Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

Sarajevo - Sex Shop and Museum of Massacres between 1992 and 1995 in the same doorway - Krista photo

“We didn’t regret our visit to Sarajevo at all, though in the course of our travels we’ve seen many more beautiful cities. In terms of atmosphere, the city was very mixed for us. On the one hand, the reminders of what happened here in the first half of the nineties are terrifying – mostly because it’s hard to believe that a place so close to the heart of Europe could have witnessed such atrocities just two or three decades ago.

Bosnia-Herzegovina generally, and thus its capital too, are among the poorest parts of the former Yugoslavia. There’s no real immiseration, just a shabby, run-down, worn-out feeling everywhere. Even the former Warsaw Pact countries look good compared to this.

On the other hand, it was fascinating to explore the city’s historical background, and see the various religious buildings standing next to one another. It really is a mix of Central Europe and Istanbul, and you can stand on the fateful spot where Franz Ferdinand was shot, and World War One began.

The biggest surprise for us was how delicious the food is in Sarajevo – and how cheap! The basic meals are standard European stuff, but they use different combinations of flavors and spices, so it feels totally fresh.

Sarajevo has unbelievable development potential. You can see that there are also totally new, modern districts too, and a lot of beautiful old houses that deserve restoration. They’ve totally fixed up the touristy parts of the old town, or rebuilt it on old models.

It’s strange to see the Bosnian girls in their mix of traditional headscarf and the standard, globalized fashion. We were half tempted to take a picture of a girl in a headscarf and an Iron Maiden t-shirt, but didn’t. The Bosnian Croat girls, on the other hand, have no such qualms about modesty, but didn’t strike me as quite so beautiful.” (aji, 2017)


Practicals

Transport

Tram

“The tram network essentially comprises a single long line, forming a loop around the city center, as well as a short branch out to the train station. There are also tram turntables at several points. The basic circuit is served by the number 3, while the number one goes to the station from the city center, and the number 4 goes there from Ilidza. Since we couldn’t be sure whether the train was going to Mostar where we got on in Sarajevo, we wanted to go out to check at the train station, so we tried to catch the number 4 tram. We waited in Ilidza for about five trams, all number 3s, until after about a quarter of an hour two number 4s came… at the same time. It’s about a 5-minute walk from the tram stop to the station, so it’s manageable.

The number 3 goes practically all the time, so it isn’t worth worrying about timetables. Our tickets were inspected on almost every journey, and the trams can be crowded – sometimes we could hardly get off at our stop. Tickets need to be purchased in advance, but they are sold in small stalls in many places and can be bought in the little Trafik booths. The price is KM 1.80, so it’s cheaper than back home, but you can also buy a day pass for about KM 5. The bus was also KM 1.80, and you can buy the ticket from the driver.” (2017)

Taxi

"There are plenty of taxi drivers in Sarajevo who cheat foreign tourists or at least try to. We wanted to take a taxi from the old town to the Tunnel Museum, which is difficult to reach by public transport. On the web, I found that the correct fare, given the distance of 9.7 kilometers and the regulated taxi fare for 1 kilometer, should have been around 20 marks, but of course, I figured that we would have to bargain, and would be forced to pay more than that. Well, at the taxi stand, we asked the first taxi driver how it would be to take us to the museum. He said 40 marks. I told him it was a 10 km distance. He lied to my face and said 20km. But we bargained him down to 30 marks, and we accepted because there didn’t seem many points in bargaining with other hyenas we would no doubt have found in the old town. So you have to be vigilant, and it doesn’t hurt to check the distance online in advance, as we did.” (JK, 2017)


Sarajevo - tram - Krista photo

Food

“Our first meal in Sarajevo was at a restaurant called Morica Han in the old town. We had dinner in the inner dining room. it’s a very traditional, old-fashioned place, but the food they served was delicious. We ate so well that we went back two days later, but we weren’t so lucky that time. Maybe there was another chef in the kitchen.

