Bosnia & herzegovina - raw, natural beauty
A motorhome road trip in Bosnia Herzegovina is not necessarily a place that springs immediately to mind when planning a road trip or thinking of a road trip destination, but keep reading, because we think we could just change your mind!
Many of us may still have images of the war torn country of the 1990’s. In the time of history, a recent European civil war and genocide. However, it is a stunningly beautiful and unspoilt country, well down the road of recovery and sitting alongside the eastern coast of its much loved and well travelled Croatia. A motorhome road trip in Bosnia is great for visiting old towns (Stari Grad), leisurely driving, frequent stopping points and for national parks with tumbling waterfalls and crystal clear rivers, and it is not crowded with motorhomes – so visit before everyone else discovers what a great place it is to be!
It is also worth noting that it is not part of the Schengen so your days here are not counted as part of that whole Schengen shuffle shenanigans that UK passport holders now need to adhere to.
The Not Quite North duo spent 6 weeks exploring this beautiful country and now we get to share this information with you so that you can see how easy it can be to expand your travelling horizons and experience somewhere more unusual that Spain or Italy. Beautiful countries that they both are – it can be enjoyable to explore further afield – and a road trip in Bosnia may well tick that box.
Best Time to Road Trip in Bosnia and herzegovina
Bosnia is split into two main parts from a weather perspective. In the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina they have the hotter summers and milder winters. In the north of Bosnia and Herzegovina they have warm summers and the cold winters for skiing.
Shoulder seasons are always proving the best times to travel these days, with a surge of motorhome travel post covid-19. It means that you avoid the crowds, and have less need to book everything upfront.
We travelled in June. Possibly the wettest June on record. Several rivers had burst their banks in late May with the rain continuing throughout June, causing more floods in the east which altered our planned trip.
angie and damo bosnia herzegovina quick overview
For a quick overview on our Bosnia Road Trip, play our video then read all the details in this article. Lots of useful information on what to visit, what the roads are like and where we stayed along with the cost.
We wild parked most of our way around Bosnia, spending just a few nights on campsites – mostly in Sarajevo and Mostar, because they are the well known bigger cities and we are always careful about where we park in bigger cities.
The food in Bosnia Herzegovina, whilst delicious is not particularly varied. I think that if you have a vegan or vegetarian diet – you may struggle. You may end up living on chips and salad, unless you do a lot of cooking in your motorhome. If you do – you may want to stock up on a few bits as even the amount of available vegetables are limited. Many of the supermarkets had more space dedicated to UHT milk than they did fresh fruit and veg!
Bosnia and herzegovina Itinerary
We started our Bosnian Road Trip by entering from Croatia after we had been to the Plitvice Lakes. The drive to the Granični Prijelaz Izačić was just 10 minutes away. The queue at the border is a bit hit and miss – we spent over an hour on our first crossing into Bosnia in 2022, but in 2023, the crossing only took 10 minutes.
If you don’t have motorhome insurance for Bosnia, you can read all the details, (with location map included), on how do this in our Bosnia Motorhome Insurance article.
This road trip includes multiple stops – the only part we didn’t visit really was the far eastern sides. We had to drop Doboj and Tuzla because of heavy rain and landslides, but we ended up adding in Neum, the Bosnian Adriatic coastline! We still managed to cover more than the ‘highlight’ spots that many people visit. These highlights tend to be Una National Park, down to Mostar and across to Sarajevo. We cover that on our shortened road trip Itinerary of One Week In Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Every road trip is unique to every individual as each person has different enjoyments so obviously cut and add to that which suits your kind of travel. Most of the places in our road trip itinerary will have a film to show what they look like.
You can find all of our Bosnia and Herzegovina films and shorts on our Not Quite North YouTube channel.
BOSNIA AND Herzegovina road trip detail
- Una National Park
- Kozara National Park
- Banja Luka
- ‘The Lakes’ (Blidinje National Park)
- Neum (20km of Bosnian beach!)
