How safe is Sarajevo for a solo female traveller?
July 7, 2014 11:30 AM   Subscribe

I will be in Split, Croatia at the end of the month and am interested in taking the bus to Sarajevo for a few days. How safe will the journey and city be for a young woman alone?

I am in my mid-20s and most of my travel experience is limited to Western Europe. How safe is Sarajevo? Is it OK to walk around at night? Is street harassment a problem? Should I be dressed modestly? Any advice or experiences appreciated. Thank you!
posted by noxperpetua to Travel & Transportation around Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a 28 year old USian female and I spent 4 days alone in Sarajevo 5 months ago. I felt comfortable walking alone during the day, even out of the tourist areas. I was comfortable with 20 minute walks to restaurants after dark (like 7pm to 10 pm, not super late) in the more touristy areas, but it wasn't a place where I would feel comfortable going for an hour-long run late at night in a quiet neighborhood (so, not really better or worse than most North American/Western European cities I've been in.)

There were some big protests going on when I was there and I got hit with some tear-gas at one point, but even amidst a lot of chaos the (mostly young, male) protestors were not threatening towards me or other foreign women and I didn't feel at risk because of my gender or nationality. Street harassment was not a problem for me. Because I was there in February, I was dressed modestly to deal with the weather, so I can't comment on that.

Have fun! It's a fascinating city.
posted by horizons at 11:52 AM on July 7, 2014

No different than any large city in Western Europe. Armed with some common sense, you'll be fine.
posted by turkeyphant at 11:54 AM on July 7, 2014

I cycled through part of Bosnia (not Sarajevo) with my girlfriend, both of us wearing cycling spandex, and we didn't have any issues. In fact people went out of their way to be welcoming and friendly. The cities we passed through seemed like anywhere else in Europe. I can't comment on traveling alone as a woman, but there were places on that trip I know my girlfriend felt a little sketched out and Bosnia wasn't one of them.
posted by bradbane at 12:09 PM on July 7, 2014

It should be plenty safe. I was there for about a week in 2011 and I didn't see anything that would be cause for alarm. Granted, I was a 22 year old male, but there were plenty of women in the hostel who were floating around the Balkans by themselves. Sarajevo is also a great cosmopolitan city, despite it's Muslim background. There are plenty of women walking around the place as if they were in downtown London (i.e. not terribly modestly). That being said, there are a few religiously-affiliated sites and attractions where it may be prudent to dress more modestly.
posted by Geppp at 12:37 PM on July 7, 2014

I used to spend a fair amount of time there for work, and agree with what the others have said: it is as safe, or safer, than other European cities.

That said, even five years ago, it could still be a little conservative when it came. to the expected behaviour for women.* For example, while I felt okay about stopping in a sidewalk cafe for a glass of wine and a snack on the way back to my hotel from work, it would definitely have raised eyebrows if I had come in later in the evening, hung out at the bar, and/or ordered multiple rounds. If you do want to check out the (very entertaining) local nightlife, I would suggest finding someone to go with. You can even hire a guide for this purpose, usually for a very small fee and the chance to practise their English, or join a group pub crawl. (Your concierge or hostel will have details). I did that and made a great friend, who sadly does not live there anymore.

*Maybe things have changed, but probably not that much.
posted by rpfields at 12:44 PM on July 7, 2014

I was there last month. Seemed very safe.
posted by Spurious at 1:02 PM on July 7, 2014

I traveled alone in Sarajevo in 2005, and felt pretty safe. About the worst thing that happened to me is that I was sassed by some teenage boys on my first night. When I sassed them back, they gave me a round of applause, which was pretty satisfying.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:24 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if you want to get an idea of what people might be dressed like, you can paw around on Sarajevo 360 and see what people are wearing. People are likely to be in shorts and skirts and tank tops when you're there, since it's the middle of summer.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:02 PM on July 7, 2014

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