The Best City To Visit 2012 Travel Tournament Winner Is…Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina!

best city to visit 2012 winner

In two days of voting, after 14,211 total votes, Sarajevo defeated a determined Guimaraes to become The Best City to Visit in 2012. The 5th seed Sarajevo made it past a string of Mediterranean opponents knocking off Vernazza, Seville, Rome, Izmir, Fethiye, before eventually Guimaraes. Though the Portuguese supporters were passionate (as the comments show) and dedicated to getting the European Capital of Culture to the Finals, Portugal was not to repeat Porto’s victory this year. The Bosnia-Herzegovina media blitz – Internet, TV, and radio was simply too big an obstacle to overcome.

best city to visit 2012 final bracket

Both cities and their supporters should be proud to accomplish what more than 100 others cities around the world could not. So, we say goodbye to Porto and hello to Sarajevo, The Best City To Visit until next March’s tournament.


View The Best City To Visit 2012 in a larger map

Sarajevo Is Now In My 2012 Travel Plans

As I promised at the beginning of the tournament, I’ll be heading to The Best City to Visit 2012 – Sarajevo – before this year is over. It will take me a few weeks to get my general travel plans sorted but right now I’m guessing I’ll be in Bosnia-Herzegovina sometime this fall. I’m sure many of you have suggestions for me (feel free to leave some in the comments below!) and I’ll be planning one of my meet-ups in Sarajevo. I hope to see many of you in person when I arrive!

You can also find out where I am right now, where I’m headed, and the countries I’ve written about.

Thank You Everyone Who Participated In This Year’s Tournament

Massive thanks to all of you who entered a city this year, voted in the tournament, shared it around the Internet, and made 2012’s contest one hell of a competition to watch. I hope your wanderlust was fueled and that The Best City to Visit 2012 Travel Tournament highlighted a few cities you hadn’t considered (or heard of) before as travel destinations.

people in auditorium

My Book Writing Is Almost Complete So I’m Hitting The Road

The next 48 hours will be an intense one for me as I complete the working draft of my next ebook but with the end in sight, I’m getting ready to hit the road. In April I’ll be traveling around Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and considering a swing by Kuwait too before the month is up. (All new countries for me.) Maybe we cross paths along the way there or somewhere else this year.

  • In case you’re already having best city tournament withdrawal, I’ve got post about some of the drama that surrounds it each year coming up in a few weeks. Much of it may surprise you.

So for now, another big congratulations to Sarajevo on being voted The Best City to Visit in 2012; and to all of the cities nominated in this year’s tournament for a wonderful effort.

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  1. Sarajevo girl :) says:

    Wow this is such a great thing for Sarajevo!!! Sarajevo really deserves this. It’s the most beautiful city in the world! Although I was born in Germany, Sarajevo will always, always be in my heart. Welcome everyone, come and see real beauty of my city.
    And now please listen to this song:

    This is Smoth Deep from USA, and he really fell in love with Sarajevo :)
    Sarajevo is the most beautiful city that suffered a lot, and thank you all first for competition then for voting for us!
    <3

    (1)
    • Anil P. says:

      He sounds British at least the accent…wait think he just said London ;) didn’t know there was a Sarajevo rap though!

      Congratulations again…

      (0)
  2. Alex says:

    The best time to travel is during the Sarajevo Film Festival.
    If you need some extra info, email me and I’ll be glad to help you out as a real globetrotter before you go to Sarajevo.

    (0)
  3. Priyank says:

    Hello Anil,

    Congratulations for organising this highly successful contest. I’ve seen you do this for the past 4 years in a row (or is it 5?) and there were never more than few hundred people voting, no? But this year the numbers were off the charts and the whole setup was very exciting too. I wish you the best for the contest next year and also happy travelling!

    cheers, Priyank

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      Thank you Priyank (this is the 4th, I had to check myself!) and this year it especially took off. I can’t wait for next year because I think many more cities and their supporters will begin campaigning early!

      Thanks for participating and happy to hear you enjoyed this year as well. It’s quite an effort to get things ready and keep them going throughout the month!

      (0)
  4. Tv and radio? wow. now i feel proud i met you and we talk through messages! seems like ur someone important :D hahaha
    Congratulations to Sarajevo and looking forward to read your posts about it

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      haha, the key word is “seems”!! It has been unreal what a massive campaign Sarajevo put together this year and can’t wait to share once I’m there!

      (0)
  5. Hi Anil,

    If you still haven’t found a place to stay, we would be happy to welcome you to our hotel. Just drop an email to let us know when you are coming and we’ll have a room ready for you!

    http://www.hotel-octagon.com

    Hope to see you soon,
    Arna @ Hotel Octagon

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      Hi Arna,

      Thank you very much for the offer, I’ll definitely be in touch once my plans come together. Thank you again!

