Sarajevo through Iemke’s eyes

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Why Sarajevo?

Iemke wanted to take a road trip through the Balkans with her family. They have friends in Slovenia and they had already been to Croatia. A good friend of Iemke’s is from Bosnia, so this time they decided to go to this country. “Mostar and Sarajevo were high on our list, but we chose Sarajevo now. Together with our friend Igor we made a plan for what to do and see in three days.” According to Iemke, this is enough to see the highlights and get a good impression of the city.

Iemke and her husband Robert enjoy visiting cities. “I studied history and in cities you can find a lot of history – Sarajevo, for example, was an important place during the Bosnian War. I also like Eastern atmospheres and in Sarajevo you can see a lot of influences from Turkey.”

“Visit the largest mosque in Bosnia – A peaceful oasis near the busy bazaar”

What immediately caught your attention in Sarajevo?

“What stands out is the enormous Turkish/Ottoman influence, which you can see in the people, the architecture, the restaurants – basically in the whole atmosphere. Especially near the bazaar, it’s like you are in Turkey.”

What are your recommendations?

✔️ Do the ‘Sarajevo under siege’ day tour with ‘Meet Bosnia’. “We didn’t want to immerse our 7- and 9-year-old sons in the war story and wanted to find a good balance between activities, so we didn’t go to museums. This tour was in English, so they didn’t understand most of it. For us, it was really nice to get a better overview of the historical events. I found it very impressive and interesting.” Iemke definitely recommends booking a tour. “In the city, there are signs with information about important events, but you can only read this. With a tour like this, it’s more of an experience and the history comes alive more. The young man who did the tour lived in Sarajevo and he also shared his personal story.” According to Iemke, ‘Meet Bosnia’ also offers a tour to Visoko, a town just outside Sarajevo. “That tour is about the pyramid-shaped mountains that are there. I’ve heard very good stories about that.”

✔️ Visit Sarajevo’s war tunnel – which was dug under the airport during the war – and its museum. During the war, the airport’s runway was the only way to escape the city, but it was very dangerous there. The tunnel allowed people to get out of the city during the siege of Sarajevo. But also soldiers, food and medicine entered or left the city through the tunnel. Iemke highlight recommended visiting this. A tip: “I would really do this with a tour guide, because it is not as structured and orderly as the museums as we know them. There is a lot of stuff hanging around and a lot of it is not in English. You can’t go into original tunnel anymore, it’s too dangerous. But they made a replica that you can walk through. Very interesting!”

✔️ Go to Trebević, a mountain south of the city center, where the old bobsled run from the 1984 Winter Olympics is located. “I highly recommend it! The cable car up there goes very high, that alone is fun. You have a nice view of Sarajevo at the top. From there, you can walk down to the bobsled run. There is also beautiful graffiti art on the walls.”

✔️ Go to Sarajevska čaršija, a well-known landmark square. From here, walk into the Baščaršija bazaar. It is located in the old Ottoman part of the city where most of the mosques are also located. There, you’ll also find a square surrounded by Turkish teahouses. A very nice place to sit, according to Iemke. “This is a very cozy area, even at night. In the square, there are a lot of pigeons. The children really enjoyed feeding the pigeons (you can buy the food there).”

✔️ Eat Italian! Near the bazaar, the family ate at Barhana, an Italian restaurant. “From the bazaar, we followed small alleys and found this restaurant. It was crowded and that is usually a good sign. We ate very good food and it’s a super atmospheric place. We actually went there twice, for lunch and dinner. It’s always full, so you have to wait a while. But it is worth the wait!” You can find more tips for good food here.

✔️ Near the bazaar is also the Gazi-Husrev-Begmosque, the largest mosque in Bosnia. “A peaceful oasis near the busy bazaar,” Iemke says.

Gazi Husrev-beg Moskee in Sarajevo, photo via

What would you skip?

Do you want to visit one of the many war museums? It’s smart to find out in advance where you want to go. According to Iemke, there are a lot of museums and the quality is not the same everywhere. “For example, you have museums in a living room, where someone has displayed on a shelf, so to speak, all the shells he has found in recent years. That can be nice, but be aware of this.”

Furthermore, in the outlying area surrounding the city center, which is much more industrial and slightly more modern, there is not much to see for tourists. “Stay in and around the old center,” was also the tip from Iemke’s tour guide.

Last but not least, keep in mind that Sarajevo is big. “By bus, it took an hour to get to the tunnel from the center, which is just outside the city. And there are many hills, so bring good walking shoes!”

What is your fondest memory?

Iemke was very impressed with Bosnia. “I highly recommend it, even with kids! In the Balkan countries, the pace is slower, the people are super friendly and nothing is too crazy. They are used to children in restaurants. The bazaar with stores with knick-knacks is fun for kids, as is the cable car. Even the day tour was doable for our sons.”

“Despite being afraid of heights on cable cars, I thought it was really cool to see the whole city slowly appear as we went up and find the bobsled run there. The Winter Olympics were here in 1984. Six years later, there was war and the tracks were used as bunkers and artillery posts. I found that the most impressive.”