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A Traveler's Guide to Mostar & Herzegovina

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If you've been researching places to see in Bosnia and Herzegovina, chances are, you have seen the bridge pictured in the header photo of this article before. The Old Bridge in Mostar has to be the most photographed monument in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And without doubt, Mostar is Bosnia and Herzegovina's most popular destination – but rightfully so?

I think Mostar is most definitely worth a visit – it's full of history, culture, beautiful buildings, great views, and delicious food. However, it can also be crowded and overrun, especially in summer. Also, many visitors skip the beautiful surrounding Herzegovina region. However, I recommend you take your time to explore Mostar and its surroundings.

Plan a week, set up your base in Mostar, and then travel around Herzegovina – there is so much to see and discover.

Lucky for me, after 2 years of living in Sarajevo, I've been able to spend a lot of time exploring Herzegovina and all this beautiful region has to offer. In this traveler's guide, I will dive into all you need to know when visiting Mostar and what sites in Herzegovina you shouldn't miss while you're here.

Visiting Mostar: What You Need to Know Before You Go

The view from Stari Most, the main bridge in Mostar

Getting to Mostar

Even though Mostar has its own airport, there are few flight connections due to corruption and governmental issues. So better not count on flying into the Mostar airport – the closest alternatives are Dubrovnik or Sarajevo airport.

If you like road trips, renting a car in Croatia or Sarajevo might be the perfect solution for exploring Mostar and the surrounding Herzegovina region.

You can also take the train to Mostar from Sarajevo – the ride has been awarded one of the most beautiful in the world. The route leads through the stunning Neretva canyon, with steep mountains and beautiful views. It takes around two hours to get there. The train line connects the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the port city of Ploče in Croatia, so you can also take the train from there to Mostar.

In addition, there are several bus routes connecting Mostar to Sarajevo and some Croatian cities; the bus station is very central in Mostar too.

The Best Time to Visit Mostar

For two reasons, I think the best time to visit Mostar is the shoulder season. Firstly, the summer months are very busy with day tourists coming from neighboring Croatia. Secondly, summers in Herzegovina are hot. Therefore, spring and autumn are great times to visit when the weather is a bit cooler, and the city is less busy than in the summer.

Since Mostar has a Mediterranean climate, winters are not as cold as in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina but rainy and windy. Then, of course, you might get sunny days, but it's a gamble, so I don't recommend November until February for your trip, especially if you want to enjoy time outdoors and use the many rivers and waterfalls in the region.

Where to Stay in Mostar

Mostar is small, so even though it might be tempting to stay in the Old Town, that is also the pricier area. I always recommend staying at a Bosnian-owned boutique hotel or flat to support the local community. You will find plenty of those in Mostar, some with stunning views of the old bridge.

If you are looking for something with a lot of history and soul, I recommend Muslibegovic House. This National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina was transformed into a hotel with bedrooms and suites decorated in a traditional Ottoman style.

A Few More Travel Tips

Now that you’re gearing up for your trip and planning the specifics of where and when you’ll go, there are a few things you don’t need to overlook. 

I know just how easy it is to look towards the big hike, bucket list city, or beach of my dreams and forget about all of the little things in between that’ll make your trip run as smoothly as possible. Be sure to take into consideration these few things before you go to make sure you get all the good bits of your trip without the stress. 

  • Make sure you have travel insurance. A good travel insurance, like SafetyWing, will ensure you’re covered in case of emergencies. While you will have to pay upfront for your doctor or hospital costs, unless it’s for a pre-existing condition, you can file a claim and should be reimbursed. For any Americans reading this, fear not, healthcare in pretty much every other country is far more affordable than ours, even if you’re paying out of pocket. 
  • Do your best to learn a few local phrases in their language. No, I’m not expecting you to be able to have a fluid conversation with locals at the bus stop if you’re just visiting their country for a week but knowing your numbers (for prices), how to order something (“I would like…”), and basic greetings really will take you a long way. Mondly is a great app for phrases and vocabulary. 
  • Book any popular tours you want to do in advance. I’m really not a great planner and I’ve made this mistake more times than I can count. I plan a trip to a destination knowing that I want to do a sailboat trip or food tour and wait until the day before to book only to realize it’s not available the day I’m in town. Don’t make that mistake - if there is something you know you want to do - book your tour in advance.
  • Same thing goes for rental cars. If you want to rent a car to cover more ground in a country, do it in advance. Prices will be more affordable and that way you’re guaranteed to have your wheels waiting for you. 
  • Last tip certainly isn’t mandatory but it is helpful. Before you start booking your flights, hotels, and tours, consider opening up a travel credit card. Thanks to our Capital One Venture card, my husband and I have gotten countless free flights just by gaining points on everyday expenses.
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Things to Do in Mostar

