The Balkan Peninsula is the last area in Europe where civilization hasn’t taken over the vast expanses of wilderness, which is why it’s the perfect time to go. Among alpine peaks and deep gorges carved by clean rivers basking in the Mediterranean sunshine, are cities and villages dating from thousands of years before Christ.
A tormented country
One of the youngest states in the region is Bosnia and Herzegovina, abbreviated as B&H. A small country with a tumultuous history, B&H suffered a bloody war in the mid-nineties when it endured sieges by Serbian forces.
The 21st century brought the people of B&H the first period of lasting peace in about 100 years. Despite ongoing political struggles, the region is now being rediscovered by international travelers, bringing hopes that tourism can elevate the economy.
A beautiful country
The area of present-day B&H was once a popular retirement destination for soldiers of the Roman Empire. Today, luxurious modern hotels can be found not far from ancient villas dating back to the 4th century AD.
Breathtaking natural sights make Bosnia and Herzegovina an increasingly popular tourist destination, although traveling in the region still feels very much like stepping off the beaten path.
From April to October, Kravice Falls is a must-see. The 90-foot waterfall is a beautiful wild swimming spot, suitable for families with children.
In the summer months, the country is a paradise for hikers and mountain bikers, with 143 trails to explore. In winter, Bosnia and Herzegovina offer nearly 100 km of ski slopes, and the infrastructure is increasingly modernized. (In 1984, the Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo, the present-day capital of B&H.)
Rock climbers looking for endless potential for developing new routes won’t be disappointed by a visit to one of the limestone crags of Tijesno Canyon and Blagaj. Hundreds of established, well-bolted climbs are already listed in a recently published climbing guidebook.
A cultured country
The melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and world-views is what contributed to the country’s turbulent history, which also make it a fascinating place to visit. At the top of the list is definitely the capital of Sarajevo. With its magical old town and array of boutique hotels, Sarajevo is a vibrant meeting point of history, the scars of war, and modern development.
Not far from the city is Ilidza, popular for its hot springs and beautiful recreation grounds, welcoming tourists with its charming 19th century hotels. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina is nearly landlocked, a trip to the “baby Bosnian riviera” around the beautiful town of Neum is a must.
How to get there + things to know
Fly to Sarajevo or drive to Bosnia and Herzegovina from one of the surrounding countries. Combining a visit to B&H with other Balkan destinations is a good idea.
Bosnian people are friendly and crime levels are low, but landmine contamination, a legacy of the recent war, is a serious concern for outdoor enthusiasts. Luckily mines pose no threat if you stick to the well-marked trails.
The currency is Convertible Marka and travel costs are still relatively low, making B&H (as well as the rest of Balkans) a great destination for shoestring travels, or affordable luxury.