Bascarsija old town is one of the top things to do in Sarajevo

Top 15 Things To See And Do In Sarajevo

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital (BIH), has had more than its share of moments in the world’s spotlight, making learning its history and meeting the people here fascinating. For example, did you know an assassination here in 1914 was the trigger for WWI? And that the assassin tried to jump under the bridge to take cyanide, but it got wet so didn’t work? And that, more recently, Sarajevo was under siege for 4 years in the early 1990’s, with hundreds of mortar shell attacks daily? If you’re a history buff, there are multiple sites and museums telling the stories of intrigue, passion, and grit that played out here. But there’s more to Sarajevo than just its violent past. This underrated city offers many other things to see and do, including its ‘east meets west charm’, old world Ottoman architecture, epic hilltop views, and lovely people.

Top Things To See And Do in Sarajevo

Visit The Archduke Franz Ferdinand Memorial and Museum

One of the top things to do in Sarajevo is to visit the spot where Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie were assassinated in 1914.

Shot by Gavrilo Princip, a member of the revolutionary organization, Young Bosnia, this was one of the main catalysts of WWI. Within days, Austria declared war on Serbia, then Germany declared war on Russia, and on and on, until there was a full-blown, world-wide war.

The assassination was done in broad daylight, in front of a Delicatessen by the Latin Bridge, Latinska Ćuprija, also known as Principov Most (now named after Gavrilo Princip). The former Deli is now home to the Museum of Sarajevo, telling the history in more detail. There’s also a small memorial for Franz and Sophie on the north end of the bridge.

How To Get To The Memorial And Museum: This museum and memorial is located at the cross streets of Zelenith-beretki and Obala Kulina bana.

The Latin bridge is one of the top things to do in Sarajevo
Latin Bridge, or Latinska Ćuprija

Learn About the Siege of Sarajevo

Take a free (tip-based) tour from a local to learn about the Siege of Sarajevo. My tour was led by a young woman who was a 7-year-old during the siege (click here for details). Her determination and quest for a better city was palpable. And her personal stories really made the past come to life in a way no museum can.

The siege occurred after a referendum for independence from Yugoslavia passed. The Bosnian Serbs living here resisted and took control of the city by moving mortar weapons to the nearby hilltops. Dropping bombs on the city, they used the position and weapons to control the Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks living here.

For almost 4 years, from 1992-1995, they dropped a reported 200-300 mortar shells daily. Practically destroying the city. As you walk the streets, you can still see the war wounds.

It’s never pleasant to reflect on human nature’s worst side, but understanding history is so important.

Plus there’s a resilience and a passion here that’s really admirable. Like Mostar, this is a city you will never forget.

Search For Sarajevo Roses

Sarajevo Roses are concrete scars from mortar bombs. Filled with with red resin, they look like bloodstains. As the city is rebuilt, they are slowly disappearing, but you can still find them…

Seeing A Sarajevo Rose is one of the top things to do in
Sarajevo Rose

Stop At Aleja Snajpera, or Sniper Alley 

Walking in this area, which is a busy intersection near a shopping mall, was once considered suicide. With mortar weapons on the nearby hillside, snipers would take aim at everyone and everything. It’s eerie to walk this street today and think of the atrocities and the pain suffered here.

How To Find Sniper Alley: This site is at Zmaja od Bosne Street and Meša Selimović Boulevard Ulica.

See 1667 Memorial

This memorial was named after the 1,667 children killed here during the war. It contains 1,667 sheets of glass, one for each child, shaped to look like a parent and child together.

1667 Memorial

Learn About the Romeo and Juliet of Bosnia

This is a heart-breaking story of a young star-crossed couple, Admira Ismić, a Bosniak, and Boško Brkić, a Bosnian Serb, killed by sniper fire in May 1993, trying to escape the war. High-school sweethearts before the war ripped Bosnia in two, they thought they had arranged a safe escape from the city, but were double crossed and shot by a sniper.

Reportedly their bodies lay intertwined on Vrbanja bridge (below) for 8 days before it was safe enough to retrieve them. Today they’re buried side by side in Lion Cemetery. There’s also movie of their story, Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo.

The Romeo and Juliet bridge is one of the top things to do in Sarajevo
Vrbanja Bridge

Top Museums And Galleries in Sarajevo

This gallery showcases photos of the horrific genocide that occurred in nearby Srebrenica during the Bosnian War. One of the worst genocides in Europe since WWII. Bosnian Serbs were reportedly responsible the deaths of many thousands of Bosnian Muslims, as part of an ethnic cleansing regime.

This exhibit is very moving. So moving, your ticket is good for two days, in case you need to take a break and return.

Museum of Crimes Against Humanity

This museum gets into more graphic detail of the atrocities of the Bosnian War. Admittedly, I did not visit this museum, as I found Gallery 11/07/95 to sufficiently shake me.

Sarajevo Tunnel Museum

The entrance of this tunnel, underneath the airport, is now a museum. Built during the blockade of Sarajevo, it allowed the transfer of people and goods during the siege of Sarajevo.

How To Get To The Sarajevo Tunnel Museum: The easiest way to get to the Sarajevo Tunnel museum is to take a taxi and ask them wait for you. To save on taxi fare, take the tram to nearby Ilidza and taxi from there.

