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Traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Bosnia and Hercegovina Travel Information and Travel Guide

 

Bosnia and Hercegovina rises in popularity as people realise what this country has to offer. Featuring age-old cultures and dramatic mountain landscapes visiting Bosnia and Hercegovina gives a you a sense of adventure. Regarded as the meeting area of East and West it bears the imprint of two great empires. Five hundred years of domination, first by the Turks and then briefly by the Austria-Hungarians, have greatly influenced the culture and architecture of this country.

If you plan to visit Bosnia and Hercegovina for one day we recommend taking some of the full day tours to Mostar or Međugorje, there are also escorted coach tours like the Treasures of Bosnia and Hercegovina.

If you're feeling adventurous you could also rent a car in Dubrovnik and do the exploring by yourself.

 

Languages: Bosnian (official), Croatian (official), Serbia
Religions: Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, other 14%
Nationality: Bosnian(s), Herzegovinian(s)
Ethnic groups: Bosniak 48%, Serb 37.1%, Croat 14.3%, other 0.6%
Area: total: 51,197 sq km, land: 51,187 sq km, water: 10 sq km
Climate: hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters; mild, rainy winters along coast
Terrain: mountains and valleys
Major cities the major cities are the capital Sarajevo, Banja Luka in the northwest region known as Bosanska Krajina, Bijeljina and Tuzla in the northeast, Zenica and Doboj in the central part of Bosnia and Mostar, the capital of Herzegovina.
Geography within Bosnia and Herzegovina's recognized borders, the country is divided into a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation (about 51% of the territory) and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska or RS (about 49% of the territory); the region called Herzegovina is contiguous to Croatia and Montenegro, and traditionally has been settled by an ethnic Croat majority in the west and an ethnic Serb majority in the east

 

PASSPORT / VISA REQUIREMENTS

Documents necessary for traveling: 
Passport - national travel document
Visas- Bosnia and Herzegovina can only be entered with a valid passport. EU, American and Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter the country. Most other people do need a visa, and getting one is possible through the Bosnian embassies in your respective countries. Fees for visas issued by diplomatic/consular offices:
• Single entry-exit visas and transit visas 31.00 EUR
• Multiple entry-exit visas for periods up to 90 days 57.00 EUR
• Multiple entry-exit visa for periods over 90 days 72.00 EUR
Officially, people who enter the country on a visa need to register themselves with the police within 24 hours after their arrival in the country. If you enter Bosnia and Herzegovina by car, you will have to buy vehicle insurance at the border if your country's insurance policy does not cover BiH. It is better to check before departing. It is an uncomplicated and fairly inexpensive affair. You do not need this insurance if you have a green card that covers Bosnia and Herzegovina.

You can check the up to date Bosnia & Hercegovina Visa regime following this link


TRAVELLING....

By plane
Sarajevo Airport is relatively close to the city centre. There is no direct public transportation so the only option is to take a taxi.
The national carrier of Bosnia & Herzegovina is BH Airlines. The airline serves destinations primarily around Europe. Their website has flight information and a booking facility. Their destinations include Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Prague and Skopje.
Croatia Airlines connects Sarajevo via Zagreb at least twice daily, and from there connections are possible to Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Munich, Paris, Zurich and several other European cities.
Serbia's Jat Airways connects Sarajevo daily via Belgrade (with a late night-early morning service), and from there one can connect with other JAT domestic and international flights.
Some of the other airlines which operate regular (daily) services into Sarajevo include: Adria Airways, Lufthansa, Austrian, MALEV and Turkish Airlines.
Mostar, Tuzla and Banja Luka also have international airports.

By train
Train services across the country are slowly improving, though speeds and frequencies are still low.
The route most commonly used by tourists is from Sarajevo to Mostar, which has two daily trains. Both of these continue to harbour city Ploče on the Croatian coast.
Sarajevo has direct international connections with Zagreb (Croatia), Ploče (Croatia), Belgrade (Serbia) and Budapest (Hungary).

