If you have always been inspired by Emir Kusturica’s films or are just in search of non-banal destinations for a tourist trip, consider Bosnia and Herzegovina as an option for the nearest trip.

Photo: nomadFra/shutterstock.com

Many still associate the territory of the former Yugoslavia with hostilities. But Bosnia and Herzegovina are no more dangerous than any western European state. And certainly no less beautiful!

How to get to Bosnia and Herzegovina

The country has three major airports – in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and Tuzla, but it will not be possible to get directly from Russia to any of them. You can fly with a transfer to Istanbul, Budapest, or through other European cities. The cost of an air ticket with transfers from Moscow to Sarajevo and back starts from $350* per person.

Bus service is well developed, but it is most convenient to travel around Bosnia by car: renting a car in Sarajevo will cost $40* per day. By the way, you can also visit the country by getting a car from Croatia or Montenegro – a great addition to a vacation in these countries.

Tourists from Russia do not need a visa to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can enter the country with a passport and stay for up to 30 days. But to study the local sights in detail, three or four days are enough. Only a PCR test passed no earlier than 48 hours before entry will be asked at the border. Therefore, if you arrive in Croatia or Montenegro with a Russian PCR test, visit Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early days.

What to see in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In the southwest of the country, near the borders of Croatia and Montenegro, several main tourist points are concentrated.

Mostar

In the 1990s, fierce and destructive inter-ethnic battles took place on the streets of this small town. Today, nothing reminds me of those terrible events: Mostar is well-groomed and brought into a good form. True, those who have ever traveled to the Balkans understand that this region has its own concept of grooming. In my opinion, Mostar is one of the most colorful cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The central point of attraction for tourists is the Old Bridge over the fleeting Neretva River. He, concurrently, the main attraction, the visiting card of the region and the whole country. The best view of it opens from the neighboring Lutsk Bridge, which is located just downstream, or from the rocky bank of the Neretva.

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The city center – and this is all the space directly adjacent to the bridge – is usually filled to the brim with tourists. Someone comes to the oriental bazaar to sit in restaurants and taste the local beer Mostarsko or drink coffee according to Bosnian traditions. Narrow cobbled streets, souvenir shops, bridges, mosques, Catholic churches – this is all Mostar. Unexpectedly, there was a monument to Bruce Lee, which is located in Zrenjevac Park. The two main mosques of Mostar are Karagöz-beka, located near the Old Bridge, and Koski Mehmed Pasha, with a slender minaret against the backdrop of mountains. It is this building that is the background of the Old Bridge on postcards.

Kravice Waterfalls

An hour’s drive from Mostar, on the Trebižat River, there is a natural park with a cascade of picturesque waterfalls. Abundant, even in the drought season, streams of water breaking from a height of 15-28 meters form a semi-ring with a diameter of about 150 meters – no wonder these waterfalls are called a fan over the cliff. The foot of the cascades flows into a transparent lake, on the shores of which locals and tourists like to relax. There are places for sunbathing, several coffee shops with very noisy and Balkan cheerful staff, rental of small boats and kayaks. Even though the water rarely warms up above 18 ° C, everyone willingly swims here.

Entrance to the territory of the Kravice Waterfalls is paid – about 10 convertible marks* (Bosnian currency). The park is open all year round, but the exact schedule is better to specify on the website.

Blagaj

A little more than half an hour will make a move from the waterfalls of Kravice to Blagaj. This peaceful place, where hundreds of birds snooze at a cliff above turquoise water, became a haven for dervishes – Muslim hermit monks even before the conquest of the Ottoman Empire. Tekye exists here since the beginning of the XVI century. The guest house and the mausoleum, which turn white on the cliff, were built in the middle of the XVII century and have survived almost in their original form. Today inside the complex, there is a museum, a souvenir shop, and a coffee shop with fancy tables. All tourists can enter, not only Muslims but shoes should be left in front of the entrance.

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The water cave at the foot of Tekia is nothing more than the karst spring of Vorelo Bune, one of the most powerful sources of fresh water in all of Europe. The length of the Bune River, which forms this source, on the earth’s surface is only 9 km, after which it flows into the Neretva. Along its banks, there are many species of coffee shops where you can drink Turkish coffee with rakhat-lukum or even try the river trout on the grill, enjoying the variety of the surrounding landscape.

These three locations are the main ones for those who came to Bosnia and Herzegovina for a few days. If you have the opportunity to stay, be sure to visit three more Bosnian cities.

Trebinje

Trebinje, the city of sun and wine — is located just a couple of kilometers from Croatian Dubrovnik and the border with Montenegro in a picturesque valley between the hills covered with slender plane trees. It was part of the Roman Empire and later was part of the Kingdom of Serbia, the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Yugoslavia in ancient times. Such a rich historical diversity of cultures led to the unique flavor of this place.

The River Trebišnica divides the city into two parts, and the Arslanagich Bridge, originally from the XVI century, connects it. In Trebinje, the Old Town of the times of Turkish rule has been preserved. Be sure to visit the local food market and located opposite the cinematic café “Under the plane trees.” Scenes for European and American films are regularly shot here. Locals love to tell stories about filming and discuss in which films they “lit up.” In general, the whole city looks like a decoration for a good movie. Walking here is a special pleasure for those who are tired of the crowds and bustle of megacities.

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Visegrad

Visegrad is a small and world-famous ancient city. It occupies a modest 450 sq. km among the forested mountains between the Drina and Rzava rivers. Three people glorified this place. The first is Sokollu Damat Mehmed Pasha, who ordered a monumental, 11-span stone bridge in Visegrad. The second is Ivo Andrić, a Yugoslav writer whose novel The Bridge on the Drina was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The third is Emir Kusturica, who built the city of Andričgrad full of literary, historical, and cinematic mysteries as a decoration for his film based on Andrić’s book.

If you get to the city in the tourist season – take a boat ride along the Drina and appreciate the bridge from the water, which, by the way, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Jajce

The city with the culinary name Jajce is actually considered royal. The last monarch of the Kingdom of Bosnia was crowned here. Here was his residence. Here he was killed. If you are not interested in the country’s history, you will definitely appreciate this small town primarily for the spectacular 25-meter waterfall, which is formed right at the confluence of two rivers – Pliva and Vrbas.

Of course, Jajce has everything that must be in the ancient city: a well-preserved fortress wall, narrow streets, catacombs, stone arches, destroyed cathedrals, clock towers… But the main attraction is still a waterfall. Few rivers merge in the world, and a powerful stream breaks down right in the city’s center. Looks unusual and impressive. The Bosnian kings knew where to arrange their residences! However, the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a miracle as beautiful and causes a desire to return and get to know each other better.

*Prices are valid at the time of publication

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