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Where to Stay in Bosnia in 2023 | Best Areas & Hotels

Where to Stay in Bosnia in 2023 | Best Areas & Hotels

Although the world has likely read more negative than positive news in recent years about Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country has been putting in an impressive amount of effort to emphasize its interesting history, amazing scenery, and welcoming environment.

The Balkans blends many of the best elements of Eastern and Western Europe to create something special.

It’s a place worth visiting whether you’re checking out major cities or the natural scenic wonders in the countryside, including a rainforest and the last remaining jungle on the European continent.

Depending on your interests, there’s all sorts of good reasons to pay a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, including many things to see and do.

It’s an opportunity to see how a country has collectively transformed itself from being described as ‘war-torn’ in the 1990s to wonderfully hospitable and inviting today.

We’ll show you where to stay, what to do, which hotels to book, and more in our complete guide to Bosnia and its best areas. Let us be your guide!

Why You Should Visit Bosnia in 2023

Main town square in Sarajevo pictured as one of the best areas to stay in Bosnia, as seen on a nice blue-sky day


The current country became official in 1992 but the documented history of some of the communities and kingdoms in the Western Balkans dates back thousands of years.

Besides interesting structures like bridges, history enthusiasts will enjoy seeing examples of different architectural periods, battlefields, places of worship, and other interesting areas.

Bosnia and Herzegovina features some of the most diverse terrain in the region, from beautiful beaches along the Adriatic Sea coastline to beautiful forests. There are plenty of impressive rivers and hillsides to explore as well, including more waterfalls than Germany and France together.

It also continues to be known as a place where many religious, ethnic, and cultural identities all come together and do their best to co-exist.

Even the weather is diverse: depending on what part of the country you visit and time of year, it could be temperate, cooler in the alpine/mountainous regions, or warmer in the coastal areas. So plan for everything!

The 4 Best Parts of Bosnia

Where to Stay in Bosnia map in vector format featuring the best areas of town

While some travelers may want to start by spending all their time soaking up the sights in Sarajevo, others may want to get more of a better sense of the region by visiting other communities as well.

Areas worth exploring include:

  1. Sarajevo. The capital and largest city offers a great blend of old and new. Nestled by the mountains and rivers, there’s a lot to appreciate.
  2. Mostar. Located on the Neretva River, the area retains significant Ottoman influences, with mosques, marketplaces and more.
  3. Banja Luka. This area is the second-largest city, and the largest in the Srpska Republic. The now heavily-forested area was the site of significant battles between the Turks and Austrians centuries ago.
  4. Tuzla. The relatively smaller city capitalizes on its history as one of the world’s salt producers.

Where to Stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Travelers in the region can find all sorts of lodging options. Some locations in urban areas emphasize the historic parts of town and access to major attractions.

Others focus on providing views of the countryside and natural wonders. Accommodations run the gamut from chain hotels to independent inns and bed and breakfasts. People are considered friendly and hospitable, especially in tourism-focused areas.

Even though there are strong ethnic and religious divides going back centuries, especially between Muslims and Christians, both faiths place a strong emphasis on politeness and even friendliness to all travelers.

I found this to be especially refreshing on my last trip through the region. As a people who have seen heavy fighting, Soviet oversight, and the redrawing of geographic borders around ethnic lines, all in the last 50 years, it wouldn’t be hard to get cynical.

But the people we encountered were quite friendly and cordial, even hopeful, about what’s ahead for Bosnia and Herzegovina – and they loved showing off their cities.

1. Sarajevo

Giant cathedral in the middle of Sarajevo on a gorgeous summer day as one of the best places to stay when in Bosnia

Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock

Among its other claims to fame, Sarajevo was the first Communist-bloc country to host the Winter Olympics, which it did so in 1984 when it was part of Yugoslavia.

Today, the city offers so many things to appeal to so many interests. Visitors can literally walk to a historic Catholic cathedral, Orthodox church, Jewish synagogue and Muslim mosque in a few blocks.

Same goes for activities: get a cup of coffee, visit a hookah lounge, or enjoy a glass of locally-brewed beer.

