Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country of incredibly beautiful nature. It’s often overshadowed by Croatia and its remarkable beaches, but those who decide to visit this small country in the Balkans rarely have regrets.
With ancient fortresses, exquisite waterfalls, climbable mountain peaks, and alien-like stone monuments, you could spend months exploring the country and be wowed by a different place each day.
There are so many spots worth visiting in Bosnia that it would take a novella to list them all. But it doesn’t take much more than this awesome guide, to help you figure out which are the best places, and the ones that you simply cannot miss.
From the tall skyscrapers of Sarajevo to the world’s longest sinking river – here are the ten best places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina!
Obviously, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina is at the top of the list of places you should visit in this charming country. With an incredibly rich history and tradition, it’s going to be incredibly hard not to fall in love with this amazing city.
Sarajevo is most famous for the Sarajevo Film Festival, which attracts tourists from all over the world each year. During SFF, the city truly comes alive – there are multiple movie screenings around the city every night, as well as parties that last until the wee hours of the morning. And some people come just for the celebrity sightings, as the festival brings some of Hollywood’s biggest names to this city.
But the festival lasts for about 10 days, and as soon as it ends, the city goes back to its normal rhythm. And if you truly want to experience Sarajevo, you should spend some time in it when there aren’t thousands of tourists and cameras wherever you look.
You should walk through the narrow alleys of Baščaršija, drink water from Sebilj, grab some ćevapi at Željo and have a cup of authentic Bosnian coffee. Explore the city’s many museums, and learn about its tragic and blood-soaked history.
And if you’re craving spectacular views of the city, go ride in the cable car. It takes you to the Trebević mountain in just some 7-8 minutes, while offering amazing scenic views every second of the ride.
Mostar is easily the second best-known city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, mostly due to the exposure it gets each year from hosting events in the Red Bull Cliff Diving series. Thousands of people gather around Mostar’s Old Bridge (Stari Most), and watch in awe as cliff divers plunge from the platform on the bridge into the cold waters of the Neretva river below.
But what many people don’t know is that jumping from the bridge is perfectly normal for the locals. In fact, if you’re ever in Mostar during the summer and see someone in the swimming trunks on the bridge, they’re probably just waiting to collect enough money until they throw themselves off the bridge. It’s quite thrilling to observe someone falling from the bridge into the river below, but it is not something you should attempt to do on your own.
The wild and unpredictable waters of Neretva have taken many lives, and it’s best that you stay away from them unless you are guided by pros. But despite the fact that the river was, in fact, deadly for some people, thousands of others visit Mostar with the sole purpose of rafting on the Neretva river.
Which makes sense, since the winding canyon of the river makes rafting incredibly fun and thrilling. And you are always guided by seasoned professional, so there really is nothing to worry about.
3. Banja Luka (Banjaluka)
Banja Luka is the second-largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the capital of its Republika Srpska entity. The city lies on both banks of Vrbas river, with numerous parks along the banks.
The symbol of the city is the waterfront Kastel fortress, the oldest historic monument in Banja Luka. Kastel fortress lies in the very heart of the city and offers spectacular panoramic views from the top. There’s also a restaurant on-site, which we highly recommend; definitely go for a portion of Banjalučki ćevapi with a side of amazing views of the river Vrbas. They are quite similar to Sarajevan ćevapi, but there is a distinct difference in the way they are prepared and served. And they’re delicious enough that you have to try both!
Once it’s time to burn off those ćevapi calories, it’s time for a walking tour of the city. The good news is that all the interesting spots are within walking distance of one another, so you’ll be able to properly burn off those calories. Head to Ferhadija Mosque first; the 16th-century mosque is an excellent example of Ottoman architecture, and of the most beautiful mosques in the country.
And it’s just minutes away from Christ the Savior Orthodox Cathedral, Banja Luka’s most exquisite place of worship. Like many other orthodox cathedrals, this one is adorned with gold both inside and outside, and it truly is a majestic sight.
