Here are a few good reasons why I fell in love with Bosnia & Herzegovina (Photos)

I almost don’t want to tell you about Bosnia & Herzegovina. It feels like a secret little corner of the world where things aren’t tourist trodden and prices are cheap as hell. I met only a handful of other travellers while here, including some Texans in a mountain village complaining about warm Coca Cola.

I mean, it’s not completely void of tourism. It’s in the Balkans, after all. But things were especially quiet on my visit because of the recent flooding in the north. None of my routes were affected, and to be honest, Bosnia & Herzegovina needs your travel dolla bills more than ever. The rustic bathroom, however, was up to their standards.

Anyway. Here’s why I fell in love.

Mostar is like a Balkan fairytale land

Mostar was our first stop, and lord almighty, it was a pleasant one. Here’s the famous Bridge, restored since the Yugoslavian War when it was blown up by Croat forces.

The famous Mostar bridge

We often sat at the embankment by the side of the bridge to watch divers jump into the river. NOTE: This isn’t a particularly good idea. People die.

Mostar

Mostar itself was a small town of friendly folks and little souvenir boutiques crammed with knick-knacks and jewelry and leather purses. Our favourite hang out was Black Dog Pub, where a DJ resembling Comic Book Guy spun trance-like hits for a small audience.

We didn’t get much drunk here. Back at our hostel we took beers onto our rooftop deck and got yelled at by a Bosnian celebrity for “being too loud.” It was midnight and we were completely sober. When we crept back downstairs she flung open her door and screamed at us, then chased myself and the girls downstairs and tried to break into our room. I wish I could make this stuff up.

Mountain villages with really nice people and fancy mushrooms

We spent two glorious nights in Bjelašnica, home to Ski Resort Babin Do. From there we did a mountain tour with a local guide from London to the tiny village of Lukomir.

Lukomir Village 2

Once you ignore the pungent scent of cattle manure, take a look around. The roofs here are made from beaten down tin barrels, and each house has a tiny plot of farmland. We paused to talk to a sweet old lady overseeing the work in the fields. She had one tooth and wore those crocheted pants with a baggy crotch down to the knees, and a headscarf. She was thrilled to hear that most of us were from Australia. Bosnians REALLY like Australians.

Lukomir Village

We stopped into the village’s only cafe, with items like honeycomb on sale. There was a basket of chanterelles on the table. As you know, they’re quite rare and expensive. (Or if you’re like me, you didn’t know, but now you do.) This caused bit of a mushroom frenzy among everyone, and on the way home, our guide pulled over to chat with some locals scouting the hillsides.

An elderly lady reached into her car’s backseat and loaded up a plastic bag of ‘shrooms. When our guide got back to the car, I asked him how much they cost. They could sell for a FORTUNE out here.

“They were free,” he said. “People are nice.”

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CHEAP FOOD and all the meat in meat-land

The food in this part of the Balkans has been bit of a shock since I left Greece. In Bosnia & Herzegovina, it’s all about the cevapi. It’s a kebab dish of grilled minced meat served in a pita with onions, sour cream, kajmak, ajvar, cottage cheese, and red pepper. Hungover? THIS IS YOUR CURE.

The best place in the UNIVERSE for cevapi is at Cevabdzinica Zeljo in Sarajevo. Oh my god. WHAT IS THIS MESS OF AWESOMENESS.

Cavape

Lamb is also cheap here. Stop thinking about it as a baby animal and more along the lines of the most delicious thing you’ve ever put in your face. It’s especially great in goulash form.

Goulash

That goulash and a beer came to about 5CAD. I’m not kidding. Everything is so insanely cheap in Bosnia & Herzegovina, I can’t believe it’s over-trodden with backpackers.

One afternoon in Mostar, we stopped at a nondescript restaurant on the main street. The kind of touristy place snobs like us cringe at and flee from. A gypsy child tried to steal our pita. BUT: the food was out of this world, and the price was so low that we tipped generously upon leaving. The lively waitress burst out of the restaurant and yelled at us, “STOP! NO! You can’t pay me this much!” Then she proceeded to crack open beers for us all and sent us on our merry way. That actually happened.

