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Just because Bosnia has a large Muslim population, it doesn’t mean their drinking culture isn’t on par with other European destinations. Quite the contrary. Many Bosniaks, or Bosnian Muslims, are secular and enjoy a tipple or two in the afternoon or as they party until the early hours on weekends. Here are 11 top reasons why you’ll have a great time drinking in Bosnia.
Imagine enjoying a glass of local wine watching the sunset over one of Bosnia’s many Ottoman bridges, such as Mostar’s Stari Most? The country has lots of historical sites and natural beauty creating the perfect spot for a quiet drink or two.
A typical drink in any café, bar or restaurant costs a few marks, and you’ll rarely find yourself paying more than $2 (USD) for a beer. Cocktails, top-shelf spirits and local wines are available at very affordable prices. You can also get a fresh beer at Sarajevo’s Brewery or alcohol from the supermarket much cheaper than most parts of Europe.
What can be better than sipping a cold beer while sitting in Sarajevo’s 16th-century Old Bazaar? Bosnia has many places where you’re able to have a drink while overlooking centuries-old ruins. Whether this is inside the Ottoman areas or overlooking ruins, you’re sure to find a beautiful place to enjoy a drink surrounded by history.
Bosnia, like Albania, welcomed Islam from the Ottomans and converted, unlike other countries in the Balkans. But, despite the sizable Muslim population, many are secular. Because of this, Bosniaks tend to drink, go to nightclubs and are generally up for a good time. ‘Religion is a personal thing’, a young Bosniak, or Muslim, was heard to say as she sipped a bottle of cold Sarajevsko on a hot summer’s day.
The relatively small number of tourists creates a certain level of curiosity, especially among the younger generation who have a better command of English. Don’t be surprised if locals are interested in where you’re from and why you’re visiting their country. Striking up a conversation and making friends is easy.
Rakia, you either love or hate it. The strong alcoholic drink is a favourite in Bosnia and the Balkans. Similar to Vodka, people make their own at home, and it’s not uncommon to see people taking shots in the evening in the more rural areas. Many of the bars and nightclubs also serve Rakia. Trying a shot at least once is a must on your trip to Bosnia.
Bosnia retains elements of their former socialist past, which comes in many forms including the drinking culture. Some bars and nightclubs, such as Sarajevo’s Kino Bosna, have changed very little in the last few decades. Those who visit say it’s like step back in time to Yugoslavia with the smoky interior and abundance of Vodka and Rakia.
You may not associate Bosnia with producing fine wine at the quality of French, Italian or Georgian varieties. But they do. Herzegovina’s microclimate, soil composition and environment cultivate a particular grape the Thracians once used to produce wine more than 2000 years ago. Some parts of the Republika Srpska also have perfect grape-growing conditions. The wine then ages in large barrels inside the cellars of some monasteries.
The only way to make a high-quality beer is by brewing with high-quality water. Mountains surround Sarajevo, and fresh mineral water flows endlessly, which is then brewed into Sarajevsko. Head down to the Sarajevo’s Brewery for a refreshing glass, and learn more about how the brewery, of all places, helped people survive during the Siege. And not in the way you may expect!
Cafes and bars are always full with patrons either sipping coffee in the morning or enjoying alcoholic drinks later in the day. Young locals head to bars to socialise with friends, and many have a command of English. Striking up a conversation is usually easy. And you can find a place to suit any mood from chilled out lounges to active nightclubs that open until sunrise.
There aren’t many countries in the world where you can enjoy a beer or shot while smoking shisha. Many of Bosnia’s hookah bars have shisha at affordable prices attracting locals to enjoy with coffee, beer or Rakia. Visiting one of these places and chatting with the locals makes a trip to Bosnia a pretty unique experience among European destinations.