24 June 2009

Sarajevo - a culture all its own


Sarajevo, no longer the war-ravaged news-hog of the mid-90s, is a smallish capital city (well under half a million inhabitants) with a mixed cultural heritage where two world empires (Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman), four world religions (Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Islam, and Judaism), the Yugoslav socialist experiment, a wartime siege, and the huge post-conflict international presence have all done something to make the place what it is today. Where else will you see buildings designed by a Czech, built by Austrians, and using a mixture of Hapsburg and Ottoman styles? Or meander from a smallish mitteleuropean cathedral to a very obviously Turkish mosque just minutes from an aged Orthodox temple? Or see one lone cafe with a covered barrista between some of the city's most packed bars filled with scantily clad, sweaty twenty-somethings out for the weekend?

Pick up the TimeOut Sarajevo (in magazine format) at some kiosks or at Buybook (Radi
čeva 4); it also includes info on Banja Luka, Mostar, Jajce, Travnik, and Bihać. If your tastes run to the great outdoors then you will want to get the Bradt Guide for Bosnia & Herzegovina or one of the other hiking guides by the same author (Tim Clancy) - all available at Buybook as well. For urban areas, we tend not to agree with his nightlife and dining suggestions (and naturally we think our taste is superior).

A few (other) websites with information on Sarajevo and what's on offer include that of Sarajevo Canton's Tourist Association, infobar.ba (a self-described informational and party magazine), city.ba, sarajevo-x.com and dernek.ba (where your picture may turn up from the night before). The best monthly listings; however, are in the free pocket-sized Sarajevo Navigator (available at most hotels and trendier bars and cafes), and its online sibling, sonar.ba – both with listings of the month’s happenings in English and Bosnian. Lastly, don’t forget to stop by the Tourist Information Center at Zelenih beretki 22a (+387 (33) 220 724 or 220 721) - just walk towards Baščaršija from Hotel Central and it will be on your right. Also, hit up the B&H Tourism site - covers the whole country, but you will probably be starting out in Sarajevo (unless of course you are coming from the coast).

Far and away the absolute best time to visit Sarajevo is during the Sarajevo Film Festival - the next one is slated for the 22nd to 30th of July 2011. The air in the city is never hipper, never more imbued with a feeling that you are exactly where you should be - or on your way to the right party. Somehow, all of Bosnia's hottest are out, and the rest of the street is filled with "industry people" and Eurokids trying to break into the industry or just here for the ride.

Arriving
For information on visa requirements, as well as contact information for foreign embassies and consulates in Bosnia & Herzegovina, check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.


Chances are that your arrival to Sarajevo will be by plane. If you haven’t managed to get your private chaffeur to wait for you, then your best bet is to avoid the particularly unpleasant airport taxis and call 1515 for a radio taxi. They take less than five minutes to arrive and will charge less than half what the airport taxis will – and usually with a lot less surliness.

Sarajevo International Airport
+387 (33) 289 100 (Information desk)
Kurto Schorka 36 (Dobrinja)
Sarajevo's airport is small but well-organized, and has service from Lufthansa, Austrian, Adria, Croatia Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Malev, JAT, and the budget German Wings as well as Norwegian. The Raiffeisen Bank at the airport is open from 11-18 Mon-Sat and 12-19 Sunday; the Post Office is open weekdays from 9-11:30 and 12-16, and there is an ATM/bancomat to get local marks before heading to town.

Sarajevo Bus Station
Put Zivota 8
+387 (33) 213 10
If heading to Belgrade or generally east, you should also check the departures from the Lukavica Bus Station (Srspski Vladara2, in what is also know as "Istočno Sarajevo", tel +387 (57) 317 377). Some additional information is available from Centrotrans (for their lines anyhow, but only in local language).

Train Station
+387 (33) 657 313 or 655 330
next to the main bus station
The train system in Bosnia is not the best, but you can catch a train to/from Budapest (via Belgrade), Zagreb (via Banja Luka), and Plo
če (via Mostar). The Zagreb and Belgrade trains are incredibly time-consuming, but the train to Mostar is about the same as driving, but takes a beautiful track through Herzegovina and the Mostar train/bus station is rather close to the historic Stari Grad.  (Unfortunately, the Sarajevo-Mostar line is undergoing work this summer (2010) so it seems you can't take advantage of the view for now.)


