Here it is, the Tuzla Bucket List, perfect for wringing every last drop of magic out of one of Europe’s most underrated cities. This is a place that deserves the attention of all of your senses, a year-round destination with more to offer than initially meets the eye. Museums, mosques, history and some of the best ćevapi in BiH — this is your Tuzla to-do list.
Swim in the lakes
Have you ever been to the sea in the centre of a city? No matter the answer to the question, Tuzla has something special up its sleeve. The Pannonian Salt Lakes in the heart of town is the main event when the temperatures are up, and this open-air swimming extravaganza is a great way to capture the soul of Tuzla. There is more to it than swimming, of course, millions of years worth of salty history should give you an idea, and the lakes remain at the head of the Tuzla table today.
Enjoy a great museum
Sticking with salt (there’s a joke in there somewhere), the city’s Salt Museum might just be the most underrated in the country. Found in a far corner of the Solana salt factory, the museum expertly tells the tale of the city’s harmonious relationship with NaCl, from the Neolithic through to the present day.
Have a chat with Meša & Ismet
Tuzla’s two most beloved sons are eternally caught in conversation on the city’s main pedestrian street, putting the world to rights as the world itself unfolds around them. The statues of Meša Selimović and Ismet Mujezinović in the heart of town are equal parts curious and charming, so stop for a chat and who knows what inspiration you might find.
Okay, we know, Yugoslavia is long gone, but people often say that Tuzla is the best place to experience what that state was like. This a multiethnic town in the very heart of the region, home to incredible history, a wide variety of architectural styles, the odd bit of dystopian industry and more parties than you can handle. This is Bosnia at its most Bosnian, and Bosnia at its most Bosnian was Yugoslavia at its most Yugoslavian. It sounds confusing, but it really isn’t.
A bit of mosque spotting
Tuzla is a multiethnic city in the modern age, although the demographics are skewing every more with each decade. Some 72% of the city today is Bosniak, meaning you’ll find a number of gorgeous mosques with minarets dotting the landscape. Be sure to check out the pyramid roof of the Turalibeg Mosque, and the stunning location of the wooden Brđanska Mosque.
Pay your respects at the Kapija
The Kapija sits in the very heart of the city, a gorgeous piece of architecture with a tragic story to tell. On May 25, 1995, a shell fired from Bosnian Serb positions exploded here, killing 71 young people who had gathered to celebrate what had been Youth Day in Yugoslavia. The average age of the dead was 23. The words of Mak Dizdar now sit on the Kapija itself, a monument to the horrors of a war long gone.
Go for a stroll in the park
The slight hill behind the Pannonian Salt Lakes is known as the Slata Banja Park, a tranquil expanse of greenery that is home to a number of monuments documenting Bosnia’s troubled 20th century. The May 25 Massacre graveyard is also here, along with memorials to those who died in the Bosnian War and World War II. It is a cruel irony, but this might just be the most peaceful spot in town.
Devour some traditional food
Tuzla has a number of great restaurants, but anyone looking to get down and dirty with traditional Bosnian food must make a beeline for Limenka. Ignore the American Diner facade and prepare yourself for what might be the best-grilled meat in the area. Heady praise, believe us.
Visit an underrated gallery
The museum and gallery scene in Tuzla might not get as much coverage as the lakes and surrounding scenery, but don’t be fooled — the International Portrait Gallery is among the best art spots in Bosnia. A permanent exhibition of the work of James Haim Pinto is the meat in a three-floor sandwich of staggeringly good portraits, of all shapes and sizes.
‘Još jedno pivo, molim!’
These are interesting times for beer lovers in the Balkans, as traditional lagers find themselves having to share space with international brands and the craft beer revolution. It can be quite difficult to find a pint of Tuzlansko around town as a result, so get yourself to the brewery and drink it straight from the source, in a good old fashioned Bohemian beer basement. The food is pretty great as well.
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