10 reasons to fall in love with Sarajevo

July 14, 2017

When people ask me whether I liked Sarajevo I often use words such as incredible, or magical to describe the city. When people do however, ask what appealed to me in this rather unknown European capital, I often struggle with explaining why exactly did Sarajevo became one of my favorite cities in Europe.

During my three days in Sarajevo I didn't do much sightseeing. I didn't visit a single museum, eat at restaurants or buy a single souvenir - but in all honestly, I'm usually not into any of these. I spend three days wandering across the city, breathing the air of this recently war torn country, exploring the suburbs and discovering what this city really had to offer. And despite the weather not being on my side I absolutely loved it. In fact, I loved it so much that if I hadn't booked a return flight back home just a week earlier I would have probably looked for opportunities to stay in this city for a longer while in terms of hostel volunteering and such.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a fascinating country and Sarajevo is magical city. I can't give you destination guides or restaurant tips but I can present you 10 reasons why you should go to Sarajevo and why you're going to fall in love with the city.


East meets West

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a perfect blend of East and West. It is a place where cultures have collided through the history and each one has left it's mark in the city. You can spot mosques, Christian churches, European architecture and mingle your way through the Ottoman bazars in the old town - and so much more. In a world where people build walls not bridges, it's important to visit places where people from different historical and cultural backgrounds live peacefully among each other.


The architecture

Sarajevo might not beat Paris or Budapest in beauty but the whole city is filled with stunning buildings. The facades of the buildings are extremely detailed and I found the style different from the rest of the Eastern Europe. Sarajevo is the type of a city where you cannot place all the beautiful buildings in tourist maps just because there's one behind every corner. Go and explore!



The raw character of the city

Despite being filled with beautiful buildings and architecture, the overview of the city is still pretty raw. There are plenty of abandoned and destroyed buildings as well as graffiti filled walls - and I'm not talking about street art here. If you love your cities neat and clean, you might find Sarajevo sketchy but I personally loved the character that the rougher bits give to the city.


Stari Grad - The old town

I said I didn't do much sightseeing in Sarajevo but the old town was something even I couldn't skip. It's a beautiful part of the city with strong eastern vibes. Stari Grad is filled with little shops that make you feel like you've suddenly became a character of One Thousand and one Nights. It's like a different world and walking along the streets of the old twn you feel like you've gone back in time for centuries.



The atmospheric suburbs

What really hit me with Sarajevo was the fact that the city was so diverse. There was the old town with eastern vibes, the main streets filled with western architecture and then there were the suburbs that were no less attractive than the rest of the city. I wandered hours and hours in the edges of the town taking pictures on the hilly roads and trying to immerse myself in the local way of life. Just watch out for the dogs if you're heading to the suburbs! They're often unchained and rather sceptical towards outsiders.


The cemeteries

I often visit cemeteries during my travels. I know some people find cemeteries unpleasant but I find them to be a great way to learn about the local culture and their customs, especially in more exotic destinations. In countries like Bosnia, the cemeteries are very powerful reminders of the recent past which alone should be a good reason to visit to understand what the country has been through. The cemeteries in Sarajevo are also very beautiful places to go for walks!


The history

The history is present everywhere in Sarajevo and how could it not be? The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo triggered the World War I. The fall of Yugoslavia led to the Bosnian war that was fought in the 90's and the country is still recovering. The history is dark but it brings certain edge to the city. There are plenty of historical places to visit for those interested in them but you can't avoid the marks of the history by skipping museums.


The surrounding mountains

Sarajevo is surrounded by the mountains. You don't have to walk far way from the city center when the streets start to elevate and you'll find yourself walking up the hills. If you're not scared of legwork you can catch amazing views over the city from various different locations. Being surrounded by the mountains it also means that you can access nature and go hiking quite easily in Sarajevo. How would you feel about doing a hike to the the abandoned Winter Olympics venues right outside the city?


There's always something new behind the corner

Last but not least, you can wander around Sarajevo for days but you'll always discover something new and exiting. You accidentally wander into parks where people have gathered to play chess, few hours later you find a market where people are selling fresh fruit and vegetables and later during the day you find a viewpoint with insanely picturesque views across the city. Sarajevo would be a fascinating place to live just because there would always be something new to discover.