By car
Bosnia is a beautiful country to drive in as the scenery is often spectacular.
However, due to the mountainous terrain, atrocious driving by many road users, and generally poor condition of the road around the country, do not expect speeds will be fast.
The US State Department's advisory on Bosnia and Herzegovina read in 2008:
Road travel is possible throughout most of the country. However, some roads are still damaged from the war, and poorly maintained. Roads are sometimes blocked due to landslides, de-mining activity, and traffic accidents. Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the rare countries in Europe that has fewer than ten kilometers of four-lane highway. The existing, two-lane roads between major cities are quite narrow at places, lack guardrails, and are full of curves. Travel by road can be risky due to poorly maintained roads, and morning and evening fog in the mountains. Driving in winter is hazardous due to fog, snow, and ice.
As of 2009, the main routes from the coast via Mostar to Sarajevo, and north from Sarajevo to the Croatian Border at Slavonski Brod/Slavonski Samad, have been restored and are of excellent quality. A new highway which follows this path is under construction, with the first part north of Sarajevo readily available, although some construction may slow down traffic at each end of this projected highway.
Petrol stations can be hard to find in some spots - often the best place to fill up is on the edge of towns and cities rather than in them.
Mechanics who speak English may be hard to find, and licensing may be an issue so ensure that you are allowed to actually drive there.
Renting a car is also an option, especially if you are visiting remote destinations outside of Sarajevo.

By bus
Buses are plentiful in and around Bosnia. Most international buses arrive at the Sarajevo bus station which is located next to the railway station close to the centre of Sarajevo. However, buses from Belgrade, the Republika Srpska entity and Montenegro mostly use the Lukavica bus station in Eastern Sarajevo.
From Mostar, Banja Luka and Tuzla there are also frequent international services. Herzegovina also has many bus services from the Dalmatian coastal cities of Croatia.
International bus services are nearly always in modern, luxurious 5-star coaches - the only exceptions to this are normally the local buses operating slightly over the border (max. 3 hour trips).

By boat
Ferries are available from Neum to other cities on the Adriatic connecting to Croatia and other countries. There are no international ferries across the Adriatic to Italy, but these do operate from Dubrovnik and Split.
Similarly transport is available along the inland rivers and lakes, some of which is privately run.


Stay safe
If you plan on traveling off the beaten path in Bosnia, be aware that the nation is still in the process of clearing many of the land mines left around the countryside during the war of 1992-1995. In rural areas try to stay on paved areas if possible, and never touch any armed explosive device. Houses and private property were often rigged with mines as their owners fled during the war. If an area or property looks abandoned, stay away from it until it has been cleared by a demining team.
Bosnia experiences very little violent crime, as long as you stay on paved roads and marked routes. Beware of pickpockets, however, in larger cities, especially Sarajevo.
There are approximately 600,000 land mines in Bosnia. Areas around Sarajevo and Brcko are extremely hazardous, so be careful. See http://www.mine.ba/

MISCELLANEOUS

Stay healthy
All Bosnian employees undergo regular health checks to ensure that they are physically capable to do their jobs and that they will not transmit any disease or injure anyone. People in the food industry are particularly checked and random health and safety checks for the premises are held often. Food providers are held to the highest standards. A Bosnian kitchen is expected to be spotless and food safety is very important. Since the food is very rich, some extra exercise may be advisable.
Also, never walk off dedicated paths as there might be uncleared landmines in non urban areas.

Respect
Respect the religious differences of the people in the region and their effort to move past the Yugoslav civil war. It is important to be careful in areas where there is still tension and to ensure that one does not offend a particular group due to indifference or sheer ignorance.
Similarly, respect the environment. A lot of the country has been saved from pollution and it is important to be careful of one's influences. Moreover, it is equally important to be careful as the rivers tend to be fierce, the mountains and valleys often unguarded and the footing unsure. Always have a tour guide with you or consult a local for advice on the natural dangers and land mines.

Contact
Do be aware that the two entities have their own seperate postal services, so stamps bought in the Federation cannot be used in the RS and vice versa.
There are three mobile phone networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina: HT ERONET (Mostar), GSMBiH (Sarajevo) and m:tel (Republika Srpska, Banja Luka). You can buy a prepaid SIM card at any kiosk. Starting price: 10 KM (5€)