Mostar's Old Town

Be sure to spend your time simply wandering the cobblestone streets

With its cobble-stoned, narrow streets, tiny stone houses, and little bazaar with souvenir shops, Mostar's Old Town looks out of an exotic fairytale. The historical center in the city has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 2005 and has been beautifully restored.

Make sure to take your time scrolling through the streets – preferably in the early morning before the day tourists arrive and you're sharing the area with locals and cats only.

Stari Most (the Old Bridge)

Sitting atop Stari Most

You'll find the famous bridge Stari Most in the middle of Old Town. The impressive structure is a true Ottoman architectural masterpiece. For the best view of the bridge (and the best photo spot), head down to the beach below Stari Most.

If you're lucky, you might also see some brave guys performing the traditional bridge jump into the Neretva River – 24 meters into the ice-cold water. Neretva River is said to be the coldest stream in the world!

The Ikari – the flying men of Mostar – are keeping a 500-year-old tradition alive. Tourists can join in too and become members of the Mostar diving club. A professional will teach you with a few trial jumps how to dive into the river safely before you are allowed to perform the jump from the bridge itself. Definitely an adventure that is not for the faint of heart!

Crooked Bridge (Kriva Cuprija)

The practice run for Stari Most that still stands today

Another stone bridge you shouldn't miss when you're in Mostar is Kriva Cuprija, the crooked bridge. Legend says it served as a trial build for the original Mostar bridge. In fact, it does look a bit like a miniature version. The crooked bridge is a beautiful photo motive and lies in a quieter part of Old Town, so perfect for getting away from the crowds a little.

Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque

If you want to catch a view of the whole complex of Old Town and its bridge, you have to climb up the minaret of Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque. It costs a couple of Euros to climb up there but the amazing views are worth it.

Girls, please note that you have to cover your hair to enter the mosque and minaret – if you don't have a scarf, the people working in the mosque will be happy to give you one. Additionally, men and women alike need to cover their shoulders and knees, no bermudas are allowed up there.

West Mostar

Some of the graffiti you'll see on the Sniper Tower

Visitors tend to stay on the east side of the Neretva River, but there are quite a few things to discover in the western part of Mostar too!

Head to Park Zrinjevac via Kneza Mihajla Viševića Humskog. This alley is lined with old Austro-Hungarian villas, some entirely abandoned and destroyed, but a few beautifully restored too.

Crossing the park, you must stop at the Bruce Lee statue. A very random monument at first, it tells the story about Mostar still being a deeply divided city. It might not seem like it when you are just visiting but there is still a divide between the Muslim and Catholic populations in the city, with most of the latter living on the west side. In contrast, the Muslim population primarily lives on the east side of town. Some say, that there are children that never crossed over to "the other side". According to the artist, the statue stands for loyalty, friendship, and justice – just like the real Bruce Lee – and aims to unite the two parts of town.

Walking further, you will get to an abandoned building that is sometimes also dubbed “The Sniper Tower” since this is where snipers attacked Mostar's citizens during the Bosnian War in the 90s. Its walls are now full of graffiti for peace and unity – definitely worth checking out.

Where to Eat & Drink in Mostar

If you are looking for the best restaurants in Mostar, you won't find them directly on the river bank. Those restaurants are mainly tourist traps. If you want to try local Bosnian food, those are the places I can recommend:

  • For Bosnian coffee: Café de Alma
  • For traditional Bosnian food: Restaurant Hindin Han
  • For Burek: Buregdzinica Visak

While everything in Mostar and the Herzegovina region can be explored on your own, see, do, and learn more by joining a guided tour or excursion instead.

Is One Day in Mostar Enough?

Mostar is small, and you can easily see everything in a day. However, it is nice to stay overnight because you will have the otherwise bustling Old Town to yourself in the morning and evening.

A lot of people come here only for the day while on a trip exploring Croatia but if you have the time, you could spend far more time here than just a few hours.