Checking In

The past few years have seen an immense improvement in hotel offerings, primarily through the addition of Hotel Central, Hotel Europe, and the boutique-style Hotel Unica.

Hotel Astra
Zelenih Beretki 9
+387 (33) 252 100
Downtown's poshest hotel when it opened, the Astra can no longer make that claim, although it remains a decent option given its location. Check to see if they have any special rates going, and also check to see the rates at the related Hotel Astra Garni, which is a bit quieter and a few blocks closer to the old town.

Hotel Belvedere
Višnjik 2 (
Višnjik)
+387 (33) 262 140
Nicer than the Hotel Bosnia, cheaper than the Holiday Inn. What? Damn it with faint praise???


Hotel Dardanija
Radi
ćeva 19
+387 (33) 251 100
Miniscule rooms, but well located (near BBI and Veliki Park as well as the Law Faculty) and modern. Some parking available – about 4 slots.




Hotel Central / Westwood Club & Spa
8
Čumurija (at the intersection of Zelenih Beretki and Strossmayerova)
+387 (33) 561 800
After years of renovation, the Austrian-era Central opened in late 2008 as Sarajevo's premier health club and spa (on three levels - one for aerobic machines, one for weights, and the basement pool, sauna, and Turkish bath) accompanied by 15 non-smoking hotel rooms. Excellent location, wifi, and an eclectic interior design that seems to work (by and large). The Westwood gym has become the healthiest of the see-and-be-seen spots in town.

Hotel Europe
Vladislava Skari
ća 5 (on the corner of Branilaca Sarajeva)
+387 (33) 580 400
The newest addition to the downtown hotel scene, this pre-war institution has been completely reinvigorated and renovated. 160 rooms, 10 suites, all done in either Austro-Hungarian or "modern" style. Indoor pool and wellness center as well. Just down from Hotel Central, this is a hotel with a gym, Central is a gym with a hotel.

Hotel Grand
Muhameda Efendije Pandže 7
(Velešići)
+387 (33) 563 100
The best thing about the Grand is that it is not related to the Hotel Grand in Pristina. It would have been better named “Hotel Mediocre”. Bizarre location – it must be the only Hotel Grand on the wrong side of the tracks.

Halvat Guest House
Kasima ef Dobra
če 5
+387 (33) 237 714
Small guest house in Baš
čaršija on the road to Kovači – Elisabeth Rehn has been rumoured to stay here. Rates more reasonable here than many other spots (double with breakfast 49euros in low season going up to 69 euros in high season). They free email access and full ADSL internet access is available. If in summer you may wish to reconsider, as not all rooms have air conditioning.

Hotel Hecco Deluxe
Ferhadija 2
+387 (33) 559 995
Located just across from the eternal flame on the top four floors of downtown's only "skyscraper", the Hecco Deluxe has some of the best views in the center. The cafe on the 10th floor is certainly worth swinging by, particularly as it has free wifi. The clean lines comprising the decor would be fine if only they had paid a bit more attention to the details. Nonetheless, at 195 KM/double you could do worse. If you are looking to spend a bit less but are a freak about your internet access, the original Hotel Hecco (sans deluxe) is not as conveniently located (up the hill from Sebilj at Medresa 1), but every room has an internet connected computer.

Holiday Inn
Zmaja od Bosne 4
+387 (33) 288 000
Refurbished shortly after the war, but the lobby and (yellow!) exterior almost exactly as before. Why? That is one of the great mysteries of the city. Overpriced for what it is.

Hotel Hondo
Zaima Šarca 23
+387 (33) 666 564
Yes, the family owned hotel with the weekend brunch where numerous journalists stayed during the war. No ensuite baths, but given their rates it is not the worst choice for the budget-conscious. Be warned - the walk from downtown is steep.

Hotel Kova
či
Kova
či 12
+387 (33) 573 700
Just above
Baščaršija towards Kovači; this hotel is notable for its modern, simple, Bosnian-inspired architecture which fits the area without feeling too much like you’re in the mahala. Free wireless in all rooms.

Hotel Saraj
Nevjestina 5
+387 (33) 239 510
You don’t really want to stay here (some of the rooms have no windows) but the indoor pool and spa area atop the hotel are worth visiting. Given the location up the hill above the road to Pale, there are great views from the cafe terrace; too bad the interior is so horrid.

