An idyllic spot on the Trebišnjica in Trebinje © Tourist Association of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
It is raw. It is beautiful. It is a place that requires you to adjust to it rather than it adjusting to tourists. To some that is frustrating, but to others it makes it a place of rare originality and authenticity.
I do hope that my passion for this place and its people does not blur my vision of what Bosnia and Herzegovina realistically has to offer for first-time visitors. If you’ve already been, you’ll know well the charms and frustrations of this tiny central Balkan nation. I have taken considerable care to step back and reassess how easy and/or difficult it may be to navigate a country with tremendous tourism potential but also with limited infrastructure, information and travel services.
My enthusiasm for Bosnia and Herzegovina as a unique and dynamic tourism destination has not waned in the slightest. The country has made tremendous strides in the tourism sector since the first edition of this book in 2004. It continues its ardent attempt to recover from the devastation brought by the conflict of the 1990s. To be honest, it still has a long way to go to adequately address the many challenges of catering to foreign visitors but it is a raw, real and heck of a lot of fun place to visit.
Have no doubt that this country will dazzle you with its natural beauty. I make no exaggerations when it comes to praising the wonders of Mother Nature. This place is truly blessed with some of the most impressive scenery in southeast Europe. BiH will intrigue you with its melange of cultural heritage. Despite the conflict that ravaged the country in the early 1990s, you will find it to be a true crossroads between East and West.
Make no mistake, you will also get annoyed with the lack of road signs for certain destinations. Things like bus or train schedules will undoubtedly be changed, and it is near impossible to track them. Working hours of restaurants or attractions will not always be respected. A taxi driver just might overcharge you. Some of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s best places to see are only reachable by rough gravel tracks where you can easily lose your way. It’s just part of the trip. That is Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is raw. It is beautiful. It is a place that requires you to adjust to it rather than it adjusting to tourists. To some that is frustrating, but to others it makes it a place of rare originality and authenticity.
Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be wracked with political and economic turmoil, although this may be barely noticeable to travellers. Despite the long postwar transition, most will find BiH an attractive tourism destination with only the faint physical scars of war. Do not expect top-notch Western-style service and facilities everywhere you go, however, but do not be too surprised either if you are treated as an honoured guest in the most unexpected of places. The people of this country are warm and friendly. Your contribution as a visitor to Bosnia and Herzegovina is critical to its recovery – both economically and spiritually.
Researching and writing Bosnia & Herzegovina has taken a lot of work. I’ve found that since writing the first edition in 2004 the number of tourism service providers has increased tenfold, with many welcome additions in terms of accommodation, tourist information and a plethora of activities for visitors, from rafting centres and upgraded skiing facilities to new hotels and traditional restaurants. Revisiting Bosnia & Herzegovina is always a challenge but a rewarding one indeed. It is an honour and a privilege to express my knowledge of – and passion for – the country and its people with the freedom many other writers can only dream of.