- Tjintiste & Foca
Using the map. The map only takes 10 stops – and this road trip has 15 stops, so the letters repeat. On this road trip, we are starting in the north and making our way south. If you have a touch screen, use two fingers to increase the size or decrease. If you click on each of the stops, it will give you the name of the stop.
1 – BIHAC (Border Crossing Point into Bosnia)
Our first stop was Bihac, we needed to get our motorhome insurance here. I wrote an article on motorhome insurance in Bosnia here. Bihac is a cute little town with lots of cafes around a town centre. It is the entry point to the Una National Park, but itself has plenty of history. Stop to see the old Ottoman historical buildings and drive a little north to see the beautiful Ostrozac Castle on the hilltop a truly spectacular gothic castle.
2 – UNA NATIONAL PARK (23km from Bihac)
From Bihac, make your way down to the stunningly beautiful Una National Park. Una is a good place for rafting – but if you are going on to Banja Luka – they say that Banja Luka is the best place to do it (although we actually did our rafting in Konjic, which was such fun – but it wasn’t exactly white water rapids!).
The key places to visit in the Una National Park are Strbacki Buk and Milancev Buk (Buk means waterfalls) for lots of river and hiking activity. (7 BAM and 3 BAM entry fee).
On the way, you can pick up some honey at one of the many roadside stalls that are selling it. There is a honey farm that you can stop at, and look at its many hives, in Orasac, a small village just off the R408, on the approach road to the main carpark for the waterfalls.
Bihac and the surrounding area had heavy fighting in the civil war. As a consequence although inside the national park it is clear of landmines, outside it is not. Therefor it is recommended that you stay on main hiking and road trails.
3 – KOZARA NATIONAL PARK (160km from Una National Park)
It was a long stretch to get to Banja Luka from Una National Park so we decided to stop at the Kozara National Park on the way through. Turns out it is the same distance – but if you like to enjoy the beauty around you, and have the time, then this is a great stop off on your Bosnian road trip.
They had a wonderful war memorial at the top of the Dera mountain, where you could park up for the night. Roads are good and you can spend the day at the memorial, doing the walks around the memorial grounds, as well as two further good walks of about 10km into the surrounding areas.
You can also take lunch there, pop into the spa hotel and also rent bikes out for a spot of mountain biking if you like that kind of activity. We stayed in the carpark for free.
4 – BANJA LUKA (55km from Kozara National Park)
After staying in Kozara for 2 nights (it absolutely rained cats and dogs the entire first day!), we headed over to Banja Luka. This is the 2nd biggest city in Bosnia Herzegovina. We were not sure what to expect here – but it turned out to be fab!
We walked into town – saw the most amazing Orthodox Cathedral in the town centre. Reconstructed and finished in 2004 with a magnificent chandelier, it was so unexpected (you will need to cover up to go inside though). There is a mosque, which unfortunately was closed when we went, and a fortress, near the river, with walls and en enclosure that you would walk around. Unfortunately the fortress is used more as a car park and a place for young people to spend time with each other!
There is a large, enclosed market near the fortress, selling everything from socks to cat food! We love wandering through a market, because it gives you a feel for local life. This area was a buzzing place in the evening with loads of bars and restaurants.
Banja Luka is definitely a city you can spend a day or two in. We paid 5 BAM for 24 hours in a carpark near the large park, totally geared up for the community with amazing childrens play areas, tennis courts, open chess and running tracks.
5 – JAJCE (69km from Banja Luka)
We stopped for a couple of days here to see the Pliva Waterfalls, go into the old town to see the fortress and other historical buildings around the town. You can zipline over the falls – but we decided to wait until we got to Mostar – much bigger zipline!
We rode our bikes to the Mlincici watermill houses, a sweet collection of small watermill houses over little streams that run in to the big lake. You could lock and leave your bikes at The Love Bar (great little bar where you can sit on a swing seat and overlook the river!) A comfortable 5/6km walk from here will take you around the lake with a coffee stop when you return for your bikes.
We stayed one night just beside the Pliva falls into Jajce (5 BAM for 24 hrs) and two nights at a campsite near Plivsko Lake (40 BAM per night).
6 – TRAVNIK (69km from Jajce)
Travnik was a short stop for us, mostly to see the old fortress and the mosque of many colours and to buy cheese! If you are uncomfortable with ‘gravel track’ driving – be sure to take the route going down from Jajce rather than over.
Travnik is known for its cheese made from sheep’s milk, so we had to get some. The cheese found in Bosnia is not quite what you are used to in other European countries! We ended up buying a smoked one and a creamy one, leaving the cheese which was really salty as it was just not our preference. The little market that we came across had quite a few sellers, with fresh fruit and veg, cheese and dried cured meats of various types
We visited the fortress and wandered back through the back roads to where we had parked. We stopped for a beer and a coffee to decide on our next plan of action, and as a result of the heavy rains, decided rather than go up towards Doboj and Tuzla, we would head to Visoko, to check out the famous ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ – allegedly the ‘largest pyramid in the world’….
7 – VISOKO (70km from Travnik)
The Pyramid of the Sun, otherwise known as the Bosnian Pyramids is the big draw in Visoko. We stopped off here to see what all the hype was about!
Neither of us have any strong beliefs in any kind or religion or spiritualism, but I am always very interested to investigate and try to understand. Try to put myself in others shoes and see their point of view. Damo is a little more sceptical – but this whole living in a motorhome is a two way thing!
Its a mix of things here really – firstly, we did a lovely climb up to the top of the Pyramid – lots of uphill! We wanted to get to the top to see the wonderful views – it was a good 10km circular hike, which took a couple of hours. There were plenty more hikes to be done in the area, which looked really lovely. If you like hiking – you could spend a couple of days here no worries. There is enough to keep you busy.
It was actually a good place to stop off with kids, as there is plenty to keep them occupied, with little walks through forests and interesting play areas. Very popular with local families.
You can pick up all sorts of souvenirs here – from stones with healing powers, to the obvious wooden pyramids, jewellery and usual artifacts, as well as getting your palm or tarots read or get a ‘healing’ massage.
8 – SARAJEVO (30km from Visoko)
There is so much to see in Sarajevo. We stayed here for 4 nights/5 days. Obviously you cut your cloth accordingly. Sarajevo is a mixture of the old town, which is Ottoman and the new town which is the Austro Hungarian influence.
There are many museums relating to the civil war and the ethnic cleansing, which deserve great respect alongside museums showcasing the 1984 winter Olympics and modern art museum.
You can spend time visiting the plethora of museums, see the war tunnels, go shopping and then eat in delicious restaurants with many different cuisines. Take a trip on the chairlift to the old bobsled track and walk back down. You can hike and bike – the list is endless. Check out our 48 hours in Sarajevo to see how to maximise your time there.
Whilst we were in Sarajevo, they had the Pride march on, which we went along to support. That was a really good experience, being able to spend some time with lots of Bosniaks, where it is difficult to be open with their sexuality, even in the capital city of Sarajevo. There were an awful lot of armed police and guards in riot shields, but it seemed to go off without any trouble.
We stayed at the Sarajevo Camp Zlatiste which cost us 40 BAM a night. It was well worth the money, staying a 30 minute walk outside the old town – but it was a steep hill! It is worth staying on a site here due to crimes that could be experienced in such a large town. Break-ins appear to be the most common crime for motorhomes, this campsite was secure, with CCTV and someone on sight 24/7 during season.
9 – KONJIC (57km from Sarajevo)
We travelled on our next stop to Konjic. We decided to do this stop because we had finally had a sunny day and wanted to go rafting!
