For a capital city, it’s amazing how small a city can be… yet have so many amazing things to do there!
Yes the capital of Bosnia Hercegovina is more like a charming provincial town than a bustling metropolis and pretty much sums up the whole vibe in this country.
Quaint, full of character, culturally fascinating and with an important history (both old and recent), Bosnia is a must on any eastern Europe itinerary.
Many friends who’d been there before told me I was going to love it… and they were right!
And top of the Bosnia itinerary list, is Sarajevo – a must-see during your time in this country and a great place to start your travels.
Oh, and did I mention it’s insanely cheap too?
What more encouragement do you need people, check out the 15 amazing things to do in Sarajevo and get ready to add this city to your bucket list asap!
- Top 3 Eastern Europe Itineraries
- How to Visit Dubrovnik for Under 80 Euros
- 18 Things to Know About Travel in Bosnia Herzegovina
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 Join a Walking Tour
This is always a must for me when I get to a new city, especially in Europe, but in Sarajevo – if you’re keen to understand the recent history and story of this city – it’s even more important.
Running daily, both in the morning and evening during high season, any one of the free walking tours here will provide a great introduction to this city, helping you to understand it a little more.
And of course, they’ll cost you nothing except a show of your appreciation at the end.
Just ask at your hostel for the latest info on where they depart from and when.
Otherwise, if you want a more in-depth tour, this full day Sarajevo guided excursion essentially combines 3 tours in 1. It covers the length and breadth of the city and includes a guide, transport, traditional lunch, Bosnian coffee and entrance tickets to 4 key attractions.
#2 Drink Coffee
And talking of caffeine, I couldn’t go further in this article without letting you know how much Bosnians love a good coffee… which is also paired enthusiastically with a good chat!
As such, sampling this time-old combination in their capital is definitely one the best things to do in Sarajevo and a key way to get into the culture of this country.
Turkish-stly coffee is the order of the day here and there’s plenty of spots in the city’s Old Town that can serve you up a good one for next to nothing – just head wherever the local crowds are.
Otherwise, if you’re looking an espresso style coffee, then the Ministry of Cerjf is one of the most delightful cafes I found in the whole of this country and is well worth checking out with its cute décor and outdoor mini-deck.
#3 Down a Beer at Sarajevsko Brewery & Museum
Located near the southern banks of the river, the iconic brewery of the capital is where the local stuff gets produced and heading here to sample some Bosnian beer is definitely one of the best things to do in Sarajevo.
As well as a fascinating place to wander, and a great place to have a drink – especially in the evening – the Sarajevsko Brewery also has a fascinating history thanks to the natural spring below it, which allowed thousands of local people to survive when this city was under siege during the recent war.
Founded in 1864, production didn’t stop during the conflict in the 90’s, and you can learn all about why in the onsite museum, which is open 10am – 6pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
And Bosnia being Bosnia, the beers here are wonderfully cheap too!
#4 Wander the Old Town
And it’s not just a coffee you should enjoy in the Old Town of Sarajevo.
Nope, these cobbled streets are also worth a morning of your wandering time as you head into the souks and down winding lanes to find yourself in the heart of what was once a key trading point in the Ottoman Empire on the way to Constantinople.
Originally, each street was given over to the stores of a particular trade and, in part, this still remains, with the copperwork stalls still having an especially strong presence.
However now the stalls are interspersed with cafes and restaurants, making this a great place to unwind over some delicious Bosnian food as well as do some souvenir shopping.
Despite being the heart of the tourist quarter, tons of locals still eat here too – so follow them to the best spots, or check out the amazing Snack Falafel cafe – I was in Middle Eastern heaven when eating here!
#5 Take in the Best Viewpoints
Another one of the must-do things in Sarajevo is to hike up above the city to take in some of the best views of this lovely capital
The Yellow Bastion is the one closest elevated spots to the city centre and is well worth the walking up to enjoy gorgeous views over the whole valley – especially at sunset.
There’s even a nice café up here if you want to enjoy a drink or just some great walls to sit on with a picnic.
Otherwise, slightly further away are the White Fortress and Biban’s Restaurant – both worth a look for the view too.
