Best Things to Do in Mostar – Where to Go and What to See in One Day
It seems that Mostar has become extremely popular in the last few years – Instagram has probably promoted Mostar in a better way than any other social media channel could have done. Especially the old bridge has become very popular and pictures of the bridge are shared quite often.
However, Mostar has more to offer. It is a beautiful, old town, and while you could see the attractions of Mostar in a few hours, I recommend staying a full day (or even overnight) so you can experience Mostar in the evening (it has a special atmosphere then). But it is definitely a great day trip from Dubvronik, or even Split, in Croatia.
Like many places in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mostar suffered a lot during the war in the 1990´s. Luckily, this is the past and I am sure the city (and country) will have a bright future ahead, with its friendly and welcoming locals and the beautiful attractions it holds.
So, while the war and its scars are visible, the focus is now on the gorgeous and cute places in Mostar!
While it is officially a city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar lies in the Catholic Herzegovina, in the southern part of the country. And unlike Sarajevo, the capital of the country, there is segregation in the schools – meaning Muslims and Christians are taught separately.
The city is divided by the gorgeous Neretva River. On the western side of the river, you mostly have the Catholic Croats, and on the eastern side, you have the Muslim Bosniaks.
As a visitor, you will not notice the tensions. Your day will be filled with friendly locals and plenty of beautiful places in Mostar.
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR MOSTAR
Before jumping to your Mostar itinerary, or better yet, before talking about the best things to do in Mostar, here are some travel tips for your first trip.
How to Arrive in Mostar
Many people arrive from Dubrovnik (Croatia) or Sarajevo. Both cities have airports and you can get to Mostar via bus or trains (from Sarajevo only). Apparently, the views are scenic, as well as by car.
If you drive with your own car, make sure your car is insured in Bosnia-Herzegovina and you carry your green insurance certification with you.
Parking in the old town will be tricky. I booked accommodation that offered parking and left my car there for the entire 24 hours (and did not need it at all). There is some parking available, but it will cost you (around 8-12€ a day).
If you get to Mostar from Dubrovnik, Sarajevo etc. you can book your tours in advance.
Click here to find out more about day trips from Dubrovnik.
To find out more about a day tour from Sarajevo to Mostar click here and check out prices and more info.
How to Get Around
You will not need a car or public transportation while visiting Mostar in one day (unless you plan some trips to attractions near Mostar). Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes (cobblestone streets – just saying).
Where to Stay in Mostar
If you stay in Mostar overnight (totally recommend it) then you will have a couple of good options.
If you come by car, your options might be limited though (especially if you visit with a dog, as I did, I had only a few options).
Villa Park: I stayed at this hotel. It offered free parking and was about 1km from the main attraction (Stari Most). I was happy with my choice as the rates here are quite good and the staff was lovely. Click here to check out the rates for Villa Park.
Hotel Mepas: This hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. It is quite close to the main attractions and perfect for those who want to indulge in luxury. Click here to find out more about the hotel and the rates.
Hostel Majdas: This family-run hostel has been rated very well amongst backpackers – affordable, friendly and centrally located. Check out rates here.
Best Time to Visit Mostar
Mostar is extremely popular, despite the fact that temperatures rise up to 43 degrees Celsius and it gets busy – busier than normally.
If you can, avoid July and August for your visit.
I reckon that May and the beginning of June are good months to visit, or late in September and October. I was lucky with the weather in April, but after my visit, it rained for a few days straight.
More Things to Know Before Visiting Mostar
The currency is Bosnian Convertible Marks (KM), but you can mostly pay in Euros, too. However, bring enough cash because credit cards are hardly accepted.
Bring your refillable water bottle – there are water fountains (especially around mosques) and you can drink the water without a problem.
Many people speak good English (and many even speak German), so you will have no communication problems if you speak English.
Mostar is quite cheap. Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the cheapest countries to travel to in Europe, so Mostar is really affordable for most of us (especially if you come from Dubrovnik on a day trip).
The food is heavily influenced by Turkey, but they did not bring over many of the vegetarian dishes, so it is mostly meat-heavy food (if you are vegetarian/vegan, this might be a little challenging, but it is not impossible to eat good food in Mostar, even if you don’t eat animals).
There is also quite a lot of Italian food, like pasta and pizza.
The city is a great place to visit – safe, fun, and interesting. As a solo female traveler (with a little dog), I felt safe at all times, day or evening, and overall, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a safe country to travel to.
People love smoking – cigarettes and shisha (or hookah). Yep, you cannot help getting the smoke in your face.
Mostar at a Glance
Bosnia-Herzegovina was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for more than 400 years – so, it is not only the food that has a Turkish influence, but also the religion (Islam) and the architecture that will remind you of Turkey.
