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  • Writer's pictureDanae Bianco

Mostar - What to do in the most charming town in Bosnia Herzegovina

Updated: Mar 18

Mostar was undoubtedly the place that enchanted us the most on our road trip through the Balkans!


Stari Most, em Mostar, vista ao nascer do sol, com rio Neretva
We, during the European winter, in Mostar with the Stari Most in the background.

A town full of history and culture, with a charming old town in a breathtaking location, friendly and hospitable people, excellent food, budget-friendly costs, and plenty of interesting and different things to do in the surroundings.


If you've never considered visiting Bosnia-Herzegovina or were only thinking of a day trip to Mostar from Dubrovnik, read on and get ready to change your plans and include a good stop in Mostar on your next visit to Eastern Europe.


 

In this post, you will find what to do in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina:

 

Mapa mostrando sudeste da Europa e pin na cidade de Mostar
Mostar is right there at the red pin, in the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina

How to get to Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina


Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the countries that emerged from the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. It is located in Eastern Europe, and Mostar is situated in the southern part of the country, in a region surrounded by mountain ranges (covered in snow during winter) and crossed by the Neretva River.


Very close to Croatia, Mostar is 150 km from Dubrovnik and 166 km from Split, making it easy to include in an itinerary through Croatia - which is what most people end up doing. If you want to explore more of Bosnia, Mostar is just 125 km from Sarajevo.


We drove from Dubrovnik to Mostar, following the coast until crossing the border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Zaton Doli, then continuing on Bosnian roads to Mostar.


What it's like to drive in Bosnia-Herzegovina


Our 3-week Balkans itinerary included driving across Bosnia from east to west, covering over 750 km in the country without any issues. The roads are single-lane with proper signage in both Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, you drive on the right and we encountered no tolls.


Keep in mind that Bosnia is a mountainous country, and much of our route involved winding roads with numerous curves. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.


There was no border control upon entering Bosnia - they only checked our documents when leaving Croatia (at Zaton Doli), and we didn't pass through any border post entering Bosnia. We exited Bosnia through the eastern border with Serbia (at Sepak), where passport control was conducted both leaving Bosnia and entering Serbia.


Calculate here the cost of renting a car in Bosnia:





Where to stay in Mostar


Despite being one of the most important cities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mostar is small and very easy to navigate.


It's ideal to stay near the historic center. We stayed at Hotel Sinan Han and I highly recommend. It is just two blocks from Stari Most, the city's iconic bridge, surrounded by numerous restaurants, shops, and markets. The room was comfortable and clean, and the hotel staff was exceptional. We had booked a family room (deluxe suite) for 4 people, but the sofa bed was too small for my two pre-teens. I asked the reception if it was possible to add an extra bed to the room, but they offered us a complimentary double room! It was perfect. So, if you're traveling with 4 people, I recommend getting 2 double rooms.


Apart from this, there are several other options in the area. I had pre-selected the Villa Gunga and Kriva Ćuprija hotels. For a more sophisticated experience yet at reasonable prices, the Boutique Hotel Old Town Mostar seems perfect.


Check availability and rates here:



Currency and language of Bosnia Herzegovina


In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the official currency is the Bosnian Convertible Mark, commonly called "marks" (BAM).


When we were there, €1 = BAM 2 (Jan/2024). In reality, the official exchange rate was a bit less, something like €1 = 1.94 BAM, but most places used 1:2.

Although we stayed nearly a week in Bosnia, we exchanged money only once - €100 for small expenses like entrance fees, small purchases, etc. We were a group of 4, so we exchanged the equivalent of € 3,5/day/person.


Euros are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, and tourist attractions. During our stay in Bosnia, we used Euros and credit cards for most expenses, without major issues. When paying in Euros, we often received change in Euros,  and in just a few instances, we paid in Euros and received change in BAM.


The official language of Bosnia-Herzegovina is Bosnian, a Slavic language similar to others in the region. English is widely spoken, and, as a rule, the people we encountered spoke English very well. We had no communication problems at any time.


Mostar, as seen from Stari Most - Mostar, vista da Stari Most (ponte velha)

What to do in Mostar, na Bosnia-Herzegovina


Walking through the old city of Mostar will make you doubt if you're really in Europe. Minarets from the various mosques are always in view, and there's the periodic call to prayer. The Ottoman influence is so strong that at times, I felt like I was in Turkey.


It's easy to explore the city center in a day; we did it gradually, alternating between the city's attractions and those in the surrounding areas.


1 - Stari Most (Old Bridge)


The town's postcard and one of the main (if not the main) tourist attractions in Bosnia Herzegovina, Stari Most, or the old bridge, is worth a visit in Mostar. The history of the bridge over the Neretva River and of the town are so intimately connected that Mostar means "bridge keeper."


In addition to its architectural beauty, the bridge's history is fascinating. It was built between 1557 and 1566 by order of Suleiman the Magnificent when the entire region of present-day Bosnia was part of the all-powerful Ottoman Empire.  It represented one of the great engineering feats of the time.



