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Europe’s least known destination where locals are happy to see new visitors

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Western Europeans aren’t exactly known for their warmth towards tourists.

Whether it’s French people rolling their eyes at Americans marveling at the sights of Paris, or Italian waiters being a little too direct when taking orders, you can sometimes feel like you’re not welcome at all visit Europe.

This is hardly a surprise, given that the continent has become overcrowded with visitors, with up to 23 cities signatory of the European Cities Alliance, urging the European Commission to act on their behalf by severely limiting short-term rentals across the bloc.

Europe's least known destination where locals are happy to see new visitors

They want tourists out.

Fortunately, not all of Europe has fallen in love with Americans: there’s one destination in particular that not only encourages foreigners to visit, but where locals are actually excited to accommodate them.

Why you should add Bosnia and Herzegovina to your bucket list

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is not normally at the top of your list of places to visit unless you are well versed in geopolitics and have heard of the Bosnian War of the 90s.

The medieval bazaar in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Balkans, Eastern Europe

Once part of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina descended into civil war after the breakup of the former country, which led to an insurmountable loss of life and paved the way for one of the bloodiest conflicts on the European soil since the Second World War.

Home to three major ethnic groups – the Serbs, who are Orthodox Christians, the Catholic Croats, and the Muslim Bosniaks, who form a majority at 50.1% – Bosnia’s diversity and multi-ethnic character were precisely what gave rise to the conflict at the time.

Indeed, the country has gone through a dark periodbut he rose from the ashes much more stable than it once was.

A male tourist gazing at the skyline of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Balkans and Eastern Europe

Now it is one of safest countries in Eastern Europe for foreigners.

It has been added to the U.S. State Department’s Level 2 travel advisory, meaning it is as safe as France or the United Kingdomand in recent years, tourism has developed significantlyas more and more visitors become aware of its historical value, its beautiful nature and, most importantly, its incomparable Bosnian hospitality.

Bosnians will make you feel like part of the family

Forget the reserve of some Western Europeans.

Bosnian Muslim women walking through a bazaar in an unspecified town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Balkans and Eastern Europe

If you’ve ever been to the Balkans, you know the kindness of the locals is hard to matchand being at heart a Balkan country, despite its internal struggles, Bosnia is no exception to this rule.

Unlike other Europeans living in busy areas, Bosnian nationals warmly welcome foreignersand they are renowned for their generosity.

It is not unusual for residents to make friends with their guests and happily invite them to their family’s home to enjoy homemade cheese and rakijathe quintessential Balkan drink, as many small towns and villages in the heart of Herzegovina have retained their centuries-old values ​​of hospitality.

Cevapi on a restaurant table in Skopje, North Macedonia, a traditional dish from the Balkan Peninsula in Eastern Europe

As Mustafa, a local Bosnian who has been teaching Bosnian cooking classes since 2018, said declared in an article published by The Guardian,’tourism can give us hope‘.

The entrepreneur emphasizes that he wants to “share” his house, his food and his country with visitors, which contrasts sharply with the French, Italians or Spaniards, who have have repeatedly expressed their anger against tourists and I left like issue fines for Instagrammers to take selfies at certain points of interest.

But not Bosnia.

Another under-visited gem

Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eastern Europe

Last year, the country recorded only 1.9 million nightsup 81% from 2021, but still lagging behind the record numbers posted by some of its more famous neighbors, like Croatia, Montenegro and Albania, increasingly trendy.

Bosnia tends to be overlooked as a summer destination, as its Mediterranean coastline stretches for just 12 miles.

The Neum Corridor, which it retained after the breakup of Yugoslavia, constitutes the country’s only access to the sea, with Croatia closing off most of its access to the Dalmatian coast.

coffee in Bosnia and Herzegovina

This is not to say that Bosnia lacks natural beauty: with its Mediterranean wildlife, nice weathermagnificent lakes with crystal clear waters, preserved reserves and a picturesque chain of the Dinaric Alps which cross it, it is a nature getaway to discover.

Some of the most beautiful national parks in Bosnia and Herzegovina include Sutjeskaa popular place with nature lovers and history buffs, as it was the setting for the Battle of Sutjeska during World War II, the vast expanse of greenery that is Kozara and Una National Park, with her majestic waterfalls and aquatic lagoons.

Stari Most, Mostar Old Town and the Neretva River on a sunny day seen from the top of the minaret of the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Mostar, Herzegovina, part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eastern Europe

Additionally, the country has a fascinating culture and there is no shortage of unmissable destinationsfrom the capital Sarajevo, where an archduke was killed, starting World War Ito the fairytale town of Mostar, famous for its reconstructed stone bridge spanning a turquoise-colored river, and for the countless medieval castles and ancient monasteries that lie in between.

Some also say that the train ride between Sarajevo and Mostar is one of the most picturesque in Europeand we are inclined to agree.

Unlike its Balkan partners straddling the Adriatic coast, Bosnia will be far less populated this summer and there is no better time to start exploring its rich cultural diversity than this coming season.

Panoramic view of Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Balkan Peninsula, Southeast Europe

Bosnia is an affordable summer destination

You can also expect to find much more attractive hotel offersand relatively low consumer prices, as Bosnia is neither part of the Westernized European Union nor the Eurozone.

An overnight stay at the Art Hotel, a four-star hotel in central Sarajevo, will cost you US$67, and if you want to go cheaper than that, nightly rates at the Grand Hotel, 2.5 km from the center, will cost you dearly. for just $29 USD.

Sarajevo market

Additionally, young backpackers can expect to pay between US$8 and US$19 to share a six-bed room in a hostel. There’s something on it Reservation.com for each traveler profile, and for all budgets.

As for daily costsyou will be charged US$4.40 on average for a meal in a cheap restaurant, and you should also expect to pay as little as US$1.65 for a pint of local beer.

Learn more about Bosnia and Herzegovina – and why it deserves to be on your travel radar this year – by clicking here.

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