Have you been to Sarajevo or are you planning on heading there in the future?



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21 kommenttia

  1. We were in the Balkans recently-- Croatia, Montenegro, rafting in Bosnia, and a few days in Belgrade, but we didn't make it to Sarajevo. I wish we had -- it looks like a great place to visit. It's tough to get to on trains or buses from Montenegro. I am going to add this to my list of places I want to get to!

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    1. I can totally understand your struggle with trains! I went to Mostar as well an there were like two train connections out of the city daily. I wish I had made it to Montenegro on my Eastern Europe trip - it sounds like such a beautiful place to visit!

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  2. I have been to Sarajevo a few years ago and I loved it as well. I went to visit a friend so I stayed at her flat, which was in a beautiful green suburb outside the city centre. It was so interesting to explore the different architectures of the old and the new city.

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    1. That sounds perfect! I stayed right by the Stari Grad and the place was great but would have loved to live among the locals :)

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  3. I have never been to Sarajevo partly because I was haunted by its images of war in the 90s and in Cranberries' songs. However, your post has helped to change my perceptions. I love that it's a mix between East and West and that parts are not picture-perfect. I like that it's real and "raw" as you mentioned.

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    1. I'm so happy if I managed to change your perception! I feel like countries that have recently suffered from wars tend to have a pretty bad reputation but I absolutely loved the whole Balkan region. The non-picture perfect places and the mix of East and West made Sarajevo for me :)

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  4. This looks like such an interesting city. Like the commenter above, I'm haunted a bit because of the song and hearing about the war when I was little. But, I recently tried Bosnian food for the first time and it made me a bit curious about Bosnian culture!

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    1. I had actually no idea that the song was related to the war (awkward...) but yeah I can totally understand why the stories about the war would affect someone's ideas about a country! What food did you taste?

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  5. Yes, you've completely sold Sarajevo to me! This is a charming small town. I really love the beautiful architecture - both old and new. And those narrow alleyways would be lovely to explore!!

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    1. Happy to hear! Loved Sarajevo and would love more people to go there!

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  6. I've heard some good things about Sarajevo, and now I'd really like to go! The city does look very rustic and gritty, but that makes it interesting. Your photos really capture the heart of the city, great job!

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    1. Thanks a lot! Sarajevo certainly isn't the most beautiful city but it really got some history and character!

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  7. I'm not sure why, but I've always been fascinated with Sarajevo. Off-the-map cities like Ljubljana and Tallinn were some of my favourite places in Europe. I just love the alternative vibes!
    I can't wait to finally make it to Sarajevo! Especially after reading this :)

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    1. Hope you'll make it to Sarajevo one day. It's a brilliant place!

      I'm so happy that you mentioned Tallinn as off-the-map city btw! I've been visiting the city like literally every year since I was born haha :D #finnishlife

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  8. This post couldn've have come at a better time. I am looking to travel to southern Europe (Italy, slovenia and croatia) but I never really gave Sarajevo a thought. It is still a city that I havent explored to this day, which is a shame because I have spent a LOT of time in that area of Europe. I am happy to see that Sarajevo is on the up and rebuilting itself after the war in the 90s, hopefully tourism will start to bloom and more people will discover this hidden pearl.

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    1. Your trip sounds amazing! It's super easy to pop into Bosnia if you're in Croatia! Sarajevo can be a bit hard to access but you should definitely visit Mostar if you're around :) Let's hope more people will find Sarajevo soon!

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  9. I'm ashamed that I hadn't heard of Sarajevo before now; it looks incredible! The raw character is such a pull for me. I love finding graffiti and unique buildings on my travels. The old town looks lovely, too. Honestly, just wandering the city sounds like a great way to travel. Forget museums and restaurants, this is the real way to learn about a place's character. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Well, now you have ;) Completely agree with everything you said! The best travel experiences are found on the streets, not in museums!

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  10. I really love your pictures, I hadn't heard about Sarajevo before but would now love love love to visit! I love that it really does look like east meets west and the old town looks fantastic!!!

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    1. Glad that I managed to convince you, Sarajevo is incredible!

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  11. I love to read these posts about former Yugoslavian countries. It is always fascinating to see, how others feel about my home countries!

    http://lolimte.blogspot.com

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