Places such as the old Ottoman market of Bascarsija in Sarajevo, the Stari Most (Old Bridge) of Mostar, or even Neum, the coastal town on the Adriatic.
This list is meant to showcase some of the lesser known attractions that visitors may not have heard about, or simply ignore in favor of the more trendy places to visit.
However, that is one of the beautiful aspects of this country. No matter what location a person chooses, chances are more than good that something new will be discovered and is worth exploring. The country is saturated with history and untold stories, that much like the national music sevdah, create a bittersweet, melancholy mixture of good and bad, sad and happy. That has always been Bosnia’s story.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is a very mountainous country, with over 80% covered by some sort of hilly terrain.
This has not only let to the protection of wildlife and natural beauty, but also to certain cultural isolation which has led to Bosnia’s unique historical path.
Sutjeska National Park may be the crown jewel of BiH’s wilderness. Sitting on 43,000 acres of space, the park boasts some of the country’s highest peak, including Maglic mountain (7,828 ft).
The nature reserve Perucica, is one of the last two primeval forests in Europe. In addition, the park is also famous for the site of the 1943 World War II battle, with some amazing monuments unique to the Yugoslav period.
The park is worth visiting for several reasons, including outdoor activities such as hiking, but mainly for the spectacular views and natural beauty, which is slowly disappearing in many places in Europe.
Close to the city of Mostar in the south of the country, Blagaj is one of the most culturally rich towns in all of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Sitting at the spring of the Buna river, the village boasts Ottoman and Mediterranean architecture, as well as a national monument known as the Blagaj Tekija, or Tekke which is a Dervish monastery.
The monastery has been an inspiration to a variety of poems and stories in Bosnian literature because of its isolation. It was built in 1520 and visitors can still go inside to admire the ancient architecture as well as to see first-hand what life was like at the time. It truly is living history. Nearby, there are numerous restaurants to specialize in fresh water fish, caught in the nearby rivers.
This small village-town to the south of the city of Mostar is truly a microcosm of the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina itself.
A fortified village-town dating back to the medieval period of the country, three stages of evolution are evident, from medieval to Ottoman to modern architecture. The town is one of the best preserved examples of Ottoman-Mediterranean architecture in all of Europe.
The town itself is eerily quiet and serene and visitors are invited to explore it’s ancient walls and towers to their heart’s content. A trip to Pocitelj is about enjoying the warm Herzegovina sun, packing a lunch and spending all day exploring this once strategically important fortress town, with some of the best photo-ops anywhere!
2. Una River Park
The story goes that when a Roman soldier first laid his eyes on this Bosnian river, he simply uttered, “Una,” or “the one.”
And this is how this river got its name. Whether or not this has any truth to it, shouldn’t matter ultimately, as any visitor to this western Bosnian park will attest to its remarkable beauty.
Site of the annual International Una Regatta, which is a kayak and boat excursion, the park offers some of the best outdoor activities anywhere in Europe.
The remarkable whitewater rapids and waterfalls of the park are sure to leave any visitor amazed.
The area is also home to some of the best biodiversity anywhere on the continent, with a wide variety of fish, birds and plant life on display.
Beyond nature, the area is also home to a wide variety of historical sites such as Ostrozac Castle, or the Roman fort Milanceva Kula. The city of Bihac is also a fantastic place to spend the day.
1. Travnik, Visoko and the Bosnian Pyramids
Located in the heart of the country, roughly 60 miles west of the modern capital of Sarajevo, Travnik is an ancient town was once the seat of power in the country from 1699 to 1850.
The city is an example of classic Ottoman as well as Austrian architecture, with numerous historical monuments and museums present. The “old town,” sector is worth exploring and makes for great shopping, including unique jewelry shops with handmade goods, which is somewhat rare nowadays.
In addition, many Bosnians claim that the best Cevapi (BiH’s unofficial street food), do not come from Sarajevo, but rather from Travnik, which uses its own method of preparation.
Nearby Visoko, however, is famous for something else. In the mid 2000s, a Bosnian archeologist claimed that the surrounding hills are in fact not hills at all, but man-made structures or pyramids. With excavation starting in 2006, a small portion has been uncovered, and even though some ancient and mysterious structures were uncovered, it remains uncertain whether they are pyramids or something different altogether. Explore the area yourself, take part in a dig, and be the judge!