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The Absolute Best Time to Visit Bosnia & Herzegovina

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Bosnia and Herzegovina wasn't really on my radar. It wasn't a country that I dreamt of visiting and it certainly wasn't one that I thought I'd spend more than 6 months in. But it is a country that I'm so happy welcomed me in.

Most of those 6 months were divided among almost a year and were spent living in Sarajevo. We also spent 1 month in Bihać and were able to visit some of the stunning places in Bosnia.

I actually think the fact that it wasn't on my radar nor is a common tourist destination made it that much better. Even in peak season, it was never as crowded as it's neighbor Croatia gets and it felt like there were surprises around every corner.

I had no idea there were wild horses roaming the valleys of Livno, Olympic skiing and snowboarding mountains just 20 minutes from the city center of Sarajevo, or ancient kingdoms that still look like fairy tales.

With so much to see and do in Bosnia and Herzegovina it's important you plan your trip around the best time to visit so you're able to do all the activities on your list. If you can extend that time though, I'd recommend it because you'll soon see that each season brings unique activities, varying landscapes, and completely different weather.

How Much Time to Spend in Bosnia

Jajce, with it's waterfall slicing right through town

The amount of time you'll want to plan for your trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina greatly depends on what you want to do there. It's a relatively small country but is very mountainous and is lacking major highways connecting each town or city.

This means that while the kilometers or miles between each destination might not look like much, it'll probably take longer than you expect.

It's possible to take advantage of train travel but the main route you'll find is between Sarajevo and Mostar. This is known as one of the most beautiful train rides in the world so while you might hit some delays on the tracks, the views will be worth it!

If you're aiming to cover a lot of ground in Bosnia, renting a car will be your best bet. There are buses running between the main parts of the country and in general they're pretty comfortable. They just aren't the quickest option if you have a lot of places on your itinerary.

You can also use a tour company that comes with private transfers. If you're not a confident driver, this might be the best bet. My friends at .Cheyf are sustainable tour guides that speak English, German, and Bosnian.

All that being said, I recommend giving yourself a week to visit Bosnia if you want to hop between a few places or have a lot of outdoor activities on your agenda. If you're only going to Sarajevo, a long weekend is enough to see the hot spots.

Now that we know how long you'll be in town, let's see when you'll go and where.

Regional Weather in Bosnia & Herzegovina

The famous Mostar bridge from below

The weather in Bosnia can vary significantly depending on where you are in the country. The country's diverse geography, which includes mountains, valleys, and a small coastline, contributes to distinct regional climate differences. Depending on your preferences and the activities you have in mind, you may want to choose a specific region and time of year that aligns with your interests and desired weather conditions.

Here's a brief overview of how the weather can vary by region:

Mountainous Regions

Think places like Sarajevo and the nearby mountains of Jahorina and Bjelašnica. These areas experience a continental climate with cold winters and warm summers. Winters are typically colder and can be quite snowy, especially the higher up you go into the mountains.

Summers are warm to hot, making it a pleasant time for outdoor activities and exploring cities. Temperatures can vary significantly between day and night, so layers will be helpful when packing, regardless of the time of the year you choose to visit.

Herzegovina Region

Most people only know this region thanks to Mostar but really, the entire Herzegovina Region in stunning and has a very genuine Mediterranean feel to it. With that comes a Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.

Winters are milder compared to the inland and mountainous areas, with less snowfall. Summers are hot and dry, making it ideal for enjoying the Adriatic coast. The sliver of coastline in Bosnia is only in Neum, otherwise give the Herzegovina waterfalls a try to cool down during those hottest months.

Northern Regions

The northern parts of the country, like Banja Luka and Prijedor, have a continental climate with colder winters and warm summers. Winters can be quite cold with occasional snowfall. Summers are warm and pleasant, making it a good time for outdoor activities.

Things to Know Before You Go

View from the Ostrožac Castle

Now that you’re gearing up for your trip and planning the specifics of where and when you’ll go, there are a few things you don’t need to overlook. 

I know just how easy it is to look towards the big hike, bucket list city, or beach of my dreams and forget about all of the little things in between that’ll make your trip run as smoothly as possible. Be sure to take into consideration these few things before you go to make sure you get all the good bits of your trip without the stress. 