Because the city has been occupied by so many domestic and foreign governments over the years, there’s a wide range of art and history that can be seen in all sorts of galleries and museums, plus diverse marketplaces that haven’t changed for decades.

Things to Do

  • Sebilj Fountain. One of the highlights of Old Town and a popular backdrop for photos is this wooden fountain built in 1753 in the Ottoman style. It’s in the center of Baščaršija Square and includes a legend saying that whoever drinks from it will return to Sarajevo someday.
  • City Hall. Built in the 19th century during the Austria-Hungarian governance, this sturdy building named Vijecnica is designed in the Neo-Moorish style. Although it’s now a popular tourism location, it’s also still a functional seat of government, housing the offices of the city’s mayor and council.
  • War Tunnel Museum. Although many want to put memories of the recent war behind them, exceptions are made for this positive symbol of the city’s resilience. When the city was under siege and cut off by Serbian forces, a secret tunnel was constructed to connect Sarajevo residents to the outside world along with sneaking in needed food and supplies. This structure is now a museum that shares details of the impressive underground engineering.

Where to Eat

  • Sac. This location in Old Town is known for its burek, a popular regional flaky pastry that’s either sweet or savory. The latter variety usually includes meat or potatoes, but vegetarian varieties are available here. It also is cooked over an open wood fire at this location, which adds to the flavor.
  • Visegrad. Another traditional local delicacy is dolmas, which are vegetables stuffed with meat plus plenty of spices like garlic and paprika. Diners also can enjoy an extensive menu of fruit brandy to imbibe during or after the meal.
  • Cevabdzinica Hodzic. This meal of minced meat from skinless sausage surrounded by flatbread and onions is considered one of the country’s national dishes. This location in the Coppersmith District offers tasty fare plus a chance to see one of the older neighborhoods that still creates jewelry.

Where to Stay

  • Hostel Center. Visitors can choose between twin rooms, double rooms, or four-bed dormitories with shared bathrooms and showers. The location is near the cable car stop and the War Tunnel. There’s also an inner courtyard, and some rooms have views of the city.
  • One Love. Hostel guests can access double rooms, twin rooms, and six-person dormitories. Guests can also visit an on-site garden, barbecue area, and terrace. It’s near City Hall and the Husrev-beg Mosque. Transportation is available from the airport.
  • Pansion River. Rooms in this guest house overlook either downtown or the scenic Pansion River. It is close to the Latin Bridge and Sebilj Fountain, two locations worth visiting. There’s also a sun terrace for guests as well as a restaurant and bar.
  • Divan HotelHotel guests can receive a free daily tour of the city, as well as access to a breakfast buffet. It’s surrounded by other restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs in the middle of the Old Town area. Rooms include balconies and private bathrooms.
  • Hotel Story. This location is near major Old Town attractions like the Bridge of Gabrilo Princip and the City Museum. Private rooms are available, with free toiletries and satellite TV. Guests can head to the breakfast room to enjoy a continental breakfast that also comes in vegetarian, halal, or gluten-free options.
  • Hotel Astra. Guests can take advantage of a two-floor cafeteria that includes a large selection of food and drinks. There is also a minibar and satellite TV in the rooms. The hotel is downtown and provides an excellent view of the narrow streets and Ottoman architecture.

See All Hotels in Bosnia

2. Mostar

Picturesque view of a cobblestone street in Mostar, one of Bosnia's best areas to stay, with its famous bridge over the river and colorful home fronts facing the river


Mostar is only about two hours southwest of Sarajevo by train but includes all sorts of contrasts. While Sarajevo has all sorts of large, historic buildings of all types and sizes, Mostar is more harmonious, with mostly Croat and Ottoman influences over the years.

The city’s name loosely translates to “Bridge Keeper,” which perfectly describes its role as a guardian of the city’s massive main bridge.

The Stari Most, or the Old Bridge, connects both halves of the city. At a time when the area was considered a frontier post for the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s, officials ordered the creation of a large structure to bring together both sides of the Neretva River.

The bridge stood firm until 1993 when it was badly damaged by the Croatian army. However, there was enough public interest and financial support to rebuild it.

