If a winter wonderland sounds good to you, Sarajevo may be the place to visit this holiday season.
Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the country’s social and cultural center and a hub for fashion, media, entertainment and the arts. It is a hot tourist spot in the summer and winter, but when it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984, it established a reputation as one of the best locations for winter outdoor adventures.
If you are thinking of traveling to Sarajevo this holiday season, here are some things you can look forward to during your trip.
Sarajevo Christmas Market
The Christmas Market was created in the spirit of bringing tourism back to the area after the Winter Olympics. The city partners with Coca-Cola providing residents and tourists with decorated cabins offering local goods like artisan products, books, clothing jewelry, food and drink. The market is held at Hastahana Park and is designed after many other European markets.
In addition to being a great place to shop, the market also provides plenty of family fun. Youngsters can explore the Coca-Cola Santa Village and a mini Santa Claus theme park. Other attractions include creative workshops, ice skating at the Jaffa Ice Skating Rink and a pony ranch.
Adults can come to the Carlsberg Holiday Pub to enjoy food, drink and live entertainment including musical guests, comedians, sports viewings, film screenings, trivia games and more.
Go Ice Skating
With Sarajevo being the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics, you can bet there are plenty of ice-skating opportunities. While the Jaffa rink is fun, the biggest and most popular place to go ice skating is the Zetra Olympic Complex. This site was built for the Olympics and offers 130×54 feet of skating space. It includes a skater’s dressing room, an 80 seat stand and excellent sound and lighting.
It also offers top notch skating instructors that can help you out if you want to learn a few new tricks. It is affordable and offers rentals, ice skating and hockey.
Sarajevo is known for being one of the most affordable shopping destinations in Europe. Shopping malls offer deep discounts on expensive name brands, especially during the holiday season. Sarajevo City Center and the BBI shopping center are both worth checking out. It’s also a good idea to visit the stores on Ferhadija, the city’s main pedestrian street.
Enjoy Snow Activities
Sarajevo is a great place for ice skating, but there is also plenty of skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing activities to be enjoyed. The mountains of Jahorina, Bjelsnica, Trebevic and Igman are all popular snowing destinations.
The Jahorina location is especially recommended as it is home to the Jahorina Olympic Ski Center. It is located about 40 minutes outside of Sarajevo and offers terrific ski activities as well as a vibrant nightlife. It is a popular weekend destination for locals.
Trebevic is a better destination if you are short on time and money. It is closer to Sarajevo than Jahorina and more affordable.
Enjoy Bosnian Food
You won’t want to visit Sarajevo without trying the terrific Bosnian foods. These include several cold weather items like soups and stews. Sarma, dolma (stuffed veggies), Begova corba, Bosnian creamy soup and Tarhana corba are dishes you will want to taste. You can also stop in at one of the many cafes to enjoy Turkish coffee and tea of mulled wine.
New Year’s Eve
Sarajevo is a great place to party on New Years Eve. There are countless options available. Locals typically gather in the square near the SCC shopping complex to enjoy live music and fireworks.
The Sarajevo Market also does its part by offering live entertainment at the skate park.
The National Theater typically hosts a performance by the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra.
There are also tons of clubs and bars in the area that will be open for drinking, dancing and live entertainment. Alternately, you can head up to the mountains for midnight skiing and libations.
Visit the Avaz Twist Tower
The Twist Tower is the place to go for excellent views of the city. The 35th floor observation deck will take you 176 meters in the air to view the surroundings. For a small fee, you can access a 180 degree view of the city around you from the building.
There is also a café/bar in the tower that’s great for some food and drink.
Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope
This manmade underground tunnel connects Sarajevo to the United Nations ‘safe place’ at the airport. It was dug by citizens on both side of the city and took four months to complete. It served as a passageway for food, medicine and artillery and was key in helping the locals and army survive during the siege.
You will notice plenty of fountains located throughout Sarajevo. One of the most notable is the Sebilj Fountain in the Old Town section of the city. Not only is it stunning, it also comes with a legend that says if you drink from it, you’ll return from the dead at some point in the future.
Sarajevo features some stunning architecture, but City Hall may be its most stand out building. It serves as the National and University Library of BiH but it does not hold many books due to the bombing that occurred in 1992. However, the building is still lovely to view.
Sarajevo is a terrific city to check out due to its rich holiday culture and its terrific sites. Which will you be prioritizing when you come to visit?
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