A complete guide to visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina’s historic city of Mostar and its surrounding attractions.
Bosnia & Herzegovina’s beautiful historic city of Mostar is a must see when visiting the Balkans. A visit here has a lot to offer and will satisfy you on many levels. Although tourism is growing rapidly, Bosnia & Herzegovina is still quieter and more budget friendly than the neighbouring Croatia and Montenegro. Yet it is still easily accessible from both countries, only a short drive from Split, Dubrovnik and Kotor. With a setting reminiscent of a fairytale, it’s no wonder that Mostar is fast becoming a destination on many travellers bucket-lists.
Like much of the country, Mostar is packed with history. Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats once peacefully coexisted in this historically rich city. After Yugoslavia’s collapse in the early 90’s, war broke out and Bosnia fell victim to the most brutal war in Europes history since World War II. Mostar couldn’t escape the war and much of the city, including the famous Stari Most (Mostar Bridge) was destroyed. The city and peace has been largely restored, although the people remain divided, with tensions and reminders of war still present.
1. Visit the famous Stari Most (Mostar Bridge)
Stari Most (Mostar Old Bridge) is hands down the most famous attraction in Mostar and arguably the countries most iconic site. The 16th century Ottoman bridge is the centre piece of the old town, where it stood for 427 years before being almost completely destroyed by war in November 1993.
It was rebuilt years later and officially reopened in 2004, replicating the original structure. The same stone was extracted from the same quarry as the original bridge and in 2005, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stari Most is beautiful to observe from all angles, to which there are many. Crossing the bridge is an experience in itself, which offers stunning view down the river and surrounding area. Head down to the waters edge for a different view and be sure to witness the beauty of the bridge at night.
2. Explore Mostar’s Old Town
The historic old town of Mostar dates back to the 15th & 16th centuries. It is now split into two distinct areas, divided by the Neretva river: The Catholic Croat side west of the river and the Muslim Bosniak side to the east, with Stari Most connecting the two.
On both sides of the bridge is the Bazar Kujundžiluk, an Ottoman-era market. Today the bazar consists of tourist oriented restaurants and shops, selling trinkets, textiles and some beautiful local goods. The surrounding streets are lined with cobbled stones and Ottoman style architecture.
Mostar can get super busy during the day with day trippers and group tours, but you’ll find few people around early in the morning. In our opinion, that’s the best time to explore the area. Enjoy a coffee in a nearby cafe, wander around the waters edge or take a boat down the river.
3. Visit the Crooked Bridge (Kriva ćuprija)
On the west side of Stari Most, you will come to a pedestrian market on Onešćukova Street. This branches off to the quieter Jusovina Street which leads to the Crooked Bridge. The Crooked Bridge is essentially a mini version of Stari Most. It’s believed to be built as a design test for the more ambitious Old Bridge, 8 years earlier. Destroyed by floods in 2001, it was later rebuilt.
The Crooked Bridge crosses the narrow Radobolja river which flows down to Stari Most and into the Neretva river. The whole area is very pretty and crossing over the bridge will lead you to some riverside restaurants, a particularly nice area to visit in the evening.
4. Visit Koskin-Mehmed Pasha’s Mosque
On the east side of the river, just a few minutes walk north of Stari Most, you’ll find Koskin-Mehmed Pasha’s Mosque, locally known as Koski Mehmed-Pašina Džamija. It’s by far the prettiest mosque in the old town and not only is it beautiful to look at, it also offers stunning views down the river to the Stari Most. Dating back to 1681, the stone structure is a classic example of the Ottoman style mosques found throughout the country. The courtyard at the front of the mosque is free to enter, however an entrance fee applies to go inside. The minaret is also accessible via a narrow spiral staircase, offering elevated views of the river and Stari Most.
- Open 9am – 8:30pm in April-September & 11am – 5pm October-March
- Entrance: 6KM (€3)
- Minaret entrance: 6KM (€3)
5. Witness the annual Stari Most diving competition
There is a long standing tradition of diving off Stari Most. So deep is this tradition, that locals have been doing it for over 450 years. It is said that the local men used to plunge over 20 meters into freezing water in an attempt to impress the ladies! These days, Mostar has a local diving club and every July, it hosts an annual diving competition. Since 2015, the event became number 6 on the Redbull cliff diving circuit!
