The historic town of Mostar is a day trip away from the popular city of Dubrovnik or –as in our case- the island of Hvar. Loved by many tourist, this town deserves more than a couple of hours to see the bridge. Having the freedom of driving around in our own car, we took the opportunity to explore the town and it surrounding villages.
It was the first time since we started traveling together that we visited a place that was so recently confronted with war. We became a bit numb of watching war scenes during the evening news, but seeing the bullet holes, the destroyed buildings and the graffiti tags opened our eyes about what it must actually be like to live in a town that’s under the terror of war. One of the most confronting moments was when we took a closer look at the graves. During our visit we passed a couple of cemeteries with graves who all carried the same end year, 1993. Luckily, things have turned around for this region and now there is a lot of beauty waiting to be explored.
Cross Stari Most// Arguably the most known monument of the country, this slippery bridge is the main reason why people visit Mostar. The bridge survived world wars but it wasn’t up for the bombing of 1993 which destroyed the bridge completely. It was rebuild and re-opened in 2004, in accordance with the original design. A year later, the bridge and the surrounding historical old town was listed as World Heritage. The best view on the bridge and the occasional local jumping from it can be captured from the river banks just below the bridge. Order a local beer from the improvised pop-up bar and take some time to watch the local daredevils. Try to (re-)visit the bridge in the evening. Most of the day trippers will be gone and the whole town radiates a mysterious vibe.
Walk the frontline// One of the major streets in Mostar Bulevard was once the scene of some of the biggest battles. Along this former frontline you can still find some heavily destroyed buildings that were never restored after the war. If you have some more time, go look for the Sniper Tower and its war themed artwork inside.
Haggle in the old town// In this area you can find all the major attractions such as the Koski Mehmed pasha’s mosque, the bath house and of course the Stari Most. If you’ve had enough culture for the day, hit the street to find the perfect souvenir. You can find everything in the old shops from colorful carpets to a complete tea set. Or you can go more traditional and buy a magnet of the bridge as we did. Whatever you choose, make sure to haggle over the price as this is part of the game.
Visit the monastery at Blagag Tekke// This Dervish Monastery is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most ancient holy places. We put it on the itinerary because it’s a mere 20 minute drive from Mostar. The monastery seems to be captured by the mountain walls. The whole location has a dreamy feel with the blue river appearing from a small cave and the solitude of the monastery building. To be honest, this was not the most breathtaking monument we’ve visited on our trip. However, when you’re in the neighborhood, it would be a pity to not visit this monastery.
Climb the old streets of Počitelj // A quiet town which is conveniently located on the main road towards Mostar. You can explore the remains of what was once one of the most strategically positioned towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In fact, Počitelj is one of the few urban settlements in this region that is preserved in its integrity to the present times. The main attractions are the mosque and the citadel. Make sure to climb to the top of the watchtower to capture the best views on the green valley and the Neretva river. An interesting fact is that this town is also on the tentative list of UNESCO.
Kravice Waterfalls// The natural park that holds the Kravice Falls is located 40km from Mostar. These falls are a real hidden-gem in the south of Europe. That’s is also the reason why we originally put it on our itinerary. However, after visiting the waterfalls of Plitvice and Krka, my darling needed a break from the waterfalls. Therefore, we choose to let this one pass and continued our trip to Dubrovnik.
You can find many restaurants and small shops offering the local specialties while wandering around Mostar. While walking through the old town, we spotted a lot of good looking meat platters. One of the local favorites is the Ćevapi , which can be considered as the Bosnian version of the Turkish kebab. We tried the local go-to snack when being on the move, Burek. This is a traditional meat-filled flaky pastry that is rolled in a spiral. Burek is very cheap and can be found on almost every corner. One thing is for sure, these people love their meat.
Mostar was the cheapest stop on our road trip through South-East Europe. As a good reference: an ice-cream scoop was only 50 cents, SCORE. In general, all the food and accommodation was very inexpensive in this area. Although the prices are mostly low, be aware of some overpriced places along the main road in the historic town of Mostar.
We noticed that the needed budget changed a lot between different destinations on our road trip. Split and Dubrovnik were the more expensive stops and at these places we overheared some tourist complain about the fact that it’s “impossible to travel cheap in South-East Europe”. We must object! The more of the beaten path you go, the more inexpensive and unspoiled places you will find. Mostar ticks off all the boxes in this case.