Hotel Termag
+387 (57) 272 100 Jahorina, Poljice
Best ski lodge near Sarajevo (about 20 minutes away by car), and has an indoor heated pool for those who prefer to watch the ski bunnies freezing outside while laying poolside.

Hotel Unica
Hamdije Kreševljakovi
ća 42
+387 (33) 555 225
Almost boutique-calibre, this 12-room hotel has been a notable addition to the hotel options since opening in 2007. Located down the street from the Obala Meeting Point, it’s also a quick walk to the Ferhadija pedestrian zone. There is secure parking, just ask. Good enough for the Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights, and Sirpa as well. €80 single, €100 double (with breakfast). Our pick for best overall hotel in Sarajevo. Visa/MC

Villa Orijent
Oprkanj 6

+387 (33) 232 702
Located at the edge of Baš
čaršija near Viječnica (the library), the location is certainly excellent. The lack of wifi is a serious drawback, and for the price (150KM/single, 200KM/double) you would be seriously better off heading to Unica, Europe, or Central.


Dining

Avlija
Sumbula Avde 2 (Mejta
š)
+387 (33) 444 483
Looks like a garden (well, avlija is Turkish for courtyard) and has a retractable roof, so you are safely indoors when the weather is unpleasant, and more or less outside otherwise. Located in easy walking distance of the Italian, British, Spanish, Austrian and French Embassies, Avlija is a casual mixture of bar and restaurant, serving pasta, steaks, and Sarajevo's best attempt at buffalo wings. MC/Visa, Open 08:00-23:00

Bombon
Koševo 6 / Trg Kralja Tomislava
+387 (33) 217 345
Gelateria, patisserie, and sandwich café just up from Veliki Park on Koševo. This place, opened by the original owner of Vinoteka, makes its own ice cream and has some of the better deserts in town. For light lunches they also have roast beef, salmon, tuna, and grilled vegetable sandwiches. Bright yet minimalist interior and garden area. No alcohol.

Bosanska Ku
ća
Bravadžiluk 3 (Baš
čaršija)
+387 (33) 237 320
Grilled seafood and meats, as well as a better than average selection of vegetarian items (stuffed peppers, eggplants, etc). “Traditional” Bosnian interior - it would actually be somewhat charming but for the hideous paintings.

Caballo
Himze Polovine 37 (Breka)
+387 (33) 221 819
One of the two Mexican restaurants in Sarajevo, it has Mexican food that is actually tolerable – not great mind you, but a nice change. The interior does look something like a divey mom-and-pop Tex Mex place back in Texas. Location is a bit of a drag though.

D.R. Food
Obala Kulina Bana 10
+387 (33) 205 551
No, it’s not Dr. Food, but “D.R.” as in “Delikatesna radnja”, the inexplicably popular café next door. Unlike the café, though, it is easy to see why this place is popular – small interior with about 4 outdoor tables (but on Obala Kulina Bana – so a bit noisy) they have a varied menu including items such as quickly sautéed tuna coated in black pepper on fresh greens. Great for light lunch or longer dinners, and home to some of our favorite Sarajevo waiters. Call ahead to ensure a table, and say hi for us.

Dveri
Prote Bakovi
ća 12 (Baščaršija)
+37 (33) 537 020
If you are in Sarajevo for just a few days, make sure to include Dveri on your agenda. The menu is not huge but does have an excellent baked eggplant for the vegetarians and pork chops for those suffering porcine withdrawal, as well as great ajvar (red pepper spread) and poga
ča (a balkan bread). Small with only a few tables including the enclosed courtyard, so if you are more than 2 you should definitely call ahead. Open 11:00-23:00. Closed Sundays. 

La Famiglia
Titova 12
+387 (33) 666 774
'Mediterranean'. It would appear that the interior decorator had extensive experience working for Tito. Although the food is not bad, we find that the entire experience reminds us of a Sunday visit to a big restaurant in Queens. New chef recently (2008) so may be worth a try again.

