A Short Insight Into Traveling To Bosnia And Herzegovina

When traveling around the world, tourists often accidentally embark on Bosnia and Herzegovina. They might have heard about it, through the news about the war that happened here, or someone pointed at the map, showing the Balkan countries and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well. At first, many of them are reluctant to visit, but upon the first visit, they decide to explore every corner of it.

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country located in the South-Eastern part of Europe, occupying the part of the Balkan Peninsula. This almost landlocked country shares its borders with Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro, having only 20 kilometers of the Adriatic coast. The country with its complicated political and governmental rules is trying to rise and present itself the best it can. Bosnia and Herzegovina has the two main political parts: Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with its administrative center in Sarajevo and The Republic of Srpska with the city of Banjaluka as its administrative center while the capital city of the country is Sarajevo. Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into cantons with its governments and rules. The most astonishing detail that amazes every visitor is the country’s almost impeccable nature. Traditional culture and welcoming nature of people of Bosnia and Herzegovina living both in cities and in rural areas attract many tourists every year.

 

Picture Credits: pixabay.com

 

Balkan area, together with Bosnia and Herzegovina was populated since the Neolith times. People of ancient and recent history left powerful traces on the development of the nation and the country. Written historical documents, monuments, and language are proofs of the nation affected by different rulers and politics. People of Bosnia and Herzegovina are often being struck by migrations and wars, and although they are of Slavic origin, today, they are a true example of the multicultural nation. In a country where Eastern and Western cultures and traditions collide, it seems that people accept differences with ease.  In almost every city and village you can find churches and mosques gathering people in prayer, nurturing their religion passionately and sharing their customs and traditions. Many people are strongly influenced by religion, honoring Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim traditions in a very spiritual way. In spite of the cultural and religious differences, most of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are recognized by their welcoming hospitality. Every guest is considered special, being welcomed wholeheartedly with everything they have. A guest will be offered with rich and tasty meal, usually served with some alcoholic beverage such as wine or rakia (an alcoholic drink made of plums or pears, or sometimes from mixed fruits) or with a cup of homemade coffee prepared in “cezve” – a special pot that is used to make a traditional Turkish coffee and served in a special metal cup with sugary treat – Rahat lokum. Whatever you choose to eat, be prepared to leave the country weighing more, because food is offered as a welcoming gesture and as a sign of respect.

 

Together with sharing the origin and traditions and culture as well, people of Bosnia and Herzegovina also share language. There are three, almost the same, languages that are used in this country: Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian. Bosnian and Croatian have Latin letters and the Serbian language is written both in Latin and Cyrillic letters. These languages share almost all vocabulary, and those words that are different are seen as synonyms rather than different parts of vocabulary. Many people speak very good English, and although many are not very proficient in speaking foreign languages, they will happily give their best to help by speaking the target language or finding a person who speaks it.

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced many economical problems after the last civil war. The war lasted five years, and many people lost their families and homes. Even today, almost three decades after the war, there are still places that are not clear from the mines and there are still active minefields or mines in abandoned buildings. Although many abandoned houses or woods or paths are marked as dangerous because of the mines, it is strongly advised not to explore wild parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina because there is a danger of potentially getting hurt. If you are interested in exploring nature, the best advice is to hire a tourist guide and to get information at the local tourist office. Keep only in mind safety precautions when traveling, and get ready to experience the adventurous lifestyle of Bosnia and Herzegovina and enjoy exploring this beautiful country.

 

Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

People visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina are not usually aware of the two separate parts of the country. Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina occupies 51 % of total Bosnia and Herzegovina’s surface. You won’t see the border within the country, but sometimes, you can notice by written signs that you are in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, divided into cantons.

 

