Before I tell you why you must immediately put these 5 awesome things to do in Mostar and beyond on your bucket list, I must warn you that I am biased towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.
From the moment I set foot in this eclectic part of ex-Yugoslavia (albeit, over a day late since my plane made a last-minute detour to Serbia instead), I knew that these next three months living here was going to a wild adventure. I’ve been to 30+ countries and I can say that Bosnia easily ranks in my top 3.
This guest post comes from my friend Gigi Manukyan from Gigi v. the Globe.
While the country has been through recent dark times, following the collapse of Yugoslavia and subsequent war and genocide, it’s natural beauty still shines. This is all despite the country’s tragic reality.
The city of Mostar, about a two and a half hour train ride from Sarajevo, is an absolute must-see when visiting Bosnia. Here are my top 5 activities to do here when you visit Mostar. The good news is that they can all be done in one easy day of adventure!
Here’s your Mostar day trip itinerary:
Mostar is located in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia & Herzegovina along the Neretva River and it lies on the Sarajevo-Ploče rail line.
Stari Most Bridge, Kravice Waterfalls, Citadel Pocitelj, Blagaj Tekija and some kickass nightlife.
The old city of Mostar looks as if it has been preserved within Medieval times, minus the slight encroachment of an emerging tourism industry. Despite the booths selling postcards and other touristy gimmicks, the city still maintains its historical traditions (albeit, now for tourist dollars).
Mostar’s most notable landmark is Stari Most. It’s a 16th-century Ottoman-style bridge and is THE spot to watch brave local men dive off the bridge into the Neretva River. They endure swimming through 24 metres of freezing cold water and strong currents and it’s quite a spectacle to see.
This local tradition marks a right of passage for 16 year-old boys so that their lives ‘don’t end up in complete failure’. The old bridge in Mostar is also the site of a yearly diving competition that brings in participants and viewers from all over Bosnia and former Yugoslavia.
You can see Stari Most Bridge and more on a full day tour.
If you’ve been to Bosnia’s more frequented neighbor Croatia, then you’ve probably seen the Plitvice Waterfalls.
In recent years Plitvice Lakes National Park has seen an influx of tourists (thank you Game of Thrones) and if you’re someone that goes out of her way to avoid crowds, then opt for the less famous waterfalls of Kravice, also known as Kravica waterfall, just about an hour outside of Mostar.
When you arrive at these Bosnia waterfalls you’ll mainly see locals. There’s actually a separate fee for the limited foreign tourists like you who come here to see the Kravice falls.
Kravice is nothing like the other waterfalls I’ve seen on my travels. Firstly, it is quite accessible. You can take a canoe ride out and get close to the action with relevant ease. Secondly, there are restaurants right along the waterfront that are quite affordable.
Back in the glitz and glam of Los Angeles where I’m from, a waterfront restaurant does not only require a reservation in advance, but a lot of disposable income. Therefore, for me, this was an unexpected luxury! Lap it up too when you get here!
The one piece of advice I will give is to come here later in the summer when the water is warmer as it is a great place to come for a swim. While Mostar is the hottest part of BiH, Kravice’s temperatures do not rise until mid-summer. Swimming at this hidden gem is a must, and it makes for a majestic photoshoot! If you are driving yourself, I also recommend coming here around 2pm when there are less crowds.
You will either have to rent a car or book a tour to get here, as there are no bus routes that stop at Kravice. I visited here with my AirBNB host who offered to take me. If you’re staying at an AirBNB, they might just take you too!
Your second stop on your trip from Mostar should be the Castle in Pocitelj. It’s a small Oriental-style village lying on the banks of the Neretva River. If you are a history junky, but cringe at the site of souvenir shops, then this is the place for you!
Once a fortress to defend the Hungarian-Croatian king Matijaš Korvin from an Ottoman attack, it is now standing the test of time serving, in my honest opinion, the best view of Mostar.
The climb up to the mountainous village is a steep one (make sure to wear non-slip comfy sneakers – I know Alice Teacake loves wearing her KEEN shoes), but it’s totally worth it.
If heights and ancient stairs don’t phase you, then go up to the watchtower as well. I cannot emphasize how amazing the view is, as Mostar is just a beautiful gem in itself.
Our last stop of the day was the Blagaj, situated at the spring of the Buna river and a historical tekija. The tekija is a monastery that was built for the Dervish cults. It was founded around 600 hundred years ago during the height of the Ottoman Empire.
As this site is considered one of the holiest spots of Bosnia and Herzegovina, visitors should dress modestly or you may run the risk of being refused entrance. Being that I was dressed for the scorching Herzegovina weather and not the occasion, I did not make my way into the tekija. Learn from my mistake and come prepared with a long scarf and appropriate clothing to enter.
Instead, I had a nice dinner and cold local beers at Vrelo Restaurant along the bank. Quite a nice way to end our long day!
If you’re a night owl and love some good nightlife, then Mostar is absolutely the city for you. The city caters to all kinds of evening activities from local rock bands playing ex-Yu music to clubs blasting the latest Eastern European pop hits.
If you’re a big rock fan or want a taste of ex-Yu hits, then the Black Dog Pub is the place for you. Here, you’ll find locals and tourists alike, sitting along the decrepit couches, bonding over cold Bosnian beers and a mutual love for headbanging. The vibe here is definitely casual and carefree.
If you’re into something more upscale and dressy, Daleka Obala is the club for you. A public swimming pool by day, the place transforms into a popular nightclub in the evening hours. Here, you’ll find mainly locals of all ages. I advise to come past midnight and in your best NYE party attire. Otherwise, you’ll drastically stand out. Dance to the summer’s hottest Balkan hits until the early morning hours. Daleka Obela is definitely an unforgettable clubbing experience.
There is a good amount of choice when it comes to hotels and hostels in Mostar. Here are my top 3 picks for the budget, midrange and luxury traveller.
Many travellers come to Mostar from Dubrovnik, Split or Trogir in Croatia. You can also travel from Sarajevo, which I chose to do! Read on to find out which transport can get to you Mostar from all of the locations I’ve just mentioned.
Visiting Mostar is one of the great day trips from Dubrovnik in Croatia that you can choose, and should! A Dubrovnik to Mostar day trip is possible by hiring your own car, going with one of the awesome tours on offer or by taking the public transport bus. At present, there are no no trains nor flights from Mostar to Dubrovnik.
The shortest distance from Dubrovnik to Mostar is 146km and takes around 2.5 hours if you drive yourself and around 3-4 hours if you go by bus. By joining one of the great tours on offer you can just sit back and relax, and let them take care of it all for you.
Do you want to include Kravica Waterfalls in your itinerary from Dubrovnik? Book the following tour:
To get from Split in Croatia to Mostar you can self-drive with a hire car or catch a bus which takes around 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can go with a tour and they’ll get you there and back easily.
If you are coming from Sarajevo, I highly recommend taking the train from Sarajevo to Mostar as you’ll be more exposed to Bosnia’s scenic countryside than by the bus ride.
The trains are quite new too, with both WiFi and AC. The buses in comparison, can be hit or miss!
All and all, Mostar is a magical city with a rich history and equally vibrant nightlife. If you’re planning a visit to either Bosnia and Herzegovina or Croatia, make sure to make a stop in Mostar. You will definitely not regret it.
Want to read more from Gigi about Mostar and beyond?