Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe, a major highlight in the Balkans. While it undeniably receives much fewer visitors than other historic cities on the continent, this is still one of the most diverse, capable of blowing the socks off any first-time visitor.
Peace And Turbulence (And Peace Again)
Situated in the country’s far south, Mostar represents both the best and worst of former Yugoslavia. Especially during the years under Tito, the residents of Mostar lived together in perfect peace and harmony. That mix of various cultures—Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats—was virtually unseen elsewhere in Europe.
Then, at the beginning of the 1990s, Yugoslavia (a collection of different nationalities) collapsed, dragging its people into one of the most vicious civil wars in modern European history. With its three distinctly different cultures, Mostar became stuck in a horrific three-way war.
Nowadays, the Balkan war is, of course, long over. One of the least-known Bosnia facts nowadays is that the country is now completely safe for tourists. “Is it safe to go to Bosnia?” is a question that hasn’t been relevant for about two decades… Yet, that said, Mostar still bears the scars of those years, many of its buildings still showing bullet holes, some even remaining destroyed.
A Mix Of Cultures And Heritage
That said, however, Mostar today is a gorgeous city. It’s as close as you can get to Muslim culture anywhere in Europe. In fact, many Western visitors are often surprised by the number of mosques in the city of Mostar. Historically a crossroads of cultures—Christian Europe and Muslim Middle East—Mostar is still a vibrant mix of influences.
Turkish-style bazaars line polished cobbled streets, while church spires and minarets contribute to the city’s skyline. Mostar hardly feels “European” at all. In terms of atmosphere and ambiance, it’s as far away from Paris or even Venice as Istanbul is. In fact, sometimes, when strolling the streets of the Old Town, you’d swear you were in Turkey. It’s one of the most fascinating places to go to in Bosnia, even in Europe.
Also, Mostar is as safe as any other similar-sized city in Europe. The most significant danger is pickpockets, and you’re not advised to explore the ruined buildings in the city.
UNESCO World Heritage In Mostar, Bosnia, And Herzegovina
Besides a fascinating history and a mix of different cultures, Mostar is also blessed with a truly magnificent setting. Surrounded by rocky mountains, the Neretva River, one of the most scenic rivers in the Balkan, bisects the city.
Most touristic Mostar attractions are in the Bosniak area of the city, which encompasses the Old Town. It divides it into two parts—the Catholic Croat western side of the river and the Muslim Bosniak eastern side of the river. Those two communities are linked together by several bridges. Of course, the most notable one of those is the iconic Old Bridge or Stari Most.
The Mostar Bridge has connected the banks of the Neretva River since the Middle Ages. Formerly the symbol of harmonious coexistence between various cultures, the Stari Most was destroyed during the civil war. That Stari Most destruction was an event that upset historians and locals alike.
Now, the Stari Most bridge has been rebuilt and is as attractive as ever. These days, the old Mostar bridge is world-famous and gorgeous even if you’re unaware of its history. It’s without question the most famous bridge in Bosnia. The Mostar most and the surrounding historic area has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO, attesting to their significant cultural and historical importance.
Fun fact: the name Mostar, pronounced MOH-star, means “bridge-keeper.” It refers to the Stari Most, meaning “old bridge,” which has been a major river crossing for many centuries. The presence of a river crossing was the very reason the city developed in the first place.
What To Do In Mostar, Bosnia And Herzegovina, In One Day
It is possible to cover all of the top Mostar tourist attractions in one day. Because of its location in southern Herzegovina, the city makes for a superb day trip destination from Croatian towns such as Split and Dubrovnik.
Many people take advantage of that, causing the Old Town to become quite crowded around midday. On the plus side, it is virtually empty in the mornings and evenings.
You can get a good feel for the city in a day, but booking a night or two at an authentic Mostar accommodation is recommended. The evenings are enchanting—and quiet—when the lights in and around the historic riverside buildings create an almost magical setting.