      -Anil

      (0)
  6. Rina Z says:

    I’ve just visited the Balkans last month and fallen in love with Bosnia completely…just mesmerizing. The images of Mostar and Sarajevo still keep on stuck in my head and i am enjoying it still! Please do visit

    (0)
  7. Canadian says:

    Everything u said is true! Its amazing .. all recommendations

    (0)
  8. sarajevan561 says:

    Where are you taying? Hotel Bristol? Europe? or you are looking for smth cheap

    (0)
  9. DAVID says:

    Just returned 4/22

    What a wonderful place ….. such a mix of faces religion and adventure…… I do hope one day the city see’s the Winter Olympics again … she deserves a rebirth

    email me if you need any travel advice

    (0)
  10. Jeremy says:

    Sounds like it will be a cool place to visit. Always wanted to go to Azerbaijan too, looking forward to what you write about it!

    (0)
  11. Nella says:

    Congrats to Sarajevo! I’m glad that this city will finally be showed for what it truly is. People will be able to see what this beautiful city is really about :). Can’t wait to read your posts about Sarajevo :).

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      Thank you very much Nella, I can’t wait to arrive and see with my own eyes what so many have told me. I’m looking forward to my trip there!

      (0)
  12. Majo says:

    Former (still) guide from Bosnia and Hercegovina. If you need any help, feel free to contact me. I believe that is pureness you want to meet everywhere. Lot of enjoyness, I wish you….

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      Thanks Majo, I appreciate the offer. I’ll announce sometime in the coming weeks when I’ll be in Sarajevo and am always interested in hearing local opinion on what to see, do, and eat :)

      (0)
  13. MoKe says:

    Congratulations to Sarajevo as well as Guimaraes and Mr Silva as tuff opponents!
    Sorry once again for the realistic and in some way personal understood critical comments, but it’s in our Balkan’s nature. I hope Guimaraes’ll take the benefits from this tournament.

    Sarajevo is ready, are you ready? :)

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      Both cities really did amazing jobs promoting themselves as travel destinations. A great competition…and I’m getting ready for Sarajevo!

      (0)
  14. Mersiha Karic says:

    WELCOME TO SARAJEVO!!!!! XO

    (0)
  15. erlman says:

    Anil you can send me email when you come. The coffe is on me. or skype me erlman83.

    (0)
  16. tuzlak says:

    Anil, make sure u notify ppl from sarajevo when u come, they’ll throw in a party for u mate ;) and i’m sure that you’ll enjoy it

    (0)
  17. Congratulations to Sarajevo! Think we may need to venture there at some point, now. Congrats to you as well on putting the competition together and making it work. There must have been a few stressful moments along the way. :)

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      It gets a bit more challenging each year but the sweating is worth it :) And congratulations for Fethiye’s Final Four appearance, I think next year it will be a tough one again!

      (0)
  18. erlman says:

    Great competition!!!!!

    My trip is to Sarajevo then.

    (0)
  19. Gogo says:

    This is not pic of Sarajevo!!!

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      I know that, it’s of Porto, last years winner. All of the contest photos have been – next year you’ll see all of my Sarajevo photos up there during the 2013 contest :)

      (0)
      • Sarajevo says:

        I am really welcoming and ofering voluntary help in Sarajevo

        (0)
        • Anil P. says:

          I appreciate that and hope to meet up with you when I’m in town.

          (0)
          • LuxAeterna says:

            you dont look like you follow tourist guides or similar things, and that is good, because, to really experience sarajevo, you will need help from Sarajevans… :) and you will have plenty of that :)

            (0)
            • Anil P. says:

              I’ve never used a travel guide book and like to hear from locals on what to do. Sounds like a perfect combination I’ll have in Sarajevo, thank you!

              (0)
  20. erlman says:

    This is not picture of Sarajevo please change.

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      I know it’s not Sarajevo, I haven’t been there so can’t post pictures I don’t have. That said, the photos in the entire 2012 contest have been from Porto – last year’s winner. You’ll see plenty of Sarajevo between now and then :)

      (0)
  21. Mustafa Kadiric says:

    Sarajevo truly deserved it :)

    Agree with Erlman, the picture is not Sarajevo :(

    (0)
  22. LuxAeterna says:

    you should come during the Sarajevo Film Festival (in August) to see the real Sarajevo

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      I wish I could make that but I’ll be in Asia/US west around that time but I appreciate the suggestion! You never know, plans may change and August may be it :)

      (0)
      • LuxAeterna says:

        then, there is MESS festival in October :)

        but SFF is much more interesting….

