The 18 Things You Need to Know about Backpacking Bosnia Herzegovina

By on October 1, 2018 in Backpacking, BOSNIA, Budget Travel Ideas, Europe with 0 Comments

The 18 Things You Need to Know About Backpacking Bosnia & Herzegovina

The hidden gem of Bosnia Herzegovina is a budget traveller’s delight.

Snuggled in the midst of the Balkans, this country is just creeping onto the backpacker radar and as such, prices are still low, crowds are still thin and the scenery is truly spectacular.

Of course, no one can discuss visiting this country and not touch on the tragic violence and conflict that befell this nation in the nineties.

Indeed, visiting Bosnia Herzegovina does offer travellers a unique opportunity to learn more about this tumultuous time from the many people who lived through it.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, for Bosnia has some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve encountered in Europe, some of the friendliest people and some of the most delicious craft beers.

So read on to discover everything you need to know about backpacking Bosnia Herzegovina from someone whose been there, done it, LOVED it!


Related Posts

This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.


#1 Money

Bosnia, Hercegovina, Flag

The currency in Bosnia Herzegovina is the Mark – denoted by the symbol KM.

It’s benchmarked against the euro at a rate of 2 : 1, which means prices across the country are stabilised.

Many businesses in Bosnia Herzegovina only accept KM – not euros – so it’s definitely worth getting hold of some as soon as you enter the country or beforehand if you’re travelling across the border from a neighbouring nation such as Serbia.

Failing that, ATM’s are widespread in this country and accept both Visa and Mastercard.

Just bear in mind that many ATM’s will charge you a flat fee of around 5 euro per transaction to withdraw cash here.

So, if you are using an ATM, it’s worth making 1 big withdrawal, rather than lots of separate ones to avoid wasting your money!

Alternatively, hunt around until you find a bank that doesn’t charge you!

 

#2 Visas

Bosnia, Pocitelj, Me

While not yet part of the EU, and therefore the Schengen zone, those of us from countries within the EU don’t generally need visas to get into Bosnia though, of course, your passport will be stamped as a result.

For those with a Schengen visa, normally entry into Bosnia Herzegovina is accepted easily and for free at the border.

Always check your individual visas requirements before entering a county however.

 

Get Your FREE eBooklet Here
PRO TIPS FOR TRAVELLING EUROPE ON THE CHEAP

Just enter your details below and I'll email it you - simple!

Information will be sent to the email provided above

 

#3 Entry Points

I crossed into Bosnia from Serbia via a long, but very beautiful bus ride from Belgrade.

Bosnia also has land borders with Croatia and Montenegro that can easily be crossed on local buses.

Check out the great website busticket4.me to book tickets online for bus transport across the Balkans.

Otherwise, the international airport in capital Sarajevo offers international flights, although sadly they are not as cheap as we’d all hope!

You may actually be better flying to Dubrovnik, Belgrade, or Podgorica (capital of Montenegro) and then crossing into Bosnia via land.

As always, do check Skyscanner – my number 1 tool when it comes to finding cheap flights.

 

#4 When to Visit

Bosnia, Mostar, River

High season in Bosnia is during the summer season of May – September. This is when prices are highest, but weather is the best!

If you want to avoid the main crowds, then visit during the months at either side of this high season.

If you don’t want to meet any other tourists, come in the winter months, but do be prepared for rain, wind, cold and possibly snow!

 

5 ESSENTIAL PACKING ITEMS FOR BOSNIA

#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop during your Bosnia itinerary and will need a good camera to do this stunning country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!

#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in the cities of Bosnia, it’s as simple as that! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish city strollling, I love mine!

#3 Good Guidebook – I’m a massive fan of the Bradt Guidebooks when it comes to more off the beaten track spots and think their Bosnia Herzegovina edition is particularly well put together.

#4 Good Water Bottle – All that city sightseeing is thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because Bosnian tap water is drinkable… and free!

#5 Good Backpack – And to carry your water bottle, camera and guidebook, you’re going to need a decent backpack that will help you balance the weight as you walk the city streets. In my opinion you can’t go wrong with the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack, which is also perfect for helping you avoid pickpockets!

 

#5 Costs

Bosnia, Pocitelj, Fort

Even in the high summer season, Bosnia Herzegovina is still an incredibly-priced place to backpack.

Yup, one of the cheapest places in Europe, you can easily get by here on around 35 euros a day if you sleep in dorm beds and are careful with your spending.

