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19 Days in Bosnia and Herzegovina

With Poland looking less likely to be open in the fall, I have turned my attention to Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have 19 days/18 nights. I've found a company that offers a 10-day (9 night) BiH pandemic escape tour that is focused on countryside locales, which leaves me with 9 nights left with which to play.

I plan to fly into Sarajevo and head north initially. My main question is whether forum members have thoughts on Brčko, Tuzla, Gradačac, and/or Srebrenik (as opposed to Srebrenica, which I will hit later in the trip). These spots apparently do not have well-developed tourist infrastructure, but that is not necessarily bad. I'm open to recommendations for other places in northern Bosnia that are worth my attention, too. As for my interests, they include history, architecture, music, outdoor activities. Brčko landed on my radar after reading The Bosnia List by Kenan Trebinčević, which was recommended by someone in another thread (thanks, whoever you are Lane (found the thread!) -- it offered a lot of insight into the Bosniak experience during the 1992-1995 war).

The plan right now:

  • 2 nights in a town in northern Bosnia
  • 10-day (9 night) tour that includes Lukomir, Stolac, Konjic, Mostar, Jajce
  • 5 nights in Sarajevo (daytime activities include a day trip to Srebrenica and a full-day tour of brutalist architecture in/around Sarajevo)
  • 1 night for a 2-day/1-night trip to Sutjeska National Park and Tara River Canyon (hiking/rafting) with late return to Sarajevo on last night in Bosnia

Thoughts/suggestions welcome.

Posted by
1957 posts

I think this trip looks awesome and if my September in France doesn't pan out I will be looking over this way:)

Posted by
18913 posts

I can't help at all with Bosnia-Hercegovina, but just in case you're willing to add some extra time and branch out a bit: Once you're over around Brcko, you're quite close to Novi Sad and Beograd in Serbia. However, I have no idea whether there's any public transportation running across that border.

There's interesting early-20th-century architecture in Subotica (northern Serbia) and Szeged and Pecs (southern Hungary). Pre-pandemic there was bus service between Subotica and Pecs.

Posted by
2597 posts

acraven,

I was looking at Novi Sad last night and trying to figure out if there is time for a jaunt across the border to see it. It looks like a very attractive place from the pictures I have seen.

Posted by
18913 posts

It's really quirky, with sort of a hippie vibe. I just took a too-short day-trip there from Beograd. It's quite a walk from the bus station to the historic center, so plan to hop on a local bus for that jaunt. Or I assume a taxi would be very affordable.

Posted by
12387 posts

Dave, I have been in the Balkans five times over the past 3 years. Interesting and absolutely beautiful place. I've been to BiH three times now, but always concentrated on fishing so none of the trips were as in depth as what you have planned. Just some thoughts and observations.

Public transport isn't that great, but private transfers and guides are cheap compared to the rest of Europe.

Sarajevo was fascinating, not beautiful, but totally fascinating by any measure of the word. With my interests, and I am an architect, I would still hit my wall after 3 full days. But it is a place I returned to and stayed a few nights on all three trips, because its that fascinating. Outside of Sarajevo, my experience in BiH is somewhat limited. What I saw missing off your list was Travnik. Well worth a stop and near Jajce. In the same general area is my fishing hotel https://hotelkraljevac.com/bs/home/ I would spend a few nights here even if I wasn't fishing. Beautiful setting.

I had planned to take my daughter on a tour of the region this year and laid out plan that hit all my favorite Balkan stops. Roughly like this (crossing borders in the area is relatively easy). This is a much broader tour than what you are up to, but if you are considering branching out a bit it might be a place to think from. Or just check out the hotels in BiH.

