For most people, Bosnia isn’t exactly the first place they imagine when they hear the word ‘oasis’. At this point in time, many seasoned travelers don’t even know it exists. Luckily I stumbled upon a blog post about this gem and it opened my eyes to the best kept secret of Europe. Here are some reasons why YOU need to see this place before the rest of the world discovers this hidden treasure.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has an immense cultural history. They can trace permanent human settlement back to the Neolithic age (10,200 B.C.-2,000 B.C.), established the first Independent Banate, were part of the Ottoman Empire and Yugoslavia, and just recently ended the Bosnian War (unfortunately killed over 100,000 people) in 1995. There is so much to learn about, that visiting there will only scratch the surface.
Beautiful Landscape and scenery with tons of ACTIVEities to do- When I first heard of Bosnia I had no idea what it looked like. I imagined a dangerous war-torn area, and could not have been further from the truth. Bosnia is a country full of striking mountains, gushing waterfalls, and rivers the color of emeralds. If you have ever heard of Plitvice Lakes, Croatia- there are many similar locations offering incredible waterfalls that you can even swim in, something you cannot do in Plitvice. The mountainous Bjelašnica area has the highest summit at 2067 meters. There are plenty of off road activities to do here such as ATV rentals, white water rafting, and hiking. This country is the definition of serene.
Mostar is Charming! If you search for images of Bosnia, the most common one you will see is the Mostar Bridge located in Mostar. It dramatically stands as a sign of hope for the Bosnians as it connects two parts of the city. This was originally built in the 1500s but was destroyed in the Yugoslavian War. The medieval charm of the bridge extends well into the city and surrounding areas, and it is very hard to picture as a war-torn stretch of land.
The Capital’s Fascinating History- Sarajevo’s history is one of the most interesting tales I have ever heard. The city is still recovering from the war, with bullet holes and other damage scattered around, but artists have started adding an artistic twist to the damage. Where mortars exploded, they have painted roses on the sidewalk to fill in the explosive scar. Artists also decorate bullet shells and bomb casings. When you go, be sure to visit the Tunnel of Hope, which was an underground route from one side of the city to the other used during the war. Fun Fact: the assassination of Austrian Archduke Fran Ferdinand took place here, but don’t worry- it is now a very peaceful place. The deserted 1986 Winter Olympics locations stand as a somber reminder of what the country went through.
There are also many old-fashioned villages to get lost in. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped foot in a time machine, and magically ended up in one of the world’s most beautiful locations.
The people are known to be very friendly- Although I have not visited this country (yet), there are many tales of Bosnians giving the shirt off their back to complete strangers. They don’t speak much English, but they are very willing to accommodate your needs while participating in language barrier charades. They are warm, hospitable and treat you as if you are a local too.
Food here is a meat lover’s paradise. One of their popular dishes is Cevapi, a flavored kebab dish with tons of traditional toppings. It can be found in many places in the Balkans. Be warned, it is very difficult for a vegetarian to travel around this area. Mostly all of the dishes include meat.
It’s so CHEAP! If you’re used to the currencies of Western Europe, you’re used to being broke after most of your trips. Don’t even get me started on the cost of travelling in the Nordic countries. You can buy a full meal with a couple of beers and it will come out to about $12 USD. You could easily get by with accommodation, meals, and transportation for less than $60 per day.
It stimulates their recovering economy! Due to the rocky past, each time I mention wanting to visit Bosnia I am warned by cautious friends not to travel there. Why is this? Many people are misinformed or ignorant to the current situation. Tourism is picking up, and it is a very safe area. When you visit you are paving a road inspiring other people to visit as well. This will help the incredible country rebuild to its highest potential.