Culture, coffee, adventure, and rugged beauty are some of the offerings within the heart-shaped country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Eastern Europe's Balkan Peninsula. Bosnia, the larger of the two, occupies the northern and central parts of the country, while Herzegovina is in the south and home to Sarajevo, the countries capital.
Although the Bosnian War ended in 1995, while scars are still visible, this is a country well and truly open for business. With some of the best adventure activities, cheap skiing and friendly locals who are proud to show off their pretty scenic landscapes. Plus, the tourists are still fewer than some of its surrounding neighbours, making for a more authentic experience.
Baščaršija is in the heart of Sarajevo. Its cobblestoned alleys form almost a maze lined with little shops where artisans still make and sell their wares, surrounded by Ottoman architecture and unique hospitality. Enjoy some of the best traditional Bosnian coffee served in small copper pots, usually with some Turkish Delight on the side. Having had your coffee fix try burek and ćevapi, both authentic cuisines of the region. The nightlife is vibrant, with quaint bars serving local beers and tantalising cocktails. Sarajevo Film Festival is now the largest festival in southeast Europe, attracting many international big names.
Head out of the capital to Mostar and the world-famous Stari Most ('Old Bridge'). Originally completed in 1566, and more recently reconstructed after a Croatian artillery attack in 1993, using the same 16th-century building techniques and stone sourced from the original quarry. Reopened in 2004, it is a Unesco World Heritage site and where brave (or foolish) bridge divers plunge into the river.
If bungee diving without a rope is not your thing, there are many other activities on offer for those that like an adrenaline fix. Canyoning through Rakitnica Canyon, Bosnia's longest and deepest canyon is eight-hours of gruelling yet exhilarating hiking, climbing, and sliding. Raft the wild rivers:Â Tara river is one of the more challenging while Neretva is a little calmer, both boast spectacular scenery.
Visit waterfalls, go mountain bike riding, or hiking between gorgeous mountain villages. Ski the slopes at Bjelašnica, only 30 minutes from the airport and home to the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics. Our tip for visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, consider going soon - word will get out.
Always bring a coat for your visit to Sarajevo as the city, surrounded by mountains, can have four seasons in a day. Spring when the flowers are blooming and autumn, when the trees turn an array of colours from yellows to reds, are the best times for outdoor activities such as hiking. The hottest months are generally July and August, with temperatures reaching around 30°C. For those that like snow, the powder is at its deepest from late April into May.
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