The Croatian Neighbor You Must Visit

Croatia has inevitably made its way onto every backpacker’s Euro-trip itinerary, with tourists flocking to sail around the Adriatic Sea and hop the Islands. Luckily, the over-popular country neighbors an alternative Balkan gem, just a short bus ride away from the crowds.

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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.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

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!

Don’t Miss These 5 Places

1. Kravice Waterfalls, for a relaxed day of swimming beneath some of Mother Nature’s best work – just 25mi (40km) south of Mostar.

Also known as Kravica Waterfalls. Photo credit: iStock

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.

Blagaj Tekke on Buna Spring, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo credit: iStock

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.

Stari Most Bridge, Mostar. Photo credit: iStock

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.

Waterfalls in Una National Park. Photo credit: iStock

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.

A souvenier shop in Sarajevo. Photo credit: iStock

Getting to Know the Locals

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.

Getting There from Croatia

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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10 Comments

  • Alison said

    I see... Croatia's ruined, so let's all stampede next door and ruin that, too?

  • Miami Charlie said

    I agree with Alison's comment. Not being an EU state will slow that down however. Montenegro is also beautiful and very un-Western.

  • Paula King said

    So Alison are you saying that no one should go travelling and experience these amazing places...
    Hopefully the people that read these emails are responsible travelers who do not ruin a country when visiting it...

  • Lila said

    "Responsible travelers"? I 've never seen such an animal. It must be mythical. Let's face it. Most people don;t get a damn about these beautiful places except for the sake of their selfies and they just care bout getting wasted, laid and eat, they litter massively, they disrupt the life of the locals, they at times, mock them, they treat them like servants and if there is wildlife around, they harass it for entertainment. Most people don't go to these "beautiful place" to learn about the culture and history, (bosnia-i-herzegovina having the biggest genocide in Europe in the 20th century after the WWII) , they don't go there to quietly reflect and learn about themselves. They are noisy and do exactly the same things they do at home. they increase the price of real state for locals, they leave them with unmanageable amounts of plastics to fill their land-fields (there is not plastic recycling and reprocessing in the entirety of Eastern Europe) they sometimes make them feel ashamed of their cultures and desirous to replace it with a "western culture", they begin to see nothing but a means to an end in their cultures (the mean is selling their local folk and lore to foreigners , the end making money of it)
    That's truly what massive tourism does around the world.
    It is rare when a traveler gives something back to that community. and a tourist never does. ll they leave is money and a mess to clean after they depart.



  • Adam said

    Lila that’s an incredibly negative and cynical comment. It also looks like typical western hatred - because you clearly are claiming that only “western” tourists behave like this and simultaneously paint a picture of Eastern Europe as being some sort of victim - and as if they are perfectly behaved people whether they travel or stay home. It’s very biased and just sounds like pure hatred. How does that comment and behaviour make you any different then the “evil” tourists you just described? Apparently you claim that western tourists make locals ashamed of their culture - while painting a picture of western people as noisy, dirty, animal abusing, loud, obnoxious and unforgiving people ignorant of wherever they go. A little hypocritical of you isn’t it?

    Not everyone tours or visits places to “quietly self-reflect”. Not everyone is interested in other places to only focus on the things you deem are important. Some people do just want to have fun and party in a delightful setting. In the case of Croatia, this generates over 10 billion US dollars annually for the country. Perhaps they should stay away and Croatia will be much better without this 10 billion? Seeing that they already have 11% unemployment I doubt this would be a very good scenario....

    Try to view the world for the good it has, and be a little more positive. Most travellers, regardless of culture are not as you describe and that’s a very sad and negative attitude.

  • edward said

    As world traveler for for more than 40 years , Lila is absolutely correct. It is we who act boorish and entitled. We carry our ugly ways with us. Not all but too many.

    Ed

  • IOM Partners said

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  • Anna said

    some of these places are very beautiful. I am very happy if invited to take a vacation, this is my hobby to relieve stress from work. coming to places we have never visited or somewhere quiet and having a beautiful view is also fun. vacationing is one way to refresh our brains back, have different experiences also meet new people. -landhoteldiever.nl

  • Lia said

    My husband and I are from two very different countries and before we got married we agreed to visit the other person's country to get a sense of where each of us came from. He's Croatian and I'm Cambodian. Although our landscape, food, language and culture could not be anymore different our countries share similar horrible past, strong familial values and rapid growth due to tourism and technology, which comes with positive and negative aspects. Being a "western tourist" in our ancestral countries gives us a different perspective. I am sickened by the reckless and inconsiderate attitudes of most tourist, the ones who think it normal to act crudely or take selfies in a religious place, whether it is an old Croatian church in Dubrovnik or Ankor Wat in Siem Reap. Or how people think it's fine to mock someone who doesn't speak fluent English. Yeah, how fluent is your Khmer or Croatian? At the same time I do agree that without tourism both of these countries wouldn't have the cash injection to build better structures, roads and allow entrepreneurship to exist. Responsible tourism can exist. You just need to ask yourself "would I behave this way if I was back home?"

  • Laurens said

    Wow, this is the best place I think. There are many very beautiful places like the one you showed in this article. This is truly amazing, I can't imagine being there. Maybe I will always take pictures of all the places I visit because they have incredible views. I want to go there for next year! zuiddrenthe.nl

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