Mostar is a city in the southern region of Bosnia and Herzegovina that was hit hard during the war in the early 90s. It’s most famous landmark is the Old Bridge, “Stari Most,” which was destroyed during the war in 1993 and rebuilt in 2004. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and widely known for the diving competitions. Maybe you’ve seen a photo of the bridge on Instagram, it’s a postcard-perfect setting after all. But this isn’t all Mostar has to offer. Keep reading find out why this city is not to be missed and to find out what are the 12 best things to do in Mostar.
Shop the Bazaar
The bazaar was one of the best I’ve visited so far. There were many types of handmade items and art along with other items like modern clothing that weren’t handmade. I picked up some handmade and hand-decorated ceramic bowls, a purse and few smaller items. There’s a little bit of something that everyone can enjoy.
Walk Stari Most, aka the Old Bridge
Stari Most as the locals refer to it as to the Old Bridge (the direct translation) is a bridge what was originally built in the 16th century but destroyed by the war in 1993. The bridge has been rebuilt, along with many buildings in the city. Most of the city had been destroyed during the war. The bridge is the main landmark in Mostar and still has the old charm. Be aware that the cobblestone can be slippery and a bit difficult to walk on if you don’t have the right footwear.
If you’re looking for a photo of the bridge there are two viewpoints that I consider the best. Under the bridge is a great viewpoint and accessible during the day and at night. Keep reading and I’ll tell you where the best viewpoint of the Old Bridge is in Mostar.
Bosnian Coffee at Cafe de Alma
Have you tried Bosnian coffee? It will often get mistaken for Turkish coffee but its preparation is vastly different. I headed to Cafe de Alma where I met Jas, the owner, who was so kind and explained the coffee making process. Bosnian coffee is to be savored and that is why you won’t see “to go” coffee in Bosnia. It’s a process that takes time and it is so worth it.
Jas taught me how to drink Bosnian coffee as well. It’s all about taking the smallest bite of the sugar cube and then sipping the coffee. The coffee and sugar meet in your mouth, you don’t mix the sugar in your coffee. Then you eat a little of your Turkish delight (a gelatin-like sweet candy typically made from fruit – such a “delight” by the way).
Buy a Souvenir from a Coppersmith
If you enjoyed your Bosnian coffee or just a fan of handmade copper pieces, then check out the coppersmiths along the bazaar. There’s a certain area where you’ll see a few different coppersmiths’ shops in a row. There are souvenir stores at the bazaar that sell copper Bosnian coffee sets but if you want to know where your set came from then your best bet is to shop exclusively from a coppersmith and meet the makers.
I don’t really drink coffee but I absolutely wanted to take home one of the handmade sets and I wanted to meet the person who made it. If your time is right you can see a coppersmith doing work in the shop. I purchased my copper set and the maker even offered to custom engrave it.
The coppersmiths also create jewelry and other small goods using copper so if you’re looking for a unique gift or something for yourself browse the other items.
“Don’t Forget” Stone of Mostar
The “Don’t Forget” stone is located along the cobblestone street of the bazaar and there is also another one by at one end of the Old Bridge that reads “Don’t Forget ’93.” The stones are a reminder of the war and the city’s sad history. Nevertheless, like the bridge that had once fallen so has the city itself and its people.
Watch a Diver at Old Bridge
The Old Bridge is not only a beautiful bridge but it’s also famous for the brave ones who dive off the bridge and into the Neretva River below. I was lucky to be in Mostar for a diving competition. The divers are judged on each dive and the competition draws a large crowd. I was staying close by so I got to the bridge early to check it out. There are various competitions throughout the year but the most well-known competition is the Red Bull diving competition.
Visit the Koski Mehmed Paša Mosque
The Koski Mehmed Paša Mosque is a beautiful mosque with an amazing view of the Old Town and the Old Bridge. You can visit the mosque and the outside courtyard area for 6 marks or in addition you can also visit the minaret for 12 marks. To reach the top of the minaret you’ll climb 89 steps and have a spectacular view.
The best view of the Old Bridge is actually from the Koski Mehmed Paša Mosque. Whether you’re saying on the courtyard or the minaret, it’s a clear shot to the lovely bridge and the Neretva River. This is definitely my favorite viewpoint.
Visiting the Sniper Tower*
Originally a bank pre-war, the building became a sniper tower and a weapon against the Bosnian Muslims. It is now a shell of a building tagged with graffiti and many of the floors covered with trash. Despite not being the prettiest building, it has an incredible view and that is why it’s a popular place for tourist to visit.
*disclaimer: entering the Sniper Tower is trespassing which is against the law. The main entrance is closed off and entering would require you to hop over a wall.
Hanging out at the sniper tower for sunset is quite popular especially amongst the 20-somethings to 30-somethings. I met some friends on the tour I did (more on that soon) and we bought some local beer at the market then headed to the sniper tower to watch the sunset.
