Have you ever heard of a place in Europe where you can actually see & read how East meets West? Do you know which European city is the least known capital? Can you imagine a place in the Balkans that no visitor wants to leave because they are in awe of it? If you can’t figure it out, let me reveal you this well-kept secret. Your next ideal off-the-beaten-track destination is called Banja Luka. This is by far the most relaxed and the coolest city in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Did I mention that it is also the greenest and the most adventurous place in the country? Being a hidden gem par excellence, Banja Luka could be the best “surprise-pin” on your bucket list.
First of all, Banja Luka makes use of two alphabets – Cyrillic and Latin. Two alphabets??? Yes, you have read it well. Which implies that even children in school learn both of them, as from the early age. So, for the locals, it is completely normal to use both alphabets, interchanging them all the time. If you wonder how it looks like, just check again the title of this page.
Banja Luka is the largest city in the northern part of Bosnia & Herzegovina, as well as the second biggest in the country. But it is also a de facto capital city of Republic of Srpska (probably unknown to you, but it is one of the two official entities of B&H). This city has a rich history dating back to the Stone Age. Illyrians and Romans, Slavs, but also Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians – they all were conquering this place, leaving their own hallmarks in the history of Banja Luka.
With more than one thousand cafes & bars (without restaurants) for around 200.000 inhabitants, Banja Luka is a place where you will experience a whole new concept of “living lives in cafes”. No matter the time of the day, it is always difficult to find a free place in Banja Luka’s cafes. Whether a student or a granny, a local particularity is to sit & chill out on the sun (yes, even in winters this place has plenty of sun), while enjoying a coffee.
No other city in the country and the region can be compared to Banja Luka in terms of waters and greenery. This paradisiac valley is rich with avenues, parks & green boulevards, as well as surrounding hills. On the top of this comes the mesmerizing Vrbas River. This mountainous river with rapids, waterfalls and cascades on its way, is a sort of natural reserve with thermal springs, that created a fantastic canyon, in the proximity of the city.
Having all the ingredients for adventurous sports such as rafting, kayaking, canoeing, dayaking, fly-fishing, free climbing, trekking & mountain biking, camping, paragliding (just to mention some), Banja Luka will please any top-notch adrenalin seeker.
A mind-boggling fusion of multicultural history, charming & colourful landscapes, flavoured by the Mediterranean touch, yet undiscovered by the crowds. A place of succulent cuisine, beautiful women and never-ending parties. No visitor can resist these enchanting powers. No wonder that, slowly but surely, it becomes a place where fascinated Western Europeans come to live because everyone is in awe of Banja Luka.
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