Interrail in Bosnia and Herzegovina: the ultimate country guide 🇧🇦
Table of contents 🇧🇦
Bosnia and Herzegovina overview
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. It is a country rich with history – from the medieval villages, Ottoman Empire rule, Austro-Hungarian monarchy, to most recent Yugoslav wars, Bosnia has always been a turbulent site, as well as the place of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which started World War I.
Nowadays, the country is divided into two autonomous political entities: the Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic), located in the north and east, and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, occupying the western and central areas. Bosnia and Herzegovina is also a characteristically rich ethnic and religious mix – Islam, Orthodox Christianity, and Roman Catholicism are all recognized religions.
Bosnian natural beauty and resources are what makes it so distinguishable – unspoilt nature of great diversity, clean rivers and lakes, the mighty Dinaric Alps, numerous mountain ranges popular for hiking, skiing, and hunting, including the Kozara, Vlašic. Numerous glacial lakes dot the landscape and the country is also rich in natural springs, many of which are tapped for bottled mineral water or for popular thermal health spas. In Bosnia, you can find many variations between traditional and modern and between rural and urban culture as well. The national capital Sarajevo has a well preserved lively old quarter, Baščaršija, reminiscent of the Ottoman era, with landmarks like the 16th-century Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque. Bosnian cuisine also displays its Turkish influence – stuffed vegetables, burek, sweet cakes of the baklava type, as well as in the national dish of ćevapi, or ćevapčići. In kafana, a traditional coffeehouse, you can drink delicious and strong Turkish coffee and soak in the Bosnian coffee culture.
The top 3 cities to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Sarajevo, it can be very well seen that the area was once ruled and inhabited by two great empires – the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Both Islamic and Christian influences are everywhere you look – impressive mosques across from Orthodox and Catholic churches, as well as an ethnic and religious cultural legacy.
The beloved spot, both among the locals as well as tourists is Baščaršija – the historic market in the city centre, full of restaurants with delicious traditional Bosnian meals, coffee houses – both modern and traditional – and traditional Bosnian souvenirs. There you can also find the splendid Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque.
A reminder of the more recent, and unfortunately, bloody past, is The Sarajevo Tunnel, also known as Tunnel of Hope. It was a tunnel constructed in 1993 during the 4-year-long Siege of Sarajevo to link the city of Sarajevo, which was entirely cut off by Serbian forces, with Bosnian-held territory on the other side of the Sarajevo Airport, allowing food, war supplies, and humanitarian aid to come into the city, and allowing people to get out. Visitors can still walk down a small length of the tunnel.
Not far from Sarajevo is the spring of the Bosna river – well worth a visit and surrounded by nature at the foothills of Mount Igman.
The symbol of this storybook medieval town is the beautiful The Old Bridge (Stari Most), now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the 16th century and now connecting the two sides of the city. The local tradition to jump off from the 20 metres high bridge into the river Neretva underneath dates back to the 17th century.
Every year, The Mostar Bridge Festival is a spectacle for professional and amateur jumpers brave enough to take a leap from The Old Bridge. The river Neretva is also a popular spot for rafting.
Climb the Koski Mosque to see Mostar from another angle and admire the amazing views of crystal clear water, medieval architecture and miles and miles of unspoilt land.
Just outside the city of Mostar, a literal Garden of Eden can be found – the 25 metres high Kravice Waterfalls form a rich emerald lake. Another place worth visiting is the 16th century Dervish Monastery, which was built in the cliff, surrounded by impressive nature.
Jajce is renowned for its spectacular nature as well as a medieval town and the ancient Bosnian royal capital. Actually, it was inhabited even in the ancient times. Jajački Mithraeum is a temple from the 2nd century AD dedicated to God of the Sun, Mithra. Later on, Jajce was the seat of the Bosnian kings. The Walled City of Jajce is a medieval fortified nucleus of the city.
Situated on the confluence of the rivers Pliva and Vrbas, Jajce has some impressive views, like for example the Pliva Waterfall in the centre of the city, a waterfall named 1 of the 12 most beautiful waterfalls in the world.
In the 20th century, Jajce hosted the second convention of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) and AVNOJ Museum in Jajce is nowadays one of the several museums in Europe devoted to an anti-fascist global phenomenon.
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Which Interrail pass do I need to travel around Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Interrail Global Pass
No one country pass
Do I need to make train seat reservations in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Reservations for regional trains are compulsory. The fee to make these reservations is €1.50 (BAM 3, the local currency). The cost of the reservation itself depends on the distance travelled.
However, trains are cheap when travelling with either of the two railway companies (ZFBH and ZRS), so buying tickets individually may work out cheaper than using a day up on your Interrail pass.
Where to stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Balkan Han Hostel, Sarajevo
Design Hostel StarMo, Mostar
Events in Bosnia and Herzegovina
International Sarajevo Winter Festival
The Mostar Bridge Festival
Read more about Bosnia and Herzegovina on our blog
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