  • Make sure you have travel insurance. A good travel insurance, like SafetyWing, will ensure you’re covered in case of emergencies. While you will have to pay upfront for your doctor or hospital costs, unless it’s for a pre-existing condition, you can file a claim and should be reimbursed. For any Americans reading this, fear not, healthcare in pretty much every other country is far more affordable than ours, even if you’re paying out of pocket. 
  • Do your best to learn a few local phrases in their language. No, I’m not expecting you to be able to have a fluid conversation with locals at the bus stop if you’re just visiting their country for a week but knowing your numbers (for prices), how to order something (“I would like…”), and basic greetings really will take you a long way. Mondly is a great app for phrases and vocabulary. 
  • Same thing goes for rental cars. If you want to rent a car to cover more ground in a country, do it in advance. Prices will be more affordable and that way you’re guaranteed to have your wheels waiting for you. 
  • Last tip certainly isn’t mandatory but it is helpful. Before you start booking your flights, hotels, and tours, consider opening up a travel credit card. Thanks to our Capital One Venture card, my husband and I have gotten countless free flights just by gaining points on everyday expenses.
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Spring in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Una River National Park, bright green and folded in spring

Spring in Bosnia & Herzegovina can be a picturesque season as everyone comes out of hibernation from the cold winter months. But spring really can vary from year to year.

This past year in spring, it really felt like winter went directly into summer without hesitation but local friends have told me that's not always the case and the country can have a really nice spring but you should prepare for some rainy days.

The temperatures range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F), making it a comfortable time to explore if you have sunny days.

Best Places to Visit in Spring

  • Sarajevo: The capital city is a great place to visit in spring when the weather is mild. Explore the historic old town (Baščaršija), visit museums, and enjoy seeing peoples flocking to the sun after a long, cold winter.
  • Travnik: Travnik is a charming historical town with well-preserved Ottoman-era architecture. In spring, the town comes to life with colorful flowers and a pleasant climate. Explore the old bazaar, visit the Travnik Fortress, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Plava Voda spring.

Summer in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Enjoy Sarajevo in summer, just know many others will have the same idea

Summer in Bosnia & Herzegovina is a popular time for tourists, and for good reason. The weather is warm and sunny with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F).

This season is a popular for exploring the historic cities, such as Sarajevo and Mostar, and enjoying outdoor adventures like swimming in the crystal-clear rivers and hiking in the mountains. Do know that some days in summer might be too hot to hit the trail and might be better suited for whitewater rafting since the rivers should be full and perfect for rafting.

The long daylight hours mean you can make the most of your visit, and it's an excellent time for cultural events, music festivals, and vibrant street life. However, do keep in mind that some popular tourist spots can get crowded during this peak season. Since it's the best time to visit Bosnia for many travelers, prices for accommodation tend to be at it's highest. If you're looking to save money on your vacation, I'd recommend choosing a different season to visit Bosnia.

Best Places to Visit in Summer

A few of the best places to visit in summer are:

  • Mostar: Summer is the perfect time to visit Mostar and its iconic Old Bridge (Stari Most). Enjoy swimming in the Neretva River, explore the bazaar, and watch divers jump off the bridge. Just know that you'll have to share the old town with plenty of others who had the same idea.
  • Neum: If you prefer a coastal getaway, Neum on the Adriatic coast offers beautiful beaches and a lively summer atmosphere.
  • Sarajevo: Although I don't think summer in general is the best time to be in the capital city, it is if you're in town for the Sarajevo Film Festival. Taking place usually mid-August, Sarajevo really comes alive during the festival and is full of parties and events.

Day of Mourning for the Srebrenica Genocide (Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Day)

If you visit Bosnia on July 11th, know that the country might look and feel a little different than you were expecting. The main memorial for the Srebrenica Genocide happens in Srebrenica itself but throughout the entire country you'll see gatherings and somber faces. Even the radio doesn't play music this day.

July 11th marks the anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, one of the darkest chapters in Bosnia & Herzegovina's recent history. On this day, the country mourns the tragic events of 1995 when thousands of Bosnian Muslims were killed in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War. Commemorative events, including memorial services, exhibitions, and gatherings, take place throughout the country, but especially in Srebrenica.

It's a solemn day for reflection and remembrance so please be respectful of that if you visit Bosnia on this day.

Fall in Bosnia & Herzegovina

This is the time of the year I recommend you get above the clouds

Autumn in Bosnia is a beautiful season characterized by stunning foliage as the leaves change color. Call me basic but man do I love fall. To me, September and October are the best times of the year to visit really anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere that gets 4 seasons and Bosnia is no exception.

The temperatures start to cool down, ranging from 10°C to 25°C (50°F to 77°F), making it a comfortable time to explore both urban and rural areas. Autumn is perfect for hiking and enjoying the scenic landscapes that dot this beautiful country.

The vineyards in Herzegovina also come to life during this season, offering wine enthusiasts a chance to taste delicious local wines. Moreover, the lower tourist crowds make it an excellent time for a more peaceful and immersive experience.

If you're in Sarajevo during fall, take advantage of having some of the best hiking in the Balkans right outside your doorstep.

