Sarajevo is an exceptional place to explore as a backpacker. Situated in the southern Balkans, the previously war-torn city is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital. Surrounded by mountains, the Ottoman city-centre is like entering a mini-Istanbul, but this picturesque city is equally influenced by the Austrian-Hapsburg empire.
Visibly scarred by decades of sectarian conflict, the Bosnian war is long over. Now you can listen to the Muslim call to prayer and Catholic and Orthodox church bells on holiday in total harmony.
Increasingly popular on the backpackers trail, Sarajavo is extremely affordable when compared to Western European cities.
For two people you can spent about 35 euros per day on food and other items. A glass of beer cost about €2, a cup of coffee less than a euro, and hostels range from around €8-15 per person. With a tremendous range of budget hostels and hostels available throughout Sarajevo you can book your holiday here.
Sarajevo’s cost of living and cheap transport makes the city a popular backpacker destination.
Things to see and do in Sarajevo
With a population of about 400,000, Sarajevo is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world and is known as ‘the Jerusalem of Europe’. It’s one of the few places in Europe, where an Orthodox cathedral, Catholic church, mosque and synagogue can co-exist in the same street. Visitors will soon discover that the Bosnian capital has an old world charm you will struggle to find anywhere else.
1) Go sightseeing in the old town
Offering visitors a splendid range of neoclassical and Ottoman era architecture, the Satri Grad (‘Old Town’) has been tastefully restored after the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Here you can discover a number of important religious sites, including Sarajevo Old Orthodox Church, Sarajevo Cathedral and Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque.
2) Franz Ferdinand assassination memorial
A plaque outside the Museum of Sarajevo (Musej Sarajeva) marks the spot where Gavrilo Princip, a 18 year old school boy, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This fateful act triggered the start of World War One.
In the years following the Bosnian War, the museum was reinstated after a long period of closure and a new memorial plaque was placed on the street corner.
3) Avaz Tower
Explore the panoramic delights of Sarajevo and have a few beers overlooking the Bosnian mountains. With the tower reaching 176m (577ft), there is nowhere better to get a sweeping view of the city.
4) The Tunnel Museum
One of the most fascinating Sarajevo attractions is the Tunnel Museum, ‘the Tunnel of Hope’, which was dug during the Bosnian War. The tunnel linked the besieged city to the free zone beyond the airport. It allowed the free passageway of food, drinks and medical supplies to soldiers and the elderly.
The formal museum is inside one of the two houses, which originally provided the entry and exit points. In addition to wartime memorabilia, visitors can view video footage of the ‘Siege of Sarajevo’ and the tunnel’s construction and operation.
5) Abandoned Winter Olympics 1984
Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics, but most venues were abandoned during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. A decade later, the region was torn apart by a bitter sectarian conflict. One of the side effects of this war was the toll it took on the Olympic infrastructure. Today, these haunting structures stand as a visual reminder of the ravages of time.
*Offering backpackers a highly visual and fascinating insight into one of Europe’s less well known cities. Sarajevo has a fascinating history that rivals anything you will find in Europe. With cheap prices and budget hostels available throughout the city, Sarajevo is a casket of wonders just waiting to be discovered.