Sarajevo has a rich tradition of café culture thanks to its Ottoman heritage. Traditional Bosnian coffee is thick and strong, and is usually served with Turkish delight in classic eastern copperware. Bosnia’s capital city has plenty of places to take a rest and indulge in this Balkan speciality. Here’s our list of the top ten cafés and coffeehouses in Sarajevo.
For a café experience unique to Bosnia, take a trip to Caffe Tito, a café packed full of memorabilia from Communist Yugoslavia. The café is named after Yugoslavia’s former leader himself, Josip Tito, and features busts, photos, newspaper clippings and more relating to him and the Communist era. The café doesn’t offer food, but provides traditional coffees as well as alcoholic or soft drinks. A fun café for something quirky and a bit different. Zmaja od Bosne 5, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, +387 61 208 881
Café Bar Opera is a modern fashionable coffee shop popular with the younger generation of Sarajevo. It is bustling with customers throughout the day and into the evening, but the best time to go is during the morning, when there are still tables available on the sunny outside terrace. The menu offers items common in Western coffee shops, such as lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos, as well as a number of alcoholic beverages for later on in the day. While this particular café is not as traditional as other establishments in the area, it is symbolic of Sarajevo’s rising importance as a vibrant and cosmopolitan European city.
As well as the Ottomans, Bosnia was also under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Consequently, there are many cafés serving Austrian favourites, and that have a sophisticated Central European décor. Wiener Café is one of these, offering teas, coffees, and an enticing array of traditional Austrian pastries and other patisserie items. The interior features a mezzanine with an intricate wrought-iron staircase, and a light an open ground floor level seating area. A lovely spot for a peaceful and sophisticated coffee break or afternoon tea. Veliki Curciluk 3, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Sarajevo | Ⓒ Clark & Kim Kays/Flickr
Caffe 35 is located at the top of Sarajevo’s Avaz Twist Tower, the city’s tallest building and and also one of the most modern. The café is on the 35th floor, as the name suggests, so offers outstanding views of the surrounding city. The café itself offers the usual coffee shop menu, but the real pull of this spot is the views. Tešanjska 24A, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, +387 33 281 452
Café Barometar is a coffee shop and bar with unique décor. It has rustic exposed brick walls along with metal piping, quirky machinery around the walls, and unusual hanging lamps. During the day, the café is a great place to enjoy a strong Bosnian coffee, while towards the evening the beers start to flow. It is located in the centre of Sarajevo, near to the Old Town area, which makes it convenient and accessible. The relaxed vibe of Café Barometar makes it a great spot to enjoy a quiet coffee break.
In the heart of the Old Town, and set within an old Ottoman dwelling, is Kuća Sevdaha, a café that also acts as an art gallery. Visitors enter through a lovely stone archway, and walk through to a pretty courtyard area, perfect for a coffee on a warm summer’s afternoon. The word ‘sevdah’ relates to traditional Bosnian heritage, including music, costume and even emotions, the building in which this café is set was originally used as a place for expressing Bosnian culture. The café’s menu is therefore typically Bosnian, with rich coffee, eastern desserts and other sweet treats. Halači 5, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, +387 33 239 943
This café has been a Sarajevo institution since 1912, which makes it one of the oldest and longest-running establishments in the Old Town. Its main pull is the selection of bakery items that can be bought to eat in or take away, and which includes favourites such as chocolate cake as well as traditional Bosnian desserts. Of course, they also offer strong cups of Bosnian coffee, which can be enjoyed on the sunny outdoor terrace.
For a taste of traditional Bosnian and eastern tea, Čajdžinica Džirlo is a small tea room offering around 45 different blends. The interior is beautifully traditional, with typical low cushions for seating, eastern rugs and ornate wall decorations. For a taste of Bosnia’s eastern heritage, Čajdžinica Džirlo offers classic Ottoman flavours and aromas.
Sunset view from Žuta Tabija Café | Ⓒ Jodie Gallagher/Flickr
Caffe Bar SOS is located a little out of the central tourist area and is near to some of Sarajevo University’s faculty buildings, making it popular with students taking a break between lectures. The owner of the café used to be a sailor, and so the café has a nautical theme, with map wallpaper and shipping equipment on the walls. It offers classic Bosnian coffee as well as soft drinks, and is most busy during the morning or late afternoon. A great option for those looking to escape the tourist crowds.
Located at the top of one of the many hills surrounding Sarajevo is Žuta Tabija, right next to the historical fort known as the Yellow Bastion. All the seating is outside, so the café is closed during the colder months or when the weather is particularly bad but the views from the tables when the weather is fine are amazing. The café is especially popular during Ramadan, when those fasting break their fast at the sound of the fort’s cannon. Menu options include Bosnian coffee and a variety of soft drinks, which can be enjoyed while watching the sun rise or set over the city. The café is either a short but steep walk up the hill, or a cheap taxi ride away from the Old Town. Jekovac, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina