Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is one of the most underrated places to visit in the Balkans and an easy day trip from Sarajevo. Even if the town doesn’t see all that many foreign visitors, it is still worth stopping there for a few hours (most likely on the way between Sarajevo and Jajce / Banja Luka / Bihac) to discover all the Travnik attractions. And there are many of them!
I had a chance to visit Travnik twice and each time I really enjoyed the place. In fact, I wouldn’t mind returning there again to enjoy the laid-back vibe of the place some more. If you are wondering what to see in Travnik too, I put this small guide that will help you plan your trip to Travnik too!
Where is Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Travnik, a town of a bit over fifteen thousand inhabitants, is located in the central part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is located 100 km south of Travnik.
Why visit Travnik
When traveling between Sarajevo and Banja Luka you will most likely go through Travnik but it’s easy to miss the town and its attractions. Yet it’s definitely worth stopping there!
Travnik is one of the oldest towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina with numerous great monuments and attractions that you will definitely want to see. Those include the impressive ruins of the castle above the city or one of the most beautiful mosques in the Balkans and the only painted mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Travnik is also the unofficial cevapi capital of Bosnia so if you like this typical regional dish, the best place to get it is in this very town.
How to get to Travnik
If you travel by car you can easily visit Travnik on the way from Sarajevo to other, more popular places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Jajce, Bihac or Banja Luka) since the town is conveniently located right on the way and you have to pass it anyway.
If you travel by bus (there is no train station in Travnik), there are direct connections from Sarajevo, Jajce, Mostar, Bihac, Tuzla, Banja Luka or even Split in Croatia. The bus station in Travnik is located around 1 km away from the center of the town. You can find the bus schedule to/from Travnik here although it’s always better to double-check at the bus station as the internet sources are not always fully reliable in Bosnia.
You can also visit Travnik on the tour from Sarajevo. It is a good option if you don’t have all that much time but would like to see less-known parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina as the tour covers in one day not only Travik but also Jajce. Here are the recommended tours:
- Day Tour from Sarajevo: Full-Day Jajce and Travnik Tour
- From Sarajevo: Day Tour to Jajce and Travnik
- Jajce with Pliva watermills and Travnik Day Tour from Sarajevo
- Jajce, Travnik and Pliva watermills – Day Tour from Sarajevo
Where to stay in Travnik
If you decide to stay in Travnik overnight (I did it once and went for a day to Jajce from there), there are a few accommodation options to choose from. Here are the best ones:
- Hotel Vezir Palace (8.4/10 on Booking)
- Guest House Faris (9.2/10 on Booking)
- Apartment Adi (9.6/10 on Booking)
- Downtown Apartment Travnik (9.8/10 on Booking)
What to see in Travnik
Travnik has a long history, with the first settlements in the area already in early AD. The town, part of the Kingdom of Bosnia, gained its importance in Middle Ages when it became one of the fortified towns in the region. Many of Travnik’s attractions date back to the medieval ages and still today you can find around the remnants of the former glory of Travnik.
The biggest highlight of Travnik is the castle, built high above the town. Even if it is mostly in ruins today, it was recently renovated and can give you a good overview of its grandness in the past. The castle dates back most likely to the 15th century and was in use until 1918, over the centuries it was used for military functions during various rules (from the Kingdom of Bosnia, through the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian rule to eventually Yugoslavia) and was a silent witness to numerous historical events.
To get to the castle you need to walk a bit uphill from the center. Not only will you be rewarded with an interesting place to explore but the views from up there are pretty amazing. You can admire a beautiful panorama of Travnik, with numerous towers strewn all over the place, and surrounding mountains around. Inside the castle, you can freely explore the area, climb the walls and visit one of the towers that were turned into a museum showing the history and old pictures from Travnik.
