Tuzla is the third largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, located in one of the most important industrial Bosnian regions.
Tuzla's history dates back a few millenia. Seeing as it was built where the Pannonian sea once was, it has always been famous for its salt mines, which is testified by it's very name ("Tuz" being the Turkish word for salt). During Yugoslav times, it has developed into one of the most important industrial centers of the country. The city was hardly directly targeted by the war (except for some isolated incidents), but industry suffered massively as a result of the war. This left the economy of Tuzla in shambles during the 90s and most of the 2000s. In the last decade, the city has been taking significant steps to revitalize and reinvent itself as a notable tourist spot for domestic and international tourists.
Travelling to Tuzla is easy from the south, less so from the Republica Srbska or Serbia.
Buses travel regularly, typically one or more per hour, from Sarajevo, a journey which takes three hours. The price is approximately 20km. There is a regular bus from Split in Croatia, leaving Split at 8AM, travelling via Livno, and taking about nine hours to make the journey. As of July 2011, there are no longer direct buses to Osijek. A bus also travels direct from Dubrovnik.
Although Tuzla has a train station, trains run only twice daily to Doboj, twice to Brcko, once to Vinkovci in Croatia and one a day to Bos. Bijela. Rail infrastructure was heavily damaged in the recent conflict in Bosnia and Hercegovina in the 1990s and services (whilst starting to return to pre-war levels) are slow and often infrequent.
Tuzla has an airport  from where WizzAir flies to Bilund, Basel, Eindhoven, Berlin Schönefeld, Dortmund, Frankfurt Hahn, Friedrichshafen, Memmingen, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Gothenburg Landvetter, Malmö, Stockholm Skavsta and Växjö. The airport is not in Tuzla proper, but in the town of Dubrave. It is located about 15 km from the city centre.
One problem travelers will need to face if arriving to Tuzla by plane is a severe lack of means to cheaply get into the city itself. The most convenient way to travel to the city from the airport is to take a taxi, but this can cost up to 40 BAM (around €20). Taxis are not metered, so the price depends on the taxi driver, who may take advantage of your lack of knowledge to charge you more. Despite Tuzla's relatively well-developed public bus network, no bus line runs directly to the airport. The only option is to take bus line number 11, running from Tuzla to Dubrave (the village where the airport is located). The bus station is located 5-10 minutes from the airport, near the post office in Dubrave. The trip costs 2 BAM (€1). If taking the bus, you should keep in mind that any schedules info will be impossible to find unless you speak the language.
If you don't have a local who can pick you up, the only other option is to rent a car, which is easily done since numerous trusted agencies have set up operations at the airport. Prices start at around €11 per day for a basic car (such as Peugeot 301, Volkswagen Polo, or Škoda Fabia).
Since Tuzla is rather compact and dense, there is not much need to use public transportation, as any areas of interest to a typical tourist are within walking distance. The city is pedestrian-friendly. There are sidewalks and marked road crossings everywhere. The old town is fully a pedestrian zone.
Local bus network is well-developed and very cheap, but it's hard to find any information if you don't speak the language. If you need to use the bus, ask a local which bus number goes to your destination. The bus rides cost 1KM (€0.50) if within city limits, which extends far beyond the built-up areas. Tickets are bought on the bus, from the driver, and you need to emphasize that you're buying the city ticket. You do that by saying "gradska" while giving them the money.
Car isn't the optimal way to get around. Tuzla is rather densely populated, and so traffic is more chaotic than the city's size may imply. Drivers may be aggressive. The road surface is spotty in many places. Parking tends to be difficult to find, and you need to pay for it almost everywhere. The reason for all this is that there are more cars than the city's infrastructure can accommodate. Locals often park their cars in almost ridiculous ways, due to lack of parking spaces. Sadly, the situation continues to worsen with the always increasing number of cars on the road. During rush hour, the roads are always congested, which is made even worse if there is construction work going on. Beware of pedestrians that may suddenly jump out in front of traffic. In short, unless you're used to driving in chaotic conditions, your best bet is to avoid driving for the purpose of getting around the city.
A bicycle is a good way to get around if you have access to one, since there aren't any good rental options. There are no dedicated bicycle lanes, so just ride it on the sidewalk. There are places to chain your bike to all around the city, but make sure to chain it as it could get stolen if not. The locals are used to bikes, and accidents are rare. The main part of the city is located on relatively flat area, but keep in mind that Tuzla is closely surrounded by hills. In short, bicycle riding in Tuzla is a mixed bag. Plan your itinerary carefully, and you should have an easy time getting around. As of July 1st, 2019, a law was passed, making bicycle riding in pedestrian zones illegal, and is fined with 40KM (€20). Pedestrian zones are marked with a sign, reading "pješačka zona"
Taxis are cheap and safe, and will take you pretty much everywhere, be it inside the city or out. You can hail a cab right on the street, or order one via call. It's wise to consult with a local and ask how much should the journey cost, as taxis are not metered and some drivers may be dishonest, taking advantage of your lack of knowledge. It's important to note that most taxi drivers will not speak English, so it's not a bad idea to have your destination written down to show the driver. Pricing system - Tuzla is laid out in an east-west direction. There are two main roads in the city, one along the north line, and other along the south. If your ride starts and finishes on the same main road, it costs 1,50KM (€0.75). Any diversions within the inner city cost 0.50KM extra. Diversions farther away from the main part of the city cost between 2.50KM and 3.00 KM, depending on the distance. All of those prices increase after 11pm, and will slowly increase throughout the night. It all really depends on the driver. The base fare of 1.50KM may cost anywhere from 2KM to 5KM at nighttime, but there is no way to know this in advance, you need to ask the driver. You may try to negotiate the price down, but you will be met with varying degrees of success. Note that all previously mentioned prices will multiply by how many people are riding, so a two-person base price is 1.50KM x 2, and so on. The price situation is different when ordering a cab by phone. The inner city price is fixed at 3KM, no matter how many people are riding. Fares outside of the city cost more, depending on the distance, so ask. Some taxi companies will charge you more after 11pm, but you can't know for sure if you don't ask them.
Stari Grad (old town) The first place to visit is the square at the center of the old town called Trg Slobode (Freedom square). Nearby Kapija is the site of the Tuzla Massacre, where 72 young people were killed in 1995. Ask a local to translate the poem carved into the monument. Then walk over to the park where the 72 young people are buried. The old town is very nice and the park is very beautiful.
You should also visit the Pannonian Lakes, whose water is directly supplied from the local wells of salt water. Tuzla's salt has been exploited for centuries and you should visit the Salt square dedicated to this aspect of Tuzla's history. One-day entrance fees range from 2km to 4km (depending on the season and number of visitors). Good for swimming or just relaxing. There are small cabins to change clothes. Do not bring valuables, as there are no lockers. Just bring a towel, bathing suit and toe slippers.
There is, also, City Fountain, built in 1888. located in very center of old town on Trg Slobode. You can tap fresh water here (for free). Better than buying plastic bottles!
There are at least two mosques worth seeing. Colorful mosque also called Mosque of Atik Behram Bey NW of Trg Slobode and Turalibegova mosque on Turalibegova sreet also in the center
If you are interested in art, visit some of Tuzla's beautiful art galleries. Check opening hours at the Tourist Info center.
If you are interested in history, you should see the model of an ancient village set near the Pannonian lakes. Slana Banja park on the slope of the hill closest to the center is a memorial park with many monuments and tombs from the times of the partizans'struggle during WOII and more recently the 1992 - 1995 Bosnian war. There is also a very good viewpoint over the city. The Museum of Eastern Bosnia is small, but worth a visit. Just north of Colorful mosque. A bit difficult to find, but it is marked on Google maps. Free admission. Closes at 3 PM.
Go swimming in the Pannonian Lakes. Clean water, simple but adequate facilities (cold fresh water showers; cabins to change clothes). 1€ to 2€ entrance fee depending on season and day of the week.
If you find yourself visiting during summer, check out Kaleidoskop festival, a three-day music festival held in July or August. It takes place at a park very near the city center. There are no tickets or entrance fees - it's completely free.
Go for a walk at Slana Banja. A large, partially forested park located right next to the Pannonian lakes. Places of interest include various World War 2 memorials, Kapija massacre memorial, Kuća plamena mira (a center for artistic activities, such as music, dancing, painting, sculpting etc.) and many paths going through the forest. It is highly advisable that you stay away from Banja entirely after dark. (More in STAY SAFE)
Locally produced wicker craft like baskets or furniture. There is also a mid-sized relatively modern shopping mall, along with smaller shopping centres and chinese stores with bargain-bin prices.
