Known as one of the most versatile cities in the Balkans and with lots of history, Sarajevo suffered drastically during the Yugoslav Wars between 1992 and 1995. The wars involved the Roman Catholics in the west, the Eastern Orthodox in the east and the Ottomans in the south. Nowadays, the city has recovered from the damage and become an interesting multicultural and multi-religious attraction for travelers to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the home of around 400,000 people with diverse religions including Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism, who live and coexist together on the same land. There are many ways to see Sarajevo as a visitor:
Get a panoramic view from the surrounding hills
As Sarajevo is described as a valley, you will notice the eye-catching surrounding hills around the city. There are several spots to get stunning panoramic viewpoints of the city, such as from the Yellow Fortress and White Fortress.
Walk through the cemeteries
If you are interested in the war history of Sarajevo, walk through the cemeteries where white marble gravestones remember those who died during their 20s. Local people are still very mentally damaged by the tragedy today.
Watch a prayer ceremony at a mosque
You won’t need to go a long way from Europe to, for example, Turkey, to see Muslim mosques and watch Islamic practices, as there are plenty of mosques in Sarajevo. Every afternoon there are prayer ceremonies that you do not want to miss watching. The mosques are open for tourists to visit during certain times of the day, but be well aware that you must dress appropriately with a scarf covering your hair, long sleeves and trousers (for females). Men are allowed to wear a normal t-shirt and jeans though. One of the most important Islamic sacred buildings in Sarajevo is the Gazi Husrev-Bey’s Mosque (Gazi Husrev-begova).
Visit the City Hall
Next to the Bosna River, on the east side of the old town, the massive City Hall rises high above the typical old small houses of Sarajevo. The City Hall can be visited for free between 10 AM and 8 PM every day from Tuesday to Sunday.
Stroll through the bridges above Bosna River
As soon as you exit the City Hall, a stunning view of Bosna River is visible, offering great photographs. There are several bridges to walk across, bringing to the capital city an alternatively romantic side that you don’t usually find in other areas. The sunset moment is a must to be captured.
Check out the food street
You will also notice around the main square of Baščaršija, there are several narrow streets full of restaurants. Some of the must-try foods are cevapi (Bosnian kebab) and burek (pastry filled with meat, cheese or potatoes). A small cevapi usually costs around 3.50 BAM (2 USD) and the bigger portion is double the price. The same price, or perhaps even less, applies for burek.
Chill at a bar smoking shisha
Sarajevo is a vibrant, busy and liveable city even before the night comes. There are plenty of cafes around the old town where you can smoke shisha, enjoy a cup of coffee and chat with friends. Young locals like to gather around in the late afternoon, and this part of the city never seems to get empty.
Shop at a souvenir street
Around the main square, there’s also a nearby street selling Bosnian family-made antiques and souvenirs. Most of the products here are made by families through generations and can be highly-priced. Souvenirs would not be so expensive, but it’s still cheaper to get them in Mostar, where I found the prices much cheaper.
Sarajevo - a top favorite city in the Balkans
Sarajevo is not just home to many religions and races, such as Bosnians, Croatians and Serbians, but it also attracts an increasing number of expats from farther countries. Young locals speak English well and people are very tourist-friendly. It is certainly an ideal Balkan city not just to travel in, but to settle. Also, do not forget to visit the nearby city of Mostar with its famous stunning Old Bridge.
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