Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country that, even after almost 2 years of living in Sarajevo, never stops to amaze me. The wonderful people, the fresh and delicious food, and the diverse landscapes.
Not even the size of Austria, you'll find a wide range of different landscapes squeezed into the borders of this small, heart-shaped place: from mountains to deep woods, high plains, and even beaches. You will also find a few UNESCO World Heritage sites hidden throughout the country.
In my opinion, Bosnia and Herzegovina offers a really unique blend of Eastern and Western culture and architecture, all embedded into breathtaking landscapes. So even though you might not find the country on many travel lists, I recommend adding it to yours. Every time I visit a new location here, I am amazed anew by the sheer variety of cultures, sceneries, dishes, and hidden gems.
In this travel guide, I'll show you some of the most beautiful places in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Just don't go hungry while traveling so much - make sure to also try all the delicious Bosnian dishes while visiting the country.
Most people only give Bosnia and Herzegovina a day or two and combine it with a trip to Croatia or Montenegro. I suggest instead you take your time and enjoy the country as long as possible. You may already be surprised to see 14 places on this list, but I actually narrowed it down to just the highlights. For all my insights in the country, these travel guides have you covered.
So without further ado, here are the 14 best places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina, listed alphabetically.
Things to Know Before You Go
Now that you’re gearing up for your trip and planning the specifics of where 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.
- Book any popular tours you want to do in advance. I’m really not a great planner and I’ve made this mistake more times than I can count. I plan a trip to a destination knowing that I want to do a sailboat trip or food tour and wait until the day before to book only to realize it’s not available the day I’m in town. Don’t make that mistake - if there is something you know you want to do - book your tour in advance.
- Be smart about when you visit Bosnia and Herzegovina. This country gets 4 real seasons so the time of the year you visit will change your trip drastically. Imagine skiing in the winter and swimming waterfalls in the summer!
- 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.
Banja Luka is located northwest of the country and is the second-biggest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also dubbed "the green city," you will see a lot of parks when you visit Banja Luka, and a stroll along the Vrbas river is a must.
The city might look fairly modern, partly because large parts of it have been destroyed in a terrible earthquake in 1969. But you find a few well-preserved Austro-Hungarian houses in the city center, and the old castle walls are still standing and a nice spot to watch the sunset.
When in Banja Luka, don't miss:
- The "Kastel" fortress from Roman times
- Trying banjalučki ćevapi
- Taking a bath in the natural thermal pools on the Vrbas river
- Riding a traditional Dayak boat on the river
- Enjoy a guided walking tour of town
Famous for its Dervish Monastery, a national monument to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Blagaj is definitely worth a visit. It's a popular destination, but understandably so: the sanctuary, built into the rocks directly at the spring of Buna river, is quite the sight. There are no practicing dervishes in Bosnia and Herzegovina anymore. Hence, the monastery now hosts a museum, showing curious visitors how the Sufi monks used to live.
If you're looking for a good view, hike up to Stjepangrad Fortress, towering over the small city, and enjoy the vista of the surrounding area from there. It should take an hour from the monastery to get to the castle ruins from the 2nd or 3rd century!
You can easily stop by here on a day trip from Mostar.
Blidinje Nature Park
This Nature Park boasts beautiful scenery that I haven't seen anywhere else in the world yet. Blidinje Nature Park is located at an elevation of 1,100 to 1,300 meters above sea level and features unique flora and fauna, which you can experience on various hiking trails. In addition, mountain biking around the area and the Blidinje Lake is another popular activity.
Although called a Nature Park, Blidinje is not officially a government-protected area. So the locals in the region got together and created the "Nature Park" – vowing to protect the environment, create sustainable tourism and support local communities. In my opinion, this project is worth supporting, and the nature of Blidinje will not disappoint when you visit.
When in Blidinje Nature Park, don't miss:
- Visiting the Necropolis Dugo polje with hundreds of ornamented tombstones
- Hiking up to Hajdučka Vrata with a designated tour guide
- Biking around Lake Blidinje
- Eating a typical Herzegovinian dinner in the restaurant Hajdučke Vrleti
If you plan a day trip from Mostar around the Herzegovina region, don't miss the two most beautiful waterfalls in the country: Kravice Falls and their little sister Kočuša.
