Car Rental in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Where the Empires of Europe Meet
Bosnia and Herzegovina offer travelers a warm visit to the meeting grounds of some of Europe’s most long-standing empires, including the Hapsburgs and the Ottomans – in fact, a total of six civilizations make their history felt in the country through gorgeous architectural variety and exciting cultural celebrations. Though a relatively small European country, Bosnia-Herzegovina is home to an exciting and unique array of outdoor activities, nightlife, and some of southeastern Europe’s best music festivals. Automobile hire is an efficient, cheap, and comfortable way to be at your most intimate with this Balkan state.
The most ideal time to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina is May, June, and September, particularly for comfortable hiking and other outdoor adventures. February and March are also an excellent time to visit for lovers of winter sports.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s official languages are Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian, and you’ll encounter road signs in both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. If you don’t read Cyrillic, it’s recommended you bring a Serbian-English dictionary along to help you navigate, particularly in the Republic of Srpska. A good number of Bosnians speak English, German, and/or French.
The official currency is the mark, which is more or less pegged to the euro at around 1.95 marks to 1 euro. Most financial transactions in shops or markets still take place via cash, which you can withdraw from ATMs in the majority of Bosnian cities.
Those of you arriving by air are most likely to fly into Sarajevo. If you’re planning on driving from the beginning of your stay in Bosnia-Herzegovina, renting a car at the Sarajevo Airport is recommended, as public transportation into the city itself is limited. Car rental is also available in cities such as Banja Luka, Mostar, and Tuzla. Sarajevo is located about a four-hour drive away from the country’s only coastal city, Neum, and just two hours away from beautiful Mostar.
Driving in Bosnia and Herzegovina
While rail infrastructure is still somewhat limited in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the quality of highways has been improving dramatically over the past ten years, making this country a great one to explore via rental car. Still, be alert while driving. Particularly in the mountainous areas, roads are single lane, double back quickly and are rarely accompanied by a guardrail. Local drivers often take these roads very fast.
- Traffic proceeds on the right-hand side of the road as in the rest of continental Europe.
- Overtake or pass cars on the left.
- In residential and metropolitan areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h.
- On highways, the speed limit ranges from 80 to 130 km/h, depending on the number of lanes, though multi-lane highways are still quite rare. Don’t be surprised if you spend much of your highway travel at 80 km/h or less!
- Part of the A1 motorway is tolled near Sarajevo. You can pay tolls in marks, euros, or by credit card.
- Drivers licensed in the European Union can drive in Bosnia and Herzegovina with their domestic driver’s licenses, provided they are at least 18 years old. All other nationalities should have an international driver’s permit in addition to their domestic licenses.
- You will likely go through police checks if you drive a lot in the country, especially if you drive over the border. Make sure you have your driver’s license and insurance documentation on hand – as well as a written contract for your rental car clearly demarcating the dates of your rental. If you’ve extended your rental period after the contract dates, you will need documentation to prove this.
- Passport holders of many countries can enter Bosnia-Herzegovina visa free and stay for up to 90 days within a six-month period, though some restrictions apply, particularly in terms of multiple entry. Double-check regulations before you book, as some nationalities will have to apply for a visa before arriving.
- Be safe: don’t venture off of paved roads by car or by foot without local guidance, as there is still the risk of unexploded landmines.
- Gas or petrol stations can sometimes be far and few between, so it is recommended to fill your tank more often than you might otherwise, and it is rare to find gas stations in central cities – head to the edge of towns or cities to fill your gas tank.
- If you’re pulled over while driving, ask to be taken to the police station before paying any fines on the spot.
- Particularly outside of cities, direction road signs can be quite rare, so renting or bringing a sat nav or GPS is also highly recommended.
- Visit wineries or order domaći (house) wines at restaurants for inexpensive local flavors. But don’t do this before driving! The permitted blood alcohol limit is quite low for drivers, at just 0.031%.