The series “Holiday like a local in…” aims to show you a destination through the eyes of locals living in any European city. Discovering a place’s hidden spots, the things that are not included in any guide book, and the charming cafes with amazing views or the best known sights from a different angle are just a glimpse of what locals can show you. Check out the posts from Lisbon, London, Mostar, Barcelona and Sofia.
Today we are going to explore the beautiful city of Sarajevo through the eyes of an expat – Hannah, who is actually from Nottingham but choose to spend the past six years visiting Sarajevo. Check out here insider tips and enjoy Sarajevo!
#1. Please, introduce yourself, your blog and the city you live in!
Hello, I’m Hannаah and I founded the Visit Sarajevo website last autumn as a travel resource for others keen to explore Sarajevo, Bosnia, and its surrounding countries. I am actually from Nottingham, England, but have spent the past six years visiting Sarajevo and I lived there for a year in 2011. I chose to focus on Sarajevo, as that is the city that stole my heart way back in 2009.
More and more people are realising that Bosnia and the Balkans is a safe and beautiful place to visit, but information is still hard to come by. In May we will be launching a travel planning service, to save people the hassle of extensive research and create tailored holidays just for them.
#2. What do you love the most about Sarajevo?
The people! I have met so many fantastic people here. The first question I was asked by a local was ‘why are you visiting Sarajevo?’. The residents are still perplexed as to why travellers want to explore their little city. Once they realise your reasons are genuine, they will go above and beyond to help you out.
#3. What are your favorite local meals?
Could there be anything more local to Sarajevo than Sarajevski Sahan (a mix of stewed veg stuffed with mince, and potato) with a dollop of kajmak followed by a bottle of Sarajevsko Pivo? When I first came to Bosnia I was still pescatarian. I was put off meat after spending five years eating steak and bbq in South Africa as a teenager. However, once I came to live in Sarajevo I had to learn to love meat again. It had to be the best place in which to do so, too! The food is definitely influenced by Bosnia’s Ottoman past, and makes full use of all the fresh produce; almost everything is organic.
#4. What’s the best place to have breakfast?
Buregdžinica Bosna is situated in the middle of the old town and serves the best pita. You can choose from burek (meat), sirnica (cheese), krompiruša (potato), or zeljanica (spinach and cheese). I recommend the cream drizzled on top and maybe a juice or yogurt. It’ll set you back about €1.50.
#5. What’s the best place to have dinner?
Pod Lipom, also in the old town, serves the best Sarajevski Sahan I have ever tasted. I could easily eat two bowls or more. They serve a range of Bosnian food at very reasonable prices (it would be hard to pay more than €7 each including beer). Make sure you sample the savoury doughnuts (uštipci) with kajmak. They also serve my favourite beer, Laško, from Slovenia; and the owner is the nicest person I have ever met!
#6. What are the top three attractions in Sarajevo?
- The Mountains
For me, the mountains and hills that surround Sarajevo are just as much a part of its culture and personality as the people who live there. In the summer you can hike, picnic, or visit the waters of Vrelo Bosne. In the winter you can snowshoe, ski and snowboard. Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics, (for any Brits, this is where Torvill and Dean won gold for the Bolero), and has built a reputation for winter sports around this (although it is somewhat unknown outside of the Balkans). I learnt to board there in March and it was so cheap. Highly recommended!
- The Latin Bridge
This bridge is where it all kicked off in 1914. It is just a pretty little bridge, next to a museum documenting the events surrounding the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. It’s the type of spot to reflect on all the history that Sarajevo holds.
The Ottoman bazar forms part of Sarajevo’s old town. It is met on one side by hillside suburbs and the other by Austro-Hungarian architecture. It truly is an East meets West kinda place. The cobbled streets and stalls are home to many little businesses, some new and some very, very old. Copper crafting is an ancient skill that goes back around 7000 years in the Balkans, and Sarajevo is no exception. Definitely buy one of the handmade ǆezvas (coffee pots) if you can. There is a lot of tat in the market too, which is to be expected. Some of it is awesome, like the knock off football shirts!
#7. Where can you get the best view of Sarajevo?
Everyone goes to the Yellow Fortress, which is beautiful, spacious and gives you a lovely view. But if you’re feeling more adventurous, then walk on a little further (or get a taxi) to the White Fortress (Bijela Tabija). It’s an abandoned fortress way up on the top of the hill, and you have to climb through its ruins out onto a wide ledge and walk around. It’s not dangerous unless there are strong winds, but don’t do it if you’re scared of heights. The view is so worth it. Bring a few bottles of beer, a few friends and dangle your legs over the edge if you dare, then kick back and watch the show as the sun sets.
#8. Your favorite cultural attractions or activities?
- Sarajevo Film Festival
Usually held in July or August, this one week festival truly brings Sarajevo to life. This is by far one of the best times to be in Sarajevo, even if you don’t see a single film (however you should!). International and local filmmakers alike, gather to exhibit their work. Outside of the event, parties and live music abounds, and people chatter, drink and dance long into the warm summer nights. If you go to Sarajevo at this time of year, it’s a good idea to book accommodation a little in advance to avoid disappointment.
#9. Are there any possibilities for exciting day trips from Sarajevo? Where to?
So many! You can easily take a day trip to Mostar, and maybe take in Kravice Waterfalls too if you have time. You can hop down to Konjic or across to Piva Canyon in Montenegro and go rafting for the day.
You can take a hike up to the village of Lukomir and eat pita with the locals, or if it’s hot, go to the swimming baths in Ilidža (a 20 min tram ride) and gaze up at the mountains while floating in the pool or sunbathing.
#10. What are the best traditional festivals or events throughout the year?
Baščaršija Nights is a huge cultural festival usually held in July, exhibiting tradition and national music, including Sevdalinka, theatre, poetry, dance, opera, books; you name it, they’ve got it! The Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra always open the first day, which I very much recommend attending.
So there you have it. Sarajevo has so much to offer, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you feel like planning a trip sometime soon, reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook, check out our Visit Sarajevo for further tips and blogs!
Have you ever considered a trip to Sarajevo? What would you love to see?
If you want to participate in “Holiday like a local in…” series on Travelling Buzz, send an email to: [email protected] with the city you live in (must be in Europe).