Difference between revisions of "Sarajevo"
Revision as of 10:58, 27 February 2013
Sarajevo , the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a lively city of 430,000 people (urban area), nestled in a valley, mainly within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but with parts in the Republika Srpska entity.
Sarajevo is one of the most historically interesting and varied cities in Europe. It is a place where the Western & Eastern Roman Empire split; where the people of the Roman Catholic west, Eastern Orthodox east and the Ottoman south, met, lived and warred. It has been both an example of historical turbulence and the clash of civilizations, as well as a beacon of hope for peace and tolerance through multi-cultural integration. The city is historically famous for its traditional religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting there for centuries.
Today, the city has physically recovered from most of the war damage caused by the Yugoslav Wars of the 1992-1995. Sarajevo is a cosmopolitan European capital with a unique Eastern twist that is a delight to visit. The people are very friendly, be they Bosniaks, Croats, or Serb. There is very little crime, and the city ranks as one of the safest in South Eastern Europe. The travel guide series, Lonely Planet, listed Sarajevo as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2010. In 2011, Sarajevo became the only city outside the European Union to be nominated for the European Capital of Culture in 2014.
The city is very tourist friendly, especially once you get to the city centre. There is a main tourist info office in the center of town, take the #1 tram in front of the station and it will take you to town or just walk for about 20 min going right out of the train station and follow the river. Tram #1 will follow the river up until Bascarsija square (in the Turkish quarter) where it will make a 180 degree turn and drive back towards the station. The Bascarsija tram stop is located directly after the tram turns away from the river.
If you are not staying at a hotel (i.e. a private residence), you must register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival. Failure to register may result in a fine or possible removal.
The following airlines operate service to/from Sarajevo Airport:
Getting to/from the airport by direct public transportation has been made significantly easier with route 200E  operating directly to the city centre. Alternatively, you can take Bus #36 to Nedžarići (1.6 KM). The bus stop is located on the main road outside the airport parking lot. At Nedžarići, you can change for a tram to the city centre (1.6 KM). Bus #36 runs about every 30 minutes. Service hours are 06:00-23:00 Mon-Fri, 06:00-08:00 and 14:00-18:00 Sat and 08:00-15:00 Sun. Alternatively, take the tram to the Ilidža terminus and get a Nr. 37 bus (to Grbavica), the airport is the second stop (also on the main road across the parking lot). Check the times on the website, there is a departure at 13.30. The routemap in the Sarajevo Navigator is handy when explaining where you want to go.
Taxi fares to/from the airport are surprisingly expensive for the short distance, an alternative is to take a taxi to the tram terminus at Ilidža and then take the tram into the city centre (1.6 KM). There seems to be a taxi cartel even at Ilidža station - all drivers that I asked wanted 10KM to the airport, which is more than 3 times the going rate and were unwilling to negotiate.
From/To Hungary The direct train from Sarajevo to Budapest was cancelled on December 9, 2012, due to lack of demand. Now, there is no direct service however, one option is to travel via Belgrade. A train now leaves Budapest (Déli pu. station) daily at 09:56, arriving in Sarajevo at 21:20. One-way ticket costs more than the return ticket (€53.20). There is a dining car, but it is only operational until the train reaches Pécs and only takes Hungarian Forint. Bring some food as you otherwise will not have access to buy any for the duration of the trip after Pécs, which is over 9 hours. Typically, it departs from platform 1 and the first two cars are for Sarajevo, which may not be hooked up when the initial train arrives. So wait and do not panic. You will be bothered at least four times for your passport, and around four times for your ticket. The return train departs Sarajevo daily at 06:55 for Budapest, via Osijek and Pécs, costing 105.90 KM. It arrives at Déli pu. station in Budapest at 18:10. For more information visit Hungarian State Railways .
There are two daily trains between Sarajevo and Zagreb, as follows:
The return train to Zagreb, via Zenica, Doboj and Banja Luka, departs Sarajevo at 10:54 (having started in Ploče at 06:28). It arrives in Banja Luka at 15:42 and finally into Zagreb at 20:09. Tickets cost 22 KM one way, 26 KM return. The train does NOT have a dining car on board, though men with trolleys selling food and drink will board the train at various points on the journey. Be advised to bring supplies beforehand.
A night train leaves Zagreb at 21:24 arriving in Sarajevo at 06:39. The return train leaves Sarajevo at 21:27 and arrives in Zagreb at 06:44. While this train occasionally operates with a sleeper carriage, the inconveniently-timed border crossing from Sarajevo to Zagreb (ensuring you won't get a full night's sleep) remains! Travelling on this train has the benefit of comfort (as opposed to the bus journey taking almost the same time), or the cost factor of flying and a night's accommodation in either city. Be careful (as with all overnight rail travel), that thieves may operate on the train, stealing passports, money and mobile phones.
