Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo bobsled track – how to visit and what to expect there

Sarajevo bobsled track
(Last Updated On: 30/05/2019)

I’ve been planning to visit Sarajevo bobsled track from the moment I’ve learned about this weird structure located in the hills high above the city. It is everything I enjoy: quirky, abandoned, concrete, covered in street art and with the dark history behind. A perfect place for urbex exploration.

But as soon as I figured out how to get to Sarajevo bobsled track my hopes were crushed. The hills surrounding Sarajevo are way too steep for my weak shape and even if I knew I would eventually make it there this would be a painful way up. I’ve been postponing the trip to the Sarajevo bobsled track for future visits in the city, always finding some lame excuses not to go this time.

Fortunately, the moment the cable car up to Trebevic mountain was opened, visiting the abandoned bobsled track in Sarajevo has become super easy. I used the very first opportunity I had to go all the way there and it was totally worth it. In this post, I’m telling you how to get to the abandoned bobsled track in Sarajevo!

Sarajevo bobsled track

History of Sarajevo bobsled track

In February 1984 Sarajevo hosted Winter Olympic Games. It was a joyful time of the city and even now you can find many remnants of these events all over Sarajevo (Kosevo stadium or Skenderija hall are probably the most known ones). On the slope of the Trebevic mountain, a new bobsled track was built to host bobsleigh and luge competitions. Not only the 1984 Winter Olympics Games but also numerous World Cup and national competitions between 1983 and 1992 (when the siege of Sarajevo began) took place here.

With the perfect location high above the city, the bobsled track was used by the Serbian forces as the artillery position during the tragic years that came. After the war the concrete structure remained abandoned, decaying in the forest and attracting some of the more adventurous tourists and local teenagers training their street art skills.

Sarajevo bobsled track

How to visit the abandoned bobsled track in Sarajevo

There is really no good way to visit the abandoned bobsled track in Sarajevo independently. No matter how you do it you will have to go uphill at some point and that’s no fun in the capital of Bosnia, especially for those who are not too good at hiking (like me).

But the abandoned bobsled track in Sarajevo is worth the effort. It was all I expected and more and even if I had sore muscles for next two days I didn’t really mind that as I finally could see one of my bucket list items that immediately made it to the list of my favorite things to do in Sarajevo.

Sarajevo bobsled track

So, how did I visit the abandoned bobsled track? I took the cable car up to Trebevic mountain and walked down from there. This was actually a very easy part.

The cable car departs every day from the station near the brewery, the way there is clearly marked (I put it on the map you can find below too). It works every day, Monday-Friday between 10am and 9pm, on the weekends from 9am to 9pm (the hours might be different in the winter season, check the website of the cable car for the up to date information).

One way ticket costs 15 Bosnian marks and return 20 marks (it is cheaper for locals). I got a return ticket as I was planning to go back the same way, as it turned out I didn’t but more about it later.

The cable car ride takes some 10-15 minutes and the views along the way are really scenic. You can admire all the faces of Sarajevo – from the busy streets to idyllic views, almost like in the countryside. Eventually, you will find yourself in the middle of beautiful nature, with the bustling city down below.

Sarajevo cable car

Sarajevo cable car

Sarajevo cable car

Back in the pre-war times, there was a restaurant complex at the upper station of the cable car but it was destroyed like many other buildings in Sarajevo. At the time of my visit, in September 2018, there was no infrastructure around, only the cable car station so get yourself water and snacks before you go up.

You can also find a map there that show the area with numerous hiking trails around as well as the bobsled track. It’s very easy to get there from the cable car station, just follow the road downhill and eventually you will see the start of the bobsled track on the left side on the road. I recommend downloading maps.me map to your phone as all the places are clearly marked there.

Sarajevo from above

Visiting Sarajevo bobsled track

The bobsled track is exactly 1261 meters long and has 13 turns. Despite being abandoned and a bit destroyed (you can see bullet holes in some parts) you can easily and safely walk all the way down, it is a solid concrete structure after all and I haven’t seen any rubbish or smashed glass around. The place is pretty well maintained, probably because it is used for the summer training and downhill bike rides. The rumor says there are restorations works going on but I haven’t seen single evidence it is really happening.

A big part of the bobsled track is covered in graffiti and street art but to be honest it’s not the best one, although you can find some gems among the scrawling, like the painting of Vucko – the famous mascot from the 1984 Winter Olympic Games (but Sarajevo street art isn’t the best in general…) Kind of like in Chernobyl exclusion zone, nature tries to take over the place and you can see a lot of moss growing on top of the concrete.

Sarajevo bobsled track

Let’s face it, there is not much to do at the bobsled track. You can walk down (or up), see the street art, feel accomplished that you made it here but that’s all. The bobsled track is located in the middle of the forest and you can’t even admire beautiful views of Sarajevo from there, even if you are located high up in the mountains above the city.