Hostel kitchens generally mean you can cheaply prepare food and local transport costs next to nothing!

Always make sure taxis are on meters or prices are agreed in advance to avoid getting ripped off and haggle on day trip prices if you are part of a group or travelling in the offseason.

 

#6 Places to Visit

Bosnia, Mostar, Crooked Bridge

The main places to visit in Bosnia are the capital cities of the Bosnian and Herzegovinan regions respectively, namely Sarajevo and Mostar.

If you have more time, your own transport or a good sense of adventure, I’d certainly recommend visiting some places in the countryside around these cities too, where life is dramatically different and the countryside dramatically breathtaking.

 

#7 Itinerary

Bosnia, Sarajevo, Cable Car

I spent 6 days in Bosnia… and wish I’d had more time!

Here was my itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive Sarajevo, Visit City Museums, Churches and Park

Day 2: Join Sarajevo Free Walking Tour, Explore Old Part of the City, Souk and Lookout Points

Day 3: Trip to the Old Bobsleigh Track via Cable Car and Hiking

There are also many other day trips you can enjoy from Sarajevo. Learn more in my guide to this city here.

 

Day 1: Arrive Mostar, Enjoy Evening Free Walking Tour

Day 2: Get up early to snap the Stari Most Bridge without the tourists, Explore other parts of the city including Museums and Lookout Points

Day 3: Herzegovina Day Trip to Blagaj, Počitelj and Kravice Waterfalls

I absolutely loved my time in Mostar.  Discover why in my guide to this city here.

 

#8 Best Hostels

Bosnia, Backpackers, Artwork

In Sarajevo, I recommend the Doctor’s House.

I loved the slightly out of centre location of this hostel (it’s 5 minutes up the hill, but it makes it a lot quieter) and the great little kitchen. Staff were super friendly and helpful and there’s a local mini-village with many shops just 2 minutes away which is a great way to experience real Sarajevo life and buy some amazingly cheap fruit / vegetables.

In Mostar, I recommend Musala.

The gorgeous owner here, Sasa, is a wealth of local knowledge and will go out of his way to impart his top tips and recommendations, as well as help you organise onward transport and tours.

 

#9 Local Transport

Buses and trains are both common in Bosnia – especially between Sarajevo and Mostar, the main centres of tourist activity.

In fact between these 2 destinations runs, arguably, one of the most picturesque train rides in the whole of Europe and it operates twice a day.

Otherwise, local buses run more frequently between the 2 cities and can be booked either at the station or online.

I recommend busticket4.me for this purpose.

Both buses and trains are amazingly cheap  – like much of this country – but I’d suggest booking tickets at least 1 day in advance as seats do fill up.

The Sarajevo to Mostar journey takes around 3 hours by bus and the scenery is spectacular.

 

#10 Packing

Bosnia, Kravice, Waterfalls

The time of year you are backpacking Bosnia Herzegovina will greatly influence what you should pack.

Summers here can be sweltering whilst winters can bring snow.

It’s also worth noting that the climate varies quite wildly between the 2 major cities of Sarajevo and Mostar – the latter of which has a more Mediterranean climate and less harsh winters, but scorching summers.

Most of your time in Bosnia is likely to be spent sightseeing in cities, so do bring some comfortable walking shoes.

My New Balance runners were perfect for the job.

In addition, Bosnia Herzegovina boasts some amazing hiking opportunities in the Spring and Autumn, as well as excellent skiing opportunities in the winter.

Bring relevant clothing if you want to enjoy either of these pursuits.

Other top items, I’d recommend if you plan to backpack Bosnia Herzegovina include:

 

Bosnia, Mostar, Building

 

#11 SIM Cards

One great thing to know for backpackers in Bosnia is that tourist SIM cards are easy and cheap to obtain.

In fact, there are several telecommunication companies here that have designated tourist SIM packages – meaning they last for a short period of time, but are very cost effective as result.

I went with M-Tel (mostly because this was the one I found first!) and paid 10 KM (5 euro) for a 15 day SIM Card with 10GB worth of data – bargain in my book!

SIM cards are available from tobacco kiosks, but I always like to go the actual phone company shop as generally employees there speak English and can ensure your phone is set up properly with instructions in a language you can understand!

 

#12 History

Bosnia, Mostar, Stari Most

Bosnia has a fascinating, complex and scary history that travelling here allows you to learn about.

