Not Quite North's Bosnia and Herzegovina travel essentials in a motorhome
Bosnia and Herzegovina – for the older travellers reading will probably conjure up images of a war-torn country of the early 1990’s. However, it is a magical country to visit – and safe as well.
With beautiful rivers, waterfalls and lakes – the Una River in the north is great for water enthusiasts, 50% of the country covered in woodland – so great for hiking and nature lovers, and top that off with a few great cities to visit – Sarajevo and Mostar – and yet it is still little visited. Bosnia and Herzegovina has a eclectic mix of regions and religious buildings – but sadly also a lot were distroyed in the war.
We have written a Complete Bosnia and Herzegovina Road Trip Itinerary if you want to jump straight to that but this handy Bosnia travel guide will give you all the practical and essential information that you need to know before you go!
We recommend that you get in now before all the crowds do!
Key Facts - Our Bosnia and Herzegovina Essentials
When to Visit Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina has micro climates – the south of the country is the Adriatic Sea (Bosnia has a tiny piece of coast line just 12 miles long with a coastal resort called Neum) with the hot, dry summers and warmer winters. The north is mountainous and a little like being in the Alps – mild summers but cold winters. As with most places the shoulder seasons are the best time to visit, although rarely is Bosnia overcrowded even in peak summer months, with the exception of Mostar and Neum.
In the winter time however, you might want to take the motorhome over for some really great value winter skiing. Around the hills of Sarajevo are ski resorts – this is after all, the country that hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984 which made Torvill and Dean’s Bolero ice skating dance the first ever straight sixes to be awarded by all judges!
As with any type of travel destination now, the weather is subject to climate change and unusual weather patterns that seem to be happening globally are happening here too. May 2023 was flooding (as in Italy) and the rivers burst their banks, causing a huge amount of damage.
Bosnia and herzegovina - quick pics
driving in bosnia and herzegovina
Starting with the basics: Drive on the right and overtake on the left. Give way to the right. Compulsory seatbelts – front and back seats. Illegal for a front seat passenger to be under the influence of alcohol. Headlights always dipped for driving 24/7. Keep documents on you (licence, registration, insurance). Winter tyres compulsory in winter and snow chains advisory on snow over 5cm.
Speeding in Bosnia is very much something the police stop people for. Keep to the speed limit or risk fines, especially on the smaller roads.
Drink drive limits are lower than the UK – including Scotland. 30mg per 100ml of blood. The advice we would give is pretty much do not drink at all. Bosnia police do random checks for anything – so just the smell of alcohol on a drivers breath is not a good idea.
In Bosnia in the winter – winter tyres are compulsory. You should also carry snow chains.
Bosnia has landmines which are still uncovered – so hiking and trekking as well as off-road driving – is better done with maps. Be mindful of off grid camping/parking still. There are still around 2 – 3 million landmines in Bosnia (the 8th highest in the world) but to get this into context – Croatia has 2 million (9th highest) but people don’t think of that as being a dangerous place to go. (Statistics taken from landminefree.org).
Driving on the tarmac roads though is safe – so don’t feel like you can not get about without taking your life into your hands. I don’t want to give that impression, but I do want to share the facts which may impact where you decide to stay.
The driving speed for your motorhome under 3.5 tonnes are:
- Urban – 50km/h (30mph)
- Minor roads – 90km/h (56mph)
- Major roads – 110km/h (68mph)
- Motorways – 130km/h (80mph)
The driving speed for your motorhome over 3.5 tonnes are:
- Urban – 50km/h (30mph)
- Minor and Major roads – 80km/h (50mph)
- Motorways – 80km/h (50mph)
Essential Driving Requirements for BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA
The following items are those which are either legally required (M) or advised (A):
- Current passport (M)
- Valid Drivers Licence (M)
- Proof of Insurance (M)
- Registration documents for the motorhome or camper (M)
- Reflective vest (for each person in the motorhome) – you can get a fine if you are not wearing one if you breakdown on a motorway. (M)
- 2 x Warning triangle in case of breakdown or accident (M)
- Spare wheel for your vehicle
- Headlight beam converters (already fitted to the motorhome) (M)
- First Aid Kit (M)
- Spare bulbs and fuse box (M)
police checks in bosnia and Herzegovina
The Bosnia and Herzegovina Police love a good speed check! They are pretty hot on it – and of course this comes hand in hand with the fines that can be given. We saw several police with speed guns, but we didn’t get stopped for any speeding.