The beautiful mosques and other buildings make it a pretty, kind of exotic, place. After the Ottomans, the Austrian-Hungary Empire ruled the country (which ended with the start of WWI). However, in Mostar itself, you do not see that much Austrian influence (unlike in Sarajevo).
And while it is not yet on the radar of a lot of western visitors (though this has changed in recent years), you will find many Turkish tourists – so it is surely not a hidden gem.
BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN MOSTAR
Admire Stari Most
The Ottomans also built the first bridge in Mostar that straddled the Neretva River in Mostar, linking the two parts of the old town together.
According to my guide, Mostar means “Bridge Keepers,” as the Stari Most was the only bridge people could cross, and keepers stood at the end of each side, collecting money from people crossing it. For about 400 years, it was the only bridge that linked the two parts of the town – so, even back then, it was a gold mine (and I am pretty certain that it is now as well, since it is the main reason for many to visit, and thus, again an important source of income).
However, the bridge was completely destroyed during the war in 1993. With donations from foreign countries (and their own financial investment), the bridge was rebuilt and opened in 2004. It is an exact replica – stone for stone – and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The bridge is beautiful, no matter which direction you look at it from. But the bridge itself is also quite slippery (anti-slip shoes would be great here). There are stoppers every few inches – which help you not fall over – though they make it almost impossible to bring kids in strollers.
There are a few nice spots where you can take pictures from the “beach,” the mosque, the Lucki Start Bridge, and all the restaurants that offer great views. but one of my favorite spots was actually from the bridge itself.
Be warned: It gets really busy. I visited at the end of April and it was packed already. If you don’t want to rub shoulders with everyone else, come here early in the morning (and of course, it is lovely in the evening, too).
Watch People Diving
Do you like watching people jump from bridges? Well, here you can. (Mostly) locals jump from Stari Most. They collect money and once they have collected a certain minimum, they jump.
While it is a spectacle (best seen from the beach), it kind of scares me. I was lucky to see one jump, but I think that’s enough.
However, while jumping from Stari Most has always been big, it has now become even bigger as there is a “cliff diving” event that takes place annually, too.
Stroll the Old Town
Mostar has probably one of the cutest old towns in the Balkans. The streets are narrow, cobblestoned, and full of souvenir shops and restaurants. While it sounds like any other old town in Europe, the Turkish influence makes it special.
Besides all the shops and restaurants, you also have some pretty, colorful buildings (which stood out against the stone buildings that dominate the scenery). If you want to buy rugs, souvenirs, and other things, you will probably find it here.
Also in the Old Town, you will find traditional Ottoman Houses – some of them are open to visitors.
So are Biscevic House, Kajtaz House, and Muslibegovic House. Muslibegovic House, built in the 17th century, is now a hotel and a museum.
Walk Kriva Cyprija Bridge
Mostar’s Crooked Bridge, Kriva Cyprija, is a miniature Stari Most. It is set in the lovely surroundings of the Old Town, in front of a waterfall, and was built a few years before Stari Most.
The bridge survived the war, but was destroyed in a flood in 2001. However, it was rebuilt and this smaller version of Stari Most is less busy (and the point from which you can reach the beach).
Visit Mehmed-Pasha Mosque and Its Minaret
As mentioned, I visited with my little dog. Even though he was in a bag, we were not allowed to enter the mosque nor the grounds of the mosque (though there were discussions amongst the people working there, but in the end, we ended up not going).
However, this is probably one of the best places to visit in Mostar. The pictures taken of Mostar from here look beautiful, and so does the mosque itself.
The 17th-century Koski Mehmet-Pasha Mosque is the second biggest mosque in Mostar and located on the east side of the center. You cannot miss it when you are in the old town as the minaret is quite dominant.
You can enjoy the views from the mosque grounds (entrance is around 3€), but you can also climb the 88 steps of the minaret for panoramic views of Mostar for an entrance fee of about 6€.
Stroll the Neterva River
I have a thing with rivers – yes, it may sound weird, but I love a nice river. And for the longest time, my favorite river was the Aare River in Switzerland – but the Neterva River is among my top 5 most beautiful rivers. It runs through Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The current is fast, the water color is beautiful… and you can stroll along it. Unfortunately, you cannot always walk right next to the river, but take your time and head out to the less crowded places to walk alongside it.
Swim in the Neterva River
Are you a good swimmer? I am not, but in the summer months, it can get really hot in Mostar. Taking a dip in the cold water of the Neterva River is probably one of the best things to do.
However, if you go to the beach area near the bridge, it looks a bit calmer, but the current is very fast. Do not underestimate its strength and stay away from swimming in the river if you are not a good swimmer.
