Nearly half of Bosnia-Herzegovina is covered in mountains. Its highest peak is called Maglić mountain, a word which, at first glance to English speakers, conjures a world of magic. Hiking in Bosnia-Herzegovina is certainly bewitching, with the Dinaric Alps providing a natural artery throughout beautiful BiH, as it’s often called for short. Our Bosnia-Herzegovina tours focus on a long-distance walking trail that just keeps giving, the Via Dinarica, which not only goes through BiH, but also many of its neighbours.
You don’t have to be a mountaineer to feel the magic though, with guided or self-guided trips through national and nature parks, cultural stops at Sarajevo and Mostar, and plenty of traditional rural villages en route. The Ciro Cycling Trail has also put Bosnia cycling on the magical map, combining alpine with Adriatic as you cycle between Mostar and Dubrovnik in Croatia. We think that unifying post-conflict countries by creating a peaceful panoply of cross-border trails is about as magic as it gets.
Where to go
Blidinje Nature Park
For a spectacular day of hiking, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Blidinje Nature Park is a highlight on the Via Dinarica section that starts in Croatia, as it is near the border. The Park is a perfectly placed plateau in the foothills of Čvrsnica Mountain (2,227m) in the Dinaric Alps, and our guided, small group walking tour in this region takes you across it as well as various other peaks in the region. From the top of Vilinac (2,118m), for example, you have panoramic views across the region. You also have one of the country’s most unique views in Blidinje Nature Park, gazing through a four-metre natural ring of stone called Hajdučka Vrata, which hovers on the edge of Diva Grabovica canyon.
Most of our trips start in Sarajevo, a capital that may be notorious for the Siege of 1993, but where today, thankfully, you will be captivated by its cultural heritage and the natural nirvanas on its doorstep. Its dramatic location in the heart of the Dinaric Alps hits you instantly, with five peaks surrounding the city, the highest being Treskavica at 2,088m. Natural adventures await but, in the meantime, take in the ancient cobbled streets, multi-cultural influences, cafes and cool contemporary life. As well as important sites that mark or commemorate the losses of the Wars, such as the Tunnel Museum, History Museum, War Childhood Museum and, unexpectedly, the Olympic bobsled.
Mostar’s most celebrated spot is probably Stari Most Bridge over the Neretva River, dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Decimated during the Yugoslav Wars, its restoration is considered a strong symbol of Muslim, Croat and Serb reconciliation. Mostar itself is also a bridge to the most peaceful of landscapes on our Bosnia-Herzegovina tours, with Blidinje Nature Park proffering some of the most tranquil terrain on the Via Dinarica. While you walk around the town itself, seek out the ‘Don’t forget stone’ which invites you to reflect on the tragedies of the Wars, as well as the Old Town shops, markets and Koski Mehmed Paša Mosque, with its superb view of Stari Most.
Sutjeska National Park
One of three national parks in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sutjeska is on the border with Montenegro, where it links somewhat lusciously with Durmitor National Park. Our guided small group tour along the Via Dinarica, taking in both of these national parks, is a trekking triumph. Staying in small mountain inns along the way, hike to the top of Maglić (2,386m), with views across to many other BiH beauties. For Bosnia-Herzegovina tours with plenty of added natural value, this trip also includes white water rafting in Tara Canyon and glacially gorgeous dips in Susicko lake and Skakala waterfall, all in Montenegro’s Durmitor National Park.
Bjelašnica Mountain is the highest peak (2,067m) of the massif of the same name, famous for hosting the 1984 Winter Olympics, but infamous for being a key battleground during the Yugoslav Wars. Just 20 mins from Sarajevo, whether you go on our guided, small group tour or our self-guided trek on the Via Dinarica section in Bosnia-Herzegovina, you will experience nothing but peace and tranquility. Staying in a mountain hut in the heart of the massif, climb Bjelašnica’s summit, trek over Bjelašnica ridge and Greda Pass, with panoramic views across to many other Bjelašnica beauties spots, including the 26km Rakitnica canyon.
Things to do
- Hike the Via Dinarica, a network of long-distance walking trails that not only takes you through Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Dinaric Alps but also the mountain magnificence of Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia. Whether you are looking for guided or self-guided hiking, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s section of the Via Dinarica is perfect. It takes six days and sweeps you up the likes of Bjelašnica Mountain (2,067m) or Obalj peak (1,896m), through high altitude pine forests, known locally as kleka, passing welcoming traditional villages. You can also hike two sections together combining Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, or adding Croatia into the already magical mix.
- Bosnia cycling holidays were given a big boost by the creation of the Ciro Cycling Trail in 2017, which follows the former rail route between Mostar and Dubrovnik in Croatia. Actually some of the route is still used by trains, but the trail steers you well clear of those parts, enabling you to enjoy the 140km of what feels like a living museum. Cultural and natural highlights along the way include Hutovo Blato Nature Park, the stunning cliffside Blagaj Tekija monastery and Vjetrenica Cave, the largest cave in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Our Ciro Trail cycling holiday starts in Sarajevo, meaning that you also can take some time to explore the capital and the mountains that protect it.
- Raise a glass to an everlasting peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with vineyards located on lower elevations between Mostar and the Adriatic coast for centuries. Zilavka is the most common white wine-producing grape, with Blatina and Vranac red grapes the ones to seek out for a warming, ruby coloured treat. Zilavka grapes are also used for Loza brandy, similar to Italy’s grappa. Beer is always on the drinks menu, with local breweries dating back to the 19th century, and famous names including Sarajevska Pivara, Pivara Tuzla, Banjalučka Pivara and Bihaćka Pivovara.
Responsible travel tips
- Read up a little about the country’s history before you go as the Yugoslav Wars were relatively recent. However, be very sensitive when discussing the Wars as many local people still don’t want to talk about it. If you do engage in conversation about the Wars, don’t call them a civil war. It was a collection of wars about territory and independence and calling it ‘civil’ will not go down well. A few of book recommendations to get you started include: The War Is Dead, Long Live the War by Ed Vulliamy; Surviving the Bosnian Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak by Selma Leydesdorff; and the bestselling novel, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. For more recommendations, see the leading charity Remembering Srebenica.
- Although a lot of the Adriatic countries have mild temperatures throughout the year, because over 40 percent of Bosnia-Herzegovina is mountainous, you need to be a responsible hiker or cyclist and prepare for all weathers. For hiking in Bosnia-Herzegovina, temperatures average between 18-24°C between May and September, dipping a few degrees in October. But always check the weather forecast, have plenty of water (the tap water is safe to drink) and be prepared for several seasons in a day.
- Language in Bosnia-Herzegovina can be complicated as there are three official languages: Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. The Bosnian language is the most widely spoken language because the Bosniaks who speak it make up almost half of the population. So, if you are sticking with the most widely used one, we recommend learning a few easy words like hvala (pronounced HVAH-lah – thank you), molim (pronounced MOH-leem – please) and govorite li engleski? (pronounced goh-VOH-ree-teh lee ehn-GLEHS-kee – do you speak English?)