What to do on a Rainy Day in Sarajevo: Self guided walking tour on a rainy day
Encounter with Sarajevo is never conditioned by the sun and beautiful weather. The city serves you more as a friend to get to know, understand and experience the metaphysical, the above and beyond the primal and the obvious. Contrary to all the plans and maps we make, rainy day in Sarajevo is the best time to simply let the city guide you. It is the best place to be on a rainy day and will certainly provide an amazing glimpse of the past in present-day Europe.
Breakfast: amazing variety of tasty regional products
Start your rainy day in Sarajevo by skipping dull hotel breakfast and rather have one outside. If you are staying in the old town- there are plenty of amazing places to have some tasty local breakfast. Let your thoughts flutter in the absence of daily problems. The raincoat and clothing in layers will meet the needs of this day.
Choose a place with large windows and experience the everyday life of Sarajevo from a cozy and warm environment. We recommend restaurant The Address which is located just next to Sebilj and offers a great variety of breakfast food. Sit by the window and observe the everyday life of Sarajevo. You will find that it is much slower than you are used to. No one is in a hurry today, no matter it is raining. Order some “ustipci” with fresh local cheese or Bosnian type of polenta “pura”.
Bitter or sweet, strong Bosnian coffee
You can never “grab” a coffee when in BiH. Coffee is a way of life for every Bosnian man and woman and, no matter how important is the “thing you have” you must find some time for a coffee. Coffee is not an urge or need, it is a tradition. Therefore, it doesn’t really mean anything if you are not a coffee lover, you should still have one.
Do not order Turkish coffee. Even though for your taste, it is pretty much the same thing, Bosnians and Turks do have a different way of preparing coffee. Oh, and don’t be surprised if, out of sudden, someone starts talking to you. Make yourself comfortable and offer him/ her a seat, after all- you are both having coffee which is enough to make you allies for an hour at least. Coffee as a way of life is one of the reasons we love Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Narrow streets of Bascarsija
Indulge in small and narrow streets of Sarajevo and let them guide you. Enter Kazandziluk, a street so small that rain barely touches it. You will feel a particularly soothing atmosphere because everyone in this street do what they love. Kazandziluk will tell you the original story of Sarajevo. Back in the golden age of Ottoman Empire, things were a lot more leisurely done, the art of crafts simply did not allow haste.
Get into the shops, take a look at the years of experience shown in handmade souvenirs and items for everyday use. You will most likely find an abstracted artist sitting on a small chair and creating an object that will once again perpetuate the Sarajevo spirit. Be relaxed in the conversation. Locals do not like “tweaked” conversations that make the situation uncomfortable. As soon as they notice that you are open for talk, you will have an incredibly warm and cordial atmosphere.
Usual working time of shops: Mon-Sat: 8AM-6PM
On the opposite side of Pigeon square and Kazandziluk Street, you will find a main walking street- Saraci. Saraci Street is a home to numerous small shops, crafts, gift shops and city landmarks. Bey’s Mosque is a perfect haven for a rainy day. Stroll through the mosque’s garden and feel the water from the main fountain perfectly blending with the sound of rain.
Come on in, it’s raining so let’s assume you’re dressed appropriately. The mosque’s dress code implies long sleeves and pants, women must have their heads covered. Let your feet sink into the soft and mosque carpets and your mind to sink into a calming and seemingly simple and modest interior. In other words, the more you free your mind, the more you will notice the details that make this mosque a sacred place, a place where no trivial concern has a place.
Open for visits: 1st of April: 30th of October: 9AM-12PM, 2.30PM-4PM, 5.30PM-7AM; 30th of October-1st of April: 9AM-11AM
Entrance fee: 3 BAM (cca 1.5 EUR)
Saraci: Mecca of goldsmiths and shops
Continue the stroll through Saraci Street. It is the most famous street in Sarajevo, full of shops where locals will welcome you with a smile. Enter the home of goldsmith families and witness some of the most beautiful jewellery you can find in the world. When you do what you love, it simply has to metamorphose to art.
If you are traveling at a time when it is “normal” to eat ice cream, be sure to grab one in pastry shop Egypt. In Sarajevo, it is absolutely “unacceptable” to eat ice cream on a rainy day, but if it is traditionally known as the best ice cream in town, you will come to understanding. Defy the weather.
Usual working time of shops: Mon-Sat: 8AM-6PM
Sacred Heart Cathedral: Symbol of European Jerusalem
Few steps further you will find Sacred Heart cathedral – another symbol that represents all that this historic and oppressed city should be bowed to. Built in 1889, its majesty defies all those who have dared to seize Sarajevo for years.
