Hikers on the Via Dinarica.
Hikers along the Via Dinarica. Photo: Much Better Adventures.

The Via Dinarica is a long distance hiking trail which extends from Slovenia to Macedonia, tracing the Dinaric Alps and the Sharr Mountain Range, introducing hikers to a relatively undiscovered mountain wilderness.

This 1,200-mile mega trail stretches through eight countries on the Balkan Peninsula, including Albania, Slovenia and Montenegro (Macedonia has recently been linked up to it). In fact, the Via Dinarica actually consists of three trails: the main route (known as the ‘white trail’) which runs across the Dinaric Alps, the green trail which meanders through valleys and forests, and the Via Dinarica blue trail, which follows the Adriatic Coast.

All the trails are well-maintained and easy to follow, so you can hike independently, but the knowledge, stories and legends told by the local guides will enhance your trip immeasurably.

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Some of the trails are more remote than others, but all the sections of Via Dinarica White Trail listed below offer comfortable mountain huts, cabins and boarding houses run by local families. Please note that you need to check that the mountain huts and cabins open on the days you want to stay in advance.

Walking the trail in its entirety would take weeks - and most of us don’t have the annual leave for that. So here’s some of our favourite sections from the Via Dinarica White trail in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Some of the trails are more remote than others, but all the sections of Via Dinarica White Trail listed below offer comfortable mountain huts, cabins and boarding houses run by local families. Please note that you need to check that the mountain huts and cabins open on the days you want to stay in advance.

Here is a list of the must-do sections of the Via Dinarica White trail in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Day Hikes along Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Via Dinarica

1. Bjelasnica Mountain: Hike to Lukomir, Bosnia’s Highest and Most Isolated Village

Bjelasnica Mountain
The icy summit of Bjelasnica. Photo: Getty.

Distance: 8 miles

Walking Time: 5-7 hours

This gorgeous Olympic mountain is a very popular ski resort, but also a paradise for hikers because of its remote areas, which are home to small traditional highland villages, vast grasslands, creeks, beautiful cliffs and canyons. It’s a place of well-preserved nature, folk tales and legends.

The starting point of the hike is Umoljani Village, which is approximately half an hour of drive away from the ski resort Babin Do or around 1 hour and 15 minutes from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital. It’s possible to stay overnight in a cosy boarding house run by a local family and try different types of pies that are a speciality in this area.

From the entrance to the village the path goes along the slopes of Orlovac Hill and passes seven small watermills which have been used for centuries to make flour, but today they are restored as a tourist attraction. Sometimes it is even used as a shelter for hikers.

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The stream of cold mountain water goes over the trail and runs down the hill beside the watermills. As the source is just along the path this is a perfect place to fill up your bottles with clean mountain water that does not dry even during very hot summer days.

This trail will take you across the scenic landscape of Bjelasnica Mountain. After passing the watermills, the path slowly ascends to the Orlovac’s other side and valley of the Cold Creek, giving you great views of the surrounding mountains the whole way.

Rakitnica Canyon Via Dinarica Bosnia and Herzegovina
Rakitnica Canyon. Photo by Sabina Sirco

One of the deepest canyons in Europe will soon open in front of you. The river Rakitnica has created a 26km long and inaccessible canyon that stretches between two mountains – Bjelasnica and Visocica – and plunges 1000 metres.

A little further on is Cold Creek. This narrow creek snakes through the vast valley tucked between high hills and creates small cascades which tumble 400 metres into the canyon. In the spring the creek is full of water but, during the very hot summer seasons Cold Creek unfortunately totally dries up.

Cold Creek and Mount Visočica Via Dinarica Bosnia and Herzegovina
Cold Creek with Mount Visočica in the background. Photo by Sabina Sirco

The rest of the path to Lukomir goes along the canyon, overlooking the ridges and highest peaks of Mount Visocica the entire way. If you’re lucky you might see some of the seasonal waterfalls dropping from the Visocica’s high cliffs into Rakitnica river.

This highland village is situated on the end of Long Field above the deep Rakitnica Canyon. Its few residents are still living traditionally; growing vegetables, taking sheep to pasture, making sheep’s cheese, milk and hand-knitting socks, gloves and vests. After the hike, treat yourself with great homemade pies and hand-knitted souvenirs.

2. Across the Ridge of Visosčica Mountain

Visočica Mountain
Ridge of Visočica Mountain and Bjelašnica behind. Photo by Sabina Sirco

Distance: 9 Miles

Walking time: 5-7 hours

On the other side of the wild Rakitnica canyon, just across Bjelasnica, rises Visocica Mountain. The White trail of the Via Dinarica goes across Kaoca ridge of Visocica, providing spectacular views of Lukomir village and the canyon from above. This hike and that mentioned in point one make up Stage 34 of the Via Dinarica Trail (and the ninth section of the route in Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The path is very narrow, so you’ll need to walk in single file, but it’s safe enough that you don’t need any special equipment.

