A collection of Bosnia travel and backpacking resources including Bosnia travel, entry visa requirements, employment for backpackers, and Bosnian phrasebook.

Backpacking Bosnia and Herzegovina

Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Here you will find information on working in Bosnia and Herzegovina, entry visas, Bosnia and Herzegovina hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

Facts About Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is still recovering from the devastating war of the 1990s. Relations between Serbs, Croats, Muslims and other ethnic minorities are peaceful today but still far from easy, with unacknowledged voluntary segregation still in effect in parts of the country.

However, the country is safe and friendly and extremely cheap to travel around, all of which begins to explain why more and more travellers are choosing to visit. The Balkan state’s artistic and historic cultures, its national parks and ancient cities and its breathtaking beauty are just some of the reasons why it is slowly but surely gaining international renown as an excellent holiday destination.

Climate in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia’s climate is as varied as its terrain and as volatile as its politics. Generally speaking, Southern Bosnia enjoys the climate of Southern Europe long, hot summers and mild winters, while the mountains spend much of the year under a thick covering of snow and ice.

However, storms and high winds can blow across the Balkans at any time of year, and Bosnia is no exception. Indeed, the many factors influencing the weather, that is, Bosnia’s geographical features which make and break different weather fronts, contribute to a capricious climate.

It’s probably sensible to pack sunblock and a fleece whatever time of year you’re going, and wherever you plan to travel to. Sarajevo, in particular, can burn you and freeze you in the course of 24 hours, as the mountain peaks force brief and extreme weather fronts over the city.

Because of this, there is not really a ‘best’ time of year to visit the country, Bosnia’s springtime wildflowers, hot summers, golden autumns and frozen winters all have their advocates.

Top Things to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina

There are a multitude of places to visit while backpacking Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Sarajevo is perhaps one of the most fascinating cities in the world, not only for its history and culture but also for its exceptional beauty. Home to the country’s impressive national galleries, museums and libraries, Sarajevo also offers eclectic, attractive architecture, great views, great food and great shopping in its several ancient markets.

The town still bears the marks of war, and perhaps the best way to get to know it is just to wander around, taking in the atmosphere and the curious mix of ancient and Soviet-era architecture and watching people go about their business. The old town’s pavement cafés have great views over the city and to the green hills beyond from here, it’s difficult to believe the dark events of Sarajevo’s recent history.

In winter, resorts such as Jahorina provide excellent skiing and snowboarding for the lowest prices in Europe, and are near enough to Sarajevo (less than an hour’s drive away) to combine a city break with ski holiday or for the less sporty to escape from the slopes.


Mostar is Herzegovina’s counterpart to Bosnia’s Sarajevo. The ancient bridge, destroyed during the war and rebuilt in 2003, is its most famous landmark. An amazing feat of engineering when it was first built, today it has become a symbol of the country’s reunification. Mostar’s ancient buildings, markets and narrow streets also attract travellers, and others still use the city as a base for hiking in the beautiful surrounding hills.

Banja Luka

Further north, adventurous travellers go rafting down rapids near Banja Luka. Indeed, across Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is possible to find small outfits offering hiking tours and watersports wherever available, with new tourist industries literally rising out of the rubble of the war.

But the rubble remains, ruined churches, buildings and sometimes whole settlements abound. As this is cleared away bit-by-bit, bits of the country’s ancient and recent history goes with it, so even the ruins and remains are worth your attention.

Bjeslanica Hills

The untouched Bjeslanica hills and mountains in the South offer some of the best, and certainly some of the most remote, hiking in Europe. As well as the wildlife and the scenery, you can pass remote villages such as Lukomir where residents continue a way of life that has long since died out elsewhere. The organic, home grown and home-made food is fantastic, the people friendly and the villages and mountains are beautiful.

Hiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina

If you’re looking to stretch your legs and explore the natural beauty of the country, don’t miss some of the best hiking trails in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From gorgeous vistas to easy walking paths, the possibilities are endless.

To ensure you have a great hiking experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina, be sure to get the AllTrails app before you go. The app has an extensive list of the best trails for hiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with reviews from other hikers to keep you up to date on the latest trail conditions. You can filter by trail difficulty, length, and suitability. With the AllTrails+ version, you can download offline trail maps and get live alerts for wrong turns to help keep you on track.

Unique Activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Since popular places in Bosnia and Herzegovina can get crowded during tourist season, it is wise to reserve tickets and activities ahead of time. GetYourGuide sells entrance tickets to museums and landmarks at face value so you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.

Viator is another popular travel website that helps you book things to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They work directly with local tour operators in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.

