Treat this Bosnia and Herzegovina travel guide as some inspiration only. This country is absolutely amazing when it comes to its history and culture and in this article I am focusing only on some of it’s attractions. What to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina? What to see in Bosnia and Herzegovina if you have a week only and you’re not content with what’s easily available? What to do in BiH if you travel solo and you’re a girl? I have some stories to tell. :) I must state it right at the beginning – I fell in love with Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was the last of all Balkan countries that I wanted to visit. I liked it equally as much as I did Kosovo or Albania.
I travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina solo – like I usually do when going to the Balkans. Within a week, I visited Mostar and explored it’s nooks and crannies, spent three days in Sarajevo and still didn’t have enough of this city, went hiking with a newly met photographing friend I followed earlier on Instagram, I admired some absolutely stunning sunsets, drunk black, strong coffee and couldn’t sleep at nights, played with stary cats and behaved as I was one of them too. Treat this blog post as some inspiration for your own exploration, not a practical guide.
Travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina – is it safe for solo female travellers?
Although I personally hate that question, I get asked about it a lot and feel it’s necessary to dispel some doubts. I have not experienced a single unsafe situation while I was travelling solo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And I am girl. Blonde, green-eyed girl to be precise. With a lot of photography gear in my backpack. My advice would be: stay reasonable, respect the culture and trust your guts.
Things to do in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina if you are a solo female traveller who has guts (if you are a solo male traveller with guts too)
Mostar is at the top of my favourite cities not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in the Balkans in general. Mostar is absolutely fascinating with its mixture of cobbled streets, chilled out atmosphere in the historic centre, stray cats asking you for food and… tragic history that strikes you really hard once you leave the touristy centre. There are many things to do in Mostar APART from just taking a lazy stroll around the centre.
Of course, there’s this famous UNESCO-listed Old Bridge (Stari Most) that everyone gets excited about. There’s the Crooked Bridge neat the cute bazaar Kujundziluk where you can spot many restaurants in its neighbourhood. But there’s also street life in the residential districts where you can spot numerous wholes after the war (go especially see the eastern side of Mostar which was really heavily destroyed during the war).
What else to see in Mostar? There’s the Sniper’s Tower which was used by the Croatian troops to shoot the eastern side of Mostar. It’s abandoned, it’s not really allowed to go there, and yet I went there. There’s an amazing hill over Mostar where you can go in the evening and admire a stunning sunset over the city – that’s surely one of the most pleasant and the best things to do in Mostar.
There’s a nice park Zrinjski near the Sniper’s Tower in Mostar where you can see some amazing pieces of street art and a pretty funny statue of Bruce Lee. Similarly to a large, unused area near Sniper’s Tower with many murals. Also, there’s the Koski Mehmed Pasha mosque with the best view over the Old Bridge (but you have to climb a minaret). If you are wondering what to do and what to see in Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, make sure you spend some time enjoying the old town, but take a walk also outside. This city is absolutysty fascinating beyond the touristy centre.
As you know, I am a solo female traveller and I visited Mostar solo as well. I have felt very safe there and had ZERO unpleasant situations. Like always, actually. :)
Travel Herzegovina – places to visit on a day trip from Mostar
There are quite some interesting places to visit on a day trip in Herzegovina – all not far away from Mostar. I bought a day trip offered by Deny, the owner of the hostel I stayed at (Rooms Deni) and can wholeheartedly recommend it. This day trip, unlike other ones I considered signing up for, offers you not only the most interesting and beautiful places in Herzegovina, such as Blagaj, Kravica waterfalls, Pocitelj, but it also takes you to Medjugorie (imo a questionable tourist attraction, I will explain later on what I mean), a war bunker near Mostar airport and a traditional breakfast.
