The capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo is itself a hidden gem of the Balkans. Finding out its even more hidden spots will bring you so far from tourism and crowds, you will feel like a real explorer.
Our team of Spotters has worked hard to put together and select the most unique gems in the city. Get ready to explore the hidden Sarajevo!
The house of the most spiteful man of Sarajevo
In 1878, Austria-Hungary gained control of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They wanted to test modern urban planning practices in Sarajevo and to do so, in 1892 they started planning the building of a new, magnificent city hall. That was until they met an old man called Benderija. His house, like many others, had to be destroyed to make space for the new building right next to the river Miljacka. The man, however, didn’t agree.
Negotiations took 3 years, involved the Minister of Finances, and eventually settled to a huge compensation and one bizarre condition: the authorities would have to move his Ottoman-era house, brick by brick, and rebuild it on the other side of the river.
The city had to comply and his house, which became a restaurant in 1997, was renamed Inat Kuća, meaning “House of Spite”. The legend even has it that Benderija spent every day of the moving operation sitting nearby, smoking, and making sure the workers did their job properly.
Slowly be in a hurry
Festina Lente Bridge crosses the Miljiacka River and brings you one of the most beautiful buildings of the city, the Academy of Fine Arts. A few years ago 3 young students of the Academy designed and planned this bridge, which was completed in 2012. It’s a very modern bridge and it really stands out in a city where most bridges are centuries old.
And it’s only 38 meters long! The shortest and most futuristic bridge of the city. What’s interesting is the name, “Festina Lente”. It’s a Latin phrase that’s you’ll find on the inscription as well. The rough translation is “hurry slowly”, and the meaning is that we should neither be too rushed, not too lazy when completing a task.
Hidden alternative art gallery
This is the place for alternative souls that seek a place with meaningful art and interesting people to meet. Young visual artist Mak Hubjer founded GSU Brodac gallery as a place to promote the country’s contemporary art scene. The goal is to have a cultural space, independent of any form of unwanted political and social influence.
Here you can meet the youth of Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina that stands against despotism and youth indifference. They appreciate the power of having an opinion of your own and they’re excited to share their work and thoughts with the world.
Chill and have fun at a military compound
Up until 2015, Safet Zajiko Centar was an old military compound. Now, it’s been transformed into a big park and it’s a favorite one for local people to spend their free time with their children and loved ones. It’s interesting to see how a structure originally meant for the military has been given back to the community and became the highlight of one of the most populated neighborhoods of Sarajevo.
The options are virtually limitless, and you can practice several different sports like baseball, rock climbing, tennis, ice skating, and many others. There are cycling and walking trails as well that let you explore the area. In the central area, you can find some cafes as well to chill and enjoy nature in summer.
Bosnian dining adventure
So, you say you’re motivated to avoid tourist traps, overpriced dished, and want to mingle with the locals? Well, get your adventure spirit ready, find a pocket dictionary, and head over to Bistro Sami.
Bistro Sami is not fancy, but you’ll get the best food experience you can ask for. The owners are incredibly welcoming and are happy to have foreigners come and mingle with the locals. Tourists are rare here so seeing a foreigner eat traditional Bosnian doughnuts is quite the event for everybody. For travelers, it’s an occasion to peek into local life and culture. Here, you will learn what “merak” is! It can be roughly translated as “joy”, but it’s actually a feeling that’s impossible to describe with words. You have to experience it to understand it!
A club that is literally “underground”
If you love alternative music, mainly rock and metal, then this place is for you. The place is hidden in a basement, as the name suggests, and it can get very crowded. Being one of the few places that work until 4 am, many people end their night here.
Underground Club atmosphere is very cheerful and welcoming. You won’t feel left out! It’s actually a great place to meet people of all ages and dance the night away. The staff is really friendly and polite and the prices are very reasonable. There’s always something going on so it’s definitely a place to check out at least once.
Thrill-seeking trip to the mountains
Sunnyland is an amusement park situated in the mountains around Sarajevo. You can easily reach it with a beautiful walk from the city center. What’s most fun about it is the alpine coast ride. It’s an exciting rollercoaster that is suitable for all ages (except babies) and that is impossible to only try once.
There is all sort of facilities around, including a restaurant, so you can book your day here and get dizzy going up and down the coast ride. And keep a count of the maximum number of rides you can take!
A music museum on the stairs
There is a staircase in Sarajevo’s that connects the city center with the up-hill residential neighborhoods. The key feature of the staircase is the 60 cm wide and 70 m long black stripe, dancing and curving along the urban stairs.
Only after walking along the stripe, one sees the most important part of this urban intervention – music boxes. Next to the benches, there are audio devices that let you listen to some of the most important songs by selected artists while reading their short biographies. It represents an homage to Bosnia and Herzegovina music scene.
Hidden romantic bridge
Rimski Most is one of the oldest bridges in Bosnia. Nobody really knows when was Rimski Most built: according to some theories it was in the 16th century. All we know it’s that it is the first major bridge that crosses the river Bosnia. They built it using stones from old Roman gravestones which is why they call it “Roman Bridge”.
It has an air of mystery and radiates romantic energy, which makes it the perfect background for couples taking a stroll. If you look at it you will see how well it fits into the landscape – almost as if it was painted there.
Walk in the footsteps of the founders of Sarajevo
Hanikah looks like a spacious house, with an amazing stone hall enriched by pillars and big rooms on both sides of the hall. Today, it is a gallery mostly, and sometimes an event spot. It’s situated inside of Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, and what’s special about it is a room that is mostly locked because it has a mihrab inside. There is the belief that, in this particular room, the idea of establishing Sarajevo as a city was created among the great intellectuals of that time, starting with the one that is considered the establisher of Sarajevo. That is Isa – beg Ishaković. Take a stroll through this marvelous example of Ottoman architecture and feel like you are being transported back in time.
Spend a night under the sky
A very pretty and more hidden view spot is Zmajevac, not very common among tourists but a popular place to meet and relax for locals of all ages. There is also a cute restaurant to enjoy the panorama while grabbing a bite. Zmajevac offers not only a beautiful view of the town, but also of the surrounding hills, the evergreen forest (known as “Sedam Šuma”), and mounts Trebević, Igman, and Bjelašnica.
Differently from other panorama spots, you should come here in the evening. Get there in time to admire the sunset over the hills, and stay until night comes. Then, when the sky fills up with stars, you can watch them blend into the city lights to the point it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
A crossroad of modern life and ancient traditions
The main tourist hotspot of Sarajevo, Baščaršija, is the commercial center of the city. Here you can find more than 1000 shops, and streets have the names of old crafts. If you are looking for a less touristy and more interesting place to visit and shop, where modern and tradition meet, head for Bazerdžan.
Bazerdžan is a concept store that showcases “contemporary artisans” of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It combines new trends with authentic symbols and materials that are part of the country’s history. The goods there are chosen with care for quality, authenticity, and love for detail. The idea is to show each artist’s different outlook on life. Visiting the shop is an experience as well. and you can meet and chat with the authors.
Want more hidden gems? Check out our Sarajevo blog & app!