Many of the best things to do in Sarajevo have  Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman influences, with ornate towers peeking out from underneath a rustic backdrop. The city may be modest in size, but it’s a place where culture and history come together in a huge way. 

    While the city has endured tragedy and hardship, it’s this past life that’s helped to create the current Sarajevan landscape. Something Sarajevans may not be so well known for is their dark, sarcastic sense of humour. From a giant beef monument erected in 2007 (in homage to the expired food they received from the United Nations during the Bosnian War) to the scribbled inscriptions mocking the Serbian invaders when they tried to reclaim the city, the city has a whole host of stories to tell.

    What are the best things to do in Sarajevo?



    Sarajevo’s Old Town

    • History
    • Shoppers
    • Photo
    • Budget

    As Sarajevo’s historical and cultural centre, the 15th-century Bascarsija – otherwise known as Sarajevo’s Old Town – is the perfect place to stretch your legs, grab a hot cup of Bosnian coffee and soak up the slow-paced Sarajevan way of life.

    Check out the must-see Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, with its beautifully maintained courtyard. The nearby clock tower is the only public clock in the world that keeps lunar time “à la Turk” to indicate the times for the daily prayers. On days where the sun is shining bright, pull up a seat at the Ministry of Ćejf and bask in its welcoming warmth as you get a glimpse of local life on the cobbled streets of this historic Old Town.

    Location: Baščaršija, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina


    photo by Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Brusa Bezistan

    A remarkable place that tells a tale of Sarajevo’s history

    • History
    • Photo

    If you’re looking for an impressive Sarajevan sight that’ll tell you a tale of past and modern-day life, step foot inside the remarkable Brusa Bezistan. It may be compact in size, but this memorable museum is packed full of hidden historical gems. As you wander through its richly-decorated rooms, you’ll find colourful clothing, ancient artefacts once used in everyday Sarajevan life, and a whole world of fine texts to indulge in. Best of all, you can work your way around this mini-museum in roughly 20-45 minutes.

    Tucked away, hidden even from the inner-city locals, you may struggle to find the entrance at first. Once you locate its Ottoman-esque architecture, it’ll only cost you 3 marks to uncover the historic periods of this interesting capital city, from the Stone Age era right up until Austro-Hungarian times. It’s a real treat for hardcore history-lovers.

    Location: Abadžiluk 10, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10am to 4pm, Sundays from 10am to 3pm

    Phone: +387 (0)33 239-590


    photo by Bjoertvedt (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Sacred Heart Cathedral

    The largest cathedral in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Sacred Heart Cathedral was established in 1889 in what’s now the Old Town District of Sarajevo. This Catholic church is a superb example of neo-Gothic design, featuring a pair of spired clock towers and a vivid interior with stained-glass windows around an intricately carved high altar.

    The Sacred Heart Cathedral is not only a major landmark of Sarajevo, but also an important place of worship for Catholics in the region. A statue of former Pope St John Paul II was set up outside as a commemoration of his visit to the cathedral in 1997 to call for peace and reconciliation.

    Location: Trg Fra Grge Martića 2, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia & Herzegovina

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +387 33 210-281


    Sarajevo City Hall

    A living testament to Sarajevan resilience

    • History
    • Photo

    As a neo-Moorish architectural gem, the spectacular Sarajevo City Hall stands out like something out of a storybook. From its stunningly stained glass ceiling to its magnificent mosaic, you’ll find yourself getting lost in such beautifully decorated interiors. Also known as Vijećnica, the historical building was effectively destroyed in 1992, but was painstakingly rebuilt to how it looked in 1896, when it first opened.

    Find your way to the intriguing basement museum, where you’ll encounter various historical photographs. You won’t find many written texts so it’s worth spending a little extra for the audio app as you work your way around the atrium. You won’t need to spend more than 30-45 minutes inside, but you'll find a little piece of Sarajevan solitude that makes it worth lingering for longer.

    Location: Obala Kulina bana, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina


    photo by Aktron (CC BY 3.0) modified


    Yellow Fortress

    Sweeping views well worth the walk

    • History
    • Couples
    • Photo

    Sitting beautifully at the entrance of the "Walled City of Vratnik", the Yellow Fortress is a popular place for both locals and tourists alike to take in panoramic views of the city. Once an essential defence point for Austro-Hungarian troops, the fortress has been damaged and rebuilt a number of times but remains a strong feature of the city.

