For travelers seeking a more authentic experience, you would have to get well off the Croatian beaten track. Yes, the hordes of tourists can make for a fun night out, but finding a local who isn’t frustrated with how overcrowded their country has become is harder than finding your dignity after a Dubrovnik Pirate Party.
If you’re looking to escape the masses and discover a land many are yet to, keep on scrolling.
Despite a stormy past, the Bosnia and Herzegovina that exists today is full of effortless beauty and friendly locals. The country offers visitors an experience that’s hard to mimic and you won’t find yourself fighting through clusters of tourists for that Instagram shot (yet!).
The unspoiled nature and landscapes of this country have something to offer everyone – from authentic experience seekers to adrenaline junkies. Whether you want to go canyoning, hiking, rafting or swimming, you can do it all here – including jumping from a 24m UNESCO World Heritage listed bridge into the icy, turquoise water of the Neretva River – just don’t expect your insurance to cover you if you do choose to jump!
1. Kravice Waterfalls, for a relaxed day of swimming beneath some of Mother Nature’s best work – just 25mi (40km) south of Mostar.
2. The Blagaj Tekke and Green Cave, to visit the capital of the ancient Hum Blagaj and see the famous Green cave, where artifacts from the 5th century BC have been found – all just a short ride from Mostar airport. You can also find the ruins of Stjepan town, the castle happens to be located on the inaccessible cliff above the Buna river.
3. Stari Most Bridge, to view the most photographed landmark in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina – and realize how it earned that title. The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar are symbols of reconciliation, international co-operation, and the coexistence of diverse communities.
4. Una National Park and Pliva Lakes, to get lost in idyllic landscapes. Be sure to see Štrbački buk – the largest waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina located on the River Una. Walk along wooden paths to see the waterfalls from various platforms and viewpoints.
Then, be sure to see Pliva Waterfalls located in the medieval town of Jajce. Upstream from the falls, take a look at the Large and Small Pliva lakes, too.
5. Sarajevo, to explore the culturally rich capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Be sure to go underground and see the Sarajevo Tunnel (also known as the Tunnel of Hope), to learn more about the country's past. This tunnel was constructed in 1993 during the Siege of Sarajevo at the time of the Bosnian war.
Bosnians are incredibly proud of their country, welcoming to tourists, and will happily share their stories.
During my time in Mostar, I met a young Bosnian man who experienced (and lost his father to) the Bosnian War. As he pointed out significant areas of a city that were once destroyed, it was still easy to see evidence of war. This day impacted my Euro trip in a way that sailing around Croatia for a week simply couldn’t.
Keep in mind: If you stick around Stari Bridge in Mostar long enough, you might just catch some of the locals (or travelers) jumping into the depths below. This is a rite of passage for Bosnian boys, and solidifies their status as men.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is full of culture, history, and beauty. So if you want to escape the crowds and have an authentic experience or five, consider this country as a worthwhile addition to your list.
Easily accessible from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina is just a short and scenic bus or coach ride away from the likes of Split and Dubrovnik. Setting you back around 3–4 hours and €15-€20, depending on your departure and arrival stations. Check out Croatia Bus for schedules.
Alternatively, if you’re planning on spending some time traveling across the country, rent a car and go at our own pace.
Keep in mind that Bosnia isn’t part of the EU, so make sure you have your passport handy when entering or leaving the country.
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Small but mighty, Croatia is a powerhouse holiday destination, offering everything from water sports to baroque festivals. Start scanning for cheap flights now, because some major Croatian wanderlust is coming your way.