The hike itself is a fulfilling journey over a couple of smaller peaks to the end of ridge and Vito Peak at an altitude of 1960 metres. Take a break and enjoy the view of the vast pastures behind you and the huge natural amphitheatre that opens beneath you. In Tusila Valley there is a very comfortable hut and great small restaurant with few rooms to stay overnight, run by a local family.

3. Donje Bare via Suha and Prijevor to Trnovačko Lake

Trnovacko Lake
The emerald green Trnovacko Lake. Photo by Sabina Sirco

Distance: 12.4 miles

Walking Time: 7 hours

The starting point of the hike is by Donje Bare Lake, which is surrounded by dense forest, and finishes at the Trnovacko Lake. Head east on the lake path towards Sutjeska River, making a detour to the Borić viewpoint. Then return to the path and follow the sign to Kovačev Panj. You’ll follow a gully across a meadow and into a beech forest.

Within a couple of hours you’ll reach a main road - follow it south until you reach Suha. Then it’s back on the forest path, which will split off to join a high ridge. Follow it - you’ll pass under Mount Maglić, the highest mountain in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2386 m). You’ll descend into a valley and climb up to Trnovacko Lake, your final destination.

4. Maglić Mountain: Hike to Bosnia’s Highest Peak

Via ferrata Maglic Mountain
Via Ferrata section on Maglić Mountain. Photo by Sabina Sirco

Distance: 8.7 miles

Walking Time: 9 hours

Climbing Maglić Mountain (2,386m) in Sutjeska National Park isn’t strictly on the route of Via Dinarica, but we couldn’t resist suggesting this hike to summit Bosnia and Herzegovina’s highest peak.

After a transfer to Lokve Derneciste, the starting point for this hike, the trail leads through forest and over green meadows to the foothills of Maglić Mountain. The ascent begins with a few sections of via ferrata to help you with the steeper parts of the cliff. But it’s not a particularly challenging ascent if you have a good head for heights.

When you finally get up to the main ridge you can see the peak in front of you. Maglić is situated just beside the border with Montenegro, and you can actually enter Montenegro by foot while crossing the ridge back to the Via Dinarica.

‘Maglić’ translates to ‘misty’ and the mountain often lives up to its name, even during summer. From the top, it’s possible to see all the way to the high Montenegrin mountains and the Adriatic Sea.

Trnovacko Lake
From Trnovacko Lake toward Prijevor Saddle. Photo by Sabina Sirco

The view from the ridge is stunning. Beneath you are the foothills of Maglić (where the Via Dinarica runs), the rock-face wall of Trnovacki Durmitor and Volujak and the glacial lake of Trnovacko.

The path down Maglić’s slopes is covered with scree. It’s a tricky 600m descent down with plenty of zig-zagging, but a slow walk and walking poles will make it far less demanding. A swim in the emerald green Trnovacko Lake is a well-earned reward after quite a challenging day of hiking. Beside the lake, there is a small camp and the flag of Montenegro, proof you really did step into another country.

The rest of the path to Prijevor saddle, your final destination, is mostly downhill or flat with only short sections of uphill. You will get a good view of the Perucica primaeval forest before you drive back to Tjentiste for a well-deserved rest.

5. Čvrsnica Mountain

Čvrsnica Mountain
Čvrsnica Mountain. Photo by Sabina Sirco

Distance: 21.7 miles

Walking Time: 13-14 hours

Stage 30 of the Via Dinarica takes you up Mount Čvrsnica, which rises above the valley of Dugo Polje in Blidinje Nature Park. The Park is located in the south-eastern part of the country or in the northern part of the region known as Herzegovina. It’s home to a stunning landscape of endemic animals and plants, lake, canyons, caves, rivers and creeks, as well as mediaeval gravestones – a reminder of the rich human history in this area.

The hike starts from Blidinje Lake and leads through the forest park of Muvarnica and gently ascends to Hajdučka Vrata, a four-metre wide arch and a true masterpiece of nature situated on the cliff at around 2000 metres. The gate to nature’s paradise! It offers a perfect view over the picturesque Diva Grabovice Valley surrounded by the huge steep cliffs.

Hajdučka Vrata natural arch
Hajducka Vrata natural arch. Photo by Sabina Sirco

On your way to this natural phenomenon, you will pass by Crevnjak Lake, a small glacial lake, located just 15 minutes from Hajducka Vrata. After around an hour of walking from the arch, you will arrive on the main ridge towards Veliki Vilinac Peak. From here you will see the mountain hut Vilinac, located on the edge of the southern slopes of Veliki Vilinac, above the valley of Diva Grabovica. It’s the highest hut in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1961m) - you could sleep here and break your walk into two stages.

The next highlight is the Great Vilinac summit (2,117 m) and also Trinjaca (2,045m). Eventually you’ll leave the mountains behind you and descend down forest paths to the town of Jablanica.

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