View of Sarajevo

17 Best Things to Do in Sarajevo in 2023

Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a vibrant city full of different cultures. The city in the heart of the Balkans has a rich history and even shaped world history more than once. There are more than enough things to do in Sarajevo to discover the city’s history and enjoy the lively vibes of today.

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Walking through the city you can see the influence of different empires, like the Ottoman Empire or the Austro-Hungarian Empire. You also notice the more recent history, like the Bosnian War which only ended in 1995. The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina has emerged as a resilient and dynamic city, one that is home to a thriving arts and culture scene and welcoming locals. And most of the best things to do in Sarajevo are free.

Visit the place where world history was shaped

17 best things to do in Sarajevo

Latin Bridge

Right next to the Latin Bridge world history was shaped. On 28 June 1914 the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sofia were assassinated. This led to the beginning of the First World War. Visiting this history-changing location should be on everyone’s things to do in Sarajevo list.

Museum with old pictures of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
The place where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was killed

At the corner of the building, you can see the footsteps where the assassin, Gavrilo Princip, stood when he shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. This was not the first attempt on the Archdukes life, just hours before the assassination he escaped a bomb explosion.

Don’t miss out on having a look at the bridge itself either though, it’s the oldest stone bridge from all the stone bridges crossing the river.

old bridge in Sarajevo
Latin bridge

Learn about the Bosnian War

The Bosnian War and the events leading up to it are very complicated and I can’t go into detail here. I just want to give a very rough outline. Bosnia and Herzegovina used to be part of Yugoslavia and there have always been three ethnic groups living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslim), Serbs and Croats. Along with Croatia and Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina wanted to proclaim independence. The Bosnian Serbs, however, didn’t want Independence from Yugoslavia. Soon after the war broke out.

You can learn a lot about the Bosnian War in Sarajevo by visiting museums and reading up on it. I found this YouTube video very helpful to get a better overview:

Learn about the Bosnian War from Johnny Harris

Keep a look out for bullet holes 

The Bosnian war only ended in 1995 and Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo was under siege from 1992 to 1996. The siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege of a city in modern warfare and you can still see the results in the city today. Just keep an eye out and look at the buildings surrounding you. Many buildings are still riddled with bullet holes.

house facade with bullet holes
House facade with bullet holes in Sniper Alley

The most dangerous streets during the siege was the main street leading into the city, which consists of the two boulevards, Ulica Zmaja od Bosne and Meša Selimović Boulevard. There are many tall buildings on these streets and snipers hid there and shot at everyone moving. That’s why the streets got the nickname, Sniper Alley.

Remember the victims at Sarajevo Roses

During the siege of Sarajevo, many people were killed by bombshells. Those mortar shells also left a scar on the concrete. To remember the victims they left concrete scars on the ground and painted them red whenever at least 3 people were killed at a location. The painted concrete scars kind of look like flowers, so they were called Sarajevo Roses.

granite scar with red colour
Sarajevo rose to remember the dead

There are many Sarajevo Roses all over the city, an easy one to find in the city centre is in front of the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Museum of crimes against humanity and genocide

The museum of crimes against humanity and genocide is a great place to learn about the atrocities of the Bosnian War. The worst genocide on European soil since the Second World War was committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1990s. In the museum, you hear and read about real stories from the victims.

The museum is very depressing, it’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s important to not forget all the victims of the war. And don’t forget that the war happened only about 30 years ago, so many people you meet in Sarajevo have actually lived through this time.

Tunnel of Hope

The Tunnel of Hope is known under many other names as well, like War Tunnel, Tunnel of Life or just Sarajevo Tunnel. It’s located near the airport, you can only get there by taxi or through an organised tour, there’s no public transport going there.

Sarajevo Tunnel museum
Outside of the Sarajevo Tunnel museum

The underground tunnel was constructed during the siege of Sarajevo. During this longest siege of modern warfare, the tunnel was the only way to get food and weapons into the surrounded city.

Before going to the tunnel you should check out my tips for visiting the Sarajevo Tunnel.

Free walking tour

The best way to learn about the history of Sarajevo and the Bosnian War is with a free walking tour. I did a great walking tour with Meet Bosnia. The local guide, Edin, is very knowledgeable and even tells stories from his childhood during the siege of Sarajevo.

In many other cities, the guides from walking tours are not from the city themselves, not so in Sarajevo. The local guide made the free walking tour one of the best things to do in Sarajevo.

A free walking tour is a perfect way to get an overview of Bosnian history. If you want to learn more about the country’s history there are some great tours which give you a more detailed understanding of history:

If you want to learn more about Sarajevo’s recent history, check out this Fall of Yugoslavia tour.