#6 Visit the Old Olympic Bobsleigh Track
It’s probably one of the quirkiest things I got up to in Eastern Europe and it sounds like a bit of a strange attraction, but visiting the old Bobsleigh Track situated in some parkland in the hills above Sarajevo is definitely one of the most amazing things to do in this city on the cheap.
If you’re on a super tight budget, the multi-hour hike up here is the way to go (just set out early in summer before it gets too hot).
Otherwise, if you can stretch to a few dollars, the cable car ride from the streets of Sarajevo up the hill provides insane panoramic views and is a lot of fun.
Once at the top, you can walk the now empty and overgrown Bobsleigh track.
Originally built for the 1984 Winter Olympics which took place in Sarajevo – it’s a stark reminder of how this city was before the conflict heralded by the break-up of Yugoslavia.
Walking in and around the abandoned race track is quite the novel experience and with some good views of the city, some lovely forest vibes and a cable car ride or hike thrown in, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
If you want to take a guided tour of the area, then check out this full day Sarajevo guided excursion which includes it as a stop.
#7 Stoll River and Bridges
Set on the banks of a flowing river, no trip to Sarajevo is complete without strolling the water’s edge here to take in the lovely views of all the red-roofed buildings and pretty bridges.
Small street stores line part of the river, where you can find a cheap coffee, or else enjoy some of the street art, as well as the spot where Franz Ferdinand was shot dead – kicking off the whole of World War I.
Learn more about what happened in Bosnia’s most recent conflict here too, as well as in the country’s second city of Mostar, which I highly recommend visiting for a few days too.
If you’re short on time, you can also take a day tour to Mostar from Sarajevo – like this top-rated option.
If you’re looking to branch out even further in this country, then check out these 17 best places to visit in Bosnia Herzegovina or why not consider this top-rated tour, which will take you from Sarajevo to explore Central Bosnia, including the towns Jajce (with its beautiful waterfall) and Travnik (with its amazing fortress).
#8 Explore the Religious Buildings
A city that celebrates its mix of religions, Sarajevo is awash with different spiritual buildings and exploring this diversity is definitely one of the best things to do here.
From the city Synagogue (now eerily quiet) to the Gazi-Husrev Beg Mosque, the Sacred Heart Cathedral and the large Serbian Orthodox Church, there’s a lot of history here to learn about when you visit these different spots.
Often known as the city where east meets west, for me, the specialness of Sarajevo (in fact the whole of Bosnia) lay largely in precisely this diversity which still feels very present.
Learning about the history of this country (and piecing together different parts of the puzzle I’ve learnt from travelling elsewhere in eastern Europe and the Middle East) was a very enriching experience.
#9 Check Out the Sunday Flea Market
No time in an eastern European capital is worth its weight without visiting at least one market! And the Sunday flea market is absolutely one of the best things to do in Sarajevo.
Set a little out of the Old Town centre, it’s easy to walk here or catch a cheap cab as it runs from 7 am-12 pm weekly.
If you’re not here on a Sunday, then some of the local suburbs around the Old Town have daily markets or, at the very least, visit one of the very local and cheap independent grocery stores that provide plenty of character, as well as deliciously well-priced fresh produce.
Yes if you’re into your fresh fruit and veg as much as I am – Bosnia is heaven!
#10 Discover Hilltop Suburbs
If you hadn’t worked it out already, then let me fill you in now… Sarajevo is one heck of a hilly city!
Beating even Porto and Lisbon in terms of steep ascents, the advantages to the calf workout is, of course, the views and Sarajevo has a ton of hilltop suburbs you shouldn’t miss out on.
And my favourite of these has to be Bjelave set just above the former great hostel that was The Doctor’s House (sadly closed now, but it used to be located at Pehlivanuša 67, Sarajevo 71000).
But just about any of this city’s hilltop spots are perfect places to wander and get lost in as provide you with a ton of very authentic experiences away from the main tourist crowds.
Just bring some decent walk shoes and a sense of adventure as you wander traditional streets, passing local cafes, shops and homes as you go.
#11 Amble to Korvaci Street
But if you’re not feeling up to the hills, then don’t fret, Korvaci Street is a good alternative that provides a decent dose of local Bosnian life without wandering too far from the city centre.
I loved the cute cafes and fun-looking shops on this street, which lies just up from the so-called Sebijl & Pigeon Square (no prizes for guessing how it got this name!)
