Summer in the Balkans: A Visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Ashley Hiemenz
  • 10 June 2009

Look Beyond Its Recent Past to a Greener Present

The ghost of recent violent times in the Balkans still haunts the region; few people give it priority consideration as a destination of choice for their next holidays, perhaps least of all places like post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. The mere mention of Sarajevo and Mostar conjures up memories of the human and material devastation that occurred during the 1990s.

Hikers in the Bosnia and Herzegovina highlands

Hikers in the Bosnia and Herzegovina highlands above Trnovacko Lake

However, over the last decade or so, easing recriminations have allowed for significant developments and improvements to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s tourism infrastructure. Intrepid travellers tempted to try something new have been thrilled to discover an incredible country of stunning and pristine nature, a fascinating blend of cultures including some of the oldest traditional practices in Europe, friendly people, UNESCO World Heritage sites and world-famous Balkan cuisine. For city enthusiasts, Sarajevo, the capital, is a cosmopolitan centre with trendy bars and cafes, while nature mavens will find in the surrounding mountains and countryside countless escapes and excursions.

Where to Begin – Sarajevo and Surrounds

The Hotel Ada, located in the heart of Sarajevo’s Old Town, is a great little city base from which to stage urban explorations. Travellers come here to experience true Bosnian-style hospitality and try some of the locally grown organic food.

More delicious Bosnian cuisine is the highlight of Dveri, a restaurant in the Old Town with local specialties like goulash, stuffed eggplant, mukalica (pork chops covered in a spicy sauce) and warm homemade bread.

A Sarajevo city tour is an excellent way to get familiar with the town and its fascinating, yet poignant history. Highlights include 16th-century synagogues and churches and the Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, triggering World War I.

To get out of the city and enjoy some beautiful Bosnian countryside, take a rafting trip on the Neretva River and brave some of the best rapids in Europe. The river’s high canyon walls and emerald-green water are not soon forgotten.

Green Visions and Lukomir Village

Green Visions is a Sarajevo-based tour operator that offers a variety of travel experiences emphasising the nature and unique culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “We founded our company on the principles of balance and harmony between man and nature,” says Thierry Joubert, a managing partner. “We’ve pioneered a movement in creating alternative means of sustainable development while maintaining an eco-friendly approach to all that we do.”

Given this unique orientation, Green Visions was selected by the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group) as the local partner in a programme to promote tours and small- and medium-sized guesthouses in and around Sarajevo.  In cooperation with whl.travel, the global grassroots network of travel websites, Green Visions now makes these services available online through a Sarajevo travel portal.

Visiting hikers near Lukomir Village with view to Krvavac peak

Visiting hikers near Lukomir Village with a view to Krvavac peak

One particularly meaningful tour is the Lukomir Village Highland Walk, a hike to a secluded Bosnian settlement. The residents of this highest village in Bosnia and Herzegovina maintain one of the oldest traditional lifestyles in Europe, wearing authentic dress and living without contemporary comforts like electricity or running-water. Sadly, the Balkan hostilities of the 1990s were devastating to remote highland communities like Lukomir and are in great need of sustainable support.

Working with the Ministry of Trade and Tourism, Green Vision has embarked on a programme to preserve traditional highland practices and the local environments on which the villagers depend. Through tours, awareness of the villagers’ plight is being increased and reason provided for several families in Lukomir to receive both support in equipping their homes with traditionally crafted guest beds and furniture, and basic hospitality training. Admiring old farming methods and a lifestyle long since forgotten in Europe, travellers can now rest in a unique environment while also providing economic support to the villagers. Lukomir tours are only run during summer months, outside of which snow can stymie road access.

Green Visions has been involved in other development projects throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, including starting Bosnia’s first ecotourism and environmental protection agency and leading ecotours (over 2,000 so far) to even the most remote areas of the country.

When considering where to go this summer, keep Bosnia and Herzegovina in mind and make a trip with a difference! For more information about Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, including accommodations, tours, activities and lots of insider tips, contact your local whl.travel connection: Thierry Joubert and the team from Green Visions at www.sarajevo-travel.ba.

Want to learn more SUMMER IN THE BALKANS? Read about Albania and Montenegro.

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whl.travel is one of the largest global online travel-booking networks catering to independent travelers headed off the beaten path, often in the developing world. The extensive whl.travel network today taps into the strengths of local tourism experts who, alone, are local leaders, but together have become a forceful planet-wide presence for the right kind of tourism, bringing to major markets all the local opportunities that can have such a positive impact on hosts and visitors. Visit the whl.travel website.
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adventure travel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, cities, ecotours, Europe, food & drink, local knowledge, mountains, outdoors, poverty, Southern Europe, whl.travel, world heritage,

3 Responses to “Summer in the Balkans: A Visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina”

  1. Napat says:

    Is it so expensive? Or how much does it cost for a trip? I would like to bring my family visits here.

  2. Luke Ford says:

    I’d have to agree with you Margaret. Neum is a quaint little place and deserves a lot more recognition.

    If you’re wanting to include a bit of the Adriatic in your next summer trip to Bosnia, take a few days out to visit Neum!

  3. There is also a very short stretch of Adriatic Coast in Bosnia – mainly the traditional style resort of Neum. There are a few modern hotels there, but mainly low rise. Mostly it is a town of small shops, restaurants and bars. We were there in April and had the place almost to ourselves. Delicious seafood in a restaurant right by the sea at prices considerably lower than in neighbouring Croatia.
    The road from the coast to Mostar is also lovely and a ‘wine road’ is being developed, promoting the small vineyards.
    Bullet marks can still be seen in the buildings in some places – a reminder of how much the people of this country need our support, even if their politicians are sometimes still living in the ‘dark ages’.

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