Sarajevo as meeting point for different religions

Even though religion has been part of the conflict in the past, nowadays you find people with different religions living together in peace in Sarajevo. So visiting different religious houses in very close proximity is one of the things to do in Sarajevo.

Sacred Heart Cathedral

The Sacred Heart Cathedral or just Sarajevo Cathedral is the most important catholic church in Sarajevo. It’s also the largest cathedral in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the seat of the archbishop.

statue of Pope in front of a church
Pope John Paul II in front of the Sarajevo cathedral

In front of the cathedral is a statue of Pope John Paul II, he visited the city twice and his successor Pope Francis visited the city once. Pope John Paul II requested for the bullet holes to be left in the church facade as a reminder of the war.

The oldest synagogue in Sarajevo 

The oldest synagogue in Sarajevo was built in 1581. Over the years it was destroyed multiple times but always rebuilt by the Jewish community. Today it’s not a synagogue anymore but a museum about the history of the Jews in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Oldest synagogue in Sarajevo
Oldest synagogue in Sarajevo

Next door to the oldest synagogue in Sarajevo is the new synagogue which functions as an art gallery. The only functioning synagogue is the Sarajevo Synagogue on the south side of the Miljacka river.

In the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, you can find an important historic Jewish text, the Sarajevo Haggadah. It’s one of the oldest Sephardic Haggadahs in the world and it’s a UNESCO Memory of the World. A Sephardic Haggadah is an illustrated manuscript from the Hispanic Jews about the biblical escape of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.

Gazi Husrev-beg mosque

The Gazi Husrev-beg mosque is one of the best examples of architecture from the Ottoman rule in the Balkans. It’s also the largest historical mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the central Sarajevo mosque. However, it’s not the first mosque built in Sarajevo. The oldest mosque is the Emperor’s Mosque.

Sarajevo mosque with fountain in front
Gazi Husrev-beg mosque in Sarajevo’s old town

During the siege of Sarajevo, the mosque was heavily damaged but it was reconstructed right after the war in 1996.

Today the mosque undoubtedly shapes the landscape of Sarajevo. The mosque with its minaret is visible from all over the old town of Sarajevo. And right next to the mosque is the famous bell tower, more on that in a second.

Enjoy the Sarajevo’s old town

Learning about the Bosnian War and visiting places where people were killed is very depressing. But when you walk through the narrow streets of old town Sarajevo and watch the hustle and bustle on popular squares it’s easy to forget about it. There’s plenty of things to do in Sarajevo old town.

Try to read the time at the clock tower

top of a clock tower
The only lunar clock tower in the world

The clock tower in old town Sarajevo shapes the skyline of Sarajevo just as much as the adjacent Gazi Husrev-beg mosque. The most fascinating part of the clock tower is the clock itself. It’s the only public clock tower in the world with lunar time. The clock’s hand points to 12 exactly at sunset.

Visit the market: Gazi Husrev-begov bezistan

The Gazi Husrev-beg’s bezistan is the best-preserved bazaar in Sarajevo from the Ottoman period. It used to be an indoor silk market, nowadays the old bazaar is mainly a souvenir market. Even if you’re not in the mood to buy souvenirs, checking out the architecture of the indoor market alone makes it one of the best things to do in Sarajevo.

Feed the pigeons at Sebilj fountain

The Sebilj in Sarajevo is a wooden fountain from the Ottoman period in the middle of the Baščaršija square. A local legend says that people who drink from this fountain will come back to the city someday. So if you want to come back to Sarajevo, make sure to add drinking from Sebilj on your things to do in Sarajevo list.

wooden fountain on a square with loads of pigeons
You can always find pigeons next to Sebilj fountain

The square is not just famous for the fountain but also for the number of pigeons that live there. You can even buy some kernel there to feed the pigeons and take pictures. The seeds are sold in plastic containers but you can return them after you’re done feeding the pigeons.

Marvel at city hall

Sarajevo city hall or Vijećnica as its also called is the best example of architecture from the Austro-Hungarian period. The building only opened up again in 2014 after reconstruction from the damage of the war. Today it houses the mayor’s office and the Sarajevo city council.

city hall
Sarajevo city hall

The best view of the city hall is from the other side of the Miljacka River. On this side of the river, you can also get a great picture with the Sarajevo sign in front of the iconic city hall.

Have some Bosnian coffee Tea house

Bosnian coffee at a restaurant
Bosnian coffee

In the old town of Sarajevo, you can find countless tea houses which sell Turkish tea and Bosnian coffee. Bosnian coffee is a very strong black coffee with sugar. The coffee is served in a small metal pot and you have to slowly pour it into your cup. Pouring it slowly is very essential because the coffee powder is still inside the pot and if you pour it too fast it will be poured into your cup.