International cuisine does not have a significant presence in Tuzla. There are many restaurants that serve pizza, although it's usually not nearly as good as in other cities around the world. Fast food places are common in the old town, and are significantly cheaper than in most European cities. Kebab places have risen in popularity in recent years, and they are of good quality.
When it comes to traditional Bosnian dishes, Tuzla has a lot to offer. Ćevapi is likely the first dish that comes to mind, and are very popular in Tuzla. They are served in most restaurants, and dedicated ćevapi-places are everywhere around the city. Note that ćevapi in Tuzla are prepared slightly differently compared to other cities in Bosnia. There are also restaurants that specialize in traditional dishes.
As of late 2019, there are no western fast food chains present in Tuzla. There was a single McDonald's restaurant a few years ago, but has since closed down.
The Old Town is lined with cafes and bars.
There are no backpacker hostels in Tuzla. Consider the below options, or plan ahead for a stay with a local family through Airbnb.
You can choose between two hotels, Tuzla and Dom Penzionera, and numerous pansions. Motel Rudar, across the street from the fire station is also a good choice for about €20 a night. There is now a beautiful boutique hotel, immaculately presented but at typically low BiH rates. The owners could not be more friendly or helpful - Golden Star Hotel in the town centre.
Tuzla is generally a very safe city - one of the safest in the Balkans. Just use common sense, and don't go looking for trouble if trouble doesn't come looking for you. Every part of the city is very safe during the day, and most parts are at night as well (although the general consensus is that everything east of the old town is generally safer than parts lying westwards), and the old town area is the very safest part, day or night. There are no areas that should inherently be avoided at all times, but do exercise the following precautions: don't go into abandoned buildings, don't go near suspicious groups of people that are just hanging about, avoid large and unlit parking lots and avoid having interactions with drunk men. Even as a single female traveler, your safety can be all but guaranteed.
Slana Banja - a large park just next to the Pannonian lakes. During the day, it's a lovely place where lots of locals spend time in, but after dark it becomes a place for couples and drug dealers. Compared to other parts of the city, it is not safe for people to walk alone after dark. Areas lit by street lights are fine, so if you find yourself in Slana Banja after dark, stick to lit areas. If for whatever reason you want to walk around the forest part at night, go in a group of at least 3-4 people. Do not, under any circumstance, go into the forest on your own, you WILL get into trouble with sketchy people. Locals know this very well, so they avoid that forest like the plague after dark, unless they are in groups.
Aside from Slana Banja, trouble is hard to find in the city. If confronted by beggars (which are usually benign and not aggressive), usually a firm "no" is enough to leave you alone, or just keep walking, ignoring them. Robberies and other violent crime is exceptionally rare and will not pose an issue.
Locals in Tuzla are very pleasant and warm. Almost everybody under the age of 30 can speak great English, so don't hesitate to ask if you need any help. There will always be people trying to rip you off - use common sense.
Police officers are sometimes helpful, other times not, but in either case the language barrier will pose a problem, as most will likely not speak English. Then again, you probably won't even need the help of police during your stay.
Realistically, the biggest danger you'll be facing as a tourist is traffic. It is slowly getting better, but compared to western countries, traffic is rather uncivilized. When crossing the road, even if green light is on, look around and make sure it's safe to cross. Do not expect most drivers to stop for you on road crossings. Bosnians tend to be aggressive drivers, and that aggression can turn into road rage, so try your best to avoid getting into arguments. Also note that road condition isn't very good in a lot of the city.
Tap water is perfectly fine for drinking, and food quality tends to be good, as food safety regulations comply with those of the European union.
Be aware that by the state law of tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, every tourist needs to be reported in the police station and every accommodation needs to report your presence. There are a lot of illegal accommodations that do not care for this, so it is on you.
Before you plan to visit, get as much information as You can. Here are some useful City service portals:
Buses run very regularly to Lukavac, about 20 minutes away. From here, a ten minute taxi takes you to Lake Modrac, a large lake with a few restaurants. Due to industrial pollution, however, it is not safe to swim in the lake.
A more promising destination is Lake Bistarac. Take a local bus for Lukavac, and get off just before the town. Up a hill lies a clean freshwater lake. There is a minimal entry charge, with a small extra charge for use of the slide into the lake. Stalls and a restaurant serve food.
Kladanj, about 90 minutes away by bus towards Sarajevo, is a small, attractive town with many little restaurants, and small ski-resort nearby.