Oh wise Steves Forum Folks, I would greatly appreciate your insight, here. I am planning a two-week trip in early June 2018 to include Split (2 nights), Dubrovnik (3 nights), Mostar (2 nights) then Sarajevo and Ljubljana. I'll fly home out of Venice (2 nights). Yes, this is a face-paced trip, but I've heavily researched on-ground transportation, day trips, and hotels/rooms and feel comfortable with the pace and distances. I do want to spend two nights in Mostar, as I've found that I really enjoy "smaller" towns (ie: Volterra, Montepulciano, Gubbio), and would like at least one full day there. I'm most confused about how to spend those 5 nights for Sarajevo and Ljubljana. (I actually chose Ljubljana because my flight home (United points) is from Venice, and I wanted a way to get there that did not include back-tracking to Split or Dubrovnik. There are direct one-hour flights from Sarajevo to Ljubljana, so I'll explore a bit of Slovenia on my way to Venice.) So... what would you do? Thanks very much! (I am posting this also in the Croatia forum, which seems a bit more active...)
Is the question of how many nights to spend in Sarajevo & Ljubljana (3/2 or 2/3)? I LOVE Ljubljana.
Yes, I'm not sure in which city to spend 3 nights and in which to spend 2 nights. The direct flight on Adria Airways departs Sarajevo at 15:35, arrives Ljubjlana at 16:30. So... As I plan to arrive Sarajevo mid-day on a Friday, do I then fly to Ljubljana on Sunday afternoon at 15:35 (thus 2 half days and 1 full day in Sarajevo and 1 evening and 2 full days in Ljubljana)? Or do I stay another day in Sarajevo, with then just one evening and one full day in Ljubljana? I plan to depart Ljub early in the morning on Wed. morning, giving me a good half day and one full day in Venice. (I've been to Venice a number of times, but still love it!) Thank you!
I love both cities, but for very different reasons. I think that it really depends on your interests and what kind of experience you're looking to have. I spent equal time based in both cities (4 days) and to cut to the chase, I'd spend more time in Sarajevo and than in Ljubljana without question.
I began my trip to the Balkans in Sarajevo and found it to be perhaps the most interesting place I've ever been. It now ranks as the city I most want to return of all the places I've ever travelled. The old quarter is a wonderful place to wander, drink delicious coffee and rakija, and people watch. The food is delicious (especially if you're a meat eater). The sound of the call to prayer every evening from the mosques is hauntingly beautiful. I also went on a few tours when I was there—both in the city and to Srebrenica (which were very informative and incredibly moving if you're interested in the Bosnian war and its aftermath). It's a city that is steeped in history and tragedy—pockmarked buildings, relics from the war, are everywhere to the this day—but it is at once hopeful and filled with some of the nicest people I've encountered. Sarajevo may be a bit more difficult to traverse than Ljubljana for tourists—it's larger geographically, the city doesn't get many tourists so its infrastructure and public transit are VERY geared towards locals, and though it is actively trying to build up the tourism industry (according to the guides I had), Bosnia's tripartite government and subsequent corruption have made it difficult for things to really take off. I found that to be a welcome challenge, but it may put others off.
I found Ljubljana to be a lovely, progressive, beautiful, and seemingly quite livable city—the vibe reminded me a bit of Copenhagen. It's small, easily-navigable with some great restaurants and a big university. Here's the thing, though: I was based there during my time in Slovenia, however I honestly spent more time touring around the countryside around it than in Ljubljana itself. I don't think that's a knock on the city, it just didn't capture me in the same way that Sarajevo did.
As I said up top, though, both cities are great—I think it truly just depends on what kind of vibe you're after.
Rachel, Thank you for your sensitive and helpful observations of the culture and history in Sarajevo and Ljubljana. You've given me some different perspectives from which to view life in these two cities, and I really appreciate it!