Stari Most bravely survived the fascist Italian occupation during World War II, only to be cowardly destroyed in November 1993 by the Croats during the wars that followed the dismantling of the former Yugoslavia.


There are numerous photos of the bridge bombed by the town and in museums; it's heartbreaking and makes one question humanity.


The war left a profound mark on the city. After the death of Tito (who, in the end, was the one keeping Yugoslavia united), in 1992, Bosnians and Croats joined forces against the Serbs and Montenegrins. However, in May 1993, the then allies came into conflict, and the town divided, with Bosnians on one side and Croats on the other. To this day, there is a clear division in the city, with Muslims on one side and Christians on the other. The war ended in 1995, leaving the city completely destroyed, with only one of its then 27 mosques still standing.


The bridge was reconstructed in 2004, using 16th-century techniques and stones from the original quarry. On July 17, 2005, Stari Most was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, symbolizing the resilience of the inhabitants and a promising future for all of Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Near the bridge, there are several delightful cafes and restaurants. Before taking a seat, it's advisable to check Google and TripAdvisor for reviews (as these can change), but in this area we had the best gastronomic experiences throughout our Balkan trip (there are restaurant recommendations at the end of the post).


Next to the bridge is the Old Bridge Museum, which we couldn't visit due to restricted winter operating hours. The museum narrates the bridge's history and allows visitors to climb its tower, promising an excellent vantage point for photos.



2 - Crooked Bridge


Like a miniature version of the Stari Most, the Crooked Bridge, built around 1558, spans the Radobolja River, a small tributary of the Neretva, just a few meters from the Stari Most. It is beautiful, and the cafes and restaurants alongside it, with lights shining at dusk, make it even more magical.


Similar to its larger and more famous sister, the original version of this bridge suffered severe damage during the war of the 1990s, and what remained was swept away by a flood on New Year's Eve in 1999. What we see today is a reconstruction completed in 2002.


Nearby is the Haman Museum, housed in an old Turkish bath from the late 16th century. We were recommended a quick visit, but, once again, due to it being winter, it was closed.



3 - Kujundžiluk Bazar Street


Crossing the Stari Most, you will proceed along a narrow street, surrounded by shops on both sides, and in some sections, with views to the left of the Neretva River.


It could be the typical souvenir shopping street found in any historic town in Europe, but the difference here is that it is not just any European street. The houses, mostly reconstructed, evoke the Ottoman medieval period with their stone roofs and characteristic architecture.


We visited the city in winter, and many of the shops were closed. However, among those open, I was left with a good impression. They seemed to offer local products, representative of the history and traditions of the people in the region, and at reasonable prices. Perhaps my impression might be slightly influenced by our last stop before Mostar, which was Dubrovnik. In that regard, Dubrovnik was utterly disappointing, with shallow souvenir shops selling China-made products at exorbitant prices.




4 - Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque


An architectural gem dating back to the 17th century. Enter, breathe in the tranquil atmosphere, and admire the beauty of the details.


It is possible to climb the minaret; they say the views of the bridge and the surroundings are incredible, but we didn't do it. We only explored the courtyard, fountain, and the small garden, which has free entry.


In addition to these points, it's interesting to visit the Biscevica Cosak, a house built 350 years ago during the Ottoman era that preserves the decoration of that time. In winter, visits are possible only with prior arrangements, something unfortunately, we didn't know.



5 - New Town


Mostar is not limited to the old Ottoman-era city.


It's sad to point out, but Bosnia and Herzegovina were the stage for one of the cruelest wars of the 20th century, and Mostar, as one of the country's main cities, was severely affected.


As I mentioned on Instagram, war tourism is not something that particularly attracts me, but I think it's essential to know the history and the impact that conflicts have on the lives of ordinary men and women, like you and me. It makes us more human, more sensitive to the pain of others, and - perhaps - allows us to have a clearer vision and act to prevent it from happening again.


During the Balkan Wars of the 90s, Mostar had a "frontline" that separated Bosnians (Muslims) on one side and Croats (Christians) on the other. Bulevar Avenue was the separation line, and in the building of the then Lkjuljanska Bank, snipers were on standby -yes, a real-life snipers nest. Today, the triangular building is in ruins, with no signs of its bloody past. There is only a memorial to the Spanish, who were part of the peacekeeping force and lost their lives in the conflict, at the place now called Spain Square.


Around the roundabout and nearby, there are still some buildings in ruins, and others intentionally maintain the marks of war. For us, living in a peaceful country, it is a shocking sight.


Remember, we made this trip with children - aged 10 to 12, and whenever there was context, we explained to them about the war, ethnic and religious conflicts in the region, the communist period, in short, heavy subjects that can - and should - be presented to children of all ages.



6 - Mostar Museum


For those who enjoy history, the museum provides insight into the city, from Ottoman times to the most recent events.