Even though the Kravice Falls are one of the main attractions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of its most popular natural features, they are definitely worth a visit. Be prepared to be not alone in nature, though, when you make your way down to the falls – swimming is allowed in the lake beneath them. Tourists and locals enjoy cooling down in the hot summer months. So I recommend you make your way there early in the day and leave when the tourist buses arrive.
While you have to pay an entrance fee to Kravice, the smaller but not less beautiful Kočuša falls are free to enter. You might be lucky to have this natural beauty all to yourself. There is a little lake to swim in and a traditional restaurant right before the falls.
Kings have been walking along the very same streets you walk on when you visit this beautiful town in central Bosnia. In the Middle Ages, Jajce was the capital of the so-called Bosnian Kingdom, falling to the Ottomans later on. After World War II, Yugoslavia was founded here.
The city is located in a beautiful, hilly area. It offers superb hiking possibilities – an easy one leads you all around the big and small Pliva lake. In addition, Jajce has always been home to many ethnicities and nations. Therefore, I recommend you visit it with an open mind and ready to learn about the country's history.
Although you could easily spend a few days exploring the area, you can visit Jajce as a day trip from Sarajevo.
When in Jajce, don't miss:
- Taking a picture of the pliva waterfalls with the castle in the background
- Hiking up the castle for the best view of the city
- Visiting the 400-year-old Mlinčići watermills
- Taking a paddle boat and exploring lake Pliva
For nearly 50 years, the foothills of Mount Cincar, close to Livno in southwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, have been home to up to 1.000 wild horses. Released by their owners when machines took over agriculture, they adapted to the harsh weather conditions and now roam the vast plains wild and free. So when you visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, book a tour and spend a few hours in the wild with those gentle animals.
I have yet to do this tour myself, but everybody I met that did it was completely blown away by the experience. Just be mindful when picking the tour operator to take you to the horses. Pick one that values the animals, their personal space, and the environment.
If you want to explore Bosnia and Herzegovina more in-depth and dive deeper into the culture and cuisine of the country, a visit to the historic village of Lukomir is a must! The tiny village is perched atop a 1,500-meter-high mountain right at the second-deepest canyon in all of Europe.
Life in Lukomir is slow; still, the same as it was 70 years ago – the inhabitants live off agriculture, sheep, and now, in modern times, rural tourism. In winter, they leave the village to live in nearby cities, as getting through the snow becomes impossible.
Translated, the village's name means "harbour of peace" – which is indeed what the place is, a little pocket of peacefulness tucked away in the wilderness. The best way to get to the village is by hiking there from Umoljani (around 3 hours) along the mountain ridge. This is the best way to enjoy the view of the canyon too.
When in Lukomir, don't miss:
- Learning about the legend of the dragon of Rakitnica canyon
- Eating pita freshly made in an old wooden oven
- Looking at the historical tombstones "Nekropole sa stećcima"
Mostar's old bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. And from all the places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar gets a fair share. Partly because of its vicinity to Dubrovnik and Split, partly because of the famous picture of the iconic Stari Most spanning the turquoise Neretva river – sometimes the only picture people have ever seen of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mostar is more than its old town, though, and I really recommend staying overnight to be able to explore the city in the mornings before the day tourists arrive. There's a lot to see and do in the entire Herzegovina region. That might also be the only time you have the UNESCO World Heritage Site Stari Most to yourself.
When in Mostar, don't miss:
- Dipping your toes in the ice-cold Neretva – the coldest river in the world
- Watching the bridge jumpers dive off the old bridge
- Reading up on and visiting the Bruce Lee Statue
- Exploring the city beyond the Bazar and old town
Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania are not the only countries on the Balkan peninsula blessed with beautiful coastlines by the Adriatic Sea. Through a funny historical coincidence, Bosnia and Herzegovina received a small strip of coastline - 20 kilometers only - that now hosts the only Bosnian seaside resort: Neum.
