For as long as we have been interested in Urban Exploration we have wanted to head over to Sarajevo and set off hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track from the 1984 winter Olympics that were held in the city. Not only does the idea of such a ghostly structure sitting above the city interest us as an exploration, but the history here is an added element that really makes such adventures that much more intense and its also one of the most perfect alternative things to do in Sarajevo. A few years ago I could have never imagined that we would be setting off to hike up to what was a dream urban exploration, Sarajevo just wasn’t somewhere we were going to go in isolation. But whilst planning our backpacking route through the Balkans it was one of the first things we added to our list of destinations! Here’s our how to get to the Sarajevo Bobsled Track guide.
History: The track during the Olympics
Built on the Trebevic mountain above Sarajevo for the 1984 winter Olympics the track was completed in 1982 after designs were approved only a year earlier. The track hosted both the Bobsleigh and the luge competitions and attracted a crowd of over 30,000 and 20,000 for each sport. The track at the time set the country back around 563,209,000 Yugoslavian Dinar, but the hype and crowds the games brought made sure this was a great investment for the region. Featuring 13 turns and at 1,300 metres long it went on to be used several times after the Olympics for the world cup and other smaller competitions. It seemed for a time that this investment would pay long term dividends for the city of Sarajevo, until history once again turned dark for Sarajevo and the track took on another famous story. This haunting history really makes hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track a fascinating prospect.
History: The infamous use of the track during the siege of Sarajevo
After the bright lights and hope of the Olympics came the dark cloud of the Balkan war. Famously Sarajevo suffered the longest siege in modern history and these tracks created for the benefit of the Bosnian people became embroiled in the fight. The twists and turns that once hosted the worlds best Olympians in 1991 became an artillery position for the Serbian forces. Holes drilled into the side of the concrete became sniper positions, the whole area was covered in landmines and the track was used as a defensive position to bomb the city below. From being a place of fun it became one of horror and a mechanism for hated and makes it one of the most haunting alternative things to do in Sarajevo and really made us want to discover how to get to the Sarajevo Bobsled Track.
There are so many left over sites within Europe to explore, many that remain from wars and the changing of regimes across the region. Berlin for example is another city where those scares remain.
For so many years the track has been left to rot, the nearby forest taking over and the entire distance covered in graffiti. But there have been recent plans to renovate the track and bring it back into use. This means that once again the track can be a symbol of positivity for the city, although part of me would love it to stay as this amazing hidden relic! But even now you can see where repairs have been done to the track and many of the holes have been fixed. There have been rumours that the Slovakian bobsleigh team have been using the lower section to train on carts with wheels a few years ago. Either way, more and more rumours seem to be surfacing that I am sure one day they might bring this historic place back to life, but for now hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track is still one of the best alternative things to do in Sarajevo.
Even today the track sits only a few hundred metres away from the Republic of Srpska, the region in Bosnia where the Serbs live and where they enforce their own rules and laws. So it’s important that when you figure out how to get to the Sarajevo Bobsled Track you are careful not to get lost!
How to get to Sarajevo the Bobsled Track: Exploring these amazing soviet relics
Hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track in the heat of midday was a little tougher than I expected, with not having done that much cardio over the past few months whilst I have been recovering from my operation I felt a little more tired than expected. But I ploughed on and used it as some well needed exercise as well as an fun adventure.
Taking the route up was not all that bad though, we got the chance to walk through some interesting villages on the hike up and the views from the hillsides of the town were worth it if nothing else. But these views also brought into focus just how exposed the city was from this position and how deadly an assault launched from this mountain would be on the city. Hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track was a real eye opener to how the people of the city were like sitting ducks, seeing this place is one of the best alternative things to do in Sarajevo to get a better understanding of the war here.
The track itself isn’t all that hard to find and despite being heavily overgrown the multicoloured concrete walls stand out against the woods just enough to catch your eye. The first section of track you are greeted with is what would be the finish line, complete with original signage still in place. There is no easing into it, you are straight away right into the thick of things hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track!
The track really blew me away if I am honest. I had waited years to come and walk these historic turns, to take in not only the events of the Olympics but also that of the Balkan war which makes it the most interesting of the alternative things to do in Sarajevo. There is triple hit of interest here, from the double edged history to the idea of such a place of energy being left to sink into the forest, forgotten by time. In that respect it had that creepy feeling to it that I have experienced in abandoned theme parks and hospitals. There is something that is fundamentally scary and yet appealing at the same time above the post-apocalyptic feel these places give off and was why I always wanted to find out how to get to the Sarajevo Bobsled Track.
The first section of the track that we explored was just amazing, the high and steep turns twisted and turned in rapid succession. The amazing graffiti covered almost every inch of the track and vines crept over the edges, encasing the track as part of the forest itself. Hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track was a real highlight of our time backpacking in the Balkans.
Once we discovered how to get to the Sarajevo Bobsled Track, walking the track itself was actually longer and steeper than we expected, we decided to walk the entire length right the way up til the starting point. Along the way each section despite being similar offered up different features. There were more overgrown sections which at one time could have been slid into place to change the layout of the track, now frozen in place where they stand. These have had no renovation at all and still contain many of the haunting holes the Serbs drilled into the track to use as a sniper positions. Hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track was such an unforgettable adventure!
The high turns continued as the track became steeper and it climbed the hill, you could really imagine the amount of speed the riders would have as they flew around these bends. I really couldn’t imagine how scary but exhilarating it must be! As the track became steeper and the turns less so we knew we were approaching the beginning. The starting position had collapsed, whether that was intentional or as a result of the war or decay we were unsure, but it contributed to the haunting scene at one of the most incredible alternative things to do in Sarajevo.
Walking down from the track we all reflected on what an amazing experience it had been and especially for us being Urban Explorers even back home, we were so glad to find out how to get to the Sarajevo Bobsled Track. After exploring the sniper tower in Mostar, Bosnia was turning out to be a great place for Urbex adventures and hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track was a highlight along side Chernobyl.
How to get to Sarajevo the Bobsled Track and advice!
How is hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track
The track is kind of easy to get to and yet hard at the same time! Hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track is steep and takes around 2 hours. The majority of this will be on narrow local streets before you get into the forest. The path begins on the other side of the river to the City Hall, past a few muslim cemeteries and up into the hillside. It is one of the most interesting alternative things to do in Sarajevo!
How to get to Sarajevo the Bobsled Track: The hiking route
We used the offline app “Maps.me” to map out our route from the city up to the tracks. On here the whole tracks are all laid out too so it’s easy to find your way around. Be sure to download the Bosnia map before you leave your accommodation!
The tracks location can be seen from the city. Look up at Mt Trebevic and notice the white stone area, the track is behind and just to the right of that.
The hike can be a little bit confusing but totally doable with maps.
* Head to the south side of the river and begin ascending through the streets, this part is steep but really quite interesting, you will pass some muslin cemeteries, see some wonderful local culture and amazing views over the city.
* After the last houses you will see a grassy patch on your right, near a couple of houses on your left you will find a path.
* The man made orange track wind up the mountain and end at two bombed out houses. From here you can see a great view over the city.
* Continue on for around 5-10 mins on the paved track and you will find the end of the track.
Google Maps coordinates 43.842503, 18.4424723
Advice for hiking to the abandoned Sarajevo Bobsled Track
* Download the Map.me app
* Go in a group as it can be dangerous
* Wear proper shoes as it is a steep hike and the track can be slippy.
* Don’t stray too far from the track as there might be un exploded mines in the area
* Bring some water and snacks for the hike
* Go on a clear day if you can, for not only the views but the track is pretty slippy when wet too!
How to get to the Sarajevo Bobsled Track: WARNING!
Many people will warn you not to go up to the track and although we came across no trouble we did take these warnings seriously. There are several things to take into consideration. It has been reported on occasions that groups of people wait for tourists to mug them, that there are packs of wild dogs and also that the area surrounding the track still has land mines. We decided to head up there anyway but instead of going on our own we went with a group of 5 of us from the hostel, we also didn’t want to get lost figuring out how to get to the Sarajevo Bobsled Track alone! We advise against going on your own and there are tours if you really want to make sure you are safe!
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