Sarajevo’s a fab city. The old town is beautiful, the East meets West influence means the food is great and I overdid the very nice Bosnian coffee to the point of a bout of gastritis.
It’s a great place to just wander about as there’s so much modern history associated with it everywhere you go - like they’ve filled mortar shell cracks in the pavements with red resin called Sarajevo Roses. We stayed outside the centre and had to get a taxi in and out each day. Traveling freely up and down sniper alley and past the Holiday Inn where journalists holed up during the war is surreal, and quite haunting.
It was about 15 years ago when we went, but I’d describe the museums as endearingly rubbish. The Sarajevo Museum is by the spot where Gavrilo Princip shot Franz Ferdinand and the place to go if you want to see a real life replica of the gun used. I think the National Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina was the other we went to and it was a sleepy, dusty, badly lit set of exhibitions. Both were enjoyable, but the spaces were the artifacts as much as the exhibits! Maybe they’ve been updated since.
There was an excellent restaurant called To Be Or Not To Be with the Not To Be bit crossed out. It stayed open a through the war and the premise was that Not To Be just wasn’t an option. Don’t know if it’s still open, but for me it summed up the history and spirit of Sarajevo.
Hi there! Occasional yet long time lurker here popping my head above the parapet!
In Sarajevo I recommend pancakes for breakfast at a place called ‘Rahatlook’. The owner Snežana has a whole bunch of homemade preserve things to put in them. I can recommend the ‘pekmez’ (apples stewed down into a kind of natural syrup).
There’s a tea place called ‘Čajdžinica Džirlo’ – the owner is an absolute Sarajevo legend, There’s also what certainly was as of 2019 the only third wave coffee joint a few doors up called ‘Ćejf’’
There are some really interesting drinks to try in Sarajevo.
‘Boza’ is a non-alcoholic fermented corn drink found throughout the Balkans and Turkey. The Bulgarians believe it can make your breasts larger. I have no scientific evidence to prove nor dipute this claim…
‘Šerbe’ are a kind of exotic soft drink. Some common ones are made either with rose petals or juniper berries. Some kind should be available in both of the places mentinoed above
‘Sahlep’ is a drink made from a powdered orchid root which is popular in Turkey but available in Sarajevo as well.
Seeing as you’re going to Istanbul as well, I guess you could compare and contrast the local versions of all the above!
There are a bunch of cheap places to eat in Sarajevo with local dishes called ‘Aščinica’. One of the most famous is called ‘Srebrena Školjka (Silver Shell)’ which is above the meat and cheese market in the centre of the city. There’s another one that’s kind of canteen style in the old town called ‘AŠDŽ’.
As someone mentioned above, Sarajevo has the best burek in the Balkans. I recommend finding a place that does it ‘ispod sača’ (under coals), it doesn’t get any better than that!
There’s a special type of baklava in Sarajevo called ‘Džandar baklava’. It’s cylindrical and made with walnuts and a special type of heavy cream. There’s a baklava shop called ‘Dućan’ in the old town where you can find it.
If you are there on a Monday night you have to check out ‘Kino Bosna’. It’s an old cinema but now a bar where they have a traditional bosnian folk music band wandering around the tables. The atmosphere is usually really great but it does get very smokey as the Balkans are still pretty addicted to smoking inside! (Drinkers pro tip 1: you used to be able to order a small jug of rakija (fruit brandy) instead of just a shot so you don’t have to keep going to the bar for another one. Pro tip 2: rakija is usually sipped and not downed!)
There’s another bar called ‘Zlatna Ribica’(Goldfish) which is worth a stop for its instagrammable interior as well. The owners grandfather was a collector of all sorts and it all found its way into the interior of the bar.
I’m gonna stop here because this is getting out of hand. I hope it’s of some use to somebody!
It was about 15 years ago when we went, but I’d describe the museums as endearingly rubbish.
Unfortunately museums and other such state institutions are completely hamstrung by Bosnia’s political system which is widely considered the most complicated in the world. I consider myself a bit of an armchair expert on all things ex-yugoslavia but the political system in Bosnia still makes my head spin however hard I try to brush up on it!
The complexity of the system makes all kinds of corruption and manipulation easier and as such groups within the system with shady motives can easily cause headaches when it comes to public funding.
The slight misspelling of Dreamies makes it sound like you are on a magical realist sojourn - distracting cats with a bag of subconscious imagery … then the hand sanitiser brings it crashing back down to reality!
If you are doing Sarajevo to Mostar and you can possibly fit in Konjic (it’s kind of halfway between the two - the train stops there and you pass it via road normally as well) I can recommend it. As mentioned by someone upthread Tito’s bunker is one of the best attractions in the whole of the Balkans. The history of it is really interesting - it was built in secret decades ago and only came to light maybe twenty years ago if memory serves. Tours usually have to be booked in advance through an agency of some sort.
As for Mostar:
you can climb the Koski-Mehmed Pasha mosque minaret for around 4 euros (8KM) for some of the best views and photo opportunities of the bridge and old town.
Cafe Alma for a decent Bosnian coffee.
If you aren’t mega pressed for time then check out nearby Blagaj and Počitelj. There is an old sufi dervish house at Blagaj and Počitelj is an old fortress and village on a hillside. Blagaj can be reached by Mostar public transport buses 10 and 11. Počitelj is a bit more awkward to get to. There are lots of agencies that offer day tours visiting all these places (plus Međugorje - a catholic pilgrimmage site thanks to apparitions of the Virgin Mary and often Kravice waterfalls) but then are tied into their schedule and might get stuck in a car with some irritating random tourists
Again, depending on you transport/timings, Trebinje is a Bosnian town over the border from Dubrovnik, it’s a really nice town and much cheaper. I often recommend those with a vehicle to stay there and drive in to Dubrovnik.
The market just outside the walls of the city is a massive ripoff and they will try to rinse you for like 4 figs or whatever. I’m not sure where the legit market is unfortunately or whether there is one!
There is a bus that goes around the entirety of the bay once an hour or so - much cheaper than a taxi to Perast for example.
there’s a little cat museum but I’ve never visited.
There used to be a maverick place called Tanjga which was a butcher’s combined with a grill where you could choose your meat then have it grilled. It looks like it’s streamlined into more of a regular restaurant from what I can tell. Obviously only relevant for meat eaters, please ignore otherwise!
I’ve only been to Budva once and that was 2010 in the height of Summer and it was pretty gross. Kind of like a Balkan Miami (OK, that actually kind of sounds cool!), just heaving with trashy clubs and clubbers etc. The old town is nice though, think there’s a walking tour of the walls but don’t recall.
Finally if you learn one word in Bosnian (aka Croatian, aka Serbian, aka Montenegrin but don’t tell them I said that) it’s ‘može’(pronounced mozh-ey. It’s literally the third person singular for ‘can / to be able to’ but it does so much heavy lifting. It’s used to ask if something is possible - ie in a restaurant ‘može sto’ (literally ‘can table’) to which the waiter would reply ‘može’ (can) in the affirmative. You can just gesture at things all over the gaffe and say ‘može’ it’s great!
Double finally, if anyone is interested in Bosnian or Albanian folk music let me know! It’s a big passion of mine!
I personally would suggest you don’t just dip your toe into Albania as it is arguably the most fascinating country in Europe - a country that evolved in isolation for close to 50 years - in terms of history, culture, traditions, cuisine etc
We went for 2 weeks back in 2017 and it’s easily one of the best travel experiences of my life.