If you read my post yesterday then you already know that I think Sarajevo is one of the coolest cities ever and that you shouldn’t miss it the next time you are in Europe. What I failed to mention though, and what is of primary importance, is how to get there. It’s actually not as convenient as you would think which is why I think the topic deserves its own post.
The easiest way for me to get to Sarajevo from Malmö/Copenhagen was by first flying to Belgrade. Belgrade is a pretty solid starting point and also a beautiful city to visit so I would recommend searching for flights there if direct ones to Sarajevo are way out of your price range.
The mileage from Belgrade to Sarajevo is approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) – easy, right?
Wrong. Whether you choose to go by bus, train or car, it will take you at least 6 hours to travel between cities. Driving in a rented or private car being the quickest though least recommended for a first time visitor. Those roads are scary as….
Traveling by bus is the best choice in my opinion
because they are faster than the trains because a train between the two does not exist anymore (see below) and you are less likely to get stuck sitting next to a chain smoker. Smoking is “prohibited” in both but I noticed people on the train really didn’t seem to care, nor did the conductors.
I took a bus from Belgrade to Sarajevo and the journey was about 7 hours. At that time (2011) there was only one bus a day going from Belgrade’s main bus station to Sarajevo’s main bus station. It left at 4pm and arrived just before 11pm. I don’t remember the exact price but know it cost between 15 and 20 Euros one-way. You can check the Belgrade bus station’s site to see if anything has changed.
As for traveling back from Sarajevo to Belgrade, this was the last update from someone on the ground – thanks Vas!
*Update – April 2, 2013*
Thanks to Vas for leaving a comment with bus information on getting back from Sarajevo to Belgrade. There is one bus a day that leaves from the main train station at 06:00 and gets in at 16:00 (!) – a Eurolines bus. Then five a day from Istočno Sarajevo to Belgrade:
08:00 arriving 15:35
09:45 arriving 17:45
12:30 arriving 20:00
15:00 arriving 21:50
22:00 arriving 04:30 (t+1)
Train travel, although romantic, is extremely slow in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Much of their rail network was badly damaged during the war and as a result, many tracks still remain in disrepair. I was shocked to find out that it was just as recent as December 2009 that the main train line between Belgrade and Sarajevo reopened. I took a train from Sarajevo to Belgrade and I kid you not, this took about 9 hours. Yeah. Gorgeous, gorgeous scenery and of course trains are a lot sexier than buses, but pretty inconvenient if you are short on time. And sorry to break it to all the flashpackers out there but no, there are no power outlets or free wifi to make that lengthy ride any more bearable. You will be lucky if you can even find some food to buy after a certain point. Hint, hint *bring your own*.
There is one train a day from Sarajevo to Belgrade (and one a day from Belgrade to Sarajevo). My train left at 11:35am and arrived in Belgrade around 8:30pm.
**UPDATE March 26, 2013** Through several sources on the ground and further research I have done, it appears as if the Serbian railway has cut many of its international routes including Belgrade – Sarajevo. No word on why, but from here on our looks like it’s going to be a bus or bust if trying to get between the two cities!
The last option, which in my opinion is the best option, is private transfer through Gea Tours. They are not a perfect company to deal with and I am in no way affiliated with them, but at present it’s the only way I go between Belgrade and Sarajevo (minus the time I am on my own hired bus for the Balkan tours I run – you should join one!). With Gea Tours, it is 25 euros one-way for door-to-door service in a private van which is pretty convenient and not that much more expensive than taking the bus. It can be a hassle as sometimes they give you like a 2 hour time frame of when they will pick you up since the final schedule all depends on how many people they fill the van with (usually not more than 10), but still the better option in my opinion.
Good luck and please feel free to drop a comment below if you’d like to share your experience, have updates to any of the information I’ve provided, or have stumbled upon a better option. Happy travels and if you’re looking for some things to do in Sarajevo, make sure you check out my posts on one of the greatest cities in the world!