The most known and beautiful city in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is Sarajevo. Surrounded by the proud Olympic Mountains, the city of Sarajevo fully presents its rich tradition and culture. Baščaršija as a focal part of the old town of Sarajevo is a place where people gather. Tourists are amazed by its oriental look. The city has also important religious monuments, mosques, churches, and synagogues located in the vicinity of each other showing off their multiculturalism. The harsh history affected this city as well, leaving traces of the most important assassination that led to the beginning of World War One. Back in the past, Bosnia and Herzegovina was a host to the Winter Olympic Games that were held in Sarajevo. This event is strongly remembered by many people of Bosnia and Herzegovina because it was something to be proud of. Unfortunately, that was also the last time when the country was honored to be a host to such a grandiose event. Sarajevo has many Museums and Galleries that represent the life of the people since the Neolith times. It is always highly educational and interesting to revisit these places all over again. When you are looking for a quick break, head to Ilidža, the natural gem of Sarajevo, where many astonishingly clear springs form a beautiful river Bosna. Take a walk or a horse carriage to reach this place and enjoy the beauty of the nature of the Bosna Springs. If you thought about coming to Sarajevo by plane, there is the International airport in Sarajevo, with flights from all over the world. Upon arrival, you can take a bus to the city center or take a taxi that will take you to your final destination in the city. When exploring around the city, you can either take a tram, trolleybus, bus or minibus, but if you look for some extra luxury, you can choose some of the taxi services or just rent a car. If you are looking for accommodation, you can make a reservation online or by phone. Almost all accommodation options could be paid with paying cards, but it is always advisable to ask beforehand if they accept it or it needs to be paid with cash. That shouldn’t be a problem, as well, since there are many ATM’s around or Banks who will help you with money transactions.  After finding your place to stay, and decided what to see during the day, you may want to know about some events that are happening around the time you are visiting. Sarajevo became famous for the Sarajevo film festival which is one of the leading film festivals in Europe. There are also some other known and well- visited festivals that happen in Sarajevo such as the MESS Theatre Festival, Jazz Fest Sarajevo, Baščaršija Nights, Sarajevo Winter, Beton Fest Sarajevo, Children Arts Festival, Ilidža Rock Fest and Kids Time Festival. In case of emergency, the hospitals or ambulance are available 24 hours a day. It is very important to know that there will be help soon after phoning them at 124 phone number and ask for assistance. There are some Pharmacies which are open 24h a day, but most of them work only during the day and close later in the evening.

 

Sarajevo
Picture Credits: pixabay.com

 

After exploring Sarajevo and its surrounding nature, don’t miss out on Visoko town, a town that would almost remain unnoticed if there weren’t for the attraction that changed its destiny. The news about mountains resembling Pyramids brought many scientists from around the world to explore the area and confirm the presence of the Pyramids in the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

Visoko
Markus Köllner, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Nearby, there is also one small town, Fojnica, which has an amazingly clear and beautiful lake – Prokoško Lake. If you are traveling by your car or making yourself an itinerary of traveling, don’t miss it out. It makes an excellent resting point for all kinds of travelers who want to try some traditional dishes and enjoy the nature that the astonishingly beautiful Prokoško Lake offers.

 

Fojnica
dcosic4, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The next city of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the city that shouldn’t be missed out of your itinerary. The city of Tuzla is mostly famous by the salt industry, and by only salt lakes in Europe. The first settlements in Tuzla had been built on the spot where we can find the salt springs that brought prosperity and fame to the city and the country as well.

 

Tuzla
Deanza, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Heading to the central part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we will find Travnik, a small town in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, rich in history and culture. Located at the brim of the mountain Vlašić, Travnik is famous as the museum under the blue sky, where every corner brings the story that will instantly take you back to past times. The town holds the history from the times of the Ottoman rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, the great Nobel winner for Literature, Ivo Andrić, was born in this town. Today, his birth house meets many tourists every day, depicting the life of the writer and his writings that are a truthful reminder of the times when his people lived the life of an undermined human, tortured by the will of the conqueror.

 

Travnik
Julian Nyča, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Near the Travnik town, the mountain Vlašić rises showing off with its green pastures and breathtaking views. The mountain invites its guests during the whole year. During the winter, many skiers enjoy its slopes and during the summer times, those slopes welcome hikers and explorers.

 

Vlašić
Aktron, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Bugojno is another small town in the central part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This small municipality is also famous for its multiculturality and the place where tourists look for accommodation while planning to go skiing on Rostovo. Bugojno had a famous hunting area, Koprivica, where former Yugoslav president TITO enjoyed hunting. Today, it is strongly advised to explore this area with a guide who will keep you safe because it was a place where many battles from the last civil war happened and there is a possibility of mines that has not been yet removed after the war.

 

 

At the confluence of two rivers, Pliva and Vrbas, the city of the kings and emperors, Jajce, invites its visitors to meet the beauty of the Jajce waterfall and Pliva Lakes. Besides its natural beauty, Jajce is a town of rich history and the favorite place where people of power held their meetings for centuries. 

