Coming up with a place to go to for a vacation on your own or with friends can be challenging enough. However, finding the perfect spot for families can be much tougher, as you will need activities that will keep everyone happy for the whole break. If you have children and want to take them to somewhere new, you’re in luck, as we happen to know a place just for the occasion.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has everything you need for a fun time in a populated area as well as near nature. Tours are available for a variety of places that make you feel like you’re traveling back in time and viewing beautiful structures. And since this country falls into our list of cheapest but safe countries to visit, you can save some money while on your trip!
If you’ve got kids, it’s important to take care in planning your next vacation. To get the most out of your vacation, you’ll need to find something great for the whole family. If you’re looking for family-friendly activities to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina on your next vacation, we’ve got you covered. Below is our complete guide for visiting this beautiful country with kids and families.
Where is Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Bosnia and Herzegovina, previously known as just Bosnia, is located sandwiched between Croatia and Serbia. As you can see by this map, it is located on the continent of Europe in the Southern point. Sarajevo is the capital of this country.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, otherwise known as B&H, is a landlocked country meaning that it borders no oceans. Rather, it is surrounded on all sides by land and other countries. The only area that borders an ocean is on the narrow 12-mile coast that borders the Adriatic Sea. On the Eastern side of B&H is Serbia, on the Southeast side is Montenegro, and Croatia is on the other two sides.
Many people get confused by the fact that this country has two names. The most common question that is asked is, “Is Bosnia and Herzegovina one country?” The answer is yes. More often than not, this country is referred to as simply Bosnia for its simplicity. However, though, the official name has two parts and it is one country.
The time zone in B&H is Central European Standard Time, otherwise known as GMT+1. That means that in comparison to California time, it is nine hours ahead. Bosnia is around 51,000 square kms large as has a population of 3.5 million people, so it is a relatively small country.
History of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The country now known as Bosnia and Herzegovina was once a part of the Roman Empire and known as the Republic or Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were a part of the Roman Empire until the empire collapsed in 1463.
When the Roman Empire fell, Bosnia was then taken over by the Ottoman Turks. They ruled over Bosnia until the 1800s. In the 1800s, it then became a part of Austria-Hungary.
Then came World War II. During World War II, Bosnia then got passed over to be a part of Yugoslavia. Bosnia faced a lot of hardships during WWII and they lost a lot of people to persecution. Since Yugoslavia became a communist country after WWII, Bosnia fought to become its own country.
Finally, after being passed on and on, Bosnia became its own country in 1992 when they declared themselves independent. Because of all of their different ownerships, the ethnic makeup of Bosnia includes Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats.
How to pronounce Bosnia and Herzegovina
One thing that many people struggle with is how to correctly pronounce Bosnia and Herzegovina. Below is an easy way to pronounce this country’s name:
Is it safe to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina?
When travelling to any country, it is smart to be safe and know about the common crimes and whether the country is safe for you and your family. Just as with any other country, Bosnia and Herzegovina is relatively safe, but it is smart to be aware of petty crimes that happen to tourists. Because of this, it is important to take the normal precautions that you would take when visiting any other country.
On the safety index of 1-100, 100 being the safest, Bosnia and Herzegovina was ranked a 65. Because of this, it is higher on the safety scale, but it still has its issues with crime and danger. Because of this, it is probably best for couples traveling or adults that wish to visit. If you do decide to take children, just be sure to take precautions as to not run into any dangerous situations just as with any other country,
Many people believe that since this was an area of war during WWII that it is not safe; however, this is not necessarily true. Just because it was once an area of war does not mean that it is still unsafe.
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina is relatively simple, but has a lot of meaning and symbolism behind it. The flag features the colors royal blue and yellow that cut the flag diagonally with a blue stipe or rectangle on the right side. This makes it so that there is a yellow triangle on the top right side of the flag. Along the blue line is white stars.
This flag was adopted by the country in 1998 and is meant to symbolize peace. The three points of the yellow triangle are meant to stand for the three ethnic groups discussed earlier. The triangle itself symbolizes the shape of the territory itself, and the star represent Europe as a whole. The blue in the background is reminiscent of the flag of Europe, its mother country.
Official Language Spoken in Bosnia and Herzegovina
B&H is made up of three primary ethnic groups. Because of this, there are three primary languages spoken: Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian.
Currency used in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The currency used in B&H is the Convertible Mark. The Convertible mark is 0.56 United States dollars, 0.51 Euros, or 0.43 Pounds. If you travel with just credit cards, most places in B&H accept credit cards, but you want to be sure that you take some cash with you as well. You will predominantly need cash when buying things from markets, side streets, and more.
How to get to Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina does have a major airport known as the Sarajevo International Airport. This is located in the capital of the country, Sarajevo. If you do not wish to fly into this airport, however, it is an easy drive from any of the neighboring countries. Getting past the borders is relatively easy, so you won’t have to battle a lot to get into the country. You can also take a train or plane into the country if you choose to do that instead.
