I like both to read and write holiday writings. Before I even went out for a vacation, frankly, I do not plan my vacation without reading a few blogs. As a frequent traveler, I will write a route today that I enjoy and I will definitely suggest you to go and see.
We already decided to travel to Montenegro for the feast a few months ago. As we went there, we planned a round-trip trip that includes Bosnia and Herzegovina to see Mostar and Sarajevo. If you want to go to Montenegro, it is possible to reach there via 3 different routes. You can get to Montenegro’s capital Podgorica, Albania-Tirana or Sarajevo. If you just want to go for sea-sun-sand, the most pratic course is flying to Podgorica. Even if it is close to Tirana, we did not choose that route because of logistical quality problems. We planned a trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro for the purpose of seeing two different countries and their cultures on one trip.
Our travel plans included Sarajevo- Mostar- Budva and Kotor cities. We adjusted our accomodation via booking.com for a 5-day trip includes 4 nights in total: – 1 night in Mostar – 2 nights in Budva – 1 night in Kotor.
We rented a car before the flight. In Montenegro and Sarajevo there are no preferred alternatives like a main route or the highway. Both mountain and seaside roads are usually single-laned. So, you can not get average travel times that stated on Google Maps, if you take the awkwardness into consideration. For this reason, it is most logical to add 40% of the estimated transport time to the total. You can also get a little more annoyance as Google Maps suggests mountain trails. It is the most logical decision to follow the advices of the tourist office and the people of the region.
I flew to Sarajevo with 7 a.m. flight in the morning. You reach the city with a flight of approximately 1.50 hours from Istanbul. The airport is quite quiet and small. You can drive to the city center in 15-20 minutes. In Sarajevo, you see that the city and its buildings are shaped by the influences of the Ottoman and Austrian cultures. I do not want to elaborate the places that need to be seen here. Many bloggers and travel sites have already written these details. I will try to narrate the trip’s influences and give you some clues to enjoy the trip and its activities more. Apart from the cultural influences of the Ottoman and Austrian cities, the traces of pain, which stem from the siege of Sarajevo that lasted for three years in 1992-1995 during the division of Yugoslavia, such as the traces of bullets in the buildings and the bombed places showing the death of more than one red painted ‘Sarajevo Roses’ always reminds themselves.
The area called the Grand Bazaar is under the influence of the old city and Ottoman Empire. While you are visiting the city, you may feel like you are wandering around in Safranbolu. If you arrive at the tourist office and get a map, you can easily identify the places you need to visit in the city and complete a panoramic tour in a few hours, if you ignore museum visits. Srebrebnica Gallery, National Museum, Historical Museum, Gazi Husrev Mosque, Ali Pasha Mosque, Bosnian Herder’s monument of the Bosniak leader Alija Izzetbegovic, who lost his life during the siege of Sarajevo, the hill that embraces the whole city view in the small place beyond the Yellow-Tabiye are important places to visit. At the edge of the river, the Latin Bridge witnessed the Austrian-Hungarian crown Ferdinand, whose death caused the beginning of the World War I, and his wife Sophie’s assassination. You shouldn’t leave without seeing it.
One of the places that impressed me most in Sarajevo is the 100-meter entrance and museum of the 500-meter tunnel connecting the city to the road across, and theairport where you will feel deeply the effects of the Sarajevo encirclement that happened between 1992-1995. Although the entrance gate of the tunnel shows next to the airport, it is located right behind the place shown, actually in a small building of a small village located after the airport. A Bosniak comes and picks you up for 2-3 Euro tips and escorts you on the way to take you by the tunnel. When you just see the entrance of the tunnel, you are disappointed to think that I came for it, but surely visit the museum in the small building. Then you can feel the war, the importance of the tunnel, the things that have been happened.
In Sarajevo, we had a meatball called Cevapi and a Bosniak chest. I must admit that my palate favors Turkish versions more.
After we visited Sarajevo, we drove to Mostar with the new car we rented, 120 km away. As I wrote earlier, the roads have only one strip, so the journey can last longer than anticipated. Mostar is a pretty impressive place with its historical texture. The city has also expanded and grown outside the old city, but there are still wiping tracks of war in it.
We stayed at a hotel named Kriva Cuprija. The Mostar bridge is just around the corner from there. Furthermore, the Agabey Bridge, or Crooked Bridge (Kriva Cuprija), which was built before the Mostar bridge, is located in the area of the hotel we stayed in. The Agabey Bridge is an older one and has been built in the same style. For show business on Mostar bridge, young people are jumping off the bridge after collecting 20-25 EURO (one-two pairs of Euros per person) from the tourists. An important show for tourists. Mostar is getting quite a lot of tourists. Not only Turkish ones, but also European, Far Eastern and Russian tourists have seen the popularity.
Mostar is a must see place. We decided that it’s good to choose the city for accomodation on our Bosnia and Herzegovina tour. The places that need to be seen in the historic area stand all together, so you can easily navigate. In the new areas you can see that it also hosts quite beautiful, modern residential areas.
The currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina is KM. Convertible Mark, but you can have a perception problem (!) when you say kilometers among local people. The value is fixed according to the German Mark and it is not affected by exchange rate changes. You can calculate the value as half of the euro (Such as 10 km – 5 EUR).
In the second part of our journey, there were 3 days to spend in Budva and Kotor. To get to Budva from Mostar, we used the route of Stolac, Ljubunje, Trebunje, Hercegnovi and we went to the bay with a short ferry trip from Hercegnovi. The journey lasted about 5 hours with pauses.
Montenegro surprised us. It is a modern, tiny country with a population of about 600.000, it has a national income of more than 16,000 USD per person, and a well-planned, regular, historic texture. They are using the Euro as currency, although they are not in the EU. Budva is a medieval city with a population of 10,000 with a history of 2,500 years. The forest, the mountains and the sea embrace each other. It’s pretty clean air. This little city is so special that it is known as the smallest city where stars like Rolling Stones or Madonna gave a concert. (Jazz Beach) You can enjoy the fun and sea on many private beaches along the coastline. Since we were there at the end of the season, we just sailed on the beach of the small island called St.Nicholas (Hawai). We went to the island and returned to Budva with a small motor from the Marina for 15 Euros. If you want, you can reach the island with 3 euros per person on the boat. Sveti Stefan, one of Budva’s resorts, is recognized by the Amanresort hotel group and is also recognized as a place for Hollywood stars and jet socialites to vacation. The island is closed for sightseeing, but you can take photos from outside or use it as a hotel customer. It is said that the price of accommodation starts from 1,000 Euro. If you say although I can not go to the hotel, I want to use the beach in front of it, you can benefit from it by paying 75 euros per person for the private section located on the right of the island; but the left side is open to the public and I think you might witness this beauty without paying.
Sveti Stefan is an important summer resort. In front of the island there is a park and a wooded area that embraces long beaches. The ‘Olive Restaurant’ in the park was my favorite restaurant on our short trip. By chance we figured out that it was a well-known, recommended restaurant.
The last point of our travel plan was Kotor. Kotor is just half an hour away from Budva. The historic texture of Kotor, as an important port of the Adriatic sea, is well preserved. Compared to Budva, it is a very quiet city. The prediction of passenger ships is the biggest element in the city. After the passenger ships have begun to use the harbour as one of the stopping points in the Mediterranean route, the city’s popularity increased considerably. The sea between the mountains is as calm as a lake.
The old city is located between the castle walls. Just as it is in Budva, it is very enjoyable to walk around the narrow medieval streets, spend time in small restaurants and cafés. If you want to practice climbing up through the old city, it is possible to reach the church on the hill at the end of the ramparts with a 45 minute walk. If you want fun and nightlife in Kotor, you will have to go back to Budva again.
In my trip to Kotor, I think Perast is one of the places I would definitely suggest for seeing. Perast, located 15km from Kotor on the coastline, has two small islands, one of which is natural and the other is artificial. This small settlement dating back to the 10th century is very impressive with its natural history and natural beauty. There used to be a settlement and a church in the natural island called St.Georges. Later on, they went fishing to the island area. They found a stone in the area they are fishing and they brought it to the papa in the church. The stone they brought disappeared. They found it again, but it disappeared again. They associated it with Mother Mary and decided to build a church here. They sank a lot of stone-filled ships to build an artificial island. The artificial Lady of the Rocks Island is also called as Stone Woman (Lady) in the sense of Mary and the stones. There are many more stories about this island that is dedicated to Mother Mary.
Both Kotor and Perast are included in the Unesco’s list of world heritage.
I want to summarize the holiday for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro travel planners;
If you are planning a trip with your vehicle, I suggest you to reduce the potential risks on the way by hiring a new car. Because even gas stations on the road are not as frequent as we are used to.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, mostly almost no credit cards are accepted, including hotels. We would definitely recommend you to have your euro in cash. The use of credit cards is relatively common in Montenegro.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are no highways or preferential routes. The roads are rather narrow. For this reason, you need to increase the amount of time that you have set aside. For example, we took the 3.5-hour route in 5-5.5 hours.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, if you stay in Mostar instead of Sarajevo, you can stay in more affordable rooms host an impressive environment with historical touch. Kotor is a nice place to stay for a quiet family holiday. When choosing accommodation, it is not necessary to insist that it should be close to the city center. Even in the alternatives like hotels, aparts or etc. that located on the seashore, 4-5 km away from the city center, you can be more satisfied.
Budva is a town that worth to come for a holiday itself. The history, the sea, the natural beauty, the food was excellent and impressive in every aspect. You can rent a boat and go out on a blue tour, but I think you should not rent a car and enjoy all the tranquility and natural beauty. For packager-travelers, you might consider staying in a hostel or family room for a more economical holiday.