Morning: The Old Bridge, Stari Most
Start your day in the city with a visit to the star attraction in Mostar, the Stari Most Old Bridge. Pay a visit to the visitor center first and pick up a map of the Mostar Old Town. The visitor center is located on the western side of the Neretva River.
The Mostar Old Bridge is one of the absolute highlights in the entire Balkan region. Please spend some time on and around the bridge, watching people do some daredevil Mostar bridge diving and seeing it from different angles. There are great views from the western riverbank below and from the Lučki Bridge to the south. Seeing this world-famous Bosnia bridge alone makes it worth it to visit Mostar.
Afternoon: Bazaars And Mosque
The answer to the question “what to see in Mostar” does not stop at the Stari Most. At all. Many people who visit Mostar will be surprised by the sheer number of craft shops and bazaars dot the Old Town. Many of those line Coppersmith’s Street, or Kujundžiluk, just across the Old Bridge to the left.
This vibrant street is covered in cobblestones and offers one of the most colorful shopping experiences on this side of Turkey. This is the perfect place to buy everything from handmade bracelets and oriental rugs to kitschy Balkan war artifacts and copper decorations. One of the top 10 things to do in Mostar, it’s an incredibly fun street to walk around on, so take your time. Also, don’t miss the occasional view of the Mostar Bridge.
A short way up Coppersmith’s Street lies the Koski Mehmet-Pasha Mosque, which is open to visitors. This beautiful mosque offers an insight into Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Muslim culture. Dating from the 1600s, this mosque is so visit-worthy because of its stunning riverside location—definitely one of the top things to see in Mostar for many reasons.
Make sure to climb the steep and winding stairway to the top of one of the minarets for truly mesmerizing panoramic views. This is arguably the best view of the Stari Most bridge in town.
Evening: Food & Drinks
The Old Bridge Mostar, bazaar-lined streets, and mosques make up the main things to see and do in Mostar. After you’ve spent some time exploring them, it’s time to relax and enjoy a local bite to eat and a beverage.
Mostar is home to many coffee shops, as well as bars and nightclubs. One of the best and most convenient places for tourists is Braće Fejića, a Boulevard that’s a northern extension of Coppersmith’s Street. This boulevard has excellent food and drinks opportunities while also offering tourists a peek at the local nightlife away from the tourist areas.
More Places To Go In Mostar
If you have more than just one day in Mostar, there are plenty of other things to see and do in and around the city and great day trips to take. The following should fill up another day or two.
Arguably the greatest Mostar museum, the Muslibegović House is a national monument in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s one of the best examples of residential Ottoman architecture, the former home of the wealthy Muslibegović family in the 18th century. The museum houses all kinds of historical artifacts, from precious books written in Turkish, Persian, and Arabic to hammam sets, purses, and medals. Some rooms are fully furnished with sofas, shelves, ceiling decorations, mirrors, etc.
Remarkably, part of this protected building is currently also a hotel. However, the Muslibegović House Hotel is relatively expensive, but where else can you stay in such a fantastic building?
Mostar War Photo Exhibition
When you visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, you’ll often notice things that remind you of the Balkan War. You could, of course, completely ignore that and focus on modern Mostar travel delights like shopping, eating, and photography, but that’s not what I’d recommend. Soaking up local history only heightens your travel experience.
So, in Mostar, you are strongly encouraged to stop by the Mostar War Photo Exhibition. This collection of 50 powerful war photos taken by a young photojournalist during the war will not leave you untouched. Above the Mostar Diving Club, you can find these Mostar war photos in the western tower beside the Stari Most.
Kriva Cuprija – The Crooked Bridge
In addition to the Stari Most, Mostar also has another beautiful bridge. Although the Crooked Bridge is smaller and more obscure than its world-famous neighbor, it’s actually eight years older. It’s thought to have been a test version of the latter, more architecturally challenging bridge.
The Crooked Bridge spans the Radobolja River just before it joins the Neretva River. It is only a few minutes walk from the Stari Most, surrounded by restaurants.
