’s best to wait until touching down to exchange or draw out your money. While it’s currently outside the EU, British nationals don’t need a visa to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina for under 90 days, and airlines operate flights between the UK and Sarajevo, although you’ll almost certainly be looking at a stop somewhere in Western Europe.
What to do
Sarajevo’s Bašcaršija lies at the city’s heart, and is the Bosnian capital’s premier tourist attraction. This ancient bazaar dates back to the 15th century, when Isa-Beg Isakovic founded the town, and is now the city’s cultural centre. Take a wander around its enchanting maze of narrow streets to experience the thrilling Eastern vibe. Here you’ll discover unending shopping opportunities, as well as plenty of bustling dining and drinking hotspots, interspersed with historic landmarks. Fancy a hike? Strap your walking boots on and head up the 1,627-metre-tall Trebevic mountain for sweeping views of the city and surrounding landscape. Alternatively, take a more relaxed stroll to Vrelo Bosne: within this delightful woodland park you’ll find the spring and pool that mark the source of the River Bosna.
What to see
Make the most of Sarajevo’s diverse religious history by taking in some of the city’s stunning Catholic churches, synagogues, and mosques. The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque is a particular highlight. Built in the 16th century, it’s the largest historic mosque in the country, and renowned for its striking Ottoman architecture. If military history is your thing, make sure you stop at the Sarajevo Tunnel. This Bosnian War-era underground tunnel has many stories to tell, and there’s a small military history museum down there too. The Latin Bridge is another of Sarajevo’s most iconic sights: the Ottoman-era construction is near to the site of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination - the event that triggered the First World War.
Where to stay
If you like your city breaks with a side of luxury, opt for the five-star Malak Regency Hotel. From the outside the hotel appears contemporary, but the interior decor and excellent service are traditional and beautifully indulgent. If location is important to you, it’s difficult to beat the sumptuous four-star Hotel Sana, which is situated just 100 metres from Bašcaršija Street. Get dolled up in your modern room, before sipping a sundowner on the terrace, which boasts expansive views of the city. Seeking a budget option? Try Hotel Logavina 8, which offers excellent value for money. The rooms are comfortable and brightly decorated, and the hotel features a garden and terrace too. Plus the accommodation is located just 300 metres from Bašcaršija Street.
What to eat
As you would expect, given Sarajevo’s east-meets-west aesthetic, cuisine here blends Turkish and European culinary traditions. Cevapi, a hugely popular fast food in the Balkans, is simply unmissable. This delicious dish comprises small grilled sausages made from seasoned minced meat inside somun bread and served with diced onions. In Sarajevo, it’s often served with kajmak: a thick cream designed to be drunk rather than drizzled atop your Cevapi. It’s wonderfully cheap too - simply pick one up from a street food stall while on the go. Another delicious street food option is burek: a flaky spiral pastry filled with ground meat. Veggie options - including cheese, potato, and spinach fillings - are available too.
Wherever you plan on heading to this year it’s good to know that Citybond Suretravel is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.
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