Looking for fun and unique things to do in Sarajevo?!
Having lived in this city for over a year, I have some great memories, great hidden gems, and great advice to share because I really had the time to explore this wonderful city!
Sarajevo is full of attractions and will definitely make a great impression on you as it’s very different than other cities in Europe.
Let’s dive in together!
What is Sarajevo known for?
First things first, right? What comes to mind thinking of Sarajevo?
Well, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, Sarajevo, is renowned for its extensive history and diverse culture.
You might know the city from the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary. This event sparked the start of World War I and is one of Sarajevo’s most well-known incidents.
The city is also known for the siege of Sarajevo. During the Bosnian War, the city of Sarajevo was besieged by the Bosnian Serb Army from 1992 to 1996. During this time, people experienced regular shelling, sniper strikes, and a lack of basic supplies.
Sarajevo also hosted the Olympic Games in 1984! They had some great venues back in the days. However, most of these venues nowadays look like faded glory. But it’s still very cool to explore these venues. Especially wandering around on the old bobsleigh track.
Furthermore, Sarajevo is surrounded by mountains, creating a beautiful background for the city and affording chances for outdoor pursuits including cycling, skiing, and hiking.
15 great things to do in Sarajevo
This is my list of must-sees or great things to do when you’re planning your trip to Sarajevo:
1. Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque
This is a great attraction to kick-off your visit. This mosque dates from the 16th-century and has an exquisite design and a stunning interior located in the center of Sarajevo’s old town. A great way to learn more about the old traditions in Bosnia.
Cost: between 3KM – 6KM (€1,50 – €3)
2. Sebilj Fountain
A well-known landmark in the Bascarsija neighborhood of Sarajevo’s old town market, which is renowned for its unusual Ottoman-style architecture and convenient location. You can always fill up your bottle with water here (which is very nice during the hot summers in Sarajevo).
The fountain also attracts hundreds of pigeons. They seem to feel very comfortable around the fountain.
3. Latin Bridge
As I mentioned earlier, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated on the Latin Bridge, a historic span over the Miljacka River. This sparked the outbreak of World War I. No need to buy a ticket. You can just walk from one side to the other and read the info signs.
The bridge is very close to Bascarsija. You can also visit the museum if you would like to. It’s on the opposite of the bridge.
4. Sarajevo City Hall
A majestic structure that was devastated during the Bosnian War and afterwards brought back to its original splendor. It now serves as a cultural center and museum. The museum portion of the building is relatively small, and you can visit the entire structure in under 30 minutes.
However, it’s a great symbol of mixed cultures in Sarajevo.
It’s from easy walking distance from the Latin bridge.
Cost: around 12KM (€6)
Bascarsija, the old town market area of Sarajevo, is well-known for its vibrant cafes, traditional Bosnian crafts, and stunning architecture. It’s a great place to wander around and to smell the amazing fragrances of Bosnian cuisine.
Personally one of my most favorite places in the city.
Cost: Free! (but you can buy yourself some great souvenirs here)
6. Svrzo House
This attraction is a well-preserved Ottoman-era home. Svrzo House offers a window into the standard of living of Sarajevo’s affluent citizens in the 18th and 19th centuries. Great for any fans of (Bosnian) history!
Cost: 3KM (€1,50)
7. Vrelo Bosne
A natural park on the outskirts of Sarajevo famed for its picturesque springs, hiking routes, and picnic places is called Vrelo Bosne. It’s perfect for a nice get-away with your partner, family or friends.
This park is situated in Ilidza. I studied Bosnian language here at the International University of Sarajevo (a.k.a. IUS).
8. Yellow Fortress
This is an iconic and ancient stronghold where you can go for some food and a coffee while enjoying breathtaking views of Sarajevo and surroundings. It’s quite a walk to the top, so just keep that in mind.
But it’s worth it!
Cost: Free! (however, there’s a little cafe on the top with snacks and coffee)
9. National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The history and culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina are presented in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which also features archeology, anthropology, and natural history exhibits. You’ll find a nice garden to stroll around here as well.
The cultural section might be the most interesting part. You’ll find traditional clothing, traditional housing styles and more.
Cost: Around 7KM (€3,50)
10. Tunnel of Hope (Tunel Spasa)
During the Bosnian War, goods and people were transported through the Tunnel of Hope into and out of Sarajevo. Today, it serves as a museum to remember the conflict and the courage of those who endured it.
You’ll enter the tunnel through the house on the picture below.
Cost: Around 10KM (€5)
11. Eternal Flame
This attraction is located in the center of Sarajevo. The Eternal Flame is a tribute to the victims of both World War II and the Bosnian War.
You’ll find it on the corner of Ferhadija Street and Marshal Tito Street.
12. Gallery 11/07/95
You’ll find this next to the cathedral in the city center. It’s a memorial honoring one of the deadliest massacres of the Bosnian War in Srebrenica. If you want to learn more about Bosnian history, this is a must-visit.
