Environmentally diverse, culturally rich, historically abundant; the former Yugoslavian city certainly has many strings to its bow. But brave an adventure beyond the border and you’ll be treated to a taste of the Balkans that will really give you something to write home about.
Forest Park Mojmilo
As starting points go, you couldn’t go far wrong making your way to this fantastic vantage point at the top of Mojmilo Hill to kick off your Balkan adventure. Not only does it offer grand views across the city – from which you can happily sit and plan your path through the vibrant capital – it also provides a first taste of the country’s awe-inspiring all-natural side.
The park’s Eco House also offers great refreshments if your appetite plays up after a long stroll around the grounds, but if the weather’s nice, it’s well worth taking a picnic, looking out on the panoramic views and feeling like you’re on top of the world.
Located in one of the most immensely diverse regions in the country, Skakavac could very easily become lost in a backdrop of thick forest, lush vegetation and stunning natural surroundings, yet its beauty is such that it is still heralded as one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most prized attractions.
As its white waters tumble over the formidable 300ft cliff face, the run off onto the rocks forms an astonishing array of patterns and colours, all of which add to the already ethereal effect created by both the fall’s mists and the ancient forest setting. When visiting, do prepare yourself for a bit of a trek, but you can guarantee the end result will be well worth it.
A real treat for curious travellers, this relic of a time gone by was once the country’s most closely guarded secret. Built as a safehouse for Yugoslavian dictator, Josip Tito, and known only to his most trusted aides, the bunker was created to house 350 VIPs in the event of a nuclear attack. It is thought to have cost an exorbitant £3billion in total.
Buried into a mountainside just on the outskirts of Konjic, the complex’s corridors meander their way to bedrooms, conference halls, offices and lounges, all of which can be explored by eager adventurers. Most recently, the underground shelter has attracted an artistic crowd and exhibitions, as well as touristic activities, are becoming more and more frequent.
Lukomir & Bjelasnica Mountain
Remote mountain communities are fast becoming a rarity in eastern Europe, so much so that this tiny town, sitting at an altitude of nearly 1500 metres on the exposed slopes of Bjelasnica, is the last of its kind in the whole country. A visit to this village is a humbling experience, and you are likely to be just as moved by the modest dwellings and uncomplicated lifestyle of the inhabitants as you are by the spectacular scenery.
Nearby, and in complete contrast, the mountain’s more dramatic characteristics draw crowds whose tastes verge on the extreme. From paragliding and biking to skiing and hiking – all tastes will be catered for in one of the comparatively lavish alpine resorts.
1 hour 25 minutes
Described often as having almost mystical-like qualities, the exquisite town of Blagaj sits pretty alongside the turquoise waters of the Buna River. So fantastical was the setting where the river’s source emerged, a sultan of the Ottoman Empire deemed it suitable enough to house a tekija (monastery and living quarters) for practicing Dervishes on – an attraction that is now open to visitors of all faiths all year round.
It’s a very easy place to spend hours ambling, and this is undoubtedly the best way to take in both the horticultural and historical elements on display, but if you find yourself with extra time, a short hop over to Mostar will be a cherry on top of a perfect day.
2 hours 10 minutes