Conquered and ruled by the Ottomans for over 400 years, the influence of this Empire still exists and I found many similarities between Bosnia and Turkey, not least in the food, coffee and predominant Islamic religion.

After this, it was the turn of the Austro-Hungarians, until came of the rule of Yugoslavia and the unique brand of communism / socialism long-term leader Tito established in the Balkans.

Then, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Yugoslav Republic, disaster struck and, just as Bosnia asserted its independence as a sovereign nation, civil war ripped the country apart.

Just 23 years since the end of the conflict, the scars and memories of that time are as raw as the bullet holes still visible in many of the buildings in this nation’s cities.

Talking to those who lived through this period of violence is a priviledged way to gain a direct, albeit subjective, insight into this recent history and to shockingly realise the violence and tragedy that befall this small nation and its people.

 

#13 Culture

Bosnia, Sarajevo, Old Market

Straddling the cultural boundary between East and West, Bosnia is a rich and fascinating place to visit with influences coming from both Europe and the Middle East.

Mosques, churches and synagogues all sit within a few streets of each other in the country’s cities and the food / drink culture of Bosnia has a distinctly Turkish feel to it, thanks to the long reign of the Ottomans here.

There’s also vibrant street markets across the country that wouldn’t feel out of place in the Middle East and which jostle alongside modern shopping malls in a wonderful mix of old and new.

Having applied to become part of the EU, Bosnia is yet to gain access to this community, but there’s no doubt it’s certainly trying to head in this direction.

 

#14 People

Bosnia, Mostar, Street Art

Bosnian people are very friendly and relaxed.

If you need any help, just ask and you’re likely to find people are more than willing to point you in the right direction.

Help is especially easy to find because many people here, especially the younger generation, speak excellent English.

In general, people in Bosnia are chilled, with much time given over to drinking coffee and catching up with friends.

Bosnian people also have an amazingly down to earth culture and their ability to shrug off misfortune or laugh at the ironies of the world is brilliant!

 

#15 Language

People in Bosnia speak Bosnian.

Although they all have different names (for political reasons) it’s worth noting that Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrin etc are, essentially, all the same language – give or take a few words!

Both Latin and Cyrillic scripts are used.

 

#16 Drinks

Bosnia, Coffee, Turkish

Forget tea in Bosnia, this is the land of coffee! Hoorah!

Turkish at that!

Tap water is drinkable, bottled water is cheap and beer is good.

There’s many commercial Bosnian beers, which are super cheap to buy, and also some wonderful craft numbers that are cropping up, especially in Sarajevo.

My favourite has to be Gelender Rasta Beer, but I definitely recommend trying a few!

In particular, the Black Dog Pub in Mostar serves its own local microbrew and the Sarajevo Brewery (Sarajevska Pivara) produces its own range in a historic setting.

 

#17 Food

Bosnia, Food, Figs

Food is Bosnia isn’t the most elegant, but it is delicious, if you’re a meat-eater that is.

For us vegetarians, it’s one of the least friendly countries sadly, but the good coffee thankfully makes up for it!

Burek is popular here, as it is across the Balkans, and is essentially a savoury pastry normally filled with a) cheese, b) cheese and spinach or c) meat.

Ćevapi is the national dish of Bosnia and is comprised of small beef or lamb sausages made from grilled minced meat and served with sour cream or Kajmak (almost like a soft, tangy cheese) and onions in a kebab-like form with a flatbread folded in half.

Dolma are also popular – essentially stuffed vine leaves, but nearly always with meat – and desserts such as baklava complete the spectrum of food influences.

 

#18 Dress

While a predominantly Muslim country, dress standards in Bosnia Herzegovina are fairly relaxed and, as a female tourist, you certainly won’t have to worry about a headscarf, or about covering your shoulders or knees.

In the summer here it gets super hot, meaning during my visit in early September I wore denim shorts and singlets, which were totally fine.

Men can be equally relaxed in terms of dress.

The only exception to this is, of course, when entering some mosques.

 

PIN IT TO PINTEREST!

Have you backpacked Bosnia Herzegovina too?

What were your top tips?

If there’s anything you think I’ve missed, please do let me know in the comments below…

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

Get All the Latest From My Travel Adventures

Subscribe for FREE Here

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Top
61 Shares
Pin48
+1
Tweet
Share11
Flip