How to get around Bosnia and Herzegovina
If you are worried about how to get around Bosnia and Herzegovina, the easiest and cheapest way to get around the country is by public transport. This form of transportation won’t cost over $1 a day for most people. One of the tried-and-true forms of public transportation in the country is the tram which has been going since 1885.
If you do not wish to take the tram around the country, you can also explore some cities by foot or taxi. Either way, you can easily travel around the city for a small cost.
Climate and weather in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The temperature in Bosnia and Herzegovina ranges from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the season. Throughout the year, the weather of this country is usually rainy aside from the summer months. It is the warmest in the months of May-September and the coldest between December-April.
Best time to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina
Due to the weather and climate, the best time to visit this beautiful country is in either May, June, or September. During these months, the rain subsides, and the heat is not too extreme, which makes it the ideal time to hike, walk, and adventure in general. Of course, you can visit Bosnia and Herzegovina any other month of the year including the winter and spring months of January, February, March, April as well as the summer months of July and August. Most people sometimes prefer to visit after September when the summer rush has died down and things are less crowded. So if you want to see fewer people, then plan your visit for October, November and December but just be aware that the winter months of November, December, and January tend to be the coldest months of the year here.
Major cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina
There are three major cities that people like to visit in B&H. These cities are as follows:
- Sarajevo: Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is also one of the largest cities. It is the home of the government in the country and can be found in the Sarajevo Valley surrounded by the Sinaric Alps. It is well-known for being the sole European country that is the home of a Catholic church, a synagogue, a mosque, and an Orthodox church all relatively close to one-another.
- Mostar: Mostar is located in Southern Bosnia and Herzegovina and is famous for being the home of the Stari Most, otherwise known as the old bridge. Also, there are many marketplaces and alleys where you can learn about the culture and find precious goodies to take home.
- Tuzla: Tuzla is the third most populated city in B&H, mostly because it is the home of the famous American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is located in the northeastern area of B&H and is also a popular tourist spot because of a nearby salt lake.
Best things to do with kids in Bosnia and Herzegovina
1. Stop by the Old Bridge
Views are among the most enjoyable experiences on a vacation, and they are much better when you have different environments close together. Bosnia and Herzegovina have no shortage of views thanks to the Old Bridge, a.k.a. Stari Most, in Mostar. You can take your kids to the middle of the bridge and look down to check out the Neretva River, which always has a clear appearance no matter the time of day. The greenery outside the buildings by the river add to the scenery, especially if you’re stopping by in the spring or summer.
The bridge itself makes a great addition to your photo collection if you’re taking a shot from either end. There are plenty of shops on both sides, so you can use the bridge for easy access to different stores that have clothes and souvenirs that your kids can take home to show off to their friends at school. You can take photos with your family from different angles and include the mountains and buildings down the river in the background. This popular tourist destination is one of the most talked about in the area. Located in the city, this bridge serves as a place where both Christians and Muslims in the area live together peacefully. The view of the Old Bridge alone gives Bosnia and Herzegovina a worthy place on our list of ten cheapest countries to visit in Europe this year!
2. Visit Bihac
Do you want your kids to feel like they’re exploring beautiful structures like the ones they see in their favorite fantasy movies and TV shows? We advise taking them to Bihac for an afternoon. This city is home to Ostrozac Castle, which comes with different structures and areas that your kids can explore. The views from the top of the castle will allow you and your family to check out the rest of the town, as well as the mountains in the background.
You can also check out Fethija Mosque, which is the oldest gothic building in the country and has winds, structures and other forms of architecture that are works of art. The kids may also get a kick out of City mosque, which is put together with more modern technology and provide just as many beautiful views as traditional alternatives. Sokolacka Kula is another traditional, castle-like place that your gang will enjoy because of the views, and Gradaski Park will serve as a nice break from the traveling so that you can sit down on a bench and enjoy the sun setting over the hills and river.
3. Take a Trip to Una National Park
If you’re in need of another great family-friendly activity, consider a trip to Una National Park. This great park takes you through some of the area’s untouched and unaltered scenery. If your kids are bigger fans of the wildlife and want to find their inner outdoorsmen, then spending a day at Una National Park should be at the top of your to-do list. One spot you need to check out is Strbacki buk, which features waterfalls on top of waterfalls surrounded by woods. There’s also the Great Una Waterfalls, which are a little higher and present clear, clean water for tourists to check out. While we advise being careful, it helps to stand as close to the falls as possible if you want great photos.
The hiking trails in Lohovo and Kulen Vakuf provide for a great workout so that whatever huge dinners you have at the end of the day are well earned. The views of the area at the top of the mountains are also a great reward for the trip. Some spots in the park include bridges so that you can get safer views of the falls and wildlife that may be in the area, Tufa is the perfect blend of all of these environments and make for a great spot for relaxation. Perfect for nature lovers and explorers alike, Una National Park provides an educational experience for the whole family.
