Ireland v Bosnia: How can I get to the Euro 2016 play-off?
Tickets & Travel Advice
Published 21/10/2015 | 10:48
Ireland's Euro 2016 endgame kicks off in Bosnia-Herzegovina this November 13. Here are your options for getting there.
What's the story?
Ireland face Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Euro 2016 play-offs next month, with an away fixture (November 13) followed by a home leg (November 16).
Are there tickets available?
Yes. Getting them is another story. Applications are currently open for an estimated 750 away tickets on the FAI's website here.
Tickets for the home leg go on sale on Tuesday, October 27.
Erm, where is Bosnia Herzegovina?
It's between Croatia and Serbia on the Balkan Peninsula. Zenica, where the match is likely to take place, is 70km northwest of the capital, Sarajevo.
The final venue will be confirmed by October 25, according to the FAI.
What packages are available?
Abbey Travel (01 804-7102; abbeytravel.ie), the FAI's official travel partner, has one-night packages from €569pp. The packages include direct charter flights, transfers and one night at the 4-star Hollywood Hotel at Sarajevo Airport.
Daytrips will not be available (kick-off is 8.45pm CET, while it's our understanding that Sarajevo Airport closes at 11pm), so packages need to involve at least one night.
Club Travel (01 608-0030; clubtravel.ie) also has packages from €569pp.
How can I fly there?
There are no direct scheduled flights from Ireland to Sarajevo, so no matter how creative you get with logistics, layovers and connections will be involved.
Taking the kick-off time and connections into account, flying out on Thursday, November 12, and returning on Saturday, November 14, looks like the wisest option.
The cheapest flights currently showing on Skyscanner (skyscanner.ie) and Google Flights (google.ie/flights) range from €342 to €446, but involve two stops on each leg - typically in Frankfurt, Munich and/or Vienna. Expect a journey time of at least eight hours each way.
Flying with one stopover via Istanbul is also an option with Turkish Airlines (turkishairlines.ie), with prices currently coming in at €522pp return. The Saturday return leg involves an overnight layover at Ataturk Airport, however.
What about nearby airports?
Ryanair (ryanair.com) and Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) both fly to Budapest, which is roughly a six-hour drive from Sarajevo and Zenica.
"With such a small ticket allocation for Irish fans available, demand for flights to Sarajevo has been low," says Ryanair's Head of Communications, Robin Kiely.
"However, we've noticed an increase in bookings to Budapest, where fans will travel onwards to Bosnia, as well as to and from Dublin from UK-based Irish fans flying back for the second leg."
Flights from Dublin to Budapest are available from €64.99 each way.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Deposit Photos
How can I get from the airport?
Sarajevo Airport (sarajevo-airport.ba) is small, with no regular bus service to the city, so your best bet is to grab a cab for connections. The 12km trip should cost around 20-25KM (€10-€13 approx.)
Car rental is available at the airport via Avis, Europcar, Budget, Enterprise and others. Rentals should definitely be booked in advance online rather than left to the last minute. Going to press, Europcar (europcar.com) had two day's rental from November 12-14 from €92 approx, excluding extras.
Train and bus connections are also available from Sarajevo to Zenica.
Can I drive?
Only if you fancy a 29-hour marathon involving two ferry crossings and seven countries. Better to save that display of fandom for Euro 2016 (France).
Where can I stay?
As we publish, Airbnb (airbnb.ie) had a penthouse apartment in Sarajevo from €67 per night (sleeping five) on November 13. It doesn't have listings remaining in Zenica.
Independent Hotels has hostels from €12, the 3-star Hotel Alem from €44 and the five-star Europe Hotel from €132 per night on November 13, going to press.
Search more accommodation options on hotels.independent.ie.
Any visa or currency issues?
Nope. Irish visitors don't need a visa to visit Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the currency is the convertible Mark (though many places accept cards). Don't forget to take our travel insurance in case of any mishaps abroad, however.
What is there to do beyond the match?
Sarajevo's old town (Stari Grad) is a medieval peach, there's a budding hipster scene around the Sarajevo College of Art (Gimnazijska 11), and the Sarajevo Tunnel (or 'Tunnel of Hope') is the best place to access a potted history of the siege - arms and fuel were transported through the 850m-long lifeline deployed by those in Bosnian-held territories. Reminders of war are rarely far from view.
For a hangover cure, Bosnian coffee and Turkish delight is as local an experience as you'll find - brewed in a copper-plated pot, it's got a whole other kind of kick.
Read more: Sarajevo: A simmering new city break
NB: This story is being updated to reflect availability and developments.