    Just a 15-minute walk from Baščaršija, you can get striking views of City Hall and the slow-paced Sarajevan downtown in one shot. You’ll also spot rows of gleaming white crosses that stretch for acres into the distance, marking those who lost their lives in the Bosnian War. While it may be a little distance to climb, catching a Sarajevan sunset from these crumbling walls is an unforgettable experience.

    Location: Jekovac, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Open: Daily from 8am to 12am


    Mount Trebević

    Hiking trails to Sarajevo’s abandoned Olympic bobsleigh track

    • History
    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Adventure
    • Unusual

    Grab your smartphone and take to the many twists and turns of Mount Trebević’s beautiful hiking trail. Starting from the Grbavica via Vraca neighbourhood, a walk of this magnitude can be tricky to navigate but it’s totally doable, as long as you've got the right coordinates. Or if you’d rather zip your way to some scenic views, you can jump on 1 of the 32 gondolas that run from the heart of Sarajevo all the way to the top. Covering over 2 km, a return ticket on these colourful cable cars will set you back just 20 marks.

    While on Trebević’s almighty top, nature lovers can rejoice with a stroll along the forest trails of the Brus excursion site while history buffs can get their fill of ancient architecture at the Čolina Kapa observatory. And no trip to Trebević would be complete without a visit to the abandoned bobsleigh track from when Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1984. A little creepy but a whole lotta cool, this graffiti-speckled sight is now a walking museum.


    photo by Tom Page (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Latin Bridge

    The most famous crossing point of the River Miljacka

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    With a whole lot of history flowing from its watery depths, Sarajevo’s ancient Latin Bridge tells a story of an important historical event. It was here, in 1914, that 18-year-old schoolboy Gavrilo Princip shot and killed the Archduke of Austria-Este, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg.

    Built by the Ottoman Empire in the 1550s and sitting firmly above the Miljacka River, as you wander across this small but powerful bridge, make your way to the museum on the street corner overlooking the bridge. Here, you’ll find the plaque detailing the spot where Ferdinand and Sophie were executed. There’s something to be said for standing in the exact place where the shots that started World War I were fired – a place where history was changed forever.

    Location: BA, Obala Kulina bana bb, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina


    photo by Tumi-1983 (CC0 1.0) modified


    Avaz Twist Tower

    Great heights for seeing the city unfold below

    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Nightlife

    Sharing the Sarajevo skyline with other impressive towering structures such as Bosmal City Center and the UNITIC Business Center, the Avaz Twist Tower is the place to go if you want a true 360-degree view of the city. Standing proud at 142 metres, grab a super speedy lift up to the observation deck on the 36th floor. Just 2 marks is all you need for this memorable open-air experience.

    After witnessing the entire city below as well as the surrounding rolling hills, take a seat in the inviting sky bar on the 35th floor. Whether you're grabbing a coffee by day or sipping on cocktails by night, this is the best spot in all of Sarajevo, and a sign of the city that Sarajevo has become.

    Location: Tešanjska 24A, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Open: Daily from 7am to 11pm

    Phone: +387 (0)33 281-350


    photo by Milan Suvajac (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Sarajevo Roses

    A moving tribute to the Siege of Sarajevo

    • History
    • Photo

    The Siege of Sarajevo from April 1992 to February 1996 was an immensely traumatic experience for the city and its people. For nearly 4 years, everyday life consisted of running a gauntlet of sniper fire and artillery. The city was repeatedly hit by an average of around 300 shells each and every day.

    When the war was eventually over, the scars that were left behind were filled in with red resin, marking the casualties who suffered at each spot. Reminiscent of flowers, they were dubbed the Sarajevo Roses by the city’s residents. It’s a moving tribute and one which will teach its visitors to tread ever more respectfully.

    photo by flöschen (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Old Town nightclubs

    Modern nightlife in the historic streets

    • Nightlife

    The Old Town of Sarajevo is well-known for its ancient architecture, but it’s also pretty happening when it comes to its nightlife. From the Middle Eastern décor of café-cum-bar Baghdad – which is packed out by locals at the weekend – to the lively nightclub that is Sloga, there’s a whole host of entertaining going-out options to suit drinkers, dancers and conversationalists alike.

    If you’re looking for a more chilled out but equally authentic experience, head to Halvat – a low-key bar set within an authentic old house. Full of Ottoman-inspired furnishings, this intriguing venue serves up a range of cocktails and local spirits as well as offering its guests the inviting tradition of shisha.

    Kiri Nowak | Contributing Writer

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