Sarajevo might well be the most interesting and tourist-friendly cities in the Balkans, however, it sees only a fraction of the visitors that neighbouring Croatia or nearby Slovenia receive. This is a shame as Sarajevo is not only an incredibly historic city with an interesting and heartbreaking past, but it is also one of the most beautiful, eclectic, and vibrant capitals in the region making it an excellent place to spend a couple of days exploring. There are many things to do in Sarajevo that are sure to give you a greater understanding of this fascinating city and its history — both past and recent.
If you’re thinking of visiting the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina and are wondering what to do in Sarajevo, follow this one or two-day itinerary in order to make sure see all of the highlights while not sacrificing culture or history. Sarajevo is a complex city with many layers to it and while it is relatively small for a capital, there is a lot unpack in just a few days.
How Many Days in Sarajevo?
Before getting into all of the things to do in Sarajevo, it is a good idea to discuss how many days you should spend in the city. While there are a lot of things to see and do within the Bosnian capital, the central area is quite small and compact and you are able to pack a lot of things into a short period of that.
That being said, however, you do still want to make sure that you allow yourself enough time in Sarajevo in order to really do the city justice. Many of the attractions and museums, for instance, are possible to visit only briefly but if you really want to dig deep and garner a greater understanding of the city and its history, then it’s best to budget enough time to be able to do this.
Due to its small size, many people think that spending one day in Sarajevo will be more than enough to be able to see and do everything in the city. And while one day can allow you to get a decent understanding of the Bosnian capital and you’ll be able to see the main sites and maybe visit a museum, I would recommend trying to spend more than just a day in Sarajevo. While I would certainly recommend planning to only spend one day in Sarajevo rather than none at all, it is still preferable to budget a little bit more time for the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Ideally, plan to spend two full days in Sarajevo if you want to feel like you’re not missing out on a lot of what the city has to offer. Having 2 days in Sarajevo will allow you to spend time in the old town visiting all of the top landmarks, give you enough time to spend in a couple of museums to really understand the city’s fraught history over the decades, and even allow you to venture outside of the old town to see some historical sites and monuments that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit with one day in the city.
Obviously, if you want to spend 3 days in Sarajevo, it will just allow you to build upon what you’ve already seen in days one and two. If you’re a history buff, you could easily spend more time in some of the city’s many museums. You could also go on a day trip to some nearby towns in order to get a good view of Bosni a& Herzegovina as a whole — especially if Sarajevo is going to be your only stop in the country.
While spending 3 days in Sarajevo isn’t entirely necessary, spending one day seems like not nearly enough time to be able to so the city complete. Therefore, we would say that the ideal length of time to spend if you’re wondering how many days in Sarajevo would be two full days.
Getting To and Around Sarajevo
Now that you’ve determined how many days to spend in Bosnia’s capital, you’re going to need to figure out how you plan to get to and around Sarajevo. Unfortunately, unlike many other cities in the region, Sarajevo isn’t quite as well-connected so it’s a bit more of an adventure to get to the city.
If you plan to fly into Sarajevo, it is worth knowing that the city is served by an international airport that does connect it to many European cities, including by budget airlines like WizzAir. However, it isn’t nearly as well-served as other airports in the region and there aren’t even direct connections to Sarajevo from some major European cities — London being a good example.
If you are budget-conscious and want to visit Sarajevo as a city break from elsewhere in Europe, you will probably have noticed that there are many budget flights into Tuzla airport. Tuzla is located approximately 130 kilometres north of Sarajevo and it can take well over two hours to reach the capital from there, so it may not be the best starting point if you’re only planning on spending a short period of time in the Bosnian capital before flying home.
If you plan to visit Sarajevo from other nearby cities, you will find some bus connections. For instance, Sarajevo is connected by a few buses to Belgrade, Serbia — it is worth noting, however, that the vast majority of the buses from the Serbian capital arrive into the East Sarajevo bus station and not the main station. A taxi to the city centre from the bus station will cost about 20 BAM (€10).
Sarajevo is also served by a few bus connections per day from Zagreb and Split, Croatia and also once per day with Kotor in Montenegro. It is worth noting that these are all quite long bus journeys with the potential to be longer than they need to be due to the border crossing.
You can also easily reach the town of Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina from Sarajevo with numerous bus and train connections per day connecting the two cities.
Once you are in Sarajevo, you will find that the vast majority of the city’s attractions and sites are within easy walking distance of each other, rendering the use of public transit or taxis more or less mute. However, if you do find the need to use the bus or tram system, you can purchase tickets affordably from any of the newsstand kiosks around the city. Make sure to validate your ticket when you are on the bus or tram.
