Winter Guide to the Olympic Mountains

You won't go wrong if you decide to spend the winter holidays up on some of the mountains surrounding Sarajevo. Whether you're into an active holiday or simply want to enjoy some time by a fireplace or in a wellness center in one of the mountain hotels, you’ll be spoiled for choice!

Here we offer our recommendations on how to get to the mountains, where to stay, where to go skiing and boarding and tips on other ways to spend your vacation on the Olympic Mountains around Sarajevo.

Transport to the mountains

Accommodation

Ski lifts, lanes and equipment

Activities

Sporting competitions

Transport to the mountains

The Olympic Mountains are about a half-hour drive from the center of town and if you don’t have a car, you can make use of the GRAS or Centrotrans bus lines, or make a deal for a ride with one of the taxi companies in town.

As of January 2018, GRAS started providing regular bus services to Jahorina and Bjelašnica. GRAS buses will be running to Bjelašnica throughout the month of January and to Jahorina every weekend of the same month.

During January and February, Centrotrans will be offering buses to Bjelašnica which will follow the same route as regular city buses.

As of January 2018, Centrotrans a.d. East Sarajevo will be offering two regular city bus lines from East Sarajevo to Jahorina. There will be two bus lines: East Sarajevo Bus Station–Pale–Jahorina and Sokolac Bus Station–Pale–Jahorina.

The Krupac–Pale–Ravna Planina line, which was introduced recently, serves all regular bus stops between Krupac and Pale and the first stop in Pale will be at the student dormitory.

This bus line will offer return trips between these destinations from January 3 until April 15.

Bjelašnica is situated about 25 kilometers to the southwest of Sarajevo. Bjelašnica Olympic Center has a lot of supporting infrastructure with adequate parking for all of its ski facilities. The parking area at Babin Do can accommodate 1,200 vehicles and Veliko and Malo Polje at Igman have up to 1,000 parking spaces.

Jahorina is located about 28 km southeast of Sarajevo and is 12 km from Pale. You can reach Jahorina by taking the new road from the airport via Lukavica and Trebević

If you’re interested in transporting a large number of people from Sarajevo to Jahorina, or vice versa, you can contact Jahorina Olympic Center.

You can see prices for bus transportation here.

Accommodation

There are many hotels and apartments up on the Olympic beauties that are more than ready to accommodate visitors.

There are lots of apartments available on Bjelašnica, at the hotels, Bjelašnica and Han, and the most popular hotels on Jahorina include Vučko, Termag, Lavina, Bistrica….

Bjelašnica Hotel offers a wide range of sporting options, such as guided tours on Bjelašnica.

Some of the hotels on Jahorina offer additional services. Vučko Aparthotel has its own ski school, with instruction offered in several languages, and it also does ski rentals. During the main season, Vučko offers free child care services for youngsters (ages 3-9).

Termag Hotel is located near the ski lanes and ski lifts. In addition to the ski school, Termag also rents ski equipment and provides accommodation. There are other activities, such as a wellness center, bowling and billiards, and there are shops that sell ski equipment and original hand-made souvenirs. Even if you aren’t a hotel guest, you can still enjoy all that the SPA Center has to offer. Not far from the hotel, and right next to one of the ski lanes, there is an ethno restaurant, Koliba, which is run by Termag.

Lavina Hotel has a luxurious interior and runs its own ski school, plus there’s an excellent wellness center and other amenities.

Bistrica Hotel is part of the Jahorina Olympic Center and was built for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games.

You can find rates for all of the hotels mentioned here on their individual web pages and, if you prefer more intimate accommodation on Jahorina, there are many private apartments available.

Bjelašnica’s overall capacity is more limited than Jahorina’s, but you can still find all kinds of accommodation, from luxury hotels, like Bjelašnica and Han, to apartment rentals. Bjelašnica Hotel offers a wide range of sporting options, such as guided tours on Bjelašnica.

All of the larger hotels have ski schools and also rent ski equipment.

Up on Trebević, the newly-opened Pino Nature Hotel is located where Prvi Šumar used to be and there’s Level Up Hotel and the restaurants, Trebevićki RajBrus and Vila Andrea. The popular Sarajevo picnic spot, Brus, has undergone a massive transformation in recent years and now offers a number of activities for both children and adults.

At Trebević you will also enjoy at Sunnyland.

If you plan to explore nature up on the mountains, be sure to jot down the number for Mountain Rescue Services (Gorska Služba Spašavanja) – 062/654-456. They will be more than happy to come and help out if you get lost! The main goal of Jahorina Rescue Services is to provide assistance and rescue services in remote mountain and urban locations. In case of an emergency, call: 066/333-000.

