Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 1 Visas
- 2 Advantages of hitch-hiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 3 Disadvantages of hitch-hiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 4 Food & Drink
- 5 Accommodation
- 6 Weather
- 7 Culture & History
- 8 Language
- 9 Types of roads
- 10 Road map of Bosnia & Herzegovina
- 11 Absolutely essential hitch-hikers phrasebook
- 12 Border Crossings
- 13 Bosnia Top Destinations
- 14 Our Experience
A) No visa
Citizens of the 67 countries listed below may stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina for up to 90 days without a visa:
European Union, Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Qatar, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela
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
Mostar old town
Advantages of hitch-hiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia is an interesting country, that is still ethnically, religiously and culturally much divided between Bosniaks (Muslim), Serbs (Orthodox) and Croats (Catholics), and what’s a better way of learning about the history and culture of a country if not hitchhiking. If you hitchhike, you have a chance to speak with representatives of all these ethnic groups and get the first-hand perspective on such difficult issues as the last war or the ethnic cleansings.
Besides, Bosnian people are really friendly and if you are lucky you might get invited for a cup of strong Bosnian coffee.
Finally, Bosnia is a stunning country. I dare say, the most beautiful out of all the Balkan states, with narrow valleys, high and pristine mountains and crystal clear green mountainous rivers.
Disadvantages of hitch-hiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia is not the easiest country on Earth to travel by thumb. In fact, it can be slow and you have to dig deep if you really want to hitchhike rather than take dirt cheap public transport alternatives. We spent many hours on the road and saw many cars pass by but few of them actually stopped.
If you get stuck, as might happen (and did happen to us), your accommodation options are limited and camping wild might be difficult if not dangerous. It is advised not to camp wild in Bosnia, as you might accidentally find an active landmine, a remnant of the Bosnian war (1992-1995). Bosnia and Herzegovina has one of the most severe land mine problems in the world, so be careful. Check this website for maps showing landmines in the Balkans.
It would also be difficult to find a good camping spot in Bosnia as many roads go through very narrow valleys surrounded on both sides by steep rocky slopes. If you do get stuck, the best idea is to try and get to the nearest settlement or town and ask the locals if they could recommend any place to sleep.
Another problem with hitchhiking in Bosnia is that outside the big cities not many people speak English. Your best chances are people who emigrated from Bosnia and are visiting their families, so keep your eyes peeled for foreign number plates. The biggest Bosnian diasporas are to be found in the US, Canada, Germany, Austria and Australia.
Food & Drink
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.
Bosanski Lonac served at Nanina Kuhinja, Sarajevo
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.
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.
Culture & History
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 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.
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.
Types of roads
1) Motorways (avtoput, A-roads) – dual carriageways with a speed limit of 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph). They have white-on-green road signs as in Croatia and other countries nearby. Hitch-hiking on them is illegal but Bosnia and Herzegovina has only 40 km of the motorway, stretching between Kakanj and Sarajevo.
2) Two-lane expressways (Brzi put / džada) – roads intended exclusively for motor vehicle traffic, with one or two separate lanes, with no emergency lane. Hitch-hiking on them is illegal, but I doubt anybody would bother you.
3) State roads (Državni put, D-roads) – State roads are public road that connect the entire territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the network of major European roads. They are marked the one-, two- or three-digit numbers, which are printed on small boards along the road preceded by the letter ‘D’ (D+ number). Hitchhiking on them is legal, unless stated otherwise.
4) Regional roads (Regionalni put, R-roads) – Regional roads connect the important economic regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hitchhiking on them is legal, unless stated otherwise.
5) Local roads (Lokalni put) – Local roads connect villages. Hitchhiking on them is legal, unless stated otherwise.
There are four general speed limits in Bosnia and Herzegovina:
60 km/h (37 mph) within inhabited places
80 km/h (50 mph) outside inhabited places
100 km/h (62 mph) on expressways
130 km/h (81 mph) on motorways
Road map of Bosnia & Herzegovina
Absolutely essential hitch-hikers phrasebook
– Hello – Dobar dan (DOH-bahr dahn) – formal; Zdravo. (ZDRAH-voh) – informal
– Thank you – Hvala (HVAA-lah)
– Yes – Da (dah)
– No – Ne (neh)
– Please – Molim. (MOH-leem)
– Excuse me – Oprostite (oh-prohs-TEE-teh)
– How are you? – Kako ste? (kah-KOH steh?) – formal / Kako si? (kah-KOH see?) – informal
– Fine, thank you! – Hvala, dobro! (HVAH-lah, DOH-broh)
– Goodbye – Do viđenja (doh vee-jeh-nyah)
– Hitch-hiking – Stopirao (sto-pee-ra-oh)
– I don’t have money – Nemamnovca (Neh-mum NOV-tsah)
– we don’t have money – Mi nemamonovca (Me Neh-mah-mo NOV-tsah)
– money – novac? (NOH-vahts?)