I had the best tour group EVER

I have to admit, one reason this trip was so incredible was because I happened to be on the best tour group EVER of all time, with Med Experience. Until then, the only group tours I had done were with bloggers on press trips. Not saying anything against those trips, but travelling with non-media people was SO MUCH BETTER. Oh my god! We stuck together like GLUE. I cannot express how much I love these people.

Here we are at at one of the Olympic ski hills in Sarajevo.

OLYMPICS

Here we are at Neretva Rafting. Our guide didn’t speak English so we had to figure most things out for ourselves. We bonded mega-hard over the following week. I wasn’t particularly enthused about group travel until this trip. These folks totally changed my mind.

Rafting

Kravice Falls & Blagaj Tekke Monastery

Places like Kravice Falls exist in the world. Did you know?

Kravie Falls

And then places like Blagaj Tekke Monastery.

Monastery

Sarajevo is stunning and has the craziest history

Did you know that Sarajevo was the site of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination?

And that the city was under siege for YEARS during the Yugoslavian War? (I swear, I can’t stop talking about this war thing.)

The city has recovered wonderfully. Its scars and pockmarked buildings are still evident, but you’ll wander the streets and be inspired. I loved the outdoor market of metalworkers — the din of metal on metal. And the ingenuity of the artisans who take empty shotgun shells and bomb casings to make artwork.

Sarajevo

And again: it is cheap, cheap, CHEAP!

The Mountains

I’m a sucker for a good mountain range, from Bjelašnica mountain and beyond.

The Mountains

These are around Lukomir.

Mountains around Lukomir

I lagged behind pretending to take photos but mostly I was struggling with my fat out-of-shape self.

Climbing mountains in Lukomir

There’s always more to say. The kindness and modesty of the people, the affordability, the landscape, the history. Bosnia & Herzegovina has won me OVER. I worship you.

  • June 04 2014

    Wow the falls and Monastry look amazing! Everyone I have spoken to that has been to Bosnia and Herzegovina has raved about it and the friendliness of the people. I will definitely get there one day!

    • June 22 2014

      It’s a wonderful place! I hope you do.

      • November 05 2015
        Candice

        It’s a wonderful place! I hope you do.

  • June 04 2014
    Sarah

    I spent four months in Europe one summer and have been preaching Bosnia ever since. When people asked what my favourite place was, my answer is always “Ireland and Bosnia. Two totally different places but I loved them for very similar reasons.” Namely, lovely people making the best of a sometimes difficult history and absolutely beautiful. Thanks for letting others know!

    • June 22 2014

      Oh wow, I love that. So glad you had such a similar experience!

  • June 05 2014

    Okay, I’m sold. Send me there now, please!!

    From your stories, it reminds me a lot of rural Romania and Bulgaria – and I LOVED both those countries. I have no doubt I’d love B&H too!

    • June 22 2014

      Yay! I’m surprised you haven’t been there yet, you definitely should. Will definitely be hitting up the other Balkan areas on my next trip. Curious about Serbia

  • June 06 2014
    Zofia Bałdyga

    OK, I’m looking for the plane tickets. NOW.

  • June 06 2014

    Thanks for sharing. Bosnia has been on my wishlist for a long time. Hoping to go within the next year or two.

  • June 06 2014
    Zoe

    That looks amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever read a post about this country. It’s nice to see behind the space on the map.

  • June 09 2014

    This totally confirms my dream of going to Bosnia! Just wonderful!

  • June 15 2014
    Sally

    Really enjoyed this post. Awesome pics. I had never thought about that area other than in a war-torn concept. Thank you for changing my misconceptions! Keep trekking!

    • June 22 2014

      I think most of us think that way! My parents were a little freaked out

  • June 15 2014

    The monastery looks enchanting! The images are an eye opener for me to have Bosnia in my bucket list.

    • June 22 2014

      I think everyone’s immediate thought about Bosnia & Herzegovina is that it’s still a war torn country or something. I admit even I had that idea at the back of my head. It’s so wonderful there!

      • December 05 2014

        Yeah, media sometimes has a lot do with it. But only the curious wanderers will find the real beauty of the world!