Ski lifts, lanes and equipment

Bjelašnica Ski Center has 10 km of well-maintained ski lanes that are suitable for all alpine disciplines and snowboarding. The vertical infrastructure allows the many lifts to take you to a starting position of 2,000 meters above sea level and the lanes finish at an elevation of 1,200 meters. Part of the lanes are illuminated with high quality competition-grade lighting for night skiing, and the Ski Center has also installed a system for artificial snow lanes.

You can find ski pass rates on the ZOI 84 and Jahorina Olympic Center websites.

Jahorina Olympic Center has more than 20 kilometers of well-maintained ski lanes with three six-seater lifts, four ski lifts and one two-seater lift.

The first section of the Jahorina Express gondola, a system which spans 1,400 meters and runs between the departure and arrival stations for the Ravna Planina Ski Center, is now in operation. The gondola will cover a distance of about 7.5 kilometers and will connect Pale and Mt. Jahorina. The departure station will be situated 700 meters from the main road (Sarajevo-Pale-Prača) at an elevation of 920 meters, and the arrival station will be installed above Board Hotel on Mt. Jahorina.

Activities

If you love the mountains, and even if you are not into sports,  you can enjoy a view of the ski lanes on Bjelašnica from the four-seater and six-seater lifts.

The Olympic ski lanes offer something for everyone, depending on individual preferences. You can learn to ski on the easier slopes, warm up on the medium lanes and then get your adrenaline going on the harder lanes that are geared toward professionals.

If you’d like to give skiing or snowboarding a try, the Igman-Bjelašnica Ski Center can help you out with lessons given by professional and licensed trainers. If you’re in the mood for more stable rides, you can rent sleds at the ZOI ’84 Ski Rent and Service Center. The mountain centers have many different activities on offer, including:

Nordic skiing

The Dvorišta Center for Nordic Skiing is located on Jahorina and there is Veliko Polje up on Bjelašnica, which has 30 km of well-maintained lanes for Nordic racing and biathlon. Since the lanes are lit, it’s possible to ski at night. Veliko Polje also has parking, booths, ski rentals and ski service.

Snowshoeing

Slow down and enjoy the wonderful winter scenery on snowshoes. Expert guides provide additional insight into some spots that are ideal for exploring the lovely landscape and wildlife.

Ski touring

During winter, ski touring (a combination of skiing and mountaineering) is the fastest way to scale the mountains, even when the snow is quite deep. Jahorina is a flat mountain, which makes it perfect for walking and ski tourists. But Bjelašnica, with its glacial valleys, limestone peaks, extensive plateau and pristine nature, is one of the most attractive destinations for ski touring in BiH.

Winter alpinism

It’s possible to attend a winter alpinism course up on the Olympic Mountains. The sports team and tourism specialists want to make it possible for alpinists, mountaineers, rock climbers and other mountain visitors to receive training in winter alpinism, while also providing them with the knowledge that will help them have a safer and more complete stay in nature. Ask hotel reception staff at some of the larger hotels for more information.

Snowmobiling

A snowmobile tour guarantees an exciting way to have fun in the spectacular winter wonderlands of Bjelašnica and Jahorina Mountains. You’ll be able to reach inaccessible areas and villages that are otherwise abandoned during the winter months.

Snowbiking

If you’d like to try something new, having a go at snowbiking is the perfect chance to have some fun. You can choose between snow bikes for skis or those with wheels.

Sledding

The larger hotels, like Bjelašnica, Termag, Lavina and Vučko, rent sleds that you can use to explore well-trodden paths.

ANTRFILE: National Geographic Traveler has named Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sarajevo as one of the top ten adventure destinations in the world for fantastic mountain bike paths. Visitors to the Igman-Bjelašnica Ski Center will have maintained marked mountain bike paths at their disposal. Veliko Polje is especially well known for mountain biking.

Sporting competitions

Bjelašnica belongs to the Dinaric Mountain range and many sports and touristic facilities were built on Babin Do for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games that were held in Sarajevo. Much of the infrastructure is still being used to this day. The entire area that takes in Igman and Bjelašnica is considered as one unique mountain area which has a complete tourist offering all year round. Further development of this area will take in two locations – Babin Do on Bjelašnica and Veliko Polje on Igman. The main nucleus of winter recreational activities is the ski zone that runs between Bjelašnica’s peak down to Babin Do. This includes downhill ski lanes, slalom and giant slalom.

Jahorina offers more than 20 kilometers of alpine ski trails that are marked with signs, and the artificial snow delivery system guarantees 130 ski days.

Jahorina is one of the prettiest Olympic Mountains and has about 30 kilometers of ski lanes along its slopes. The highest peak is Ogorjelica (1,916 meters).

Various sporting events are held on the mountains throughout the year. During the winter period, Jahorina organizes the FIS Jahorina Cup, an international ski competition, as well as many other races where athletes take part in BiH or Republika Srpska Alpine ski championships, and competitions for EYOF 2018 / 2019.