In September 2016, I had the pleasure of visiting Bosnia and Croatia and I fell head over heels for the countries. My boyfriend and I flew into Bosnia from Australia for the start of our jam packed 3 week adventure.
If you’re thinking about taking your own trip to either Bosnia or Croatia, I would recommend going during off-peak seasons as I did during September. During the peak summer season (June – August) these countries become a more popular (and crowded) destination each year. Even travelling during the off-peak season in September it still seemed to be quite crowded as we made our way through the busy (and narrow) streets. Luckily for us, Bosnia and Croatia welcomed us with amazing warm weather in September, which made the endless stairs and steep hills bearable. You’ll also find that everything is much cheaper off season, including flights.
If you find yourself in a similar situation to myself and are limited with the amount of time you have but still want to make the most of every minute during your travels, I’ve outlined the Bosnia and Croatia itinerary I took for my trip to help you get started:
Day 1 – 3: Sarajevo
As the capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo tends to be an easier (and generally more affordable) destination to fly into from most places. While Sarajevo tends to get overlooked because its not on the coast, it has a rich culture and history and is easily walkable.
Day 4 – 6: Split
From Sarajevo we took a 6 hour scenic bus ride to Split. The length of the bus ride will depend on the amount of time spent at border crossing into Croatia. We rented our very first AirBnB apartment in the heart of the Old Town. Split is certainly a more popular tourist destination. We spent plenty of time exploring Diocletian’s Palace, learning about the history of the city and indulging in the delicious food throughout Split.
Day 6-9: Hvar
First thing in the morning we took a short ferry ride from Split to the nearby Island Hvar. During our time in Hvar we visited Fortress Spanjola, the fresh local markets and hired a boat to explore the small islands close by.
Day 10-12: Dubrovnik
We took a 3 hour ferry from Hvar to Dubrovnik. The time went so fast as we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, making friends with people around the world and just relaxing. Known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, Dubrovnik is the most popular tourist destination in all of Croatia, and the city is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. While I don’t think you need more than a few days in Dubrovnik, we stayed in Dubrovnik the longest during our trip to take advantage of the different day trip options in the area.
One of my favourite day trips was to the Island hopping tour of the Elaphite Islands just off the coast of Dubrovnik. It was a serene place to spend the day with plenty to see across the island. The Islands were the perfect quiet getaway after being in the crowded streets of Dubrovnik. After a lot of time on the road with multi-country day trips, an island hopping tour off the coast of Dubrovnik was just what I needed at this point in the Croatia itinerary. The boat stopped at Koločep, Šipan, and Lopud, the only three inhabited islands that are a part of the Elaphite Islands. It was just what I needed to wind down from being on the go the last two days.
Day 13: Montenegro
Another perfect border crossing day trip from Dubrovnik, my visit to Montenegro was too short a stay in my opinion. I would have loved to spend more than a day there. Our tour guide was extremely informative, educating us about the 1993 war and telling us about the scenery. I enjoyed every moment of walking around Budva and Kotor, with the rugged mountains contrasted by the clear, blue waters.
Day 14-15: Mostar
The Old Town in Mostar is definitely a must visit and also one of my favourite stops during our trip. I was also surprised at the number of tourists here as we explored the narrow, medieval streets lined with cobblestone. It is full of history, interesting stories and unique attractions. The number one attraction in Mostar is Stari Most (Old Bridge) where you are sure to see locals dive into the cold and fast flowing river. The bridge was standing strong for 437 years before being destroyed during the war in 1993. It was reconstructed using the same material found in the river in 2004.
Day 16-17: Tuzla
From Mostar we got a bus to Sarajevo where we stopped for some lunch before heading to Tuzla. The fourth largest city in Bosnia, Tuzla is one of the least touristy destinations on our trip. A quiet town with few tourists, this was the perfect place to relax after being on the go for several days.
Day 18: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
We decided to spend some time in Kuala Lumpur while returning home to give us a break from the long travel we had ahead. We had 24 hours to spend in Kuala Lumpur after 15 hours travel beforehand. We booked a room in Pullman Hotel in the heart of the city. Coming from a small town in Adelaide, I was surprised to find out that the city was an hour drive from the international airport. We got a taxi for 80 ringgit (about $25 Australian – so cheap!) to our hotel. We visited the main shopping centre, had lunch and enjoyed a fish spa.
This itinerary may seem like a lot, especially looking at all the stops on the map, but the whole trip was really a good pace. Once we nailed down our trip plans, we secured reasonably priced accommodation and managed our travel arrangements. We didn’t include any of Northern Croatia, which we decided to save for our next trip when we have more time. We were able to see a lot on this trip, but still managed to have enough down time that we didn’t feel rushed.
For me travelling is more than just visiting the popular tourist cities/attractions that everyone visits all the time. Don’t get me wrong, they are all on my bucket list but for me I enjoy exploring places less known, love visiting the roads less travelled and truly experiencing how the locals live their lives. This is the reason we decided to take the bus between each city we visited. During our bus rides we were able to see the small towns, watch locals maintaining their farms, cute homes and beautiful mountains as we followed the gorgeous green river.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more detailed posts of each destination we visited soon to come! 🙂