Everyone is in awe of Banja Luka (Бања Лука)

Ljiljana Krejic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Have you ever heard of a place in Europe where you can actually see & read how East meets West? Do you know which European city is the least known capital? Can you imagine a place in the Balkans that no visitor wants to leave because they are in awe of? Let me reveal this well-kept secret if you cannot figure it out. Your next ideal off-the-beaten-track destination is called Banja Luka. This is by far the most relaxed and coolest city in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Did I mention that it is also the country's greenest and most adventurous place? Being a hidden gem par excellence, Banja Luka could be the best "surprise pin" on your bucket list.

Two alphabets – Cyrillic & Latin

© City of Banja Luka

First of all, Banja Luka makes use of two alphabets – Cyrillic and Latin. Two alphabets??? Yes, you have read it well, which implies that even children in school learn both of them from an early age. So, for the locals, it is normal to use both alphabets, interchanging them all the time. If you wonder what it looks like, just recheck this page's title.

Republic of Srpska’s capital

© Banja Luka Tourism Board

Banja Luka is the largest city in the northern part of Bosnia & Herzegovina and the second biggest in the country. But it is also a de facto capital city of the Republic of Srpska (probably unknown to you, but it is one of the two official entities of B&H). This city has a rich history dating back to the Stone Age. Illyrians and Romans, but also Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians – they all were conquering this place, leaving their own hallmarks in the history of Banja Luka.

1000 cafes & bars

© iStock/utamaria

With over one thousand cafes & bars (without restaurants) for around 200.000 inhabitants, Banja Luka is a place where you will experience a whole new concept of "living lives in cafes". No matter the day's time, finding a free spot in Banja Luka's cafes is always difficult. Whether a student or a granny, a local particularity is to sit & chill out in the sun (yes, even in winter, this place has plenty of sun) while enjoying a coffee.

Paradisiac valley

© Banja Luka Tourism Board

No other city in the country and the region can be compared to Banja Luka in terms of waters and greenery. This paradisiac valley is rich with avenues, parks & green boulevards, and surrounding hills. On the top of this comes the mesmerizing Vrbas River. This mountainous river, with rapids, waterfalls and cascades on its way, is a sort of natural reserve with thermal springs that created a fantastic canyon in the city's proximity.

Everything for adrenalin seekers

© Milorad Divjak

Having all the ingredients for adventurous sports such as rafting, kayaking, canoeing, dayaking, fly-fishing, free climbing, trekking & mountain biking, camping, and paragliding (just to mention some), Banja Luka will please any top-notch adrenalin seeker.

Where to stay

When in Banja Luka, especially if in a couple, indulge with your partner in a peaceful 2-hour romantic walking tour in Banja Luka and witness some stunning areas. Bond with nature and hear local love stories. Alternatively, take a peek behind Banja Luka’s big tourist attractions and treat your eyes to a few hidden city gems on this walking tour. After all that walking around, finding a quiet place to stay is best. I suggest booking your stay at the Hotel Intera or Courtyard by Marriott Banja Luka, both recently built complexes close to the city center.

Enchanting city

© Davorin Reljic

*A mind-boggling fusion of multicultural history, and charming & colourful landscapes, flavoured by the Mediterranean touch, yet undiscovered by the crowds.* A place of succulent cuisine, beautiful women and never-ending parties. No visitor can resist these enchanting powers. No wonder that it slowly but surely becomes a place where fascinated Western Europeans come to live because everyone is in awe of Banja Luka.

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