Two historical regions united in one country, sometimes linked by a conjunction, sometimes by a hyphen: this is Bosnia and Herzegovina, or BiH, one of Europe’s emerging tourist destinations. Less than 50 km separate the beaches of southern Croatia from some of the country’s most interesting locations: why not extend your trip into undiscovered territory?
It has to be said, it is not an easy destination: the landscape is largely mountainous with winding roads often in poor condition, the accommodation simple, information on attractions and means of transport still hard to come by. But it is a beautiful destination and full of wonders, perhaps hidden among gorges surrounded by greenery, cobbled lanes of an ethnic district, towns 700 metres above sea level or around the corner of an anonymous district of depressing socialist architecture.
Things are set to change for the better: in 2019, the well-known guidebook publisher Lonely Planet included Bosnia and Herzegovina in its ‘Best in Travel‘ list, recommending it as one of the most interesting new destinations. With the global tourism spotlight on this land, it is likely to experience the same tumultuous development that has made Croatia a top summer holiday destination in just a few years.
Visit it now, still authentic and genuinely hospitable, and you will have the exciting experience of exploring a land that is a surprising mix of vitality and melancholy, beauty and decadence.
Do it with the right frame of mind: deeply scarred by a war too recent not to darken the face of those who tell it, Bosnia-Herzegovina should be visited with open eyes and an open mind and the desire to discover a country so close to us yet about which we still know so little.
The best months to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina are May, June and September when temperatures allow you to stay outdoors without suffering. This is the best time not only for visiting museums and monuments but also for trekking.
In the autumn and even more so in winter, temperatures are very cold and from November to March, snowfalls are generally heavy, especially in the Sarajevo area; the climate is slightly better in the Mostar plain, where temperatures are mitigated by the proximity to the sea. If you like snow-covered landscapes or winter sports, February and March are an ideal time to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Summer is also characterised by extreme temperatures, with peaks of 35° or even 40° in the hottest hours. Evenings, however, are generally cool, so remember to bring some heavier clothing to go out after the sun goes down.
Always carry an umbrella with you as well, because rainfall, although less frequent in summer, is distributed throughout the year.
There are three international airports in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja Luka).
It is also possible to reach Bosnia-Herzegovina by car: Medjugorje and Mostar can be reached by motorway. Getting to Sarajevo by car is a bit more complicated because the city is squeezed between the mountains of the Dinaric Alps and some parts of the road are winding.
Although a small country, Bosnia and Herzegovina is rich in scenic beauty and historical and cultural attractions. Start your exploration of this little-known but fascinating country with these three must-see destinations.
Everyone remembers Sarajevo as the most martyred city of the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, but justice must be done to this city where for centuries different cultures and peoples coexisted without any separation or hatred, presenting it for what it really is: a multicultural city, an ideal bridge between East and West.
True, the memory of the war is too recent for the wounds to be completely healed, as you will easily realise when you visit the museums, memorials, underground tunnels and other symbolic places of the war: a trip to Sarajevo is inevitably an experience that invites reflection.
But on the streets of Sarajevo you can also come across signs of liveliness, cultural ferment and optimism: you can visit beautiful Catholic churches, Orthodox churches, synagogues and mosques, sip coffee and Turkish sweets or typically Balkan grilled meat, stroll along modern boulevards lined with shops.
Inevitably you will end up falling in love with the locals – welcoming, funny and witty.Read more
It is unfortunate that even the name Mostar immediately conjures up terrible images of death and destruction. For everyone, the second Bosnian city is still that of the destroyed bridge, the beautiful Old Bridge that connects the two banks of the Neretva River and the two communities, Catholic and Muslim, that have coexisted peacefully for centuries.
The iconic bridge was rebuilt faithfully respecting the medieval structure and using stones extracted from the same quarry as the original ones. Surrounded by greenery, the city is an enchantment; its small historic centre – a real gem – holds a surprising number of attractions: museums, mosques, markets, elegant Ottoman mansions and, of course, bridges.
Let yourself be enraptured by the magical atmosphere of Mostar, its subtle melancholic vein and romantic glimpses, the daring of the young people who dive into the river from a bridge more than 20 metres high, and the small lights of the taverns and bars that, like so many small stars, illuminate the city night.Read more
Why a small, quiet mountain town with no particular attraction is able to attract crowds of thousands is quickly explained: in 1981, Our Lady appeared in a vision to six children in Medjugorje, presenting herself to them as the Queen of Peace.
In just a few years since that episode, Medjugorje has become one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Europe, visited by people hoping for a miraculous healing (on a par with Lourdes and Fatima), fervent devotees and the merely curious.
Everything that revolves around Our Lady of Medjugorje – holy sites, organised tours, pilgrim pensions, souvenir stalls – is a mix of religious faith and kitsch folklore.Read more
The flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of a yellow triangle on a bright blue background with a strip of white five-pointed stars along the hypotenuse of the triangle.
The triangle alludes to the shape of the country, blue, yellow and white are colours traditionally associated with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the stars represent Europe.
The current flag came into force in 1998.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is not part of the European Union, so to pay, it is necessary to change euros into local currency.
The official currency is the Bosnian mark, also known as the convertible mark, abbreviated to KM; the abbreviation in exchange offices is BAM. One Bosnian mark is equivalent to about 0.51 euro.