If you’re visiting outside of July, you may still be able to see the locals jump from the bridge. Parading around in nothing more than a pair of budgie smugglers, the divers gather donations from tourists before taking the plunge. They won’t jump until enough money has been raised, creating a lot of noise in the process. The money apparently goes to maintenance of the bridge. Wanna give it a try? Tourists can also jump, however you will need to pay €25 and prove to a member of the diving club that you have the skills to not kill yourself in the process. You’ll be required to complete a number of smaller jumps first and get the tick of approval. It’s worth noting that people have been severely injured and even died whilst attempting this old tradition.
6. Have a meal at Tima-Irma Restaurant
If you are only going to eat at one restaurant in Mostar, then make it this one! Lured in by the ridiculously cheap prices and menu of grilled meats and salads, we ended up eating every meal here. Yes, it really was that good! We later discovered it was Mostar’s #1 ranking restaurant on trip advisor! Located in the heart of the Old Town, the family restaurant has been operating for over 30 years. The staff are friendly, the meals are HUGE and delicious! Checkout their website HERE
Tip: Get there early! As the restaurant is small and super busy at night, be prepared to wait for a table. Trust us, it’s worth waiting for!
7. Sample the local ice cream
Mostar serves up Gelato that rivals that of Italy! There are gelato shops scattered all over the city and the best part is the price. At around €.50c a scoop, the only problem you will have is deciding on a flavour, to which there are many! There are dairy free options available too, so no-one has to miss out!
8. Visit the Museum Of War And Genocide
Although it’s not exactly the happiest experience in Mostar, the Museum of War & Genocide is probably the most educational. The museum explains the history of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. With over 100,000 casualties, 2,000,000 people displaced, 600 concentration camps, thousands of rapes, injuries and missing people, the brutality of this war was the worst Europe had seen since WWII. Run by victims of war, the detailed exhibits describe the history, personal stories, video footage including the bombing of Stari Most along with graphic images. Allow a good amount of time as there is a lot to read and watch.
- Open 9am – 9pm
- Entrance 10KM (€5) Student discount available
9. Visit the beautiful Kravica Waterfall
A visit to Kravica Waterfall, located 50km from the heart of Mostar’s old town, is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and a must on anyones itinerary. At 25m heigh and 120m wide, the karstic waterfalls are the largest and most beautiful in the country.
Often compared to Krka Waterfalls in Croatia, you’ll find fewer people at Kravice, especially in the lower seasons. During our visit in late September, there were very few people there at all, even at 12pm! The falls spill into a very large and inviting pool, making it the perfect place to take a dip and cool down. Warning – the water can be deceptively cold! There’s a smaller waterfall downstream, accessible by little boats and plenty of places to enjoy a picnic lunch.
For more details, check out our Guide to Kravica Waterfall HERE.
10.Wander through the ancient city of Pocitelj
The quiet medieval fortress town of Pocitelj, is a 30km drive from the heart of Mostar and is definitely worth a visit. Like many of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s historic sites, Pocitelj was damaged by war in 1993 but has been largely restored. Inside the city walls, a warren of stairs leads you to a partially ruined fortress, clock towers and viewing platforms.
There are beautiful stone houses, pomegranate and fig trees along with some very friendly locals selling pomegranate juice. We found a viewing platform which offered awesome views over the village and surrounding area. Pocitelj is en-route from Mostar to Kravica Waterfall, so it makes sense to it’s easy to visit the two in one day.
Entrance is free
11. Visit Blagaj Tekija: A 600yr old Dervish monastery
Just 13km south-east from the heart of Mostar, is the small town of Blagaj, home to a 600 year old Dervish Monastery. Perched at the base of a cliff near the source of the river Buna, the monastery known as Blagaj Tekija dates back to 1520.
