The heart-shaped Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country speckled with breathtaking landscapes, winding rivers, waterfalls, traditional villages and progressive capitals. A land where turquoise rivers run swift and sheep huddle on steep hillsides is one of Europe’s most visually stunning corners. A delightful fusion of East and West in the heart of the Balkans features the reincarnated antique centres of Sarajevo and Mostar, while many other Bosnian towns are lovably small, wrapped around medieval castles and surrounded by mountain ridges or cascading river canyons. Among them is also Medjugorje, a fascinating little village that became worldwide pilgrimage destination in 1981 after six children saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary.
If you are into rafting, taking a trip down Neretva River or Una River. If you are a hiking enthusiast, discover numerous hiking trails; hike to Bjelašnica or Rakitnica canyon, or take the route from Lukomir to Umoliani, and to Lokvanjsko Lake. However, make sure you stay on the trail and stick to designated hiking routes, as there are still land mines scattered deep in the heart of the country, but the common routes will keep you safe. Another thing not to miss is a great number of abandoned Olympic sites around the country – in 1984, Bosnia was the host of Winter Olympics.
When traveling through the countryside of Bosnia and Herzegovina, you will feel as if you were traveling back in time. Laidback, old-fashioned villages, which were virtually untouched during the war, are nestled among the mighty mountain ranges. Lukomir is an example of such a traditional mountain village, where the roofs are made of tin barrels beaten flat and where old toothless ladies tend to their potato gardens. Another is Vrelo, a village in the Republika Srpska. Other than traditional buildings and homes, you will find some gorgeous waterfalls in the area.
While in Bosnia, tasting their coffee is a must. But we aware of rule no. 1: Bosnian coffee is not Turkish coffee; you will insult them, if you called it Turkish. The difference, they say, is in the process. Both start out with roasted pulverized coffee beans cooked in a small (generally) copper-plated pot with a long neck, called a džezva, but the Turks add the coffee and optional sugar to cold water before placing it on the stove, while the Bosnians put the cold water on the stove alone. This way, a thick foam is created, which often makes the coffee even more robust in flavor.
Sarajevo finds itself at the very top of the most affordable European capitals, offering superb quality services for less money. A place steeped in history hides the traces of the Neolithic Butmir Culture, Illyrians, Romans, Slavs, as well as remains of the medieval Bosnian Kingdom, the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Socialistic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia… Apart from this, Sarajevo is a paradise for meat-lovers. Traditional restaurants offer excellent Bosnian meals including sarma (cabbage wrapped meat), begova čorba (chicken stew), veal dishes, filled peppers, čevapčiči (minced meat) to name but a few. Must visit sights are: Baščaršija, the Tunnel Museum, the National museum and the Latin Bridge.
Perhaps the most popular image from Bosnia and Herzegovina is the one of the famous Mostar Bridge (Stari Most), and for good reason. At 21 meters high and with a dramatic arch connecting two separate sides of the city, the bridge is really iconic. It was originally built in the 1500s, but is now restored after it was bombed during the Yugoslavian War. It is hard to imagine this place as once a war-torn city. Nowadays its downtown core is a medieval mash-up of brick buildings, colorful storefronts, and a few mosques here and there. While several of the tourist shops sell typical European wares, much of the owners are true artisans who have perfected the art of everything from handcrafted jewelry to leather making.
About half-an-hour drive south of Mostar lies the village of Medugorje, which gained its reputation in June 1981, when a group of teenagers claimed to have been spoken to by the Virgin Mary here. Unlike Lourdes and Fatima, this has not been officially recognized by the Vatican, but that doesn’t stop pilgrims arriving in such numbers that there are now thousands of rooms available to accommodate them. The main sights here are the Church of St James and the nearby “Weeping Knee” statue, named so as it apparently flouts the laws of thermodynamics by dribbling out a constant flow of fluid.
»The Mediterranean as it once was« is the slogan of the country and quite righfully so. The country with over a thousand islands is still largely preserved and intact, developping tourism rather late and more slowly then many others.
Belgrade - considered one of the safest yet most vivid paryting places and with one of the best values for money. But then again Serbia is so much more then it's capital alone, a country rich in cultural and natural sites and with very welcoming people.