European skiing might conjure up images of luxurious cabins and winter chateaus in the French Alps.
Expensive and exclusive skiing resorts, unwelcoming and doubly cold to tourists and outsiders.
But the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina is offering something different, of equal quality, at a fraction of the price, and people have noticed.
Amidst the laughter and chatter on Sarajevo’s Bjelašnica Mountain during the Winter Festival, held to commemorate the beginning of the winter holiday season, can be heard non-Bosnian voices as well. Tourists from all over the world have uncovered a well-kept secret – Bosnia’s skiing is fantastic, and fantastically cheap!
The country’s tourism sector is only now slowly awakening and starting to develop, after the destruction of the 1990s conflict in the region.
Being a naturally mountainous country, winter sports have always been a natural fit, developed even as early as the 1960s and fully established by the 1980s when Sarajevo hosted the iconic 1984 Winter Olympics.
The city’s tourism board plans on developing the mountainous slopes even further, many of which served as venues in the 1984 Olympics. Jahorina, for example, hosted the women’s alpine skiing event.
The Bjelašnica Olympic Mountain Ski Centre was created in the 1980s by Yugoslav authorities in their quest to bring the Olympics to the area.
In 2017, Sarajevo will host the European Youth Olympic Festival, with serious investments being made into the country’s winter sports tourism sector.
The mountains of Bjelašnica, Jahorina and Igman have remarkably modern and high quality accommodation, to the amazement of many who might never have given the country’s a second look.
Jahorina and Bjelašnica are only half an hour from downtown Sarajevo, and all of its convenience.
Jahorina offers over 20 kilometers of slopes, set between 1200 and 1900 meters which offer amazing views of Sarajevo and the surrounding regions.
Beyond the raw beauty of Bosnia’s skiing locations, convenience and pricing is an added strength. With the ski season lasting from December to March, passes are much cheaper than at the better known European locations.
English speaking instructors are also available to offer help and guidance to the beginners. If you don’t have your own gear on hand, no worries, rentals are readily available and at a low price as well.
If you are considering a winter vacation in Europe, why not consider Bosnia-Herzegovina and its undiscovered beauty? It just might surprise you how much fun you’re having at a fraction of the price.