Today, not only it is a focal point of the city but an official UNESCO Heritage Site. Visitors on either side of the riverbank can learn about the city’s rich background along with a variety of attractions like museums and galleries.

Things to Do

  • Major religious buildings. Whatever your faith, the Muslim Karadoz Bey Mosque, the Christian Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul, and the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque are all some of the city’s more inspiring structures.
  • Watch divers. The bridge is high – 27m – and attracts skilled divers, including members of a local diving club. It’s certainly a dangerous activity for amateurs but pro cliff divers say the experience is amazing. It’s also one location each fall for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. This circuit event has been going on around the world all through 2023, and a local leg is Sept. 9.
  • Visit a sacred shrine. In Catholicism, one of the important pilgrimage locations for many is Medjugorje. Though there are some skeptics, the consensus with many in the church is that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to six children in the countryside near Mostar in the early 1980s, offering messages of peace.
  • Peace Bell Tower. This 107-foot concrete structure at the Franciscan monastery was unveiled in 2000 . Visitors can take an elevator halfway up and then walk up the remaining steps. It’s believed to be one of the better views of the cityscape.
  • Kravica Waterfall. In a land of many beautiful waterfalls, this one in the Kravica Nature Park stands out. It’s more than 25m high, and unlike some waterfalls that have dangerous currents at the bottom, swimming is permitted in certain months. A trail system lets you observe the falls from different vantages.

Where to Eat

  • Restoran Lagero. The restaurant near the Old Bridge offers guests outdoor seating while they dine on a menu that includes Mediterranean items plus Bosnian fare including cevapi and fried fish. Dessert at the end includes baklava, a gooey, pastry treat.
  • Sadrvan. Diners can enjoy a mixture of several cultures here, including Turkish, European and Bosnian. One special is the “National Dish Platter” which features cevapi and other traditional items.
  • Food House Mostar. The staff takes pride in preparing traditional Bosnian dishes, as well as local variants. For instance, the Mostar version of dolmas is the sogan-dolma, which includes a layer of onion stuffed with minced beef, rice, yogurt, sour cream, tomato puree, and various spices

Where to Stay

  • Hostel SemaThe hostel offers twin rooms with shared bathrooms near the Old Bridge. Guests can visit a central seating area. Balcony views are available, plus access to a private kitchenette and outdoor barbecue area.
  • Pansion Villa Anja. A variety of accommodations are available, including double beds, single and double studios, and larger family rooms. The location offers a free shuttle to the bus or train station. An on-site bar/restaurant provides breakfast and there’s also a supermarket nearby.
  • Villa Botticelli. Rather than being downtown, this location is on the outskirts of Mostar near the village of Blagaj and close to the Medjugorje shrine. There are several restaurants, bars, and grocery stores within walking distance. All guest rooms have balconies or terraces and garden access.
  • City Apartment One. An outdoor swimming pool could be appealing especially on hot summer days. The location in a quiet part of town provides family rooms, studios, and double rooms, so can be perfect for any size group. A restaurant and store is also nearby.
  • HA Hotel Mostar. The 4-star hotel provides spacious rooms, a garden, and a continental breakfast. A bar and restaurant is on site, and the staff can also arrange bicycle rentals and airport transportation upon request.
  • Villa Enjoy XL. Why be part of a crowded hostel downtown when you can enjoy the good life on your vacation at this sustainable villa? Guests can enjoy an outdoor swimming pool, barbecue facilities, and a lovely garden. There’s an outdoor fireplace, three bedrooms and one bathroom. The staff is happy to arrange trips, including a suitable daylong picnic area.

See All Hotels in Bosnia

3. Banja Luka

Gospodska Street in the city center of Banja Luka, one of the best places to stay in Bosnia

Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina – August 16 2020 – Gospodska Street in center of city, most popular walking route/Emma7/Shutterstock

The country’s second largest city greatly contrasts with the more urban and dense nature of Sarajevo. Here, there are plenty of parks, lots of forestland, and general emphasis on nature and sustainability.