But you surely can dip your feet into the water, which is still refreshing.
“Don´t Forget“ Stones
In Sarajevo, you have the “Roses of Sarajevo,” and in Mostar, you will find some stones that will remind you of the terrible war that took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina more than 20 years ago.
The rebuilt Mostar Bridge is just one of the reminders, but these stones will also act as a commemoration.
Drink a Bosnian Coffee
I was afraid that Bosnian Coffee would knock me out. But it did not, and I recommend that you give it a try. Since I could not eat much of the local food, I decided to have at least something that was local. So, having a Bosnian Coffee it was. It is not the same as Turkish coffee, even if it looks like it is.
Bosnian coffee is made in a copper pot called a dzezva (which you can also buy in many souvenir shops for when you get back home), followed by a specific ritual – I cannot even describe it (I had some help from the waiter), but they are normally helpful in showing you how to prepare the coffee.
Go on a Walking Tour
I joined a free walking tour (while they are free, I always tip as it is the only income of the tour guide, so remember to tip if you are satisfied with the tour) and learned more about the history of Mostar before the war in the 1990´s, during the war, and also about the current situation and main Mostar attractions.
They are offered once or twice a day (not in the winter months), but not every day. They are a great way to explore the city and learn more about it.
The starting point is at the Spanish Square, which is a 10-minute walk from the old town. The tour covers many of the best things to see in Mostar, but you have time afterwards (tour takes about 90 minutes or so) to visit these places on your own.
Visit War Photo Museum
Next to the old bridge is a small museum – the War Photo Museum which exhibits photos from the time of the war in the 1990´s. Entrance fee is a few € and it should not take too long to walk through but it is quite small.
Visit Mostar Sniper Tower
Close to the Spanish Square (meeting point of the free walking tour), you will find the Sniper Tower. In this area, you will also see more signs and scars of the war than in the old town.
This is where you will find the Sniper Tower. The former bank was used by Croatian soldiers as a hiding place and shooting ground. The building has not been repaired or torn down, so you can see it from the outside.
Learn About the War at the Museum of War and Genocide
Traveling with a dog, I decided to not visit the museum – also, it is supposed to be intense but it is probably a good way to learn more about the war as the museum explains what happened during the 1992-1995 war.
Entrance fee is around 5€ and the museum is located between the old town and the modern shopping street.
Places to Visit Near Mostar
One day in Mostar in a great idea – but I suggest making Mostar your base for three days and visiting some of the surrounding areas.
Here are some of the places I visited before I arrived in Mostar (more detailed posts will follow):
Head to Blagaj Monastery
This is another Instagram star. The monastery sits at the base of a cliff alongside the Buna River.
While it is also from the time of the Ottoman Empire, the 600-year-old Blagaj Tekke monastery was built for the Dervish cults.
For the monastery, you have to pay a little entrance fee. In the summer months, there is also a little boat that brings you right into the cave.
It is located about 10 kilometers from Mostar. I drove my car, but you can also take a bus from the Spanish Square (bus line 10 and 11) or do an organized tour.
Spend Time at Kravice Falls
Not as impressive as Plitvice Lake, my trip to Kravice Falls was still a nice little highlight.
Stretching over 100 meters, the cascading Kravice Falls are a popular place to visit near Mostar.
They are about 40 kilometers from Mostar and you have to pay an entrance fee (prices depend on the time of your visit – in April/May it is about 4€; in summer, around 8€).
You can also combine this with a trip to Blagai (especially if you drive yourself). It is the perfect place to spend some time outdoors while still being close to Mostar.
The waterfalls are beautiful – and you can do an organised day trip from Dubrovnik and see Mostar, Pocitelj, and the waterfalls in one day.
The beautiful and ancient fortress village of Počitelj is a popular and picturesque stop – especially if you drive from Croatia to Mostar by car.
You can visit the mosque for a small entrance fee or climb the tower (which was free during the time of my visit, but there might be a small entrance fee in the summer months. I am not sure about that, but can imagine it being the case). The tower offers amazing views, so even for an entrance fee, it is well worth it!
While hardly known in the western world, Mostar is quite busy as tourist buses bring lots of travelers. Some streets and restaurants get busy within seconds. While they are mostly Turkish visitors, I have heard the voices of German and French people, too. I can see it becoming even more crowded and well-known with the increasing popularity of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a travel destination.
Hopefully, this post has helped you find out a bit more about beautiful Mostar – whether you visit as a day trip from Dubrovnik, Split or Sarajevo or if you decide to stay a bit longer to experience the beautiful places near Mostar.
Head to my Sarajevo blog post to find out why to visit this fun capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Want to explore more of the country? Check out my Bosnia itinerary for more travel tips.