When tourists travel to BiH, their first destination is always Sarajevo … And they have no idea what beauties Banja Luka offers to real adventurers …
Located on the banks of the green river Vrbas, Banja Luka has something to offer its visitors.
What to visit in Banja Luka and how many days it takes
It will be quite tense, but for the best of Banja Luka, 2 days will be enough.
If you only have one day available, that will be enough also.
Everything is close in Banja Luka and that is its great advantage.
It would be a shame not to make a trip from Banja Luka, such as a trip to Krupa on Vrbas or maybe to Sarajevo or Jajce.
Here is a guide to what to see in Banja Luka in two days:
All roads lead you to the main street in Banja Luka. Veselina Masleše Street is officially named after the famous Banja Luka revolutionary, but the old name it got in the 19th century was retained when a local merchant opened a department store in the street.
The business went poorly because they came to the store out of curiosity and they had little to buy. In order to encourage them to trade, he hung the name Gentlemen’s Street. Since then, the street has become and remains the center of civil Banja Luka.
But for us, wheelers, the most important thing is that it is flat.
One of the main landmarks of Banja Luka is the Kastel fortress. It is located on the left bank of the Vrbas river.
It was built on the foundations of the first fortification (Castro) made by the Romans in the 2nd century.
It got its final appearance in the 18th century and had the task of protecting the Vrbas valley from enemy attacks.
All the fortresses look like each other, so this one also has its watchtowers, bastions and ramparts.
Today, it is used for various cultural events. There is a national restaurant, the Institute for the Protection of Monuments, a summer stage.
At the main entrance the fortress (who would have thought!) is not accessible to people in wheelchairs. This is prevented by a few steps over which it is easy to place a ramp, but it is not.
There is a car entrance on the side, but the slope is very large and very long, so you are free to write it off. So, Kastel Fortress is not accessible to people in wheelchairs.
Next to the fortress is this local landmark, which testifies to the great love of Safikada from Banja Luka and the Austro-Hungarian soldier.
When she received the news that her loved one had died, she threw herself in front of the cannon with the words: “I will be faithful to you.” At the place where she died, there is a modest landmark that should also be visited.
When in 1929. The Vrbas banovina was formed, there was a need to build a representative building that will represent the cultural seat of the city.
The opening of this building was in 1932 and since then with its halls (town hall, large hall, blue hall) serves the benefit of all citizens of Banja Luka.
Christ the Savior Orthodox Cathedral
Demolished and rebuilt several times.
It was built on the place where ten Serbians and a priest were executed in 1809 after the Masic rebellion.
Today’s look dates back to 1993. It is built of the noblest travertine stone formed in volcanic eruptions, the roofs are made of gilded sheet metal that does not rust and the bells are made in Innsbruck.
It is one of the most beautiful Orthodox churches in Bosnia and Herzegovina that you must visit.
Built in 1579. By order of the great Ferhad-pasha-Sokolović, with money from the ransom of an Austrian prince.
Legend has it that the pasha, delighted with what was built, ordered the three masters to be imprisoned in the highest tower because he would execute them in three days so as not to repeat their masterpiece.
The frightened masters searched for a way out for three days, deciding to make wings and thus escape. On the third day, when the pardon arrived, they did not find anyone, and where the bodies of the unfortunate masters fell, those parts of Banja Luka got their names … Pavlovac, Petrićevac and Rebrovac after the third one who broke a rib during the fall.
The minaret is 41.5 m high and leads to the top with 128 steps.
It has been renovated several times, and the last time was in 2016. It has been restored from the same authentic material in its original condition.
Banks of the river Vrbas
When you get tired of walking, this is the place where you will regenerate.
Unreal green and clean river Vrbas divides Banja Luka into two parts.
All the builders of Banja Luka have respected only one rule for centuries, and that is: the view of the river must remain intact.
The Vrbas is the only river in Europe where there is a night rafting trail. The average water temperature in the summer months is 17 degrees, so sitting by the river is a refreshing experience. Which I personally confirm.
The Vrbas is for the most part a shallow river and that is why a dajak boat reigns here. He is as old as Banja Luka itself.