Have Coffee With Tito

OK, you can really only have coffee with his memory, in the place where he used to have his coffee. Frequented by Josip Broz Tito when he was President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), this cafe, full of war memorabilia (including a full size tank), makes a great coffee stop.

Tito’s rule is reflected upon positively by Bosnians, even though he was a dictator. Actually, the power vacuum and instability created after his death reportedly led to the civil war.

Tito’s cafe is one of the top things to do in Sarajevo
Caffe Tito

How To Get To Caffe Tito: Located about a 5-minute walk southwest of the National Museum, take the tram to the National Museum station.

See The Giant Beef War Rations Statue

This is one of the stranger things to see in Sarajevo. There’s a statue in the form of a giant can of the typical UN war ration the locals depended on during the war. It’s very close to Tito’s cafe, so pair the two together.

The war ration statue is one of the top things to do in Sarajevo
War Ration Memorial

As you can see, not only are the people here resilient, they also have a sense of humor about their tragic past.

Cross The Spot Where East Meets West

This spot, literally marked in the ground, represents the meeting point of cultures in Sarajevo.

East Meets West | Bioubioune

It divides “Eastern”, Ottoman and Islamic Sarajevo, with Ottoman structures and Baščaršija to the east, and “Western”, Austro-Hungarian and Christian Sarajevo, with Ferhadija Street to the west, lined with Western style buildings from the Austro-Hungarian era.

This spot is located north of the Latin Bridge.

Explore Baščaršija

Old Town Sarajevo’s Historic Core Baščaršija Old Town, the heart of Sarajevo during the Ottoman period, is full of charming 15th century architecture, cobbled alleyways and Sebilj, a beautiful old, wooden fountain. Legend is you will return to the city again if you drink from it.

Other sites in Baščaršija include a 15th century covered market, Gazi Husrev Bey’s Bezistan, where you can shop for souvenirs and talk to locals. You can also visit Sarajevo’s artisan workshops, like calligraphy and coppersmiths. Some offering the opportunity to make your own souvenir.

Gazi Hurev Bey’s Mosque, the largest historical Mosque in BIH, and one of the finest in terms of Ottoman Islamic architecture, is also in Baščaršija. This 16th century Mosque is still in use, but open for visits.

There’s also a small museum nearby to learn its history. See Sahat Kula, a 17th century clock tower, and stop in to admire Morića Han, one of Sarajevo’s only remaining caravanserai, where caravans once stopped and rested during the Ottoman era. One of the more refreshing places to see in Sarajevo, it’s a great place for a cup of coffee.

Bascarsija old town is one of the top things to do in Sarajevo
Baščaršija Old Town And Sebilj Fountain (right)

This area is also full of restaurants and cafes. Make sure to try the cevapi, which is a national dish of minced meat sausages.

Walk Miljacka River

Walk down the Miljacka River in the heart of Sarajevo, a tributary of the Bosna River, to see the city’s architecture and many bridges reflected in the water.

Miljacka river walk is one of the top things to do in Sarajevo
Miljacka River
Sarajevo with Love one of the top things to do in
Skenderija Bridge

Skenderija bridge, which was designed by Gustavo Eiffel (of the Eiffel Tower), makes a nice selfie stop with its heart-shaped “with love Sarajevo” sign. This bridge also has love locks, so bring one if you want to add to the collection.

See The Sunset at Yellow Bastion Point

Head to the city walls at Yellow Bastion, or Žuta Tabija, in Jekovac to watch a sunset panorama. This is a beautiful place to reflect on the city after learning its history. It’s about a 15-minute walk, or short drive northeast of Baščaršija Old Town and one of the best things to see in Sarajevo.

At the end of the day duiring Ramadan, Muslims wait for the cannon shot here, signifying the end of the fast.

How To Get To Sarajevo


The closest international airport is Sarajevo International airport (SJJ), which is about 7.5 miles (12 km) away from the old city center.

Old Town Sarajevo From The Airport

To get to the old town of Sarajevo from the airport, it’s easiest to take a taxi. The driving distance is about 20-minutes and will cost around 10€. Cash is required for taxis in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Currently, Uber and Lyft are not in Bosnia and Hercegovina, so use a standard taxi. Taxi drivers are required by law to use the meter, but they often do not. Make sure they turn in the meter before you get in the car. There is an app called mojTaxi in Sarajevo that connects you to standard taxis near you.

There is also a bus form the airport to Sarajevo, which is less expensive, and takes slightly longer. It leaves the airport multiple times a day during the summer months.

Sarajevo From Mostar

The cheapest and fastest way to get to Sarajevo from Mostar is the train, which takes about 1 hour. There is also a bus, which takes about 2.5 hours.


Other Great Spots Nearby

Sarajevo may not be on many current travel hotspot lists, but if you like learning about history and the meeting the people that have lived it, it’s a great stop. Plus the old town really is charming.

Sarajevo is perfect to pair with Mostar to see the old Bridge, Stari Most, and maybe see some of its daring bridge jumpers. Croatia and Montenegro and also relatively close, so Bosnia and Hercegovina make a great stop along with them.

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

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