In this episode David takes us around to discover what to do in Banja Luka, the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this episode we’ll show you what to see and where to eat in Banja Luka should you ever make it to the central northern region of this fascinating country.
David opens up with a brief history of the city from the banks of the Vrbas River near the Kastel, where he explains all the different cultures that have resided Banja Luka throughout the centuries. The first stop on David’s Banja Luka tour is Gospodska Street, the city’s main pedestrian boulevard lined with neo-Rennaissance and art nouveau buildings. Along Gospodska Street there are shops, banks, sidewalk cafes and restaurants.
Next is the Church of Christ the Savior, a Serbian Orthodox church in downtown Banja Luka. What stands today is a reconstruction of the original church built in 1929 and destroyed during WWII. This one was built in 2004 and features a beautiful bell/ clock tower and golden domes that are typical of eastern orthodox churches. If you come to Banja Luka don’t miss visiting the Central Market, a covered market where vendors sell everything from vegetables and clothing, to specialty cheeses and household items. Everything is so fresh and organic! The Central Market open every day and is free to enter. The best time to come is in the morning to avoid the midday heat.
If you’ve been traveling in Bosnia for a while, you may have tried Ćevapčići (pronounced che-vap-chee-chee). These oblong-shaped grilled minced meatballs are the undisputed kings of Bosnian fast foods. You can find them throughout the Balkans; an influence left behind by the Ottomans. In Banja Luka Ćevapčići are made a little differently than the rest of the country – they are patties instead of shaped like sausages. A great place to try them is Kod Muje restaurant. From the outside, Kod Muje looks like a wooden cabin. Sit outside in the shaded terrace under one of the umbrellas like David did to enjoy the fresh air with your meal. This is a cheap and very satisfying meal.
Check out our article on What and Where to Eat in Sarajevo
The next restaurant David visits is the only restaurant in the Kastel fortress, Kazamat Restaurant. It has a beautiful setting along the Vrbas River, which is why reserving a table outside is highly recommended! For the last 30 years they’ve specialized in traditional Serbian food like fresh salads and grilled meats. The inside of Kazamat Restaurant is a little dark, but decorated with medieval memorabilia that’s worth having a look. One of David’s top restaurant picks for Bosnia!
According to everyone we spoke with, Mala Stanica is the best restaurant in Banja Luka, so David knew he had to try it! What makes Mala Stanica special is its location within the 19th century train station. This historically and architecturally significant building is a cultural icon of Banja Luka. Mala Stanica specializes in gourmet fusion cuisine, and they believe in slow cooking their foods to optimize the flavors. David enjoyed a memorable tasting menu of the house specialties with sampling from the extensive wine list (100+ wines!) You cannot leave until you’ve had the chocolate soufflé, their most popular dessert. TO-DIE-FOR!
If you’ve traveled to Bosnia and Herzegovina, tell us about us about you top picks of what to do in Banja Luka!