Banja Luka is the second largest city of Bosnia, after Sarajevo. Banja Luca is in the northwest of the country and is the capital city of the Republika Srpska (Serb Republic). Banja Luka is a stunning city nestled between green hills on the edge of the river Vrbas. Banja Luka is famed for its tree-lined avenues, parks, gardens and boulevards. By day, Banja Luka has a lively café culture with cafés and restaurants all over the city and by night there is a lively scene with music, nightclubs, drinks and dance.
The signs of the Bosnian conflict are not as obvious in Banja Luka as in the heavily shellled Sarajevo. However, during the Bosnian war a lot of mosques were destroyed, including the famous and historic Ferhadija Mosque dating back to the 16th Century. The mosque has recently been rebuilt.
Food and Drink in Banja Luka
Whilst on my recent holiday to Banja Luka, I had foolishly, as it turns out, decided to continue my weight loss program. Now, with the assortments of fantastic foods available, sticking to the diet proved more than a little tricky. I decided to ditch the diet and research weight loss surgery on my return. Let me explain …
One of the famed dishes of Banja Luka, and indeed Bosnia, is the ćevapi. This local delight looks like a finger-sized sausage without the casing. The sausages are made of a mix of spices and minced lamb or beef and grilled and usually served in pitta bread. Absolutely delicious! Don’t even get me on to the desserts – there was a fascinating array of pancakes, cakes and pastries. My all time favourite is called the baklava and is a filo type of flaky pastry coated in syrup or honey and filled with nuts … Oh the calories!
Rivers, Waterfalls and Thermal Spas.
Having overindulged on the food front, I decided to experience the range of outside activities that Banja Luka has to offer. Due to the fact that the city is surrounded by the most stunning nature; rivers, thermal springs and waterfalls, it lends itself well to walking and hiking. For the more daring, white-water rafting and canyoning are also popular tourist attractions in the natural countryside surrounding Banja Luka. I was happy to take a walk along one of the many paths on the banks of the River Vrbas and just soak in the beauty of the weeping willows reflected in the water. Unfortunately, for me there were a lot of cafés and picnic stops along the way!
The Kastel Fortress
One place on the ‘must visit whilst in Banja Luka‘ list, is the ancient Roman Kastel fortress. As I approached the old walls of the fortress, my mind wandered back in time to the turbulent history of this city and all the battles the fortress has been witness to. The fortress itself has nine bastions and two striking towers within the walls. It is an ideal place to wander around and take some time out from the hustle and bustle of the city. The fortress was originally built in Roman times and renovated again by the Ottomans. If you are planning a trip to Banja Luka make sure that you check out any outside music concerts planned before you arrive as sometimes they are held at this atmospheric retreat. I was not lucky enough to experience live, evening music here but I would guess that it would be stunning.
Banja Luka Airport
Banja Luka airport started working in 1976. According to the development plans of the time, when the airport capacities were built Banja Luka airport was defined as the secondary airport through which the inner air traffic of the space of Former Yugoslavia would occur.
After the political and territorial transformation of the Former Yugoslavia and BiH territory, the Republic of Srpska was constituted as a legal entity, which gave the Banja Luka airport new significance and a whole different role. The Banja Luka airport appears as one of the fastest, safest and most economic exits from Republic of Srpska into the world and by that it becomes one of the most important factors in the statehood of the Republic of Srpska.
Banja Luka airport was opened for civil air traffic on November 18th 1997. Since March 2nd 1998, when the Yugoslavian air transport handled its first promotional flight from Banja Luka, this airport has had the specific function of international transportation of passengers.
Banja Luka airport is built in Laktaši and Gradiška municipalities, in the area with the wide river Vrbas and spreads to the famous Lijevče field. Distance between the airport and the main Banja Luka – Gradiška highway is 1100 meters, and 23 km away from downtown Banja Luka .
The logo of carriers Air Serbia
The logos of other air carriers in Bosnia.
Flights from Banja Luka
During the winter period the airport is open from 07:00 to 18:00 hours.
Tickets are sold on line through the travel agency ARS TOURS.
From Banja Luka you can travel to all the important cities of Europe and the world, based on an agreement with world air companies. Banja Luka airport offer winter and summer travels arrangements and they also have special offers in the spring.
Air SERBIA Flights: Belgrade – Banja Luka –Belgrade. During the winter period flights are arranged on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
ARS TOURS: Flights to the ski destination Jahorina.
Some photos from Banja Luka