Sarajevo War Tunnel Half-Day Trip / How to See Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope

Sarajevo War Tunnel – How to See it on a Half-Day Trip from Sarajevo

Visiting the Sarajevo War Tunnel (Tunnel of Hope) is at the top of all things to do in Sarajevo. In this article, I will tell you what to expect and how to get there. If you are not sure if you want to take an organised tour or travel independently to see the Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope, you will know after reading this post.

Until the last moment, I wasn’t sure I would go and see the Tunnel of Hope. I wasn’t prepared to pay for an organised tour, and getting there by public transport seemed a bit of a hassle. Besides, I heard mixed opinions and learned that only a small part of the original tunnel can be visited.

But the longer I stayed in Sarajevo and the more I learned about the Bosnian War, the more I really wanted to understand the suffering that the inhabitants of this city had to go through.

After spending 2 hours in a small Gallery 11/07/95  crying my eyes out, I wasn’t sure I could take any more. But then, there are museums that everyone should see …

”It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere.”

― Primo Levi

Sarajevo War Tunnel Half-Day Trip / How to See Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope

What is the Sarajevo War Tunnel?

The Sarajevo War Tunnel, also known as the Tunnel of Hope or Tunel Sapsa, was an 800-metre tunnel built under Sarajevo airport that connected the besieged city to the rest of the world. This allowed supplies and people to reach the city, which would otherwise have been impossible or deadly.

The Bosnian war began in 1992, and its remnants can be seen everywhere. Not only in Sarajevo but also in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

From 1992 to 1996, Sarajevo endured the longest siege of any city in modern history, lasting 1,425 days.

The relentless shelling and sniping campaigns that targeted everyone in the city, including innocent civilians, were horrific and inhumane. Sarajevo was surrounded by Serb forces and anyone who tried to enter or leave the city was fired upon.

Sarajevo War Tunnel Half-Day Trip / How to See Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope

The city was completely cut off from the outside world and had to endure unimaginable hardships, lacking electricity, heating, water and medical supplies. There was no way to bring food, people or weapons into the city.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so in March 1993 the construction of the tunnel began in secret and lasted 6 months. The tunnel was built by the soldiers, most of whom didn’t even know how to build such a tunnel. It was hard, dangerous, exhausting and accompanied by constant fear.

Once completed, the tunnel, which was dug under Sarajevo airport, connected the Sarajevo neighbourhoods of Dobrinja and Butmir and made it possible to bring food, medicine, people and war supplies into the city.

Why is it Important to Visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel (Tunnel of Hope)

The Tunnel of Hope was a single thing that helped Sarajevo survive and resist.

It was only when I arrived at the museum, walked through the tunnel, saw photographs of those who had built it, learned some of the stories and saw the film, that I realised what an enormous effort it took to build it, but above all how it enabled the city to survive.

Sarajevo has a lot of survival and resistance stories to tell. The story of the war tunnel is one of the most important.

Sarajevo War Tunnel Half-Day Trip / How to See Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope

What to Expect at the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum:

The entrance to the museum costs 10BAM/5€. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

When you enter the museum, you can download the app with an audio guide. I recommend you do that! Please take headphones with you, because I heard a few people listening to the audio guide loudly, and that could be a bit disturbing.

There is a small section of the original tunnel that starts in the house that you can walk through. Then there is a newer section that is 125 metres long. You’ll be able to see and walk through 2 sections of the tunnel.

Sarajevo War Tunnel Half-Day Trip / How to See Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope

Throughout the tour you will be able to see archival material and photos showing the reality of both, life in Sarajevo under siege and the hardships of building the tunnel,as well as military uniforms and arms, and much more.

There is also a room with a projector where you can see an 18-minute film.

I found the film to be very interestingly done. It is a collage of news and reports from the time, showing the construction of the tunnel, the smuggling of people and objects through the tunnel, and finally photos of Sarajevo under fire.

It’s a simple museum, but often it does not take many words to show what happened.

How to Get to Sarajevo War Tunnel

Getting to Sarajevo War Tunnel On a Tour

Most travellers choose to visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel as part of an organised half-day tour.

