Coming attractions: Sarajevo

The memory of the Yugoslav Wars is too fresh for many of us to think of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a tourist destination, but in the ten years since the conflict, the country and its capital city, Sarajevo have made enormous strides. Long gone are the days of ethnic conflict, strife and war crimes — 2009’s Sarajevo is a charming, cosmopolitan city surrounded by hills, cafés and culture.

A great deal of momentum has been building in the travel community around Sarajevo and its surrounding country, perhaps most notably garnering heavy praise among the Lonely Planet brands. As the ever-balanced Wiki-travel gushes:

Sarajevo is a cosmopolitan European capital with a unique Eastern twist that is a delight to visit. The people are very friendly, be they Bosniaks, Croats, or Serb. There is very little crime. Also there are not nearly as many tourists as on the Croatian Dalmatian coast and a wealth of architecture (not to mention history) to see.

Outside of the rich culture that you can simply soak in by loafing around the city, there is plenty of tourist fodder to consume. Among the most famous are the Latin Bridge, where archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated to start World War I and the Bosnian Historical Museum, a stunning tribute to the tumultuous past of the former Soviet-state.

More inspiration can be found in Stephanie Yoder’s article over on Twenty-Something travel. Her photos alone are worth the visit, deeply contrasting with all of that war-torn CNN footage that many of us still have in our heads. Reading the captions and narrative along with the photos, one begins to realize the depth and charm to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sarajevo unfortunately isn’t the easiest European capital to get to. Any voyage from the states to the Eastern Mediterranean nation is going to require at least one layover, and tickets can be pricey. As a result, it’s best to plan your vacation well in advance and spend some solid time in the city — else you risk spending all of your time in transit.

As an alternative to the oft expensive mainline routes into Sarajevo Airport (SJJ), it also may be worth buying a ticket to a major hub like Frankfurt or Amsterdam and then connecting onward on a low cost carrier. Check for possible routes.