– I’m going … – Idem (EE-dehm…)
– We are going to … – Mi idemo… (Me EE-deh-moh…)
– Where are you going? – Kuda ideš? (Kooh-dah EE-desh?)
– Can we go with you? – Možemo li ići sa vama? (Moh-ZHE-moh lee Y-chy sah VAH-mah?)
– I am… – Ja sam… (yah sahm…)
– My name is… – Zovem se (ZOH-vehm seh…)
– I am from… – Ja sam iz … (Yah sahm eez…)
– What is your name? – Kako se zoveš? (KAH-koh seh ZOH-vehsh) – informal
………………………………….Kako se zovete? (KAH-koh seh zoh-VEH-teh) – formal
– Nice to meet you! – Drago mi je. (DRAH-goh mee yeh)
– I don’t understand – Ne razumijem. (neh rah-ZOO-myehm)
– now – sad(a) (sahd (ah))
– today – danas (DAH-nahs)
– yesterday – juče (YOO-cheh)
– tomorrow – sutra (SOO-trah)
– friend – prijatelj (pri-YA-telee)
Very useful when they ask you where you’re staying. The concept of Couchsurfing is often too difficult to explain, so just say you’re staying with a friend. You can also use this word to express the relationship between you and your fellow travellers.
– Can you stop? – Možešli prestati? (Moh-zhesh lee preh-STAH-tea) – informal
………………………….Možeteli prestati? (moh-ZHEH-teh lee preh-STAH-tea) – formal
– I want to get out – Želimizaći (ZHEH-leem EE-zah-chyee)
– Turn left – Skrenite lijevo! (SKREH-nee-teh LYEH-voh)
– Turn right – Skrenite desno! (SKHREH-nee –te DEHS-noh)
– Straight ahead – Samo ravno (SAH-moh RAHV-noh)
– Here – ovdje(OV-dye)
– Do you have… (in a shop) – Imate li …?(ee-MAH-teh lee…?)
– beer – pivo (PEE-voh)
You should know this word, you will be often invited for some.
– bus station – autobuska stanica (OW-toh-boos-kah STAH-nee-tsah)
You should know this word and listen out for it to avoid situations when your driver, in their best intentions, takes you off the road and drives you to a station.
– train station – željeznička stanica? (ZHEH-lyehz-neech-kah STAH-nee-tsah)
– Help – Upomoć! (oo-POH-mohtch)
– Look out! – Pazite! (PAH-zee-teh)
– street – ulica (OO-lee-tsah)
– road – cesta (TSEHS-tah)
– roundabout – kružni tok (CROOZH-nee tok)
– crossroads – raskrsnica (RAH-scrah-snee-tsah)
Bosnia and Herzegovina neighbours three countries: Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro
BiH – Croatia
Although Croatia has recently joined the EU, they are planning to access the Schengen zone in 2015, therefore until then you should expect passport control at the border crossings. If you are an EU member, it’s fast and hassle-free, though.
- Gradiška– It’s the main border crossing in the north of Bosnia and the one you are probably going to use if you go to/from Zagreb, Croatia. It’s located on the E661 road and connects Zagreb with Banja Luka (the capital of Republika Srpska).
Gradiška is a town with the population of 56,000.
- Bihać – This border crossing is located in the north-west of Bosnia on the M5 road in Bosnia and the 217 local road in Croatia. You are going to use this border crossing if you’re planning a visit to the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
We used this border crossing in summer 2013 and the traffic on both ends was scarse, especially on the Croatian side, so be prepared for a long wait.
Bihać is a town with the population of 61,000.
- Metković – It’s the main border crossing in the south of Bosnia. It’s located on the international road E73 and and the M-17 in Bosnia. It connects the capital of BiH, Sarajevo, Mostar with the south of Croatia (Korčula, Dubrovnik, Split).
Metković is a town with the population of 15,000 people, set on the banks of the river Neretva.
BiH – Montenegro
- Klobuk – One of the main border crossings between BiH and Montenegro. It’s located on the M-6 road and connects the city of Trebinje (BiH) with Nikšić (the 2nd largest city in Montenegro).
- Šćepan Polje – another important border crossing connecting Bosnian capital Sarajevo with Durmitor National Park. It’s located on the M18 road in Bosnia and the E762 in Montenegro on the river Drina.
BiH – Serbia
- Zvornik/Mali Zvornik – This border town crossing is located on the M4 road in Bosnia and it connects Sarajevo with Belgrade. It’s a town with the population of 12,000 people.
- Bosanska Rača/Sremska Rača – This border crossing is located in north-eastern Bosnia and it’s the best option to take if you’re travelling between Bijeljina (Bosnia) and Novi Sad (Serbia). It connects road M18 in Bosnia with road 19 in Serbia.
- Kotroman – This border crossing is located in eastern Bosnia on the level of Sarajevo. It connects roads M5 in Bosnia with E-761 in Serbia.
