Mostar is one of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s popular visitor spots. For Andrew and I, it was of interested purely because of the prominence of Bosnia on the television news during our childhood in the 1990’s.
While the town is still very scarred from the conflict it saw, its central hub looks like a fairytale town. Between the cobblestoned streets, old stone buildings, and the iconic Stari Most bridge spanning the azure blue Neretva River we were never far from another “wow” escaping our lips.
Mostar also proved to have some of the most homely and delicious food. Moist meatballs, fresh salads, warm pita bread and more dips than you could shake a kebab at! The Turkish influence is strong here. We must have tried the food at four or so restaurants but the first one was certainly our favourite. It probably helped that the owner donated a couple of beers to us on our first night when we turned up soaking wet and cold.
On the topic of booze, the local beer was fine but the locally made red wine was more than drinkable. We ended up a few bottles in with some fellow ‘married and traveling the world together’ travelers from across the ditch. We bumped into them in our Airbnb which was a total delight!
Beyond the famous bridge, the wonderful food and the lively market stalls, Mostar boasts a lot of history. Wee tried to soak up as much as we could during a walking tour hosted by one of the locals. We talked about the various influences in buildings, religion, and the 12 bridges that dot the river amongst other things. Our guide even had pre and post-war photos to show us!
Speaking of photos, did you know there was a Kiwi who smuggled himself into Mostar to document the war? I didn’t, but I loved checking out his work which is conveniently right next to the bridge. Just head up the tower and pay a small fee for entrance.
If you’re visiting here are some suggestions:
Do a walking tour. It helps orientate you, you might learn something and you never know who you’ll meet. We ended up wining and dining with a 69-year-old solo traveler from the USA.
Pay the fee and check out the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque’s minaret for panoramic city views, but only if being up high and narrow staircases don’t freak you out.
Go ahead and donate a euro or two to the professional divers who will brave the freezing cold river and dive from the top of the bridge, but whatever you do, don’t try and jump yourself. The water is cold, the current is strong and the river isn’t very deep. Your travel insurer will love you for being smart. During the summer each diver needs about 50 Euros, while in the winter they may settle for 30.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re wearing some good shoes if you’re heading toward Stari Most. Its slippery, steep and always bustling with people.
Try and stay until after dark. The sunsets are pretty, and with lots of restaurants and mosques on the riverside, the twinkling lights make for a beautiful backdrop.
Then, get out of the city and check out the Blagaj Tekke Dervish house. You’ll need a car, or be willing to take a bus or taxi (I went bus) and head to Blagaj, a village in the south-eastern region of the Mostar basin. Head down from the village to the stream and you’ll spot a small market, some resturants and the Dervish house.
Head away from the river, up the hill and you’ll find the remains of an old fort. Otherwise, stay in town for a cheap traditional Bosnian coffee and enjoy the peace and quiet!
Was it worth it?
Getting to and from Mostar caused us some heart ache, as the tourist bus routes were long and windy, but visiting Mostar was a real delight. Its cost effective, easy to get around, has some beautiful views and some terrific food! Mind the bus loads of tourists who have come for the day from nearby Dubrovnik and spend at least one night to enjoy the sound of the call for prayer. We’d visit again in a heartbeat!