The recommendation is that you simply stick to the speed limits – for us in Freddy, who is over 3.5 tonnes, this means we get to travel slowly through the countryside and actually see it. Our maximum speeds are 30mph in a town or village and 50mph anywhere else.
If they do fine you for either speeding or for having a light out or something smaller (remember to drive with your lights on at all times in a motorhome) then there are two key ways! An official fine – or a bribe!
The fines are only payable at a bank or a post office, (this reminds me of being stopped speeding in the USA!), which is a real inconvenience. If they say that you can pay in cash on the spot, make sure you get a receipt for it – otherwise you can take it as a bribe rather than a fine.
Ensure you carry smaller BAM or Euro notes with you. If you are in the situation of managing this type of stop which looks more like a bribe – as if you only have a 100 euro note with you – that’s going to be an expensive bribe! Just keep the smaller 10 and 20 BAM notes handy and not near the big notes! Say you haven’t got much cash and you should be OK.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a candidate country for joining the EU (accepted in December 2022) so corruption is high on the agenda of the Bosnian authorities and reducing it is key. We didn’t come across any examples of bribery, but did meet others that had.
local foods in bosnia and Herzegovina
In Bosnia and Herzegovina the food very much takes its base from the Turkish and Mediterranean food – having been under Otterman rule, I guess it is no great surprise!
Being big food lovers (and always on a diet!!) we had to put in a section on the local foods. All of them we have tried – and taken pictures of so that you can see the real deal when you order them! In Bosnia, you won’t get the fine dining of Italy or the fresh fish you can get in Croatia (although you do get the river fish in many areas of course!) In fact there are no restaurants in Bosnia that appear in the Michelin Guide – so there is an opening for someone!
Being a vegetarian or vegan in Bosnia could prove to be more challenging that you would like – so be prepared for that.
Cevapi are generally served in portions of 5 or 10. When I first used google translate for them it said the direct translation was Romanians. It is definitely not that! Cevapi are small kebabs served in soman – a Bosnian pitta bread with raw onions and a side dip of harissa and yogurt. EVERYONE eats them! ALL the time!
Burek – this is the marmite of Bosnian food – as in everyone loves it because it is a delicious meat, cheese or spinach filled pastries – but it is loaded with grease! It comes in spirals or long ‘sausage’ shaped pastry. Simply yum – but eat it fresh! These are common in Croatia and Turkey too – so you may already have tried them. My favourite was the meat one as the cheese in burek is often quite a sour cheese.
Ustipci are all over Bosnia. They are kind of bread balls and served at breakfast time deep fried. Often served with a sour cream or sour cream cheese, they are really moorish! We first tried them in Banja Luka, and they were definitely our favourite place to eat them. It was love at first taste and I am glad we tasted them very early on in our trip!
Bosanski Lonac is the traditional Bosnian stew of meat and vegetables prepared in a traditional way. The meat and veg are layered and cooked forever to form a delicious stew. We had it for the first time in a bar in a tiny village in Una National Park – and it was just scrumptious!
Finally we bring you to a wonderful desert of Tufahija, which is an apple which is stuffed with walnuts and served with whipped cream and the sugar syrup that the apple was boiled with. Super sweet – it goes brilliantly at the end of the meal with a super strong and bitter Bosnian coffee
Essential phrases to use in BOSNIA and herzegovina
We figured it would be useful to have some core phrases to get by in the restaurants of cafe’s – speaking just those core words show a little respect for the people and the country.
- Hello – zdravo
- Goodbye – dovidenja
- Thank you – hvala ti (most people just say hvala)
- The bill please – Racun molim
- Have a good day – ugodan dan
- Have a good evening – dobro vece
We have given you the basics to start planning your road trip to Bosnia. Why not check out our blog posts for our Bosnia road trips itineraries – and get some inspiration. It is such a stunning country with beautiful people – you really should make the most of it whilst we can.