Two decades have passed since an almost four-year siege pummeled this capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can still see some bullet holes on buildings, but the citizens haven’t lost their zest for life.
For an overview of the city, a tram or taxi will take you past the Latin Bridge—where visiting Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot, setting World War I into motion—to the newly remodeled History Museum, which focuses on 20th-century Sarajevo. Nearby, the recently reopened National Museum holds Bosnia’s archaeologic and artistic treasures.
Tito Cafe is filled with amusingly reappropriated decor, but head to the old Ottoman quarter Baščaršija for souvenirs. “The city center is still visited by the locals, and the prices are local prices,” says Adnan Zuka, a guide at tour company Sarajevo Insider. Then fill up on Bosnia’s most famous dish, a grilled minced meat sandwich called ćevapi, at Ćevabdžinica Željo.
“You always start with a coffee here,” says Zuka, of Bosnian nightlife. Try the Čajdžinica Džirlo Tea House for a warm welcome and caffeine, then move on to cocktails at Cafe Barometar or head to party spot Cinema Sloga.
Stay: Halvat Hotel has made-to-order breakfast feasts and friendly staff who provide city tips.
The Sarajevo Siege Tour takes visitors on an intimate trip to the mountainous front line. Walk on the 1984 Olympic bobsled track, left littered with artillery shells.
On the way back, stop at the Tunnel Museum to learn about the secret passageway Sarajevans dug to transport supplies.
A defiant wartime spirit also lives on in the Sarajevo War Theater, founded during the siege.
“The goal was to have some fun,” says Zuka. The performances may be largely in Bosnian, but the entertainment remains, so catch a show anyway and then decamp for your last night to nearby Zlatna Ribica, a curio cabinet of a bar that embraces all comers.
(Source: National Geographic)