 

Jajce
Julian Nyča, via Wikimedia Commons

 

In the southwestern part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is a city Livno, famous by its karsts surroundings and quality cheese “Livanjski cheese”. Livno is mostly known for its tradition of making cheese. Their cheese combined with a glass of quality wine and some slices of prosciuttos make a perfect combination to add to a relaxing evening. The surrounding municipalities Drvar, Grahovo, Glamoč, Kupres and Tomislavgrad together with Livno have good connections with neighboring Croatia providing this region with ample opportunities for the development of the economy.

 

 

In Una – Sana Canton in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina there is a small municipality Bihać situated on the beautiful banks of the river Una. Una means “the only one” and her uniqueness is unforgettable indeed. Emerald green waters of the river attract tourists for an extraordinary experience. Near Bihać, in the northwestern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and near the Croatian border there is a National Park Una. The area of the park includes the valley of the river Una together with smaller river Unac and the brims of the mountains Pljesevica, Grmeč, and Osječnica. The biological diversity of the park is remarkable and specific for this part of Europe. The three magnificent rivers Una, Unac and Krka are the greatest value of the park’s natural heritage. The travertine waterfalls and cascades of Martin Brod, Štrbački Buk, Troslap, Dvoslap, and Ripač are the most known and the most magnificent natural wonders of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

 

Herzegovina

 

In the southern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the travelers will find Herzegovina, the region with mostly hilly karsts and high mountains intersected with the Valley of Neretva River. Herzegovina is divided between two parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar city belongs to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina part and Trebinje is the central center of the Republic of Srpska part of Herzegovina.

 

Mostar
Picture Credits: pixabay.com

 

The photographs of Mostar and strikingly beautiful monuments have traveled the world and made Bosnia and Herzegovina recognizable among travelers. The scent of the seaside that is hiding behind the surrounding hills penetrating the bright blue sky leaves no one indifferent. Although the summer heat might seem to be repelling to visitors, the culture and the rich heritage of Mostar attract many tourists throughout the year. The most recognizable image of Mostar is the Old Bridge leaning over the river Neretva.  This masterpiece from the Ottoman period retells many legends that were passed over to the following generations, leaving us with intriguing stories that almost resemble fairytales. Besides its abundant history, the Bridge is also popular among many young people who dare to try their courage and jump from the Bridge into the depth of the Neretva River. Every year, many young men and women take part in the jumping competition. Watching the bravery of these young people makes the heart skip a beat. The bridge is under UNESCO protection and it is very popular among tourists. Upon crossing the bridge, you will find yourself surrounded by chattering sounds and scent of the Turkish coffee that invite you to sit and enjoy the old town. Mostar cherishes significant museums and memorial houses of the famous people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Herzegovina Museum will take you on a journey through the past and tell you all about great people and their work that left a memorable trace on Herzegovina’s history. There are also the Ottoman residences which date back from the 16th to 18th century and truly depict lives from their historical period.

 

Near Mostar, there is a small medieval village Blagaj, located on the natural spring of Buna River. The first known Blagaj settlement was the fortress Stjepan grad located on a steep inaccessible hill. During the Ottoman Empire, Blagaj became a center of Blagay Vilayet with an Islamic school, mills, and bridges on the Buna River. Today, an old Dervish Tekija together with Buna River and its beautiful karsts spring represent the true picture of Islamic culture and life of the 16th century. This gem of nature is the place you should enjoy in its full beauty all year round.

 

Blagaj
Julian Nyča, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Another historical reminder of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s past is located in a small town Stolac. This place hides medieval monuments “stećci”. These monuments can be found at many places in Bosnia and Herzegovina but here, in Stolac the monuments from the Middle Ages are the most known ones. Their origin is not known although several out of 60000 found tombstones are inscribed. Around 10000 tombstones depict the sun and the moon, family, war, and life. The most common image on these monuments is the man with the right arm raised.

 

In Čapljina municipality, there is a small historic village Počitelj which is another treasure of Herzegovina. The village is under UNESCO protection and it was brought in prominence by the recent reconstruction. The first written documents mention Počitelj in 1444 but it surely existed for a hundred years more. The village is unique in its look and history, and it has become a part of every tourist’s itinerary in recent years.