The town sits on a hill, offering beautiful views of the Adriatic and its coastline dotted with rocks and pine trees. Even though Neum is not the most beautiful of coastal towns on the Adriatic, the city can be an excellent base for exploring the surrounding Croatian towns in the summer months. And let's be honest: The beaches are the same, minus the crowds and hefty price tags you get in the neighboring countries.
Sarajevo is the capital and, at the same time, the largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. You might know it mostly from history classes. After all, it's where World War I started and where the Winter Olympics took place in 1984. During the Bosnian War, the city was under siege for 1,425 days. Sarajevo, however, is so much more than just its past!
It boasts a wide variety of architectural styles and diverse cuisine. You will feel like being simultaneously in two cities or countries. After the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarians took over, modernizing the city and giving it its unique look – a mix of East and West.
When in Sarajevo, don't miss:
- An urban hike with English-speaking guides where you can see first-hand how nature and city combine
- Strolling through the old town, admiring the Ottoman architecture
- Visiting the Latin Bridge where the first world war started
- Looking at the clock tower with the only clock still working in lunar time
- Taking the cable car up Trebević mountain to hike along the abandoned bobsleigh track from the Winter Olympics
Sutjeska National Park
How beautiful a country Bosnia and Herzegovina really is becomes visible in Sutjeska National Park. This area close to the Montenegrin border hosts Bosnia's highest mountains and the last primaeval forest in all of Europe that is also on the UNESCO world heritage list.
You can explore the area on one of the countless hiking trails – I recommend taking a guide for safety (there are bears and wolves in those forests) and also to learn about the conservation efforts in the area. Another activity you can do in Sutjeska is rafting on Drina river– it's not for the faint of heart, but definitely an experience!
This small town in central Bosnia used to be the capital city of Bosnia during Ottoman times and you can still see of lot of the Ottoman heritage in the narrow little streets of Travnik. The historic town centre is beautifully located on a little hill overlooking the valley.
Close to Travnik, you also find hiking trails and a small ski resort on Vlašić mountain so it's really a destination for the whole year. Given their location, it's also a convenient spot to visit Jajce waterfall.
When in Travnik, don't miss:
- Checking out the ornamented mosque
- Eating the famous Travnički Ćevapi
- Visiting the birth house of Nobel prize winner Ivo Andrić
Of all the places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Trebinje is my favorite. It's a hidden gem often overlooked when people plan their Herzegovina itinerary. However, Trebinje is worth visiting because of the Mediterranean feel this little town oozes from its narrow streets and every corner.
Trebinje might be smaller than Mostar, but it's also less touristic and more laid-back. Another plus is that it is the perfect base for day trips to Dubrovnik or even Montenegro.
When in Trebinje, don't miss:
- Enjoying a guided walking tour
- Strolling along the river to see the historic Arslanagić bridge
- Going wine tasting in one of the countless boutique wineries
- Making your way up to Hercegovačka Gračanica for the best panoramic view
Una National Park (& Bihać)
Called "The One" by the Romans when they first laid their eyes on it, the Una river really is one of a kind. I haven't seen a river with that many shades of green and blue and turquoise anywhere else. Significant parts of the river and surroundings are protected national parks.
Una National Park is the perfect place to go hiking and is home to two of the most beautiful waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the whole area is full of forests, streams, and magical hideaways such as Japodski Otoci. It's located right outside of the small city Bihać, right on the border with Croatia.
When in Una National Park, don't miss:
- Seeing the waterfalls Martin Brod and Strbački Buk
- Visiting the Fethija Mosque – an old church turned into a mosque
- Spending an afternoon at Japodski Otoci
- Taking a boat ride on the Una river
Getting Around the Country
There are so many beautiful places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina – this is just a fraction of them. To reach all popular tourist destinations in this beautiful country, I recommend renting a car – public transportation does exist. Still, it's not always reliable, and not all cities are well connected. So if you plan a Bosnia road trip, renting a car might just give you the flexibility you need.
Enjoy All the Beauty Bosnia and Herzegovina Has to Offer
Now you're ready to explore Bosnia and Herzegovina! You can't go wrong regardless of which places you choose to visit. I promise you will fall in love with the country, its beautiful landscapes, delicious foods, and friendly locals head over heels.