Exploring The Abandoned Bobsled Track in Sarajevo Bosnia

Back in 1984, Sarajevo was the host city for the Winter Olympics.  They built a bobsled track on Trebevic Mountain (completed 1982) which continued to be used for races right up until the Bosnian War began in 1992.  Because of the vantage point above the city it was then used by Military forces.  When the war finished in 1996, the bobsled track lay abandoned, the costs to get it back to working condition were too high.  It has since been covered in street art and graffiti and overtaken by the forests surrounding it.  The Sarajevo bobsled track had been on my bucket list to visit for years.  As a huge bobsleigh fan it was a must see and it didn’t disappoint me in the slightest!

Sarajevo Bobsled Track Graffiti

How To Get To The Sarajevo Bobsled Track: Cable Car

In 1959 the Trebevic Cable Car in Sarajevo was completed, well before the bobsled track was even built.  The cars had a 4 person capacity and could carry visitors to the top of the mountain in 12 minutes.  Just like the bobsled track, during the Siege of Sarajevo the whole cable car system and stations were destroyed.

Sarajevo Bobsled Track Cable Car

One of the original cable cars

However in April 2018, a brand new cable car system was opened, making visiting the bobsled track extra easy!  The lower station has a coffee shop, toilet facilities and a small gift shop.

The cable car is open between 9am until 9pm, 7 days a week (check the website for up-to-date opening times and closures).  A return ticket costs 20KM or a one way is 15KM.  Children under 7 years old ride for free.

The lower station is a little tricky to find, during my visit there was a slight detour due to building works.  Cross the river using the bridge in front of the City Hall building (it’s yellow and stripy, you can’t miss it) and ahead away from the Old Town, you can see the cable car from the city so head in that direction.  There were a few signs with a cable car on them so follow those.  It’s around 500m/6 minute walk from the City Hall, the last part is up a steep hill though!

Sarajevo Cable Car Trebevic Mountain

The journey up to Trebevic Mountain was very peaceful.  During my visit it was quiet enough to have my own car, so you can sit back and enjoy the views as you pass high over the city.

Sarajevo Cable Car

During the summer, a large food truck was set up just a short distance from the top station.  There were plenty of sign posts and maps and information boards displaying points of interest, view points and of course the location of the track!  They have even created several wooden picture frames, that ‘frame’ the landscape, making for some good photo opportunities!

Sarajevo Bobsled Track Cable Car

Bobsled Track Sarajevo

I visited in June 2019.  Even with the opening of the cable car I was still expecting the track to be very ‘abandoned’.  It still has an abandoned atmosphere to it (especially if you visit first thing in the morning like me) but there was a maintenance team that were cutting back trees from the path and roadway.

Sarajevo Bobsled Start

They have also started to renovate the track, filling in cracks and some of the uneven surfaces.  Usually it’d be possible to walk the full 1300m length of the track (just under a mile) but they had a short section closed off.  I was able just to climb over the wall, follow the road alongside it and join the track a little further down.

Sarajevo Bobsleigh Track

The foreseeable future for the track is to at least be able to reopen it for summer luge (using wheels, rather than ice blades).  At the moment, it’s popular for BMX riders to cycle down the track.  It’s unsure whether it’ll open as a winter venue again as both the start and finish houses were completely destroyed, along with the track’s refrigeration system, it’d essentially be like building a whole new track to get it in working condition again.  (Although St Moritz is the only natural bobsled track on the competition circuit, that does indeed get rebuilt every year!)

Sarajevo Bobsleigh

Sarajevo Bobsled Track Graffiti

If you click the link below, there’s a short clip from the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics that I found on YouTube, showing the bobsled track in its former glory.  At the time it was one of the best tracks in the world!

Footage from the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo

 The walk down the bobsleigh track is a fairly easy hike as it’s all downhill.  Just remember, what goes down, must then come back up!  I found the hill between the start of the track and the cable car station to actually be the steepest part!  I also ended up walking the track twice (I went back to see the Bistrik Tower).  There were lots of people on the upper section of the track, but most people seemed to turn around at the part where the renovations were happening.

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Sarajevo Bobsled Track

Section where the bobsled splits (main track on the right)

The Sarajevo bobsled track is a great place to photograph as it’s so unique.  Most tracks have several different start houses depending on the event (bobsleigh, luge etc).  The Sarajevo track was designed to be able to split into 3 separate tracks.  If you wander from the main track, you’ll find parts of the track that are still very much abandoned, parts that just disappear into the trees or are covered in moss.  If you look closely, a few sections have bullet holes.

Sarajevo Bobsled Track Bullet Hole

A bullet hole turned into street art

Is The Sarajevo Bobsled Track Safe?

I visited the track by myself and felt very safe.  There were other tourists around as well as the maintenance workers.  The track itself is still in a very stable condition.  The only part that was a bit wobbly was the bridge that went over the finishing straight, some of the blocks and steps were a bit loose.

Sarajevo Bobsled Track Finishing

Before I visited I’d read various warnings about there still being live undiscovered landmines in areas of Bosnia.  Now I can’t obviously say that the mountain is completely clear, I don’t know that.  But when visiting the track, if you are walking on the actual concrete track, there’s nothing on that.  The road from the cable car station to the track is a normal ‘safe’ road, same with the road that goes alongside the track.

Sarajevo Hiking Trail

Hiking trail alongside the bobsled track

They do advertise hiking routes on the mountain, the only one I went along was from the end of the bobsled track to the Bistrik Tower, that was a grass trail.  I’d just advise using common sense, stick to the marked trails and don’t just go off wandering through the forests.

Bistrik Tower/Astronomical Observatory

Sarajevo Astronomical Observatory Ruins

The Bistrik Tower is a short hike from the finish corner of the bobsled track.  The forest trail opens up to a large open space overlooking the city.  The 2 towers that stand were badly damaged in the Siege of Sarajevo.  They started life as Bistrik Tower, a military fortification which was used until just after WWII by the Austro-Hungarian authorities.  When the military left, it was overtaken by the Orion Astronomical Society and became an astronomy observatory.

I’ve heard of other people climbing up the towers, the staircases are exposed and easily accessible, but I was satisfied with just peaking inside on the lower levels, the last thing I needed was an old building crumbling down on top of me!  Again, use your common sense.

Sarajevo Bobsled Track Street Art

I got to the cable car station when it opened at 9am.  I spent 3 hours exploring the abandoned bobsled track altogether.  As I mentioned, I did end up walking it twice, but as someone who’s a huge bobsleigh nerd and may only get to visit once, I took my time and absorbed every last bit of it!

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Sarajevo Olympic Bobsled Track

Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympic Bobsled Track Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympic Bobsled Track

2 thoughts on “Exploring The Abandoned Bobsled Track in Sarajevo Bosnia

  1. Wow fascinating, what a great experience to get to see the old olympic setting and the bobsleigh track. A bit eerie and sad but so interesting. We love visiting past Olympic sites, full of history. They should really try and spruce it up a bit though or else it will really fall into complete disrepair very quickly. Great photos.

    Like

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