Visit A Dervish Monastery In Blagaj
One of the best excursions from Mostar is a visit to Blagaj. Only 15 to 20 minutes by car southeast of the city, the small village of Blagaj is home to one of the most incredible places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina: the Blagaj Tekija.
This 16th-century Dervish Monastery sits nestled at the base of a sheer rock wall at the Bruna River’s karst spring. A gorgeous pool of crystal-clear azure water lies right next to it. It’s as photogenic as a building gets. A prime example of Ottoman architecture now houses a restaurant overlooking the water, the perfect setting for a relaxing lunch.
Day Trip To Historic Pocitelj
A 30-minute drive south of Mostar brings you to the beautiful historic village of Pocitelj. It was built in a natural amphitheater in the high hills on the Neretva River banks, and it used to be strategically important. Now, it’s a quiet Bosnian village located on the way from the Dalmatian coast to Mostar and thriving on the Mostar tourism boom.
The entire village consists of stone buildings and constructions, including fortified walls, a fort, a bell tower, and a mosque. It’s great fun to wander its cobbled streets and stairways, enjoying the architecture and atmosphere. Climb the octagonal-shaped tower on top of the hill for magnificent views of the town and Neretva River valley.
How To Get To Mostar From Dubrovnik & Split
Travel From Dubrovnik To Mostar
Private Transfer From Dubrovnik To Mostar
Suppose you are like me and prefer to have someone take care of all the navigating and stress of driving in a foreign country, then a private transfer is your best bet. Prices start at 175 euro one way or 230 euro for a day trip per vehicle, so you can travel in style with the flexibility that comes with a private transfer.
Dubrovnik To Mostar By Car
The Mostar to Dubrovnik journey is about 2.5 hours, and there are three driving routes between Dubrovnik and Mostar.
- From Dubrovnik via Tribinje, Stolac, and Buna to Mostar by M6 and M18roads.
- From Dubrovnik via Metković to Mostar via M6 and D8 routes
- From Dubrovnik via Tribinje, Bileca, Stolac, and Buna to Mostar by R427 and M20. This route is the longest.
Dubrovnik To Mostar By Bus
The Dubrovnik to Mostar bus takes between 3 and 3.5 hours* to reach Mostar. At least three daily buses are serving this route, with a one-way ticket costing 15 euro. Outside of peak season, there’s rarely a need for advance bus reservations, although if you are in Dubrovnik anyway, you may as well buy your ticket early to guarantee your seat.
Local Tip: If you take the bus from Dubrovnik to Mostar, grab a seat on the bus’s left side to see the spectacular landscape of Croatia and Southern Bosnia. When you travel from Mostar to Dubrovnik by bus, sit on the bus’s right side for the same impressive view.
Travel From Split To Mostar
Private Transfer From Split To Mostar
You’ll be picked up at your Split accommodation in a modern, well-equipped vehicle, whisked away on your 2 hours & 30-minute journey through the Croatian and Bosnian countryside to Mostar from Split, and have not a worry in the world. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
Split To Mostar By Car
The Split to Mostar journey is about 2.5 hours, and most of the trip is along the A1 freeway, making it a reasonably easy drive. You will need to check with your car rental company about your insurance coverage.
Split To Mostar By Bus
If you are budget-conscious, then taking the bus is your best option. Several buses run daily from Split bus terminal to the Mostar bus station, and tickets start from 16 euro one way. While the bus is by far the cheapest option, it’s also the most inconvenient, with the journey taking 3.5-4 hours. Also, you are at the mercy of the limited number of bus services to Mostar, so be sure not to be late; otherwise, you may end up spending the night in Mostar.
*Important: You will have to go through passport control before reaching Mostar from Split and Dubrovnik, so make sure not to forget your passport at home or in the hotel – even if you plan to come back on the same day. Crossing this border can be unpredictable, so travel times can vary significantly, especially in the peak season.
This day in Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina sightseeing guide is just an introduction to this beautiful country.