After our 1 month stay last year, we’ve recently returned to Korcula after a further 2 awesome months in Sarajevo. Some of our time this year was spent making arrangements for our skiing & winter tours, but we still had plenty of time for leisure. You can see some photos of our previous visit here.
Things we did
Not surprisingly, we spent a lot of time skiing! Most of the time we skied at Bjelasnica as it was closer to where we stayed, but as we usually only went for a couple of hours (due to babysitting reasons), we could get hourly passes here. At Jahorina you must pay for a full day’s pass.
As beginner skiers, having only learnt to ski on our previous trip to Sarajevo, we’re still working on the blue runs. But it’s great skiing in Bjelasnica as the people are friendly and the slopes aren’t crowded (except for when the local children have ski school). It’s also very affordable.
The snow conditions were varied and the amount of snow was a little less than average this year. However, we still had some fun skiing experiences.
Our guide to where to ski in Sarajevo will give you some tips if you’re planning on visiting on your next skiing or snowboarding holiday.
There’s always enough snow on the mountains to have some sledging fun, whether you’re at Bjelasnica, Igman, Jahorina or Trebevic. We borrowed some sledges from the owner of the apartment we stayed at and headed to Igman, which is less busy with skiers. It’s also possible to hire sledges at all the ski resorts.
Tracing Winter Olympic History
Last year we visited the old Olympic luge tracks at Trebevic as part of a tour. This year we visited Igman on our own to see the old ski jumps. Although they are no longer in use, their height remains pretty formidable and seeing them evokes memories of when Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984. We also took a walk around Veliko Polje which was used for the alpine skiing races and where you can still Nordic ski today.
We hadn’t visited so many museums last year as it was difficult to go with our son, but this year we had some help with childcare so we could do a few things independently.
One of the best museums we visited was the Warchild museum. The great experience started immediately with the warm and friendly staff. The museum houses artefacts donated by people from Sarajevo who were children during the 90s war. Each artefact tells a story of their experience. It was a very emotive way to tell the war through the eyes of children and you can tell that the people who work at the museum are very proud of the exhibition they have created.
If you’re looking to learn more about the Yugoslav war and particularly the genocide at Srebenica, make sure you visit Gallery 11/07/95. Straight up, it’s an emotionally hard place to visit and you will likely leave feeling drained, but it is also so important that we learn the facts about what happened and remember the innocent people who were killed.
We met with another great guide this year, who we will be working with. Part of the tour we joined him on included a visit to the Jewish museum. Apart from the fact it was freezing cold in there (!), it was a very thorough insight into the important role the Jewish community historically had in Sarajevo. Sadly, many Jews did not return after World War II and even less after the more recent war, so today less than 1000 Jewish people live in Sarajevo. It also re-emphasised that Sarajevo has always been home to a mixture of cultures who harmoniously lived and worked alongside each other.
Brus Recreation Centre, Trebevic
This was an unexpected find as we had planned to re-visit Trebevic, but we’d gone at the weekend on a sunny day and there was nowhere to park. So we just kept on driving! It was really busy at the Brus Recreation Centre with local families and people were sledging, walking and enjoying al fresco coffee. There’s also a park here and a small zoo (which we didn’t visit).
A fair amount of our time was spent keeping our 3-year-old boy entertained and Sunnyland was a big hit with him. Located on the road to Trebevic, Sunnyland features an alpine coaster, several outdoor parks suitable for all ages, an indoor play park that includes slides, trampolines and tricycles, a café and a large restaurant offering a diverse menu.
It’s popular with families but also with local people taking some time out to have coffee, whilst enjoying the views of the city or to catch up with friends in the mountain air.
This isn’t going to go down as the greatest zoo ever, but it’s a good way to spend an hour or two, especially if you have children and only costs 2KM per adult. As well as several animal enclosures, there are also a couple of good outdoor play areas. There are other attractions here such as bumper cars, but they were closed in the winter. The restaurant was also closed but there’s a local restaurant just on the opposite side of the street.
