Banja Luka

Overview

Introduction

One of the largest cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Banja Luka (pronounced Ban-ya LOO-ka) is the capital of the Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska. There are no flights in or out of Banja Luka—the closest airport is in Zagreb.

The museum of Republika Srpska Life is worth a visit, but there is little else on offer, culturally, for the non-Serbian speaker. A wander around the castle—a former Roman fortress subsequently refortified by the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarians—is recommended. Vibrant street life, good, cheap clubbing and nightlife are the main reasons to visit Banja Luka.

There is a big national park in the Kozara mountains, 28 mi/45 km from Banja Luka, with views and walking trails, as well as a small museum to a famous victory by the partisans over the Nazis. One of the most memorable sites around Banja Luka is the Jasenovac memorial, on the Bosnian side of the Sava River. Commemorating the genocide that occurred there under the Croatian Ustasa regime during WWII, the memorial is tasteful, sad and thought-provoking. 80 mi/130 km northwest of Sarajevo.

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