Are you off to visit Bosnia-Herzegovina, the must-see area of the Balkans? Discover the best neighborhoods to stay in Sarajevo!
Sarajevo, the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a not-to-be-missed stopover for any roaming visitor to the Balkans. Severely wounded by past wars that tor the city apart, Sarajevo was on many occasions the fateful scene of conflicts that set Europe on fire, and whose population paid a heavy price.
The siege of Sarajevo (1992-1996) ended in bloodshed 22 years ago. The devastation – and makeshift repairs – are still visible in the city’s streets (you can see shrapnel and bullet marks on the facades). From a pre-war population of about 500,000 inhabitants, the city has gradually been repopulated, reaching a population of 395,133 in 2013. Today, the entire metropolitan area has a total population of 688,437. Accommodation in Sarajevo is cheap and easy to find. The city, now peaceful and safe, is reborn from its ashes. It is enjoying prosperous economic growth and offers an abundant supply of accommodation. Sometimes called the “Jerusalem of Europe” due to its long and rich history of religious and cultural diversity, Sarajevo sits at the crossroads of cultures.
Surrounded by forests and mountains, and crossed by the Miljacka River, Sarajevo exudes a hospitable and relaxed atmosphere. The city stretches from west to east straddling a valley between hills that rise at 500 meters. Where to stay in Sarajevo? This question will be easily answered! Here is our presentation of the best neighborhoods to stay in Sarajevo.
A pedestrian district dating back to the Ottoman period in the 15th century, the Baščaršija – the Turkish district – offers a particular kind of setting in Europe. Baščaršija gives the impression of being immersed in a hub of Eastern culture, surrounded by medieval mosques, somewhere between the past and the present (Islam here, inherited from the Ottomans, is much more tolerant and open than in the Sunni and Shiite Middle East). This is where you should stay in Sarajevo if you want to explore the old city and find cheap accommodation. Indeed, the area is packed with a wide range of hotels and youth hostels to choose from. The simple act of enjoying a coffee, a beer or a delicious meal in one of the district’s many terraces is a journey in itself, inviting you to indulge in poetry, travel, and meditation. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that this peaceful place was, not long ago, the scene of a horrible war.
And don’t miss the most authentic monuments of the city: the National Library, the Sebilj fountain, the cloth market (Bezistan), the Clock Tower (Saat Kula). Also, be sure to visit the Sarajevo Museum, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was murdered on June 28, 1914, sparking off the beginnings of the First World War. Explore the picturesque architecture of Baščaršija, filled with Turkish houses built in wood and stone. It’s a pity that this neighborhood is so touristy! It’s advisable to avoid the many souvenir shops in the area: you will pay a high price just because you are a tourist.
Further west is Sarajevo’s city center, built between the old city and its modern part. Centar is home to the official buildings of the country’s political institutions, dating back to the Austro-Hungarian era. These historical edifices sit alongside contemporary infrastructures where Sarajevans and tourists enjoy themselves: bars, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, museums, shopping centers, high-end boutiques, and famous international retail chains.
Besides, many parks dot the modern district. In the center, visit the Museum of Modern Art on the banks of the Miljacka River and enjoy the green parks situated north of the center: Veliki Park, Mali Park or Koševo. Centar is an ideal place to stay in Sarajevo, especially if you want to get away from the hordes of tourists in the Turkish quarter. You can also wander up the slopes of the adjacent hillside neighborhoods to enjoy superb views of the city.
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