Their fried potatoes were cooked just the way I love them. The outdoor part has a great atmosphere, but it's more like a café.” (J.k, 2017)
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"What did I eat and drink?"
Of course, the obvious stuff: ćevapi, pljeskavica, shashlik (raznjici?). The latter in particular were very delicious and succulent. I ate the ćevapi at the place recommended by my host, but it was a bit dry there for me. The pljeskavica and shashlik we had the next day at Ćevabdžinica Hodžič, and then at another restaurant the next day, were much juicier and tastier. And the first day, with great caution, I ate a burek for lunch, which the seller said was a small serving, but I couldn’t eat more than a third of it. :)
In terms of drinks, I can mention coffee (considering that apart from water it was the only thing I drank). coffee (which may actually be a version of Turkish coffee) is definitely worth trying. The coffee is poured from a kettle with a small spout, the sugar comes in a small pot, while the coffee mug contains Turkish sweets. In most places you’ll be served rahatluk (Turkish delight, known as ratluk in Serbian) flavored with rose water (I know it sounds weird, but there you are). Some suggest that this should be eaten before the coffee, while others suggest that it should be consumed both before and after. Any time you choose to eat it, it’s still delicious. :) Once you have taken out the sweets, put the sugar in its place and then pour over the coffee. There are more portions in the kettle than can fit in one cup, so you can have several refills. All in all, I’m a big fan of Bosnian coffee. Of course, I also drank espresso :)” (2018)
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“In Sarajevo, I can highly recommend the Cajdzinica Dzirlo tea and coffee house (Kovači 16) if you’re looking for Bosnian coffee or tea, the lady who runs the place is very kind and told me a lot of interesting things.” (s.m., 2019)

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“Our host recommended the Nanina Kuhinja restaurant on one of the streets in the bazaar, where we tasted Bosnian dishes such as grape leaves stuffed with minced meat and onions, and Hadžijski ćevab, a kind of goulash spiced with cloves. They are special, delicious dishes that evoke oriental cuisine, though without such strong spices. "
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"Those who want a glass of beer and wine with their beef cevapcici or pljeskavica should be prepared for the fact that they won't find alcoholic beverages or non-alcoholic beers in places owned by Muslims or in the immediate vicinity of mosques - so to avoid unpleasant surprises, it’s worth looking around before ordering.

The prices are not at all expensive by European standards: for well under ten dollars you can have lunch and a drink. It is worth paying attention to choosing a place where the people sitting on the terrace are obviously locals, as there is a good chance you’ll get much spicier, tastier food.” (2018)






Sarajevo - Ćevapčići - Ata photo

Sarajevo - pastry - kr photo

Shopping

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Sarajevo - souvenirs - kr photo

Sarajevo - souvenirs - Krista photo

Fun

“According to the guidebooks, Sarajevo is the only place in the world where four religions (Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish) have places of worship within a few hundred meters of one another. We can only confirm this – we found more than one in every street of the old town. This is why a ‘little problem’ arose in one of the restaurants: the waiter refused to bring out a whole bottle of wine because the mosque was too close. He said it could be in a glass, but not in a bottle! After seeing that there were mosques close to pretty much every restaurant, we were satisfied with glasses of wine from then on.”

Public safety

"The city is safe. As a tall, blonde woman, I’m used to getting noticed in all southern countries, but they didn't care so much here :) (or am I getting old? :D) There are so many different kinds of people living side by side here that women wearing hijabs, girls in slit-sided minidresses or short shorts, and (more rarely) women in niqabs are all regular sights for the locals. Perhaps not all parts of the city are equally safe, but where I was, in the city center and the old town, I didn't have any problems. I didn't stand out at all. It’s also true to say that I was in loose, long pants, or else wearing a loose-fitting dress with leggings that ended slightly above the knee. I wouldn’t exactly have frozen to death without leggings in the 30-degree heat, but I didn’t want to dress in such a way that I’d have had to carry half a wardrobe with me if I wanted to visit a church or mosque.”  (2018)
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“I was robbed. The police didn’t even come. We went to the police station, but they didn’t let us in. They went to find a translator, while a policeman and I conversed in perfectly good English. They wanted to call me a taxi to take me to the embassy, but I’d just been robbed – how did they expect me to pay for it? So don’t expect too much help there… (Judith, 2019)

