How Safe is Bosnia & Herzegovina? 4 Tips for Travelers

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Learn about the possible dangers of landmines, poor air quality, driving conditions and local laws before you go.


Photo © iStock/tcerovski

Watch out for landmines

The last estimate, in 2015, recorded around 20,000 minefields, and more than 80,000 active land mines. But, there are efforts in place to make Bosnia landmine-free.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre (BHMAC) says there are 1,400 communities affected by mines, and the safety of around 545,000 people is in question.

Between 1996 and 2017, landmines caused 1,750 injured and 612 deaths. 

Most urban areas have been cleared, but unpaved roads, abandoned or derelict buildings and minor roads are still hazardous.

Do not travel into or around the former lines of conflict, including some of the suburbs surrounding Sarajevo, as this area has a particularly high number of landmines. The best way to keep your limbs intact is to stay on hard surfaces when traveling and avoid abandoned buildings.

Poor air quality

If you've got asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions, there's a chance you might react negatively to the air quality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in Sarajevo.

With the high amount of pollution and allergens in the air, it's important to have the appropriate medication with you at all times.

If passive cigarette smoke is a problem for you, be prepared .... Bosnians love to smoke!

Natural disasters

Bosnia and Herzegovina resides in an area of active seismic activity, and earth tremors happen every so often.

Larger-scale earthquakes also occur, although this is less likely.

An earthquake in 2016, with an epicenter 17km from the town of Mostar, and 54km from Sarajevo, measured 4.3 on the Richter scale. Tremors were felt in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia.

Driving conditions and special laws

Expect a few differences when you drive around Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are less than 40km of four-lane highways in the entire region. The remaining roads aren't in the best condition, becoming very narrow and winding in places, without guardrails.

It's rare to find guardrails on roadsides, which means no reflectors, throw in some fog, especially during the early morning and at night, and you have very limited visibility. Plus, it's rare to find streetlights outside of the major city centers.

Taking all these warnings into consideration, driving at night isn't recommended.

During the winter months, add ice, snow and even landslides.... what a nightmare!

Because of the poor driving conditions, between the 15th of November and the 15th of April, the law requires all vehicles to use snow chains and winter tires. Don't disregard this; though the fine isn't heavy, the cost of losing control of your car can be deadly.

The law also requires that vehicles have a safety vest, spare tire, first aid kit, safety triangle, towing rope and spare light bulbs at all times. This is rarely checked, but again, it's in your best interest to have these things in case of an accident.

Local drivers aren't exactly the best in the world, so be aware of the cars around you. Don't expect them to follow the law. Drunk driving and speeding (often while intoxicated) along the winding roads in the region are a problem. Even if you're a safe driver, the person speeding around the next bend might not be.

If, after taking all these warnings into consideration, your plans still include driving through Bosnia and Herzegovina (including the road section at Neum on the Dalmatian Coastal Highway), make sure that you have all of the correct papers.

Check that you have the original registration and ownership papers related to your vehicle, as well as your driver's license and Green Card third-party insurance papers.

You should be able to get temporary third-party insurance at Split, as well as other main Croatian cities and main border posts. You can't purchase these at the Neum border.

All sorts of people may be curious about these papers, such as border guards or customs officers. As these people tend to carry machine guns, it's best to have your papers in order.

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  • Lara said

    We've just driven through half of Bosnia. It was in a Croatian rental car. The paperwork they gave us including the green card was enough for everyone at borders etc. no machine guns in sight and police seem quite disinterested in us. If you take your time and let others pass it as quite safe. It was also one of the most beautiful drives I have ever done. Definitely recommend it and nothing to be scared of, except yes don't wander off tracks as land mines are real here.