It was the main means of transport in the times before bridges. Dayak is one of the brands in Banja Luka. It is about 7 m long and does not use oars but a pushing rod called a dajak. One of the few boats that can be used upstream. I was lucky that one of them was parked in front of me.
The main place to meet in Banja Luka is the crooked clock.
Apart from being crooked, this clock doesn’t show the time as we are used to. This clock measures the time since the earthquake that hit the city on August 27, 1969 at 9:11 AM and razed it to the ground.
Visit the museum
I feel welcome with an entrance like this.
In the museum you will find various exhibits of historical, natural and ethnographic character. You can spend a pleasant two hours and find out everything that is important for the locations around Banja Luka.
Also, the museum has this fun part which I really enjoyed.
Republika Srpska Square
The combination of the old and the new is valid for all cities, so it is the same in Banja Luka.
A modern block of buildings with fountains, benches and paths, is a place where you can relax. Government bodies and private companies are located here.
I’m looking forward to the new neighborhoods because I know they’ll be customized for wheelchairs, at least a little. And it was.
When you are in this neighborhood, look for a beautiful panoramic elevator that takes you to the roof on the 18th floor, from where the view of Banja Luka can be seen on all four sides.
When you are already in the sky under the clouds, stop by the Integra restaurant, which delighted us with its offer and decor.
Here’s what to eat, so judge for yourself. They have already beaten us with these crunchy sticks and spicy cheese.
Veal tagliatelle in marinade: slices of veal curry, marinade of 12 types of spices, cream of pine nuts and basil with chips from Padana branches.
Veal “Moderna”: young veal breast slowly roasted with vegetables and garnished with mashed potatoes and truffles.
Veal cannelloni: sautéed veal fillet with oyster mushrooms and leeks, coated with homemade grinders and chard in bacon and sherry sauce
From here you can watch the match of the most important football club in Banja Luka, Borac, which was founded in 1925. and is one of the oldest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This stadium can accommodate 10,000 people.
It is generally known that you eat well near the stadium. This time, on the recommendation of a local, we entered a bar that we would never have found otherwise.
A completely simple place with simple furniture and a show that took place in silence.
Countless cars that quietly docked and picked up their orders. I knew that we were in the right place where we should try another specialty, the famous Banja Luka kebab.
What do you need to know about Banja Luka kebab?
It is always in tiles of four and you can immediately recognize it by that.
The legend says that glued kebabs are juicier like this, and I can confirm that. Other commandments regarding kebabs are to always but always go with onions in a delicious bun, always eat it leisurely and always with a toothpick and that’s it. Sometimes they spoil it with a scoop of cream or a cup of yogurt, but I think it is a heresy to water it with anything but another brand of Banja Luka with Banja Luka beer.
The beer was brought to Banja Luka by the diligent hands of the Trappist monks from the Marija Zvijezda monastery, whose motto was “Pray and work” (Ora et Labora). They also brought Trappist cheese to Banja Luka as well as the first power plant. There are beer museums that are called “fountains” where you can try samples and listen to the story of the best students about how beer was made to replace the dependence of the local population on bad brandy, which was very popular. Therapy prescribed to drink four liters of beer a day.
Postcards from Banja Luka
In Banja Luka, they like bicycles.
I like to see ramps, I feel welcome.
Banja Luka has its own roundabout
Something about the hotel
I was accommodated in Hotel In. The hotel is a 30-minute walk from the center. The streets are flat so no problem. Since I financed everything myself, I can also express my opinion.
The hotel staff is very pleasant. There is a feeling of youthful energy.
This is the hotel with the best sheets in the world.
What I could put as a minus is, you can’t go out on the terrace when you’re in a wheelchair. Not that it matters, I had more important things to do but it’s still nice to know.
The most important thing is that they have an elevator that works.
They saw us off with a wonderful breakfast. Judge for yourself, the choices are endless.
Banja Luka is big enough to be the capital for a reason and you don’t miss anything from what the big metropolises have to offer, and it’s also small enough that you can visit it on foot. It’s especially important to me because I hate getting in cars. I’m fine in Banja Luka, but the road took me further. Where? I’ll write about in the next post.
Have you been to Banja Luka?
Did I miss anything?
Traveled and enjoyed,