Taxis are prevalent and inexpensive in Sarajevo, however, do make sure to exercise caution when using them as — like everywhere else in the world, unfortunately — scams can be common. Make sure before getting in any taxi that either the meter is running or you agree upon a fair price for your destination. There is no Uber or Bolt in Sarajevo and the taxi app that we did try to use, Moj Taxi, never worked for us after numerous attempts.
Things To Do In Sarajevo
Whether you have one or two days to spend exploring the Bosnian capital, this is a great list of things to do in Sarajevo in sequential order over two days. If you only have one day in Sarajevo, then follow the advice in day one. If you are planning to spend 2 days in Sarajevo, then just tack on the second day of this itinerary in order to have the best trip to this amazing city possible.
One Day in Sarajevo Itinerary
Day one will see you exploring the majority of the main things to see in Sarajevo, all located in the old town.
Gradski Trgnica & Plijaca Markale
Begin your day at the central marketplace, one of the best things to do in Sarajevo if you want to see what locals eat and how they shop. The Gradski Trgnica is a covered market hall selling things like locally made cheeses and meats. Nearby, you can also find the open-air Plijaca Markale where you can shop for delicious fresh fruits and vegetables.
During the Siege of Sarajevo, the Plijaca Markale was the sight of one of the worst massacres of the time when in 1995, around 40 people lost their lives. That is one of the events that prompted peace talks with NATO.
If you want a morning pick-me-up after browsing through the market, make a stop at Boutique Mercato Cafe for a delicious espresso drink in a cosy setting.
From the markets, you can walk a few hundred metres to the beautiful National Theatre. This Austro-Hungarian style building was built during the short period the empire occupied Bosnia & Herzegovina. Though the occupation only lasted from 1878 – 1918, the Austro-Hungarians left many remnants behind, including the National Theatre.
Austria-Hungary largely modernised Sarajevo’s infrastructure, introducing things like a tram network and new buildings in different architectural styles.
Not far from the National Theatre lies the Sarajevo Synagogue, which is the city’s largest and only active synagogue. Sarajevo and Bosnia, in general, used to have a very large Jewish population, with Jews making up close to 20% of the population of Sarajevo before WWII and Nazi occupation. Unlike many European cities, there were never specific ghettos in Sarajevo where people lived and rather the Jewish population was quite integrated into the general fabric of Sarajevo’s society.
Though only about 600 Jews live in Sarajevo today, this Synagogue is still active and remains the only active Jewish house of worship in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
One of the most famous sights and places to visit in Sarajevo is undoubtedly the Latin Bridge, a small Ottoman-style bridge over the Miljacka River. The northern end of this bridge is the site where the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in 1914, an event that many historians cite as an inciting incident for the First World War.
Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian Serb who was responsible for the assassination, wasn’t acting alone, however, and he also avoided a death sentence while his conspirators were not so lucky. The reason behind this is that Princip was only 19 years old at the time of the assassination, which was under the legal age to be put to death and illegal in the Austro-Hungarian empire.
If you want to learn more about the assassination, its motivations, and the implications and consequences because of it, there is a museum on the north end of the Latin Bridge that goes into detail about this momentous event.
Sarajevo Brewery & City Hall
Not far from the Latin Bridge, you can find the Sarajevo Brewery on the south bank of the Miljacka. This brewery is of historical significance as it was a major target for bombs during the Siege of Sarajevo. This is because, during the siege, the Serb forces cut off the water supply to Sarajevo, meaning residents didn’t have access to water in their own homes. The brewery, however, is sat atop its own water source independent of the city water, meaning that is was where locals in the city had to go to collect it. This made it a prime target for Serb forces.
Across the river from the brewery lies the city hall, notable for its unique Moorish-revival style reminiscent of the many buildings one can see in Spain, particularly the Mezquita in Córdoba. This building, however, is not the original, as that one was completely destroyed by a bomb during the Siege of Sarajevo. The building was completely burned along with over 700 original manuscripts that can never be returned.
The building was completely redesigned and rebuilt to be an exact replica of the original and it opened its doors in 2014.
No list of things to do in Sarajevo is complete without including a visit to the vibrant and cool Bascarsija area, one of the most historic and popular areas for tourists in Sarajevo.
This area was once an Ottoman-era market and historically hasn’t held any private residences. At one time, it was much bigger than it was today, however, due to the fact that so much of the area was made of wood, it has been razed numerous times throughout history by destructive fires.
Today, you can find lots of things in this eclectic and interesting area. Closed to cars, the pedestrianised streets are lined with interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants where you can get anything from a tacky souvenir to an authentic Bosnian coffee or slice of Burek! There are also a number of mosques that are open to visit and other historic sites that really call to attention just how long this city was under Ottoman rule.
