If you want to travel from Split to Sarajevo you have to go by bus. In fact, all connections from Split to the east (to Bosnia-Herzegovina) and the south (along the Croatian coast to Montenegro) are by bus. The only railway line from Split is the one to Zagreb. Sarajevo was our second destination after Split on our Interrail trip through the Balkans. Read about our trip through the backcountry of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina below. As usual you will also find information about timetables and where and how to buy tickets.
Split to Sarajevo by bus
There are two daily direct buses from Split to Sarajevo and return. Buses depart from the bus station of Split which is adjacent to the ferry port and train station. In Sarajevo the buses arrive at the central bus station, located just a few metres away from the train station. Travel time of the buses is scheduled at between 5h45 and 7h30. Our bus was scheduled to take just 5h45 however in the end we arrived in Sarajevo with a delay of about 1h15, so the trip took about seven hours. This included a stop of about 30 minutes at the border and short breaks at two stations along the way.
Typically for the Balkans you can buy bus tickets locally at the bus station. However, in the meantime there is a number of ways to buy bus tickets online too. There are three different websites where you can search schedules as well as buy tickets: BalkanViator.com, GetByBus.com and BusTicket4.me. We bought our tickets through GetByBus for 21€ each. These tickets have to be printed which we already did back home. However, if you have to buy your tickets while you’re travelling this can be a bit annoying and it might be simpler to just buy the tickets locally at the bus station. Interrail and Eurail passes are not valid on the buses.
In addition to the actual ticket you also have to pay for taking “check-in” luggage with you – backpacks or suitcases which are stored in the luggage room of the bus. You pay for your luggage when boarding the bus directly to the driver. It usually costs 1€ (or the equivalent in local currency) per item. Hand luggage that you take onboard the bus is free.
Our Journey from Sarajevo to Split
We decided to take the afternoon departure to get from Split to Sarajevo. This left us with enough time for breakfast and a relaxed walk through the city and the market just outside the Silver Gate (the eastern gate). After a last coffee at Riva promenade we grabbed our luggage from the apartment and went to the bus station. We got some provisions from the supermarket that is located at the ferry terminal opposite the bus station. The bus station was very busy with lots buses coming and going and many passengers queuing for tickets. We were quite happy that we already had bought the tickets online in advance.
When the bus arrived we couldn’t immediately board since the drivers needed to make their well deserved break first. When the doors finally opened we were in front of the queue with good chances of getting the four seats in the front of the upper deck. And we actually managed to get those seats with the best view! Two of us rushed upstairs to secure the seats while the other two were in charge of storing our backpacks in the luggage compartment. This cost us 1€ per item which we paid directly to the driver.
Across the border
The bus left Split on time and started its journey towards the border of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Just after the bus had left Split the road started to climb and soon after we reached a plateau high over the city. We passed several small villages before a second climb to the border at Kamensko began. After about an hour we reached the border where controls took about half an hour. The driver collected our passports at both borders and brought them to the offices. We didn’t have to leave the bus. Just after the border we passed a large lake and reached Livanjsko polje, the largest polje in the world. This wide karstic plateau was a stark contrast to the surrounding mountains.
At the other end of the polje the bus makes a longer stop at Livno bus station. During this 15 minutes break you can go to the toilet or have a drink at the cafe. From Livno the road ran across a high pass where the landscape changed from scraggy and rugged karstic hills to lush forest. It almost felt as we were moving back home to Austria. The journey took us through central Bosnia with stops in Bugojno, Dolni Vakuf and Travnik. Slowly we started to realise that our scheduled arrival in Sarajevo at 20:15 wasn’t realistic. Even though traffic wasn’t too heavy the bus somehow managed to be delayed about one hour. In Vitez the bus made a second longer stop before heading into the night to Sarajevo.
Welcome to Sarajevo
Finally we reached the suburbs of Sarajevo. The bus made several stops along the main road leading to the city centre before taking a left turn for the bus station. With a delay of about 1h15 we arrived at around 21:30. The bus station is located next to the train station from where a tramway line runs to the city centre. However we didn’t know whether there would be a tramway still running (there are definitely tramways running from the main road a few hundred metres away), so we decided to take a taxi. The driver brought us to our appartment in the city centre, just a few metres away from the basar for about 5€. After checking in we then went to the city again to relax a little in one of the many bars and cafes.
Update: September 2017