It took less than two decades for Sarajevo to transform itself from one of the world's most dangerous cities to one of the safest European capitals. The battles which broke out throughout the former Yugoslavia during the early 1990s have merely been the most recent of the many conflicts Bosnia and Herzegovina's capital has seen during its tumultuous history. Nowadays, Sarajevo ethnic groups are friendly and tolerant of each other and of tourists who travel to this city which has long been western and eastern Europe's dividing line. Travel through Sarajevo by car rental, bus, tram or taxi has never been safer.
Who to Book With
Most places to get car rental in Sarajevo are clustered around the city centre or the airport. Sarajevo Airport, situated in a suburb called Butmir, less than four miles southwest of the city's central rail station, features the desks of 15 car hire companies. The vehicle rental businesses located throughout both Sarajevo and its airport are equally divided between independent establishments, such as City Car Rental and Speed Car Rental, and better known international chains, like Hyundai, Sixt and Hertz. Most companies, whether independently operated or part of a chain, accept online booking.
Best Time to Go
Southern Europe's Mediterranean climate meets northern Europe's more continental climate in Sarajevo. However, Sarajevo still enjoys a milder climate throughout the year than most of the cities to its north. The warmest month, July, is rarely uncomfortably hot, while January is the only month of the year when average temperatures fall below freezing. Sarajevo receives relatively few tourists compared to most other European capitals, so visitors will rarely be confronted with large crowds no matter when they come. Autumn can frequently be warmer than summer here thanks to the Adriatic Sea's thermal influence. Winter is Bosnia and Herzegovina's prime skiing season.
Need to Know Essentials
These are the documents needed to collect car hire:
- A driver's licence with full paper and photo parts or an International Driving Permit
- A passport or another form of photo ID
- The credit card used to reserve the vehicle
- A confirmed reservation copy in print
Our FAQs contain further details.
The road network in Sarajevo, like in all other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, remains very much under construction. However, the quality of most major country roads outside the city has significantly improved in recent decades. Inside the city, lack of street signage is the biggest challenge motorists will encounter. Even many locals may not know exact addresses for many places. The best way for visitors to navigate Sarajevo is to purchase the up-to-date city maps for sale next to the Latin Bridge and at city centre bookshops. Motorists must drive with their headlights on at all times of day, especially when driving through Bosnia and Herzegovina's numerous tunnels.
Our Guide to Bosnia and Herzegovina contains even more details on driving here.
GRAS operates Sarajevo's ever expanding public transit network, which includes two bus stations and the Austro-Hungarian Empire's first spinal tram network. Many more buses and trolleys travel between Sarajevo, its suburbs and its airport. Taxis are plentiful at Sarajevo's airport, bus station and rail station. Sarajevo Airport and the main rail station are situated less than four miles from each other.
Direct rail service between Budapest and Sarajevo was cancelled in late 2012, but two trains still travel between Zagreb and Sarajevo each day. Croatian Railways also offers regular rail journeys between Sarajevo and the Croatian city of Ploce, with a stop in Mostar and a journey through some of Europe's most spectacular scenery along the way.
The bigger of Sarajevo's two bus stations is located adjacent to the rail station, at the terminus of the number 1 tram line to the city's old town. Most buses bound for international destinations use the bigger bus station, while the smaller Lukavica bus station in Sarajevo's Serb-dominated eastern area serves destinations in Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. GRAS tram and bus tickets for travel throughout Sarajevo can be purchased from street booths called tisak at slightly cheaper rates than if purchased directly from the driver. Day cards are also available for unlimited travel aboard all public transit within Sarajevo's Zone A.
Taxis in Sarajevo should be boarded with caution as scams where drivers transport tourists to more expensive hotels than directed are common. Visitors can avoid these scams by using the free or cheap pick-ups most Sarajevo hotels offer their guests or by using reputable taxi companies, like Yellow Taxi Cab.
Many Sarajevo residents flock to the surrounding mountains in winter. The 1984 Winter Olympics alpine events took place at Bjelasnica and Jahorina, both no more than 40 minutes away from Sarajevo by car. Mostar, once among Bosnia and Herzegovina's most diverse cities, is another popular daytrip destination. The bunker of Yugoslavia's first president, Josip Broz Tito, lies halfway between Mostar and Sarajevo, in the town of Konjic.
Bjelašnica – This magnificent white mountain just a 20-minute drive outside Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics downhill skiing events. Today, Bjelašnica is still a popular winter skiing destination and summer mountain biking spot. Local mountain clubs maintain the numerous hiking trails. Paragliding has become a popular Bjelašnica activity.
Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina's longtime cultural capital has successfully rebuilt some of the landmarks lost during airstrikes and heavy bombings in the 1990s. These include the Stari Most Bridge, which once again spans across this multicultural city 45 miles southwest of Sarajevo Today. One Mostar landmark which survived the 1990s bombings is the 300-year-old Muslibegovica House, ranked among the most beautiful Ottoman-era homes in all of the Balkans.
Konjic – When driving between Sarajevo and Mostar, motorists may wish to stop at this Neretva River community along the way. In 2011, Konjic opened both Josip Broz Tito's wartime bunker and its art gallery and museum to the public, even though bunker visits must be arranged at least two days in advance. The Ottoman Bridge first built in the town centre in 1682 was successfully restored in 2010.