Sarajevo is a cosmopolitan and thriving capital city, and most travellers will find it difficult to imagine that the war only ended here in the mid-1990s.
The capital city of Bosnia has since been re-built and backpackers will now find inexpensive Sarajevo hostels and many things to see and do. Here are a few ideas:
The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Located in central Sarajevo, the National Museum of Bosnia offers a unique insight into the rich history of the city. Founded in 1880, the museum contains the oldest Sephardic Jewish document in the world and the Haggadah, a fourteenth-century religious text.
The Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art
The Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art was conceived during the siege of Sarajevo, and created to develop Bosnian art and further international art projects, with an impressive array of contemporary exhibits. Quick-witted travellers will realize that the museum name is an anagram of Sarajevo.
Take in the city’s stunning natural beauty and head for the Bijambare Cave. Located in the north-eastern part of Sarajevo, deep within conifer woods, lakes and meadow, Bijambare is one of five caves open to the public and is easily accessible from most Sarajevo hostels. See the natural formations such as stalactites and stalagmites or try mushroom-picking and skiing, some of the other popular pursuits at Bijambare.
For evening of culture, head to the National Theater to see a play, ballet, opera or concert at very reasonable prices. Backpackers on a budget should check beforehand for details of discounted tickets.
Sarajevo Rock Music
Before the war, Sarajevo was a haven for pop rock. Travelling rock fans can still hark back to the golden age of Yugoslav rock music by heading for the many bars that still play tracks from Bosnian rock bands, ranging from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Sarajevo Film Festival
One of the highlights of the cultural calendar in Sarajevo is the Sarajevo Film Festival. It first took place in an atmosphere of defiance during the siege of Sarajevo. It now attracts international actors, directors and industry professionals. Travellers arriving in Sarajevo for the film festival should ensure they have booked their Sarajevo hostel well in advance to ensure they are not left stranded!
Baarija Nights Festival
Summer festivals are a regular occurrence in Sarajevo, and one of the highlights is the Baarija Nights Festival. Throughout July, free music concerts, ballet performances and film screenings take place at venues across the city.
Walk through east Sarajevo to the Miljacka River, affectionately known by locals as Sarajevo’s River. Observe the scenery along the river’s banks and cross over its many bridges.
Ali Pasha’s Mosque
Sarajevo has many beautiful mosques and Ali Pasha’s Mosque, built during the Ottoman regime in the 16th century, is a must-see. Partially-destroyed during the Yugoslav war, the listed monument is styled according to Islamic architectural principles from Istanbul and has been carefully restored.