Sitting on the Neretva River, a stunningly ice melt river, the water is shockingly cold and so pure and clear – you could drink straight from it.
Konjic has created a niche for itself as an activity and rafting town – so you can raft, canoe, quad bike, hike and motorcycle your way through an entire week with no bother! We stayed for free at the rafting centre, right on the river, which was great. We spent the whole day rafting (10am – 5pm) and it was just perfect. Complete with BBQ lunch!
You can also take a visit to Titos’ nuclear bunker – you can only do this as part of a guided tour as it is actually only 750m from a munitions factory which is still operational. The nuclear bunker has been handed over to the equivalent of the local council to run. They have made it into an art gallery, with contemporary or modern art displays – although there has been an impact since the global pandemic where the art installations are maybe not as they were – and they are still trying to bring it back to ‘gallery’ status. It is fascinating!
10 – RAMA LAKES (63km from Konjic)
Such a beautiful place to stop on our way down to Mostar. It might be a bit of a detour for some, but it really is worth going to see and maybe getting a bit of chill time to reconnect with nature and do some kayaking and walking.
You can check out our Rama Lake video on our YouTube channel, and it may help you decide!
We stayed for 2 nights and thoroughly enjoyed swimming in the lake, going kayaking, visiting the monastery and just relaxing in the most fabulous campsite overlooking the lakes. For us it was a stop that we would go back to as well. Driving down through Blidinje National Park allows you to stop for a nice scenic lunch or dinner time spot and swim before heading down to Mostar. Although we didn’t stay overnight at this second lake, I am pretty sure that you would be able to with no problems.
11 – MOSTAR (88km from Rama Lake or 70km from Konjic)
A glorious city steeped in Ottoman history (much like a lot of Bosnia!) but also a super popular tourist destination. Part of the UNESCO world heritage since 2006, Mostar gets its name from the famous ‘Stari Most’ bridge.
Heavily involved in the civil war, fighting between the Croats and Bosniaks was intense, with huge damage and all bridges destroyed, along with 26 of the 27 Ottoman mosques obliterated and 2000 lives lost. Even 30 years later, there are divisions and tensions to be aware of. The Museum of War and Genocide reflects how the war affected this area, as well as the impact on Sarajevo.
There are several ‘must see’ stops in Mostar, which makes this a 2 or 3 night stop to appreciate fully. As well as walking across the famous bridge with its ‘glass’ like floor, you can visit the Crooked Bridge (the ‘test’ bridge), a wonderful photographic museum, follow a fabulous street art route or take a hike up Hum mountain. You can also visit the Dervish house of Blagaj – either whilst you are staying in Mostar or en-route to your next stop.
Why not read our 48 hours in Mostar to get all the details on where to go and what to do? It includes a map of the key places to stop at around the town.
12 – MEDUGORJE & KRAVICE WATERFALLS (26km from Mostar plus 20km from Medugorje to Kravice)
We decided to head towards the beach and explore the short Bosnian coastline, which led us to taking in two further places which we previously had on our ‘maybe’ list of stops.
The first was a famous pilgrimage town (which I was interested in anyway!) called Medugorje followed by the Kravica Waterfalls – a beauty spot that is very popular with the locals and often stopped at if you do a ‘day trip’ to Mostar from Dubrovnik.
I think that both of these are worth stopping at. The pilgrimage site is quite fascinating and if you are interested in religion, anthropology or simply curious, then Medjugorje is a place that you can spend a couple of hours or so, longer if you hike to ‘Apparition Hill’. If you are curious, you can read more detailed information on this town in the ‘Visit to Medjugorje‘ article.
Kravice Waterfalls which is just a 25 minute drive from Medjugorje is also a beautiful waterfall, which is super popular with the locals. You can do a nice walk, stop for lunch and or get a coffee. You can even watch our Kravice Waterfalls video to see them before you get there!