From Ploče via Mostar
There is another train route from Ploče in Croatia to Sarajevo via Mostar. One of the most beautiful and scenic rail routes in Europe, travelling through lakes and mountains with many tunnels and switchbacks.
Trains depart Ploče daily:
Trains from Sarajevo to the south:
Single tickets from Sarajevo to Mostar cost 9.90 KM (return: 14.10 KM). Additional trains operate each day to the town of Konjic (about half way between the two cities). Holders of an ISIC student card can get a 30% discount.
See the Croatian Railways website  for more information.
Roads in Bosnia are often only a single lane in either direction, and due to the mountainous topography tend to be very windy and speed limits are lower (mostly 80 kmh). Beware of trucks and people dangerously overtaking on any road. There are many tunnels, and you must always drive with your lights ON (day or night). However, in recent years significant modernisation has taken place. In summer 2012 major country roads are in a good to very good condition.
There are two bus stations in Sarajevo. The main bus station ('autobusna stanica', by the train station) serves Croatia and most other international destinations, as well as destinations within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is in the end of number 1 tram line that takes you to the old town (1.60 KM).
There is also another bus station in Eastern (Serb-dominated) Sarajevo on the outskirts of the city serving the Republika Srpska and destinations in both Serbia and Montenegro. To get to this bus station (called 'Lukavica' or 'Istočno (Источно) Sarajevo') it is probably easiest to book/order a taxi (cost from the Turkish Quarter was around 15KM in September 2005). If you prefer public transport, use 103 and 107 bus/trolleybus, or the 31E, all from Trg Austria and exit at the last station, and ask people how to get to Lukavica bus station (buses and trolleybuses to the city centre depart from a terminal around 200m from where the international buses arrive). Be warned that Lukavica is the name of suburb/district, not just the bus station! In this bus station, Cyrillic script is prevalent so you should probably check the spelling of your destination. Arriving at Istočno Sarajevo Bus Station, continue on the main road, having the bus station on your right - you will see the Dobrinja trolleybus stop to your right. Buy ticktes at the booth. If you need Bosnian currency there is a Visa/Mastercard cash machine (bankomat) in the nearby Tom shopping centre. To get there walk into the opposite direction of the trolleybus stop, having the bus station to your left. The shopping centre is at the next big traffic light. There are 2 cash machines (Unicredit and NLB) outside and you'll find a supermarket inside.
At the main street in central Sarajevo there is an Eurolines office near the cathedral between the old bazaar and the city centre where is possible to get bus tickets to any other country, also it is possible to get ticket to any other major cities in Bosnia like Mostar although they do not run the services, they only provide the tickets. A ticket to Zagreb costs €30, May 2008 prices and it runs three times a day. Queues tend to be much shorter, and the staff have a much stronger command of English. This can be helpful as if you do not speak Bosnian well, it can be rather hard to get good advice from the bus station. Double-check with the tourist office as they can often confirm the existence of a route or timetable that the staff at the bus station have denied!
From the main bus station, there are several buses a day to/from Mostar which also stop at Konjic and Jablanica along the way. These leave at 06:00, 07:00, 07:35, 08:00, 08:15, 09:00, 09:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 15:30 and up to 18:00, and journey time is approximately two and a half hours. Single tickets cost 13.50KM, return tickets are 19KM. There are also buses to Split (7-8 hours) and a daily bus to Dubrovnik which leaves at 07:00 and costs 40-160KN.
There are several buses a day from the main bus station to Banja Luka. These leave at 05:00, 07:55, 09:15, 14:30, 15:30 and 16:30. Journey time is approximately 5 hours.
The bus ride from Lukavica bus station to Podgorica in Montenegro takes 7 hours but is an absolutely amazing ride through some wonderful countryside on the route Lukavica-Trnovo-Rataj-Foca-Brod-Hum-Goransko-Niksic-Danilovgrad-Podgorica. As of September 2009, buses leave at 08:15, 09:00, 14:00 and 22:30. Cost is 35 KM (July 2008), which is about €18. Cost is about 40KM (Sept 2009) to Budva. Payment in Euro is accepted.
Buses to Tuzla leave from the main bus station approximately every hour every day. The journey takes approximately 3 hours, and costs around 11 KM (June 2006).
There is a daily bus to Graz and Vienna (Centrotrans/Eurolines), leaving from the main bus station at 08:00, reaching Graz at 19:45 and Vienna around 2 hours later. A one-way ticket is €44. You will have to pay the driver 2 KM to transport luggage. There are frequent stops on the way, including for food and toilets. Do not rely on this "food stops" very much as the drivers stop at the places like local coffee etc. The problem is that it is not any petrol station and you have to have the currency of the country where you are. The longest 30 min. stop is at one village local coffee in Croatia, and if you don't have any Croatian money, you'll be waiting in front of the bus for 30 min. unable to buy anything but coffee or non-alcoholic drinks.