 

Počitelj
Pudelek, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Around thirty kilometers from Mostar, there is a popular pilgrim destination Međugorje. Since 1981, when the group of teenagers witnessed the apparition of the Virgin Mary near the Podbrdo village, the place known as Hill of Apparition has been attracting many religious tourists to this small town. The place is very prominent among tourists who find it to be inspiring and relaxing.

 

Međugorje
Quahadi Añtó, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The natural wealth of the Herzegovina area is vast and nature lovers are welcomed by the untouched beauty of the rivers, waterfalls, mountains, animals, and plants. One of the most exciting places in Herzegovina is “the Hutovo blato” National Park. It is a marsh formed by the rivers Krupa and Matica. It is a habitat and a refuge for ducks, hawks, pheasants and many other bird species who settle here enjoying the mild climate and rich vegetation. People usually enjoy going on a boat safari, taking photographs of the wild world and the surrounding nature.

 

Another natural wonder of Herzegovina is a place that enchants every visitor. It is a Waterfall Kravice, formed on the river Trabižat which falls down the cascading tuff walls, forming the impressive 30 meters high waterfall. This picnic area is also popular with local people who choose this place to run away from the daily turmoil and relax in a peaceful environment.

 

Kravice
Picture Credits: pixabay.com

 

If you wish to explore the nature of the mountains in Herzegovina, then the National Park Blidinje is the right choice for you. The Central Dinarides with mountains Vran and Čvrsnica show off their landscapes all year round.  People appreciate hiking combined with herb picking which has the therapeutical effect both on physical and mental health. For those who seek adventure, they will relish the idea of climbing, horse riding, or skiing during the winter days.

 

The Prozor municipality and the Rama Lake are not well acknowledged among travelers but if you are passing by on your way to Mostar, the area will amaze you with its surprising details. Rama Lake is located in Prozor Municipality, about 70 km north from Mostar. It is hidden between steep sides of mountains Raduša, Makljen, Ljubuša and Vran. They create a logical border between Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Rama Lake is an artificial accumulation lake that was built in 1968 on the Rama River. There is a road crossing the mountains, so at least, stop and observe the view. During the long winter days, ski lovers can call for an adventure on the Raduša mountain.

 

In the southern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in between Mostar and Dubrovnik in Croatia, on the 20 kilometers of the Adriatic coast, the small coastal town Neum boasts with its crystal clear water seaside and affordable vacation offers. It is usually very busy during the summer when many visitors from other towns come to spend some relaxing time with family and friends.

 

Neum
Pudelek, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Republic of Srpska

 

After the civil war in the 1990s ended, the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska. The Republic of Srpska was verified by the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995. It is situated in the northern and eastern parts of the country. The Republic of Srpska has a rich heritage and alluring nature in every part of it.

 

The administrative and educational center and the second-largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina is Banjaluka. The advancement of the city underwent many changes throughout history. It was the seat of the Turkish administration unit under the reign of famous Ferhad – pasha Sokolović and suffered a lot during the 350 years of Turkish occupation. Therefore, the city shows an imprint of that age since many legends and buildings are from this period.  After the period of Turkish occupation, the town became the capital of Vrbas Banovina under the Austro-Hungarian occupation for the following forty years. The first Ban, Svetislav Tisa Milosavljević built many buildings that have still been preserved. 

 

Banjaluka
Darko Gavric, via Wikimedia Commons

 

In 1969, Banjaluka was demolished in a strong earthquake which stopped the development of the city. Banjaluka started to rebuild but the civil war in the period from 1992 to 1995 stopped it again.

 

Today, Banjaluka has become a contemporary city that has a lot to offer to nature admirers, those who enjoy the adrenaline rush and history explorations. The Fortress Kastel was the strong army fortification but it still isn’t clear when it was built. There is some evidence that it was a Roman settlement that was used for defending from barbarian attacks. During the Turkish occupation, it was upgraded to a town with two bridges over the Rivers Vrbas and Crkvena. The Fortress has been renewed and many tourists love to walk along its walls and to enjoy music concerts during the late spring and summer days. There is also a legend about the love between a Turkish soldier serving at the Kastel fortress and a local beauty. Their love was forbidden and the soldier was sent to war where he was killed. When the girl, Safikada, found out about his death, she stood in front of the fortress canon announcing the noon, and with words “Forever faithful to you” she was killed. Her grave is placed near the fortress, reminding all lovers of their suffering for true love. Many couples come to her grave to light up the candles in memory of the love that has no boundaries.