Why booking a day trip, you might ask. I usually travel independently, so how come did I book a trip? Let me tell you. It’s close to impossible to travel around Herzegovina independently – meaning by bus. Public transport is unfortunately not well-developed and visiting those towns, which are relatively close to one another, would surely take me more than just one day. I also didn’t want to risk hitch hiking.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are four types of the famous “burek”. In fact, their names depend on their fillings.
with meat – burek
with cheese – sirnica
with spinach – zeljanica
with potatoes – krompiraca
Pocitelj – the most charming place to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Out of all places I visited during this day trip from Mostar, Pocitelj was my favourite. It’s a tiny stone village in Herzegovina, nearly abandoned. Only a few elderly people live there and, according to what Deny said, just one kid. All houses are made of stone and it all looks very charming. There are also castle ruins on a hill and if you feel adventurous, you can climb its tower (I did).
Apart from the castle, you can also visit the only mosque that is there. We were lucky enough to meet two ladies there who allowed us to climb the minaret and see the views from above.
Mostar and the war history – how I visited a war bunker near Mostar airport
War bunker, or rather a tunnel large enough to hide an aircraft, is not a place you would find yourself. It’s also not included on the majority of day trips from Mostar organised by various travel companies – it’s the extra point on the day trip organised by Deny. I was glad to be there with both Deny and Jonathan, because this thick darkness and cold of the long war tunnel made me feel really, really anxious. What is very interesting is that to make the tunnel invisible, it was covered in painted styropian. Once you are at the exit of the tunnel, you will see a lot of pieces of styropian scattered at your feet.
Medjugorie – a questionable tourist attraction in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The first question about Medjugorie that comes to my mind is – is it worth visiting Medjugorie? As much as this place didn’t make a very good impression on me, I still say go on your own and develop your own opinion.
Medjugorie is a town in Herzegovina famous among Catholics all over Europe due to the alleged apparitions of Lady Mary to six children, now adults. Despite a strong movement of Catholics visiting Medjugorie every year, Vatican hasn’t yet confirmed the supernatural character of the apparitions. If you are a religious person, visiting Medjugorie might be of value to you.
However, be ready to see a lot of commercialism there. I was in Medjugorie in the low season and saw the place being prepared for the summer. The town itself is filled with hotels and shops and stands with plastic statues of Virgin Mary. Behind the church, there are hundreds of benches to accommodate all the pilgrimages. Also, the hall where confessions take place is quite large and I assume it can get pretty busy in the summer.
I’ve decided to include Medjugorie in this unusual travel guide as it’s a really weird place. I do not intend to offend anybody’s religious feelings, but I can’t stop thinking that Medjugorie is a perfect example how to make a great commercial success out of religion.
Outdoor travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Kravica Waterfalls – the best place to chill, hike, and swim
Kravica Waterfalls are doubtless one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and it’s really convenient that you can plan visiting them as a day trip from Mostar. When we arrived at the Kravica waterfalls, this was the only time I regretted it wasn’t summer. I can imagine the whole area of Kravica waterfalls must look even more spectacular when the trees are all green.
However, it was still quite empty and we could enjoy ourselves without other crowds of people. Deny recommended going to the small Kravica waterfall which is located some 1 km away from the main ones. In the summer, the water levels are lower and there’s a really nice path by the river going to the small Kravica waterfall. We were there in March and the path was mostly muddy – if not underwater. Anyway, if you are not the type who just wants to sit down, take a walk to the small Kravica waterfall. It’s really beautiful out there.
Blagaj – the famous Dervish house in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Blagaj in Herzegovina is one of those places that will show up once you google “what to see in Bosnia and Herzegovina” – it’s a really famous place and as usually with top attractions, it sometimes doesn’t live up to the expectations.
The Dervish house in Blagaj is quite impressive – especially if you realise it was carved in a rock, however, not as spectacular as I previously thought. The whole area looks very nice with the crystal clear Buna river flowing by. Actually, it’s a spring of the Buna river and many divers attempted to check the depth of the underwater cave with not much success. On the river, there are multiple restaurants and I can imagine that in high season, this place is really crowded.
What to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Watch the sunset over Mostar
I am in love with sunsets. I would be in love with sunrises if only I would see them more often (but who would get up THAT early?) To finish the day trip in Herzegovina in a great style, Deny, Jonathan, and me went on a hill over Mostar to watch the sunset. It was absolutely spectacular. Apart from great views, we also saw hundreds of sheep walking by to their overnight farmhouse. They made some really fun noises which reminded me of someone who is desperately unhappy with everything and needs to complain out loud.