GalataSaray
Gazi Husrev Begova 44 (
Baščaršija)
While you are in Sarajevo, it is basically the law that you will have to try čevapčiči  (little grilled meat rolls on a pita-like bread served with extra onions).   That being the case, we recommend either this place or Hodzic, but as GalataSaray also has cool low tables, great mixed salads, and  - since the owner (Tarik Hodzić) played soccer in Belgium (although he named his place for the Istanbul club) - the best  pommes frites in town.  Rare for Sarajevo, it is also non-smoking.
Magarac
Azize Ša
ćirbegović 6
+387 (33) 226 266 (Hrasno)
The Donkey has the best seafood in Sarajevo, never mind its location in Hrasno near the Robot Shopping Center. The food is fresh, and the interior is rustic in a pleasant sort of way, but the outdoor seating is right on a parking lot. If you can’t make it to the coast this will do you for your Dalmatian kitchen fix.

Mala Kuhinja
Josipa Štadlera 6
+387 (61) 144 741
Located just by the Music School and about a minute from the cathedral, “Little Kitchen” is aptly named; there are only about 12 seats and the island kitchen in this miniscule restaurant run by “celebrity” chef Muamer Kurtagi
ć . Interesting food which might be described as stir-fry Bosnian fusion; it's great for a change, but then as it is only open for lunch you probably won’t make it here too often anyhow. Given the size, reservations are basically a must.

Nello
Hakije Kuleni
ča 34 (Ciglane)
+387 (33) 209 298
Get a table with a view over the city and you can have a pleasant dinner – the steaks and pasta are not bad at all, and they have specials in season (e.g. cepe steak, soup and pasta on a fall foray). Some of the waitstaff are weak on English, but good enough to get your order!


Noovi Wine Bar & Restaurant
Tin Ujevi
ća +387 (33) 222 242
The wine bar and restaurant, Noovi, is a a joint venture between I Tre Bicchieri wineshope and D.R. Food. Located just across the street from the top of Veliki Park (just down from the British Embassy), there is indoor and outdoor seating if you want to have dinner or just prendre une verre. Great staff, great selection of wines.  Always a toss-up between here and D.R. for dinner. 
čaršija off main street)
+387 (33) 535 446


Global Food
Bra
će Begić 6 (Koševsko Brdo)
+387 (61) 548 299
This place has what must be the most eclectic menu in Sarajevo, ranging from Hummus and tabbouleh to Yakitori to baby beef in red curry sauce. The interior is pleasant, but feels more like a lunch spot, most assuredly due to the overly bright lighting which really doesn’t inspire long diners. Catering and delivery available. Open Sundays.

Hot Wok
Titova 12 (Marin Dvor)
+387 (33) 203 322
Self-proclaimed Thai restaurant in Marin Dvor near La Famiglia which is most assuredly better as a kitschy bar (chandeliers, red velvet, need I say more?). But hey, it’s Sarajevo, and it’s hard to find a cocktail list, even a bad one.

Inat Ku
ća
Veliki Alifakovac 1 (across the river from Vje
ćnica)
+387 (33) 447 867
“The Spite House” has Bosnian food and pizza. Why spite? The story goes the house was originally across the river where the library is, but the owner wouldn’t sell unless they moved the house brick by brick across the river. Traditional interior and inexpensive but good traditional food, especially the Bosanski lonac and the sarma. Pleasant outdoor seating on the ‘river’ weather permitting. The service is not; however, the quickest in town.

Jež
Branilaca 42 (across from Orthodox Cathedral)
+387 (33) 650 312
The old standby (10+ years) and still with the extensive clock collection. Although the food may not place it in the upper echelon of Sarajevo restaurants, the basement interior is at least original and the service is always pleasant. Remains a good choice for winter dining for those reasons, and the small garden behind and above the restaurant can be a pleasant spot for a drink. Open 17:00-24:00

Kibe
Vrbanjuša 164
+387 (33) 441 936
Traditional Bosnian food overlooking the city. To get there head up Logavina and keep driving up and up and up until you reach it. Good for visitors to Sarajevo as very traditional but actually quite charming, and the food, if heavy, is good. Absolutely book ahead if you have a group. M – Sa 10-23h. Closed Sundays. Credit cards accepted.


Park Prin
čeva
Iza Hrida (between Bistrik and Hrid)
+387 (33) 532 403
Excellent views overlooking Sarajevo from the large outdoor lawns; unfortunately the food is not even mediocre. Best to reserve, down a bottle of Slovenian sparkling wine while the sun sets, and head elsewhere to eat.

