Last year when my sister quit her job to write romance novels full time and was looking for a cheap city to live in I suggested she move to Sarajevo. I had heard that Bosnia and Herzegovina is stunning, and Sarajevo has a wonderful European feel to it.
She didn’t take my advice (shocker).
Then over Christmas my mother and grandmother were trying to decide on a place in Europe to meet up over the summer and I suggested they go to Sarajevo!
They didn’t take my advice either (they chose Paris instead).
While I was tempted to point out to everyone that I write a travel blog, so they should totally take my travel advice, I hadn’t actually ever been to Bosnia before so like, I guess it was fair for them to ignore me.
But I just knew Sarajevo would be amazing! And you guys, it really is.
The entire country – or at least what I saw of it – is breathtaking. In fact, it’s almost absurdly beautiful – as we crossed into Bosnia from Serbia Dan and I kept exchanging stunned looks because it really looked like we had just fallen into a painting. It didn’t seem real.
While traveling along a bright turquoise river, winding through lush green mountains, Dan and I decided that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the second most beautiful country either of us has visited (my number one pick is Norway, while Dan’s is New Zealand).
And then we arrived in Sarajevo.
Oh how I wish my family had taken my advice – everyone needs to see this lovely, lovely city!
With its narrow cobblestone streets, majestic mosques, delicious food (mmm cevapi!), hilltop views, and super friendly locals, it’s hard to understand why Sarajevo isn’t flooded with tourists, travelers, and all the backpackers.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I have an idea why.
While my memories from the early 90s are hazy at best, anyone a little older might just associate Sarajevo with one thing: the Bosnian War. Trying to understand what on earth the Yugoslav Wars were even about is no easy feat, but judging from all the bullet holes on buildings throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was brutal. The Siege of Sarajevo lasted nearly four years and was the longest in modern warfare.
Before spending time in the Balkans I had a vague idea that Serbia was the bad guy in the conflict, but the more I learn about it the more complicated it proves to be. Like, maybe one of the worst players was actually the U.N.? Apparently a lot of European leaders were very wary of having an independent Muslim state in Europe.
It’s all very confusing, but watching Miss Sarajevo at least gave me a small sense of what happened in Sarajevo. Plus, it features the world’s spunkiest girls! Highly recommended for anyone thinking of traveling to Sarajevo. Or anyone who is a human.
And yet Sarajevo also happens to be home to the bridge where Franz Ferdinand was shot, kicking off the First World War. I’ll bet $5 you can’t walk across it without getting goosebumps.
Did I leave Sarajevo wishing I could have stayed longer? Yes.
Do I still crave every dish I ate in Sarajevo? Yes.
Am I telling every backpacker I see to turn around and book a trip to Sarajevo? Yes.
In Sarajevo we stayed at Travellers Home Hostel which was AMAZING – highly recommended. It’s in a gorgeous building, and the staff are just so nice and helpful. If you’re heading to Sarajevo on a budget you have to stay there! Check current rates and availability here
If you’re looking for something a bit nicer, then I can also highly recommend Hotel Michele in the old town center – the inside is absolutely gorgeous. Check current rates and availability here
Have you traveled to Sarajevo yet?