I’ve heard people being disappointed with the place and I can totally get it as it might not live up to the hype for many. After all, there is so much mystery and stories about the place that when you see a concrete tube and not much besides it you might ask yourself “is that it?”. OK, it wasn’t the case with me but I know people who reacted like that.

Sarajevo bobsled track

Sarajevo bobsled track

Sarajevo bobsled track

Sarajevo bobsled track

Sarajevo bobsled track

Sarajevo bobsled track

Sarajevo bobsled track

Sarajevo bobsled track

Sarajevo bobsled track

Sarajevo bobsled track

What to see near the Sarajevo bobsled track

But! The majority of people visit the abandoned bobsled track only and don’t bother with checking if there is anything interesting in the area while in fact there is.

From the parking at the lower end of the bobsled track take a path through the forest and after some 5 minutes walk you will find yourself at the glade with the destroyed old observatory known also as Bistrik Tower.

In the times of Austria – Hungary, a military fortress was located here but the place lost its function after World War 2. In the 1960s it was transformed into the observatory and was in use until the war in the 90s. The buildings were used as the military positions, offering the perfect views all over the city, and eventually were badly damaged which you can see still today.

You can climb up to the tower for even better views although be careful as the surface might not be very steady and there might be some holes in the ground. But the views from the top of the tower are really spectacular!

Sarajevo Bistrik tower

Sarajevo Bistrik tower

Sarajevo Bistrik tower

Sarajevo Bistrik tower

Sarajevo Bistrik tower

Sarajevo Bistrik tower

Sarajevo Bistrik tower

Sarajevo Bistrik tower

A little bit further down the road, you can find two badly destroyed houses with numerous bullet holes all over the walls. What makes them special is a big Mr. Chat painted on the side of one of the buildings. You can find the grinning cat in many places in Sarajevo (actually I don’t know any other city where there are so many paintings of this distinctive cat) but this one is in surprisingly good shape. If you like street art you can’t miss this spot.

Sarajevo Mr Chat

Sarajevo Mr Chat

How to get back from the bobsled track to Sarajevo

And that’s it. Now you need to somehow get back to the center of Sarajevo. You have two options here: either walking back to the cable car or walking all the way down to the downtown.

My initial plan was to take the cable car back but when I saw on the map it’s 237 meters elevation change and around 1 hour of walking up I gave up. I’m in really terrible shape and I knew this hike up would exhaust me, and I still had a plane to catch in 5 hours.

The other option was walking down, 385 meters elevation change and 45 minutes walking for more or less the same distance. That’s what I did but it wasn’t very easy either. For a big part I was walking on a narrow, steep and a bit slippery path and my knees and my legs muscles have been hating me for the next few days. But at least I could enjoy beautiful views of Sarajevo along the way and I could wander some random parts of the city which is always one of my favorite things to do in Sarajevo.

Altogether the whole trip to the bobsled track took me some 3 hours but I wasn’t in a hurry or anything and, as always, took way too many pictures on the way.

Sarajevo

Sarajevo

Sarajevo

Sarajevo

Sarajevo

Is it safe to visit the Sarajevo bobsled track?

Before going to the bobsled track I heard some stories of robberies taking place there. After all, it is a very secluded place, with only forest around and a random car passing by (or not) every now and then. There are no houses around, only the ruins, the cable car station, and some hiking trails. If something happens it is almost impossible to ask for help as there are not too many people visiting the place.

You must do your own judgment how comfortable you feel going to such an isolated place. I must admit it played tricks with my mind a bit, especially that I was there on my own. But fortunately nothing happened and everything was fine.

I’ve seen other tourists (maybe 10 of them in total) at the bobsled track and the ruined houses with Mr. Chat but no one went to the observatory (which, to be honest, was my highlight). I was also the only one venturing around solo. I still can’t decide if I’m brave or stupid.

Sarajevo bobsled track

Other options of getting to the Sarajevo bobsled track

If you don’t feel comfortable going to the bobsled track independently, either because of the safety or big elevation changes, there are other options to visit the place.

You can take the taxi and ask the driver to wait for you. There is a parking lot in the middle of the bobsled track and near the finish line. But since a few years ago the bobsled track became one of the main alternative Sarajevo attractions taxi drivers charge a lot for such a ride.

You can also rent a car and drive yourself.

But the best option seems to be going with the organized tour as they visit the place too. This way not only it will be much safer, but you can also learn more about the place! Click here to see the tour details and to book the spot.

Map of Sarajevo bobsled track

I created a map of all the points you might need when visiting the Sarajevo bobsled track. You can download it and open it offline with maps.me application on your phone.


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