Inspiration for your next holiday
Inspiration for your next holiday
Sarajevo is a fascinating city that offers a truly unique experience for your holiday. The city may only have a population of a quarter of a million, but it possesses a exciting mix of different cultures, religions, and ages, creating an enormously interesting destination to visit.
Sarajevo lies along the Miljacka River valley, surrounded by towering mountains to the north, east, and south. Constrained by its geography, the city has sprawled east and west, but most tourist sights are located within a 3 km stretch (a 45-minute walk). However, the cultural diversity of the surrounding neighbouhoods is worthwhile to explore too.
This guide will detail the main neighbouhoods of Sarajevo and guide you on where to stay to ensure you get the most out of this fascinating city.
To get the most out of Sarajevo, the best neighbourhoods to stay in are Baščaršija, southern Centar, Marjin Dvor or Bistrik.
The map below shows the municipalities and neighbourhoods of Sarajevo.
Municipalities of Sarajevo 1) Stari Grad (Old Town) 2) Centar (centre) 3) Novo Sarajevo
Tourist neighbourhoods 4) Baščaršija 5) Centar 6) Gorica 7) Bistrik 8) Marijin Dvor 9) Drvenija 10) Skenderija
The map below shows the location of hotels and rental rooms in central Sarajevo. By altering the date of your trip, the map will display current prices and availability.
For your first visit to Sarajevo, you will want to stay in the Baščaršija neighbourhood. Most of the city's main tourist attractions are in this area or a short walk away.
Baščaršija is an enchanting part of the city with good quality Ottoman-inspired accommodation options. Prices are mid-high range, but the ease of everything makes it worthwhile.
It is also worth considering self-catering options in this neighbourhood due to the abundance of tasty local dining, street food and cafe options. It is recommended to head to Sebilj Square and the myriad of streets south of the Baščaršija Mosque for the most authentic Bosnian treats.
As the hotel options are limited in the old town, a good alternative is Bistrik, which has easy access to all the sightseeing areas of the city with fewer tourists. Bistrik is just south across the river and has many apartment hotels. For travellers looking for comfort and luxury, it is also worthwhile narrowing your search to the north bank of Miljacka River.
Bascarsija is Sarajevo's old bazaar, as well as a historical and cultural center.. It is a labyrinth of narrow streets filled with quaint shops, traditional Bosnian eateries, and beautiful Ottoman-era architecture.
Always choose the location in Sarajevo you want to be based in, before looking for accommodation. This may sound obvious, but it’s all too easy to be sucked in by amazing discounts or outstanding reviews, without really considering which area you will be staying in.
The historical Ottoman old town of Baščaršija is the epicentre of historical sights.
During the Ottoman era, this part of the city was Sarajevo's centre of trade. Today it is the cultural and historical centre of Sarajevo.
Due to the history of Baščaršija, this neighbourhood is a great option for dining out at any time. Starting with breakfast, it is a great place to get Bosnian coffee with Rahat Lokum and sample local dishes such as Cevapcici (minced meat served with cream cheese and onions) and Burek (savoury pastry stuffed with meat, cheese or spinach).
The must-see sights of Sarajevo can easily be navigated on foot from the east of this neighbourhood (mostly on the north bank). We highly recommend starting at the Moorish-style City Hall and then roaming the Ottoman arcades around Sebilj and the Baščaršija Squares, especially Kazandziluk Street. After this, the religious buildings of Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque (open daily, wear most clothing, and Sacred Heart Cathedral (open Tues-Sunday, free entry).
For first-time visitors, it is wise to start your visit with a local-led tour to understand more about the sights' turbulent history and significance, which you can then explore independently.
Top tip: The local currency in Sarajevo is Bosnian Convertible Marka, and it is worthwhile having cash on you as many small vendors, shops, and restaurants still prefer payment this way. ATMs are dotted throughout the city and are easily accessible.
Centar is considered Sarajevo's political, commercial, and cultural centre. It lies between the historical side (Baščaršija) to the east and modern Sarajevo (Marijin Dvor) to the west.
Centar extends north of Sarajevo, hemmed in the valley between the hills of Bjelave and Crni Vrh, leading up to the Koševo City Stadium - the centrepiece for the 1984 Winter Olympics. Centre is a large municipality with many smaller neighbourhoods, but for tourists, the best areas lie close to the Miljacka River.
As a visitor, do expect the streets of Centar to be less picturesque than the old town, and areas can feel slightly run down due to the architectural style. However, southern Centar is a great spot to view some of Bosnia's political institutions, such as the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with grand buildings dating back to the Austro-Hungarian era.
Centar is also a good spot for shopping (at the Aria mall, open daily from 8 am until 11 pm), relaxing green spaces, has more of a nightlife than the historic centre and is generally a more lively part of the city to stay in for budget and younger visitors.
The Latin Bridge, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, triggering the onset of World War I, is a historical stone bridge crossing the Miljacka River.
Bistrik is one of Sarajevo's oldest neighbourhoods, dating back to the 15th century. The district is located on the southern banks of the Miljacka River and lies on the opposite side of the Baščaršija district. The heart of Bistrik can be reached from Baščaršija by a 7-minute stroll heading south across the Emperor's Bridge or the infamous Latin Bridge.
