Bosnia itinerary: one week in Bosnia Herzegovina
Bosnia is still among the least visited countries in Europe, but its popularity is on the rise. More and more tourists find their way to the Balkans and most do include Bosnia in their itinerary. It’s a destination where east meets west with multicultural cities, ancient architecture, turquoise rivers, waterfalls and spectacular mountains.
This post is a one week Bosnia itinerary. There are so many things to do that any Bosnia itinerary will require some tough choices.
Here I will try to answer some of the questions you might have. What are the best places to visit if you have only one week in Bosnia? Do you need to spend more time in Sarajevo or in Mostar? What is the best Bosnia itinerary for independent budget travellers?
My Bosnia itinerary
Bosnia is one of my favourite countries in Europe and I have made several journeys since my first visit. On one of these trips I spent one week in its capital Sarajevo alone. I also travelled from Sarajevo to Mostar and to Bihac and Una National Park. Still, there are many places left I would like to see and I am planning my next Bosnia itinerary as we speak.
A one week Bosnia itinerary
This Bosnia itinerary is made for independent budget travellers. Therefore it only includes places that you can reach with public transport. Luckily there is a good bus network in between the major cities. Your only limitation will be time. If you have one week in Bosnia the focus is mostly on Sarajevo and Mostar and some nearby places.
Bosnia itinerary day 1 – 3: Sarajevo
Start your Bosnia itinerary in Bosnia’s young and diverse capital. It is easy to love Sarajevo with its charming old town and surrounding hills. There are so many things to do in Sarajevo that you could easily spend more than a week in this city. However, 3 days is enough to see the highlights and get a good introduction to Bosnia and its rich history.
The bascarsija is a journey back in the past when Bosnia was part of the Ottoman empire. The modern center with the elegant Austrian-Hungarian buildings speak yet of a different time. Then there are the socialist flats that are a stark contrast with the hilly suburbs where it feels more like a Bosnian village. At last, Sarajevo has some excellent museums that will teach you more about the civil war.
Traces of the war are still visible throughout the city, but Sarajevo’s multicultural spirit could not be crushed. The city is still known as the Jerusalem of Europe and nowadays a symbol of hope and reconciliation.
How to get there: Sarajevo has an international airport, but it is often cheaper to fly into nearby Tuzla. There are also good bus connections from cities in the neighbouring countries, such as Zagreb and Belgrade, to Sarajevo.
Where to eat: Sarajevo is full of cheap restaurants serving excellent traditional Bosnian food. For some recommendations check my post about the best budget restaurants in Sarajevo.
Where to sleep: For a unique experience you can stay in the War hostel. The owner is a survivor of the siege and it’s is all about experiencing what it was like during the war. Other hostels with good reviews are Hostel Kucha, Hostel Balkan Han and Hostel Franz Ferdinand.
Bosnia itinerary day 4: Konjic
Konjic is midway between Sarajevo and Mostar. Even though it is a very small city, it is worth a visit and an easy day trip from Sarajevo. It’s beauty is defined by the deep blue Neretva river that runs through the scenic historic center. The Old stone bridge in Konjic is one of the best preserved Ottoman bridges in Bosnia.
It was here, right next to the river, but hidden from view, that Titov built a bunker deep under the ground. The bunker was meant to keep him and his family alive for two years after a nuclear attack. It was never used and is now open for visitors through Visit Konjic. I thought it was an interesting visit showing how the cold war influenced this part of the world.
Transport: there are several buses per day to Sarajevo (1 hour) or Mostar (2 hours)
Bosnia itinerary day 5: Sarajevo to Mostar
Trains don’t have a very good reputation in Bosnia. However, there is one noteworthy train journey in Bosnia. The Sarajevo to Mostar train competes with the Belgrade to Bar train for being the most beautiful train journey in Europe.
Since 2017, Bosnia uses new Talgo trains for this daily journey making it a convenient 2 hour trip by train. This is probably the only route where the train is now actually faster than the bus. Both offer stunning views on the surrounding countryside. The scenery along this route makes this trip worthwhile on its own.
Transport: There are frequent buses between Sarajevo, Konjic and Mostar taking 2 – 3 hours. According to the Bosnian railway website the Sarajevo Capljina express runs daily at 07:15 AM and 16:49 PM. By train the journey is less than 2 hours. If you go from Sarajevo to Mostar the best views are on the left hand side of the train.
Bosnia itinerary day 6: Mostar
Any visit to Bosnia is not complete without visiting Mostar. One of the most picturesque places in Bosnia Herzegovina. The charming historic town with the view on the old bridge over the Neretva river took my breath away.
