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Sarajevo

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Sarajevo Region : Sarajevo
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Sarajevo [1], the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a lively city of 400,000 people, nestled in a valley, mainly within the Bosniak(Muslim)-Croat Federation, but with parts in the Republika Srpska.

Understand

The bridge in Sarajevo where Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand was killed by a Serbian assassin setting off WWI

Sarajevo is one of the most historically interesting cities in Europe. It is the place where the Western & Eastern Roman Empire split; where the people of the Eastern Orthodox east, the Ottoman south and the Roman Catholic west, 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.

Today the city has physically recovered from most of the war damage caused by the Yugoslav Wars of the early nineties. Sarajevo is a cosmopolitan European capital with a unique Eastern twist that is a delight to visit. The people are very friendly, be they Bosniak, Serb, or Croat. There is very little crime, not nearly as many tourists as on the Dalmatian coast and a wealth of architecture (not to mention history) to see.

Getting there and back

By plane

Sarajevo Airport is connected with major European & Asian cities by a number of airlines.

By train

Train services across the country are slowly improving once again, though speeds and frequencies are still low. Much of the rail infrastructure was damaged during the recent conflict, and lines have been opened on a priority basis, though not to the high level of service pre-war.

Interrailnet (official Interrail website) has a good map of the Bosnian rail network

From/To Hungary

The night train service Budapest Déli-Sarajevo ended on December 15, 2006. A day train now leaves Budapest (Keleti pu. station) daily at 9.30, arriving in Sarajevo at 21.39. One-way tickets cost 52 Euro or the return ticket costs 48.10 Euro (11,600 forint + 750 forint compulsory reservation). Note that this is cheaper than a single ticket. There is a dining car. You will be bothered at least four times for your passport, and around four times for your ticket, and once by very nosy and insistent EU customs staff.

The return train departs at 7:14 every morning for Budapest, via Osijek, in Croatia, and costs 96 KM. It arrives at Keleti pu. station at 19:03. For more information visit Hungarian Timetable or Hungarian State Railways (in Hungarian).

From/To Croatia

A train leaves Zagreb daily at 08:57, arriving in Sarajevo at 18:24. The return train to Zagreb, via Zenica, Doboj and Banja Luka, departs at 10.41. It arrives in Banja Luka at 15.34. A return ticket to Banja Luka costs 35KM. The train does NOT have a dining car on board, though men with trolleys will board the train at various points on the journey. Be advised to bring supplies beforehand!!

See below for trains to/from Ploče.

From/to 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:

  • 06:40, arriving in Sarajevo at 10:18, via Mostar at 08:04
  • 16:20, arriving in Sarajevo at 20:10, via Mostar at 17:56

Trains from Sarajevo to the south:

  • 06:25, arriving in Ploče at 10:22, via Mostar at 08:50
  • 18:18, arriving in Ploče at 22:06, via Mostar at 20:40

Single tickets from Sarajevo to Mostar cost 9.90KM. 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 Croatian Railways website for more information.

By car

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 80kph). 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).

  • From Zagreb (Croatia) - taking direction to Slavonski Brod - Derventa - Doboj - Zenica - Sarajevo
  • From Adriatic Sea - taking ferry Ancona - Zadar, then by car Zadar - Split - Metkovic - Mostar - Sarajevo.
  • From Belgrade (Serbia) - taking direction to Sabac - Zvornik - Vlasenica - Sokolac - Sarajevo.

By bus

There are two bus stations in Sarajevo, the main bus station ('autobusna stanica', by the train station) serving Croatia and destinations within the Bosnian Federation. 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 'Istochno 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 104 and 107 bus/trolleybus and ask people how to get to Lukavica bus station. 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.

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 6, 7, 7:35, 8, 8:15, 9, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 15:30 and up to 18, 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 (5-6 hours) and a daily bus to Dubrovnik which leaves at 7am and costs 40KM/160KN.

There are several buses a day from the main bus station to Banja Luka. These leave at 5:00, 07:55, 09:15, 14:30, 15:30 and 16:30. Journey time is approximately 5 hours.

The bus ride to Podgorica in Montenegro takes about 7 hours but is an absolutely amazing ride through some wonderful countryside (mostly through Republika Srpska). One of bus goes at 14:00. Cost is 27 KM or 14 Euro, Euro is acceptable (Oct 2006).

Buses to Tuzla leave from the main bus station approximately every hour every day. The journey takes approximately 3 hours, and costs around 11KM (June 2006).

