When the Ottoman Governor, Isa Bey Ishaković, broke ground for this city on the Miljacka, he envisioned the new settlement with Baščaršija as the social and commercial center of town, which was laid out in the valley, but the residential quarters (mahalas) were built along the slopes of the hills that “hug” Sarajevo on all sides.
While it’s best to make your way on foot in order to reach the many vantage points which are nestled among Sarajevo’s mahalas, most of them can also be reached by car and city transport.
Vantage points on the “sunny side” of town
If you make your way from Baščaršija and head toward the mahalas on the right (northern) side of the Miljacka – or, as Sarajevans like to say, “the neighborhoods on the sunny side of town” – you’ll come to Kovači and then to the overlook, Jekovac, the site of one of Sarajevo’s famous tabijas (fortresses), which was built in the 18th century.
Žuta Tabija or Jekovačka Tabija is where a cannon is traditionally fired during Ramadan to mark the end of the fast at sunset. This location offers a fantastic westerly view, so the most beautiful time to visit is just when the sun is setting.
If you head a bit further uphill, you’ll come to another fortress, Bijela Tabija, which is located at the top of one neighborhood called Vratnik. Here you’ll have a really lovely view of the city, especially the cultural-historical core, and at the nearby restaurant, Bijela Tabija, you can enjoy a view along with some culinary specialties.
If you continue to meander along the road that goes up toward the Višegrad Gate, you’ll come to the Zmajevac overlook, where you can drink some coffee, enjoy a view from the benches or from your car and have lunch at the nearby restaurant, Đulbašča.
Keep going the same way and you’ll come to a fork in the road where you can choose to make your way to the right (to head out of town) or to go down to the neighborhoods, Sedrenik and Vrbanjuša, where there are two fine restaurants, Bašča Kod Ene and Kibe Mahala, which also offer fantastic views of town.
If you decide to turn right, after a few kilometers you’ll come out onto the picnic area, Barice, where you can enjoy a view of Sarajevo along with wonderful scenery and some specialties that feature on some of the menus at the nearby eateries.
As you make your way even further, you’ll come to an overlook and the peak of Sarajevo Ozren-Čavljak, Bukovik and Crepoljsko, where you’ll be able to take in a view of not only Sarajevo, but of the surrounding mountains.
Panoramas from the “mildewy side” of Sarajevo
On the left (southern) side of the Miljacka River, which you may hear referred to as the “mildewy side” by Sarajevans, there is the neighborhood, Hrid, which is home to the restaurants, Park Prinčeva and Kod Bibana, which offer perfect views of town, especially Baščaršija and Vijećnica (City Hall).
If you’d like to enjoy a view of town while being surrounded by greenery and the intoxicating smell of pine forests, we recommend that you head up to some of Mt. Trebević’s peaks, the highest of which is Sofa, at 1,629 meters above sea level.
Vidikovac on Trebević is the main arrival station for the Sarajevo cable car, which Sarajevans and visitors alike are again keen to ride so as to escape the hectic city and to enjoy lovely nature and a fascinating view.
Not far from Vidikovac is the picnic spot, Brus, which offers many attractions for the entire family and whose slopes offer a lovely panoramic view of town.
The site of what was once Bistrička Kula (Tower), an old Austro-Hungarian military fortification on top of Čolina Kapa on Mt. Trebević, was turned into an observatory in 1969. From here one can take in a view of Sarajevo and do some stargazing.
We also recommend that you consider the vantage points, Osmice and Zlatište, which are excellent positions for sightseeing. There are plans to build two tourist complexes here in the near future.
Just below Zlatište, on an overlook that provides an “up-close” view of Sarajevo, is the Old Jewish Cemetery. This protected national monument is also Europe’s second largest Jewish sacral complex.
From these vantage points, which are easily reached from the center of town, we recommend a visit to Park Šuma Mojmilo, which offers an interesting view of the newer parts of town, like Dobrinja, Alipašino Polje...; as well as Hum Brdo, which is located northwest of the center of Sarajevo and is easy to spot with its TV tower up on the very top of the hill.
A view of town from within the city
However, if you’d prefer not to have to leave the city to have a great view, then we recommend the panorama from Hecco Deluxe Hotel, which takes up the top four floors of Sarajevo’s oldest “skyscraper”, at the spot where the city’s two main walking streets, Titova and Ferhadija, meet. There is a café and restaurant up on the tenth floor, with a view of Vječna Vatra, the main city center and Sarajevo rooftops.
Neighborhoods like Džidžikovac (above Veliki Park) and Crni Vrh offer lovely views of Sarajevo’s different quarters, streets and parks, and there’s also the view from the top of the “cable car” on Ciglane.
Also, up on the 36th floor of the Avaz Twist Tower (at a height of 172 meters) there is an observation deck with fieldscopes, which allow you to peer into almost every nook and cranny of Sarajevo.
The Avaz company also owns the restaurant, Plava Prizma, which operates as part of the Radon Plaza Hotel and is the only rotating restaurant in Sarajevo. At a height of 70 meters, the restaurant is fixed on a rotating platform, which is constantly revolving, allowing you to have a view of almost the entire city while you eat your delicious meal.
Of course, this is just our list of selected places where you can have a view of Sarajevo – a city nestled among mountains and hills and situated along the valley of the Miljacka River – but all of the many higher areas above the city also serve as excellent vantage points.