Photograph by Thomas Brock, Alamy Stock Photo
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In Baščaršija, the Ottoman bazaar area, copper and brass souvenirs are crafted using special techniques passed down through generations.

Photograph by Thomas Brock, Alamy Stock Photo

A Local's Guide to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Follow these insider tips for an authentic trip to the welcoming and cosmopolitan capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to Baščaršija, Sarajevo's oldest neighborhood. Sarajevo is sometimes referred to as “little Jerusalem,” and this neighborhood—with a Catholic church, an Orthodox church, a synagogue, and many mosques very close to one another—is the best proof of that nickname. Be sure to go inside both the Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque and the Old Orthodox Church.

Summer is the best time to visit my city because that's when the city is most beautiful and people are enjoying the weather in outdoor restaurants and cafés. This is the time to experience the city at its most friendly and relaxed.

You can see my city best from Mount Trebević, which overlooks the city. After taking a taxi to the top, return by foot on the ruins of the bobsled tracks from the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Locals know to skip “war tours” offered by local tourism agencies and check out those sites solo. Most of the points of interest are a walkable distance within central Sarajevo, and any taxi driver can get you to the Tunnel Museum near the airport for 15 Bosnian marks (about nine U.S. dollars). Locals also know never to eat ćevapi with silverware—just use your hands!

Head to Kazandžiluk Street (or the old coppersmith alley) to figure out what souvenir you want to buy. Then continue to one of the streets nearby to buy authentic, local souvenirs at reduced prices.

In the past, notable people like novelist Ivo Andrić, writer Meša Selimović, rock musician Milan Mladenović, Yugoslav musician Goran Bregović, and filmmaker Emir Kusturica have called my city home. Academy Award-winning director Danis Tanović also lives in the city.

My city’s best museum is the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina because the citizens of our city were responsible for having it reopened after financial hard times. Be sure to also visit the recently reopened Vijećnica (City Hall), which has been beautifully restored.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that local transport costs less than a dollar (U.S.) a ride. Taxis are also very reasonable. Just make sure you know where you'd like to go because most of the drivers speak very little English.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is on Great Alley, past old estates in Ilidža, which leads to the park surrounding Vrelo Bosne (spring of the Bosna River). After your walk and delicious lunch of fresh-caught grilled trout, hire a horse-drawn carriage to take you back.

My city really knows how to celebrate Bajram—when the Ramadan fast ends—because all of the city's citizens can partake in the festivities, especially the eating! This night is one of the best nights of the year to go out in Sarajevo.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they know Šatrovački, like Sarajevo's version of pig latin. Sarajevans are known for their slang, which isn't used much in other parts of the country or region.

For a fancy night out, I go to the restaurant Luka near the Academy of Fine Arts. In my opinion, this is hands down the city's best restaurant. If you’re not into seafood, check out wine bar Noovi instead.

Just outside my city, you can visit the Olympic mountains of Bjelašnica, Jahorina, and Trebević. The Skakavac Waterfall is only about eight miles outside of town.

My city is known for being a fairly small place, but it’s really Bosnia and Herzegovina's urban and artistic hub. Sarajevans are proud of their beautiful city, with good reason.

The best outdoor market in my city is Buvlja market, which is a flea market where you can buy all sorts of interesting old stuff. If you're looking for old records, appliances, or Yugoslav souvenirs, you can find them here.

Aščinica Stari Grad is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Pirpa is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the Klix online portal.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I like to enjoy a traditional Bosnian coffee at one of the city's outdoor cafés.

To escape the crowds, I go visit my Mom! Otherwise I go to a great local restaurant in Lapišnica, just past the city limits on the road toward Pale. It's the perfect place to relax. The very friendly owners, Zoka and Božica, will be happy to prepare whatever local dish you'd like to try.

The dish that represents my city best is ćevapi … but don't forget the kajmak (like a salty clotted cream) and rakija, and homemade schnapps is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Ćevabdžinica Željo and Barhana respectively.

Underground is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Kino Bosna.

The meeting of four major religions in a hundred-square-meter area could only happen in my city. It's an incredible experience to hear the church bells ringing at the same time the call to prayer is sung.

In the spring you should go see a local soccer game. The best one is the city derby between FK Željezničar and FK Sarajevo.

In the summer you should check out the Sarajevo Film Festival.

In the fall you should take a hike to one of the foliage-covered mountains near Sarajevo.

In the winter you should grab yours skis or snowboard and head to Jahorina or Bjelašnica. The latter can be reached by public bus that stops in front of the National Museum on Saturday mornings.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the the Sarajevo Zoo, known as Pionirska Dolina (Pioneer Valley).

The best book about my city is Sarajevo Marlboro by Miljenko Jergovic because it offers an authentic picture of life under the siege.