Sarajevo has a tumultuous recent history – the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand here sparked World War I, and a four-year siege in the early 1990s saw more than 5,000 civilian deaths. Now, however, you’ll find the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina a captivating city, rife for exploration. Base your adventure from a hostel to swap tips on where to go, or to find a buddy who will accompany you to sights such as the Latin Bridge, Kovači Memorial Cemetery or the Baščaršija bazaar.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the Old Town, Hostel Walter stands on a hill in a traditional residential area – with appealing city views. Each of the rooms here pay homage to a significant event in Sarajevo’s past. You might find yourself in ZOI ‘84 – named for the year Sarjevo hosted the Winter Olympic Games – or perhaps Wagon 15, named after the first tram in the city. In the evenings, head to the garden to mingle with your fellow guests over a cup of Turkish tea.
With an all-glass facade, Massimo embraces a modern look in historic Sarajevo. The contemporary design continues inside, where the dorms and common spaces have vibrant pops of dark red and light green – while the private double rooms are dressed in more neutral tones. Amenities include a laid-back lounge where you can meet other travellers, while the historic Baščaršija bazaar and a slew of restaurants are within easy walking distance.
On the edge of the Old Town, this boutique hostel is set in a historic building from the Austro-Hungarian period. Designers refurbished the space, paying homage to major international events through sepia-toned photo-wallpaper. Stay in the Franz Ferdinand dorm to sleep under a giant mural of the eponymous archduke. Aside from the history lesson, you’ll find the rooms and doors are bright and breezy, and some have parquet floors and pod-style beds.
Staying at the Vagabond you’re in the heart of old Sarajevo, right on Ferhadija Street – home to Baščaršija bazaar, restaurants and cafes. The dorms have a rustic vibe, with stripped floors and wooden bunks, plus there’s a chilled common area that fits a surprising number of travellers. A stay comes with a venerable help-yourself breakfast, perfect if you’re looking to save your cash.
If you want to explore Baščaršija bazaar – home to Ottoman architecture, traditional restaurants and historic mosques – this laid-back hostel is a practical neighbour. It’s set in an Austro-Hungarian building with a large room for socialising, a shared kitchen and a dining room. Dorms come in white and lime green, with handy luggage lockers, free-to-borrow towels and a reading lamp by your bed.
The appropriately named City Rest is in a quiet, residential neighbourhood. But cross the Miljacka River and you’ll shortly find yourself in downtown Sarajevo. The hostel itself has an unassuming facade, but inside you’ll find a welcoming collection of rooms in joyous shades of light green, orange or blue. A shared kitchen will save you splashing out on restaurant meals, while the common area is a great place to swap tales with your fellow travellers.
Right in the heart of the traditional Turkish bazaar and next to Ferhadija Mosque, Rania is made for the urban adventurer. There’s a budget-friendly 10-person dorm, but if you want some privacy, book one of the private double or triple rooms. And when it’s time to mingle, head to the homely chillout lounge room, which also has a handy kitchenette.
This unfussy hostel is in a residential area, up on a hill on the edge of the city centre. You can easily walk to the Old Town, or take a short stroll to admire Sarajevo from the White Fortress ruins. Return to the hostel and socialise in the outdoor terrace, where you can enjoy a drink from the bar while watching the sunset. Don’t forget to try the traditional drink rakija (a fruit brandy) and join the Balkan food barbecues on Sunday afternoons.
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