Pivnica HS
Franjeva
čka 15
+387 (33) 239 740
Sarajevsko Pivara’s TGI Friday’s styled biergarten – somehow intriguing, despite its bizarre oversized entry ramp and ersatz-Victorian interior. Makes meat eaters want to cry for joy; vegetarians for other reasons. Good for large groups - this place is huge. The first spot to offer dark Sarajevska beer on draft (if that is something to be searched for).

Plavi Zamak
Zvorni
čka 23 (next to Grbavica stadium)
+387 (33) 657 192
Courtyard dining in summer, dining room with large fireplace otherwise. A little too rustic for our taste, but nice in that hunting lodge style. The stuffed eggplant and the chicken teriyaki are both surprising finds, and they have an extensive menu backed by a solid, if not overly inventive, kitchen.

Slick
Titova 54 (in the passageway)
+387 (33) 667 624
Small downtown restaurant specializing in steaks and pasta, the entire place recently got a serious upgrade from our favorite architect in the region. If you haven't been recently, go now - you won't recognize it.

TIM
Hakije Kulenovi
ća bb (Ciglane)
+387 (33) 212 612 or (61) 134 788
At the top of the Ciglane funicular, TIM has views over the park towards downtown, and specializes in slow dinners served to its up to 16 customers Certainly one of the better places, if on the slow side (but designedly so). Call ahead to book for the multi-course sampling menus, either “swimming”, “walking” or “flying”. Oh, and TIM is even pricier than Vinoteka.

To Be or Not To Be

Čizmedžiluk 5 (Baščaršija)
+387 (33) 233 265
Interesting (if miniscule) interior and one of the few (non-
čevap) restaurants in Baščaršija. Some bizarre dishes like beefsteak in chili chocolate sauce.

Tavola
Titova 50 (in the passageway)
+387 (33) 222 207
Italian restaurant across the street from the National Bank, the Table has an attractive if rather Ethan Allen-esque interior décor. Small outdoor seating area, but as it is in the alley it’s not particularly scenic.  Food has gone downhill.

Vinoteka
Skenderija 12
+387 (33) 214 996
THE see-and-be-seen spot. The menu is solid, if not extensive, and the wine list is probably the best in town, rivaled only by I Tri Bicchieri. The wine cellar downstairs is well-set for receptions or if you wish to opt out of dinner and just have bites and wine after work. Reservations recommended.


Cafés and Bars / Nightlife


Baghdad
Bazardžani (Baščaršija)
Just across from Hacienda, this “middle eastern” bar is kitchy and overpriced (€6 for a glass of not very nice wine) but has nargilehs so you can puff away on apple tobacco while sipping prosecco. Not Beirut, but these days that is probably a good thing.

Barhana
Đulagina Čikma 8 (Baščaršija)
+398 (33) 447 727
Tucked in a courtyard of Ferhadija in Baščaršija, Barhana is a great spot to slip away, have a drink, one of Sarajevo's better pizzas, or try some cherry rakija.  Although definitely exuding the traditional feel of Sarajevo and the Levant, it simultaneously brings a youthful, modern vibe to mind.  In summer it is a great spot for drinks from around 10 or so - packed with a laid-back (but not too laid back) crowd.

Central Cafe
Strossmayerova 1 (at Zelenih beretki)
+387 (33) 200 - 442
We welcomed it upon its opening in 2001, then downgraded it tremendously to the point that it was to be avoided at all costs lest you be overwhelmed by the gold lame wearing diaspora set.  Happily, the recent interior facelift by our fave Bosnian architect gave Central a new vibe, so its back on the list.  

4 sobe gdja Safije
Čekaluša 61
+387 (33) 622 822
Sophie's four rooms seems much larger than that, and includes a restaurant, wine bar, lounging areas, and outdoor garden. Ecletic 19th century style merges with an urban legend of the confluence of the old and new at the dawn of Sarajevo's entry into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Long wine list, late hours.

City Pub
+387 (33) 209 789
Despičeva bb (across from Hotel Europe)
Bad name, nice setting and with varied music, including some decent live music. The crowd overflows into the street in the summer, when this place always seems to be packed, and often until quite late. Free Wifi (for those of you carrying your iPhones).

