48 hours in Konjic, Bosnia Herzegovina
Konjic was a place that I wanted to stop at. Not only because of its historic significance in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but because I had also read about a modern art gallery that had been installed in President Tito’s Nuclear Bunker.
Konjic, (meaning Little Horse) has had a place in Bosnian history going back thousands of years. Numerous archaeological discoveries finds have been in the area going back 4 millennia along with its Ottoman period bridge, the Stara Caprija.
Konjic nestles between Sarajevo and Mostar, on the upper section of the Neretva river. The Neretva river starts on the border of Bosnia Herzergovina and Montenegro, flowing north-north-west for 230km culminating in the Adriatic sea in Croatia. At 230km long, split into three parts.
The first part of the river, fed by three glacier lakes, means the Neretva river is claimed to be the coldest river on earth. It has a ultra pure water classification (class 1), and is the part of the river that Konjic sits in.
The second section starts just after Konjic and is the path we followed when we visited Rama Lake.
The little town is a great place for activities, especially rafting – but also hiking, cycling, motorcycle renting, visiting the bunker, pretty restaurants on the lakeside and swimming in the coldest water ever!
And YES – the Neretva river takes your breath away when you swim in it! Both Damo and I can absolutely agree on that!
Not Quite Norths Fast Facts on konjic
When to go
If you want to go rafting, the best times to go are in the spring and summer months when the weather is warmer. The river is flowing well and the rapids are good but not dangerous.
If you want to go hiking then a good time to visit is April/May and late September/October. The really hot weather hasn’t set in or has gone so you can hike in the daytime in comfort.
Motorcycling is best done within the months of May – September. The weather has cleared and the roads are pretty good – although you can still expect snow in the higher mountains, even in the months of June.
Getting to Konjic
In the motorhome or by car, the roads are pretty good. Coming down from Mostar, you simply get on the E73 and it takes you straight into Konjic after about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
If you come from Rama Lake, you will come down the M16.2, so good roads from that way (once you get off the lakes). The journey will take you 1 hour and 15 minutes and finally, If you come from Sarajevo, you will take the M5 and A1 for an hour of easy driving.
Where to Stay
We stayed in a couple of places here. One of the places we pulled off the road overlooking the Neretva river. You can get down to the river in some places to swim if you are brave enough!
It was peaceful, a few locals drinking some beer and playing local music, but they left early. The road was quite at night as it was on the way to Tito’s bunker – so no through traffic.
We also stayed at the place that we decided to go rafting with. We stayed for 2 nights there – before and after our rafting trip. The chap that owned the place was so nice. There was a bar, a supermarket and access to the river. If your van was small enough, you could definitely stay on the river bed stones, but we stayed a little higher up. It was a 30 minute walk into the centre.
There aren’t really any campsites in Konjic itself, but you can find an AutoKamp just outside of Konjic on the way to Jablanica Lake, which is on its way to Rama Lake. We didn’t stay there, but the reviews on Google have it as a 4.2 stars.
What to see or do
The key thing to do when you come to Konjic is rafting. EVERYONE does rafting! You will drive past place after place advertising the activity and really I guess, it is up to you where you want to stop to do this activity!
The other key thing to see in Konjic is Titos’ old nuclear bunker. You can only go on a guided tour. The tours also finish at 3.30pm. This is the main reason you need to do 48 hours in Konjic – because you can’t raft and go to the bunker on the same day.
There are a number of hiking adventures that you can take. They average at around 40 euros a trip, but everything is included in that – from lunch, water, guide, transport etc. The guide part is actually really important, because of the landmine risk. The paths are well trodden but not always so well marked, so going off piste is a definite possibility. However, the scenery is amazing, so a hike in the cooler weather is just breathtaking.
On top of this you can quad bike, do a via ferrata and mountain biking to your hearts content!
Day 1 - Rafting
Get yourself organised and go rafting on the first day! Konjic Rafting was the place that we used – and by going there first, you can get your tickets for the tour of Tito’s Nuclear Bunker.
We did the trip which started at 10am and finished at 4pm and included a lovely BBQ lunch stop on a beach on the way back. The trip was safe enough for families to go on – grade 3 rafting. The rivers were high but the day was a lovely hot sunny one, so fairly calm.
