After the tragedy of the Yugoslav wars that ravaged the Balkan region in the 1990s, Bosnia-Herzegovina has begun to emerge from that torrid time as a compelling, multi-faceted travel destination. Most notable amongst the country’s many charms is its lush, mountainous landscape, best seen from the vantage point of one of its national parks.
Bosnia-Herzegovina still bears the legacy of war, having a fractured infrastructure and parts of its countryside still fraught with mines. It remains one of Europe’s poorest countries and some areas of its most afflicted cities have still to be rebuilt.
However, there are plenty of positives to take from the country’s urban centres, especially the cosmopolitan capital of Sarajevo. With its rich history and lively nightlife, the diverse city has become one of Europe’s most curious, unique capitals. The old town is divided between the evocative Ottoman quarter of historic mosques, little streets filled with cafes and craft workshops, and the trendy Austria-Hungarian quarter built during the late 19th century – truly a case of east meets west.
Sarajevo also has several museums explaining its history, while climbing the steep hills rewards you with a stirring view of the city. One oddity is the colossal bobsleigh track from the 1984 Winter Olympics that runs through the forests of Trebevic mountain; it was destroyed during the Siege of Sarajevo in 1990s and is now a canvas for local street artists.
Beyond Sarajevo, much of the country is relatively undeveloped, but there are several historic fortresses to see, no shortage of splendid old mosques, and a number of monasteries and Catholic shrines. The second city (at least by reputation), Mostar is also increasingly popular with tourists. Perhaps above all else, it is the city’s 16th century Ottoman bridge that symbolises both the past and a positive new beginning for the country. Destroyed during the war, it has since been painstakingly reconstructed, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.