Delikatesna Radjna

Obala Kulina Bana 10
+387 (33) 208 855
Although the reason for its popularity may not be immediately apparent, 'Delikatesna' - as it is referred to by the trendy 20-somethings who flock here - has wifi, coffee, drinks, and lounge music at levels that encourage conversation amongst the overflowing groups that seem to fill the space day and night. A favorite with urban university students from the art and film academies. Open Mon-Sat 08:00-24:00 and Sun 10:30 to 24:00.

dibek
Luladžina 3 (off Sebilj, Baščaršija)
This levant style cafe features great outdoor seating in a small courtyard near a mosque. The interior is an ecletic mix, with levantine influences mixing chandeliers, low-slung seating, and flowing fabrics. Non-alcoholic beverages and nargilehs draw a young crowd relaxedly puffing away on flavored tobaccoes. Look for the alleyway between the doner kebap shops on Sebilj to find it. Open 08:00-23:00.

Bock
Musala bb
Packed with a youngish crowd who don't show up until late. The music can be really good. Around the corner (and in same building as) the Dino Fitness center.

Hacienda
Bazardžani 3 (Baščaršija)
+387 (33) 441 918
Started as a Mexican restaurant, but somehow transformed itself into one of the most packed bar/nightspots in Sarajevo. The margaritas are not too bad, but on the weekends you can’t move inside – the crowd overflows into the street blending with those over at Baghdad across the alley. Partially open air, but even the open roof doesn’t cool down the crowds in summer. Not for the claustrophobic, nor those afraid of late nights.

Oskar
Alipašina (Ciglane)
Once this had the best outdoor seating in the string of bars at the base of Ciglane on Alipasina ulica, but for some reason they ripped down the hedges so now you have a not-so-nice view of (and exhaust from) the street. The interior is, um, overdone “English-pub-a-la-Donald-Trump-if-he-were-from-the-Balkans”. Drink prices run more here than elsewhere for some reason.

Phoenix
Vratnik mejdan 4
+387 (33) 239 973 (Širokac) – Kovači
Proper English pub next to one of the old city gates. The owner (married to a Brit) allegedly fell in love with the pubs in Britain on a trip and thus recreated one here. Drinks and pub food (well, cheeseburgers aren’t quite traditional pub food) and a lovely (yet treacherous if you are in heels) garden. Closed Sundays.

Podroom
Zelenih beretki 12
In the basement in the same vicinity as Jež (just off Zelenih Beretki), this funky, urban styled basement bar-cum-lounge is Sarajevo's best eclectic night spot (the name is a play on the Bosnian term for basement, podrum).  Slightly dive-ish, mixed crowd, party music - the new fave spot in the city.  Fills up between 1:30 and 2:00 on the weekends. 

Pravda
Radićeva 4c
+387 (33) 558 215
Although not as trendy as upon its opening, this cafe cum wine bar cum restaurant is still the anchor to the Radićeva selection of cafes including Nivea and Prirodna i Drustvo.  Illy coffee adds to the appeal.   

Torte i to
+387 (61) 134 988 (for orders)
Probably the city’s only non-smoking café, Torte i to (Cakes & such) has some of the best prepared coffee in the city (Illy) - and this from someone who moved to Italy.  Add to that the excellent carrot cake (Belushi) and cheese cake, and you have a very good reason to head to the top of the BBI Center.  Did we forget to mention the amazing views from the terrace?  Second location in the Importanne Centar on Zmaj od Bosne.  


Culture and Entertainment

Sarajevo Film Festival
It seems almost every city has a film festival now, and Sarajevo is no exception. More info on the website.  Past years have been fab – Juliette Binoche, Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Steve Buschemi, Morgan Freeman and Michael Moore have been among the attendees along with a bevy of the best looking young Sarajevans working the festival and mingling with the cosmopolitan crowd from across Europe.

Sarajevo Jazz Festival
Annual international jazz festival, usually in the first part of November, which amongst its varied offerings tends to have some very good, and some questionable, acts. The box office is usually located at the Bosnian Cultural Center (BKC) at Branilaca Sarajeva 24. Check the website for exact dates, acts, and ticket prices.

MESS
Sarajevo's oldest annual cultural festival - 2010 will be its 50th year - the MESS International Theatre Festival is unfortunately not the city's best organised, at least for the three years the editor tried to find out which plays were in English (no one on the phones, no one responding to emails). Nonetheless, the inclusion of Truth in Translation in the 2008 festival garnered this MESS a spot in the guide.

