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48 Hours in Sarajevo, Bosnia

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The historic yet progressive capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo boasts a bit of something for everyone.

From stunning Ottoman-Turkish medieval architecture to bizarre boutiques, fertile mountainscapes to decadent museums, the city is a myriad of contrasts. Locals and visitors alike are invited to uncover the capital’s tragic past, buried deep beneath layers of new creativity, diversity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Start the day right

Coffee is essential. However, for the Sarajevans, drinking coffee is a ritual more for slowing down than speeding up.

Nestle deep into the wooden-frame cafes serving tantalisingly frothy Bosnian coffee in delicate copper pots. For a truly immersive experience, head to infamous Rahatlook in the west end of old town to enjoy your morning brew with a freshly baked pastry (or two).

Stroll through the Old Town

Sarajevo is absolutely best explored by foot, particularly the ancient city centre, which is drenched in historical stories, religious diversity, and eccentric pub quiz facts.

Key sites on your wanders include the Sacred Heart Cathedral – the largest cathedral in Bosnia and the epicentre of Catholic worship in the city, the Serbian Orthodox Church – one of the largest churches in the Balkans and dedicated to the nativity of the Theotokos, and the Jewish Museum located inside a derelict 16th-century synagogue.

Stretching out beyond the centre, you’ll pass buildings still littered with bullet holes from the violent siege of 1992-1996. Head underneath the runway at Sarajevo airport to the tiny Tunnel Museum to experience first-hand how important supplies (and people) were smuggled in and out of the city.

Reach new heights

For 360 views of the city, clamber up 172 metres high to the tip of the tallest building in the Balkans.

The Avaz Twist Tower in Marijin Dvor, in the centre of the city, offers unparalleled views of the city. Look out over modern complexes, two-toned Austro-Hungarian architecture, sun-scorched hilltops and the slippery mountain ridge where 1984 Olympic bobsleigh teams flung themselves at ludicrous speeds.

If you fancy something a little more adventurous, hop aboard the recently unveiled cable cars scaling Mount Trebevic. The cars originally connected the old town to the Olympic mountains, but were destroyed during the war and only recently re-built to accommodate tourists’ desire for sweeping city views and leafy green hiking trails.

Stand on historical ground

The edge of the Latin bridge which crosses the Miljacka River is home to a small plaque, detailing the big role it played in European history.

The Ottoman-style bridge is the historic site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; a marker for the cataclysmic event which sparked the outbreak of the First World War.

Get your fill of tasty treats

On your walk, keep your eyes peeled for traditional Bosnian snacks; try the delectable burek (meat or cheese filled pastry rolls) or mouth-watering cevapi (minced lamb kebabs) served with kajmak (a savoury clotted cream). You’d be hard done by not to run into a stall selling these famous kebabs on the spit with some tanging raw onions.

If you fancy something a little more substantial, head into the Old Town for Begova Corba (a popular Bosnian soup made with meats and vegetables). Just make sure you leave room for some sticky sweet baklava and ice cream!

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