It’s a collection of videos (documentaries) and impressive photos.
Cost: 12KM (€6)
13. East meets West
This is more of a great photo moment. This mark divides Sarajevo into the Austro-Hungarian part and the Ottoman part of the city. This is exactly the reason why I find Sarajevo so unusual compared to other cities.
It’s the same city but the difference is really significant!
14. Bijambare Cave
Bijambare Cave is a system of underground caverns and tunnels. This will give you a thrilling experience. It’s a great place to visit for a relaxing trip as you’ll also find a nice park there.
It is however, a thirty-minute drive from Sarajevo. I would therefore recommend renting a car locally.
Cost: 6KM (€3)
15. Skakavac Waterfall
I saved the Skakavac waterfall for last as I’m pretty sure that not a lot of tourists have been here or even know about this hidden gem. On the outskirts of Sarajevo, there is a stunning waterfall, which is a great place for hiking routes and amazing views. I have been here twice and there were no other people around.
It can be a rocky road by car to get up the hill. Halfway up the hill, you are able to park your car and do the remaining path on foot.
Unusual things to do in Sarajevo
There are also some unusual things to do in Sarajevo that I would like to share with you. These activities depend on your personal interests, of course, but definitely worth checking out!
1. The Football Derby of Sarajevo
Twice per year, the two biggest clubs FK Sarajevo and FK Zeljeznicar, compete against each other in the most intense derby you’ll find in the country.
It already starts with long parades throughout the city by the fans of both clubs. Even if you’re not a football fan, it’s still cool to be be part of this experience.
If you feel like being part of this experience and you are already in Sarajevo, you can buy your tickets at a small ticket stand on Ferhadija street in the city center a couple of days before the match.
You pay around 5 or 10 Bosnian Marks which equals €2,50 or €5 per ticket.
2. Attend the Sarajevo Film Festival
Very cool! I know that film festivals are not uncommon, but the Sarajevo Film Festival stands out since many of the screenings take place in open-air theaters spread throughout the city.
It draws both international filmmakers, cinema enthusiasts and worldwide celebrities. This festival is one of the biggest film festivals in Southeast Europe.
It’s held every year in the third week of August.
3. Visit the Bunker of Marshal Tito
This former bunker, which lies about an hour outside Sarajevo, was constructed to safeguard Yugoslavia’s president and military hierarchy in the event of a nuclear attack.
The underground complex can be explored so you can learn about its past.
Things to do in Sarajevo at night
For anyone of you who are looking for things to do at night in Sarajevo (and I am pretty sure you are), here are six of my recommendations to do so.
1. Visit a traditional Bosnian restaurant
Visit a classic Bosnian restaurant. Sarajevo is well-known for its lovely Bosnian food, and there are many traditional eateries that come alive at night with live music and a lively environment. You can find some great restaurants in and around the Bascarsija area.
2. Take a night walking tour
I would recommend taking a nighttime walking tour. Even though Sarajevo’s old town is stunning during any time of day, the atmosphere is most captivating at night.
An excellent approach to see the history and architecture of the city is to go on a walking tour with a local guide.
3. Enjoy the nightlife in Bascarsija
The Bascarsija area has a very nice vibe in the evening. Locals and tourists alike enjoy a drink or two in one of the numerous cafes and bars that line its winding streets in Bascarsija, the old town market district.
4. Attend a concert or performance
Sarajevo has a thriving arts scene, and many cultural events, including as concerts and plays, happen at night. I had the pleasure to visit Dino Merlin’s concert at the Kosevo Stadium. That was a great experience!
I also went numerous times to Sloga, a place where they often hosted performances on stage.
5. Take in the city views from a rooftop bar
Sarajevo offers a large number of rooftop pubs and cafes that provide breathtaking nighttime views of the city. It’s a wonderful way to unwind while drinking a cocktail and taking in the beauty of the city. You can try the S One Restaurant & Lounge.
6. A trip to the Bosnian Valley of Pyramids in Visoko
I know, I know.. Are there pyramids in Bosnia? You probably think I’m kidding right? Not really the first question that comes to mind when thinking of Bosnia. I can’t really blame you.
In all honesty, I am not sure about the theory when I visited the site. But I do love the story. Is it just a controversial theory or does it sound like a legit story to you? Either way, the Bosnian Valley of Pyramids is a surprisingly great place to visit when you are close by.
I would definitely recommend making a day-trip to Visoko (about a half-hour drive from Sarajevo) and checking out for yourself. Preferably the best with a tour guide to get the maximum out of your experience.
How many days are enough in Sarajevo?
In all honesty, there aren’t enough days to spend in Sarajevo! No, all jokes aside, I believe you need about three or four days to get the maximum out of your visit. I don’t think Sarajevo is a city to rush through.