        (0)
        • Faruk says:

          Lux, you are completely right, SFF days in Sarajevo are THE BEST but just a little bit unreal. LEt’s not misunderstand, I ADORE SFF days in Sarajevo! And one more thing, SFF this year is in July again. I am not sure but I think it is sometimes in the beginning of July. visit http://www.sff.ba
          And Anil, you made a media boom in these days in Sarajevo, so, no wonder if you would be asked for some 100 interviews here. Today YOU are THE hero of Sarajevo! Thank you, and thanks to Alen who nimnated Sarajevo in this contest!
          OF COURSE big congratlations for Guimaraes, even second place is not so bad, right? It was good to se love and that great spirit of people who commented all these days! VIVA SARAJEVOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          (0)
          • Anil P. says:

            I am honored really :) though it is you all really who got Sarajevo the win this year! I look forward to meeting many of you when I arrive.

            (0)
    • Nera says:

      Sarajevo Film festival holds on July 6-14,this year. Everyone is more than welcome!
      That’s the party to remember. The whole city party 7/24. Nights in restaurants and open gardens up hills wil tell you why Sarajevo deserved this title. It is the festive city. Just give it a try and you won’t regret, ever! :)

      (0)
  23. Dinozoo says:

    you should come to sarajevo 2014 (I hope they will come up with something) because then its 100 years since Franz Ferdinand was shot!

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      A little to far in advance of planning with my usual last-minute style but I’m sure I’ll hear more about it as the time gets closer and keep it in my potential plans. Thanks!

      (0)
  24. Francisco Silva says:

    Congratulations, once again to Sarajevo and to all the supporters. Despite some “confusions” during the final round :) I’m proud that a city like Sarajevo, that has suffered a lot from the war have managed to build up and to be what it is today. You are more then welcome to visit Guimarães, and you’ll see how beautiful is my city :)
    Have a nice journey to Sarajevo Anil P. and thanks for everything :)

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      Thank you very much Francisco, I think your efforts really helped Guimaraes get to the final round in many ways, which is quite an accomplishment. Round after round, city after city, it is one difficult tournament and advancing this far was quite a success.

      I think now many people are considering a trip to Guimaraes and next time I’m in Portugal I definitely will do my best to make it there. Cheers for a great competition and look forward to 2013!

      (0)
    • Faruk says:

      Bravo Francisco!!! Your passion made this competition even better, really!!! I am from Sarajevo and I enjoyed reading all your posts even some of guys here took it as less enjoyable (but don’t be offended, it was strong fight in these days):-) Congratulations for the second place which is not so bad, knowing that today, at least in Sarajevo, Guimaraes was mentioned in our media exactly the same number of time like Sarajevo:-) and, believe me, being a destionation management professional, it is gooooooood think specially for smaller cities like Sarajevo and Guimaraes are!
      Once more congratulations for the second place and for your passion and love of your city!!! I will definitely come as soon as possible to visit Guimaraes and I am sure I will be amazed like I was with south of Portugal! (BTW, Mariza is my favorite singer in the world, I adore Fado)!!!:-)
      ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!

      (0)
      • Francisco Silva says:

        Thank you Faruk :) I’m also a professional in tourism and it was a great pleasure to be in the final with Sarajevo. Smaller cities, unfortunatly, don’t get the attention of the biggest cities and this competition can change that. Hopefully it will! Sarajevo is, at this moment, in the top 5 five cities to visit in the future. Thank you, once again, for everything :)

        Anil P., I have no words to express how thankful I am for your consideration in all the subjects and doubts I had about the contest.

        All the best for everyone :)

        (0)
      • Francisco Silva says:

        Hi Faruk, you can listen to one of the most popular songs of Mariza in a concert given in Guimarães in 2011 ;) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5CV-vpEvZU

        (0)
  25. Well I’ll be! Guess I’m going to have to check out Sarajevo.

    (0)
  26. Emir says:

    Great town and great people.

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      I can’t argue with any of that :) I’ll be sure to post my plans here and do hope to do a meet up while I’m in town. It would be great to chat in person.

      (0)
  27. Fari Stojanovic says:

    This is not a picture of my City. Can you put something real…

    (0)
  28. Mirza says:

    Just for your information – this year, Sarajevo Film Festival is in July (6-14 July).

    Cheers

    (0)
  29. Rui says:

    Congratulations Sarajevo! – Pababéns Sarajevo!

    Thanks to all who supported Guimarães, Portugal (my nomination) and to Anil Polat from foXnoMad for putting on another amazing competition! Portugal will be back again next year :))

    In the meanwhile… Guimarães is without a doubt THE place to be in 2012, the best city to visit 2012! Guimarães 2012 European Capital of Culture!

    (0)
    • Anil P. says:

      Thank you very much Rui and congratulations on a fantastic tournament run. I look forward to seeing Portugal’s cities in next year’s competition and have no doubt they’ll be strong contenders!

      (0)
  30. Skott says:

    Outstanding contest once again, Anil – thanks for putting it together!

    (0)