Other notable spots in this gorgeous city include the Museum of Republika Srpska, which gives you some insight into prehistoric times in the area, as well as what was going on during WWII. There’s also the Cathedral of Saint Bonaventure, which has a rather interesting exterior. And the Museum of Contemporary Art is home to many modern exhibits – definitely stop by if you want to support the local artists.
Konjic is a small town about an hour and a half away from Sarajevo. It’s sort of a hidden gem – not many tourists come to this town, but those who do are quickly enchanted. And the main thing that attracts people to the charming town of Konjic is rafting.
Konjic and Mostar both lie on the Neretva river, which is one of the best rivers in the country for rafting. If you’re an adrenaline junkie who loves to try new things, this could easily be the most fun thing you do in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The town itself is probably best known for Tito’s Bunker – a vast underground bunker that was built in secrecy. The construction of the bunker lasted for more than two decades, and it cost more than 4 billion dollars. Yugoslavia’s best-kept secret is open to the public nowadays, and people can get a guided tour of the nuclear bunker.
The vas complex consists of residential areas, conference rooms, offices and strategic planning rooms, which are spread out over 6.400 square meters. And you can see what 4 billion dollars of ancient technology looks like in person, which is bound to be an interesting sight.
Another reason why Konjic is one of the best places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina is its proximity to the lakes. Very close to the town are both Boračko Lake and Jablaničko Lake. Both are popular camping and picnic spots, particularly during hot summer days when it’s okay to swim in the lakes.
5. Tjentište And Sutjeska National Park
Tjentište is a small village situated entirely within Sutjeska National Park. It is best known for the large war memorials that commemorate the fallen soldiers of 1943 Battle of Sutjeska.
It’s worth it to come to this charming village just to witness the grandeur of the war memorials. And you might have already seen them – the large, alien-looking stone monuments were featured in Alan Walker’s music video for the song Darkside.
Although this part of the national park is incredibly interesting, there’s really not much else to do here other than admiring the giant structures. So, once you’ve taken in the majestic memorials, go and explore other areas of the national park.
Sutjeska National Park is also the home of the Perućica rainforest, which is the largest nature reserve of its kind in Europe.
Hikers, cyclists, and climbers will be happy to know that Sutjeska National Park is actually home to Bosnia’s tallest peak, Maglić. It lies on the border with Montenegro, and part of the mountain is actually on the other side of the border. There are many different hiking trails to take on, and all are of various difficulties. Some trails are suitable even for beginners, while others are meant only for the most experienced hikers.
6. Kravice Falls And Vrelo Bune (Blagaj)
Another area with nature of otherworldly beauty are Kravice Falls. Located in the southernmost part of the country, we recommend planning a day trip to the majestic waterfalls while you’re staying in this part of the country.
The waterfall is exceptionally stunning and surrounded by untouched nature. You can actually swim beneath the falls if the weather allows for it, so bring a swimsuit if you’re visiting during summer! And definitely bring a camera, as you’ll have some wonderful photo-ops here.
But there’s really not much else to do here, other than admiring the stunning nature. This is why we recommend that you also head to Blagaj, especially if you traveled to Kravice from Mostar. The town of Blagaj is only 20-30 minutes away from Mostar, and it’s one of the most popular spots in this part of the country.
That mostly due to the spring of Buna river (Vrelo Bune) and the Blagaj Tekke, a Sufi monastery that is built into the waterfront cliffs. There are several restaurants in the area, so you can sit down for a delicious meal and enjoy the spectacular riverside views. And take a lot of photos, since this is easily one of the top ten most Instagrammable spots in Bosnia!
7. Japodian Islands
If you’re looking for untouched nature and peaceful surroundings, head to Japodian Islands in northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina. You have a unique opportunity to spend the night in a treehouse, with nothing other than woods and water around you.
The beauty of Japodian Islands is unreal, and frankly it’s baffling to me why more people aren’t talking about them. This hidden gem of Bosnia and Herzegovina should definitely be more popular than it is, especially because of its great location. Japodian Islands are actually a series of five small river islands that are interconnected with bridges. What makes them unique is that when you look at aerial photos of them, you can see that the islands form a heart on top of the Una river.
