Sarajevo is Europe without tourists. A stroll downtown takes you through time, from the Baščaršija district, with its 16th-century mosque and tiny Ottoman-era shops, into the Austro-Hungarian quarter, and finally to Yugoslavian-era apartment blocks. Sidewalk cafés serve strong coffee to residents reclaiming their city from its recent history of conflict. The Miljacka River flows beneath graceful bridges, and you won’t see a Starbucks anywhere. Go now, before word gets out.
The siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War provided the enduring image of the city for many Westerners. Bullet casings from that conflict have been turned into pens and vases, symbolic souvenirs of the city’s healing. Pick one up on Kazandžiluk (Coppersmith’s Alley) in the Baščaršija quarter.
Built in 1882, the Hotel Europe evokes the elegance of the Austro-Hungarian empire, with wood panels and chandeliers in its Viennese Café, and brocade fabrics in its “royal style” guest rooms. Just a block away is bustling, pedestrian-only Ferhadija Street.
Josip Broz Tito ruled Yugoslavia from World War II until his death in 1980. Today he’s a pop-culture icon, celebrated on mugs and T-shirts and at Café Tito, a spot behind the National Museum where students born after his reign get their caffeine fixes.