Currency is the Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark (KM). Sarajevo is an hour ahead of GMT and is four hours from London.
Lufthansa (http://lufthansa.com) operates flights to Sarajevo from London Heathrow, via Munich.
Easyjet (http://easyjet.com) flies to Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia, from which Sarajevo is about a four-hour drive.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Embassy (http://bosnia.embassyhomepage.com) offers advice on planning your trip to Sarajevo.
Goodbye Sarajevo by Atka Reid & Hana Schofield (Bloomsbury, £8.99) is a real-life story of two young sisters separated during the war, and their efforts to re-connect.
For some, it’s a city known most for its devastating siege from 1992 to 1996. But to see Sarajevo simply as a post-war capital would do it a great disservice. Its prolific history – Romans, Ottomans and Hapsburgs have ruled here – a buzzing café scene, world-class film festival and great food makes it a top contender for best Balkan short break. Not to mention its lovely locals: some of the most hospitable people you’ll meet anywhere.
What to do
It’s undeniable that the remnants of war are still palpable here, from the poignant ‘Sarajevo roses’ – red-resin filled bomb scars marking where citizens were killed – to the haunting Srebrenica exhibition by the Cathedral (galerija110795.ba). Guides can take you to the Tunnel of Hope, 13km out of the city, where Bosnian forces snuck in weapons and supplies (http://sarajevoinsider.com). But there is so much more to Sarajevo than a dark recent history. Pedestrianised Bašcˇ aršija, the centre of the Ottoman old town, is surrounded by a maze of streets lined with restaurants, shops and Gazi-huzrev Bey’s Mosque. Shop in the 16th-century covered bazaar, or sip strong Bosnian coffee in cafés. Where Saraci street turns to Ferhadija, the spot known as Sweet Corner, the jumble of Ottoman buildings gives way to Hapsburg-era architecture – forget Istanbul, this is where East meets West. Stroll down buzzing Ferhadija, stop for (another) coffee and soak up the scenery. Check out the Orthodox church and Old Jewish temple, then loop back to the near-complete City Hall (rebuilt to the magnificent 19th-century original) or the 16th-century Emperor’s Mosque. On the north corner of Latin Bridge a plaque marks the location of one of the most significant political events of modern times: the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which sparked the First World War. A museum details the event, and houses the gun with which Gavrilo Princip did the deed. A few minutes from Bašcaršija is Svrzo House, offering an insight into a wealthy family’s life in Ottoman times. Or escape the city to peaceful Vrelo Bosne, the crystal clear source of the Bosna river.
Where to stay
A fitting microcosm of Sarajevo’s rich history, five-star Hotel Europe (00 387 33 580 400, hoteleurope.ba) is founded on the remains of an Ottoman inn, has a front facade in Austro-Hungarian secessionist style and a side one in 21st-century slick. Half the rooms are classical, half modern; stars bunk here during the Sarajevo Film Festival, and this is where Ferdinand was on his way back to when he was shot. Well-located, boutique Hotel Hecco Deluxe (00 387 33 559 995, heccodeluxe.com) has simple rooms; its most attractive feature is its balconies, with near panoramic views over the city centre. Its tenth-floor café is popular for the very same reason.
Where to eat and drink
Hit the Bašcˇ aršija’s shops to pick up quality copper crafts. Muhamed Husejnovicˇ (Kazandziluk 18) still handmakes most products in the traditional way. Sellers are laidback – they won’t hassle you to buy, but equally, haggling isn’t really practised.
Start your day the traditional way, dipping sugar cubes into potent Bosnian coffee, under the shady awnings of almost anywhere around Bašcaršija. Cevapi – grilled beef sausages stuffed in pillowy samun bread with chopped onion – are as inexpensive as they are ubiquitous. Zeljo’s are good, but Petica (00 387 33 537 555, ferhatovic.ba) serves the best. The city’s second favourite food, pita – pastry stuffed with beef, cheese or other fillings – is devoured by the kilo at Buregdzinica Bosna. Local specialities such as dolma (stuffed vine leaves, onions or peppers), Šopska salad and beef stews abound at Inat Kuca (00 387 33 447 867, http://inatkuca.ba) – all washed down with Bosnian wine, lemonade or smreka, a juniper berry infusion. Pod Lipom (00 387 33 440 700, http://podlipom.ba) also serves solid local staples, including chicken-laden Bey’s soup. Cap off your evening with a beer at 19th-century Sarajevo Brewery (http://sarajevska-pivara.ba).
Time running out?
Bosnians have a serious sweet tooth – don’t leave without sampling their creamy cakes, or baklava and lokum, the local version of Turkish delight.
Average daily temperatures and rainfall
This article was published on 29th August 2013 so certain details may not be up to date.