If you want to enjoy the laid-back Herzegovinian lifestyle and get a more local perspective on the city, stay a few days and take a couple of day trips from Mostar into the surrounding area.

Day Trips from Mostar

The lesser-known Kočuša waterfalls

Mostar lies in the center of the Herzegovina region, the Southern part of the country. Some of the oldest settlements in the country can be found in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina – for example, in the town of Stolac.

There are so many wonderful places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina but many of the most incredible lie in this region.

Like the whole country, Herzegovina is mountainous, characterized by barren karst landscapes and the Dinarc Alps with oasis-like lowlands. The region has a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and dry, hot summers with temperatures up to 45 degrees Celsius in July or August.

Suppose you want to experience the Mediterranean lifestyle and not go to Italy, Spain, Croatia, or Greece. In that case, Herzegovina is the place to visit!

Although buses connect the bigger towns in Herzegovina, they will not drive you to the most beautiful viewpoints. You cannot just stop at a place you like and enjoy the view. Therefore, I recommend you get a rental car for a day trip to the many unique places of Herzegovina.

The following sites are my favorites.

Herzegovina's Waterfalls

The famous Kravice waterfalls

Kravice Waterfalls

Due to its topography, it is said that Herzegovina has more waterfalls than Germany! The karst landscape makes for rugged rocks and gurgling rivers.

The most famous landmark of the region has to be the Kravice waterfalls. The impressive horseshoe bend waterfalls are 120 meters wide and 26 meters high. At the bottom, you'll find a little lake where you can swim. This makes the waterfalls very popular for locals and tourists alike, so if you like it quieter, mornings are the time you want to go.

Kočuša Waterfalls

A few minutes from Kravica, you'll find Kočuša waterfalls, their little sister. The waterfall is a bit smaller but still beautiful, and you will also find a lake you can swim in. It's much less crowded than Kravice.

Bunski Kanal

The mini waterfalls along the canal seen in dry season when the water is low

Another one of the most beautiful places worth visiting in Herzegovina is the Bunski Kanal. This is where the Buna River merges with the River Neretva, forming a natural canal with many little waterfalls.

There is no tourist infrastructure in the area, so be careful when approaching the channel and please do not litter.

Dervish House Blagaj

Head across the river to get the best view of the Dervish House

Right at the spring of the Buna River, you'll find the Tekija Blagaj - an old dervish monastery. Since the 15th century, this place at the source of the Buna River has been a spiritual destination and unique attraction. But even for non-believers, this place is an impressive witness to the architectural art of the Ottomans and makes a great photo motif.

The Herzegovina Wine Route

Most people don't realize there is a small yet thriving wine industry here

Many people are surprised to learn that Herzegovina has a 2,000-year-old winemaking tradition. You will find many small boutique wine farms all over the region.

They mainly produce the two autochthonous grape varieties, Zilavka and Blatina. You can't try them anywhere else in the world, so I recommend you plan a stop at one of the wine farms around Ljubuški or Čapljina. Some of them have great restaurants too or will prepare you a typical Herzegovinian dinner if you make a reservation!

The easiest way to enjoy a glass or two and delicious food is to book a wine tour and just enjoy the winelands while somebody else is driving!

The Artist Village of Počitelj

For this view, you'll need to climb to the top of the abandoned castle

Less than 1,000 people live in this beautiful town that is basically an open-air museum now. Although this small town was badly damaged during the war, Počitelj retains its charm and character. You'll find a beautifully restored mosque here, and a stunning view over Neretva from the castle ruins.

If you're there in summer, make sure to buy pomegranate juice from one of the ladies selling it at the side of the street.

The Best Beach Bars to Escape the Heat

Grab some watermelon and cool off in the breeze

Herzegovina summers can be ruthlessly hot. So if you visit in the summer months, do as the Herzegovinians do and hold a little siesta. A great location to escape the midday heat is the "Lazy Bar" in Blagaj, where you can chill in hammocks directly by the river and enjoy a cool breeze. Oh, and try a delicious slice of Herzegovinian watermelon too – fresh out of the fridge to cool you down from the inside!

Enjoy Your Mostar Travel!

That's it – those were my travel tips and favorite sights! You are ready for your perfect visit to Mostar and Herzegovina. And once you book your trip there, don't miss out on trying all the delicious foods too!

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