My Comprehensive Guide to Travel Safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Is Bosnia safe to travel? What to know before travelling to Bosnia as a Solo Traveller? All your questions will be answered in this post.
Bosnia & Herzegovina is one of the most underrated travel destinations in Europe. And in my opinion, one of the best backpacking and solo travel destinations, primarily because of how fascinating, safe and welcoming the country is.
The kindness of the Bosnian people took me by surprise, its landscapes and charming towns stole my heart and there were times when I would feel safer than in my own country of Poland.
But let’s start from the beginning.
If you are planning a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina you are probably wondering if it is safe to travel to Bosnia right now given its turbulent past and war that ended only a little over 30 years ago.
But if you are wondering if Bosnia is safe to travel, wonder no more. Pack your bags and book that ticket. I am here to tell you everything you need to know about travel safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Table of Contents
Is Bosnia and Herzegovina Safe to visit?
Bosnia-Herzegovina is safe to visit and in fact, is a very safe travel destination!
Many of us remember or have heard about the war that was ravaging the country and ended only in 1995. However, Bosnia has largely recovered and is quickly becoming a wonderful travel destination. In fact, Bosnia is one of the safest travel destinations in Europe.
Having been under Ottoman Empire rule for centuries Bosnia and Herzegovina stands out as one of Europe’s three primarily Muslim nations, resulting in a distinct cultural landscape. The country’s charisma lies in its captivating blend of Ottoman heritage, Slavic language and traces of the Yugoslav communist era, making it a truly fascinating destination.
You will taste it in the food, see in around old bazaars and hear it in the music.
What took me aback the most though was the incredible nature, unspoiled and unpolluted by excess tourism. Lush green spaces, emerald lakes and rivers, vineyards and fields bring the freshest and most organic produce. You just have to put Bosnia and Herzegovina on your Balkan itinerary.
Remnants of the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina
But the scars of war are still visible. And there are a few things every traveller to Bosnia needs to be aware of.
Between 1992 and 1995, Bosnia endured a brutal war after seeking independence from Yugoslavia. The capital city, Sarajevo, faced the longest siege in modern history, lasting 1,425. The city faced unimaginable tribulations, lacking electricity, heating, water, and medical supplies while being relentlessly shelled by surrounding Serb forces. With an average of 329 shell impacts per day and a peak of 3,777 impacts on July 22, 1993, Sarajevo was left in ruins, losing national monuments and forever changing lives.
Numerous other towns experienced ethnic cleansing orchestrated by Bosnian Serb extremists. In Srebrenica over 8,000 Bosniak Muslims were massacred. Many other cities and towns were affected by the war. Mostar lost its famous bridge, but most importantly, people lost lives. Family members were killed or gone missing, and dreams were shuttered.
Almost 3 Decades later, the war’s impact lingers seen in ongoing ethnic divisions and scars visible all over the country. Bosnia’s governance reflects this, divided by ethnicity with a tripartite presidency.
Also, a lasting consequence is widespread landmines, covering 2% of the country. This is one thing you need to be aware of as a traveller to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
While hiking and in rural areas, adhere to marked paths and follow well-marked trails.
Red signs indicate marked minefields in rural regions bearing a white skull and crossbones.
But putting official information to one side, I have never seen those markings anywhere outside the War Tunnel museum and all tourist areas al completely free of mines. If you venture into the countryside and decide to hike in unmarked areas, this is where you need to be aware of the risk.
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General Travel Safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina
As I mentioned earlier, Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the safest countries I have ever travelled to.
Of course, you have to watch your belongings, as pickpocketing or common theft can happen. But even this kind of crime is rare.
While in Mostar, you will notice that many houses are not locked. ‘We look out for each other, the door is always open’ the owner of the homestay I stayed told me. I loved it! There are very few places like this left in the world.
The crime rate in Bosnia is relatively low, and as I often walked the streets late in the evening, I felt safe and was never harassed. Bosnia has a bit of a problem with organised crime, but tourists are never targeted, and if you stay in well-travelled areas, you have no problems.
As a tourist, you will be well taken care of and respected. I also dare say that Bosnia is much safer compared to some popular European destinations like Paris, Barcelona or London!
You will love Bosnia and Herzegovina!
Is Bosnia Safe to Travel for Solo Female Travellers?
I travelled alone through Bosnia and Herzegovina for a total of 5 weeks. I never felt unsafe. In fact, the opposite is true. I felt safe and was well taken care of by the people I met.