Backpacking Tours in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Though part of the fun of backpacking Bosnia and Herzegovina is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. 

G Adventures is another great option for organized travel, but with a smaller group. It’s a great choice for anyone backpacking Bosnia and Herzegovina alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. It’s also a practical option for exploring places where you need an experienced guide, like a long hiking adventure or visiting a place well off the beaten path. You can choose from different styles of small group tours like active, wellness, hiking trips, 18-30somethings, and more.

Their most popular trips in Bosnia and Herzegovina is their 15-day tour called Adriatic Adventure-Zagreb to Athens.

How to Find Cheap Flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Daily flights to Sarajevo from international airports are increasing, and prices are reasonable. For backpackers on a budget, it might be worth considering flying into Dubrovnik, which is just over the southern border in Croatia, with a bargain airline.

In order to find the best flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina we recommend using a few well-known flight comparison search engines. These websites offer powerful search options, like entering flexible dates and airports in order to find the cheapest flight to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Our go-to flight search engine is Skyscanner, which we love for its extremely flexible search options. Our favourite way to get travel inspiration is their “Everywhere” feature. Simply enter “Everywhere” as a destination, and it will then list all available flights from your departure city in order of price. This also works when entering the entire country of Bosnia and Herzegovina as your destination. Skyscanner will search all possible airports in the country in order to find the cheapest option.

Kiwi is another new favourite flight search engine among savvy travelers. Kiwi works by combining flights from different carriers in order to get the best deal. Also, if there is a better ground or ferry option for the route you’re searching, Kiwi will include that in the search results. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Bosnia and Herzegovina with them compared to the other websites out there.

How to Travel Around Bosnia and Herzegovina on a Budget

Train and long-distance bus are the standard modes of transport for how to travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina on a budget. Buses are the more economical option, nevertheless, they are well-equipped with the usual modern conveniences that expect when travelling in Europe. Train travel, on the other hand, is the fastest way between cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the train stations are conveniently located right in the center of town.

You can then take the 5-hour bus journey through southern Bosnia to the capital, or to other destinations within Bosnia, for a few pounds. The scenery is amazing but roads are full of hairpin bends and this is probably not a journey to undertake if you suffer from travel sickness.

Train travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The country is a part of the Eurail network, which is a good choice if you plan to take multiple train journeys in a short period of time. To decide whether you should buy individual tickets from A to B, or whether you should purchase a Eurail pass, read our Travelling Europe by Train guide.

Within the country, travel is cheap and reliable, and passengers can enjoy breathtaking scenery as well as a comfortable journey.

Bus travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Across the Balkans, bus routes offer the most frequent and comprehensive public transport networks, and Bosnia is no exception. It is possible to get pretty much anywhere on the bus system, which is fairly priced and generally very reliable.

Most bus stops will have an information desk, but consult notice boards and try to ask locals and other travellers for information as well. Indeed, verify travel details with more than one person wherever possible, as times and prices can vary and even the locals may be unaware of changes to services. Furthermore, services can vary in price, journey-length and comfort level, so consulting those who know the system can make your journey more pleasant.

Driving in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bad roads and worse drivers make driving in Bosnia an activity for the daring and the foolhardy. Car hire often works out as more expensive than bus travel but it does buy you independence and if you’re intrepid enough to hit the roads, you can be rewarded with some stunning road trips. However, don’t attempt to drive in the mountains during winter unless you have a death wish.

You may also want the flexibility to stop in smaller towns between the major cities. If you decide you want to rent a car in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you can use DiscoverCars to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region.

Health and Safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina

National emergency healthcare in Bosnia is improving but remains frighteningly poor. Contact your embassy wherever possible and they will try to provide emergency healthcare of a higher standard. Failing that, it’s well worth seeking out a private doctor or applying to the German military base in Sarajevo, which treats non-military patients. Private healthcare is still relatively inexpensive and should be covered on the most basic of insurance packages, though you may have to pay first and reclaim later.

Don’t let this put you off, though. Bosnia has seen enough violence over the past century and today it is one of the least intimidating, safest and friendliest places in Europe.

As with travel to all other countries abroad, it is vital that you get travel insurance before you leave for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even for short trips, our go-to travel insurance provider is World Nomads, which is also recommended by Lonely Planet, HostelWorld, and other major travel companies.

Entry visa requirements for Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is still recovering from the devastating war of the 1990s. Relations between Serbs, Croats, Muslims and other ethnic minorities are peaceful today but still far from easy, with unacknowledged voluntary segregation still in effect in parts of the country.

