7 Reasons why every Muslim should visit Bosnia

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Bosnia’? Here are seven things that will make you fall in love with this Balkan gem.

1. Rich Islamic heritage

ornate gold coloured door to the gazi huzrev bey mosque in sarajevo

Built in 16th century, the Gazi-Huzrev Beg masjid is the largest historical mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most representative Ottoman structures in the Balkans. Photo credit: Soumaya Hamdi

Although it is well-known by the locals that the country is rich in Islamic history, this is a well-kept secret outside of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mosques that date back to the early Ottoman era are still in use today, such as the Koski Mehmed Pasha mosque in Mostar. In fact, Mostar’s Old Town is like a living and breathing museum with its cobblestone streets, quaint market stalls and minaret-dotted skyline.

Up north in Sarajevo, you can admire the world’s last public lunar clock tower. What makes this clock so distinctive is that it appears to tell the incorrect time, when in fact it tells (highly accurately) the time for each salaat. Nearby is the largest and most important historical mosque in all of Bosnia Herzegovina, the Gazi Huzrev Beg complex, which is still the heart of the Islamic community in Sarajevo– and even the 400-year old marketplace – to this day.

 

2. It is safe and very Muslim-friendly

Muslim women wearing pink, blue and black cooured headscarfs sit outside a mosque

Muslim women gather outside the Gazi-Huzrev Beg mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Photo credit: Soumaya Hamdi

As a hijabi traveller, I know first-hand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of long stares, or being asked “Aren’t you hot in that headscarf?”.

Fortunately, this is not something you need to worry about in Bosnia. Although it is located in Europe, the country has a relatively large population of Muslims. The locals are extremely hospitable and will, more often than not, greet you with a smile. This is particularly true for Sarajevo and Mostar, where the locals are used to welcoming visitors from all parts of the world.

Best of all, you don’t need to worry about safety, particularly for women. That said, be smart and look after your purse, as with anywhere you travel, there will always be petty thieves trying to make a quick buck!

 

3. Sarajevo is also known as ‘The Jerusalem of Europe’

view of the jade green neretva river passing underneath the Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia

This is the view from the minaret of the Koski Mehmet Pasha mosque, Mostar, Bosnia. Photo credit: Soumaya Hamdi.

Sarajevo is the only major city in Europe to house a mosque, Orthodox church, Catholic church and synagogue within the same neighbourhood. For centuries, people from the three monotheistic religions have lived side by side. This centuries’ old coexistence has generated a rich, unique and enchanting culture. The country also boasts a fascinating history of Ottoman rule,  an Austro-Hungarian Empire and, more recently, Communist leadership.

What is even more impressive is that Sarajevo continues to be a centre of Islamic learning. The Gazi Husrev-Beg Madrasa has been in continuous operation since it first opened on 8th January 1537, and to this day, muftis and politicians alike have studied at the madrasa.

 

4. Rich culinary heritage (and it’s halal!)

crispy golden kunefe with A DOLLOP OF CREAm cheese in sarajevo, bosnia

Freshly made kunefe in Sarajevo! Photo credit Soumaya Hamdi.

Traditional Bosnian food rules the restaurants, and rightly so too. The gastronomy is somewhat of a mixture between Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, and is, unsurprisingly, very good. Expect juicy and flavourful meat dishes, plenty of vegetables and lots of bourek, a flaky pastry usually filled with meat or cheese.

Soup is not usually something a foodie would rave about, but the traditional Bosnian begova corba –Bey’s soup- was an Ottoman favourite, and once you have tried it you will know why.

Of course, a meal is not complete until you have ordered a strong Bosnian coffee served in the traditional copper cup with a sugary cube of rahat lokum. Bon appetit, or as they say in Bosnia, prijatno!

 

5. Excellent value for money

the jade green neretva passes through a valley surrounded by green mountains in bosnia

Bosnia Herzegovina has some beautiful scenery, reminiscent of Scandinavia without the hefty price tag. Photo credit: Soumaya Hamdi

It is possible to travel like a king in Bosnia, but without the hefty price tag. Enjoy a night at the Muslibegovic House, an excellent hotel-museum designed in classic Ottoman style, from as little as £62/night![1]. Dine by candlelight next to a gushing waterfall in Blagaj, where you will be spoilt for choice with a selection of fresh fish and meat dishes, for a fraction of the price you would pay in London, Paris or Istanbul.

Getting around is also highly affordable, whatever your preference. The most common way to get around Bosnia is by bus. There is a large intercity network that will take you up and down the country, and even across the border, with relative ease. It’s also pretty affordable to get around by taxi within the city.
Top tip: If you find a good taxi driver, take his business card. You could agree on a fixed-fee for your trips and save the hassle of hailing down a taxi with a meter.

 

6. It has something special for every type of traveller

White water rafting in the Balkans.

White water rafting in the Balkans.

Are you planning your honeymoon but want to do something different? Perhaps you are a hijabi backpacker looking to explore somewhere that is safe and affordable? Maybe you are a young family looking for an action-packed getaway mixed in with some Islamic learning?

Whatever type of holiday you are planning, Bosnia and Herzegovina has something for everyone. Visit during the winter and enjoy skiing and snowboarding. Book a stay at the halal-certified Pino Nature Hotel, where you can enjoy a spa centre, swimming pool, kids club and more, all in the beautiful natural surroundings of the Trebević Mountain.

Arrive in Spring and enjoy a luxurious stay at the Muslibegovic House, and take your loved one to enjoy tea with a spectacular view of the Old Bridge at the Urban Grill. Spend a day canoeing on the River Neretva, or if you visit during the summer, hire a boat and find yourself a stretch of private beach on the river-shore.

Like we said, it has something for everyone!

 

7.Breathtaking scenery

vrelo bosne, waterfall, streams and trees in Bosnia

Vrelo Bosne is a beautiful green haven just outside of Sarajevo. Photo credit: Soumaya Hamdi

Jade green rivers, glorious mountains and evergreen valleys…Bosnia-Herzegovina boasts spectacular scenery.  It is the perfect destination to relax, unwind, and be blown away by nature.

Ready to book your trip to Bosnia? We have organised a tour of Bosnia-Herzegovina – plus a day trip to Dubrovnik – that you will love! For more details including pricing, itinerary and dates, head over here.

[1] When visiting off-season