This summer we were travelling the Balkans for two months via public transport and luckily, we brought our climbing equipment along! Especially Bosnia and Herzegovina surprised us with its many new and very well-maintained crags that were quite easily accessible by public transport. One of our favorite climbing areas, and the one we spent the most time at, is Blagaj in Herzegovina.
Blagaj is a village that sits next to Vulin Potok Canyon, which was made accessible in 2014 by a via ferrata, which opened it up for exploration to the climbing community. Now there are about 14 established sectors for sport climbing and multipitching on the beautiful limestone rock with tufas, crimps and crack lines of all grades which are still growing every year. Our great (!) guidebook from 2020 was already outdated when we arrived there but the local climbing community is very active and has topos on its website.
How to get there
We started from Salzburg (AT) and took the train to Zagreb (HR); travel time approx. 6,5-8h. There is also a nightjet available if you book early, and the train leaves from Munich as well (travel time +2h). From Zagreb we took a bus (Getbybus or Flixbus ) to Mostar (approx. 7,5h) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From there we could take a local bus lines 10-12 to Blagaj (30min).
Tipp: if you bring a bit more time and feel like exploring other crags as well, we recommend checking out the climbing spots in Vrbas Canyon (Tijenso Canyon, Stone Bridge) near Banja Luka. To include it in your trip, you can take a bus from Zagreb to Banja Luka (3,5h) and take a local bus from there to the Canyon. The local busses can be looked up here.
We found it quite tricky to find the right lines, basically you can take any bus that goes to “Krupa na Vrbas”, as they run through the canyon. A good basecamp for longer stays is Vrbas river camp. For Vrbas Kamp you need to get out at “Jagodići”; for the Canyon one stop before and for the Stone Bridge (Stari Most) 1 or 2 stops later. To continue you will probably need to go back to Banja Luka and catch a bus to Mostar from there (4,5h), or hitchhike through the Canyon to Jajce, where you can find a connection to Mostar (3:15h).
Where to stay
In Blagaj you can either get a guesthouse in the village, approx. 20min. walking distance from the crag. If you have your own camping equipment you can stay at Ekocentar Blagaj, a lovely small campground approx. 5 min from the crags. The campground is basic but nice and the staff is exceptionally friendly.
Tipp: There is a sector called Rebro which is located up the hill (30-40min walk from the village via road) where there is a stunning biwak-hut that has been put up by the local climbing community. We didn’t stay there, but were told you could stay there for free, just contact the local climbing community beforehand.
How to reach the crag(s)
From Ekocentar Blagaj you can just walk towards the Canyon, and you will come by a sign put up by the local climbing club. They also run an office in Blagaj in case you have any questions. In the canyon all the different areas are marked very well by signposts, so the orientation was easy. You will reach the different sectors after 10 (Sector A, B, K) – 20 minutes (Sector C; D; I).
Beware: as you go further up the Canyon, the main trail becomes a via ferrata. Through the canyon the highest sector Rebro can only be reached via the scenic ferrata (about 60-75min). Alternatively, you can reach Rebro via road from the village. All the other sectors can be reached without a via ferrata set but might not be accessible for small kids or dogs, as you need to climb some easier via ferrata sections.
There are small shops and some cafes in the village (20min from Ekocentar Blagaj by foot). There is an atm in Blagaj, but we drew money in Mostar because of lower commissions (none without unfortunately).
For rest days: There is a UNESCO world heritage site in Blagaj, the Sufi monastery located at the end of the village, and a fortress up the hill which you can visit. Moreover, you could take the bus to Mostar and explore the touristic sites.
Further impressions about the are can be found here: Sport Climbing and Bouldering in Bosnia and Herzegovina ; Rock climbing around Mostar and Rock climbing around Banja Luka
Special Tip: we visited the area during the Blagaj climbing festival, which took place in September 2023. It was a great experience to meet climbers from the area and around the world and enjoy a broad program. Definite recommendation!
How to book the trip
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