 

Banjaluka also has many important museums that tell the history of the city. There is the National Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Puppet Museum – the only one in south-eastern Europe.

 

There are many religious objects in Banjaluka. The three biggest and the most important ones are located in the city center, built at the same distance from each other but in the same airline. There is an Orthodox church of Christ the Saviour which was first built in 1939 but it was demolished only a year later, during the Second World War. The church has been rebuilt from 1993 to 2000 at the same spot and following the same building project. There is also a modern built Catholic Cathedrale of Saint Bonaventura which was built in 1887 but it was demolished by the earthquake in 1969. It had to be completely rebuilt and it was built in the form of a tent which was a reminder of the period after the big earthquake when people lived in tents for long because they lost their homes. It wasn’t finished until 2001. The third very important religious object in Banjaluka is Ferhadija Mosque. Ferhadija Mosque was first built in 1579 when Banjaluka became the center of Bosnian Pashaluk under the rein of Ferhad – Pasha  Sokolović.  It represented one of the most important cultural and historical monuments of the Ottoman Empire and oriental culture. Ferhadija was destroyed in 1993 during the Civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has been rebuilt and finished in 2006 according to the same project it was built before.

 

The convent Marija Zvijezda (Mariastern Trappist Abbey) with a parish church is a site that doesn’t resemble anything similar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a residence of the Cistercians Trappists who were part of the 18th– century monks of the French Notre Dame de Port-du-Salut abbey. They brought many technological inventions to Banjaluka. They presented the first light bulb to Banjaluka and the secret recipe for the famous Trappist cheese. Today, only one monk keeps the secret recipe for this cheese. They also started the first brewery and the famous Nektar beer. The first hospital in Banjaluka was under their rule and today this hospital is a very important orthopedic hospital Dr.Miroslav Zotović.

 

Banjaluka is also known as a city of sports. Young people especially are active in individual and group sports bringing good sports results from many European and World competitions. Banjaluka is also a host to an International Rafting competition on the Vrbas River. The river offers conditions for competing in various disciplines on slow and fast waters.

 

Near Banjaluka, there is a place Krupa Falls that shows both the traditional culture of this region and the natural beauty of the small falls on the Krupa River. Besides the astonishing cascade waterfalls, there is a peaceful Orthodox monastery Krupa nearby. The Monastery is secluded and delights every guest with amicable simplicity.

 

Heading to the north-western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina you will find Prijedor, a small city with a great history and natural heritage. The city itself leads a calm life, without much turmoil, but the city surroundings offer a great deal of excitement. In the Prijedor area, you can find old log churches that are hidden in old oak woods of the villages Busnovi, Marićka, Omarska, Jelićka, and Rakelići. While exploring the area, you will surely notice the mountain Kozara, famous by the great battle in the Second World War. Today, on the top hill Mrakovica, there is a grandiose monument, built-in memory of the soldiers who lost their lives defending the Kozara region. The mountain is also very popular for skiing and hunting, and as well as for relaxing in the natural surroundings.

 

Prijedor
Banovic, via Wikimedia Commons

 

When talking about the Second World War, there is also the Donja Gradina memorial. Donja Gradina Memorial, together with the Jasenovac Memorial in neighboring Croatia, stands as a monument to victims killed between 1941 -1945 by Nazis. Regardless of ethnic, racial and religious confession, many Serbs, Jews, and Romes and other antifascists stood up against the nazi-regime of the then Independent State of Croatia. Today it is a very emotional reminder of the torture that people suffered and the place sends a strong message to the world that such crimes must not happen again.

 

Mrkonjić Grad is a small town in the south-western part of the Republic of Srpska. It is located around 50 kilometers from Banjaluka, surrounded by mountains Lisina, Dimitor, Čemernica, Manjača, and Ovčara – Mliništa. The rural tourism flourishes in this part of the Republic of Srpska because they have many natural resources that make them appealing to tourists from all over the world. Balkana Lake near Mrkonjić Grad is one of the most attractive places for outdoor activities. It is a secluded area near thick oak and cone forests. Lake Balkana is formed from two artificial lakes which became a natural habitat for many fish kinds. If you like nature, then the picnic area Zelenkovac is a place that you will simply love. It is situated near the Podrašnica village at the brim of the Lisina mountain. You can choose to camp here, or just stay in one of the mills that are converted to small bungalows. Zelenkovac became the eco protected zone where people enjoy the almost untouched nature. 
Mrkonjić Municipality brags also with a small touristic village Pecka. There is a spring of Sana river in the Pecka Village which contributes to experiencing the remote life of the village. The village is the host to the traditional Pecka outdoor festival which has a mission of inspiring families to gather more often outdoors. Climbing, hiking, and cycling are especially popular here where you can find the largest natural climbing area in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

