Sarajevo is a multi-layered city with plenty to see and do in just a few days. We’ve rounded up the top things to do in this Bosnia and Herzegovina capital.
Start your day in Bascarsija, the central square that brings together East and West. It’s a good place to grab a coffee or shisha and people watch.
A monument of Sarajevo’s Ottoman past, Sebilj is a fountain in the center of Baarija Square. It was built in 1753 by Mehmed Pasha Kukavica and relocated in 1891 by Austrian architect Alexander Wittek.
The fountain is a symbol of the city and has inspired numerous replicas around the world. Some are modeled after the original, such as in Belgrade (Serbia), St. Louis (Missouri), Novi Pazar (Serbia), Birmingham (England) and Bursa (Turkey).
For visitors with limited time, Sebilj is a great way to get a taste of what this historic capital has to offer. But there are also many other attractions to explore in Sarajevo. Start by visiting the famous Bascarsija, a central market dating back to the 15th century.
2. City Hall
The City Hall, or Vijecnica as it's known in Bosnia, is one of the most striking buildings in Sarajevo. It is a symbol of the city and has played a crucial role in its history.
During the Austro-Hungarian era, it served as the city council and is now home to the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, it was heavily damaged during the Siege of Sarajevo in 1992.
After 22 years of destruction, it has been reconstructed and reopened to the public. Its neo-Moorish design is a symbol of Sarajevo's resilience and the victory over barbarism, light over dark, life over death.
3. National Museum
Sarajevo’s National Museum (Zemaljski Muzej) is Bosnia’s oldest and best-endowed collection of artifacts. Housed in a quadrangle of neoclassical 1913 buildings, it’s home to the priceless Sarajevo Haggadah illuminated manuscript and a number of other fascinating collections.
This museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in Sarajevo’s history and culture. It includes displays highlighting local traditions and resistance to Austria-Hungarian rule, as well as an exhibit about Franz Ferdinand’s assassination.
The museum is a crucial stop on war-themed tours of the city, as it showcases the city’s vital role in smuggling food, supplies and weapons into the besieged city during the 1990s. It’s a harrowing experience, but it also offers insight into the resilience of Sarajevo’s people.
4. War Childhood Museum
The War Childhood Museum is a collection of personal belongings from children who lived through the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict. It opened in January 2017 and was awarded the Council of Europe Museum Prize for 2018.
The items on display at the War Childhood Museum are not only memorabilia from a time when children were victims but also objects that tell stories. They are displayed on simple pedestals, hung from the ceiling or placed in showcases.
Director Jasminko Halilovic said that speaking about the war from a child's perspective is "the most powerful anti-war message." The museum has collected more than 4,000 exhibits donated by children who endured the 1992-95 Bosnian war, but Halilovic has started collecting items from other conflicts.
5. Cable Car
The city’s iconic cable car has reopened after a long hiatus, shuttleing citizens and tourists to one of Sarajevo’s favorite weekend destinations. For decades, the steep slopes of Mount Trebevic were a popular recreational spot for the capital’s residents and visitors, offering breathtaking views of the city and pristine pine forests.
- But during the Bosnian War, the mountain’s vantage point for Serb snipers turned its once-favored leisure spot into a death trap. Land mines and bandits raked the mountain’s slopes, leaving it to decay until recently when the last of them were removed, roads rebuilt and hotels, restaurants and mountain huts opened.
- New York resident Eddy Offermann’s wife was born in Sarajevo and he was inspired to do something for the city. He set up a donor-advised fund at KBFUS and in 2017 donated US$ 3.9 million to reopen the historic cable car.