As far as accommodation in the area goes, you have a couple of options other than the treehouse. Actually, there’s only the one treehouse, so chances are you won’t be able to stay in it unless you book it several months in advance. But you could always stay in one of the wooden cottages, or a proper modern apartment with all the facilities a millennial traveler needs.
After this Thoreausque experience of being one with the nature around you, it’s time for something a little more exciting. And the good news is that there are plenty of other things to do and places to see in the area.
You can go rafting on the Una river – an activity that’s going to be extremely popular with adrenaline junkies like myself. Or you can skip the rafting and head straight to Una National Park, which boasts waterfalls and hiking trails for days. Definitely visit Štrbački buk, which boasts waterfalls that are up to 25 meters tall, and look absolutely astonishing.
8. Livno Surroundings
This one is going to be a bit tricky, as it requires you to have access to some sort of vehicle. But if you’re up for the adventures, it’s going to be 100% worth your time.
Livno is a small, undeveloped town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It doesn’t boast tall towers and interesting structures, but it does have something much more valuable and interesting – wild horse tours. The town is popular for organized tours that take you to areas near Livno, where you can get up close and personal with wild horses.
But you don’t actually have to go on an organized tour – get in a car and head towards Kupres on the M16. You will experience vast plains, breathtaking nature and you can actually see the horses along the way.
And this actually happened to me a few months back; we were on a road trip driving towards Kupres, when we encountered a team of wild horses in the middle of the road. Of course, we had to entirely stop the car, since it wasn’t really possible to go forward due to the horses. But I’m incredibly glad that happened; to this day, they remain the most majestic animals I have seen in my life.
Unfortunately, I was too flustered to document this wonderful moment. Because, what’s the point of taking out your phone to film the wonderful animals, if you don’t actually press the record button?
There’s another spot very close to the town of Livno that will take your breath away. And if you rent a car, you can visit it the same day you go see the wild horses – the Buško Blato lake. It’s near Tomislavgrad, and about half an hour away from Livno.
9. Vjetrenica And Popovo Polje
Vjetrenica is the largest cave in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one of the most important caves in the entire world. Yeah, you read that right – this tiny Balkan country is home to the world’s most biodiverse cave, with more than two hundred different species inside it.
And nearly a hundred of those species are troglophiles – small cave-dwelling animals that have entirely adapted to their dark surroundings.
A tour of the cave lasts less than an hour, and the tickets are really cheap – some 7.5 Euros per person, if there are less than 20 people in total. If there are 20 or more people, the ticket prices go down to 5 Euros per person.
The cave is located in Popovo Polje, a vast field in southernmost Bosnia and Herzegovina, very close to the Adriatic coast. This is one of the largest karstic plains in the country, and also home to another record-breaking phenomenon – the largest sinking river in the world, Trebišnjica. The river has a total length of 187 km, and nearly half of that is underground.
Jajce is one of the most beautiful towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina that I was lucky enough to visit. It is one of the oldest cities in the country, and it even served as the capital of the Kingdom of Bosnia in the 14th century. Nowadays, the city is best known for the 17-meter-tall waterfall where the rivers Pliva and Vrbas meet.
There’s a vast park near the waterfall, where you can spend some time enjoying the great outdoors. And you can also swim in the lake – an activity many locals love to do in the summer, in order to escape the scorching heats.
If you venture a little further away from the lake, you will eventually stumble upon the series of watermills. They are so small that the entire scene looks like something out of a fairytale – it’s just like you walked into a village where only elves and dwarves live. At least that’s what it looks like, due to the fact that all of the watermills are very small and windowless.
Another must-see spot in this charming town is the Jajce Fortress, which sits atop a hill overlooking the entire town. The views from the top of the fortress are spectacular, and something you’re not likely to forget about for a while.
It is not clear exactly how old the fortress is; some historians argue that it was built during the 13th century, while others say that it could have been built even in the latter half of the 14th century. But one thing is for sure – the fortress existed long before the town of Jajce was even mentioned in any documents.