Tango’s Destination Rating: 1/4 Paws: It’s Difficult to Love this City on Four Paws
Our experience in Sarajevo was shaped by the locals we met. Although one may think this is an obvious statement and applied to all destinations, Sarajevo differs in that people can not be generalized. As one local put it, your experience is “unexpected”. Attitudes and beliefs vary widely with citizens and can be pleasant and quiet or aggressive and inconsiderate. Unfortunately, the latter prevailed.
It was difficult to live our daily life without push back from both locals and tourists. Grown men and women would jump out-of-the-way of Tango. Children would run scared to their parents and men would yell “phewy” over and over as Tango and I strolled. Sarajevo’s saving grace is the amount of walking space, City Sightseeing tours and the open air pedestrian old town. Still, I have been screamed at by male shop owners in the old town and denied entry to outdoor patios. Good luck with transportation in this city, you will not be getting on a tram, bus or in a taxi.
Our introduction to the city through the taxi windows was unsettling . New and modern shopping centres are placed between old street car lines and bullet ridden homes and businesses. This is an old city with character but we needed to find the charm. We initially enjoyed the people, making friends easily at a dog friendly bar on our first night. Our Airbnb host very hospitable and welcoming. We walked through the ottoman square in awe taking in the plethora of healthy restaurants, fruit stands and souvenir shops. Unfortunately, we soon became fearful and were turned off of the city when we experienced the mauling of a small dog by a locally owned german shepard. We quickly learned this city has a problem with organized dog fighting and ownership of untrained large aggressive dogs.
Trams and buses Dogs are not allowed.
Taxi Don’t count on taxis as a mode of transportation. I only managed to take one taxi with Tango and I feel like it was pure luck. I made several attempts on other occasions to hail a taxi and was met with rude men, unwilling to accommodate Tango or help by referring us to a dog friendly taxi.
City Sightseeing Our saving grace! I don’t know how we would have visited various monuments or gone to Tango’s veterinary appointments without utilizing City Sightseeing. Check out our experience here!
Bicycles Rent a bicycle using nextbike.ba. It is a public bicycle system with pick up and drop off locations all around town.
Planes The Sarajevo International Airport (SSJ) is serviced by these dog friendly airlines:
Trains Despite what the official website of the railway for Bosnia and Herzegovina states, you will not be able to travel with a dog unless he/she is small and in a fully enclosed container. The staff at the railway says the policies on the website are outdated. No exceptions will be made. The train currently runs between Sarajevo and Čapljina, stopping in Mostar.
Buses Dogs are not allowed on the buses. If your dog is well-behaved and quiet, you can try to do what many people do which is to hide your dog under your coat and get on the bus without the bus driver noticing you.
True story: I witnessed my friend trying to board the bus with her small dog in a fully enclosed container:
Bus Driver: “Put the dog with the luggage under the bus.”
My Friend: “He will die being transported in those conditions!”
Bus Driver: “If it dies, I will refund your money.”
This is a normal attitude toward dogs by locals in this country.
Taxi I arrived to Sarajevo by taxi from Mostar. I had a local find me a taxi driver that would accept dogs. It cost 120 marks and was a beautiful drive.
Car Check out BlaBlaCar. This website is a search engine to find people with a car who are traveling the same direction as you. You share in the costs of the trip.
Dogs are not welcome inside restaurants. Most eateries and caffees will allow dogs on patios, but we did run into a handful that would not. If you are not traveling during the spring and summer patio weather, it will be hard to enjoy a meal or drink with your dog by your side. Luckily, there are a few amazing exceptions to this rule. WE SCOURED SARAJEVO TO TRY AND TEST THESE DOG FRIENDLY EATERIES, CAFFES AND BARS!
Crazy Drivers The most dangerous position to be in when visiting Sarajevo is a pedestrian. Drivers are aggressive and obnoxious with excessive honking and tailgating while talking on the phone. As a pedestrian you are not safe anywhere including the side-walk and what may appear as a pedestrian only walking area.
Similar to a cat in a box with the attitude “If I fit, I sit.”, cars in Sarajevo go and park where they fit. Drivers utilize the sidewalk and pedestrian walk ways with no consideration for pedestrians. As a pedestrian, consider yourself in the wrong all the time. When crossing the street pay very close attention to the pedestrian lights and do not jaywalk; drivers will not slow down for a person or dog crossing the road.
Stray Dogs I only came across a few stray dogs. Some where in packs, others alone. They were mostly large, german shepard crosses and very timid. When they saw Tango and I they would put their tail between their legs and run or ignore us completely. I encountered dogs out-of-town on the dirt roads of Mount Trebevic and they were not aggressive.
Poison Do not let the idea of dog’s being poisoned detour you from visiting Sarajevo. Poisoning appears to occur by angry neighbours and is a deliberate and targeted attack on locally owned dogs.
Pickpocketing Yup, it happens. Especially in old town. Excercise regular degrees of caution with your belongings. Most pickpockets won’t cross a dog so keep your furry one by your side!
Begging Gypsies, young kids and local seniors are just some of the individuals that will hold their hand out looking for money as you walk by. They will also approach your table while you are dining. They aren’t aggressive. Just wave them off. Having a dog helps as many of the people begging are scared of dogs.
Refugees have set up a camp of tents across from the city hall. It is not an inviting atmosphere and there are reports of tourists being mugged by the occupants. One friend told me about a hostel owner who opened his accommodation to the refugees during the winter off-season. The hostel was trashed and needed to be completely renovated before opening for the tourist season. The refugees are not Syrians displaced from the current war and are instead mainly Moroccans with some people from Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Libia. They are male children and young adult criminals escaping their homelands. They do not want food or clothes; They wear clean, name brand clothes and carry the latest Apple cell phones. They only want money.
*Edit* In anticipation of the Turkish president arriving on 20 May, 2018, the refugees were moved from the park to the Croatian border.
In the Old Town, a large vacuum operated by a city employee is pulled through this part of town every morning. City employees can also be seen sweeping and changing garbage cans.
Outside of this area, garbage litters the streets and bushes. Tango is consistently trying to put something in her mouth so I am on constant guard. Loaves of bread and scattered pastries litter the cemeteries and parks in hopes of feeding the birds. This food goes moldy from the excess amounts and constantly changing rainy and sunny weather.
You may see yellow rubbish bins with “Dog Trust” written on the side. DO NOT open these. I pucked. They are not emptied.
A Google search will reveal multiple pet stores and vets however, none are located in the downtown area or accessible with your dog (Z00 Centar is located in a pet-unfriendly mall). We were happy to find Ketti pet store and Veterinarska Stanica located across from each other. It was here that I switched Tango to Canadian made Orijen because premade raw dog food is unavailable in Sarajevo. Our review of this veterinary and dog store coming soon!
These museums, tours and sights will keep you and your pooch busy for a couple of days! CLICK HERE FOR PET FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN SARAJEVO.
It’s not common to shop with a dog in Sarajevo. Dogs are generally not welcome inside any building. Don’t expect to roam the streets and pop in and out of clothing and tourist stores. I had to hire a babysitter for Tango so I could go shopping at the mall.
To pick up necessities such as eggs, milk and toiletries, I utilized the corner store type markets. You will recognize them by their tiny size (100-300 sq feet) and fresh fruits and veggies spilling out onto the street. Tango would wait outside but because of the small size of the store we could see each other.
I did manage to get my nails done but it was very out of the ordinary for the salon to accept dogs. The owner was terrified of Tango. I was thankful she made an exception as I was desperate for a much-needed pedicure.