On the inside, the monastery houses different prayer rooms, old wooden floors, Persian carpets and a small Hamman. Outside, the source of the Buna river flows through a small cave past the monastery. Several restaurants now surround the river and monastery, perhaps too many and during the summer months, it’s possible to take a small boat for a very short ride into the cave. With such a beautiful backdrop and blends of both of Ottoman and Mediterranean architecture, Blagaj Tekija is a beautiful place to stop whilst exploring Mostar and its surrounds.
- Open: 8.30am-8.30pm
- Entrance: Monastery 5KM (€2.50) Shoulders and knees must be covered. Head scarfs available at the door.
- Boat 4KM (€2) However, there isn’t really much to see and you can see the back of the cave from the bank of the river.
- Parking (€1-2) possibly more during the summer months
- Bus from Mostar: #10 #11 #12 run limited services p/day, departing from the Spanish Square. 30-45 minutes each way.
12. Take a day trip to Dubrovnik
Croatia’s old walled city of Dubrovnik, is one of the countries gems, attracting over a million visitors a year. Although we personally feel that a visit to Dubrovnik is worthy of more than a day, if you find yourself with a spare day in Mostar, it’s possible to squeeze in a day trip. This would best be done by renting a car, however an organised day trips can also be arranged.
There’s a lot to see and do in Dubrovnik, however in a day, you will probably only have time to do a few things. These are our top three must do’s:
- Explore the Old Town of Dubrovnik
- Dubrovnik City Walls: Climb and walk around the city walls for close up views over the city and Adriatic sea. The walls are 1940 meters long with 6 fortresses – 200KN.
- Hike up the Staza Prema Utvrdi Imperial to Mount Srd for epic views over the Old Town. Take the cable car if you’re short on time or hiking’s not your thing. For more info, click HERE
Getting to/from and around
Mostar is easily accessible by bus from neighbouring countries like Croatia and Montenegro. Popular links include Dubrovnik, Split and Kotor. Domestically, buses between Sarajevo and Mostar operate regularly. It’s worth noting there is an East and West bus station in Mostar. Getbybus is a great booking platform, you can find information on bus journeys HERE. Alternatively, trains also operate between Sarajevo and Mostar. For more info, click HERE.
Hire a car
Most areas outside of Mostar aren’t accessible via public transport. Therefore, the best way to explore the surrounding area is by hiring a car. This will give you the flexibility to visit whatever you want at your own pace.
We hired a car for a day from the Bristol Hotel for €35 + fuel, which only cost an additional €5. This option is particularly good value if you are splitting the cost with other travellers. Advance bookings are required, especially in the high season. For more info, click HERE. Alternatively, ask your accommodation for recommendations of where to hire a car.
If you’re not keen on hiring a car, joining a group tour is probably the next best option. A day trip from Mostar typically includes stops at Pocitelj, Kravice Waterfalls, Blagaj Tekija, along with a few other scenic stops. Tours generally include transport, a guide and pick up/drop off to your accommodation. Expect to pay around €35-€40 for a full day (approx 9am-5pm). Entrance fees to sites and food are NOT usually included. We recommend comparing prices and itineraries, along with reviews when in Mostar before booking. Speak with your accommodation for some recommendations.
Hire a taxi
This is the last option really for getting to all the attractions around Mostar. We can’t give an idea on price as this was not an option for us, but how much you pay will come down to what you want to see, how long you want to go for and how hard you negotiate!
There are a lot of affordable accommodation options available in Mostar. Deciding on where to stay really depends on what you want to see and how you plan on getting around.
We chose to stay at Guesthouse Ejla, a small 3 room guesthouse, for its intimacy and location. Situated on the east side, it was an 800m walk to Stari Most, 350m walk to the east bus station and a 300m walk to Hotel Bristol (where we hired a car). It cost €15 a night with shared facilities and kitchen. For more options, check out booking.com HERE or hotels combined HERE.
The official currency in Bosnia & Herzegovina is the Bosnian Convertible Mark verbally referred to as BAM. The symbol used is KM. Euro’s are widely accepted in Mostar (but not in Sarajevo) at a rate of 2:1 EG: 2KM = €1. Croatian Kuna are also widely accepted, however often come with a poor exchange rate. ATM’s are your best option for getting local currency and are available all over Mostar. There are plenty of banks and money exchangers in the city also.
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