Often dubbed the Jerusalem of Europe, Bosnia & Herzegovina’s capital city Sarajevo is full of diversity. The city suffered a horrible 3.5 year siege, with over 10,000 killed during the war, but today its a totally different story, the mosques and buildings have been rebuilt and it is becoming a popular destination for tourists – and its easy to see why. There is nothing quite like a stroll through the old town Baščaršija, the smell of strong coffee and fresh bread from the bakeries. Though it is the capital city, it will never leave you feeling cramped up even in peak summer season.
Places to Eat
Traditional Bosnian food is often prepared with meat (sorry vegetarians). The vegetables served with meat are home grown in veggie gardens. Every Bosnian household has one of these gardens during the spring/summer months. Bosnian cuisine is very similar to the cuisines of Turkey, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries, as its in the heart of Europe with a heavy Turkish influence.
Cevapi, small meat sausages served in flat bread with onion and cream is one of Bosnia’s national foods and also a “fast food”. The best place in Sarajevo to try it is in Zeljo (named after one of the local football clubs). There are two Zeljo restaurants, situated side by side on Kundurdiluk street.If you would like Kajmak (cream) ask for it as it doesn’t come with it, and if you like try the kiselo mlijeko (sour/butter milk). Very cheap, very fast & friendly service and my favourite place in town for traditional cevapi.
The story of Inat Kuca, which translates to “Spite house” began in 1895. At that time the Austrian – Hungarian monarchy occupied Bosnia & Herzegovina and they began construction various buildings such as The Post Office, National museum, Faculty of Law and different residential houses. But when they tried to build the City Hall they came across a problem; very stubborn man named Benderija, who owned the house on the right side of the river Miljacka River and would not move. After long negotiations, the man gave them an ultimatum. He said he would give up his area only if they give him a bag of golden coins and if they move his house brick by brick to the other side of the river. They had no choice but to do exactly what he had asked for.
Since then, Benderija’s house has been called “Inat kuća” (the spite house) and in 1997, it was transformed into a restaurant with traditional Bosnian style that serves very traditional food such as Begova Corba (Beys Soup), Sogan Dolme (Onions stuffed with mince meat and rice) and Punjene Paprike (stuffed peppers).
Pita is a very traditional dish in Bosnian and Herzegovina. Pita is made by making a home made phyllo dough and has different fillings and served with Pavlaka (sour cream). Pita with meat is called burek, pita with cheese is called sirnica, pita with spinach and cheese is called zeljanica, with potatoes is called krompirusa. It is a breakfast, lunch, dinner and anytime food, perfect to eat at home or takeway for the road. My favourite place to eat was at Buregdzinica Sac, tucked away in a small side street of the Old Town, right opposite ćevabdžinica Mrkva.
What I love about this place is how they make the Pita; not in a regular oven but under the sać . A sać is a metal plate with a lid where all the ingredients or prepared meal is placed inside. A fire is made inside the oven, and let to burn down until only the ashes remain. As there is no direct heat or flame applied, the food inside slow cooks from the heat of the ashes. This is a very old and traditional way of cooking and it tastes incredible.
Places for coffee & sweet lovers
Bosnians love their coffee. It is a part of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian identity. Served in traditional copper sets with square sugar cubes and a serving of Lokum ( Turkish delight) . Try the many cakes and sweets such as Baklava; a sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey, Tufahije; a dessert made of walnut-stuffed apples stewed in water with sugar, Šampita ; a whipped marshmallow-type dessert with fillo dough crust, Tulumbe; fried batter soaked in syrup, similar to churros. Aside from the coffee and desserts, sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and friendly service often not found while travelling especially capital cities.
Tucked away in a small street just before the Gazi Mosque is a cute cafe called Miris Dunja. With a mix of traditional and rustic old cottage style setting, great Bosnian coffee, and refreshing drinks like Elderflower & rose cordials, this is defiantly my favourite place for a coffee in Sarajevo.
Situated on Ferhadija Street, right by the Eternal flame, is a cafe called Vatra (Flame). I love this place for their Palačinke; a thin crêpe-like type of pancake often served with nutella, walnuts and icecream on the side. This pancake rolled up is about the side of your forearm, enough to feed two people!
Baklava Shop Sarajevo
A cafe dedicated to Baklava- need I say more! With inside or outside seating you can enjoy with a coffee or get some takeaway to share with friends. My favs almond and nutella ones!
What I hear is also good: Cajdzinica Dzirlo Tea house.
Have a good time
Since I usually spend my time in Sarajevo visiting my family, I never enjoyed the night life in Sarajevo unless it was for a coffee or a night stroll in the old town. The cafes stay open at night, and the town is always full of people walking around, enjoying time with friends and family.
I did go to two places however, once to Zlatna Ribica with fellow Bosnian blogger Zana from World Of a Travelholic, and Kino Bosna with from some people from The Doctors House Hostel (which btw is the best hostel in town and my personal favourite ).
Built in 1928, Kino Bosna was one of the only cinemas in town. Now the place hots art events and music gigs. If you are a non smoker like me, this place might be a bit too much as there are no smoking laws in the Balkans. A place with a great vibe, and a band that goes from table to table singing and playing accordions.
Zlatna Ribica means “golden fish” and is the most unique and eccentric bar/cafe in the city. Located near Vjecna Vatra (The eternal Flame), the place is decked out with velvet couches, mirrors, trinkets of all sorts, photos and framed artwork, postcards and letters. The bathroom is rather unique too, another decorated room that will leave you with a smile and maybe a chuckle.
What i hear is also good: Hacienda, Aquarius, City Pub, Sloga (nightclub),Cheers
Have you visited Sarajevo? Where are your places in the Old Town?