It’s the northern area of the country at the confluence of two rivers, the Vrbs and Vrbanja. Politically, it’s distinct as well, being the capital of Sprska, the autonomous Bosnian Serb Republic.

Like the other older cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the city has influences from the Ottomans, Austrians, Slavic, and Illryians, which is seen in many of the buildings.

Even the most basic structure may be decorated in ornate styles. It’s a very open city, with wide boulevards and generally shorter buildings.

Unlike Sarajevo, which has almost equal number of major faiths, Banja Luka has a majority Muslim population. It is also in the process of rebuilding many mosques that were destroyed.

Things to Do

  • Ferhat Pasha Mosque. This ornate place of worship was built in 1579 includes the grandiose Ottoman styling of that period, including a large courtyard, various domes and towers, and a large fountain. It was destroyed with 16 other mosques in the Bosnia war, but the area’s Muslim community put a significant worldwide effort to rebuild it. It re-opened in 2007.
  • Christ the Savior Cathedral. A similar, but earlier, story followed this Orthodox church. It was built in 1920 but was devastated by Nazi bombs in World War II and then ordered destroyed by Croat forces. Another community rebuilding effort helped bring it back to its former glory, including some of the original brickwork.
  • Banj Brdo. Those seeking a scenic hiking destination may enjoy a trek to this large memorial to soldiers and civilians killed in the War for Liberation in 1941-1945. Climbing Banj Hill, a 2.8-mile hike, takes you 431 m in elevation and provides a wonderful view of the city and countryside.

Where to Eat

  • Kazamat. This restaurant is believed to be one of the oldest restaurants in the city. It’s located in Kastel Fortress, a sturdy stone structure designed to safeguard salt shipments on the main roads through the country. Diners can enjoy traditional dishes, including several selections of lamb.
  • Mala Stanica. A combination of restaurant and bar, the formal location offers a variety of local dishes with an emphasis on pasta. It also has an extensive wine selection as well as outdoor seating.
  • Banjalucki Splav. While some restaurants provide a view of one or both rivers, this restaurant is actually located in a large boat docked on the Vrbas River. The menu is mainly Bosnian, with various meat and vegetable dishes.

Where to Stay

  • Sobe Rodic Centar. A variety of rooms are offered at this location that is near the Kastell Fortress. Each room includes a private bathroom and shower, plus a flat-screen TV.
  • Smjestaj Vidovic, Slapovi Krupe. Guests at this vacation home can utilize two bedrooms as well as a kitchen, living room with sofa bed, and a bathroom. There’s also a terrace and a garden for those who want to enjoy the scenery.
  • Happy Hill Rooms. This condo hotel provides private rooms and private bathrooms plus a central lounge/seating area. It’s pet-friendly, and includes a garden and picnic area to relax in. Tours of the area are available.
  • Hotel Vila Viktorija. It’s in the village of Trn, about 6 miles from the center of Banja Luka. Guests can receive breakfast and also have access to a bar and restaurant with an international menu. All guest rooms include a minibar and some include a kitchenette. An airport shuttle is available.
  • Hotel Integra Banja Luka. Guests will enjoy four-star service, including a continental or American breakfast, as well as a bar. Rooms have terrace views, and are equipped with refrigerator,minibar, and a teapot.
  • Hotel IN. The on-site restaurant includes an extensive menu with American, Dutch, and Argentinian specialties. It also provides a continental breakfast. Guest rooms offer a desk, teapot, minibar and a private bathroom.

See All Hotels in Bosnia

4. Tuzla

For a guide to the best places to stay in Bosnia, an aerial image of the Pannonian Lakes complex in Tuzla with lots of people swimming in the water

Ajdin Kamber/Shutterstock

Tuzla may be one of the oldest cities in Europe, perhaps going back at least 6,000 years. ‘Tuz’ is the Turkish word for salt, and the city’s name literally means “place of salt.”

The area has been a major salt producer for the world for centuries and today the natural mineral deposits are still being extracted – just with more modern methods.

The salt mines also helped firm the city’s reputation as an especially diverse community where all ethnic groups and religions are welcomed, mostly because they attracted workers from all of the world so there was more exposure to different ideas and cultures.

