Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the most extraordinary and worthwhile countries I’ve travelled to. It was here I learned the true meaning of the kindness of strangers, and was the place which defined the direction of my blogging. The country is as geographically beautiful as it is socially hospitable.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is located in the Balkan Peninsula in South East Europe. Formerly part of Yugoslavia it gained independence in 1992, a move which was followed by war and genocide. It is bordered by three of the other former Yugoslav countries – Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is divided administratively and legally into two entities: (a) Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (b) Republic of Srpska. The capital city of Bosnia-Herzegovina is Sarajevo, located in the centre of the country.
Visa: Citizens of a number of countries are entitled to either visa-free or visa on arrival travel for a stay of up to 90 days. All foreign nationals must register with the police within 48 hours of arrival. Ask your accommodation provider if they will do this on your behalf.
Language: To quote Britannica “the mother tongue of the vast majority is Serbo-Croatian, a term used to describe, collectively, the mutually intelligible languages now known as Serbian, Croatian, or Bosnian, depending on the speaker’s ethnic and political affiliation. So, if you have knowledge of either Serbian or Croatian then Bosnian will be manageable. I noticed that German was the second language of most older people with English as the second language of younger people.
Currency: The Bosnian Convertible Mark (BAM or KM) is a closed currency so unavailable outside of Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, as all of my Irish credit and debit cards functioned as normal in Bosnia-Herzegovina I simply went to the first ATM machine and got my BAM that way.
A to B: Drive in Bosnia-Herzegovina at your peril. Roads are mostly mountainous and labyrinthine, and drivers are as fearless as their cars are ramshackle.
The best method of travel in Bosnia-Herzegovina is by bus for its excellent value and for its comprehensive network. I recommend the GetByBus website for information on national and international routes. Note that there will be lengthy delays when crossing international borders, particularly into Croatia (EU border).
The Sarajevo to Mostar line is considered one of the most beautiful rail journeys in Europe. The Railways of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ZFBH) website contains information on rail travel in the federation whilst the Republika Srpska Railways (ZRS) website covers the Republic of Srpska. Click here for a railways route map of Bosnia Herzegovina.
Sarajevo Airport is the main entry point via air. It has a number of direct flights to select European cities plus routes to the Middle East. Sarajevo Airport was a focal point during the Siege of Sarajevo and I have covered this in my Sarajevo’s Tunnel of Hope post. Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia is a popular gateway to southern Bosnia-Herzegovina.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Bosnia Herzegovina is a wonderful country for solo female travellers, and for travellers of any description, and I never felt threatened at any stage. In fact, I was warmly welcomed and the locals did their best to help me at all times. I even joined in a game of street football with some local kids near my apartment in Sarajevo.
My trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina coincided with the country’s first appearance in a FIFA World Cup. In Half-time in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Visiting Mostar I examine the country’s political and ethnic divisions through the medium of sport, as well as giving a guided tour of Mostar and it’s UNESCO-designated Old Bridge.
Pure curiosity brought me to Medjugorje, a Catholic pilgrimage site near Mostar. Despite being a spiritual travel novice I put this post together as a travel guide to Medjugorje. Did I experience a miracle? Find out in Spiritual Travel: The Medjugorje Miracle.
The horrors of the Siege of Sarajevo are laid bare in my Sarajevo’s Tunnel of Hope post, a post which recounts a tour of the Sarajevo tunnel which was built underneath the runway of Sarajevo Airport as a means of getting food and utility supplies into the surrounded city.
Sarajevo has seen many empires come and go. In my Sarajevo History: Europe’s Crossroad I look at the sites in the Bosnian capital associated with the country’s extensive, and often turbulent, history.