7 - Wander Through the Medieval-Ottoman Alleys


The old city of Mostar is not so large as to require a lot of time to explore, but it's worth taking your time to enjoy it.


Many tourists come to Mostar on a day trip from Dubrovnik or Split. If this is your only option to visit the town, come. Don't miss out on Mostar due to lack of time. Bosnia is a surprising country; we were very impressed, and Mostar is well-prepared to welcome tourists.


It was the place in our Balkans trip where we felt most welcomed (okay, Sarajevo also deserves credit in this regard) and where we had the best experiences.



What to do around Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina


Within a short distance from Mostar, there are several other interesting spots to explore, including historical ruins, waterfalls, monasteries, and viewpoints.


We had a rented car, and our plan for the first day was the following itinerary:


1st day: Dubrovnik - Trebinje - Ljubinje - Stolac - Mostar


However, we decided to take the scenic road along the Adriatic Sea coast to Neum (the only Bosnian city on the coast) and then head to Stolac, where we stopped for lunch at Restaurant Han (an excellent choice with great service, tasty food, and budget-friendly prices - note that they do not serve alcoholic beverages).


Trebinje is a small town that, much like Mostar, dates back to the Ottoman period with a well-preserved historic center. I had a strong desire to visit, but as we chose a different route, we didn't get a chance to explore it.


Cachoeira Kravika, próxima a Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina - Kravika Waterfalls, close to Mostar


2nd Day: Mostar - Kravica Waterfall - Blagaj Monastery - back to Mostar


Kravica Waterfall


Located about a 40-minute drive from Mostar, Kravica Waterfall is a series of waterfalls that must be delightful in the summer. We visited in winter, bundled up with hats, gloves, and scarves, which probably explained why there was no one around.


There is an admission fee, but we were not charged - there was no one at the entrance when we got there. The access is super easy; we followed Google Maps directions, parked just a few meters from the waterfall, and the path is a stone trail with sections of wooden walkways, quite straightforward.


In the summer, I imagine lots of peope enjoy the place. There are some bars and restaurants by the pool formed by the waterfall, inviting you for a swim. Even if there is a crowd, it seems like a great option to cool off from the scorching heat that usually prevails in the region during that time of the year


Blagaj Tekke - Mosteiro Blagaj, Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina

Blagaj Monastery - Blagaj Tekke


"It's no wonder they chose this location to build the monastery," was the first thought that came to mind when we arrived at the Blagaj Tekke Monastery.


The Buna River simply springs from a rock wall with an enormous amount of water, which then forms a semicircular waterfall amidst imposing cliffs. If words and poetry fail me to describe the place, there was no shortage of emotion in experiencing it.


The monastery dates back to the 15th century, founded by the Sufi dervish and scholar Osman Derviša with the message "love creatures for the sake of Creator". However, the current structure was built in the 17th century. The combination of Ottoman and medieval architectural elements gives the monastery a unique and charming appearance.


If I'm not mistaken, the entrance fee is €4 per adult, with children exempt from payment, allowing you to explore the monastery's premises, including prayer rooms and contemplation areas.


But the best views are from the other side of the Buna River, where there are some restaurants - we stopped at Restaurant Vrelo for coffee and baklava (a typical local sweet), it was quite delicious, and the price not as high as the location might lead you to believe.


In case you prefer to spend more time savoring this amazing view, there are plenty of places to stay in Blagaj.





How about taking the opportunity to research the available accommodations in Mostar?



Where to eat in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina


In Mostar, we had some great gastronomic experiences. The local cuisine is a blend of Ottoman and European influences.


Among the regional dishes, we tried cevapi (a kind of kebab, which can be served in the form of skewers, burgers, or meatballs), burek (a pastry with various fillings), and pljeskavica (another kebab variant).


The desserts were my favorite in the local cuisine, especially baklava and smokvara.

Here's a list of the places we ate and enjoyed in the Mostar region:


  • Restaurant Šadrvan - with a view of the Radobolija River, I tried the japrak (a kind of Arabic cigar), and it was delicious.

  • Hindin Han - recommended by our hotel, the food was great, and the service was perfect.

  • Restaurant Vrelo - with an excellent view of the Blagaj Monastery, we had coffee and ate baklava and smokvara. I imagine it gets crowded in high season.

  • Restaurant Han - in Stolac, a great choice if you're passing through the region.


But beware: it's worth checking the reviews on Google and Trip Advisor before sitting down to avoid surprises.



Mostar is an incredible mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. I hope these practical tips help you plan your trip and that you enjoy every moment in this special destination. Safe travels!


Complete itinerary for the perfect Balkan roadtrip, in Eastern Europe


Here's the Google MyMaps map with our detailed itinerary through the Balkans - Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Just click and save it to your Google account. When you start planning your next trip to Eastern Europe, you'll know where to begin ;-)


In this post, I explain how to use Google MyMaps to plan a trip, it's worth checking out!




Other posts about traveling in Europe

 

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