There is a daily bus to Graz and Vienna, leaving from the main bus station at 08:00, reaching Graz at 19:45 and Vienna around 2 hours later. A single youth ticket (under-26) is 77KM, including compulsory reservation. You will have to pay the driver 2KM to transport luggage. There are frequent stops on the way, including for food and toilets.

The journey to Belgrade takes about 7-9 hours and was 28KM (bought from the bus driver) in September 2005. The bus departs from Lukavica bus station in Eastern Sarajevo. There are several buses a day. As of April 2007, there is now a daily service from the main bus station, cost 35KM.

There are many bus lines 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.

Get around

'New Sarajevo' at dusk as seen from a hill overlooking the old town

The center of Sarajevo is served by a spinal tram network which makes an anti-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 1.80KM). 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. Please note that inspectors board public transport very frequently.

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 streetcorner. 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. 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.

See

File:Sarajevo Turkish Center.jpg
Sarajevo Square in Turkish Area
  • At the heart of Sarajevo is the city's Old Town. The cobbled streets, mosques and Oriental style shops are a world away from Europe, and when the call-to-prayer music starts, one could be forgiven for thinking that they were actually in the Middle East.
  • The Sarajevo Tunnel Museum shows the tunnel which was used to ferry supplies into the besieged city during the conflict and is next to the airport. Taxi from the centre costs around 17KM one way. Entrance to the museum is 5KM. It is open 7 days a week from 9 to 5. Get the number three (3) tram to the end of the line from the city centre. Then get a taxi to the tunnel museum and walk back to the tram station if it's a nice day (takes about half an hour). The tunnel itself is in the garden of a house so don't be worried if you think you're headed into suburbia!

Do

A minaret and the hills of Sarajevo.
  • Sarajevo's surrounding hills offer fantastic views over the city, but some landmines from the war still exist on some of them. To be safe, stick to paved roads and sidewalks and do not walk into fields, grass, or wooded areas. Also be alert for stray (and possibly rabid) dogs when venturing out of the city. The hills also offer a taste of suburban Bosnian life, including some of the surviving wooden mosques from before the war.

There is now a walking guide to Bosnia's 2000m peaks. It is called Forgotten Beauty and is available from the 'Buy Book' book shop in the centre of Sarajevo (In English and Bosnian).

  • Go to famous Olympic Stadium and follow a match of Sarajevo Football Club. Though football quality is very poor it is interesting to follow a match in a stadium which hosted the opening ceremony of 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympic Games peacefully just a few years before civil war broke out.
  • Visit one of the many cemeteries located within city limits. With white marble grave stones for those who gave their lives at their 20s during civil war these cemeteiries are quite visit worthy.
  • See Markale market place, very close to Bascarcija, which marked the start of NATO intervention and thereby end of the civil war after a Serbian bombing which took the life of some 40, including Croats and Serbs as well. Markale was bombed two times, first in Feb 1994 and second in Aug 1995. First is important in terms of casualties and second is important in terms of initiating NATO military intervention.
  • Though it is not situated within Sarajevo city limits but in a somehow remote place, some 150 kms from Sarajevo, visiting Srebrenica which has witnessed one of the world's deadliest massacres in July 1995 is quite important for those who are interested in recent history. Buses for Srebrenica depart both from main bus station at 07.10 (take a taxi or tram 1) and Eastern Sarajevo station at 08:40 (take trolleybus 103). Both busses take four hours to Srebrenica.

Please note the memorial (mezar) for the massacre is not in Srebrenica but in a nearby village called Potocari. Tell to driver and his asistant to let you off at Potocari. After seeing the memorial you can take a taxi (cost 3 KM) to go to Srebrenica which still looks like a dead city. Returns to Sarajevo are at 14:30 for Eastern Sarajevo and 16:30 for main bus station.

Events

  • The International Festival Sarajevo "Sarajevo Winter" - The first festival was held in 1984 during the Olympic Games in Sarajevo. Since then, it is being held regularily each year and brings into the city various artists from around the world. Interesting thing about the festival is that it has not stopped even during the war.

Eat

Budget

Sarajevo has countless shops selling burek (meat pie, sold in layers by weight), cevapi and pizza stores. Pita is a filo pasty pie coming in several varieties - cheese (sirnica), cheese and spinach (zeljanica), pumpkin (tikvinica), and spicy potato (krompirusa). It is normally eaten with yoghurt sauce.