I have felt comfortable going out in the evenings, whether for dinner or just to have a glass of wine, and I have walked after dark in towns like Sarajevo or Mostar without any problems.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, just like the rest of the Balkans, is very safe for solo female travellers. Bosnia caters very well to solo travellers and offers many great hostels and numerous opportunities to meet other travellers, including great excursions and organised tours. Bosnia and Herzegovina is very popular among solo travellers, so you will have no issues meeting other travellers or making friends.
People in Bosnia are very welcoming and kind.
I was always treated with respect, and never encountered catcalling as a woman never encountered anything out of the ordinary.
Travelling around the country by public transportation, hiking solo, and staying in hostels felt very safe for me as a female traveller and I would definitely recommend it even if you are travelling solo for the first time.
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Is it safe to travel by public transport in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Although public transportation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not as well developed as in some Western countries and can be a bit more challenging to use, it is completely safe. The main form of travel in Bosnia is by bus, and apart from the sporadic lack of air conditioning, it is safe and reliable.
You can also travel by train in Bosnia, which is actually advisable in some areas as the views are to die for! If you have the opportunity, take a train from Sarajevo to Mostar! Trains in Bosnia are safe and comfortable.
Is Hiking Safe in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Bosnia and Herzegovina offers an abundance of incredible hiking opportunities. With some of the most beautiful nature parks, breathtaking mountains, and great scenery, hiking in Bosnia is very rewarding and safe if you stick to the marked trails and well-travelled paths.
Although there is a risk of encountering landmines in some rural areas, Bosnia is largely landmine free and any unsafe areas are clearly marked, away from tourist areas, and inaccessible. Bosnia has set a goal of being completely mine-free by the end of 2025.
Sarajevo is completely free of landmines, and I highly recommend a hike to Mount Trebević!
Things to keep in mind while travelling in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia is not part of the EU and is not in the Schengen area. Be sure to check visa requirements before travelling. The official currency is the Bosnian Mark (BM). In some tourist areas, you can pay with euros for things like group tours, accommodations, or souvenirs. However, do not take this for granted and carry local currency.
Cash is king! Many restaurants, hostels and souvenir stores require you to pay with cash. Some restaurants accept credit cards, but many do not. You can pay by card in larger supermarkets and clothing stores on the main street.
Water is safe to drink throughout Bosnia. You will find water fountains in all cities and smaller towns. Take your reusable water bottle with you!
Whatever your travel style, you will find something for you in Bosnia and Herzegovina. City sightseeing and culture, adventures like white water rafting or canyoning, hiking, biking and even chilling on the beach – Bosnia has it all!
If you are travelling alone in Bosnia, you should join one of the free walking tours. This way you will not only get a good insight into the city you are travelling to, but you will also meet other travellers and get some insider tips.
If you are travelling by public transport around Bosnia, you do not have to book or pay for your tickets in advance. Often this is not even possible unless it is an international company such as Flixbus. It is perfectly fine to get a ticket at the station (on popular routes like Mostar – Dubrovnik, you should do this a day or two in advance). You will be asked to pay €1 or 2 KM for luggage hold and if you book online, you should print your tickets.
Outside of the popular and well-travelled places in Bosnia, it can be tricky to travel by bus or train. The only way to get to places is often to rent a car or take a tour. Taxis are quite affordable in Bosnia and the fair price is 1BM per 1km.
As you can see Bosnia is perfectly safe to travel and a perfect solo travel destination. I encourage you to visit this incredible country, you will love it!
If there is anything I might have missed regarding travel safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina please leave a comment below and I will answer all the questions!
Until then, happy travels!
Your Balkans Cheatsheet
If you are travelling around the Balkans by bus, Flixbus covers a lot of the routes but they often cooperate with local operators. It is convenient to book on the Flixbus website if you want to pay for your journey upfront.
If you prefer to pay directly with the local operator, be prepared to pay in cash. To check the timetable BusTicket4.me is the most reliable. But I still recommend only using it for checking the times and purchasing the ticket at the bus station.
In the majority of Balkan countries, you will pay a 1€ (or equivalent in local currency) fee for luggage.
The bus is the best way to travel between Balkan countries but there are a couple of stunning train routes you cannot miss like Sarajevo to Mostar or Belgrade to Bar!
If you are considering renting a car you can browse all rental companies via Expedia!
Always, always triple-check the information you were given, especially when it comes to inter-city travel. Only because one person, in one place says there are no busses, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Triple check.
Only Slovenia is within the Schengen Area so individual visa rules will apply.
Only Slovenia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Croatia use Euros. All other countries use their own currency. In some touristy spots, you will be able to use Euros but dont take it for granted. You will pay for a coffee pot from a souvenir stand in Mostar in Euros, but the supermarket will ask for Bosnian Marks.
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