Banja Luka is the second largest city in Bosnia, after the capital Sarajevo, and is the district capital of the primarily Serb-controlled area of the country. It is a modern and vibrant city, and has been rebuilt to a high standard since the civil war. There are lots of things to see while in the area, so here’s our list of places to eat and take a break while exploring.
On the banks of the river Vrbas is Kazamat, a classy restaurant set in a beautiful cobbled-stone building. The restaurant is actually within the old fortress walls, and has maintained original features such as stone arched ceilings and traditional hanging lamps. There is also a lovely patio dining area, ideal for sunny days. The menu is mainly traditional Bosnian, with dishes such as grilled meats or traditional pastries.
A popular joint with Banja Luka’s wealthy and fashionable class is Mala Stanica, a slightly more expensive than average restaurant with tasty food. There is a range of international dishes that are all prepared to a high standard, and the service is friendly and efficient. There are a number of tables inside, but the outdoor garden tables are much more preferable when the weather is good. Although the food menu may be little pricey, the wine selection is of a high quality and is affordable.
Housed within a traditional old-fashioned building is Alas, a primarily fish restaurant that serves non-fish dishes as well. The interior is clean and modern but many original features have been maintained, such as the wooden beams and stone archways. The restaurant is a little further away from the main central dining area of the city, so is more local and less touristy. It also offers a lovely wine list. Alas also has a few rooms and functions as a B&B.
Banjalučki Splav is a lovely restaurant that could not be closer to the river, since it is on a large (stationary) boat. The interior is fresh and modern with stylish wooden furnishings and a slightly nautical theme, while there is a deck area surrounding the restaurant with a few tables and great views of the river. The menu is typically Bosnian (grilled meats, flatbreads), with a good wine list and a selection of desserts. A great choice for an alternative but exceptional location.
On the fourteenth floor of one of Banja Luka’s modern buildings is Integra, a stylish restaurant with unsurprisingly outstanding views of the city and beyond. The food is fresh and exquisitely presented, while the interior is chic and luxurious. The prices are also surprisingly affordable given the ambience of the restaurant; it is located near to the local parliament buildings so attracts an elite crowd, but the friendly staff make the restaurant feel inclusive.
Restoran Aj’Zdravo offers an enticing alternative to the usual grilled meat that is so common in Bosnian restaurants. This spot is great for fresh, homemade fare such as smoothies, vegetarian dishes and generous salads. It is conveniently located near to Banja Luka’s central square, and is a sign of the city’s growing reputation as a cosmopolitan and European hub of culture.
This restaurant is located at the heart of the city within one of Banja Luka’s most popular hotels. The interior is sophisticated and modern, with crisp white tablecloths and neat table settings. The restaurant offers a lovely selection of wine, and an enticing food menu including traditional dishes prepared to a high standard. A great option for a special occasion, or those looking for an exclusive ambience.
Philippe is a popular and buzzing local place serving fresh ingredients and homemade dishes. The design of the restaurant is welcoming and modern, with many of the meat dishes served on wooden boards. Although it does serve classic grilled meats, the menu has an range of less common dishes, which makes for a pleasant change. It is a popular spot with locals, mainly the younger crowds, which gives the place a lively atmosphere.