Do not waste your time in Sarajevo if you want to travel with Eurolines and buy your ticket ASAP because the buses to European Union use to be very crowded.
There is a bus every day to Pristina in Kosovo at 22:00 from the main bus station. The bus is listed on the station schedule as travelling to Novi Pazar, Serbia. From there it travels on to Pristina. You can buy the ticket to Novi Pazar at the bus station, or from the Eurolines office mentioned above, where you can pay with credit card. It should also be noted that the second ticket does not seem to include a seat, so even if asked don't leave your seat if a new passenger asks you to. Once on the bus when your ticket is collected you can tell the controller that you are going to Pristina. The price from Novi Pazar to Pristina is 10 KM or €5, and payment is possible in Marks, Euros, or Serbian dinars. The bus arrives in Novi Pazar around 05:00, and Pristina around 10:00, with a stop in Mitrovica along the way.
Another possibility is to book a bus to Podgorica in Montenegro, and then travel from there to Pristina. From Pristina to Sarajevo, the bus leaves daily at 18:30.
The journey to Belgrade goes through amazing scenery, takes about 7-9 hours and was 28 KM (bought from the bus driver) in September 2005. The bus departs from Lukavica bus station in Eastern Sarajevo. There are several buses a day. There is also a daily service from the main bus station which departs at 06:00, costs 47 KM.
There are many bus companies linking most towns and cities in Bosnia and Hercegovina. See Centrotrans  for details (in Bosnian only). Check the transport sections of other destinations for more information. From Germany you can go by Euroliner (Centrotrans is part of it), have a look on Touring.de .
On all intercity buses you pay a fee for luggage. This fee of €1 per piece of luggage is paid to the driver upon boarding. Some drivers are rather picky about being paid in exact change in the correct currency (sometimes a local currency, at other instances requesting to be paid in Euros) and sometimes also refuse to be paid in too small coins. So keep some change ready.
A compilation of departure times from the main station can be found here: 
From Mostar, hitching a ride through the beautiful mountains up the M-17 road to Sarajevo is quite easy. Make sure you have a sign though and a Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language phrasebook would be useful. If you have trouble getting out of Mostar, change the sign to Jablanica where traffic will branch of NW to Banja Luka and then hitch on to Sarajevo from Jablanica. Sarajevo is a long thin city so try to get a lift into the centre. If not, get one at least to the tram tracks that go there from the west of the city limits.
The centre of Sarajevo is served by a spinal tram network which makes a counter clockwise loop around the central district (the first in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, opened in the mid-1870s) and a number of trolley-bus and bus lines which fan out into the suburbs. Tickets should be purchased in advance from kiosks labeled tisak on the street or from the driver, where they cost slightly more (around 1.80 KM). Tickets should be validated upon boarding the vehicle and are valid for a one way trip only. Changing tram or bus means validating a new ticket. A day card valid for unlimited travel on all local public transport in zone A is available for about 5 KM. Please note that inspectors board public transport very frequently.
The local transit network is operated by GRAS. More information including timetables can be found at the website: .
To reach the Tunnel museum in Butmir you can take the tram to the terminus at Ilidža and change there for bus 32 to Butmir. Leave the bus at Butmir, where the bus turns around to go back, near two small graveyards. From there you cross the bridge on your left hand facing the airport into Tuneli Street. A better option could be to catch a taxi from the tram terminal.
In Sarajevo, street signs are few and far between, and small and on the sides of buildings too far away to see when you're standing on a street corner. Building numbers are more or less consecutive but don't follow the "hundreds" styles of the United States, e.g., 23 Bjestiva street may be blocks from 27 Bjestiva street. An excellent map of Sarajevo is available at bookstores, all of which are located downtown and not open early or late or on holidays. Maps aren't sold in gas stations or other stores. Alternatively, the kiosk next to the Latin Bridge (a.k.a. the Princip Bridge) also sells maps. Lastly, asking Sarajevans for directions is an exercise in futility. People don't know the names of streets a block from the building they've lived in all their lives. However, they won't tell you this, and as a rule will point you in some direction, usually not the right direction. Taxi drivers can't be expected to find anything but the most obvious addresses unless you tell them where to go, in Bosnian. So buy the map before you go to Sarajevo, and when you get there walk around a bit instead of taking taxis. It's a small, beautiful city with many landmarks. Getting lost is next to impossible if you have the map, and maybe a compass.