13 – NEUM – THE BOSNIA BEACH! (65km from Kravice Waterfalls)
Bizarrely, There is only 20 km of Bosnian Beach that remains in place – but it is worth going to I think. It was incredibly hot when we got to the bottom of Bosnia and Herzegovina so parking up by the side of the beach for 14 Bosnian marks for 24 hours seemed like a no brainer to us!
We were able to park up on the spit which is about 5 meters away from the beach, with our own daytime beach bar to boot!
The main town is pretty packed in season – as you can imagine. Everyone flocks there to eat in the many restaurants, buy souvenirs and drink beers and coffee. The beaches are also full, with almost ‘wall to wall’ sunbeds which cost around the 10 BAM per day to hire.
But get out of the town a little and you can find the quieter spots to park up and swim. On the Neum Beach YouTube video you can see what the town looks like on the coastline as well as where we parked up in proximity to the sea.
14 – TREBINJE (88km from Trebinje)
This is the possibly the penultimate little town that you will visit on your Bosnian Road Trip (depending on what route you take afterwards!).
There is enough to keep you occupied for 2 days here – if you have kids, there is a fabulous outside swimming pool to drop into with a bar. It is a fresh water pool, where the river has been slightly diverted to fill the pool and then continue on its journey. A great park where families gravitate to in the evenings with the kids to play is just outside the town walls.
Said to be one of the prettiest towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Trebinje has a small, historic town with a vibrant centre, along with a beautiful river to swim at and an old monestary to visit. It is over 90% Serbian, so there are no genocide war museums, but cafe’s, bars and restaurants fill the old town walls and leafy squares.
You now have 3 choices to continue your road trip:
1 – Cross the Bosnia/Montenegro border via our final stop which is Tjintiste & Foca and then head to the Tara Canyon, which crosses the border into Montenegro. (This is the option we chose – 102km)
2 – Cross the Bosnian/Croatian border and head for Dubrovnik (30kkm away) and travel the Croatian Coast. (32km)
3 – Cross the Bosnia/Montenegro on the coastal route for Herceg Novi or Igalo and start your Montenegro Road Trip. (42km)
15 -TJINTISTE & FOCA (102km from Trebinje)
If you want to cross the border at the top of Montenegro, there are a couple more interesting locations to stop at on the way, before you get to the Tara Canyon which spans the two countries of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro.
A beautiful WWII monument can be found at TJintiste. Take a lovely walk up to the monument along with some lunch or dinner at the restaurant over the road. Be sure to take some time to walk over to the fascinating museum, full of memorabilia (mostly of German origin). The entrance fee for the museum itself is 10 BAM (marks) and also covers the entry into the rather splendid ‘art’ building.
You can quite easily stay the night at the visitor centre with no issues.
Continue into the little town of Foca, which has a few restaurants and a very small centre, again – restaurants and cafe bars litter the streets.
Take some time to stop for a coffee or beer (if you are not driving!) and sit and reflect on the joys that your road trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina has bought you before you embark on your crossing into Montenegro to continue your journey in a new country!
(Top Tip – Cross the borders early in the morning or late at night to avoid queues)
As you can see, there is so much to see and do in Bosnia Herzegovina, with some absolutely stunning places visit and a real cultural feel which is a chilled out vibe. Untouched really by any degree of tourism and full of natural beauty, with obvious touches of heartbreak through war. Bosnia is an ethnically diverse country but not particularly multi-cultural.
Our Bosnia Ultimate Road Trip covers large amounts of Bosnia and will probably take you between 2 or 4 weeks, depending on how long you stop at the various places, how many hikes you do, if you do a cooking class etc. It will stand alone as a road trip to enjoy Bosnia’s beauty, or you can combine it with our road trips in Croatia or Montenegro.
We would love to hear all your thoughts and comments on our road trip. We will go back to Bosnia as part of our Schengen Shuffle, because its a great country, overlooked and also very good value. We met some fabulous people there. I’m going to miss their Cevapi!
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