It was still daylight when we climbed the eight floors and up to the roof but heading down was in the dark and was quite dangerous. There are no walls or rails for the stairs so one wrong move could be fatal. None of us knew much about the tower so we took a chance and our time going up and back down. The flashlight feature on our cell phones came in handy!
Bosnian War Bunker
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Bosnia or you’re just a history enthusiast I highly recommend taking a war tour. I did a day tour that was not exclusively a war tour but we did visit a war bunker and buildings that had been destroyed by the war. My guide was Miran, a local and a war veteran. He owns and runs Hostel Miran with his lovely wife. I was looking for a tour that would take me to Kravice Waterfalls (more on that shortly) and was recommended this tour. I’m so glad I got to experience the tour because Miran had the experience and told us first-hand stories.
We got to walk through a former war bunker that was also an airplane hangar. Miran offers a war tour and a day tour that includes the war bunker, Blagaj Monastery, Kravice Waterfalls and Citadel Pocitelj.
I didn’t stay at Hostel Miran but I did join the tour. If you’re interested you can contact the hostel by phone, email or visit the hostel.
Blagaj Tekija Monastery
Blagaj Tekija is about nine miles (14 km) outside Mostar. This was a stop included in the day tour I mentioned. It’s about a 25-minute drive outside town so if you are driving or would rather take a taxi it isn’t a far drive at all. There is also a Mostar to Blagaj Tekija local bus that goes there and it’s about a 30-minute ride. The #10 and #11 bus will take you to Blagaj.
Blagaj Tekija is a stunning monastery founded during the Ottoman Empire. You can visit the inside of the monastery for 4 marks (about 2€). You can also spend some time in the area eating at one of the restaurants located by the water, rent a canoe and shop the local merchants.
Kravice Waterfalls is about 28 miles (44 km) outside Mostar and about an hour drive. This was also a stop in the day tour I took and was the main reason I wanted to do the tour. The waterfalls are stunning and whimsical. As we were entering from above I caught a glimpse of the falls and couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s as if I was entering another world. There was so much greenery and the water was a lovely shade of blue.
I was here in the summertime and the water was a bit cool but very refreshing. There were a lot of people at the falls but the water area is so large it didn’t feel overcrowded. We took a dip in the water and our guide, showed us around for a bit then we had some free time before we ate a delicious meal. We had tons of meat (but if you’re a vegetarian they can bring you out something else it just won’t be a proper meal), fries and some dipping sauces.
There are also snacks, coffee, and beer. You don’t need to buy a full meal and you can walk around the area if you don’t want to swim (or if it’s too cold). There is a small souvenir shop as well.
Kravice Waterfalls entrance fee is 4 marks (about 2€). And if you’re wondering, without a tour or renting a car, your best bet is to hire a taxi. The taxi will stay take you, wait for you and take you back to Mostar. I had asked the hotel I was staying at if it was possible to hire a taxi. I was quoted 30€ (summer 2017) and the driver would wait an hour for me. Of course, you can have your driver wait longer. Price will vary but this is just to give you an idea of how much it may cost you.
One of our stops on the tour included the village of Pocitelj, where the Pocitelj Castle is located. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a stunning view of the Neretva River, the Pocitelj Village is not to be missed if you’re staying in Mostar. The castle is now in ruins but you can still visit the inside and even climb the tower.
Locals live in the village and you can find merchants along the stairs (there are A LOT of stairs) selling souvenirs, local fruits, and juices. The local fruits are juicy and delicious. It was hot when I visited and many of the juices were frozen, somewhat like a snow cone to help keep cool. Try the frozen pomegranate juice!
Mostar is a wonderful place and I hope to visit again soon. Below are some tips for exploring Mostar and beyond.
Is Mostar Safe to Visit?
I was traveling solo and stayed in the old town right by the Old Bridge. The old town is quite small and it’s easy to navigate by foot. I felt comfortable walking around the old town at night. The nightlife is quite happening so people stay out late so I was never walking around completely alone.
Why Should You Go…
If you want to travel through the Balkans, Bosnia is not to be missed. It’s a beautiful city, rich in history and very affordable. I stayed at a hotel (not a hostel) for $28 USD a night. The food is great, the coffee is amazing and the locals are kind.
Mostar is a place that can be visited on a day tour from Dubrovnik but it doesn’t benefit the Bosnian economy if you’re coming for the day plus there is so much to see and do in and around Mostar that it’s more beneficial to stay a night or two in Mostar. Your money goes a lot further and from Mostar, you can easily visit the capital city of Bosnia, Sarajevo by car, bus or train in under three hours.
Mostar to Sarajevo Train
The train is the fastest mode of transportation since there is an express line between Mostar and Sarajevo. You can check out the timetable by clicking “train timetable” in the upper lefthand corner of the Bosnian Railway website.
Mostar to Sarajevo Bus
A bus is an easy option but it takes the longest. I love using the website Get By Bus to check out the schedules. Purchasing a ticket online may mean that you’ll need to print out the ticket which isn’t always feasible. If you don’t have access to a printer I recommend checking out the schedule then purchasing your ticket at the bus station.
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