This Balkan country could join the EU – here’s why travellers should be excited

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been granted candidate status to join the European Union

John Bills
Written by
John Bills
Writer, Time Out Travel
Mostar bridge, Bosnia
Photograph: Shutterstock

After years of working to meet requirements, Bosnia and Herzegovina is finally on the highway to EU membership. The European Commission has granted candidate status for the country – and the skies over Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar and the rest shine a little brighter (though the autumn weather might also have something to do with that). 

What does that mean for travellers? Good things, hopefully. Having lived here on and off for the last 13 years, I’ve heard the term ‘undiscovered gem’ get drilled deep into the ground – but I’m more than happy to say that Bosnia and Herzegovina might just be the most underrated travel destination in Europe.

EU status would likely bring improvements to infrastructure, road and air connections and the rest, while the possibility of Schengen status has clear benefits for friction-free border crossings. We’ll wait and see what happens, but there are plenty of reasons for optimism, both for Bosnians and travellers.

So why should you be excited? Because Bosnia and Herzegovina is a stunning conveyor belt of beauty packed with history, culture, great food and great people.

Sarajevo teems with history, while the Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar is one of the most impressive bridges on the planet; the nightlife in Banja Luka goes all night long, while the streets of Tuzla, Trebinje and Bihać are packed with charming cafes and romantic restaurants. On the subject of the latter, you haven’t eaten grilled meat until you’ve done so in Travnik, with the elegant Šarena Mosque for company. 

Throw in a handful of gorgeous national parks (Una, Drina, Sutjeska, Kozara) filled with adventure and serenity; Europe’s largest Islamic cultural event (Ajvatovica in Prusac); an important Catholic pilgrimage site (Međugorje); sweeping mountains and turquoise rivers, and you’ve got a travel destination waiting to be adored. Oh, and Jajce has actual waterfalls in the town centre. What’s not to like? 

It remains to be seen how long it will take for candidate status to become full-blown membership, but the future is bright for travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now, where’s the šljivovica? It’s time to celebrate…

ICYMI: these are the 16 best city breaks in Europe right now.

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