Houston to Istanbul.
Hotel Sura Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey
Hotel Old Town, Sarajevo, BiH**
Jajace, BiH
Travnik, BiH
Hotel Kraljevac, Kljuc, BiH
Mostar, BiH
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Trebinje, BiH
Conte Hotel, Perast, Montenegro
Kotor, Montenegro
Hotel Astoria, Budva, Montenegro
Stari Bar, Montenegro
Hotel Astoria, Ulcinj, Montenegro
Motel Tara MB, Tara Canyon, Montenegro
Ostrog Monaster, Montenegro
Hotel Sokoline, Danilovgrad, Montenegro
Podgorica, Montenegro
Hotel Sura Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey
Houston, Texas

That doesn't describe all the small stops along the way. It was to be 3 weeks. I have stayed in all of the hotels listed.
If when you travel the US still requires the PCR test, you can get that in the Istanbul airport.

Posted by
2597 posts

James,

Thanks for the response. Your fishing hotel looks great. Thanks for the link to it and to the list of other hotels in Bosnia, along with sharing your Balkan itinerary. Thanks, too, for mentioning Travnik. Happily, it's part of the 10-day "pandemic escape" tour on the way back to Sarajevo on Day 9.

I hope you enjoy your upcoming fishing trip!

Posted by
2597 posts

Hotel Old Town looks like a well-located, clean, efficient place to stay.

Posted by
12387 posts

Dave, know it was a tad off topic. Just so much to see out there. I've stayed in all of those hotels, they are nice. Those are the only two I stayed at in BiH, I did all my sightseeing as day trips.

Posted by
2597 posts

Thanks for the video link! I've been scouring YouTube for Bosnia videos -- there are not as many for it as for other countries! I happened on (and liked!) this video during my search. The person who does these videos makes beautiful videos -- the one for Mostar is also gorgeous.

Posted by
5 posts

Dave,

Have you heard about the Spomeniks? I am visiting in July and this is one of the main reasons. Spomeniks are futuristic abstract monuments that were built by Yugoslavia to commemorate the partisan struggle. Bosnia has some of the most beautiful Spomeniks that are located in remote areas. Check out spomenikdatabase.org

I was reading a RS guidebook the other day and it described Yugoslavia's architecture in Montenegro as a blight on landscape. I don't think the RS team gets how unique and inspiring much of it is. Moma had an exibit about it a few years ago called "Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980"

We are visiting The Battle of Sutjeska Memorial near the border of Montenegro.

Posted by
2597 posts

I have heard of the Spomeniks and have 2-3 on my list for this trip, including the Battle of Sutjeska Memorial, but I had not seen the website you linked. That is a great website. Thanks so much for directing my attention to it. I'll use it for this trip -- and for future ones.

Posted by
2597 posts

My problem is always finding too many things that interest me in a country. Final itinerary for Bosnia trip 18 Sept - 5 Oct:

Sarajevo outskirts (Mt. Trebevic) x 2 nights
Lukomir x 1 night
Stolac x 3 nights
Trebinje x 4 nights
Foča environs x 1 night
Srebrenica x 3 nights
Sarajevo old town x 2 nights

Goals for Bosnia trip #2 in fall 2022: Tuzla, Brčko, Gradačac, Banja Luka, Prijedor, Bihac, Jajce, Travnik, and more Sarajevo.

Posted by
1957 posts

Looks great, as always, Dave! You do some great trip research! I'm looking up your cities just to see what they look like:)

Posted by
2597 posts

It's an eclectic mix, to be sure, with quite a few spots in between the places where I will rest my head. Some locales were recommended by the Funky Tours staff (who are helping me with the tour) and some chosen by me (like Trebinje, on the recommendation of James E).

Srebrenica is one of my choices for an overnight locale and will be an interesting spot. It's the site of the worst episode of genocide in Europe since WWII; the Bosnian Serbs murdered 8000+ Muslim men and boys (teens) when they overran the city; the women and children were shipped out on buses. Srebrenica changed from a Muslim city to a Bosnian Serb city, but some of its previous Muslim inhabitants have returned. There is a memorial and an exhibition there. It's not a common destination (it's mentioned in 9 threads on the RS forum, including this thread), but tends to be a day trip when it is a destination. For me, it's hard not to spend a few nights in such a place to try to gain some sense of the post-war dynamic there.