Things to do in Sarajevo, insiders tips!

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Many songs have been written and sung about Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the city where east and west merge effortlessly. There is no need to look long and hard for the perfect picture as the city is hidden in a long valley and surrounded on all sides by mountains and greenery. But this is not all, what makes Sarajevo so special are the people who live there or as locals say; 'Sarajevska raja'.
Sarajevo city hall, photo credit: Pexels / papatyayameftun

Sarajevo city hall

A must see – and what you must have seen passing by on a postcard – is ‘Vijecnica’; Sarajevo’s city hall. Designed in 1892 by Alexander Wittlek, it was inspired by Cairo mosques, and reflects an architectural fusion of East and West. Due to illness, he was never able to finish the structure and it was done by Ciril Ivekovic. In 1992, during the siege of Sarajevo, the city hall was completely destroyed, more than 2 million books were lost. The beautiful building has since been restored and stands again in all its glory. An impressive place to visit that takes you back to different periods of history. Did you know that the Austro-Hungarian archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot here and this was the start of World War I?

View of Sarajevo from the cable car

Cable car and mountain Trebevic

Sarajevo can be quite busy, especially in summer. Besides tourists, many people from the diaspora, come to visit their hometown or country. The nice thing about Sarajevo is that it is located in a valley and surrounded by mountains. Should it get a little too crowded, you can always get out of the city by seeking nature and fresh air. The cable car to Trebevic has 33 cabins and within 7 minutes (yep, it goes pretty fast) you suddenly find yourself in another world. An oasis of calm, overlooking Sarajevo and you’ll take great photos! There are several walking routes. Tip! Visit the old bobsled from the Olympic Games (1984) or walk (takes a bit longer) to Pino Nature Hotel for a coffee.

Yellow Fortress / Zuta Tabija

Don’t have time to take the cable car up? But still want a phenomenal view of the city? From Bascarcija, walk towards the Islamic cemetery, and continue your walk via the Kovaci district towards the ‘Zuta Tabija’ (Yellow Fortress). Go around sunset, this provides a fantastic panorama of the city. In the summer months, it’s great to relax there with a cool and pleasant breeze, drink in your hand and your day can’t go wrong!

Green oasis Vrelo Bosne

You don’t necessarily have to go into the mountains to escape the city bustle. Park/nature reserve Vrelo Bosne is 15 km from the centre of Sarajevo and as the source of the river Bosna, it forms a green oasis close to the city. Imagine beautiful lakes full of fish, swans and small green islands. In summer, temperatures here are slightly lower than in the city, so a favourite destination of locals.

Fotocredit Bistro Zdrava Hrana

Beste places to eat

After all the walking and exploring, you must have gotten hungry. In Sarajevo, you have plenty of options; traditional food, affordable and lots of meat. Should you want to try something else besides cevapcici and pitas, here are a few options tested by us! Something other than meat? Then head to the vegetarian restaurant Zara iz Duvara (The Singing Nettle), plenty of healthy options.

If you want to enjoy fine dining in style with stunning views, the Kibe Mahala restaurant is the place to be. There is often acoustic live music in the evening and you have a phenomenal view of the city.

Restaurant Kibe Mahala in Sarajevo

Are you in the city centre, and want good food but don’t have to look far. We have the place for you: Klopa, a cosy and colourful place, here you go for tasty and uncomplicated Bosnian food. Portions are generous and try typical Bosnian coffee. Not far outside Sarajevo (15 min by car) is the restaurant Toplik, a large family restaurant surrounded by nature and specialising in fish specialities. It also has a small pond with fish. Here, too, there is often live music on weekends, so feet off the floor. To start your day off right with healthy options, head to Bistro Zdrava Hrana. From acaibowl, granola yoghurt and humus salad, there’s something for everyone. Bon appetit!

Where to stay?

A few accommodations we have tested ourselves and can recommend!

Foto via Hotel Europe

Hotel Europe

Located in the heart of the city, this hotel built in Austro-Hungarian style has been a silent witness to Sarajevo’s history and has hosted the world’s most notable personalities. A good option if you like historic hotels with authentic story.

Via Airbnb

Last years, an editorial board member stayed in this flat, heart of the city centre, on the first floor, opposite the tram station. Nice bonus is that the same building (ground floor) houses a restaurant and café, so you don’t have to look long if you are hungry ;-).

Hecco Deluxe in the old town

We chose this hotel for its fantastic location as well as views of the city centre and surrounding hills. The hotel has a roof terrace, you can grab a bite to eat in the tenth-floor restaurant or enjoy a drink in the bar/lounge.

Best view from hotel Hecco Deluxe

Get your feet off the floor

When visiting a city for the first time, it is useful to know where to find nice bars or cafes with live music for a night out. Three tips from our locals!

People’s cafe club/ lounge bar is located at Kranjčevićeva 20 and their motto is; ‘don’t waste your time at home’. Pretty clear language. They organise various events and activities, such as wine nights, varied music nights during the week and several local bands perform on weekends. A favourite spot of the locals.

Aquarius is located in Vilson promenade (a walking area stretching along the Miljacka river), and an interesting fact is that this area is closed to traffic on weekends, providing a special oasis of calm. During the day you can go there for (business) lunches, and the evening is a favourite ‘happy hour after work’ spot. After 10pm, the rhythm is picked up with DJs and bands and the feet go off the floor.

Another favourite spot of locals is the City Pub Sarajevo on Hadžiristićeva bb in the city centre. Besides the regular programmes and concerts organised by the club itself, there is also a cultural stage where less famous artists can perform.

City Pub Sarajevo, photo via website

5 x favourite places to eat in Sarajevo.