Fall 2016 was the first time for me to go to Eastern Europe and I am very happy I did. I have been speaking about my trip to Croatia and Bosnia for MONTHS! I recommend these two amazing countries to everyone I see. I originally only wanted to do one or the other, but going to both happened because of my Saudi visa requirements. I had to visit a country in the Schengen area (Croatia) to be allowed entry to Bosnia.
Croatia and Bosnia Trip Route:
Zagreb (1 night) > Plitvice Lakes (1 night) > Split (few hours) > Dubrovnik (three nights) > Mostar (three nights) > Sarajevo (two nights)
I started with a direct flight from London to Zagreb the capital, which was fabulous. I only stayed there a night. I took the first bus from there to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. I spent the day at the park and then spent the night at one of the parks hotels. In the morning I headed to Split where I stopped to spend few hours before heading to Dubrovnik. I spent three nights in the very touristy but pretty old town of Dubrovnik.
After spending three nights in Dubrovnik, we got the bus to Mostar. It was around three hours. It was a very rainy day and the bus was so crowded and even leaked a little. I stayed at Isa's family run Pension and really loved it. Such kind and hospitable people. It was a great location because it was ten minutes from the beautiful old town, but also five minutes from where the locals hangout. I wouldn't recommend eating in the old town because it's slightly over priced. I really enjoyed the food in Mostar. The first day in Mostar was dedicated to the old town tour, market and food. The second day, we arranged a trip with our host family to see three spots outside Mostar. You can just to the old town and find day trips from the tourist information desks. We wanted to take the train from Mostar to Sarajevo for the stunning views, but the train was in repairs, so we got the bus instead. The three days we spent in Sarajevo passed so quickly and I got to meet some Bosnian friends from Instagram and go on the free walking tour. There are so many things to do and see. Here are 15 things to do in Sarajevo.
Tips for Muslim Travellers in Croatia and Bosnia:
Hijab: I didn't get any problems travelling with my hijab in Croatia even when I was solo. People were very nice and helpful with me. In Bosnia, no one even glanced at me since it's a semi Muslim country and I was dressed like many locals.
Halal food in Croatia: there is only one halal restaurant in Dubrovnik and all the halal food was sold out by the time we arrived. There are so many vegetarian options though.
Halal food in Bosnia: Every restaurant I went to served halal meat. I trusted the owners confirmations.
Mosques in Croatia: I didn't actively look for mosques in the spots I visited Croatia. My friend found one in Dubrovnik. It was within the walls of the old town. It was tucked away with a little mosque sign. I loved how it fitted with all the other buildings. It was convenient having it because we just got to pray there during the day.
Mosques were scattered around Mostar and Bosnia. Friday prayer for women in Bosnia: My friend and I thought it would be a nice idea to join the Friday prayer in the mosque in the old town in Sarajevo, but since it's very busy on Friday, men occupy the whole mosque space. They even extend to the court yard. I spent a lot of time on buses, but it was still fun. I managed to take early buses and just slept there.
Note: I booked all my buses from London and printed my tickets. Make sure you have 1 euro with you for every bag that's going in the bus luggage storage.
PS. I did Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes and Split solo. Then I joined my friend in Dubrovnik and we carried on to Mostar and Sarajevo together.