Bosnia and Herzegovina :: Frequently Asked Questions
Some general questions about the Balkans are answered in the Overview section.
- I have heard that there are two bus stations in Sarajevo. Which one do I need to go to?
- How do I get from Sarajevo to Belgrade?
- I never see people validating their tickets on public transport in Sarajevo. Can I travel for free?
- Is it safe?
- Do I need a Bosnian visa to travel by land from Split to Dubrovnik?
- Can I visit Mostar on a daytrip from Dubrovnik?
Sarajevo's main bus terminal is located beside the railway station, not too far from the city centre. There is a smaller bus station in the suburb of Lukavica in Istočno Sarajevo (East Sarajevo, also sometimes called Srpsko Sarajevo), just beyond the invisible border of the Republika Srpska entity.
Almost all international buses to Serbia and Montenegro leave from the Lukavica terminal, although one direct service from the main station to Belgrade commenced in 2006. International buses to other countries leave from the main terminal, as do buses to Mostar, Travnik, Jajce, and other places in the Federation. Many destinations in Republika Srpska are served from Lukavica; however there are also buses to some RS destinations, notably Banja Luka, from the main terminal.
To get to Lukavica take trolley-bus number 103 from the central Austrijski Trg, just south of the Latin Bridge, or number 107 from Skenderija Bridge. Stay on either trolley until the last stop in Dobrinja, and walk for about two minutes to the bus station. Lukavica is a quite a long way from the centre so allow plenty of time. The trolley-bus gets very crowded so if you have bags you might prefer to take a taxi.
The quickest way, naturally, is to fly. The next quickest way (apart from driving) is the daily bus from Sarajevo's main bus station operated by the Lasta company. As noted above, most other buses leave from the smaller terminal in Lukavica. There are at least 6 buses per day and the journey time is roughly 8 hours. You can check the schedule (both directions) at the Belgrade Bus Station site; for buses to/from the central bus station enter "Sarajevo", for the Lukavica bus station enter "IST" and choose "Istočno Sarajevo" from the drop-down list.
Since December 2009 there has also been a direct daytime train service between the two cities; journey time is about 9 hours.
You are supposed to buy your ticket at a kiosk before travelling and validate it in the machine on the tram or bus. There is usually only one machine, so try to board at the correct door, even if the locals routinely board using the exit doors - otherwise you will have to fight your way through a crowd to get to the machine. It's true that most locals don't validate tickets, but that's because they have passes rather than single-journey tickets. I have seen teams of inspectors at work and everyone was able to produce passes when asked.
In general, yes. Although there are still tensions between various groups, actual violence has been rare in recent years, and is highly unlikely to affect visitors. The UK Foreign Office states that "the level of crime is low, and crime against foreigners is particularly low". Although there aren't many tourists yet in most parts of Bosnia, there are plenty of foreigners there for other reasons, so you won't stick out like a sore thumb.
There is a real danger from land mines in certain areas. Even in the outskirts of Sarajevo you may come across fenced-off areas with warning signs. This needn't be a major problem for the average tourist, as paved surfaces throughout the country are considered safe. Just don't wander at random around the countryside, tempting though it may be.
Some people feel awkward about visiting a country that still shows the scars of wartime destruction. I don't think this should be a worry, given that plenty of time has now passed since the war ended in 1995. Although BiH as a whole is not exactly a tourist hot spot, in the last few years visitors have started to return in large numbers to Sarajevo and Mostar. The latter is a regular fixture for coach tours from the Croatian coast, and there are plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops where you will be very welcome. Although much of the damage in central Sarajevo has been repaired, Mostar is less advanced along this road - be prepared to see very visible signs of destruction.
Anyone travelling by car or bus from Split to Dubrovnik must pass through the "Neum corridor", a 22km strip of Bosnian territory along the Adriatic coast. This may raise a concern for travellers from who would normally require visas to enter Bosnia. My understanding is that under the terms of a treaty between Croatia and Bosnia, travellers entering the Neum corridor in order to transit without stopping are not subject to the usual Bosnian entry requirements. You may be subject to border controls when crossing this zone, but it should be sufficient to have the documents that allowed you to enter Croatia in the first place (ID card, passport, or Croatian visa if relevant).
Travellers taking the coastal ferry from Split to Dubrovnik do not pass through Bosnia territory and are not affected by the Neum corridor.
A daytrip to Mostar by public transport may or may not be possible depending on current bus schedules, which change significantly depending on the time of year. There is usually a departure from Dubrovnik at 08:00, arriving in Mostar around 11:00. The return journey can be more problematic - often there is no departure late enough to allow time to visit the town, but in past summers there has been a return bus leaving Mostar around 17:00. As Mostar's old town is quite small this would allow enough time to see all the main sights, if you don't mind spending 5-6 hours of your day on a bus. It's worth considering an overnight stay, both to make the trip less rushed and to enjoy the more peaceful atmosphere at night.
Another option is to join an organised tour, such as those run by Atlas. These may not leave every day of the week.