Sarajevo - policeman's best friend

Others

“I tried a local sim card. It was important for me to have mobile internet at all times (and it also came in handy at the accommodation, where the Wi-Fi signal was weak even in my room), so I bought a type of top-up sim card specifically for tourists. There is a choice, you can buy a card that just gives you data or one that can be used to make phone calls. Then there are other options mostly intended for locals, and they may be worth it for some, but for me, this Ultra Tourist 1 package was just right. It gave me 5 marks worth of domestic and international calls and 5GB of data for 10 days. You can buy them at corner newsstands, but BH (BH Telekom) also has a store. I had some slight difficulty during the activation (which is in theory a simple process: you insert the card, enter the pin code, and you're done :). I tried to make a call to a local number – you can also send an SMS, but I had my host’s number to hand) but even though the card was activated, the network did not want to function. In the end, the newspaper kiosk owner helped: in the mobile data menu, the APN had the address of the other local telephone network, and it had to be reset to BH.” (2018)
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 “I’ve been to places where there are a lot of pigeons, or a lot of stray dogs, or even a lot of stray cats, but until now I’ve never been anywhere with all three are at once. I saw lots of pigeons, stray cats, and even more stray dogs. I did some reading and found that a few years ago there were approximately 12,000 stray dogs in Sarajevo, and although their numbers have dropped significantly in recent years, there are still a striking number of them.” (2018)


Sarajevo - Krista photo

Background

Destination in brief

Sarajevo is the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Population (in 2020): 343,000

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 590 USD - (Bosnia and Herzegovina's average: 500 USD) (Croatia' average: 880 USD) (Serbia's average: 490 USD)

History

“This city has seen plenty of tragedy, including two world wars and a socialist/communist government, but one of the most horrendous episodes came during the wars accompanying the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s when the city was subject to three years of uninterrupted siege. All these years later, it doesn’t seem that Bosnia and Herzegovina have come any closer to a solution. The country has long been an international protectorate, rebuilt and administered by the international community. It vegetates on Europe’s political periphery, while the three nationalities which make up its population have vastly different goals. The Catholic Croats would like to withdraw from their joint federation with Muslim Bosniaks, while Bosnians are fighting for a more centralized, unitary state. Orthodox Serbs, meanwhile, do not want to integrate into a unified Bosnia and are trying to keep the possibility of a secessionist referendum on the agenda.

As a traveler, you probably won’t sense any of this, especially in Sarajevo. Instead, you’ll find yourself in a city where the mixing of worlds and empires is still visible today. Alongside the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, the traces of the once significant Sephardic Jewish community, the architectural and infrastructural legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the remnants of both monarchical and socialist Yugoslavia are all still visible. As are the signs of the last war. Also, you probably shouldn’t even set foot outside the old city center. This is a city with a very special atmosphere, and travelers should easily find enough to keep them busy for two or three days. Provided you like plenty of history. From the museum commemorating the assassination of Franz Ferdinand to the tunnel museum (the tunnel dug under the airport at the time of the siege was the only connection to the outside world). Then there are the mosques, synagogues, and churches. Nice people. Good food. Low prices.” (2017)


Sarajevo - recent history - kr

Sarajevo - ,,The Monument to the Murdered Children of the Besieged Sarajevo 1992–1995” - kr photo

Attractions

Baščaršija (the Old Bazaar)

"Small houses, narrow side streets, bars, shisha cafes, boutiques, the smell of baked goods and fried meats. Amazing. The atmosphere is especially good in the evening. Real oriental romance.” (Belo, 2016)

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“This is the best place to feel the oriental character and pulse of the city. The shops offer handicrafts, jewelry, and cashmere scarves, as well as accessories for the hammam (the traditional Turkish bath).

Walking through the streets of the old town and bazaar, one feels as if one is walking in an exotic Islamic country. The feeling is no coincidence, as Bosnia was under Turkish rule for nearly 400 years, which is still felt in the religion (about 40% of the population are Muslim), culture, architecture, and food of the city.

One thing you have to try in the Baščaršija district is traditional Bosnian coffee. Unlike the Turkish version, the coffee grounds are brewed three times in a special copper container, then served on a tray accompanied by sugar and Turkish delight. I liked this ceremonial coffee so much that I immediately went out and bought all the necessary equipment for it.” (2018)


Tunnel

Sarajevo - Tunnel - Krista photo

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