Tip: There are also a few amazing all-vegan restaurants in Sarajevo.

Venture a little bit outside the city center

There are a lot of things to do in Sarajevo in the old town but if you venture just a little bit outside you’ll be rewarded with more great things to do in Sarajevo.

Yellow bastion 

The yellow bastion, yellow fortress or Žuta Tabija is a canon fortress which served as a defence against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Over the years it got destroyed and rebuild many times.

Today the yellow fortress is one of the best viewpoints of Sarajevo. After just a short uphill walk you get an amazing view of the city. Enjoying the view of the city from above is one of the best things to do in Sarajevo.

people surrounding a small canon on top of a hill
During Ramadan the canon is fired at sunset

During Ramadan the small canon is fired every day at sunset. It’s a popular spot for the Muslim community. Everyone brings their own food and they enjoy the breaking of the fast together after sunset.


If you love beer you should not miss the Sarajevo brewery. The Sarajevo brewery or Sarajevska pivara was the first local industry which opened in 1864. It soon became one of the leading producers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

entrance to the Sarajevo brewery
Oldest brewery in Sarajevo

During the siege of Sarajevo the brewery was the only place where civilians could get water from. Nowadays it’s still a brewery but also a museum.

Olympic park

In 1984 the Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo. Only 8 years later the war broke out and most Olympic facilities got destroyed. Some have been renovated and some are still abandoned.

The most well known abandoned site it the Bobsleigh and Luge Track. During the siege of Sarajevo the bobsleigh track was used as an artillery position by Bosnian Serbs surrounding the city.

Abandoned bobsleigh track with graffiti
Abandoned bobsleigh track from the Winter Olympics 1984

Nowadays you can explore the abandoned bobsleigh track which became famous for its graffiti. The best way to get there is to take the cable car to the hilltop. I would recommend getting a return ticket for the funicular, because the walk down is very steep and very long, I speak from experience.

From the hilltop you have a great view and going down an abandoned bobsleigh track is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Sarajevo.

woman standing in an empty frame, in the back you can see Sarajevo and a cable car
View of Sarajevo and the cable car

Day trips from Sarajevo

The most popular day trip from Sarajevo is to Mostar. If you do this day trip with a tour, like I did, you can not just visit the famous old town of Mostar but also some of the beautiful nature Bosnia and Herzegovina has to offer.

FAQ about things to do in Sarajevo

Is Sarajevo good for tourists?

Sarajevo is a great place for tourists. It’s not overrun by tourists but there are many things to do in Sarajevo. Bosnia’s capital is the meeting point of the East and the West and offers the best from both.

What to do when in Sarajevo?

There are many things to do in Sarajevo, from visiting locations which changed world history, over learning more about the Bosnian War, to discovering the diverse religious landscape of the city and to immerse yourself in the charming old town with its many tea houses.

What is Sarajevo best known for?

Sarajevo is best known for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which started the First World War and the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. The city has much more to offer than those brutal historic events.

How many days in Sarajevo is enough?

It’s best to spend about two full days in Sarajevo in order to do all the things to do in Sarajevo.

Can you drink tap water in Sarajevo?

Tap water in Sarajevo is safe to drink and it’s actually really nice compared to other holiday destinations.

Do I need cash in Sarajevo?

Most bigger restaurants accept card but it’s still recommended to have cash with you in Sarajevo since many smaller restaurants and museums don’t take card. The currency in Sarajevo is the Bosnia and Herzegovina Convertible Mark.

Is Sarajevo a walkable city?

Sarajevo is a very walkable city. The only two sights not in walking distance are the Sarajevo Tunnel and the abandoned bobsleigh track.

Why Sarajevo is called Jerusalem?

Sarajevo is sometimes called the Jerusalem of Europe because of its long history of religious diversity. You can find a mosque, a synagogue, a catholic church and an orthodox church within a short walk from each other.

Is Sarajevo an expensive city?

Sarajevo is one of the cheapest European capitals. You can easily get a meal for about € 5.

Can I use euro in Bosnia?

The official currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the Bosnia and Herzegovina Convertible Mark. You cannot use euros in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Is Bosnia cheap or expensive?

Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the cheapest countries in Europe and even though Sarajevo is more expensive than the countryside it’s still very cheap compared to other European capitals.

Is Bosnia landlocked?

Bosnia and Herzegovina is not landlocked, it has the second smallest coastline in the world.


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