The Bosnian town of Jajce suffered somewhat during the Yugoslavian wars and over several years changed hands several times before the Serbs finally retreated. It was a much earlier conflict, however, that made its mark on the town as it looks today, as Jajce is dominated by its sixteenth century fortress, reputedly the last castle in the region to fall to the Turks. The influence of the invaders can still be seen today as visitors come to see the collection of handsome Ottoman-style houses as well as the fortress. The Pliva River is also a major draw partly for its natural beauty, partly because of the excellent opportunities for fishing; fly-fishing is increasingly popular in Bosnia and local tour operators hope to make the destination an attraction option for foreign fishing enthusiasts too.
The area is not yet, however, particularly well developed in terms of tourism but several acceptable accommodation options exist for those visitors who make it to Jajce. These options encompass a range of styles and offer something for all budgets though several do require visitors to have their own transport. The Bosnia and Herzegovina Tourist Board provides a reasonably comprehensive list of accommodation on its website. While not all of the options listed are in Jajce itself, they can all be considered reasonable options for access to the town, or for those people wanting to explore the wider area.
Jajce Tours, a local tour company, has several quite different options and also offers guided tours of the old Town as well as excursions to the Pliva Lakes. Their most central accommodation is the excellent Hotel Stari Grad (the name meaning ‘the old town hotel’) and as the name suggests this hotel boasts an enviable location in the heart of old Jajce. Although it’s a relatively modern building, or at least extensively renovated, it does have some quirky architectural features that give it an Ottoman look, though the owners say it has a traditional Bosnian-style facade. The great thing about Hotel Stari Grad is that it provides all the modern comforts as well as plenty of charm. The hotel is not large and there’s a focus on providing a great experience of guests in terms of facilities and service. There are single rooms, doubles and suites, among them several themed rooms with one dedicated to Marshal Tito, one in honour of the Esma Sultana Mosque and one that pays decorative tribute to the nearby Pliva waterfalls.
If the personality of this little hotel is the main draw, then the remains of an old hamman (a Turkish style bath-house) under the building is surely an added bonus. The hammam dates from the mid seventeenth century and references to it have been found in books from 1660. When the current owners of the building took possession of the building they decided that this gem was too good to hide so they had a glass floor installed in the restaurant so that diners could see the excavated remains of the hammam below.
Only the hammam harks back centuries at Hotel Stari Grad; the rooms are most definitely rooted in the twentieth first century with air-conditioning, mini bar and cable television. In 2012 the hotel offers a double room priced at 40 Euro (55 KM, $52) per night which includes taxes and breakfast. Jajce Tours offers a guided tour of the city for 15 Euro (30KM, $1.509).
Jajce Tours also offers 16 modern but sympathetically designed apartments over at Pliva Lake. These low level buildings fit in beautifully with the landscape and offer fantastic views of the lake; inside they are basic but functional with simple modern furnishings and well equipped kitchens for self catering. Each one has its own outdoor terrace. The bungalows can sleep up to 4 or 6 people; prices vary depending on the occupancy so it is best to contact Jajce Tours directly for details. Meals can be taken at the on-site restaurant for a small supplement.
Jajce Tours is not the only provider of accommodation in the area but the forward thinking company certainly understands the market and has provided a range of different options to suit different types of holiday maker. The company’s other accommodation option is the camping ground at Pliva Lake, which is a great spot for tourists wishing to engage in outdoor pursuits. There are spaces for tents as well as motor-homes and towed caravans. The site operates from mid April until the end of September each year.
Only five kilometres from the town, this is a good spot for visitors who want to combine sightseeing in Jajce with a visit to the lakes. Facilities in the park are excellent and the company boasts of having won awards for the quality of its amenities which include a coffee shop, restaurant, tennis courts and a children’s play area. The shower blocks are clean and modern and there are also laundry facilities on site. Naturally prices vary depending on whether you camp, use electricity and so on but as a rough idea of price, adults are charged approximately 5 Euro (8KM, $6.50) per night.
It should be remembered that though the range and availability of tourist accommodation in Jajce and its environs is growing, rooms fill up fast at certain times of the year, such the beginning of June when Jajce hosts the Theatre Festival of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At such times early booking is advisable.