6 Things to be aware of when backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina with a big waterfall going through the centre

Visas

1) With or without a visa?

A) No visa

Citizens of the 67 countries listed below may stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina for up to 90 days without a visa.

Visa policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina - countries that don't require a visa. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia

B) With visa

Citizens of all the other countries must obtain a visa from one of the Bosnia and Herzegovina diplomatic missions. An application for a tourist visa application must be accompanied by a voucher from the tourist agency organising the visit. The cost of a single entry visa is €31.

Learn more here.

C) No passport necessary

Citizens of the European Union, Schengen Agreement, Andorra, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia and the Holy See may enter Bosnia and Herzegovina using just an ID card.

Koski Mehmed Paša Mosque and the Neretva River in Mostar old town, Bosnia and Herzegovina. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia

Mostar old town

Food & Drink

2) Multicultural cuisine

Bosnian cuisine is rich in eastern and western influences and it’s closely linked to Turkish, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. While in Bosnia you should try a variety of dishes (most based on mince meat) you wouldn’t be able to taste anywhere else in Europe. In Bosnia you can really eat well on a budget! Learn more about Bosnian cuisine.

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina (62) - Bosanski Lonac served at Nanina Kuhinja. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia

Bosanski Lonac served at Nanina Kuhinja, Sarajevo

Accommodation

3) Camping wild can be dangerous

Due to the huge amount of land mines that are still buried in Bosnia, camping wild is dangerous and discouraged. There are not that many organised campsites either. If CouchSurfing fails you, don’t fear as there are plenty of accommodation options in Bosnia, starting with youth hostels and ending with communist style abandoned hotels.

While hitchhiking we did get stuck in Bosnia but never had problems finding a place to sleep. Just ask around and somebody will help you.

Old communist hotel in Jablanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia

Old communist hotel in Jablanica

Weather

4) Gorgeous summers & snowy winters

The southern and western parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina lie in the Mediterranean climate, with relatively mild winters and very warm summers.

Inland and highly elevated parts of the country experience short, cool summers and long, severe winters.

The average yearly temperature in Sarajevo is 10 °C, with January (−0.5 °C) being the coldest month of and July (19.7 °C) the warmest month of the year.

Sarajevo weather graph - by climatemps. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia

Sarajevo weather - by climatemps. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosniasource: climatemps.com

Current weather in Sarajevo

Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina with a big waterfall going through the centre. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia

Jajce Waterfall

Culture & History

5) Three distinct cultures

You should know that in Bosnia there are three distinct cultures, all identified with a particular religion but with almost exactly the same language and on sight, physically the people are indistinguishable. Within the country of Bosnia & Herzegovina there are two states, the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina, consisting of: Croatian Catholic communities (in the west),  Bosnian Muslims (in the centre) and Orthodox Serbs in the east; and Republica Srpska, a relic of the Dayton Peace agreements, which covers vast tracts of the east and north, and populated by Serbs.

Administrative division of Bosnia and Herzegovina - Republika Srpska and Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia

Administrative division of BiH, source Wikipedia

The peace, to say the least, is an uneasy one. Some villages are Muslim, others are Orthodox, some are Croatian and others are mixed. War memories still remain vivid and forgetting, let alone forgiving, is not an easy process. While hitchhiking we have had the chance to meet people from all these different groups.

Learn more reading our post Bosnia & Herzegovina, Republica Srpska & the problem of perspective.

Lovely Bosnian girl in Mostar. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia

Language

6) Bosnian or Serbo-Croatian?

After Yugoslavia split, the Bosnian government declared the official language to be called ‘Bosnian’ rather than ‘Serbo-Croatian’. However, many linguists and consider Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian to be the same language, with only minor idiomatic differences.

Bosnian is one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with Croatian and Serbian. It is also an officially recognized minority or regional language in Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

Standard Bosnian uses a Latin alphabet. Despite its Slavic roots, it also uses some Arabic, Turkish and Persian loanwords, especially linked with Islamic culture and cuisine.

Bosnian is a South-Slavic language and for me, a Pole (and a West-Slavic language native) it was possible to understand the basics although I wouldn’t be able to hold a complex conversation. I was surprised, however, that despite larger distance it was easier for me to understand Bosnian (Serbian and Croat) than Slovenian. If you speak any Slavic language you will be able to get by and get your point across.

Old souvenir vendor in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. backpacking and hitch-hiking in Bosnia

written by: Ania

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2 comments

  • I’ve done a lot of camping, but only regional trips here in Canada, at national or provincial parks. Thanks for pointing out the landmine dangers in Bosnia – it’s so sad that the arms of war are so far reaching. I wonder if there is any movement or effort in Bosnia to clear sections of land for the purposes of creating public parks or nature reserves? I hope there’s a bright future for safe camping there!

    • Hey Vanessa, thanks for checking out the site. Landmines are still a serious problem in Bosnia and many continue to be maimed and killed every year. We just hope everyone takes care out there and thinks sensibly before setting up camp.

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