Upon looking into it and weighing our options we decided to go by bus. Easy. My partner had previously taken a mini bus with GEA Tours, he had a pleasant experience and I was down to give it a go. GEA Tours is a travel company offering bus services that pick you up from your accommodation and drop you off wherever you want to. Public buses usually go from bus station to bus station and are most of the time unable to accommodate individual drop offs and there are obviously no pickups as all buses depart from regular bus stations. It’s worth noting that the prices for both bus services are roughly the same.
Now my perception of GEA Tours did change a little when I started to read into their reviews and we figured that there’s a 50% chance that it will not go according to plan. It’s super convenient to get picked up and dropped off and so we figured we’d give it a try. We visited GEA Tours office to have a little chat and later booked two seats from Belgrade to Sarajevo via email. We were then informed that we’d get a call the evening before our departure, between 5PM to 7PM, confirming the time we’d get picked up. On the evening we were expecting their call, no one had called.
My partner went ahead and got us bus tickets for the public bus. They can be bought online as well as at any bus station. He went to the main bus station in Belgrade which is located at Železnička 4. I woke up the next day to an email from GEA tours, sent at 2AM, confirming that they’d pick us up at 8AM which would have been in 2 hours. I cancelled my reservation informing them that I had been awaiting there call and since no one called or emailed, I booked a different bus. While about 50% of the people leaving reviews on Google seemed to have had a pleasant experience with GEA Tours, my personal recommendation would be to avoid them and go with the public bus instead.
We took the bus from Belgrade’s main bus station which is located at Železnička 4. The bus departed at 8AM and was scheduled to arrive at 4PM in East Sarajevo. If you intend to store your luggage underneath the bus make sure to have Euros or Dinar at hand, we ended up paying 60 din for each for our backpacks. To my surprise only a handful of people were on the bus and it was a really pleasant ride. After an hour of driving we took a 20 minute break at a restaurant. We had two drivers and both of them were having breakfast and I am assuming that this wasn’t their first ride and they simply needed to take a break and eat. We then hit the road again and stopped in various places along the journey. We went through Serbia, over Croatia and down to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The last stop of this bus would have been East Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would have been about 1 hour and 45 minutes from our airbnb. If enough people are requesting it, sometimes public buses also drop people off at random stops, provided of course, that it’s safe to do so. We asked the driver if we could stop in central Sarajevo and due to our lack of serbian we weren’t able to clearly communicate our question and weren’t really sure what his response meant. We gave it another try, this time armed with the question spelled out in serbian with the help of Google translate and the driver just shock his head, indicating that we are probably not going to stop there. No big deal we thought, we could always catch a cab.
I thoroughly enjoyed the bus ride, the views were breathtaking and all of Bosnia and Herzegovina seemed to be covered in snow. It was beautiful! After only a little over 7 hours, at around 3:15PM we arrived in Sarajevo and to our surprise we got dropped of a 25 minutes walk from our airbnb, in central Sarajevo. Of course there was no bus stop and we had to be quick. We got dropped of on a fairly busy street along with 2 more people who seemed to have requested to be dropped off in central Sarajevo.
The drivers were really sweet, we said goodbye, were handed our luggage and headed off to our airbnb. I highly recommend the public bus, it was fast, reliable and even ended up dropping us of were we wanted to get off 🙂