  • Lavi said

    Yeah, that's right. Therefore, it is safer to travel with the locals. I've good experience with Shuttle Kor -

  • david said

    just came back from a trip to Croatia and Bosnia (June 4, 2016), rented a van for 8 people in Dubrovnik (Croatia) and drove through both countries oblivious to all of these scary things. Drove to Kravice falls, next to Mostar, finally back to Croatia, unfortunately didn't have time to go Sarajevo, drove enough through the country side of Bosnia though.

    both times we crossed the border check points it was as eventful as paying a toll. handed our passports, got a stamp, drove on. The border personel never asked us anything. Stayed in a really nice hotel in Mostar, ate great food. i'm already planning on going back to stay longer in the region.

  • Greetings from Finland said

    Laws about wintertires is a good thing and nothing special about that.. been on three vacation to Bosnia, been to many places, driving around and no problems.. and no machine guns.. drunk driving and speeding..where do you not find that? We love Bosnia, already booked next vacation! :)

  • Steve said

    Can somebody please explain what the green card is? I will be hiring a car from Europcar & traveling through Croatia, Bosnia then onto Belgrade, Serbia. Do I need to ask for winter tyres or is it a standard thing from car hire places at an around January? Regards

  • Paul said

    Having spent every summer and also several springs and Autumns in Bosnia since 2002, I can safely say that Bosnia is a VERY safe country to visit and revel in. I drive from the UK across Europe to Bosnia. Whilst road conditions are not brilliant, and there is an issue with poor driving and particularly speeding and overtaking on bends, any sensible driver can anticipate all the possible outcomes and be safe on the roads.
    All mined areas are well marked and are almost entirely between the demarcation zones (Republic of Bosnia/Serb republic) there are mine maps and bright red warning signs to keep you from straying into danger zones. But do stay on proper made roads near the border just to be safe.
    Due to the terrible floods in the last few years, some mine fields have moved. This was mainly caused by landslides. However, emergency work was carried out and all suspect areas have now been made safe.
    The people are very open and friendly, and always helpful. almost all food is organic and you should shop at markets not supermarkets, this keeps the money in the local economy.
    Eat Cevap (a kind of kebab), and Pečenje (spit roast lamb over charcoal) drink Sarajevsko or Tuzlanski pivo (beer). And Drink home Made Slivovica (a brandy made from stilled plumbs, tasty but very potent!!
    Politeness says you should learn a bit of the language, even just please (Molim) thank you (hvala) and good day (dobar dan)
    Most people under 25 speak a fair bit of English
    Tap water is safe, there is a very low risk of hepatitis A , if you wild swim in some rivers.
    Must see places are, Mostar, Blagaj, Konjic, Sarajevo, Tuzla, Gradacac, Travnik, Zenica to name just a fraction of the beautiful places in Bosnia.
    The road from Mostar to Sarajevo through the Neretva valley is one of the best drives in Europe. And the road from Sarajevo to Tuzla via Olovo passes over two mountain ranges and through vast areas of woodland and is so very beautiful.
    Do not be put off by Bosnia's recent past, it is a fantastic place to visit and to miss it is to pass the last unturned stone, only to find it was hiding the golden nugget.

  • Traveller said

    Well this article was written by someone who was either super naive about the world (bad driving conditions? we did fine in our basic VW Up!) or 'scared' of eastern Europe.

    Bosnians are incredibly friendly and welcoming and we managed to road trip all around Bosnia (including, gasp, near Sarajevo/other conflict lines) and we were totally fine!

  • Deana said

    So coming from Canada renting a car in split and driving into Bosnia should be no problem right I am looking to stop in mostar obviously and some of the surrounding area and I guess one of my concerns is the highway driving is it okay to slow down and let those pass if you are not comfortable doing the speeds that they would normally do. If for some bizarre reason the car breaks down is it possible to get help out on the highways I really want to see some of Bosnia it looks so beautiful but of course a little frightened not used to driving in Europe, unfortunately there are no tours that go from split to mostar and some of the places I'd like to see ,they only go to medjugore/mostar... Thoughts?

  • Alen Bilal said

    Deana, if you need some private tailor made tours in my country i would gladly help you with more information.