4. Spend Time In Sarajevo
Visiting a place you’ve never been to before provides you an opportunity to understand other cultures. One spot you need to explore for this purpose is Sarajevo, which includes enough remains from the Bosnian War of the 1990s to show people the struggles that people went through 20 years ago. This will be a more engaging education lesson for your kids than reading textbooks in class.
Areas in town that can provide such lessons include Sarajevo Tunnel, Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque and Bascarsija. The latter is full of shops that make sure that you end the day taking something home. Subilj Brunnen in the middle of the town makes for a beautiful fountain for you to stop by for a break during tours and take photos of. If you’re looking for large structures to check out, then we recommend Vijecnica and the Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
5. Walk around Banja Luka
Some parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina are better suited for nice walks around town and going out for a bite with friends and family. That’s where Banja Luka comes in, as this spot will serve as a nice break from the mountain climbing and castle tour that you and the kids have done throughout the week. There are areas such as Kastel and Vrbas canyons that make for great attractions, but they are small enough to require minimal walking.
Green hills are positioned throughout the town so that visitors get a balance of the city life and nature, making for great sites that may be hard for your kids to come by back at home. Banja Luka is also home to a variety of festivals, such as Demofest, Fresh Wave Festival and Kastel Rock Fest. We recommend timing your break so that your family will get to enjoy new forms of entertainment while you enjoy a nice meal.
6. Take a Trip to Hercegovacka Gracanica
Hercegovacka Gracanica is a famed orthodox church sitting atop a beautiful hilltop. A popular tourist destination, this church looks out over a wide swath of the area’s natural landscape, providing a view unlike any other. But it’s not just the view that’s sure to catch your eye. This beautiful church boasts an incredible exterior and interior, making it perfect for those who want to snap a few photos of their vacation.
What’s more, the area comes outfitted with a restaurant and a souvenir shop. Stop and enjoy some of its great-tasting food while admiring the view and be sure to get some souvenirs before you leave. This peaceful area is great for kids and adults of all ages, making it one of the best places to go with kids on your next trip.
7. Visit Kravice Falls
This beautiful waterfall is perfect for the whole family. Great for those who like taking selfies and family photos, Kravice Falls boasts some of the best scenery in the area. What’s more, you’ll be able to take a guided tour of the waterfall and surrounding lake. This guided tour will ensure that you don’t miss out on anything Kravice Falls has to offer.
Even better, you’ll have time to stop and take a swim in the lake—and even play at the base of the waterfall. This incredible experience will be unlike any other that you have on the island. Best of all, it’s one that you and your kids are sure to enjoy—no matter their age. By adding a trip to Kravice Falls to your list, you can ensure that your trip will be one that you’ll remember for quite some time.
8) Visit Bascarsija
Bascarsija is a popular local tourist plaza. Here, you’ll find numerous shopping and leisure activities perfect for the whole family. What’s more, it’s also a perfect place to go on a date—that is, if you have someone to watch your kids, of course. Come out later to see everything that the plaza has to offer. You’ll find that it’s popular with both tourists and locals alike.
9) Visit The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina
This historical museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in Sarajevo, the capital of the country, and was originally built in 1888. It is made of four symmetrical pavilions that are meant to replicate the Revival Style of Italy.
This museum was damaged heavily during the most recent war, but it has since been reopened and has become one of the top things to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In each of the four pavilions are the following areas of interest: archaeology, ethnology, natural history, and library. This way, you can go through all four sectors and learn about each of those four areas.
10) Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum
The history of Sarajevo itself runs deep just as it does with the country as whole. During the 1990s, Sarajevo was overtaken by Serbian forces who took control over the entire city. In 1993, they began the construction of what is now known as the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum. Interestingly enough, this tunnel was dug by hand and shovel and the workers were paid solely in cigarettes. This was finally completed a while later and functioned to connect the two neighborhoods in the city. After being abandoned at the end of the war, this tunnel then became the museum that it is today where you can learn about what Sarajevo has gone through.
11) Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque
Sarajevo is well-known for being the home of a variety of different religious institutions, including the Gazi Husrey-Beg Mosque. This mosque was built in the 16th century and is the largest of historical mosques found in B&H. This mosque is known for being a regular visitation spot for tourists and is famous for its intricate architecture and details.
12) Hang out in Vrelo Bosne
Vrelo Bosne is a public park located at the foot of Mount Igman and spreads out over 600 hectares. It is the source of the Bosna River and is the home of various fish and plants. The park is accessible by a horse-drawn carriage or by walking. Kids will love cycling and walking here as well as watching the ducks and swans swim past. The park also has several cafes and restaurants to eat when you get hungry. The great thing about this tourist location is that even though it is touristy, it is never visited as much as it’s off-the-beaten path and only an estimated 60,000 tourists visit the park every year.