Various Indoor play centres
If you’re visiting Sarajevo in the winter with children, there’s a number of indoor play areas around the city (in addition to Sunnyland above). The indoor play area in the Sarajevo City Mall is limited but a good break for kids if you’re having to do some shopping. One of the best we found though was located inside the Hotel Hills. At unbeatable value at 5KM for the day, the play centre is large and includes an under 5s area, lots of trampolines, plenty of slides, climbing walls and various tunnels to crawl through. There’s a restaurant located in the play area as well serving good value pizza and other fast food style dishes.
Places we ate & drank
You cannot go to Sarajevo and not eat cevapcici! This year we checked out Zeljo, reputed to be one of the best in the city. All cevabdzinica go a little like this. Warmly but quickly welcomed in by a waiter. You take a seat, probably on a table with some other people. You order the number of cevapi you want, whether you want kaymak or not and whether you want a yogurt drink. The food comes very quickly, hot and delicious. You eat, you pay, you go. Zeljo did not disappoint, but we still think Petica may be our favourite place for cevapi in Sarajevo.
As we spent a fair amount of free time at the mountains we ate here quite often. One of the places we really liked was Ptica at Bjelasnica. We received a warm welcome at this cosy place and delicious food. The menu includes a number of authentic Bosnian dishes such as sarma and klepe.
One of favourite places to drink in Sarajevo was at the Vucko Beer Pub. Always popular with a great vibe and attentive staff, they offer a huge range of beers. There are plenty of Sarajevo & Bosnian craft beers as well beers from nearby countries and further afield. The menu provides detailed descriptions about the beers but the helpful waiters can also give you advice. The pub also has a food menu offering small bites or meals that work as an accompaniment to beer.
For something sweet we love to head to Ramis and also include a visit here on our Taste of Sarajevo Winter Walking tour. Serving delicious homemade traditional and modern cakes and pastries along with typical hot drinks. The hardest thing is deciding what to choose!
Sarajevo is really known for its Bosnian coffee culture and you’ll find plenty of places serving up stiff cups of the stuff, but there’s also a great place to get a tasty cup of tea. On one cold afternoon we headed to Franz & Sophia’s tea house and selected a couple of teas from a big selection, served with a few biscuits. The attention put into preparing the tea and the final delicious taste, makes this one place definitely worth visiting.
Where we stayed
As we were staying for 2 months, we looked for somewhere that offered longer-term rent at a reasonable price. Also, as we had a car (and public transport around Sarajevo is so good) we didn’t need to be right in the centre. We found a place in the suburb of Dobrinja that was perfect for us. It’s a one-bedroom place with bathroom and large enough open kitchen, dining room & living room. It was also really warm – ideal for staying in the winter! It’s a great option if you don’t need to stay in the centre and it’s in close proximity to the airport and bus station. Details can be found here – https://www.sarajevorent.com/en/accomodation/mia.html
How did the business go?
So as much as our time in Sarajevo was an “extended” holiday, we also needed to finalise our business plans.
John visited several hotels in the mountains and in the city to check out their amenities. We also met with a couple of guides/other people who offer tourist services. We think the skiing and snowboarding in Sarajevo is fantastic and with an increasing number of other activities to do in the mountains, it is a perfect destination for a winter city break.
On our website you can now find several skiing/snowboarding packages offering accommodation, ski lift passes, equipment rental and extra tours in the city. We have options for both Jahorina and Bjelasnica. We are also putting together our winter city packages which will offer a mixture of tours in the city, winter activates and optional skiing/snowboarding. We are really passionate about this new enterprise and hope we will encourage people to choose Sarajevo for their next Skiing or Winter Holiday in Europe.
We will be back in Sarajevo next January and already can’t wait to return. Our website is live and we are ready to start making reservations for Skiing/Snowboarding Holidays. Information about the Winter City Breaks will be available soon, but if you have any questions or wish to make an enquiry with us, please send us an email.
For the next few months we will be home on Korcula Island and look forward to our tours starting in May. If you’re looking for a summer holiday, come say hi on Korcula!
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