Apolo Theatre
Mis Irbina 2
+387 (33) 445 201
The Obala Meeting Point is the most comfortable theatre in town, but with its cool pre-WWII moldings and balcony seating the Apolo has the most character. Located behind the Presidency building.

Obala Meeting Point
Hamdije Kreševljakovića 13
+387 (33) 668 186
The most comfortable theatre in Bosnia, and the attached café (with wifi) is a plus, particularly during the film festival when it is a major hub of social activity.

Centre André Malraux
Mula Mustafe Bašeskije 8
+387 (33) 471 975

Goethe Institute
Bentbaša 1a
+387 (33) 570 000
Reception and German course information open 9-17 Mon-Thurs and 9-14 Firday. The German reading room of the Sarajevo City Library (Čumurija 2m +387 (33) 203 876) is open 8-16 Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, 11-18 Wed, and 9-14 the first Saturday of the month.

Narodna Pozorišta / National Theatre
Obala Kulina Bana 9
+387 (33) 663 647

Spanish Cultural Office 
Čekaluša 14 (next to the Embassy)
+387 (33) 223 331
Small library of Spanish offerings, also has film showings and exhibitions. Library open 9:30 – 11:00 M/W and 15:30-16:30 T/Th. ofcult@bih.net.ba

Turkish Cultural Center
Mula Mustafe Bašeskije 31a
+387 (33) 271 150
Whether or not you find it a surprise, the Turkish Cultural Center is one of the more active in town – with a free film series run in apparent perpetuity in their 30-seat cinema (every Tuesday at 18h). They also have a café on the top floor with glass walls facing east, west, and south, thus ensuring a great view of the old town. Cafe open 10 -18.

Buybook
Radićeva 4
+387 (33) 716 450
Café and bookshop with a good selection (read: not airport novels) of books in English. They also publish several books and tourist guides on Bosnia.

Šahinpašić Bookstore
+387 (33) 220 112 Mula Mustafe Bašeskije 1
+387 (33) 667 210 Vladislava Škarića 8
Foreign newspapers, magazines, and a few books at their original location just past Benetton and the eternal flame on the 'tram stree'. The newer, much larger location by Hotel Europe is a full English-language bookshop with a wide range of offerings.

I Tre Bicchieri
Čobanija 3
+387 (33) 223 330
Focusing on artiginale Italian wines, this tiny shop is packed with a fun selection of otherwise hard to get wines.  Noovi and D.R. Food are all in this confederation of wine, so if you had an Italian bottle you liked, head just across the river from the main post office to "The Three Glasses".

Pamper Yourself

Kosmetologija 2EE
Hakije Kulenovića 32 (Ciglane)
+387 (33) 208 598
Dr. Ganić and her dermatalogical miracles. Great micro-peels - just ask those who've been. Open Tuesday to Saturday; call for an appointment.

Second Skin
Nahorevska 230 (past the zoo)
+387 (33) 222 339 or (61) 163 966
dayspa@secondskin.ba
Day spa with sauna, aromatherapy, reiki, hot stone massages, facials, and more. Give Dinka a call! The rosemilk pedicure and the Annick Goutal facials are both great.

Biba Cosmetic Salon
Bistrik medresa 3 (Bistrik)
+387 (33) 447 544
Manicures, pedicures, facials, massage.

What to combine with a trip to Sarajevo?


Sarajevo is about 5 hours drive from both Belgrade and Zagreb, and is an easy 2 1/2 hours by train or car to Mostar. Our recommendation would be to put Sarajevo at either the beginning or end of a trip including Sarajevo, Mostar, and southern (or perhaps central) Dalmatia (e.g. Dubrovnik and/or Pelješac). If you are so inclined, Sarajevo has regional air connections to Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade, and sometimes Skopje, but unfortunately most of these are not really any better priced than flights to other destinations across Europe. Travnik is an easy daytrip from Sarajevo, and if you are going overland to Zagreb you might consider taking something of a detour to include Jajce (although that is, admittedly, a real detour). 

4 comments:

  1. 1. Torte i to opened a #2 on top of BBI! Nice view too!
    2. Can't believe you didn't mention food in Hacienda - I LOVE IT!
    3. Can't believe you didn't mention icecream in Metropolis - THE best in town!
    :-)

    Sanja K.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nothing about silk Armani shirt.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Tourists who did not visit National Museum, they did not visit B&H and Sarajevo!

    ReplyDelete