9 SECRET SIGHTS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA FROM A LOCAL'S PERSPECTIVE

by Kathi Daniela

Have you been to Bosnia and Herzegovina before, do you already know Sarajevo and Mostar and want to discover lesser-known destinations this time? Or do you like travelling off the beaten track anyway?

Then I've got something for you: 9 insider tips for Bosnia and Herzegovina (+ a bonus tip!)that I've collected over the past three years since I've been living in the capital Sarajevo.

The best insider sights in Bosnia

Of course, when travelling through Bosnia you will notice that even the highlights (with a few exceptions) are not really overcrowded. However, things are slowly getting busier here too - and some of the most beautiful sights in Bosnia and Herzegovina do have to contend with quite a few crowds during the main tourist season.

With this article, I would like to inspire you to go on a journey of discovery away from the well-known places and perhaps take some of the pressure off these hotspots. It should go without saying that you should treat nature and people in these places with respect and adhere to local rules and regulations.

But for now: Happy discovering my best Bosnia insider sights!

Instead of the waterfalls in Una National Park: hiking in Sutjeska National Park

Una National Park is of course one of the most beautiful national parks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Una River and its cascades and waterfalls are a must-see when visiting Bosnia.

However, there is also a national park that offers completely different superlatives: Sutejska National Park, the oldest in the country, is located on the border with Montenegro. Here you can hike across the border to Montenegro, to Lake Trnovačko,or explore one of the last primeval forests in Europe accompanied by a guide.

Instead of the Kravica waterfalls: Kočuša waterfall

Kravica is magical, especially in the early hours of the morning, when the masses of water look as if they have come straight out of the film Avatar. However, the waterfalls have become one of the most famous sights in Bosnia and Herzegovina - which means that, especially in summer, you can expect crowds of people shortly after they open, with many visitors not respecting the barriers, stepping on the delicate tufa rock or simply making any rel

The Kočuša waterfalls, just 20 minutes away, are just the thing. They are still a real insider tip among tourists, so you will probably mostly meet locals here who are simply enjoying nature or eating fresh fish in the restaurant next to the waterfalls.

Instead of the old bridge in Mostar: Arslanagić Bridge Trebinje

A holiday in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not complete without a visit to the old Stari Most bridge in Mostar. After all, it is the most famous of all Bosnian travel destinations - which also means that from early in the morning you have to push your way over the smooth cobblestones with numerous tour groups from Croatia and individual tourists and literally fight for a photo spot on the famous structure (or even underneath it).

The Arslanagić Bridge in the small town of Trebinje in the Mediterranean south of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a Bosnian bridge that was only denied UNESCO status due to an unfortunate circumstance. It was moved due to the construction of a reservoir - and cannot be inscribed on the World Heritage List as it is no longer in its original location. But that doesn't make it any less impressive. And as Trebinje is my favourite town in Bosnia and Herzegovina anyway, I would definitely recommend a visit!

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Instead of the Mlinčići watermills: Water mills of Krupa na Vrbasu

The 400-year-old watermills of Mlinčići are located in the immediate vicinity of Jajce - and while they are picturesquely situated next to a bubbling little stream in photos, in reality several coaches often stop at the car park just a few metres away at the same time and the pavements between the little houses are flooded with groups of tourists.

If you want to visit old water mills and maybe even buy freshly ground flour, you can also visit the water mills in Krupa na Vrbasu, which not only serve as a museum, but are still in operation!

Instead of Sarajevo's Baščaršija: Sarajevo Mahalas - the neighbourhoods on the hill

The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies in a basin surrounded by the Dinaric mountains. Space on the Miljacka River is scarce, so Sarajevo's neighbourhoods stretch up to 900 metres.

And while the old town of Baščaršija with its Ottoman influence, Austro-Hungarian heritage and its synagogue, Orthodox cathedral, Catholic cathedral and mosques is of course the symbol of multiculturalism, the mahalas are the place where it is lived in everyday life.

On the hills that surround the city, you can see how people live today, experience true hospitality and, quite honestly, see why Sarajevo, with its red roofs and green hills, is perhaps the most beautiful city in Bosnia.

🥾 Local tip:  You can also explore the mahalas on a city tour with a tour guide from Sarajevo - you'll learn a lot about the history of the city, see corners that tourists don't usually get to see and enjoy a slightly different city tour. Click here for the somewhat different walking tour in Sarajevo - an urban hike.

Instead of Lukomir: Lake Prokoško

On a road trip through Bosnia and Herzegovina, it might be on your list: The country's most remote village, Lukomir, at almost 1,500 metres above sea level. The fact that such remote places still exist in Bosnia is truly a highlight of this small country in the Balkans.

However, the small village can get pretty crowded, especially at the weekend: Hikers, motorcyclists, campers - then it's teeming and bustling. Unfortunately, during the best time to visit Bosnia's mountains, in summer, parts of Lukomir sometimes almost resemble a car park.

That's why you should definitely visit during the week (when it's even emptier, even in high season) or head straight to Prokoško Jezero. In the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the lake and the village are even higher than Lukomir, at 1,670 metres. The village can only be inhabited from early summer to early autumn. Here, on your trip to Bosnia, you can see what life was like 100 years ago - and what it will probably be like for a long time to come. 

Instead of Vrelo Bosne: Janski Otoci

Nature is never far from the cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina - a great example of this is the Vrelo Bosne Nature Park, the source of the Bosna River. But it can get really busy there, especially in summer, with picnic blanket after picnic blanket. 

You'll find plenty of unspoilt nature with far fewer crowds in central Bosnia, which boasts many rivers, canyons and forests, and the area between Jajce and Banja Luka in particular is a paradise for nature lovers.