Best Places to Visit in Fall

To embrace great weather and the natural beauty of Bosnia, I recommend you visit these places if you're here in autumn:

  • Jajce: Easily one of the most beautiful places in Bosnia in my eyes, fall is a great time to see the waterfall flowing from the center of town with the leaves changing colors around it.
  • Trebinje: This picturesque town in Herzegovina is lovely in autumn with vineyards in full harvest. Enjoy wine tasting and explore the nearby caves and monasteries with far fewer people than in summer.
  • Una National Park: Experience the beauty of Una National Park as the leaves change color and the Una River flows through canyons and waterfalls. If you're here early enough in the season, it's still possible to go whitewater rafting.

Winter in Bosnia & Herzegovina

At the top of one of the runs on scenic Jahorina towards the end of winter

Winter in Bosnia brings a magical transformation with snow-covered landscapes, particularly in the mountainous regions. The temperatures can drop below freezing, ranging from -5°C to 5°C (23°F to 41°F) so be sure to pack accordingly!

This is a great time for winter activities, with skiing and snowboarding opportunities in places like Jahorina and Bjelašnica. The winter season in these areas generally runs from December to March, but exact dates can vary based on snow conditions. Be sure to check the local conditions and facilities when planning your visit for skiing or snowboarding.

Depending on where in the country you visit, you might or might not get a Christmas-y feel. Cities like Sarajevo are predominantly Muslim so they celebrate Ramadan more than Christmas but you'll still see lights adorning shops and hanging over the streets.

For Christmas markets, you'll want to head to Mostar or Banja Luka but don't expect anything as grand as you'll find in Central Europe.

Winter is a great time to warm up with traditional Bosnian dishes like Ćevapčići, baklava, and a Bosnian coffee (slightly different than a Turkish coffee). Do note that many restaurants and most bars in Bosnia still allow smoking indoors so during the snowy winter when you don't want to sit outside to eat or drink, you might be forced to share a space with a lot of smokers.

If you enjoy a quieter and more serene travel experience, winter is the season to explore Bosnia & Herzegovina with its tranquil snowy landscapes and cozy indoor activities.

Best Places to Visit in Winter

  • Jahorna: Located near Sarajevo, Jahorina is one of the country's most popular ski resorts. It offers a range of ski slopes suitable for both beginners and advanced skiers and snowboarders. The resort hosted some events during the 1984 Winter Olympics. It's known for its well-groomed runs and vibrant après-ski scene. This is where we spent most of our winter after coming back from Zlatibor, Serbia and absolutely loved snowboarding here.
  • Bjelašnica: Also near Sarajevo, Bjelašnica is another renowned ski resort in Bosnia & Herzegovina. It offers a variety of slopes and terrain parks for snowboarders and skiers. The resort has hosted numerous international competitions and provides stunning mountain views. Bjelašnica is steeper and is more suited to those craving speed on the runs, where Jahorina is best for more scenic routes.
  • There are other ski resorts like Vlašić, Kupres, and Rostovo but since I've never snowboarded at any of these, I can't say from experience what they're like.

Ramadan in Bosnia

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, so the dates vary each year. You'll find Ramadan being celebrated throughout Bosnia & Herzegovina but particularly in areas with a significant Muslim population, like Sarajevo.

Ramadan is an important religious observance for Muslims, including a significant portion of the population in Bosnia & Herzegovina. During this month, Muslims fast from dawn (Suhoor) until sunset (Iftar), refraining from eating or drinking. It's a time of spiritual reflection, prayer, and communal gatherings.

Travelers during Ramadan may find the atmosphere unique, with special foods and beverages available at Iftar, and many mosques hosting extended prayer sessions.

If you're in Sarajevo during Ramadan, you'll find that it's not so strict as say Oman and you can still eat and drink in restaurants but be respectful if you invite any Muslim practicing friends to your home to not tempt their bellies. Be sure to go at least one night to the Yellow Fortress at sunset when a canon is set off to mark Iftar.

When Will You Visit Bosnia & Herzegovina?

Mlinčići, the old watermills in Jajce

Each season in Bosnia & Herzegovina offers its own unique charm, making it a year-round destination for travelers with diverse interests. The choice of when to visit largely depends on your preferences, whether it's enjoying outdoor adventures, experiencing cultural festivals, or simply savoring the natural beauty of the country in a specific season.

Personally, I loved winter in Bosnia with world-class snowboarding at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay at other ski resorts in Europe and the US. Fall was a close second for me given the vast amount of hiking trails I was able to explore.

With so much variety in the country, the best time to visit Bosnia & Herzegovina will depend greatly on you!

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