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9 Things to Know Before You Go to Mostar
Mostar is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most beautiful cities. It’s rich with culture, history, and beautiful buildings. Whether you plan to stay for a few days or visit on a day trip from nearby Croatia, Mostar is definitely worth a visit.
However, before you visit there are a few things you should know in advance.
You Need Proper Training to Jump off the Bridge
Mostar’s Stari Most is an iconic landmark in the city and is famous for the (primarily male) divers that plunge off its ledge.
While it is possible for tourists to join them, you need to be trained first. For a fee, the divers club will train you how to jump properly into the churning waters below without injuring yourself.
The bridge is about 24m above the water (depending on water levels), and the water below is cold with a strong current. It is dangerous and jumpers have died taking the plunge. However, if you decide to go ahead and pay for training, and complete the jump, you will get a certificate and your name in the official book.
The Stari Most Today is Not the Original
Mostar’s famous landmark was destroyed during a war; blown into pieces.
Some of those pieces were salvaged by the divers, and many line the shore acting as seats for those watching the divers. The old bridge was rebuilt following the original design in 2004. If you are interested in learning more about the bridge be sure to visit the Old Bridge Museum.
If you are interested in seeing photos of Mostar during the war, check out the War Photo Exhibition.
You Can’t Just Hike Through the Hills Alone
If you look out into the distance you will notice that Mostar is surrounded by hills, many of which look perfect for hiking.
However, these hills are still full of landmines making them incredibly dangerous. For those who still want to hike, there are safe paths but it is recommended that you go with a guide who knows the way. Even then, make sure not to stray.
Most Locals Do Not Want to Talk About the War
War tourism is quite popular in Mostar, but it’s been 25 years since the city was at war and many residents still remember it and lost friends and family members during that time.
If you are interested in the stories, take a tour. The guides will tell you all the history, facts, and likely even personal stories. But please don’t press the locals unless they offer to tell you.
The City is Still Very Divided
The war may be over, but there is still animosity in the city. In fact, there is still a physical divide; the Bosniak side to the east, the Croat side to the west.
The main divider is Boulevard Dr. Ante Starcevica, and those on one side rarely cross to another. There are separate schools, churches, and even separate post offices.
Should you, as a tourist, travel both sides you will notice a difference.
Visiting the Sniper Tower is Considered Trespassing (Everyone Still Does it)
If you are at all familiar with the war, you will know about the sniper tower (I am not familiar enough with the history to give you specifics). Today the building is an empty shell filled with smashed glass, chunks of concrete, and plenty of graffiti.
While it may not be legal, I actually recommend hopping the wall at the back and exploring the abandoned tower. It’s an incredibly atmospheric place that will help you get a better understanding of the horrors that happened. Just make sure to go during the day, while you can see.
There are plenty of open spaces, especially on the stairs, that can be quite dangerous.
Yes, You Can Swim in the River. But You Might Freeze!
It can get really hot in Mostar, which makes the River Neretva look like an incredibly attractive spot to take a dip.
You can, and many do, swim in the river on the hot days. But it’s cold. In fact, the Neretva is one of the coldest rivers in the world, averaging at about 8 degrees Celsius in summer.
If you do decide to take the plunge, it is recommended that you splash your body first to adjust a little bit before submerging yourself.
You Don’t Have to Climb for Amazing Views
Most people head up to the tower of Koski Mehmed Pasa Mosque for views of the city. Granted, the views are spectacular, but it’s a lot of stairs to climb and perhaps not an easy feat for everyone.
In this case, I recommend heading to Bjeli Bar Terasa, grabbing a cold drink (or coffee) and taking in the view. From here you are above the crowds with a clear view of the river, the bridge, and some of the city. It’s especially beautiful at sunset.
Bosnian Coffee Culture is Huge
Bosnian coffee is not just a drink. Both preparing it and drinking it is a local custom that is meant to be enjoyed slowly and among friends. In fact, if you drink too quickly you are actually ‘punished’ by tasting the grounds.
Drinking slowly and waiting the appropriate time for everything to mix is what ensures the perfect cup of Bosnian coffee.
Mostar is an amazing and beautiful city, and an absolute must-visit when you are in the area. Hopefully, these tips have provided you with a bit of extra information and some tips to make the most of your time.