WHAT TO DO IN MOSTAR – 1 OR 2-DAY ITINERARY
Planning your Mostar trip and wondering about the best things to do in Mostar in one day? This post is for you – because you will find out about what to do in Mostar in 1 or 2 days plus many important travel tips.
Mostar is beautiful! It really is a beautiful old town. While you could see the attractions of Mostar in a few hours, I recommend staying a full day (or even overnight) in Mostar so that you can experience Mostar in the evening. But it is definitely a great day trip from Dubrovnik, or even Split, in Croatia, and one day in Mostar is better than no visit at all.
Like many places in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mostar suffered a lot during the war in the 1990s. Luckily, this is the past, and I am sure the town (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. 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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MOSTAR History at a Glance
Bosnia-Herzegovina was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for more than 400 years. So, it is the food with a Turkish influence and 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 WWI). However, in Mostar itself, you do not see that much Austrian influence (unlike Sarajevo). After that, Bosnia-Herzegovina became part of Yugoslavia, and when Bosnia strove for independence, there was a terrible war, and this country suffered the most. You will see its scars even these days – I highly recommend learning about the war in Yugoslavia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in particular. It is heart-breaking but helpful for understanding the political situation in the country (which is probably one of the most complicated systems in the world).
And while it is not yet on the radar of many Western visitors (though this has changed in recent years), you will find many Turkish tourists. So it is surely not a hidden gem.
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THINGS TO DO IN MOSTAR IN 1 DAY
Now, let’s talk about the best things to do in Mostar. At the end of the post, you will find many tips (like how to get around, where to stay, and more).
Admire Stari Most
The Ottomans also built the first bridge in Mostar that straddled the Neretva River Mostar, linking the old town’s two parts together.
Visiting the bridge is probably one of the very best things to do in Mostar – even if you have less than one day in Mostar, this is THE must-see sight.
I did a tour, and according to my tour 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. 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 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 a replica – stone for stone – and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The bridge is beautiful, no matter which direction you look at it. 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 hectic. 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 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 become even bigger as there is a “cliff diving” event that takes place annually.
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 them 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 Old Town’s lovely surroundings, 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 or the mosque grounds (though there were discussions amongst the people working there, 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 town and is located on the center’s east side. 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€, and if you have one day in Mostar you will have enough time to visit it.
Stroll the Neterva River
Wondering what 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 watercolor 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. If you stay a few hours in the town, you will probably not have enough time to do so, but with one day in Mostar, that should be on your itinerary.
Swim in the Neterva River
Are you a good swimmer? I am not, but in the summer months, it can get boiling 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.
See the “Don´t Forget“ Stone
In Sarajevo, you have the “Roses of Sarajevo,” and in Mostar, you will find a stone 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 the stone will also act as a commemoration (it is just next to the bridge, so keep an eye out as it can be overlooked quickly).
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 (not very vegetarian/vegan-friendly cuisine), I decided to have something 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.
Visit War Photo Museum
Next to the old bridge is a small museum. The War Photo Museum exhibits photos from the time of the war in the 1990s. The entrance fee is a few €, and it should not take too long to walk through, but it is quite small. The pictures – all in black and white – are not easy to digest, and as interesting and important as they are, they might not be for the very sensitive visitors because it is just very sad.
Opening hours are normally from 9 am to 10 pm every day (please double-check as I could not find an official website).
Learn About the War at the Museum of War and Genocide
Traveling with a dog, I decided not to 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.
You will find out about the genocide, concentration camps, mass graves, crimes against children, and more cruelty during the war…There are personal belongings and statements of victims and more authentic items displayed.
The entrance fee is around 5€, and the museum is located between the old town and the modern shopping street.
Open every day from 9 am to 9 pm (please double-check as I could not find an official website to confirm the opening hours).
Go on a Walking Tour
I joined a free walking tour and learned more about the history of Mostar before the war in the 1990s, during the war, and also about the current situation and main Mostar attractions. While the walking tours 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. The walking tours in Mostar 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. If you want to take part, you will have to adjust your Mostar itinerary and see when the tour is offered.
The starting point is at Spanish Square, which is a 10-minute walk from the old town. The tour covers many of the best things to see, but you have time afterward (the tour takes about 90 minutes or so) to visit these places on your own.
Visit Mostar Sniper Tower
Close to the Spanish Square (meeting point of the free walking tour), you will find the Sniper Tower. You will also see more signs and scars of the war in this area than in the old town.
The Sniper Tower is an abandoned, bullet-riddled building and one of the tallest in the area. It was a former bank – Ljubljanska Bank – 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.
I was told not to visit as it is kind of forbidden, but it has become a popular place for street artists, and there is apparently good graffiti on all ten floors.
MORE ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR MOSTAR ITINERARY – 2 DAYS
One day in Mostar is a great idea. But I suggest making Mostar your base and stay two or three days in Mostar and visiting some surrounding areas.
Here are some of the places I had visited before I arrived in Mostar – highly recommended for your Mostar itinerary.
Head to Blagaj Monastery
This is another Instagram star and one of the most beautiful places near Mostar. The monastery sits at the base of a cliff alongside the Buna River. While it is also from the Ottoman Empire’s time, 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 Spanish Square (bus lines 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 and should be on your itinerary. Stretching over 100 meters, the cascading Kravice Falls are a popular place to visit.
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 organized 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 my visit, but there might be a small entrance fee in the summer months. I am not sure about that, but I can imagine it being the case). The tower offers amazing views, so even for an entrance fee, it is well worth it!
TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR MOSTAR TRIP
After all the tips about the best things to do in Mostar, here are some travel tips for your first trip to Mostar.
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 Mostar
You will not need a car or public transportation while visiting Mostar in one day. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes (cobblestone streets – just saying).
If you plan to visit a few attractions near Mostar, you can use the bus or drive.
Where to Stay in Mostar
If you stay in Mostar overnight (I totally recommend it), 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, even though temperatures rise to 43 degrees Celsius and it gets busy – busier than normal. 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 it rained for a few days straight after my visit.
More Things to Know Before Visiting
- 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 affordable. 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).
- Turkey heavily influences the food, 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.
CONCLUSION: WHAT TO SEE IN MOSTAR
While hardly known in the western world, Mostar is quite busy as tourist buses bring many travelers. Some streets and restaurants get busy within seconds.
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 discover a bit more about the best things to do in Mostar in one day or 2 days. 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 nearby – it surely is worth a visit. Whenever I think back of Mostar – and Bosnia -Herzegovina in general – I have a big smile on my face because of its beauty and its people!