Get into the cathedral. You will be warmly greeted by a cheerful priest, regardless of your religious beliefs. Sarajevo Cathedral has long been consecrated by all locals, no matter their religion. Therefore, tt is not only a symbol of the Catholic community, but simply a community.
Open for visits: every day
Entrance fee: free/small donations are appreciated
Check out the cathedral from below. Quite a few people are take a look at this giant from behind. The cathedral is beautiful on the back as well, and right across the street you will find the Bosniak Institute. A building with a beautiful garden and unexpected treasuries inside.
At the Bosniak Cultural Center, you will have the opportunity to witness the magnificent exhibition of Safet Zec and his paintings dedicated to the hands and mothers of Srebrenica. The atmosphere gives an absolutely orgasmic sense of unification and perfect harmony of history, religion and art.
The Institute also has an incredible collection of books, so find someone to take you in to the library and go through the old archives. Feel the smell of old books and recall a past you have not summoned.
Open for visits:
Open Markets: Attentive and friendly local vendors
Challenge the greyness of a rainy day in Sarajevo with local fruit and vegetable offer at lively Markale Market. Recall that this place, paradoxically, is exactly the place where the largest city massacre in the history of the city occurred almost three decades ago. Two times. Buy a rose from a grandma whose hands are reminiscent of those you’ve seen on paintings at the Bosniak Culture Centre and leave one at the Sarajevo Rose location. Keep in mind that most of the vendors do not accept credit cards. Prices are fairly reasonable.
There is some consolation that you find walking the narrow street of the open markets as you hear the rain rummaging through the tarps of small boutiques. Boutiques offer all kinds of cheap clothing according to the latest fashion dictation of the city. Run your hands through the fabrics and try something out in a small “changing room” bounded by a simple curtain. The life of vendors at the Sarajevo market is backbreaker.
For those of you who interested in old books there is a charming antique book store just behind the Markale Market.
Sarajevo Tram: Glimpse of the city through a window
Rainy Day is perfect for the tram ride. Simply buy a ticket at the kiosk and sit comfortably in the seat by the window. Try to do this before the rush hour (between 3 and 4 pM) to avoid crowding.
The tram goes in one line, so you can be worry-free, because any time you decide to exit the tram right across the street, you will see a tram stop that will take you back to the city. However, for the best impression, leave at the last stop, Ilidza.
Take a walk through Sarajevo most famous suburbia- Ilidza and have a lunch. While in Bosnia, you will never have to feel ashamed if you are big eater. Moreover, you should take it with a pride. Cevapi, burek, dolmas, bey’s soup, klepe, bosnian pot, bamija are just a top of an iceberg. Prepare your palate for a tasty, but very spicy food, and skip a diet while in Bosnia.
On your return you may pay less attention to buildings and pay more attention to people. Sit down, observe and listen no matter you do not understand. You will hear a lot of conversations, a local man does not care about the decency of silence in public transport. The tram is an ideal opportunity to meet and catch up with the old acquaintance. Sarajevo women are well dressed at any time of a day. It is their way to show resistance and spite towards everyday adversities.
Tram ticket: 1.60 BAM (cca 1 EUR per ride)
Tram departures: cca every 4 min
Important to know: due to a high rate of pickpocketing in trams make sure to have a seat or be aware of people surrounding you.
City Hall: Silent and giant Sarajevo Phoenix
Now that you are already in town, exit the tram next to the City Hall (Bos. Vijecnica) just across the street from the tram stop. It rises from the old city like a boulder that defies all the Ottomans, yet fits into every oriental detail. The overarching paradox of the architecture of this building is the need to modernize Bascarsia during the Austro-Hungarians.
What they did not realise at the time was that this eternity would become a symbol of Bascarsija, not because of modernisation but because it uniquely fits into everything that Bascarsija exudes.
30 years ago, every dream of Sarajevo came into question while helplessly watching the entire building in flame.
Open for visits:
Entrance Ticket: 12 BAM (cca 6 EUR)
Sarajevo at night: cheap beer and strong rakija
Did we already mention that Bosnians are, in general, happy people? They indeed are and, most importantly, they will embrace every chance they have to spend some time with friends and family.
The essence of Sarajevo nightlife are pubs, and locals can be very strict when choosing their favorite pub to hang out. Good “raja” ( people you are comfortable with, no matter if close friends or acquaintances ) comes at the first place, and second place is music.
Great way to get to know a culture is through its drink. That is to say, Rakia is definitely a liquid form of Bosnian hospitality. Beer is always an option for “let’s have coffee” in the evening and there is no good party nor celebration without rakia which is also considered to be “medicine” within elderly generation.
Choose your perfect bar, have a beer or two, taste homemade rakija, and enjoy the famous Yugoslavian rock and roll.