Is Sarajevo safe for solo female travellers? My bad hostel story from Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina
I have felt very safe in Sarajevo for most of the time, but I must tell you a story that could have ended bad. When I was looking for a hostel, I wasn’t careful enough to see how many people voted “5” in rating for the hostel I wanted to book. I just saw “very good” and booked it.
When I arrived in Sarajevo and went to the palce where my hostel was supposed to be, I couldn’t find it. The hostel was hidden in an ugly gate and once I finally entered it, the whole place was in weed smoke. I met the owner. The owner, who obviously was very high, and he showed me the hostel – it was dark and dirty, like from some kind of a nightmare. I decided not to say there. The hostel didn’t even have lockers.
I left it and went to another one (Balkan Han) which was comfortable and safe. So, all in all, all is well that ends well. However, being a solo female traveller, I try to be wise when choosing my accommodation, especially given that I travel with photography gear and my laptop. Other than that, I felt very safe in Sarajevo and didn’t have other unpleasant situations.
Sarajevo Meeting of Cultures – what to see in the most vibrant and interesting capital city in the Balkans
Sarajevo is one of the most stunningly beautiful capital cities I have ever been to. I spent four days in Sarajevo and left feeling that I could definitely stay even more.Sarajevo is a place where different cultures, religions and ethnic groups meet and this is what makes this city so fascinating. Sarajevo is the cosy old town with cobbled streets, cute restaurants, mosques and cathedrals located at a stone’s throw from one another.
It’s also a city with the most informative yet hard museums might make you cry (really, be prepared for some really harsh facts if you enter the Gallery 11/07/95 in Sarajevo).
If you like staying outdoors, in Sarajevo there are PLENTY of places to go hiking. Most of those places will reward you with amazing panoramic views over the city. The Yellow Fortress, Park Princeva, Barice are just a few examples. I will write a separate post about the places to watch sunsets in Sarajevo.
For those who like drinking coffee, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can sit down, relax, sip your coffee and just watch the streets. Most of the places have fast wifi.
Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of my favourite cities ever and having spent four days there, I still don’t feel I have had enough of it.
Hiking in Barice and Cavljak – mountains around Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina
If you have been following my blog for a while, you know I love hiking. I just couldn’t imagine travelling to Bosnia and Herzegovina and not doing any decent hike. Given that I had only a week to travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina, some help was necessary to organise a hike.
This is a pretty funny story. I have been following Nedim on Instagram for a few years now and once I knew I was going to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, I wrote to him asking if he wanted to meet.
In Sarajevo, we went hiking to Barice and later on to Cavlajk – very scenic mountainous areas around Sarajevo. On that day, we hiked approximately 18 km and this was a really intense day, but totally worth all the trouble. The views were absoluty breathtaking and I saw the best of Bosnia and Herzegovina – stunning nature, forests, sheep and shepherd, even snow!
Bosnia and Herzegovina practical information for solo female travellers
As you can see, solo female travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina wasn’t really that solo. I actually met a lot of nice people that would have been impossible if I was travelling in a company. For most of the time, I felt absolutely safe. No one approached me in a way that would make me feel uncomfortable. Nearly everyone I met spoke English. Except for one situation that would be unpleasant if I had stayed in the hostel, everything went well.
Before visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, remember that public transport there isn’t the most reliable. There are busses going from Tuzla to Sarajevo but just twice a day. There are more connections between Sarajevo and Mostar. If you want to travel around Herzegovina in a day, it’s better to book a day trip.
In the touristy places, there’s usually a wide choice of hostels and hotels, but in places such as Tuzla, the choice is very limited so be sure to book in advance.
The places to visit you can read about in this post are just some inspiration for a deeper exploration of the country. I am sure I will revisit Bosnia and Herzegovina since it’s a really stunning and interesting country which will both make you admire its beauties and also give you food for through once you see the tangible signs of the war and siege. Bosnia and Herzegovina has many attractions to see, but I encourage you see whats beyond the centre and the touristy spots.