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Things to do in Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina: How to Spend a Day in Mostar
Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe. While it undeniably receives much fewer visitors than other historic cities on the continent, this is one of the most diverse.
Peace and Turbulence (and Peace Again)
Situated in the far south of the country, Mostar represents both the best and the worst of former Yugoslavia. Especially during the years under Tito, the residents of Mostar live together in perfect peace and harmony. That mix of various cultures—Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats—was essentially unseen anywhere else 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. Mostar with its three distinctly different cultures became stuck in a horrific three-way war.
Nowadays, the Balkan war is, of course, long over. Yet, Mostar still bears the scars of those years, many of its buildings still showing bullet holes, some of them even remaining destroyed.
That said, however; Mostar 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. Historically a crossroads of cultures—Christian Europe and Muslim Middle East—Mostar is still a vibrant mix of influences.
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 both 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 than Istanbul is. In fact, sometimes, when strolling the streets of the Old Town, you’d swear you were in Turkey.
Also, Mostar is as safe as any other similar-sized city in Europe. The biggest danger: pickpockets, and you’re not advised to go and explore the ruined buildings in the city.
UNESCO World Heritage in 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.
It basically divides it into two parts—the Catholic Croat western side of the river and the Muslim Bosniak eastern side of the river. Most of the touristic highlights in Mostar are in the Bosniak area of the city, which encompasses the Old Town. Those two communities are linked together by a number of bridges. The most notable one of those is, of course, the iconic Old Bridge, or Stari Most.the iconic Old Bridge, or Stari Most.
The Old Bridge has connected the banks of the Neretva River since the Middle Ages. Formerly the symbol of harmonious coexistence between various cultures, the Old Bridge was destroyed during the civil war, an event that upset historians and locals alike.
Now, the Old Bridge has been rebuilt and is as attractive as ever. A world-famous bridge, it is gorgeous even if you’re not aware of its history. The Old Bridge and the surrounding historic area has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO, attesting to its 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.
Things to do in Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina in One Day
It is possible to cover all of Mostar’s main tourist attractions in one day. Because of its location in southern Herzegovina, the city makes for a superb day trip destination from Croatian cities 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’s time, but it’s recommended to spend the night. 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
Start your day in Mostar with a visit to the city’s number one attraction, the Old Bridge. Pay a visit to the visitor center first and pick up a map of the Old Town. The visitor center is located on the western side of the Neretva River.
The Old Bridge is one of the absolute star attractions in the entire Balkan region. Seeing this bridge alone makes it worth it to visit Mostar. Spend some time on and around the bridge, watching people dive off of it and seeing it from different angles. There are great views from the western riverbank below as well as from the Lučki Bridge to the south.
Afternoon: Bazaars and Mosque
While the highlight for most visitors is the Old Bridge, many will be surprised by the sheer amount of craft shops and bazaars that 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 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. It’s an incredibly fun street to walk around on, so take your time. Also, don’t miss the occasional view of the Old 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.
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 Old Bridge in town.
Evening: Food & Drinks
The Old Bridge, bazaar-lined streets, and mosques makes up Mostar’s main highlights. After you’ve spent some time exploring them, it’s time to relax and enjoy a bite to eat and a beverage.
Mostar is home to many coffee shops as well as bars and nightclubs. One of the best, and for tourists most convenient, areas is Braće Fejića, a Boulevard that’s a northern extension of Coppersmith’s Street. This boulevard has great food and drink opportunities while also offering tourists a peek at the local nightlife, away from the tourist areas.
A day in Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina is just the start of this amazing country.