  • August 04 2014
    irena71000

    Thank you for this wonderful post on my homeland. I grew up in Sarajevo and it’s amazing how much it grew and recovered after the 90’s. Amazing photos and I’m glad you went places most tourist don’t. Small towns are absolutely beautiful and I’m glad you got to see more than just Sarajevo and Mostar. :)

    • August 07 2014

      Yay! I LOVE it there. I’ve encouraged everyone I know to visit, haha. What a wonderful place.

  • November 30 2014
    Barry

    I love the alternative ski resort of Vlasic and the surrounding areas like Travnik. The people I met are some of the nicest people I have met on this planet.

    Went to a cafe early one morning. Went to pay but told she couldn’t change fifty marks. She said it’s ok you have for free. I hunted around my bag for small euro notes. She was really pleased but all the same she was genuine about giving free. What other Country would you find this attitude.

    Love the country and people so much I’ve bought a holiday home. For westerners prices are ridiculously cheap

    Love Bosnia

    • December 01 2014

      Right?! When people ask me nowadays what my favourite part of my Balkans road trip was, I usually say Bosnia and Herzegovina. I had a similar experience at a cafe — we all ordered cevape and beers and the service was WONDERFUL, so we left a generous tip behind. The lady literally chased us down the street to hand us back our money, and when we refused, she gave us all beers instead.. Lol.

  • April 13 2015

    I cant wait to spend my summer in Bosnia again! Ill be volunteering in my fav city mostar, and blogging about my travel adventures on days off. I might just never come back haha (booked one way ticket!)

    • April 13 2015

      Oh I love finding other people to bond with over a mutual love for Bosnia! Haha. I am constantly urging people to go there!

      • April 13 2015

        same here! Thats why i started blogging. I love when i see other travel bloggers say how much they loved it! I was born in Herzegovina (the southern part of the country) and sadlt due to the war didnt get to grow up there, but this summer will be my 4th trip back home in 2 years. This summer i will be working with a travel agency in sarajevo to promote more tourism and volunteering a hostel + tour agency in mostar for two months. Literally counting down the days every day! haha.

  • April 19 2015
    Helen Anne Travis

    Candice, how many nights do you recommend in Mostar and Sarajevo? We have 12 days in the Balkans. Right now I’m thinking 4 nights Split (including a few day trips), maybe 2 in Mostar, 3 in Sarajevo and 3 in Zagreb. I appreciate your insight! :)

    • April 20 2015

      That sounds like a great plan, actually! That’s definitely enough time in Mostar and Sarajevo. Although I’d consider spending a night in Dubrovnik along the way from Split to Mostar, if you feel like breaking up the trip a little

      • April 20 2015
        Helen Anne Travis

        Thanks so much Candice!!

  • November 01 2015
    William Yao

    There are so many charming places in former Yugoslavia! It’s seems that a man needs his whole lift to travel!

    Thank you for sharing!

    • November 02 2015

      Agreed! I plan on doing a big road trip through the Balkans in the spring. My favourite part of the world so far

  • November 03 2015

    I am so happy you loved Bosnia! Its so much more than the war torn country people used to think it was
    ariana kajic recently posted…Hotel Sunce, Neum B&H – Gallery + Review

    • November 04 2015
      Candice

      Ugh, even when I visited back home warned me about land mines! I want everyone to visit Bosnia

  • April 28 2016

    Amazing! Did you cover all of this with that same tour company?

    • May 04 2016
      Candice

      Sure did! Med Experience. Great company.

  • July 26 2016

    Here’s another good tour company…

    http://www.greenvisions.ba/

    The company was started by Tim Clancy (http://thebosniaguy.com/), an American (from South Florida) who has been living in Sarajevo since 1992 (accidentally came as a humanitarian/volunteer, fell in love with the country, married a Bosnian woman and stayed to live there.

    His spin on Bosnian people/culture…
    http://www.radiosarajevo.ba/mobile/novost/101308

  • March 28 2018
    dana

    Thanks for sharing.Your photos are amazing.I am going there in a few days, hope to catch a good weather.

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