Mrkonjić Grad
Lekamg, via Wikimedia Commons

 

In the central part of the Republic of Srpska, there is one of the biggest municipalities – the Teslić Municipality. It is situated in the central part of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the brim of the Borje mountain and the Usora River. Teslić is famous for the natural springs of thermal – mineral waters. Banja Vrućica is a Hotel complex in Teslić that usually accommodates people with health issues. People benefit greatly from these healing springs, especially those with cardiovascular health issues. It has also a healing effect on those who simply enjoy long walks through thick woods and the relaxation in thermal springs.

 

In the eastern part of The Republic of Srpska, there is a city Istočno Sarajevo (former Serbian Sarajevo) located in the central part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city is formed from six municipalities: Ilidža, Istočno Novo Sarajevo (East New Sarajevo), Pale, Istočni Stari Grad (East Old City), Sokolac, and Trnovo. Sarajevo as a capital city was divided after the last civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 43.8% of the old Sarajevo became part of the Republic of Srpska. Sarajevo in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has 56.2% of pre-war Sarajevo territory. Istočno Sarajevo, together with Sarajevo is surrounded by mountains Jahorina, Trebević, Romanija, and Ravna Gora with the vast area of intact nature.

 

For those who enjoy winter sports, Jahorina with its highest peak Ogorjelica at 1916 m offers a lot of activities in winter and summer as well. Jahorina was a host of the 14th Winter Olympic Games in 1984 and it welcomed the world’s best skiers in alpine disciplines. During the civil war, Jahorina was almost forgotten, but after the war years, the Tourist organization of Jahorina started offering activities on the mountain. There are great ski schools for beginners in winter, and sports terrains for soccer, basketball, volleyball, and handball which make this tourist destination favorite to sportspeople preparing for the new sports season. The mountain is also very attractive to those who enjoy recreational sports and hiking together with herb picking activities.

 

On the way from Sarajevo to Sokolac, there is one of the biggest and the most beautiful caves in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Cave Orlovača. The cave is almost 10 000 meters long, but only 2500m is explored so far. It used to be a home for generations of cave bears, but today, the only cave dwellers are bats. If you are visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina during summer months, try exploring the cave and the beautiful nature around it.

 

Orlovača
Davorin Dinic, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Foča is a municipality where nature admirers find a spot where they want to linger forever. National Park Sutjeska, Tara River Canyon, the Sand Pyramids, Perućica, there are miracles everywhere you go. And if you are on a history trail, you will be amazed that the great liberation battle of the Second World War happened on Sutjeska.  Many written documents and monuments are testimonials of the old and recent history of this area. The most imposing monument is the Memorial Complex of Battle on Sutjeska. There are also historical pieces of evidence from the Roman period, The Middle Ages, the Ottoman period since this area was a very important traveling route. That is why the place Tjentište got its name from the Latin word – “tentorium” which means tent, which implies that Tjentište was a resting place for travelers coming all over the region. The oldest and the biggest national park in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the National Park ‘Sutjeska’. The park covers the enormous area of the municipalities of Foča and Gacko.

 

The area was established as a national park in 1962 together with the last primeval forest Perućica and parts of the mountains Maglić, Volujak, and Zelengora. Perućica belongs to one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe. It is located near the border with Montenegro as a part of the National Park Sutjeska. Perućica is considered the largest preserved primeval forest reservation in Europe, hiding very old beech, fir, and spruce trees, and forest herbs. Some specimens are believed to be several centuries old reaching the height of 50 to 60 meters. Although some trees are very old, their cutting is not allowed since the forest life is encouraged to regrow by itself. In the heart of the forest, there is a 75 m high waterfall Skakavac which is the most attractive natural phenomenon, a symbol of the Perućica landscape that is both astonishing and memorable to everyone visiting. Visiting Perućica seems like an unforgettable adventure, but it can be visited only with the permission and with a professional guide.

