RAMADAN IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR PLANNING YOUR TRIP

by Kathi Daniela

I was excited when I experienced my first Ramadan in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2022: What would it be like? My husband had often told me about the festive atmosphere, the streets bustling with people after sunset, the fairy lights, the special dishes and the Iftar dinners together under the stars. In short, I couldn't wait!

So what is it like to experience Ramadan in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in Sarajevo? And what do you have to consider as a traveller? In this article, I summarise all the important information for your travel planning – so that you can experience Ramadan in Sarajevo too!

Ramadan 2023: 23 March 2023 to 20 April 2023

Ramadan: What does the month of fasting mean to Muslims around the world?

Most of us are probably familiar with the month of Ramadan—during my school years, I had a few classmates who fasted. However, Ramadan is not just a month of fasting. However, many people still don't know what Ramadan means for Muslims – I learned a lot about it here last year too!

Ramadan is an integral part of the Muslim faith, The month it is not only about fasting and purifying the body by abstaining from food, but also about clearing the mind. To reflect on oneself and one's fellow human beings, to do good for the community, and to pause and to look inwards.

I was not aware of this, but like the pre-Christmas season, Ramadan is very festive and not necessarily characterised by fasting only. After sunset, people eat together with family or friends, there are numerous events and special dishes that are only prepared during Ramadan.

The holy month of fasting ends with Bajram (also called "Eid"), which is celebrated together with the family. On Bajram, traditionally the younger family members visit the older family members, there is a lot of laughter, of course good food and children receive small gifts—mostly money.

The daily fast is traditionally ended with a date and a sip of water

Ramadan in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Are there any restrictions and what do I need to bear in mind?

First of all, if you have taken a holiday to Bosnia and Herzegovina and now realise that you are there during Ramadan, don't panic: Ramadan will at best enrich your trip! You do not have to expect any restrictions.

Everyday life in Bosnia and Herzegovina during Ramadan

Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a Muslim country. In fact, only about 50 per cent of the country's inhabitants are Muslim. This means that many people do not fast at all.

So life on the streets goes on as normal, shops, and restaurants are open. Only some close during the day, for example when the owners are fasting. As a tourist, however, you will not be confronted with locked shopfronts. You can also eat and drink normally in public. 

Ramadan is a very festive month. In larger cities and also in the capital Sarajevo, you will see decorations and fairy lights, and at sunset a small fireworks display.

Is it quieter than usual in cities like Sarajevo during Ramadan?

During the day, believers who are fasting don't go out as much. This can make the city a little more quiet than it normally is. But the streets get busy after dark. The atmosphere is very festive, people enjoy the spring weather, eat together and in the evening you can walk through the streets and enjoy the atmosphere.

Sarajevo's streets after sunset

Ramadan in Sarajevo: Traditions, events & restaurants

A special Ramadan experience in Sarajevo: Watching the sunset together

It is a centuries-old tradition in Sarajevo: at the moment of sunset, when the fast can be broken, a cannon shot is fired from the yellow fortress. You can experience this special moment every day during the fasting month together with many believers and tourists.

The yellow fortress, Zuta Tabija, is freely accessible. Already an hour before sunset it slowly fills up with spectators, many have already brought food to enjoy the sunset there with their iftar dinner.

A very special moment: After the sound of the cannon, all the minarets in the city light up and the call to prayer echoes through the valley. You should not miss this moment!

Breaking the fast during Ramadan: What is traditionally eaten in Sarajevo?

If you are in Sarajevo during Ramadan, you will notice queues of people, sometimes hundreds of meters long, waiting patiently for bread. Wait, bread? That's right! Somun bread, in which cevapcici are also served in Sarajevo, is prepared with cumin for Ramadan – a very special version of flat bread that simply belongs on every iftar table. The smell of the bakeries wafts through all the alleys of the city from late afternoon onwards. Topa is often eaten with the Somun—a creamy, fatty and filling dish that is only cooked for Ramadan. Every family has its own recipe. Topa consists of cheese, milk, butter, and cream. 

If you want to experience breaking the fast, you can book a table at a restaurant for an iftar meal and break the fast together with the devout Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A classic iftar menu has three courses: a starter, a main course and a dessert. The fast is traditionally broken each evening with a date and a sip of water. This is followed by soup and topa, with the main course and dessert to follow. This is accompanied by tea and lemonade - alcohol is taboo during Ramadan.Even many Bosniaks who do not fast at least do so during the four weeks.

Restaurant recommendations: Iftar dinner in Sarajevo

Almost all restaurants in Sarajevo offer iftar menus during Ramadan, and you are spoilt for choice: Bosnian or international cuisine? Rustic or fine dining? Here are a few restaurants that I always enjoy visiting—with or without an iftar menu:

Restoran Dzenita | traditional Bosnian restaurant. Here you can enjoy a very classic iftar menu 

Vidikovac Zmajevac | A restaurant with a great view over the city. An iftar menu at sunset is also a feast for the eyes here

Mrvica Sarajevo | Located in the city centre and stylishly furnished, Mrvica is perfect if you want to stroll through the streets afterwards.

Bašča kod Ene | Perhaps the best Bosnian restaurant in town also offers an iftar menu. Here you will be spoiled with excellent Bosnian cuisine.

Pizzeria Maslina | If you're a bit out of the city centre, this pizzeria is a good place to go.

Fan Ferhatovic | A classic of Bosnian cuisine. This restaurant is rustic and traditional

Baoli | Fine dining and Ramadan can be combined—this Italian restaurant in the diplomatic district of Bjelave know how it's done

Kuchen als Nachtisch zum Iftar-Menü
Somun mit Kreuzkümmel, das mit Topa gegessen wird

In conclusion: Visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina during Ramadan is worthwhile!