Bascarsija is also a great area to grab lunch or dinner. If you’re looking for something quick, local, and delicious, then why not grab some cevapi at Zeljo or a burek at Buregdžinica Bosna? For dinner or something a sit-down restaurant, both Barhana and Dveri are great options, as well!
You can see many of these sites and get a great introduction to the city on the Neno & Friends Sarajevo Free Walking Tour. The tour meets daily at 10:45 AM from 15 March to 15 November in front of the National Theatre. The tour is completely free, however, keep in mind that the guides aren’t paid so it is good practice to tip generously after the tour is over. In the low season, they do offer the same tour, albeit at an affordable cost.
If you can’t make the free walking tour there is also the option to take a paid tour here.
War Childhood Museum
After spending a good portion of your day walking around the old town of Sarajevo and sightseeing, it’s time to head to one of the city’s best and newest museums. The War Childhood Museum is heartbreaking to visit and an excellent place to understand the human impact that the Siege of Sarajevo had on residents of the city.
The museum consists of a collection of items that those who were children during the Siege donated. They can include anything from toys to candy wrappers to pencil cases to journals. Next to each item is an explanation from its original owner about what that item meant to him or her during the siege. It is an excellent insight into the way that war and violence can shape children, but also shows visitors how life can still go on even under the most dire of circumstances.
The museum doesn’t solely concentrate on memories of childhood wartime in Bosnia, however, and the curators of the museum have sourced a few objects in the exhibit from Syrian children in refugee camps in Lebanon. It is an incredibly impactful museum and one of the best places to visit in Sarajevo. Entry is 10 BAM per person with discounts available for students and families.
End your day of sightseeing in Sarajevo at the Yellow Fortress, one of the best places in the Old Town for a beautiful view of the city. Constructed in the 18th century, this fortress is located on the outskirts of the Bascarsija area and, though it is a bit of a hike up here, it provides some of the most picturesque views of the city.
On the walk up, you will pass a large cemetery that will also put into perspective the absolute human toll that the Siege of Sarajevo had on the city.
Two Days in Sarajevo Itinerary
Day two of this Sarajevo itinerary sees you heading a little further away from the old town and learning more about Sarajevo’s fraught recent history. If you want to dig deeper and learn a little bit more, you will find that some of the best things to do in Sarajevo lie a bit outside of the city centre.
War Tunnel Museum
Located close to the Sarajevo Airport, the War Tunnel Museum offers a fascinating insight into how the city was able to survive and receive provisions and aid during the siege. The museum is at the sight of an 800-metre tunnel than ran from the Serbian occupied areas to the free Bosnian areas of the city outside of sniper detection. The construction and location of the tunnel, close to the airport, was crucial in Sarajevo’s survival during the siege.
The tunnel was built in a family home and while the house was later returned to the family after the war, they decided to open it up as a museum rather than move back in. Much of the family still work in the museum today. You can walk a small portion of the tunnel here, along with learning about the logistics of building the tunnel and some overall effects of the war. Entry is 5 BAM per person. You can also book a guided tour including transport here.
Sarajevo Bobsled Track
North of the city on one of surrounding hills lies one of the top attractions in Sarajevo, the abandoned bobsled track. This massive bobsled track was originally built for the 1984 Winter Olympics but has since fallen to disrepair and has become a popular place for graffiti artists and urban explorers. You can walk a portion of the track and admire the architecture and the artwork that now adorns it.
You can reach the bobsled track by taking the Trebevic Cable Car (which begins close to the Sarajevo Brewery) up to the mountain. It is then about a 10-minute walk down to the track and about an hour more back into the city centre. For tourists, the cable car tickets cost 15 BAM one-way and 2o BAM for a return trip. It is also possible to reach the bobsled track by taxi.
Located on another of the hills surrounding Sarajevo is the Jewish Cemetery, which is actually the second-largest in Europe after the one in Prague. Here you can see just how vast and old the Jewish community in Sarajevo was, with populations of both Sephardic and Askenazi descent.
The more modern significance of the cemetery is also heartbreaking, as its location was used as a lookout point for Serb snipers during the siege. From the cemetery, you can see how distinct the view into central Sarajevo really is and just how dangerous the city was for civilians during the siege.
You can see all of these sites and more on the Sarajevo Siege Tour run by Sarajevo Funky Tours. This half-day tour runs daily at 09:00 and 14:00 includes transportation in a small van along with an incredibly knowledgable guide. This is especially beneficial at the War Tunnel Museum where many of the descriptions are not in English.
After seeing these sites, it’s time to head to yet another museum. The 11/07/95 Gallery located in the city centre is another one of Sarajevo’s best museums and can give visitors some incredible and heartbreaking insight into the Srebrenica Massacre in 1995.
