Ciro Trail Sarajevo: Walk on the old Austro-Hungarian railway line

Abandoned railway line of the Ciro train, known today as Ciro Trail Sarajevo – Pale is today used by hikers and cyclists. 

Ciro is the name of a famous Austro-Hungarian steam train from the 20th century. It transported passengers daily on a narrow-gauge railway line connecting today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia.

One of Ciro lines went from Sarajevo to Višegrad and Dobrun settlement, which is located near the border with Serbia. After 73 years, the railway line was closed and abandoned; and as the years passed the wildness swallowed almost all. Nevertheless, numerous tunnels and remains of retaining walls and bridges prove this was once a railway line. Today, the Ćiro trail is used by cyclists, hikers, and runners.

From the City Concrete Into the Nature Empire in Just a Few Steps

From the beautiful architecture masterpiece of City Hall, known as Vijecnica, across the stone bridge of Seher-Cehaja, and uphill through the curving narrow alleys of Alifakovac and Hrid settlements – your feet will take you to the beginning of the Ciro trail.

While walking through the old part of Sarajevo you will enjoy in an amazing view of the city tucked in the valley between the mountains. On the opposite bank of Miljacka river, high on the rock rises the White Fortress, guarding the eastern entrance to the city. And behind it Ozren Mountain and numerous Sarajevo settlements scattered on its slopes.

A Walk Through The Canyon of Mljacka River

I have hiked few times the Ciro trail from Sarajevo, through the canyon of Miljacka river and over the slopes of Trebevic Mountain to the Pale town. As soon as you pass the beginning of the trail, which goes through the settlement, you will find yourself in a completely different world. It sounds incredible, but just within one hour walk from the old town, you will be welcomed by the deep forest and beautiful nature.

Further, you walk, you go deeper in the canyon and into the untouched nature. The first bridge on Ciro trail is totally demolished so you need to use a detour. And as you come to the other side the path becomes very narrow while going through the empire of forest wilderness.

Old Railway Bridges of Ciro Trail

There are a dozen tunnels pierced into the rocks, and as they are abandoned some of them are now home for bats. Also, there is a small railway bridge in the half-demolished state. If you are brave enough you can try to cross over it.

My friends and I succeeded in that on our first hike by walking across the iron construction (not over wooden sleepers which are in a semi-rotten state!). But, if you’re not for that kind of adventure, then use a detour just a few steps before the bridge on the left side. It goes under the bridge and the entrance should be marked with a strap on the tree because one of the tracks of Jahorina Ultra-Trail running competition goes along Ciro trail.

Beside the path, hidden between the trees, there is a stone fountain without water, covered with moss and with an embossed year of railroad construction – 1905. The Ciro trail is just one of the numerous masterpieces of Austro-Hungarian’s quality construction in Bosnia. Still, after more than one hundred years the retaining walls and iron bridge constructions are standing firmly and proudly along the whole trail.

The beautiful Bistrica river

The third bridge spans the river Bistrica, which descends from the mountain of Jahorina and meets Miljacka at this spot. Since it is built quite high above the river and there is no fence I was too scared to walk over it so I chose a detour. And I didn’t regret it. I enjoyed in extraordinary landscape!

As you descend to the river you will see a clean mountain river rushing through the huge rocks of the riverbed, decorated with moss, and surrounded with thick deciduous forest. It looks so clean and I think it could be drinkable.

Luckily, there is a small wooden bridge to help you cross the river. In early spring when the snow starts to melt down and there are more rainy days, the water level of the Bistrica river is quite high. There is a possibility the bridge could be destroyed by this strong mountain river. But, in late spring and in summer the water level is lower and it’s a perfect place for relaxation and enjoyment.

Beside the river in deep shade, there is a small table and bench. The smell of trees, light breeze, and murmur of this beautiful mountain river will relax your mind and soul.

Returning back to the civilization

From the third bridge, the path becomes wider and you are slowly returning to civilization. After passing two more tunnels you will come to the first houses, and soon after that reach the asphalt and the old station in Pale. In front of the station is a children playground, and the building is now used as a headquarter of the Local Community of Old Station, part of Pale town. On your way, you will enjoy in the green meadows and in the view of a rocky forest slope of Romanija mountain in the distance.

Useful information for Ciro Trail:

  • It will take you approximately 5 hours of walking (including short rest breaks) to get to Pale town.
  • Use this GPS track to find start of the trail in the Old town. 
  • You can take a bus from the main station in Pale back to Sarajevo. But, make sure to check the schedule at the main bus station in Sarajevo before starting the hike, so you can plan your time. Also, at the box office in Pale say that you want the bus to the main station in Sarajevo not in the Istočno (East) Sarajevo (the eastern part of Sarajevo city and it consists of a few pre-war suburban parts of Sarajevo which are now in the Republika Srpska entity). Then you can get out at the station near City Hall, your starting point, but tell the driver to emphasize when you should go out. One ticket costs 3.80 BAM.
  • Altitude: lowest point 532 m.a.s.l. and highest point 909 m.a.s.l.
  • Bring a flashlight for the tunnels.

Have a wonderful hike!

Tunnels on the Ciro Trail from Sarajevo to Pale
One of the longest tunnels on the Ciro Trail
Railway Bridge on the Ciro Trail
View of the Old town of Sarajevo

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