Instead of taking the gondola to Trebević: hike to the Skakavac waterfall

Nature is perhaps the most beautiful sight in Bosnia - and when travelling through Bosnia and Herzegovina, unspoilt spots are never far away, you can even find them in the immediate vicinity of cities such as Sarajevo, whose local mountain Trebević was even the venue for the 1984 Winter Olympics.

And while Trebević is of course one of the capital's most important sights, it has long since ceased to be an insider tip. One of the places in Bosnia that is still predominantly visited by locals, however, is the Skakavac nature reserve, also just a 20-minute drive from Sarajevo.

The Skakavac waterfall plunges a spectacular 98 metres into the depths - a truly impressive sight and a natural spectacle that you can either hike to or explore on an easy 20-minute walk from a car park.

You can go on a guided hike to the Skakavac waterfall here.

Instead of the Colourful Mosque in Travnik: Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka

The Ottoman heritage is clearly visible everywhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on a tour you will be able to recognise the influences in all parts of the country. One of the most beautiful mosques in the country is certainly the Colourful Mosque in Travnik with its unique ornamentation. 

For me, however, the most beautiful place of worship is perhaps the Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka, which was destroyed during the Bosnian war and has now been rebuilt. Its ornaments, glass windows and the bright prayer room, which combines new building materials with those salvaged from the destroyed mosque, are very impressive.

Bonus: Blindinje Nature Park

Blidinje Nature Park is not an officially recognised national park, but is the result of an initiative by the people of Blidinje - which makes it even more special. The people here want to keep their nature as pristine and unspoilt as possible and have imposed rules on themselves to protect it.

In Blidinje you can go skiing in winter, hiking in summer, kayaking on the lake or stay overnight in one of the most extraordinary accommodations in all of Bosnia: A wooden barrel picturesquely situated directly on Lake Blidinje.

💡 My tip: I always book accommodation via booking.com. With Genius Level 3, I get a guaranteed discount there - up to 25 per cent for some accommodations - and sometimes there are also great extras, such as a free breakfast or upgrade. For Level 3, you have to make 15 bookings via the platform within 2 years. Level 2 is even available with just five bookings.
You can find the wooden barrel here.

Conclusion: My insider tips for Bosnia and Herzegovina

I hope this article has once again shown you a new side to Bosnia and Herzegovina and brought you closer to places that were previously unknown to you.

However, I have one request for you: while there are still many unspoilt places in Bosnia, they are fragile and can only withstand a limited number of visitors. Places like Mostar, Blagaj or Kravica are falling victim to overtourism - let's work together to ensure that the rest of the country doesn't become just as overcrowded.

This means: leave places as you would like to find them, treat people with respect, adhere to local regulations and, if you can, support local communities with an overnight stay, lunch or by buying souvenirs. Because if the local people benefit from tourism in their beautiful places, this also serves as an incentive to preserve these places.

Travel planning for Bosnia and Herzegovina made easy

💸 What currency does Bosnia and Herzegovina have?
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the convertible mark (KM for short) is used for payment. It has been the currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina since 22 June 1998 and was pegged to the German mark at a ratio of 1:1 until 2001 and to the euro since 2002. One euro is always exactly 1.95583 KM). The conversion is therefore very simple.

🇧🇦 Which language is spoken in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
The official languages of the country are Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian, but there are hardly any linguistic differences between them - I always compare them with German and Austrian. Serbian, however, uses Cyrillic letters, which can lead to confusion in the Republika Srpska part of the country. The best thing to do is to download Google Translate, which also allows you to take photos of Cyrillic menus or street signs and translate them.

💉 Do I need international health insurance for Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Absolutely! You should never, never, never travel without international health insurance. Bosnia and Herzegovina is also not in the EU, which means that your European health insurance does not not cover the country. I am always happy to recommend SafetyWingto other travellers. For less than one euro per day, you can insure yourself here and also protect yourself against the risks of extreme sports, lost luggage and other travelling ailments.

📲 Can I use roaming in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
No, as Bosnia and Herzegovina is not in the EU, your roaming package is not valid here. You can either buy a SIM card locally at a kiosk for a few marks or simply get an eSIM like Airalo, which you can even use for other countries after your trip to Bosnia. You can download the Airalo app here.

🪂 Which tour agency can you recommend for my trip to Bosnia?
Together with my Bosnian partner, I founded the boutique travel agency .Cheyf in 2022. We combined our experience in sustainable tourism in places like South Africa with our knowledge of Bosnia and the ćejf attitude to life - savouring the little moments that make life worth living. This has resulted in tours that convey sustainability, local experiences and communities and a real attitude to life. Here you can take a look at our tours and get to know .cheyf better.

🗺️ I would like to travel without a travel agency, are there any ready-made routes?
Yes! I offer an interactive travel map for the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with several ready-made itineraries and lots of restaurants and insider tips. And best of all, the map is regularly updated and expanded, so you always have the latest recommendations in your pocket. Click here for the interactive travel guide..

💦 Can I drink the tap water in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
You can drink the water in large cities without hesitation. Bottled water is recommended after heavy rainfall or flooding and in rural areas. 

🛬 Where can I find the cheapest flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina?
You can find the cheapest flights on Kiwi - there you can compare prices directly.

🏯 Where can I find the best accommodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Most accommodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including private accommodation, is often listed on Booking.com In addition to hotels, you can also book flats or guesthouses here and directly support the Bosnian population with your stay.

🛵 Where can I book a hire car for my trip to Bosnia?
I book my rental cars always on Rentalcars.com where you can choose from a variety of rental cars and compare prices. I recommend that you always book with fully comprehensive insurance. Think about packing your international driver's licence!

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

Photo of Janjski Otoci by MaksimVuleta.

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