Be careful taking taxis from the main train or bus station and the airport. The well-known "taxi scam" operates in Sarajevo, where the unsuspecting tourist will be taken to a more expensive hotel than the one he or she has asked to be taken to, and the driver and receptionist will swear that the new arrival is in fact in the right place. Many accommodation options, even the cheapest, will offer a pickup from wherever you arrive, and this is usually free or at a very minimal cost.
If you still would like to order a taxi, try 033 663 555. This was very reliable as of 2009.
Sarajevo's museums are in disrepair, due to disputes over which arm of the government is responsible for funding them. However, they are still worth visiting.
Sarajevo is a vibrant city that lives all year long. Sonar  compiles the city's regular calendar of events to make it easier to plan your visit.
Sarajevo offers excellent possibilities for winter sports, as 40 mins. drive from the town centre you find two Olympic grade mountains: Bjelasnica and Jahorina. With combined over 28 km of ski trail and 5,000 tourist beds, it offers what the winter enthusiasts want. The websites , , .
Look through a solid collection of historical literature at the old-school TKD Sahinpasic bookstore on Soukbunar 12.
If you can't afford the carpets and local copperware on sale there’s cool t-shirts for 20Km in the souk area. One such shop is Maloprodaja, Saraci 21.
Next to the Emperor´s Mosque you'll find the small shoemaker's shop "Andar". Besides old fashioned stuff they have some nice shoes, One pair of handmade sandals (Roman style) was sold for 45 KM.
Close to the Beys' Mosque (Veliki Ćurčiluk 8) you’ll find BHcrafts, a fair trade shop with lovingly hand made products: clothing, accessories, home decor and souvenirs.
Sarajevo has countless shops selling burek (meat pie, sold in layers by weight or by piece), ćevapi and pizza stores. Pita (burek, sirnica, krompirusa, tikvenica, zeljanica etc) is a filo type pasty pie generally offered in several varieties - meat (meso), cheese (Bosnian cheese called "young cheese" similar to ricotta and never aged) (sirnica), cheese and spinach (zeljanica), pumpkin (tikvinica), and spicy potato (krompirusa). It is usually served with a traditional yogurt sauce which resembles sour cream. Most Cevapi places do not serve alcohol.
Sarajevo has vibrant night life with a plenty small thematic bars. Clubs are usually opened until early morning. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are hot days to hang out despite the rest of the week offers quite good night life.
If you arrive late at night, the weather is right and you have a tent with you, you can camp quite undisturbedly in the park next to the Miljacka river. Chances are that there already some more tents put up. Follow the road on the west side of town, stay close to the river and end up around. In summer there is a public toilet. Be aware that this is wild camping, and there is no guard or anything.
There are numerous houses around town offering accommodation in rooms for as little as 3 KM per night, although they can be hard to find. Best bet is to go to one of the accommodation bureaus near the old town and find somewhere for a night (at their prices, with their 500% markup), then arrange with the landlord/lady to stay on for their own rate. When you get tired of being bundled in cars by various agencies to look at various far-flung and grotty rooms, nip one door down from Sartour's office on Mula Mustafe Bašeskije. Down a passage is an internet cafe with a big sign saying "ROOMS". They're cheap (€30 for a twin room) and cozy and clean enough, you get a little terrace and the staff are very friendly. Can be a bit noisy from the cafe and aircon though, but the location, virtually opposite the central square and right near the tram stop, is perfect. 'Sarajevo Accommodation' , run by Mersad Bronja aka 'Miki', arranges overnight stays in private rooms as well as hostels, pensions and hotels in Sarajevo and its surroundings.
There are still many minefields and unexploded ordnances in the Sarajevo area and its surrounding suburbs. Never go into damaged buildings (which are really rarely seen) and always stick to paved surfaces avoiding grassy hills that surround the city . Areas that are not cleared are marked by yellow tape or signs, but still not all minefields have been identified due to the lack of resources and the lack of International help. Paved roads are always safe. Crime against foreigners is very rare and the city is safe to visit. (As with any country in former Yugoslavia, be careful not to get into sensitive discussions about politics with people you do not know, but even those can be very educational when you come across a person who's willing to discuss it.) Be aware of pick pockets who usually operate on public transportation vehicles.
A final point on health and safety is that the air in Sarajevo can be noticeably thick with pollution, so that asthmatics or those with other chest problems may find themselves short of breath a lot of the time, particularly at night. Please do ensure you have ample medication, just in case.
United States, Alipasina 43, ☎ +387 33 445 700 (fax: +387 33 221 837), .
On the Neretva river, 43 km southwest of Sarajevo lies the town Konjic where in 2011 the Tito bunker was opened for public entrance with the bijenale contemporary art exhibition. Some of the places worth seeing when you are in Bosnia also are: Srebrenica, Mostar, Bihac, Una river, Jajce.