You’re making some serious thoughts of visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina in the future. In this post we will say things you should know, before visiting the country, to make your decision and experience in Bosnia Herzegovina a bit easier.
1. Bosnia is not a war zone
First of all Bosnia is not a war zone. Tell your friends that Bosnia is not a war zone anymore. More than 20 years after the Yugoslav Wars and the Siege of Sarajevo, it’s surprising how many people think Bosnia is still in conflict. Bosnia is a safe destination to visit, and you will not be the target of a snake hiding in the hills! Of course you need to beware of pickpocketers in crowded places, as you have to in any destination or even in your home town, but crime levels are in general low. Most nationalities get a visa for 90 days in every 180 on arrival. Check to make sure you’re eligible and don’t assume that, just because other countries allow visa-free travel, you can enter Bosnia.
There are three official languages spoken in Bosnia Herzegovina : Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. Most of the people who deal with commerce and especially young people also speak English.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina mark is the country’s official currency, which Republika Srpska uses too. however lots of places also accept euros or even Croatian kuna, especially in areas close to the
Bosnian – Croatian borders. $1 USD is approximately 1.69 KM, and €1 is just under 1.95 KM. Tourists can often pay in USD or Euros with an unfavourable exchange rate, and locals accept the Croatian Kuna in places near the border. But don’t rely on people accepting foreign currency, especially outside of the touristy areas.
4. Credit cards
Bosnia is a cash-based society, perhaps because the country’s only just starting to recover a result of the economic crash after the Bosnian War. ATMs are available where you can expect to pay up to 7 percent in fees, conversions and commissions. Most restaurants, shops, cafes etc do not accept credit or debit cards, so we advise you to bring a cash.
5. Shopping in Bosnia
Bosnia isn’t part of the EU and doesn’t have the same freedom to trade as other countries. Retail prices are higher for imported goods such as shoes and clothes. You may get a Western European price tag in some shops for cheap, lower-quality products.
Winters in BIH can get really cold and although summers are said to be hot, we had to deal with the -not so high- temperature of 10 degrees Celsius when we visited Sarajevo in mid August. Pack some extra layers of clothing, even during the summer, just in case.
7. People in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnians people are nice and friendly. War memories are however recent and it might be wise to avoid conversations about this issue, as many people might have physical or psychological traumas. If people want to talk about it and share war stories with you, they’ll bring it up themselves.