With the excellent restoration work it is easy to forget Mostar’s gruelling past. It was, however, the most heavily bombed city during the war. Most buildings were destroyed including the old bridge connecting the Bosnian and Croatian part of town.
Now it feels like nothing has changed since the Ottoman empire ruled the area. It’s very scenic with the cobbled stoned streets and the minarets in the background. However, this is one of the most touristic places in Bosnia. I was here at the end of September when it was quiet, but it must be really crowded in summer.
How to get there: There are frequent buses to Sarajevo (3 hours)
Where to eat: One of my favourite restaurants in Mostar is the Sadrvan restaurant. There is an extensive menu full with traditional Bosnian dishes. This is one of the best places to try Bosnian food that is not cevapcici. The delicious stews with vegetables, meat and spices are delicious
Bosnia itinerary day 7: Blagaj
One of the most easiest and interesting day trips from Mostar is to the little village of Blagaj. It’s most famous for its ancient Dervish monastery that sits at the foot of a steep cliff and besides the spring of the Buna river.
The Blagaj tekke is now a museum that shows you how the monks once used to live. For me the main draw was its spectacular setting.
How to get there: bus#10 and bus #11 leave every hour from the United World College at the Spanish square. It costs only 2.10 KM to Blagaj from where it is a pleasant walk to the dervish monastery.
Bosnia itinerary Extensions
Day trips from Mostar
Time needed: 2 days
Transport: own car or tour
Blagaj is not the only day trip you can take from Mostar. The area around Mostar is home to several scenic tourist attractions. Unfortunately they are a bit more difficult to get to and either require your own transport or a tour. The good news is that it is very easy to arrange cheap tours in Mostar.
One of the most popular day trips from Mostar is to the beautiful Kravice waterfalls. The falls are 25 meters high, surrounded by trees and there is a natural pool at the base. In summer you can go swimming there or take a boat trip to enjoy the scenic falls.
Another nice day trip from Mostar is to the small town of Pocitelj. A medieval village with a beautiful mosque and ancient fort that has an even more spectacular location than Mostar.
Central Bosnia: Travnik & Jajce
Time needed: 3 day round trip from Sarajevo
Transport: easy with public transport
Another great extension to this Bosnia itinerary is central Bosnia with Travnik and Jajce. Travnik is an old and colorful Ottoman town with an ancient fortress and is midway between Sarajevo and Jajce. Jajce is famous for its waterfall that is right in the city center and its traditional wooden water mills.
The good thing about this itinerary extension is that it is still easy to do with public transport from Sarajevo. If you have extra time consider adding a few days exploring central Bosnia before heading to Mostar.
Bihac and Una National Park
Time needed: 3 day round trip from Sarajevo
Transport: own car or tour
This Bosnia itinerary extension is one I can truly recommend, even though it will require your own transport. Una National Park and the Una river is one of the most beautiful areas in Bosnia.
The story goes that the Una river got its name from a Roman soldier. He was so impressed by it’s beauty that he claimed it was the one and only. I can personally say that the Una is indeed one of the most spectacular rivers in Bosnia. Its deep turquoise blue and emerald green colors take your breath away.
Bihac is a pleasant city that forms the gateway to Una National Park. The park is characterized by a network of river streams, pools and waterfalls that are surrounded by lush forests. The nature is pristine and wildlife includes rare animals such as lynx, bears and wolves.
It’s the perfect place for outdoor activities like rafting, kayaking, swimming, mountain biking and hiking. In addition, the park also has some cultural and historical heritage with ancient citadels, monasteries and mosques.
It’s Bosnia at its best and because it is somewhat remote it receives a small number of visitors. If you are looking for a peaceful spot full of nature, Una National Park is the place to go.
Sutjeska National Park
Time needed: 3 days round trip from Sarajevo
Transport: own car or tour
Sutjeska is another off the beaten path destination in Bosnia that receives very few visitors, despite its natural beauty. It is Bosnia’s oldest national park full of mountains and glacial lakes. Highlights include the Perucica reserve, one of the two primeval forests in Europe and Maglic peak, the highest mountain in Bosnia.
Sutjeska is also famous for being the location of a fierce battle in the second World War. After one month of fighting, the partisans won against Nazi Germany.
Transport in Bosnia
Most of this Bosnia itinerary is easy to do with public transport. Bosnia has a good bus network with frequent buses between the major cities.
However, if you want to include Una or Sutjeska National Park you might want to consider renting a car. Renting a car is very cheap in Bosnia. In addition, it gives you a lot of flexibility and freedom to explore off the beaten path places.
For more practical information about travel in Bosnia I can recommend my Backpacking Bosnia travel guide.
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