However, the country is safe and friendly and extremely cheap to travel around, all of which begins to explain why more and more travellers are choosing to visit. The Balkan state’s artistic and historic cultures, its national parks and ancient cities and its breathtaking beauty are just some of the reasons why it is slowly but surely gaining international renown as an excellent holiday destination.

Visa requirements for Bosnia and Herzegovina can vary widely depending on your country of origin and can change over time. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, be sure to check the latest visa requirements while you’re still planning your trip.

Volunteering in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Volunteer travel is a great way to explore Bosnia and Herzegovina on a budget while also giving back. Typically, you’ll work on the project a set number of hours per week in exchange for free accommodation, and sometimes other perks such as free food, free bike rentals, and more. 

If volunteer work in Bosnia and Herzegovina sounds like something you want to do, it’s best to do it via a reputable agency. An agency will help screen volunteer programs and hosts in Bosnia and Herzegovina to make sure you have support every step of the way.

Volunteer work in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be organized through the WorldPackers agency, and you can use promo code BACKPACKING10 to save $10 on your membership. WorldPackers can connect you with volunteering opportunities in Bosnia and Herzegovina with NGOs, hostels and homestays, agricultural or wildlife experiences, and more.

Hostels and Budget Accommodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

It is easy to find a reasonably priced hotel in any town or city, but many of these are dank and somewhat depressing. It can be worth seeking out a more convivial hostel or even organising an apartment or a homestay, as these options are usually cheaper and often more pleasant than spending a night in a hotel.

We have had good experiences finding hostels in Bosnia and Herzegovina on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travelers, you know exactly what to expect.

Another good way to find accommodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is by checking booking.com. You’ll find hotels, homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodations. They have the most reviews and advanced filtering of any accommodation-booking site, so you’ll be sure to find a great place in your budget. Many places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

If you are backpacking with another travel companion, we highly recommend booking a rental via VRBO. With a vacation rental in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you’ll have more space, your own kitchen, and you’ll get a better feel for how the locals live. Plus, the cost of a vacation rental can be split among your group, oftentimes making it cheaper than doing individual hotel rooms. Renting self-catering accommodation is also good value for money, particularly for groups of travellers. Again, there are more options for travellers in Sarajevo and Mostar than elsewhere.

If you’re looking to save even more money while backpacking in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are plenty of creative ways to get free accommodation in exchange for work. For example, one of our favorite ways to stay in amazing locations for free is by signing up as a petsitter with Trusted Housesitters. The site connects responsible animal lovers with petsitting opportunities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and all over the world. It’s a win-win for both sides – travelers can stay in amazing locations for free, and homeowners can rest easy knowing that someone is watching over their place.

And lastly, CouchSurfing is a great community that connects travelers with local hosts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can stay for free with verified hosts, who will usually take some time to show you around the local spots.

Remember you’re in somebody’s home and try to respect your host’s way of life, ask permission to smoke, inform them if you plan to stay out late, and so on. Most travellers find that their polite requests are dismissed with a laugh, but it’s worth keeping in mind the fact that your hosts will not necessarily be familiar with your habits, particularly if your hosts are elderly or living in remote rural areas.

Official Language in Bosnia

Bosnia and Herzegovina recognises three official national languages: Bosnian, Croatian and Serb. However, the three dialects are extremely similar, with their separate names due largely to issues of national identity rather than to significant linguistic differences. Indeed, the nuances of the languages may well be lost entirely on the non-native Bosnian/Serb/Croat speaker.

The presence of international forces over the last few years has ensured that many Bosnians can understand bits of many languages (including English), though in more remote areas you are less likely to find someone able to translate.

In some parts of the country, the Cyrillic alphabet is used in place of the Latin, and it’s worth learning these letters before you go if you are not familiar with them, as knowledge of the alphabet will be an enormous help in reading signs and labels, particularly as pronunciation is usually fairly straightforward. In addition, making the effort to learn a few basic phrases will also help you get by, and the courtesy will often be returned.

Useful links for backpacking in Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Auto Europe and Europcar – Europe’s leading rental car search engines
  • Kiwi and Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Bosnica-Herzegovina and within the country
  • GetYourGuide and Viatora collection of local tours and activities. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
  • G Adventures – guided small group backpacking tours in Bosnia and Herzegovina, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
  • HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find budget accommodation while backpacking in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
  • Booking.com – commonly used booking site. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
  • World Nomads Travel Insurance – Comprehensive travel insurance for long and short trips when backpacking Bosnia and Herzegovina 

There you have it, the ultimate Bosnia and Herzegovina backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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A guide for backpacking around Bosnia. Get important travelers information when it comes to Bosnia including visa requirements, employment opportunities, common Bosnian phrases and translation, as well as Bosnia hostels.


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