Right in front of the castle, it’s impossible to miss a big sign “Never forget Srebrenica”. The biggest genocide since World War 2 happened in July 1995 in another Bosnian town – Srebrenica – and cost lives of over 8.000 people. The events, just like the whole 1990s war (that you can see remnants of in Travnik as well) shaped the whole nation and today you can find similar signs in many places all over the country.
Another big attraction in Travnik is the Painted Mosque, probably the most beautiful you will find in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In recent years it was renovated and restored to its former beauty and let me tell you, this place is exceptional (I could see the before and after version and the difference is huge).
Originally the structure dates back to the late 16th century but in 1757 the structure was completely rebuilt and only the old minaret remained. The new building was unique not only because of its paintings. What made it special was that the mosque was used both for sacred and secular functions. The lower level is where the resistant (the market) with 25 shops was located while the upper level was designed for prayers. Still today some of the shops operated in the mosque.
It is also possible to visit the mosque inside, free of charge, just stick to the time outside of the prayers. And the beautifully decorated interior of the Painted Mosque is as stunning as the outside. Inside you can also see the extremely important item – a coil of Muhammad’s hair, put there to emphasize the value of the place.
It really is impossible not to be impressed with the place. For me, the Painted Mosque in Travnik is among the most beautiful mosques in the Balkans, just after the one from Tetovo, North Macedonia.
While the Painted Mosque is the most popular one in Travnik, there are a few other mosques from the 16th-18th centuries, which altogether are an excellent testimony to the Ottoman past of the town. However the others are not as impressive as the Painted Mosque but still, the numerous minarets create a beautiful cityscape of Travnik.
Travnik, as the only place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is home to not one but two clocktowers, both located in the center of the town. There are also beautiful Vizier’s graves on the side of the main pedestrian street, another testimony of the Ottoman past.
If you are a fan of the Nobel-prize-winning writer, Ivo Andric, you can also visit the museum dedicated to him. Even if thanks to his most famous book “The Bridge on the Drina” he is mostly associated with another beautiful town in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Visegrad, Andric was in fact born in Travnik. His original birthplace didn’t survive until today but the museum is located in a traditional house from this region. Inside you can see numerous artifacts related to the famous writer as well as traditional Bosnian furniture and house items from the end of the 19th century (that did not belong to the Andric family, though).
Once you are done with Travnik sightseeing it’s time to relax a bit. Fortunately, there are a few good opportunities for that in the town, most likely over something good to eat or drink.
Travnik is known as the cevapi capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and indeed you can smell the grilled meat in the air. Even if this dish is typical for the whole country, it is believed that you can get the best one in Travnik. There are a few places specializing in cevapi (called “ćevabdžinica”), all located in the center near the Painted Mosque, but apparently, the people’s favorite one is Ćevabdžinica Hari.
If you prefer something sweeter, there are a few cafes in the center of Travnik. My favorite one was Baklava Shop Travnik – a beautifully decorated place serving (like the name indicates) delicious baklava and coffee. Just remember that baklava is really sweet and order only one (and then maybe another) – I and my friends made the mistake of ordering three sweets for each of us and even the thick and strong coffee didn’t help. But still, baklava was one of the best I’ve ever tried.
And the last place that you can see in Travnik is Plava Voda (“Blue Water”) – the picturesque spring that runs from below the castle. Along the waterfront, there are a few cafes and restaurants, popular among locals and tourists, where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Where to go next
From Travnik, you can continue your journey to discover Bosnia and Herzegovina in a few different directions. The most popular destinations include Jajce Sarajevo, Mostar or Bihac but no matter where you go, you are in for a treat as Bosnia and Herzegovina is an amazing yet still not fully discovered country.
I’ve been to Bosnia and Herzegovina many times (it’s one of my favorite countries to visit) and covered it vastly on the blog. Here are some articles that you might find useful when planning your trip:
- Best places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- My favorite things to do in Sarajevo
- 25 Amazing Things to Do in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- What to See in Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina – See the Iconic Bridge on the Drina
- Visit Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina – a pleasant Balkan getaway
- and many more
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