Mid-range

  • Inat Kuca, Veliki Alifakovac 1, Bascarsija. An old Turkish house by the river converted to a lovely restaurant selling hearty stew-like meals.
  • Park Princeva, Iza Hrida br. 7 (+387 61 222 708). Slightly more expensive than Inat Kuca, also serving Bosnian food. Located on one of the hills of the city, you have a beautiful view, especially around sunset, when you can hear the prayers from the mosques around the valley.
  • Capucino, Grbavica, Sarajevo, Excellent Restaurant serving old traditional Bosnian and Italian food. You can try delicious bosnian meals and the best pasta and pizza in the region. Capucino Restaurant is near river Miljacka in green area.
  • The Hacienda, Bazardzani 3, Sarajevo, Mexican food, cocktails and late licience[2]
  • Karuzo, Mehmeda Spahe bb, Sarajevo, While it doesn't serve traditional Bosnian food, this restaurant features a vegetarian/fish based menu, with a mostly Italian influence (although Sushi is also available). The pasta dishes are also highly recommended. Its a very intimate restaurant seating only 18 at a time, the chef takes your order prepares the food and serves it himself.

Drink

  • Tre Bicchieri Wine Store & Tasting Bar, Kranjceviceva 8, tel. + 387-33-222654, [3]. Long list of Italian wines. Very cozy and comfortable place. Good music & relaxing atmosphere.
  • Central Cafe, Štrosmajerova 1 in the Bascarsija, Tel: 033/ 200-442 [4] - Cocktail bar with great music. Get there early or call to reserve a table. The place is very busy until midnight when people leave to hit the various nightclubs around town. The street is a whole promenade with many other cafes around.
  • Baghdad Cafe, Bazardzani 4 (across from Hacienda in Bascarsija) [5] - Tel: 033/ 121-121 - Danceclub/hookah bar in one of the most crowded areas of the Old Town for nightlife.

Sleep

Budget

There are numerous houses around town offering accommodation in rooms for as little as 3KM per night (around 1,5 euro), 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.

One of the options is local hostel named SARTOUR. Their web page is: www.sartour-hostel-sarajevo.ba . They work in price range from 10 to 15 euros per person per bed per night for accommodation and can also recommend alternative accommodations.

When you tire 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 - virtually the only one which does actually have rooms right there. They're cheap (30 euros for a twin room) and cosy 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.

One useful apartment is Skend, located about 15 minutes walk from the centre, but with comfortable, large rooms and breakfast available. Around 30KM. Tel: +387 61537775, or, for English, +387 912523834

The first address for an overview of budget accommodation of any kind is still 'Sarajevo Accommodation' run by Mersad Bronja, better known as 'Miki'. He arranges overnight stays in privat rooms as well as hostels, pensions and hotels in Sarajevo and its surroundings. Contact http://www.sarajevo-accommodation.com for further information.

Another option, 200 meters from the Old Town in the neighborhood of Bistrik is a very nice, sophisticated and modern place for excellent prices. It is called MD Apartmani and is family-run. More info can be found at [6]

Mid-range

  • One of the best value hotels (many approach UK prices) is Motel Sokak, Mula Mustafe Bašeskije 24 Tel:+387 (0)33 570 355 / +387 (0)33 446 344 e-mail: contact@sokak-motel.com. It's small clean, quiet, friendly and comfortable, in an old building but modern inside. Top marks for location, just down the road from the old town central square and the tram stop. Double is 68 euros for the room.
  • Pansion Cobanija charges 100KM (€50) per person per night, for a room with a private bathroom and satellite television. The rooms are clean and well-kept, and a continental breakfast is provided.
  • Hotel Michele [7] This small paradise is probably the best "family" hotel in the city. The staff is wonderfully nice, breakfast and laundry included and also features private parking with direct elevator access to the room floors and wireless high speed internet.

Splurge

Stay safe

The building of former Republic's Executive Council (Government of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina) in the center of Sarajevo. It's exterior is completely rebuilt now while new tenants (Ministries of the B&H Council of Ministers - current Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina) are expected to move in early Spring 2007.

There are still many minefields and unexploded ordinances in the Sarajevo area and its surrounding suburbs. Never go into damaged buildings and always stick to paved surfaces. Areas that are not cleared are marked by yellow tape or signs, but still not all minefields are identified. Paved roads are always safe. Crime against foreigners is rare and the city is safe to visit (as with any countries in former Yugoslavia, be careful not to get into sensitive discussions about politics with people you do not know).

Get out

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!



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