Bosnia Top Destinations
① Sarajevo – minimum 2 days
Sarajevo is one the most historically interesting and varied cities in all of Europe and the crossroads where Roman Catholic west, Eastern Orthodox east and the Ottoman south collide. Simply walking through Sarajevo is a lesson in the rich tapestry of historical influence. Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s most central district, is a wonderful blend of minarets, grilled kebabs and the pervasive smell of ground coffee, reminiscent of Istanbul but with a Slavic twist. The most interesting monuments of Sarajevo include: Latin Bridge (Yes, it’s here where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, which helped to trigger the First World War), Baščaršija (Old Bazaar) and Žuta Tabija (Yellow Bastion). There is also plenty of things to do for FREE in Sarajevo.
② Mostar – 1 full day is enough
Architecturally speaking, Mostar is the most beautiful city in Bosnia and one of the finest example of Islamic art in the whole Balkan region. What attracts hoards of tourists every year are the well-preserved stone buildings, cobble-stoned narrow streets, soaring minarets and Stari Most (Old Bridge) – the Ottoman landmark of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the place where you can see local divers jump into the Neretva.
③ – Jajce – 1 day is enough
Jajce is a former royal town and a popular domestic travel destination due to its historical importance and the 17-metre waterfall right in the middle of the city. It’s most interesting monuments include: the waterfall, Jajce fortress, and catacombs and underground church. Furthermore, it’s surrounded by beautiful mountains and located near Pliva lake as well as the Vrbas and Pliva rivers.
④ – Bosanska Krupa – 1 day is enough
Bosanska Krupa is a town located between Bihać and Novi Gradin north-western Bosnia. It is set on the green Una river and its main monument is a medieval fortress dominating the town. We found it quite by accident as we got stuck there while hitchhiking but it was a very pleasant place to be stuck in with a really helpful tourist information office, cheap hotel (Stari Grad Ilma,) and plenty of food & drink options. It’s not a touristy place in the slightest and this is where it’s charm lies.
⑤ – Jablanica – 1 day is enough
Jablanica is a town in central Bosnia, located on the Neretva river and Jablanica lake. It’s worth visiting for its stunning mountains if for nothing else and is another place where we got stuck while hitchhiking where the general lack of tourists makes it quite an interesting place. Every evening locals of Jablanica dress up (long dresses, jewellery, high heels, suits etc.) and walk up and down its central street. There are also two discos in the outskirts that play very cheesy music but if you’re into ‘local curiosities’, you will find it interesting. There is also a forgotten soviet hotel for you to explore and stay at. You can beat the price down to)
⑥ – Banja Luka – 1 day is enough
Banja Luka is the second largest city in BiH and the capital of Republika Srpska. It’s not an obvious tourist destination and many people were surprised we wanted to visit it. It’s a relatively big urban centre full of concrete apartment blocks and busy streets but it has its charms and if you’re after real life rather than polished-up touristy stuff, you’ll like it. Its top tourist attractions include: Cathedral of Saint Bonaventure and Banski Dvor (Governor’s Palace, built in 1930’s).
⑦ – Međugorje – 1 full day is enough
Međugorje is a popular pilgrimage town, whose importance in the Catholic religion is compared to Lourdes or Fatima, due to a reported apparition of the Virgin Mary. I guess, you may want to visit it for two reasons: you are either religious or you find this kind of religious devotion places fascinating and like to explore them with your anthropological eye. We didn’t feel the need to visit it but one of our contributors did and we recommend you read his story.
⑧ – Blagaj Tekke – 1 full day is enough
“Built around one of the largest karstic springs in Europe, Blagaj Tekke is a sixteenth century monastery which is tucked precariously between a steep cliff and a labyrinth of underground limestone caves. The icy waters that are released from the womb of the mountain are turquoise and translucent, designing a picturesque foreground to the monastery.” (by beforeyouretooold, read the full story here). It’s on the UNESCO tentative list and it really looks fabulous. It’s located only 13 km from Mostar and can be visited on a day trip.
⑨ – Višegrad – 1 day is enough
Višegrad is a city in the Sarajevo region, on the banks of the river Drina, which is famous for its Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and as the birthplace of Ivo Andrić, a nobel prize winner for his novel The Bridge over the Drina. The bridge was build in the 16th century and is a fine example of Ottoman monumental architecture and civil engineering.
⑩ – And what would you recommend?
What should be our number 10 in your opinion? We are very curious to hear where you’ve been and what you liked, so please share your knowledge and experience in the comments!
Bosnia and Herzegovina Top Destinations Map
– Međugorje & Blagaj Tekke – beforeyouretooold.wordpress.com
– Višegrad – Wikipedia
We visited Bosnia & Herzegovina during our Balkan Peninsula by Thumb 2013 trip and were blown away by the stunning natural beauty loved it! We spent a week in Bosnia, covering 351 km by thumb!