The lakes have also become a vacation destination: a series of salt lakes are believed to be therapeutic when bathed in or the vapor inhaled from the salt water waterfalls.

There is one downside to the constant mining, however: it has made the town seismically unstable.

There are parts of the area that are noticeably sinking, especially in the Old Town. Every now and then, a new sinkhole is discovered. Visitors can enjoy galleries, museums, and several buildings from different historical eras.

Things to Do

  • Tuzla Archeological Park. Learn about life in the Neolithic period by visiting this recreation of a typical village about 9,000 years ago. The area is believed to be where the Pannonian Sea used to be located. When it retreated to the Black Sea 10 million years ago, it left many salt deposits behind and eventually became a habitable place where early humans settled. Pile huts and industrial tools have been found nearby, which have been incorporated into the village.
  • National Theatre. Performing arts have been part of the culture for years. The playhouse was created in 1898 as the first of its kind in the country and renovated in 1949. It continues to offer plays, films, and other community performances. Tuzla’s Days of Theatre takes place in November and features two weeks of films from around the region.
  • Pannonica Lakes. The collection of manmade salt lakes include swimming and bathing areas, therapeutic waterfalls, lounging areas on the beach, outdoor fitness center, and various restaurants and cafes.
  • Eastern Bosnia Museum. More than 50,000 items spanning thousands of years are all part of the museum’s collection, including artwork, archeology, military items, household items, and minerals.

Where to Eat

  • Carsijska Cesma. This restaurant features traditional area fare, including cevapi and pljeskavia, a Serbian-style spiced meat patty that can include pork, lamb, and beef.
  • Limenka. Since 1967, hungry diners have been able to get their fill of all sorts of grilled meats here, including cevapi and cevapcici, a smaller version which more resembles a kebab. Outdoor seating is available.
  • Mamma Mia. Visitors can experience Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, including pasta, plus meat and vegetable dishes, often prepared with fresh greens. Vegetarian options are available. The restaurant has balcony seating which overlooks a plaza and fountain.
  • Makedonka. This restaurant is located outside of town but has plenty of fans among tourists and locals. It specializes in meat dishes, including cevaspici and pan-fried liver.

Where to Stay

  • Apartments Dedic. This guest house near the airport includes a shared kitchen, a common terrace with barbecue facilities, tea and coffee service, and a flat-screen TV. A free shuttle from the airport is provided. It’s especially recommended for solo travelers, but family rooms are available.
  • Apartmani Hadzic. Guests wanting to visit the Pannonica Lakes area will find this sustainable apartment fairly close by. Shuttle service is available. Rooms include balcony views of the nearby mountains and gardens. There is also a snack bar, bike rental and car rental.
  • University Hotel DorrahIf you’re interested in shopping, this place is across the street from Bingo City, Tuzla’s main retail area. Guests can access breakfast, tea and coffee service, a bar, and an airport shuttle.
  • Pansion CenterLocated near to the town’s main square, Solni Trg, the hotel features a breakfast buffet, flat-screen TVs, tea and coffee, and a lounge. Other shops and restaurants are within walking distance, plus a recreation area with swimming, football and tennis.
  • So&Sol Boutique Hotel. This bed and breakfast is close to the Pannonica Lakes area. Guests can enjoy a buffet or continental breakfast each morning. Rooms include access to a terrace, and close distance to several pubs and cafes.
  • Hotel Vertigos. Transportation to and from the airport is available. Each room includes a seating area, tea service, and the choice of an American breakfast, Full English/Irish, or continental breakfast. Some rooms offer patios.

See All Hotels in Bosnia

So, Where Should You Stay in Bosnia?

🍺 Best Area for NightlifeSarajevo
🎁 Best Area for ShoppingMostar
🥾 Best Area for HikingBanja Luka
🖼️ Best MuseumsTuzla

Although the friendly nature of residents, fine food, and beautiful natural scenery is constant through the country, each community in Bosnia and Herzegovina is unique and distinct in terms of the amenities and attractions.

So with so much to see and do, and technically no bad area in which to stay, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that this picturesque country has to offer!