In this episode, David takes us to the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina to discover Sarajevo’s sights, sounds, and tastes. Sarajevo is a bustling capital with several historical, cultural, and gastronomic stops to experience. Come with us to find out what to see and eat in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina!
Sarajevo is a beautiful city with a tragic past, and is considered one of the most underrated capitals not only in the Balkans, but in all of Europe. The city has come a long way since the horrors of its war-torn period in the 1990s, and has bounced back in a remarkable way.
David starts off in the city center where he meets up with his local guide Raza to begin the tour. The best place to start is the Eternal Flame, located in the city center. It has burned continuously since 1946 except during the Bosnian War from 1992-1995. It is on display for everyone to see.
David and Raza then take a walk along Ferhadija, Sarajevo’s main pedestrian street that links the two different parts of the city – the 19th century district dating back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Medieval district dating back to Ottoman occupation. In the mix there are also several communist-era buildings when Bosnia existed as a republic in the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Yugoslavia, for short). At the point when Ferhadija Street meets the Ottoman quarter, there is line on the floor that shows the split. All along Ferhadija Street there are shops, restaurants, cafés, and banks. It is also where the Eternal Flame is located.
Before Raza and David head into Bascarsija (Ottoman district), they make a quick stop at the square of the Sacred Heart Cathedral. In Bascarsija they visit the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, which was built 1530. Afterwards, Raza shows David the different ways to drink a traditional Bosnian coffee at a local Kafana.
After fueling up, David stops by Sebilj fountain to have a sip of water. Legend has it that anyone who drinks from the fountain will return to Sarajevo, so we’ll see if David makes his way back one day to experience more of what to see and eat in Sarajevo!
Now time for a little souvenir shopping down Coppersmith Street. Raza shows David the most typical gift one could buy here – a copper coffee pot used to serve Bosnian coffee. All this walking around made them work up quite an appetite, so they head to a bakery to try some delicious pies (cheese, spinach, and meat). The pies are baked over a coal oven and are the perfect fast food. They are also very inexpensive.
Next thing David tries is cevapi (pronounced che-vap-ee), which is pretty much the unofficial national dish of the country. Day 2 takes David and Raza to see the city from a magnificent lookout point, Zuta Tabija, or “yellow fortress.” David recommends driving or taking a taxi there because the climb to the top is quite steep. From here you can see the center of the city and the rolling green hills in the background (in case you didn’t know, Bosnia is one of Europe’s most lush and verdant countries).
After quickly seeing Emperor’s Mosque, Raza takes David to see the exact spot where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie, were assassinated on June 28, 1914. At the time David visited (2014) it was the 100th year anniversary of their untimely deaths. The assassination triggered the start of the First World War.
After revisiting such a pivotal point in European history, David gets curious to see where all the bread he’s been eating comes from so Raza takes him to a nearby bakery, Pekara Alifakovac. They specialize in Somun bread, which is what is served with cevapi. This family-owned bakery churns out hundreds of Somun breads each day, and they have a pick-up window for customers on the go. It’s very hot inside but the experience was well worth it, especially since they allowed David to eat a piece of freshly baked bread. It’s one of the best things to see and eat in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina!
Last but not least, David heads outside of the city center to visit one of the most culturally significant places in Bosnia, the Sarajevo Tunnel or Tunnel of Hope. Visitors can now see a portion of a tunnel that allowed Bosnians to smuggle in weapons and supplies during the Siege of Sarajevo (May 1992 through November 1995).
And there you have it, a brief intro about what to see and eat in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. We hoped you liked it!
If you’ve been or planning to visit Sarajevo, please leave us a question or comment below!