10 Things to See and Do in Sarajevo Michael Paschos / Shutterstock.com

10 Things to See and Do in Sarajevo

Sarajevo, a place where east meets west and where centuries of Ottoman influence collide with Austro-Hungarian rule. It is one of the most unique cities in the world. The shadow of the Bosnian war and the resulting three year siege of the city itself, still peeks around the edges. But students of history, those who are fascinated watching the interplay of cultures and even anyone who loves great food and coffee, should add the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina to their must-see list. Here’s 10 fantastic reasons to visit Sarajevo!

10. Hit the Hookah

Sarajevo is often billed as a place where East meets West, and there’s little that feels more deliciously exotic to the Western visitor than a night at a hookah café. Due to Sarajevo’s history as part of the Ottoman Empire and close relations with current eastern countries, there are plenty of places where shisha is smoked. Along with coffee shops, shisha cafes are the most popular spots to gather and socialize. The air in many of the city’s small squares fills with chatter and the sweet smell of flavored smoke, and even those who prefer not to partake in the hookah enjoy the atmosphere. There’s not many better ways to capture the spirit of the city – just be sure not to relax too much, or lazy limbs might drift into the exposed coals of the hookah and that’s never going to be pleasant.

9. Experience the History

Other countries have managed to turn their Olympic venues into functioning stadiums or money-making tourist attractions, but other countries didn’t see a war break out less than ten years after hosting the games. Sarajevo showed her beauty to the world during the 1984 Winter Olympics, but by 1992 the city was under siege. Hotels that housed attendees were being used as bases for artillery strikes and quickly there were much bigger problems to worry about. The majority of the venues stand abandoned today, a reminder of both the highs and lows of Sarajevo’s recent past. Skenderija, where the opening ceremonies were held, is now a shopping center, but more resembles a monument to socialist architecture. More haunting is the bobsled track on nearby Mount Trebević, where the graffitied walls run down to a bombed-out spectator area or the ski jumps on Mount Igman where a derelict medal podium stands below the blocked-off ramps.

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