  • Jakub said

    Hi all,
    I'm going for vacation trip across Bosnia with older car from Czech rep. there's one little bit tricky thing - there's no company in my country which would provide insurance for technical assistance (especially wrecking assistance in case of accident or fail).

    Could you recommend me any local insurance which would cover transport my car from accident to repair? Or contact to somebody who has private wrecking assistance at the south of Bosnia would be nice like backup too.


  • mpez said

    Ok, for all of you scared of going to bosnia. Stop the nonsense. Sarajevo is the capital city with rich history spanning over a thousand years. For the last 600 or so years it'sbeen a metropolis in europe. All major religions have had a part in building the city and contributing to its life. Of course, there was a war. We all know this. But don'tworry. There is no more war. This was 20 years ago. It's over! Leftover landmines, sure they can cause Iissues and problems, but everyone here is talking about driving through it. You know there are paved roads right? You won't get blown up driving on the roads. And unless you decide to go hiking at some god forsaken mountain and Iignore the clearly posted signs that it is dangerous becauseof the land mines, you will be fine. SSure drivingvconditionsmay not be the best at all times, but I live in Los Angeles and I can tell you, driving conditions are not always perfect here either. People that wrote this article are obviously blastand have never been there. Yes, you will find the crime wherever you go, but honestly, there is more crime in Los Angeles one city block than there is crime in the whole country of bosnia. Insurance? Don'tyou need Iinsurance wherever you are? Every country in europe requires you to have some sort of car insurance and of course drivers license. Duhhh. To summerize, don'tbe an Iidiot and you willbe fine. Do what you would do in any other country in the world and you will be fine. If driving drunk is illegal in your country of origin, what makes you think it won'tbe there? If you Iillegally park your car or your meter expirex, why wouldn'tyou get a ticket or get towed? II it's not anarchy. There are laws! Food? Probably the best food of any places you have ever been to. And priced very affordable. So go have fun! Go see sarajevo, mostar, kravice, jajce, bosnian pyramids, neum, try some travnik cheese. You will want to come back, because you will fall in love.

  • Mike Jurasek said

    I'm going

  • laura said

    We will be in Croatia - coming from Wien and probably going to Zadar Croatia area - all via bus or train as we won't be renting a car. We would love to know how to organize tours from Croatia or Slovenia... Can you offer any suggestions. We would like to spend a few nights there - not just day trips, but are interested in both. Thank you in advance.

  • Susan Hill said

    Hi everyone,
    I will be visiting Bosnia and Croatia and possibly other states of old Yugoslavia. I’m Serbian originally I left Serbia 49 years ago but still speak Serbian. Will I be safe going there if they know I’m Serbian when I speak to them. My passport is Australian as is my name. Any feedback on Serbians visiting war torn countries of the 90’s.

  • Edvin Saletovic said

    Let me put it this way.

    Born and raised in Bosnia (Tuzla).
    Left Bosnia at the age 23.
    Live in the USA for the past 6 years.

    Only time in my life I was scared for my safety was in the USA(Seattle).

    In Bosnia you'll find chill people that like to drink coffee on the patios all day long, no one is in the rush or worried about money or career, laws are there but we encourage thinking for yourself (yes that's a benefit for you).
    Land mine are deep in woods and more mountains.

    "Local drivers are not best in the world", you my friend haven't set one foot in the area apparently, can YOU drive drunk every day on a narrow curvey road around the mountain with crappy tires while the others are doing the same thing, road is wide for barley one car and we fly by each other speeding while at lest one is drunk.(safe or not people can drive)… here in USA people are scared to merge into a 100 feet wide highway, the fuck, not the mention the rain, if it rains forget driving we are all stopped on a 5 lane highway, the best and most capable drivers are in the area like that, where average American wouldn't dare to walk.

    Anyway, travel there only if you love to make your own calls and do things your way cus it's very much how you make it over there.

  • Paul Manoli said

    Bosnia - Herzegovina roads - are there designated sightseeing overlooks along the road for picture taking ?

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