This museum is a collection of photographs from the massacre and its aftermath that really deeply convey the devastation of this horrific act of ethnic cleansing. There are no descriptions to any of the photos so it is highly recommended that you pay the extra entry fee in order to get the audio guide. Plan to spend about two hours in the gallery to fully get through all of the photos and watch the films that are also on display.
Entry without the audio guide is 12 BAM and with the audio guide, entry is 15 BAM.
After a fairly grim day of learning about Sarajevo’s tortured past, take the time to see an incredible view of the city and enjoy one of its modern marvels: the Twist Tower.
This skyscraper located close to the central bus and train station in Sarajevo is the tallest building in the Balkans at 172 metres at its tallest point and you can access the viewing platform at the top for incredible vistas of the city below. Take the lift to the 35th floor and pay the 2 BAM at the turnstile to access the panoramic viewing platform. The turnstile only accepts .50, 1, and 2 BAM coins.
You can also enjoy a drink or coffee from the cafe on the 35th floor.
Sarajevo Restaurants & Cafes
There is a pretty good restaurant and cafe scene in Sarajevo and there are numerous places to eat and drink in the city. Whether you’re looking for a hip sit-down restaurant serving up international favourites or a traditional hole-in-the-wall churning out Bosnian specialities, Sarajevo has got what you’re looking for! If you’re wondering where to eat in Sarajevo, have a look through our top recommendations:
Restaurants in Sarajevo
Dveri — A great Bosnian restaurant located in the Bascarsija area, they have both local specialities and some vegetarian options. The service is friendly and helpful and they also a great wine list with locally-produced wines. It does get busy, so it is advised either to arrive early or book in advance.
Barhana — Another great dinner option in Bascarsija, they have a range of both Bosnian and international specialities including pasta dished and pizzas. Service is friendly, prices are affordable, and portions are large.
Blind Tiger — Located in the city centre, this burger-cum-cocktail bar is an excellent place to grab a hearty bite to eat while enjoying a speciality cocktail or local craft beer. They have vegetarian options and also have a great happy hour deal.
Fast Food in Sarajevo
Ćevabdžinica Željo — An excellent cevapi place in Bascarsija, they have a simple menu and very affordable prices. This is an excellent place if you’re looking for a quick, cheap, and filling lunch of local favourites.
Buregdžinica Bosna — An excellent place to get Bosnian pies and burek (it is only called burek in Bosnia if it is filled with meat), the prices here are incredibly affordable and they charge by weight. Some of the best burek in the city!
Cafes in Sarajevo
Teahouse Džirlo — If you’re on the hunt for a place to chill out after a long day of sightseeing, then this is the place to do it. Run by an incredibly friendly owner, he has a range of teas and speciality drinks in a comfortable setting. If the weather is fine, aim to get a seat outside.
Ministry of Cejf — This is a great place to go for a speciality roasted coffee. They roast their own beans on-site and offer both espresso drinks and traditional Bosnian coffee in their cafe. You are also able to purchase beans for your own use here.
Boutique Mercato — A cosy and hip coffee shop located close to the Gradski Trgnica, they have a range of great espresso drinks, comfortable seating, and a chilled-out atmosphere.
Where to Stay in Sarajevo
There are numerous places to stay in Sarajevo no matter your preferences or budget. Whether you’re looking for convivial backpacker’s hostel or a hip boutique hotel, Sarajevo has got you covered. If you’re wondering where to stay in Sarajevo, have a look at these top suggestions:
Hostel Franz Ferdinand — This centrally-located is a great place for budget and solo travellers alike. They have numerous clean rooms — both dorm and private — available, helpful staff, good common areas, and breakfast included in the nightly price. Click here to see their availability
Hotel VIP — A chick hotel in the city centre, they have a number of clean and comfortable rooms available, helpful and attentive staff with 24-hour reception, and a restaurant (with room service!) on site. Click here to see their availability
Hotel Sana — Another great, centrally-located hotel option, this place has numerous clean, comfortable and stylish rooms available, 24-hour reception, a restaurant and bar on site, and is situated within easy walking distance of all of Sarajevo’s main attractions. Click here to see their availability
Airbnb — If you would rather stay in your own apartment or in a room in a local’s home, then Airbnb is an excellent choice for you. There are a number of great properties available on the platform — like this chic and centrally-located apartment. Click here to browse the best Airbnbs in Sarajevo.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to find other hotels in Sarajevo!
Figuring out the best things to do in Sarajevo doesn’t have to be difficult. The Bosnian capital has so much to offer visitors in a compact and easy-to-manage area that makes any length of time in Sarajevo worthwhile!
When travelling in Sarajevo, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you looking for things to do in Sarajevo? Have you been before? Let us know in the comments!