As a tourist, you will have almost no restrictions during Ramadan in Bosnia and Herzegovina, not even in the predominantly Muslim parts of the country. On the contrary, visiting the country during Ramadan gives you the unique opportunity to dive deeper into the culture and history of the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and this small but incredibly diverse country.

I am looking forward to my second Ramadan here and hope if you are here during the fasting month you will have many wonderful and festive experiences!

Reiseplanung für Bosnien-Herzegowina leicht gemacht

💸 Welche Währung hat Bosnien und Herzegowina?
In Bosnien und Herzegowina wird mit Konvertibiler Mark (kurz KM) bezahlt.  Seit dem 22. Juni 1998 ist sie die Währung von Bosnien und Herzegowina und war bis 2001 im Verhältnis 1:1 an die Deutsche Mark gekoppelt, seit 2002 an den Euro. Ein Euro ist immer exakt 1,95583 KM). Die Umrechung ist also super einfach.

🇧🇦 Welche Sprache wird in Bosnien und Herzegowina gesprochen?
Offizielle Sprachen des Landes sind Bosnisch, Serbisch und Kroatisch, die sich jedoch sprachlich kaum unterscheiden – ich vergleiche sie immer mit Deutsch und Österreichisch. Serbisch benutzt allerdings die kyrillischen Buchstaben, was im Landesteil Republika Srpska zu Verwirrung führen kann. Am besten, du lädst dir Google Translate herunter, damit kannst du auch Fotos der kyrillischen Menüs oder Straßenschilder machen und sie so übersetzen lassen.

💉 Brauche ich eine Auslandskrankenversicherung für Bosnien-Herzegowina?
Unbedingt! Nie, nie, nie solltest du ohne Auslandskrankenversicherung verreisen. Bosnien und Herzegowina ist außerdem nicht in der EU, das heißt, deine deutsche Krankenversicherung deckt das Land nicht mit ab. Ich empfehle anderen Reisenden immer gerne SafetyWing. Für weniger als einen Euro pro Tag kannst du dich hier versichern und dich zusätzlich noch gegen die Risiken von Extrem-Sportarten, verlorenem Gepäck und anderen Reisewehwehchen absichern.

📲 Kann ich europäisches Roaming in Bosnien und Herzegowina nutzen?
Nein, da Bosnien und Herzegowina nicht in der EU ist, gilt dein Roaming-Paket hier nicht. Du kannst dir entweder vor Ort am Kiosk für ein paar Mark eine SIM-Karte kaufen oder dir einfach eine eSIM wie Airalo holen, die du nach deiner Bosnien-Reise sogar für andere Länder auch nutzen kannst. Hier kannst du die Airalo-App herunterladen.

🪂 Welcher Tour-Anbieter ist für meine Bosnien-Reise empfehlenswert?
Zusammen mit meinem bosnischen Partner habe ich 2022 die Boutique-Reiseagentur .Cheyf gegründet. Unsere Erfahrungen aus dem nachhaltigen Tourismus in Orten wie Südafrika haben wir mit unserem Wissen über Bosnien und dem Lebensgefühl ćejf vereint – die kleinen Momente zu genießen, die das Leben lebenswert machen. So sind Touren entstanden, die Nachhaltigkeit, lokale Erlebnisse und Communitys und ein echtes Lebensgefühl übermitteln. Hier kannst du dir unsere Touren ansehen und .Cheyf besser kennenlernen.

🗺️ Ich möchte ohne Reiseagentur reisen, gibt es vorgefertigte Routen?
Ja! Ich biete eine interaktive Reisekarte für ganz Bosnien und Herzegowina an, mit mehrere vorgefertigten Reiserouten und jeder Menge Restaurants und Geheimtipps. Und das Beste: Die Karte wird regelmäßig erweitert und ergänzt, das heißt, du hast immer die aktuellsten Empfehlungen direkt in der Westentasche. Hier geht’s zum interaktiven Travel Guide.

💦 Kann ich das Leitungswasser in Bosnien und Herzegowina trinken?
Das Wasser in großen Städten kannst du bedenkenlos trinken. Nach starken Regenfällen oder Überschwemmungen sowie in ländlichen Gebieten wird abgefülltes Wasser empfohlen. 

🛬 Wo finde ich die besten Flüge nach Bosnien und Herzegowina?
Die günstigsten Flüge findest du auf Kiwi – dort kannst du direkt Preise vergleichen.

🏯 Wo finde ich die besten Unterkünfte in Bosnien und Herzegowina?
Die meisten Unterkünfte in Bosnien und Herzegowina, auch private Unterkünfte, werden oft auf Booking.com eingestellt. Hier kannst du neben Hotels also auch Wohnungen oder Gasthäuser buchen und mit deinem Aufenthalt dort direkt die bosnische Bevölkerung unterstützen.

🛵 Wo kann ich einen Mietwagen für meine Bosnien-Reise buchen?
Auf Rentalcars.com kannst du aus einer Vielzahl von Mietwagen wählen und Preise vergleichen. Ich empfehle dir, auf jeden Fall mit Vollkaskoversicherung zu buchen. Der deutsche Führerschein ist gültig, du brauchst also keinen internationalen Führerschein einzupacken.

TRANSPARENCY: AFFILIATE LINKS

This blog article contains personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, I receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. Thank you for your support!

Have you been to Belgrade? If so, how did you like it? Do you have any additional tips or experiences? I look forward to reading about it in the comments!

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