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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 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.
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 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, 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 Mostar old bridge is world famous and is gorgeous even if you’re not aware of its history. The Mostar most 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, Stari Most
Start your day in Mostar with a visit to the city’s number one attraction, the Stari Most 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 star attractions in the entire Balkan region. Seeing the Mostar bridge alone makes it worth it to visit Mostar. Spend some time on and around the Mostar most, 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 Stari Most, 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 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.
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, 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.
How to get to Mostar from Dubrovnik & Split
There are a number or modes of transport to get to Mostar from Split or Dubrovnik:
Travel from Dubrovnik to Mostar
Private Transfer from Dubrovnik to Mostar
If 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 one way or €230 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, 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. There are at least three buses a day serving this route with a one-way ticket costing €15. 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 a take the bus from Dubrovnik to Mostar, grab a seat on the left side of the bus to see the spectacular landscape of Croatia and Southern-Bosnia. When you travel from Mostar to Dubrovnik by bus, take a seat on the right side of the bus 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 hour & 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. Private transfers start at €149 one way and €200 for a day trip from Split.
Split to Mostar by Car
The Split to Mostar journey is about 2.5 hours and most of the journey is along the A1 freeway making it fairly easy driving. You will need to check with your car rental company about your insurance coverage.
Split to Mostar by Bus
If you are really budget conscious then taking the bus is your best option. Several buses run daily from Split bus terminal and tickets start from €16 one way. Whilst bus is by far the cheapest option it’s also the most inconvenient with the journey taking 3.5-4 hours. In addition, 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.
A day in Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina is just the start of this amazing country.