Definitely one of the best things to do in Sarajevo, visiting Korvaci Street is another cheap activity that will give you a great feel for the city without costing the earth.
#12 Try Local Food
You can’t come to Sarajevo and not sample some of the local cuisine, which typifies the city’s East meets West feel of this city
If you like Turkish food, you’ll be in heaven here, and while vegetarians might not have the easiest ride, you’ll always find a spinach / cheese burek to help you through!
Desserts are also big and cevapi are the order of the day.
But best of all for me, was the ton of fresh fruit and veggies, which were all crazy cheap and no doubt organic – grown in a world where the use of pesticides still isn’t common practice, hoorah!
#13 Sample the Fresh Fruit Market
And talking of fresh fruits and veggies, sampling some at the fresh fruit market is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Sarajevo.
The one closest to the centre is called Markale Open-Air Market and is located only a short walk from the Eternal Flame – Vjecna Vatra.
#14 Relax in Central Park
And after all that eating, it’s time to relax on a nice patch of grass – preferably in the sunshine.
And what better spot than in Sarajevo’s Central Park.
This place really is the perfect people-watching spot and the ideal antidote to all that steep hill walking!
#15 Choose A Museum
You could go to town, literally, checking out all the museums, galleries, exhibitions halls and cultural spaces there are in Sarajevo, but if you’re on a budget (or a quick timeframe) it’s probably best to limit yourself.
So my top pick has to go to the Galerija 11/07/95 Srebrenica Exhibit.
Incredibly powerful and hard-hitting, it bears witness to one of the most horrific events of this country’s civil conflict.
The brilliant Tunnel Museum is another good one and a visit here is included in this fantastic Bosnian & Yugoslav Wars Tour, which gets great reviews!
Mini Travel Guide to Sarajevo
When to Visit Sarajevo?
No question in my mind that you should definitely visit Bosnia during the summer season.
This will allow you to get the most from the country’s lovely countryside setting because, let’s face it, Europe is exponentially more beautiful when the sun shines!
Just beware that the seasons in this country are quite extreme, so summer days in August can reach well into the high thirties and winters can often be below freezing – pack accordingly!
How to Travel to Sarajevo?
There are many direct flights available into Sarajevo’s international airport, although sadly I’ve not found many to be that cheap.
My go-to for bagging a cheap flight, check out Skyscanner to compare hundreds of different airlines and grab the best deal.
I travelled to Sarajevo from Belgrade and used an excellent bus service to make this twisty-turning mountain journey.
Regular buses uses also run from Mostar and Dubrovnik.
Check out Busbud – a great website that allows you to compare and book journeys in English.
Where to Stay in Sarajevo?
And when it comes to the best hostel in Sarajevo, look no further than Infinity Boutique Hostel.
Situated just slightly up the hill from the city’s main Cathedral and Square, this is a gorgeous homely place, with super friendly staff and a great guest kitchen.
I liked the short walk to get here from the centre too as it gave me the perfect opportunity to experience something other than downtown Sarajevo and to get a feel for a real local suburb.
If you’d prefer a bit more comfort then the Hotel Family Sarajevo comes highly recommended, otherwise for self-catering accommodation, this entire apartment in the city centre is top-rated and a great find!
Top Day Trips from Sarajevo
It’s not just Jajce and Travnik that make for a great Sarajevo day trip, the nearby Skakavac Waterfalls, Goat’s Bridge, mysterious pyramids and bizarre bunkers are all worth some of your time too!
Don’t miss then if you’re looking for some extra fab things to do in Sarajevo.
5 Packing Essentials for Sarajevo
#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop during your Sarajevo itinerary and will need a good camera to do this quirky 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 city of Sarajevo, it’s as simple as that! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish city strolling, 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 Hercegovina edition is particularly well put together.
#4 Good Water Bottle – All the city sightseeing is thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because Sarajevo 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 past the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack, which is also perfect for helping you avoid pickpockets too.
Travel Insurance for Bosnia
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Travel Money in Bosnia
When it comes to paying for things in Sarajevo, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise Card away with me wherever I travel.
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card here… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold!
Get yours here.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
So there you have it, the 15 most amazing things to do in Sarajevo.
Have you been to this gorgeous city before?
Did you love it just as much as me?
What was your favourite thing to do there?
Tell me all in the comments box below…