The cost of the rafting with Konjic Rafting was 80 marks each. The day was just such fun. You can have a shortie wetsuit, but we decided not to. We didn’t know at that time that the river was the coldest river in the world! We did still both swim though. It wasn’t like the weather had been fabulous and the water had heated up at all – we were just about to approach the 10 days or so of a break in the weather where it stopped raining for a bit! So far our trip around Bosnia Herzegovina it had mostly been rain. Rain, rain, rain and more rain!
After we had spent the day rafting, we went back to the van and got showered and changed and walked into town. The walk is a comfortable walk of 30 minutes, flat and takes you straight into the older part of town with a beautiful bridge. You will probably have worked up an appetite with the rafting so its food time!
There was a nice restaurant that a lady from Sarajevo had recommended that we wanted to try – fresh river fish. When you walk into town and then cross the main ottoman bridge, there is a series of steps up, past a couple of bars and to a restaurant at the top. It serves beautiful river fish at an excellent price but also local foods as well, which is what Damo ate.
Day 2 - Konjic Town and Tito's bunker
The old town in Konjic is a mornings visit with a stop for Bosnian coffee and maybe a spot of lunch before you go to Tito’s Nuclear Bunker.
If you wander up through the old part of the town, you can see some wonderful buildings which flank the river, stopping for a coffee at the bar which overlooks the river and the old bridge. If you keep walking straight along the river, crossing over and come back round the other side. On the other side you find the market place and plenty of cafes.
A traditional craft that has taken place in Konjic since the middle of the 20th Century is wood carving. This skill has been passed down from father to son but only remains in the Niksic family. Hunt down their shop – mostly made to order items though.
The old bridge was destroyed in WWII by German bombs and was temporarily repaired in the form of a wooden bridge – the wooden bridge remained in place with proper restoration taking place in 2009, where a sympathetic but proper restoration took place. The columns of the bridge remain original.
After you have had lunch, it is probably time to get over to Tito’s bunker. Depending on what you have arranged, you can get picked up and dropped off at the bunker, or drive your motorhome round there. There is only one way to get to it – and it looks counter intuative because its closer in the other direction. The thing being (which we didn’t know about) was that the bunker is actually a live site still – there is a munitions factory just 700 meters from the Nuclear bunker!
Tito’s Nuclear bunker is totally fascinating! It was built when the Cold War was still on, after WWII. Built between the time of 1953 and 1979 (a year before Tito died) it cost a massive $4.6 billion ($20 billion today!). You enter the bunker through an ‘ordinary’ house – and it stretches back 663 feet into the mountain and up to 919 feet underground. Built in the shape of a horseshoe, it really is quite an amazing construction.
It was absolutely top secret in its location, workers were blindfolded when they went to work in it – only having blindfolds removed when they were in the facility. It is said that only 16 people that had been sworn to secrecy knew of its location when it was completed in 1979. It escaped being a victim of the 1992 – 1995 civil war due to the Bosnian Guards refusing to follow the orders to blow it up in 1992, and so it remains much as it did then – but now with the addition of contemporary art installations.
Totally a 2 hour visit to this place – if you get lucky, you could be the only people on the tour and take as much time as you like – but you must be out by 3.30pm! The art in some places was a little worn – and this is directly down to the Covid-19 pandemic that swept the world, meaning that there was no maintenance or visitors to this wonderfully preserved bunker.
Got More Time to Spend
There are a number of agencies around that you can book trips on.
The one we use was Konjic Rafting. He sorted out our tickets for Tito, a possible quad bike option, he had a number of walks and also the rafting – family days, mornings, all days – lots of variety – and of course you can stay right there for free, so it is super safe.
not quite norths travel tips
Wear a wetsuit when you go rafting! It really is cold so a wetsuit will really help you enjoy the free swimming time. Although of course with no wetsuit, it is the ultimate in wild swimming!
Get your ticket for Tito’s bunker in town. You can’t buy it at the actual bunker itself. Remember it is only open until 3:30pm.
Take a torch on the walk into town in an evening – the walk on the way back is not lit so comes in handy.
Our thoughts on Konjic (coming soon)
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