 

A small town Pirni Do, only nine kilometers from Foča, hides a natural miracle –The Sand Pyramids. This natural wonder, resembling the shape of those found in Colorado (USA), Dolomites (ITA) or The Devil’s Town (SRB). This geomorphologic phenomenon with its interesting figures and shapes is formed by the summer heat, erosion, and soil.

 

In the eastern part of the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is a small municipality Višegrad. In spite of the small population of this area, the history and fame of it are immense. The 500-year-old  bridge over the Drina River with its eleven amazing arches inspired the Nobel prize winner Ivo Andrić to write the book titled “The Bridge on the Drina”. The Bridge with its history and stories and the Nobel winning award brought fame to the charming little town Višegrad. The Bridge was built as an endowment of the Grand Vizer Mehmed Pasha Sokolović who was the son of Orthodox parents. He was taken away from his parents and converted to Islam and raised to serve the Ottoman Empire as Janissary. When he grew up and became the powerful Grand Vizir, he ordered the construction of the bridge which even now symbolizes a masterpiece of civil engineering at that time. The bridge was built with tufa stone from the Višegrad Spa between 1571 and 1577, finalized in oriental style with 179.5 meters in length and 6.3 meters wide. Its arch rises for 15.4 meters above the water level. The Bridge is on the UNESCO list of the protected monuments and it is listed as the World’s cultural heritage in 2007.

 

Not far from the Bridge, there is a small peninsula between the Drina and Rzav Rivers, where the famous film director, Emir Kusturica, built the Andrić town. The idea of building the medieval town inspired by Ivo Andrić’s work poured into the creation of the cultural and educational complex where visitors can sense fragments of Byzantine style, Ottoman period, Renaissance and Classicism. Many famous people such as Novak Djokovic (a tennis player), Jose Mujica (former Uruguay president), Monica Belluci (an Italian actress) and many others visited this modern yet historically important town.

 

In the southern Herzegovinian part of the Republic of Srpska, there is a small municipality Trebinje. It is situated on the Trebišnjica River bragging with both stunning historical monuments and contemporary life of the present.  It is also the hinterland of the southern Adriatic coast – the hinterland of Herceg Novi (MNE) and Dubrovnik coastline (CRO) which makes Trebinje favorite resting place on the way to the seaside in Montenegro and Croatia. Trebinje has good conditions for agriculture, vineyards, and orchards because of its warm climate and abundance of sunny days (260 days), which are a great addition to the gastronomical invitation for tourists.

 

Trebinje
Picture Credits: pixabay.com

 

Traveling to and about Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

When arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina, people usually consider flying. Those who come from Europe, sometimes go by bus or a personal car instead of flying. There are airports in all bigger cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Sarajevo, Mostar, Tuzla, and Banjaluka. There are also airports in neighboring countries such as in Croatia (Zagreb and Dubrovnik airports) or in Montenegro (Tivat airport) from where you can rent a car or take a bus to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

Many bus lines connect many European cities with major cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are every day intercity lines in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska, too. The Bus ticket prices depend on the distance you travel or the Travel agency you choose.

 

Traveling by train is not very popular in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but if you choose to take the train from Sarajevo to Mostar, then you will experience a fantastic sightseeing experience, especially when reaching Mostar, near the Neretva River Valley.

 

Moving around the cities is usually easy. The city centers are great for walking or renting a bike. There are also taxi services in every town and city. The most important thing that you must remember when taking a taxi, you should ask the taxi driver to turn on the taximeter or to agree on a price in advance. If you need to reach the outskirts of the cities, maybe one of the best options is to rent a car because, by car, you can make sudden stops and just simply enjoy the view or discover interesting places that you could miss by traveling by bus. Keep in mind to stay on the regional roads, avoiding shortcuts and rural roads through woods.

 

When exploring Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is best to hire a tourist guide and to get further information at the local tourist office. Many people speak the English language and the people are great hosts who will welcome and treat everyone as a special guest.

 

Accommodation, travel expenses, and food are usually good, not pricey, and the service is very good. The official currency is The BAM or Convertible Mark and the only that can be used in Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can exchange money at exchange offices, banks or post offices.

 

If you are in case of emergency, you can reach Police at 122, Firefighters at 123 and the Ambulance at 124. To get help on the road while traveling you can reach Automobile Association on phone number 1282.
Keeping in mind common safety precautions, you will certainly enjoy this beautiful country and its uniqueness.

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