Charming Travnik Is An Off-Beat Alternative To Sarajevo

Add on a short trip either side of a Sarajevo Film Festival visit to discover the spectacular scenery, chilled-out vibe and lively food scene in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s historic heart


Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Why now?

A Unesco City of Film since 2019, Sarajevo pulls in around
100,000 movie buffs to its film festival each year. Whether you’re in town for
the 29th edition (11-18 August), where 49 feature films,
documentaries and student submissions will compete for a
prestigious Heart of Sarajevo award, or just to soak up the buzz,
you won’t regret building time into your itinerary for a trip to
Travnik, 90km west of the capital. Seat of power during the Ottoman
era, the small town is today a laid-back, history-steeped,
red-roofed charmer with a dynamic hospitality scene and thriving
creative community. In a country where more than 65 per cent of
land is still forested, the getting there in itself will make jaded
urbanites glad they came, with technicolour views through the car
windows featuring emerald-green, pine-covered slopes, honey-hued
gorges and glittering waterfalls. Keep your eyes peeled and you
might even spot a brown bear: there are estimated to be some 1,000
teddys roaming Bosnia and Herzegovina’s hills and valleys and,
sometimes, seen swimming in its dazzling turquoise rivers.

Windows, Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mosque, Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Photo credit (R): Flickr by Brian Eager

Don’t miss

Reminders of Travnik’s historic cultural importance are
everywhere, from the town’s 14th-century fortress to Islamic
landmarks such as the Sulejmanija Mosque, but one of the first
things on your to-do list here should be trying cevapi. The
country’s de facto national dish comprises a beef or lamb mixture
rolled into sausages, grilled and served in warm bread called
lepina. Every restaurant has their own twist on the recipe, with
the local water even being said to affect taste and consistency –
and Travnik is reputedly home to the country’s best. Get yours at
, a beloved-by-locals all-day diner.

Where to stay

Check in at the accessible, 31-key Hotel Vezir
, in the medieval Varoš neighbourhood. Spacious rooms and
suites in a neutral palette overlook a mosque-studded,
fairy-tale-esque skyline, and there’s an in-house restaurant
serving Bosnian and Turkish cuisine, a spa, free WiFi and, to cinch
it, a roof terrace perfectly placed for sunset castle views.

Where to go for dinner

The Italian-leaning Ex Ponto, according to one in-the-know local source,
is “quite possibly the best restaurant in the world”. With a dining
room decked out in shades of espresso and café au lait and a wall
of pop art that pays homage to locally born writer and Nobel Prize
winner Ivo Andrić, this champion of slow food is an unstuffy date
night delight. Service is impeccable and the vegetarian options a
treat for non-meat-eaters – not always the case in Bosnia and
Herzegovina. The cherry on the cake? The entire bill, including
copious amounts of earthy, full-bottled native red blatina, will
come to less than the average price of a round of drinks back

Jajce Waterfall, Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Door handles on a Mosque, Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina

And for a drink?

The Hotel Vezir Palace bar, whose heart-of-the-old-town location
makes it a great place to kick off a night on the tiles.

Who to take with you

That friend who consumes good food and good books in equal
measure – they’ll be as on board for a trip to the Ivo Andrić Museum as they will be for browsing market
stalls for picnic fixings and heading out to the hills to

Essentials to pack

Wear this Etro floral-print crepe kaftan to glide
seamlessly from poolside to old town tour.

How to get there

Fly direct from the UK to Sarajevo International Airport. From
there, catch a bus (around £8pp), take a taxi (around £60) or rent
a car for the short road trip to Travnik.

Discover More
A Snapshot: Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina