Sarajevo is one of the most scenic cities in the Western Balkans and certainly the most scenic capital in the region. This is expected as the city is located in a valley between several mountain ridges and stretches along a small river.
If you have already explored the city when jogging and are getting bored by the same routes, or you are looking for something more challenging, I want to recommend a medium difficulty, but very scenic route in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The recommended route is from the city center up to the Trebević mountain peak and the upper station of the Sarajevo Cable Car (Sarajevska Žičara).
A big added bonus to this route is that you not only get to see, but you can also run in the now-abandoned Bobsleigh Track of the 1984 Sarajevo Olympic Games. Here’s a video of me not only running a stretch of the track, but also meeting a local fox.
When I’ll visit Sarajevo next time, I already have a plan to run the entire bobsleigh track.
Bear in mind that this route does have quite a bit of elevation compressed in a short distance, particularly, if you ascend on the route along the Sarajevo Cable Car.
To provide you numbers, you will ascend 600 vertical meters / 1968 feet over a 5km / 3-mile distance. Most runners (including me) will have to walk from time to time on the ascent, as the heart rate will easily reach your upper threshold in Zone 5.
If you want to make the route easier for you, but still get all the sights, you could either run up to the Trebevic mountain along the Zlatne Dolina road, the green forest section in the map, or take the cable car and then descend on either of the two routes down.
The total route was almost precisely 16 kilometers or 9.94 miles. If you don’t want to do the entire circuit, it’s still well worth to try to ascend as high up the mountain as you can, and then take a different route down, while enjoying the beautiful views of Sarajevo.
As you can judge by my splits, the ascent on the winding road roughly following the straight cable car path was quite brutal, as evidenced by doing one kilometer in 8-10 minutes. However, your average pace will greatly increase on the way down, when most runner will easily do a kilometer under 5-6 minutes.
Best Time to Run in Sarajevo
This is not a stupid question, in case you were wondering.
While Sarajevo is a beautiful city, it has one of the worst air quality scores in Europe during the heating season. A lot of houses are heated with individual heating systems that use wood (at best), and the smoke drifts down the mountain slopes towards the valley.
As a result, running in the city from November to March will be quite unpleasant due to smog. I did this run in October, and already you could feel the smoke / smog in the air.
Alternative Best Running Routes
If you don’t want to run something as physically demanding as this route, I heartily recommend two other routes:
- Running along the Miljacka river any distance that you find comfortable. You can easily run 9 miles / 15 km in one-direction along the river without leaving the city.
- Any route that connects the main buildings of the Sarajevo 1984 Olympic Games (just Google them, put what you like in Google Maps, and follow the route).
Be aware, that Sarajevo streets can be quite narrow, and the driving culture is quite aggressive, so watch out for cars and don’t assume that they’ll let you pass because you’re a pedestrian.
Night-time pictures are from my run. Daytime pictures are from a previous visit to Sarajevo, just to illustrate what to expect better.
Sarajevo cable car gondola from the 1984 Olympic Games
If you have questions about this route, or running in Sarajevo in general, drop a comment and I’ll reply ASAP.