You would simply miss too many great things if you did as it has so much to offer. Not only in Sarajevo itself, but you can also explore the surrounding mountains like Bjelasnica, Igman or Jahorina. Great places to enjoy winter sports.
Is Sarajevo a walkable city?
The city is very walkable in my opinion. I used to walk almost every day from Grbavica (the neigborhood where I lived) to the city center and it took me about twenty minutes.
Even though Sarajevo is a capital city, it never felt to me like that. Everything seems pretty much in close proximity.
I wouldn’t recommend exploring Sarajevo by bike or scooter. It just doesn’t seem to be a city for driving around on two wheels.
If you really looking to walk longer distances, I would use a local taxi or uber to get around. Sarajevo is full of them and they are inexpensive.
If you’re thinking of exploring the surrounding mountains, I would advise to hire a car locally. Public transport isn’t ideal.
Where to stay in Sarajevo?
It depends on your budget and what type of luxury you are looking for, but here are some of my recommendations of hostel and hotels in Sarajevo.
Top 3 Best Hostels:
These three options would be my recommendation of great hostels when staying in Sarajevo.
📍Hostel Vagabond Sarajevo (rated with an amazing 9.3 out of 10)
📍Hostel Kucha (rated with an amazing 9.4 out of 10)
📍Infinity Boutique Hostel (rated with a fantastic 10 out of 10)
Top 3 Best Hotels:
These three options would be my recommendation of great hotels/pensions when staying in Sarajevo.
📍Vila Harmony (rated with a great 9.2 out of 10)
📍Hotel Colors Inn (rated with an amazing 9.6 out of 10)
📍Courtyard by Marriott Sarajevo (rated with a 8.9 out of 10)
These three hotels will give you a great experience during your stay in Sarajevo!
What to pack for Sarajevo?
Along with obvious things to pack when you travel to a city, here are some things you should keep in mind to bring with you:
- Comfortable walking shoes – The city has numerous, congested lanes and tiny streets. Therefore, Sarajevo is best visited on foot. To prevent aching feet and blisters, I suggest wearing comfortable walking shoes (and I’m talking out of experience here).
These are my recommended brands for men and women.
- Modest clothing – Although Sarajevo is a global city and there is a majority of Muslims in Bosnia, it is nevertheless vital to dress modestly in order to respect regional traditions. Packing clothing that covers the shoulders, knees, and chest is therefore necessary when visiting religious sites.
- A reusable drinking bottle – A reusable water bottle is a terrific way to stay hydrated while decreasing waste. Also, Sarajevo has several public fountains that offer free, clean drinking water. What more to wish for on a hot day?
What to eat in Sarajevo?
There are some great dishes to choose from. These are my personal favorites.
🍴Cevapi – This is Bosnian dish with sausages made from different types of minced meat. It is served on special bread (somun) with onions and ajvar or kaymak. Ajvar is a relish based on sweet bell peppers and eggplants, while kaymak is comparable to clotted cream.
My favorite cevabdzinica (a place to eat cevapi) is situated at the central square of Bascarsija. It’s called Hodzic.
🍴Burek – I think the best way to describe it is a savory pastry filled with meat (often beef or lamb), cheese, spinach, or potatoes and formed with phyllo dough. In Bosnia, it’s a well-liked breakfast item and snack. I loved it in the morning with some Kefir – fermented milk drink, cultured from kefir grains.
🍴Klepe – This dish is similar to Italian-style dumplings. They are made from a mixture of ground meat and spices, wrapped in dough and boiled. It’s most of the time served with a simple tomato sauce or broth.
🍴Bosanski Lonac – This is a lovely hearty meat and vegetable stew. It’s typically slow-cooked in a clay pot. It’s a popular dish for special occasions and holidays. Really worth to try!
Is Sarajevo Safe?
I never felt unsafe in Sarajevo. I might have more experience than the average person as I lived here for over a year. I have always felt safe walking alone on the streets, even at night.
However, you always have to be precautious and respect local customs and traditions. But Bosnians are in general very hospitable and friendly people.
I would suggest to avoid any political protests and demonstrations, as they occasionally degenerate into violence. But I’m pretty sure most of you won’t even notice these events during your stay in Sarajevo.
So, if you would ask me whether Sarajevo is safe, I would definitely say yes. You can check out my post Is Sarajevo Safe for a detailed review!
The Wrap-Up: 15 great things to do in Sarajevo
Sarajevo is a special place for me. It’s very different from other European cities. You can still feel and see the recent history when you’re wandering around.
Besides that, there is just so much to do in and around Sarajevo that will impress or surprise you.
But I’ll warn you, once you have visited Sarajevo, it’ll always draw you back somehow.
Make sure to enjoy the local hospitality, the local food and all the great attractions that the city has to offer!
If you want to know more about the main cities in the Balkans, check out my post about capital cities in the Balkans!
And if you want to visit a true Bosnian icon, check out my post about the bridge of Mostar.
Your restless voyager,