An organised guided tour offers many advantages. You will be driven there and back in an air-conditioned vehicle and have a guide who will explain the history and give you some additional important information.

There are several ways to book a guided tour to the War Tunnel in Sarajevo.

You can book your tour with Meet Bosnia, the most popular tour provider in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their tour costs around €25 and you can contact them via their website.

You can also book on a reputable website like Get Your Guide or Viator, where you also have many other tours to choose from.

Here are some other popular guided tours:

Sarajevo: Tito’s Cold War Bunker Tour

Sarajevo: Grand Walking Tour

Sarajevo: Mostar, Sufi House, Počitelj & Kravice Falls Tour

From Sarajevo: Full-Day Hiking Lukomir Village Small Group

However, I chose to visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel on my own and by public transport. For 2 reasons. First, I wanted to save money (since I am a budget traveller) and secondly, I like to do such things at my own pace.

So if you want to find out how to get to Sarajevo war Tunnel by public transport read on …

Getting to Sarajevo War Tunnel by Public Transport

It’s a bit tricky to get to the Sarajevo War Tunnel by public transport, as some of the tram lines aren’t in operation due to renovations.

Besides, the last part of the journey has to be done on foot anyway, so if you don’t want to walk, you should stick to the organised tour.

But it is totally doable!

So to get to the Sarajevo War Tunnel by public transport, you have to go to Illidza first. Once the trams are fully operational, take tram line 3 from the Old Town to Illidza.

At the moment (July 2023), a replacement bus is running on that part of the route. If you wait at one of the bus stops in the Old Town, e.g. here or here, you’ll see blue Centrotrans buses running every 5 minutes. They all go to Cengic Vila, where you’ll get off. They all go there!

Sarajevo War Tunnel Half-Day Trip / How to See Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope

At Cengic Vila you will see a tram roundabout and you get on a tram to continue the journey to Ilidza. Still with the same ticket. This whole part of the journey costs 1.40BAM and takes about 30 minutes.

Ilidža is a big intersection where all trams end or start their journey and there is a big bus station. There are also many possibilities to have a drink, a meal or just a cup of coffee.

When you’re in Ilidža, you can get a local but to Butmir, but you can also just walk. It’s a nice flat walk of about 35 minutes. If you take the bus to Butmir, you have to get off after 2 stops anyway (here) anyway and keep walking. 

Sarajevo War Tunnel Half-Day Trip / How to See Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope

I chose to walk from Ilidža and I know other travellers have done the same. I got this advice from another traveller.

There are signposts for Tunal Sapsa, but you can always ask for directions. However, it’s a very straightforward path. There isn’t much around the museum except the airport and a few food stalls.

There is always someone offering a taxi ride at the front of the museum if you don’t fancy a walk back, there is always the option.

Sarajevo War Tunnel Half-Day Trip / How to See Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope

You could of course choose to drive to Sarajevo War Tunner or in fact, rent a car for the whole duration of your Bosna and Herzegovina trip. As much as I don’t recommend renting a car just to see Sarajevo, if you are planning to see more of the country, renting a car could be a good idea!

Is the Sarajevo War Tunnel worth visiting?

It is not only worth visiting, but it is also a must-see while in Sarajevo. The Tunnel of Hope museum will show you how and why the tunnel was built and what life was like in the besieged city. It is probably one of the most important museums in Sarajevo.

I hope you decide to take this trip and that my article will be of help and guidance.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Until then, happy travels!

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Exploring more of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Wondering if Bosnia and Herzegovina is safe to travel? Read my complete guide to Bosnia Travel Safety! And if are wondering how to budget for your Bosnia trip, read my guide to Budget Travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Are you heading to Sarajevo and wondering where to stay? Here is my full guide to all the areas and best accommodations in Sarajevo and one specifically dedicated to the best hostels!

Visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina is not complete without visiting beautiful Mostar! Read where why you should stay in Mostar for a few days!

Finally, be sure to visit one of my favourite cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina – the sunny Trebinje!

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