Sarajevo is one of the most historical but misunderstood places in Europe. It has a bloody history that dates back to the early 90s. Fast-forward to today, Sarajevo stands as a transformed modern city with many beautiful places like hotels, museums, and shopping centres, which are worth exploring and definitely a great place to stop off during an Interrail trip of the Balkans.
A brief history of Sarajevo
Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This country is located in the Balkan peninsula, and before 1992, it formed a part of Yugoslavia. With a population of about 440,000 people, the Sarajevo region has a large Muslim community. During the 15th century, Ottoman forces captured the city and established it as the Bosnian capital in 1850.
When the Austro-Hungarians conquered the Turks in 1878, the city still retained its capital status and was further upgraded into a modern standard. From there, Sarajevo grew up to become a pivot for militant groups. The Bosnian-Serbian’s resistance to Archduke Frank Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary led to the heir’s assassination in 1914 together with his wife. This chain of events launched the world into chaos as World War I ignited.
Nevertheless, Sarajevo recovered from its war-torn era to become a flourishing region in the Balkans. The country has a sophisticated form of government that sees three heads of state (compromising a Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox member) rise to power at the same time, and rule jointly for a four-year term.
Now that you know the brief history of Sarajevo in Bosnia & Herzegovina, here’s what you can do there in 48 hours (2 days).
Where to stay in Sarajevo
Before you think about doing anything else in Sarajevo, first find comfortable accommodation in Hotel Europe, a world-class hotel with ultra-modern amenities like a swimming pool and spa.
City Boutique Hotel is a cool option for non-smokers. Book your room to enjoy fruits and veggies for breakfast, and also a beautiful view of the old town.
Tour the city
There are a lot of exciting places to tour in Sarajevo, such as Old Town Bascarsija. It’s a densely populated marketplace with dozens of mosques, eateries, and cobbled streets. You can spend 24 hours here touring the great city. A walk along the street will offer you a rare opportunity to chance upon a group of locals doing their own things such as drinking coffee and stealing a look at passersby.
And oh! There will be children as well, playing with pigeons around the market near Sebilj. The culturally diverse city will not hide its happy Muslims, Catholics, and other influential inhabitants from your prying eyes.
Take a trip to Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque
An Interrail trip to Sarajevo may not look complete if you don’t see this 16th-century mosque for yourself. It’s the biggest ancient mosque in the country, which takes visitors back to the Ottoman era. Inside the mosque is a library and an Islamic theology school (madrassa).
Visit Latin Bridge
It’s an Ottoman bridge that crosses the Miljacka river. Archduke Franz was murdered around the northern side of the Latin Bridge, and a Museum is situated at the exact spot of his assassination. Stand here and experience the first battlefield of the devastating First World War.
Drink some Bosnian coffee, aka Bosanka Kava
To make this special drink, Bosnians grind roasted coffee beans into a powdery form and cook them in a medium-sized copper pot with an elongated neck. They then stir it to obtain a tasty drink that is sure to please your taste buds.
Eat at Barhana
Located close to the Bascarsija street, Barhana has tons of flavours for visitors who want to eat and drink. This is an open-air eatery, and so don’t be surprised to inhale secondhand smoke from other tourists.
Do some shopping
As you prepare to wrap up your visit to the historic Sarajevo city, shopping for souvenirs may come into your mind. Places like Curciluk Street and Husrev Bey are adorned with numerous traditional wears that are characteristic of the Bosnian people. You can shop for gold jewellery and hand-crafted carpets.
If you want to patronise international brands, Alta Mall and the Sarajevo city centre won’t disappoint you.
See architectural wonders
The City Hall (also known as Vijecnica) is an epic building that was first put up by the ancient Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1992, this architectural piece was razed down by the Serbian troops. It was rebuilt to serve as a marvellous museum while doubling as a government facility.
Visit the War Tunnel
Want to experience the war days of Sarajevo and the Bosnian War? Enter 20 meters into the Sarajevo tunnel. The museum at the tunnel still has war materials dating back to the Bosnian war.
An interrailing trip to Sarajevo cannot be a bad idea after all, and the city is relatively safe for tourists.