This location provides an authentic and relaxed atmosphere while still being close to the city's major sights. Bistrik is a great option for those who want to stay in apartment hotels and experience local everyday life.
Must-see sights of Bistrik are the Emperor's Mosque (open daily, wear most clothing), Latin Bridge and the two national monuments: the Konak and the Crkva sv. Ante (Church of St. Anthony). The district is also well known for the Sarajevo Brewery, constructed in 1882. Today, the brewery offers fresh beer and an informative museum telling the story of its role during the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-1996).
When in Bistrik, it's hard to ignore the beautiful peak of Mount Trebević towering over the neighbourhood and city. This mountain, referred to as 'the lungs of Sarajevo', was home to some of the 1984 Winter Olympic events. A must-see highlight is the Bobsleigh course which has been converted into a graffiti gallery (mind out for mountain bikers cycling the trail)
There are also hiking trails up to the peak with great views; we highly recommend getting a one-way cable car and hiking down the 30-degree incline while looking over Sarajevo below.
Marijin Dvor is a perfect mixture of everything that Sarajevo has to offer. Here you can enjoy the shopping, explore the city's rich history, and discover Sarajevo's modern life, as well as benefiting from great connections to the other parts of the city. Marijin Dvor is the first district of Novo Sarajevo, where historic Austro-Hungarian architecture fuses with the Soviet era and modern-day Sarajevo. The district is named after the palace constructed by Austrian industrialist August Braun for his wife Maria at the end of the 19th century.
Further, down the Miljacka River valley, the skyline of Marijin Dvor is dominated by 1970/80s tower blocks and modern glass-fronted towers, so it is less scenic than the districts to the east.
The Vilsonovo Šetalište is the main avenue of Marijin Dvor. It offers a picturesque walk that follows the river downstream, which is wonderful for taking in the historic bridges and city by twilight. Marijin Dvor is a great way to discover a more modern side of Sarajevo and is a fantastic destination for the more intrepid visitor.
Ilidža lies to the west of Sarajevo in the Novi Grad municipality. The central part of Ilidža is a nondescript residential area, but to the far western side is Vrelo Bosne park, which spans the two rivers - Bosna and Željeznica. For those looking for a more peaceful stay, this part of the city is everything you need and more – and it's very close to the airport!
Thanks to its size, Sarajevo offers some great options when it comes to business trips. The positive side of visiting a relatively small city is that everything is just a few minutes away. For those looking to stay closer to the city's central area, the Kampus neighbourhood in Centar is the place to be based.
Being Sarajevo's political and business centre, Kampus is also home to many cultural and educational institutions and has great connections to most parts of the city.
If you would prefer to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Ilidža might be a perfect option for a business trip: This is the locaction of Sarajevo's International Airport's, and many good hotels are nearby. When work gets too much, visiting Ilidža's thermal sulphur spa and beautiful natural scenery will help relax you.
Sarajevo International Airport, located 12 km from the city centre, provides transport services to the central Baščaršija neighbourhood. This service runs from 6.20 am until 10 pm and only takes 20 minutes, costing 5 KM (approximately 2.5 Euro). However, services run every 2 hours, so it is worthwhile checking up-to-date times and planning your transit through the airport and kiosks accordingly.
There are taxi services and a train route into the centre, but these services are less reliable, and taxis within Sarajevo are prone to inflated prices and scams. For those keen to take a taxi, confirming the destination and price before entering a vehicle and using official cabs rather than drivers approaching you is worthwhile.
Sarajevo is a relatively safe city to visit. No parts of the city are particularly prone to crime for you to avoid. However, you should watch out for theft on trains, so make sure to keep your valuables on you and out of sight.
As a cultural destination, Sarajevo is not recommended for those with young children looking for many family-orientated attractions, hotels and restaurants.
However, Sarajevo is a culturally important city which might appeal to older teenagers. For those who do decide to visit with children, it is worthwhile combing a trip to Sarajevo with a visit to family resorts based in Croatia or combining the city with more rural activities.
Great children-orientated activities include the Termalna Rivijera Sarajevo waterpark (based in Ilidža) and trekking the Olympic Park trails at Mt Trebevic (scroll down for more information).
Sarajevo is still a comparatively cheap holiday destination, and food, travel, and entertainment are all relatively cheap. However, it is wise to stay in Bistrik or Centar if you are looking for the best deals on accommodation. The city has many local markets and cheap produce, and for those willing to be more rustic, apartment hotels are a great option.
As a cultural destination, Sarajevo is not recommended for those with young children looking for many family-orientated attractions, hotels and restaurants. However, Sarajevo is a culturally important city which might appeal to older teenagers.
For those who do decide to visit with children, it is worthwhile combing a trip to Sarajevo with a visit to family resorts based in Croatia or combining the city with more rural activities. Great children-orientated activities include the Termalna Rivijera Sarajevo waterpark (based in Ilidža) and trekking the Olympic Park trails at Mt Trebevic (scroll down for more information).