Keep in mind that, here, social life largely revolves around coffee, and a call “to go for a coffee” isn’t just an invitation to enjoy this drink, but means joining in on some socializing that can last for hours!
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a long tradition of drinking coffee, which came to this region with the Ottomans. Traditional Bosnian coffee, a variant of Turkish coffee, is made by boiling finely-ground coffee in a džezva (coffee pot) or another kind of pot. It’s usually served in traditional Bosnian fildžani (demitasses without handles) and is less commonly served in ordinary cups or mugs.
An easy day out and about
The first coffeehouse to operate in this part of the world was Hajji Šabanova Kafana, which opened in the middle of the 16th century around Bentbaša and was knocked down in 1942. In addition to real Yemeni coffee that was ground in an avan (stone mortar), guests were also served different kinds of juices, gurabije (cookies), đulbe šećer (a sweet drink) and Turkish delight. Aside from the Ottoman novelties that were used to provide entertainment for guests, all kinds of classic games, such as backgammon, dominos and chess were also available, as well as various traditional musical instruments, like the uk and kanun…. Since tobacco goes hand in hand with coffee, people would smoke from long pipes and elaborately-crafted hookahs.
After experiencing a long hiatus, nargila is again very popular here in Sarajevo, so you can catch whiffs of this flavorful tobacco in different spots around town, especially in Baščaršija. In most of these places you can try Bosnian coffee served with Turkish delight.
Be sure to visit Nafaka Tea/Coffeehouse, where you can experience the atmosphere of a traditional Bosnian house and, if you’d like to fully enjoy some nargile, then the following hookah bars are just the places for you: Libris, Damask, U prolazu or Mahala.
Sarajevo has a tradition of drinking teas and herbal drinks and you can enjoy them almost everywhere in town, plus you can sample teas from all over the world at Franz & Sophie Tea Shop.
Bosnian-Herzegovinian sensibility gave rise to sevdalinka and, at the end of the 19th century, a time when the western way of life was slowly beginning to influence its oriental counterpart, concerts were being held more often in Sarajevo. The first public concert was held in 1881 in Dom Armije FBiH, an officer's hall, and was performed by a military orchestra. This event would be followed by a stream of concerts given in Sarajevo.
The first cafes began to open in Sarajevo in the 1970s and, up until the 1984 Olympic Games, most of these establishments had daily breaks that lasted from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and taverns and discos stayed open until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., at the latest.
Nowadays, you can find the perfect spot to have some good fun and most places work until late at night.
If you’re looking for great night life, rest assured that Sarajevo has tons of options for an evening out. Cover bands regularly do gigs at many clubs and there are plenty of restaurants where visitors can attend performances by artists who sing their own interpretations of traditional songs and sevdalinka.
The real place for those who enjoy jazz is Monument Club; pop & rock music fans should visit clubs like Cinemas Club, Mash, Underground, The Brew pub, Celtic, Charlie Chaplin and Pivnica HS and electronic music lovers will be in their element at the clubs, Aquarius Vils, Hacienda or Silver & Smoke.
If you like to relax over drinks when you go out, you should know that you can enjoy good quality domestic beers, and Herzegovina's wine tradition dates back to the Roman period. Domestic brandies are made from plums, pears, apples and grapes and these varieties are very strong and often contain more than 40% alcohol.
Coloseum Club is the perfect place for those who want to try their luck while enjoying the varied entertainment program; you can play the popular slot machines at Admiral Electronic Casino; and Cabaret Gentlemen’s Club, Cristal, is perfect for those who are looking for exclusive adult entertainment.