Probably the most scenic road in all of BiH would be the mountain road meandering the breathtaking landscapes of Bjelašnica and Visočica Mountains and connecting continental Bosnia with Mediterranean Herzegovina. You can drive all the way from Sarajevo to Konjic through some truly picturesque mountain landscapes and have a glimpse at its well preserved mountain culture. What you will not find in the most of Europe anymore you can find here. Traditional architecture and lifestyle which stayed pretty much unchanged for centuries, rich and thriving folklore, as well as organic homegrown and home-made food to name a few.
Stećci – medieval Bosnian tombstones
Dotting the hills and villages along the way you will encounter stećci – mysterious Bosnian tombstones, a unique and rich cultural heritage of this country. There are an estimated 70.000 of these medieval tombstones, 60.000 of which are in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest in the neighboring countries. Of these, more than 5,000 bear interesting carved decorations. Stećci appeared in the 12th century as a common tradition among Bosnian, Catholic and Orthodox followers alike and disappeared with the Ottoman conquest of BiH in the early 16th century. They were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.
Mountain villages to visit
One of the best places to experience the traditional way of life here is certainly Lukomir, the oldest and highest village of Bosnia. It is a bit harder to reach, the choice of food and accommodation is quite slim but the people, authenticity and sunrises here are certainly worth it. You can find the details on how to get there and what to do in the Lukomir travel guide. On the other hand Umoljani village is much easier to get to and has a far better and wider choice of food and accommodation, but the whole village has been rebuilt after the war (’92 – ’95). However, it also thrives on local legends and myths and has plenty of superb walks around. For more details check out Umoljani travel guide.
Sinanovići and Šabići villages
This whole road is dotted with mountain villages to visit and some are quite close to Sarajevo. You can visit a rural household, enjoy some beautiful hikes and check out several stećci necropolis around. Some 40 km from Sarajevo you can find Šabići and Sinanovići villages which have mountain huts and rural households where you can stay. There are plenty of freshwater springs and medicinal herbs around Sinanovići and both villages can be reached by public transport from Sarajevo.
For the truly authentic experience you might choose to check out Dubočani village. The sleepy village of Dubočani lies right above the stunning Rakitnica Canyon at slightly above 600 masl. There are some stunning views of Rakitnica Canyon here as well as some superb hikes. They say this was the last village which converted from the ancients ways of Bosnian Church to Islam after the Ottomans conquered Herzegovina. The villagers still live the traditional highlander life of herding sheep and tending to small farms. Expect no tourist infrastructure here, but the enthusiastic and adventurous can spend the night with one of the locals. I’ve visited Špago family and I will leave their phone number at the end of this post if you would like to contact them for a visit.
Why I keep coming back?
This is definitely my favorite road in the country and I’ve passed it many times. Every time I pass though I find something new, I discover some nook I haven’t seen before, some view which leaves me breathless or some old local with wisdom only people who live so close to nature still posses. Bosnian people in general are very hospitable, but the ways of these rural mountain people are centuries old, and if you come you will get to experience something very authentic, a glimpse into how life once looked like, felt like and tasted like. I know I still keep coming back for more.