Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the Balkan highlights and one of the most popular places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina (or maybe even the most popular one). And it is so famous for a reason – the city is just amazing and definitely offers more Mostar attractions than just the iconic Old Bridge.
Mostar is also one of my favorite cities that I always like returning to. I was lucky to visit Mostar a few times and I had a chance to get to know the city a bit better than most of the tourists who usually can spend only one day in Mostar.
While you can see all the highlights in those few hours I recommend staying in Mostar a bit longer, to enjoy it to the fullest. And today I will be happy to share with you all I know about this amazing city, including all the best things to do in Mostar as well as some tips that will help you plan your trip to Mostar.
Where is Mostar
Mostar, the city of around 60 thousand inhabitants, is located in the southern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, some 130 km from the capital – Sarajevo and not too far from the border with Croatia. The name of the city comes from the word “mostari” meaning bridge keepers.
Why visit Mostar
Most of the people visiting Mostar come here to see the famous Old Bridge and that’s the first solid reason why you should consider a trip here. But Mostar is more than just this iconic structure. There are numerous other, interesting monuments in Mostar that I will tell you in detail later on.
Wandering through the colorful bazaar, on the slippery stones makes you feel like the time has stopped here.
After the recent Balkan War in the 1990s Mostar has been unofficially divided between Bosniaks and Croats so discovering the city beyond the old part is like a live history lesson.
Mostar can be also used as a base for some great day trips around – in the close proximity to the town you will find old towns, historical monuments, and some amazing nature.
Mostar is a great introduction to Bosnia and Herzegovina and thanks to its location the city can be easily added to your Balkan itinerary.
A brief history of Mostar
The area of Mostar was inhabited already in Roman times. In medieval times, two banks of the Neretva river were connected by the wooden bridge. The settlement was on the trading route from the Adriatic Sea to the mainland and grew as the Turkish administrative center.
In 1875, after the anti-Turkish uprising, the city became part of the Habsburg Empire and after its collapse, in 1918, it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In the times of the Yugoslavia, Mostar developed and became one of the most important cities in the region, but the Old Town remained the same, with its charming vibe.
Since March 1992 Mostar is in the independent Bosnia and Herzegovina however already two months later, in May 1992, the terrible fights of the homeland war have started. Not only many people lost their lives and had to relocate but also numerous monuments have been destroyed, including the iconic Old Bridge.
The war ended in 1995 and even if you still can see a lot of remnants from these tragic times Mostar is a laid-back and safe place to visit.
Mostar travel tips
How much time to spend in Mostar
Most tourists visit Mostar only for a few hours, as a day trip from Dubrovnik, Split or Sarajevo. And you can see a lot in one day in Mostar but also the town can be a bit packed with tourists and you will be rushed in your sightseeing.
I recommend spending at least 2 days in Mostar – you can see the Old Town without the crowds, discover the city beyond as well as explore the area around Mostar – it hides some really great places!
How to get to Mostar
Getting to Mostar is actually rather easy from all the directions.
If you travel from Sarajevo you have frequent buses as well as two trains per day. I recommend taking the train – the views along the way are breathtaking! The bus offers some nice views too but those from the train are much better.
If you travel from Croatia you can easily get to Mostar by bus from Dubrovnik or Split, there are a few connections daily. You can also take the direct bus all the way to Zagreb but this would be a long journey so it’s better to split it somewhere along the way.
There is also a direct bus from Belgrade (Serbia) but it takes 11 hours, fortunately it goes overnight.
Kotor (Montenegro) is fairly close but the buses go around via Podgorica and therefore take way too much time. If you plan to go from Kotor to Mostar (or the other way around) I recommend direct transfer by 360Monte, they are cheaper and faster than the bus.
How to get around Mostar
Most of the Mostar attractions are located within a walking distance from each other and that’s your best way to get around the city. Even to some of the places located a bit further away, such as the Bruce Lee monument, you can get on foot.
If you would like to visit Hum mountain or the abandoned hangar you should go by car. For the day trips around Mostar, it’s best to go by car too or to join the organized tour (like this one).
Is Mostar expensive?
Even if Mostar is a very touristy place the prices there are affordable (especially if you compare them to nearby Dubrovnik). You can expect to pay €10 or less for the meal in the restaurant, the coffee should be around €2 or less. The accommodation prices depend on the location and the standard but they are very fair too.
In general, Mostar is not an expensive place to visit.
Solo female travel in Mostar
I often travel solo to the Balkans and a few of my trips to Mostar were solo as well. I never had any issues.
I remember when I arrived in Mostar for the first time, in the evening. The city can be a bit dark in the evening and it might feel abandoned but there was not much to worry about and my biggest enemy was my imagination.
If you are a careful observer you might notice some tensions between two parts of the city but as a tourist, it shouldn’t bother you too much. People in Mostar are very friendly and welcoming and I made some good friends with locals there as a solo traveler.
Things to do in Mostar
Now, that you know all about visiting Mostar it’s time to talk about all the best things to do in Mostar. And there are plenty of them, you won’t be bored for sure!
Walk across the famous Old Bridge
The Old Bridge in Mostar is probably the most famous and most photographed place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most iconic sites to visit in the Balkans.
Originally it was built in the middle of the 16th century and replaced the older, wooden bridge connecting two parts of the city divided by the Neretva River. Unfortunately, during the Balkan War, on November 9th, 1993 the bridge was destroyed (you can see the heartbreaking video here) and what we can see now is the rebuilt version. Stones from the original bridge were used to complete the new structure that was finished in 2004.
In fact, the city Mostar was named after the bridge – “Old Bridge” means “Stari Most” in Bosniak language.
The bridge is only 30 meters long and 4 meters wide but crossing it can be a bit tricky, especially with too many tourists around (which happens often in Mostar). The bridge is rather steep and really slippery so you need to be extra careful when walking. Be sure to have comfortable shoes, flip flops are definitely not recommended!
The Old Bridge in Mostar, together with the surrounding Old Town is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2005.
Climb to the minaret for the best view of Mostar
There are a few excellent viewpoints from where you can admire the Old Bridge in its full glory but the most spectacular one is from the minaret of the nearby Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque.
Getting to the top can be difficult, especially for those who are claustrophobic – the staircase is very narrow. During my visit, there were parts where the light was not working so I had to go up in the complete darkness (fortunately there were no other tourists so we didn’t have to maneuver to pass each other).
But once you are on top of the minaret you forget about the struggle as you are in awe with the view. You can see the 360 degree panorama of Mostar, with the Old Bridge right in front of you. This view is actually worth every effort, you can’t find a better vista anywhere else in the city.
Find other viewpoints to admire the Old Bridge
If you feel like getting to the top of the minaret of Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque is too difficult for you I have good news – there are many other great viewpoints in Mostar.
My two favorite ones are from Lučki most bridge (the next bridge on Neretva river, you can see it from the Old Bridge) and from the riverfront on the left side when facing the bridge. To get to close to the river you need to turn right on the Gojka Vukovića street, near the Konzum store, next to the parking and the ruined houses.
This place is usually less crowded than the bridge and surroundings but offers such a good view of the Old Bridge. I spent hours there, just relaxing and enjoying the place.
You can also have a good view of the Old Bridge from one of the restaurants located near it, many of them offer terraces where you can dine with enjoying the beautiful panorama around.
Find the Crooked Bridge
After seeing the Old Bridge you should find the Crooked Bridge (Kriva ćuprija). It is a bit hidden behind Onešćukova street (main shopping lane leading to the Old Bridge), only a few steps away from its more famous brother.
The Crooked Bridge was built in 1558, eight years before the Old Bridge and it is an identical, smaller version of the iconic Mostar attraction. The tiny bridge over the Radobolja River was created as the prototype of the Old Bridge hence all the similarities.
What you can see now is the rebuilt version of the bridge – the original one was destroyed during the flood in 2001.
While there are usually crowds on the Old Bridge, the Crooked Bridge is blissfully empty and you can easily admire the engineering masterpiece of the old times.
Wander around the bazaar
The Old Bazaar – Kujundžiluk – is the most charming (although a bit kitschy) place you will find in Mostar. It is also one of the oldest parts of the city, dating back to the middle of the 16th century.
The Bazaar with its cobbled, winding lanes used to be the center of Mostar, with over 500 workshops! Today the place is very colorful, bustling with souvenirs sellers and tourists doing their shopping in Mostar.
This is actually the best place for souvenirs shopping in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the prices are really reasonable.
The bazaar might be a bit small, only a few streets on both sides of the Old Bridge but wandering around it surely is a big pleasure and one of the best things to do in Mostar.
Shop for local goodies
If you like to try local produce, especially in the liquid form, you can buy some home-made rakia and other alcoholic fruit drinks in Mostar. They are very good so it’s easy to lose track when trying them all. Just a friendly advice – you want to learn from my mistakes so don’t mix them or you will have a very difficult morning.
Besides alcohol, you can also buy locally made jam and honey. The local produce in the Balkans is very good so you can be sure the things you can buy here will be delicious.
You will find the shops with local goodies in the bazaar area.
Visit Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque
The view from the minaret isn’t the only reason why you should visit Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque. It was built at the beginning of the 17th century and is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture in Mostar.
The interior of the mosque is bright and colorful and so very beautiful. During the Balkan War, the mosque was badly damaged but it was restored and can please the eye of the visitors again.
Visit other mosques in Mostar
While the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque is the most popular mosque in Mostar, there are a few more Islamic temples that are worth visiting.
Karađoz Bey Mosque from the 16th century is the largest mosque in the region, with the impressive dome. This is still the working mosque so remember to respect all the rules and prayers time when visiting.
Another mosque worth paying attention to is Nezir-agina mosque near the Crocked Bridge.
Visit the War Photo Exhibition
If you are interested in the recent Mostar history I recommend visiting War Photo Exhibition.
It is located in one of the Old Bridge towers (on the opposite side of the river from Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque) and shows photos from the 1990s Balkans War in Mostar. There are around 50 pictures, taken by the New Zealand photographer Wade Goddard, showing how the life in Mostar looked like in this tragic time.
From the tower you can also look at the Ol Bridge from the unique perspective so that’s another bonus from visiting the exhibition.
Visit the Museum of the Old Bridge
In the opposite tower, you can visit the Museum of the Old Bridge. It was opened in 2006, shortly after the bridge was rebuilt, and focuses on the iconic structure, its history and important events. There are also archeological objects that were found at the beginning of the 2000s, during the reconstruction of the bridge.
This is a great place to learn more about the famous Old Bridge and its background.
Visit the Catholic Church and Franciscan Monastery
When you visit Mostar you will notice the high tower of the Catholic Church right away. Originally it was built in 1866 but was destroyed during the war. The rebuilt version included a much higher tower (to emphasize the Croat group and the Christian legacy in the city) and the Franciscan Monastery.
You can take the elevator up to the top of the tower to see Mostar from another perspective.
Visit Muslibegovic House and Biscevic House
To see the beautiful old residential houses from the Ottoman period you should visit Muslibegovic House and Biscevic House. They were built in the 17th century and today both serve as the museum now and can give you an insight into the life in old-times Mostar.
Moreover, you can spend the night in Muslibegovic House which was considered one of the best accommodations in the world a few years ago. Click here for more details about the accommodation in Muslibegovic House.
Find war remnants in Mostar
Mostar was badly hit during the 1990s War, with heavy fights in and around the city. Still today you can see many remnants of these tragic times.
While in Sarajevo the majority of the destroyed buildings is in fine condition now, in Mostar you can find ruins around every corner. In the Old Town, everything looks nice and shiny and only a more observant visitor will spot “Don’t forget ’93” signs.
But if you go a street or two beyond the touristy area you will find destroyed houses and bullet holes on the walls. The symbol of the war in Mostar, besides the Old Bridge, is the so-called “Sniper Tower”. The former bank’s building was used as a shooting position and today only the skeleton of the building is left, reminding everyone of the tragedy of Mostar.
See the infamous Sniper Tower
This is probably the most haunting building in Mostar, a sad reminder of the war in Mostar, contrasting with the stunning gymnasium that is located on the opposite side of the street.
Before the 1990s War the building served as the bank but when the fights have started snipers used it as their position – after all you could see most of the city from the high building. Today the building is a ruin but the local artists used it as their gallery – you can see lots of murals on the wall surrounding the Sniper Tower as well as inside of the building.
It is forbidden to go inside and the entrance was bricked up but if you are fit enough you can jump over and do some urbex.
Say hello to Bruce Lee
You might not expect that but in Mostar you can meet Brue Lee, or at least his life-sized statue. It was unveiled in November 26th, 2005 and was the first Bruce Lee statue in the world (the famous one from Hong Kong was unveiled only a day later). You can find it in Park Zrinjevac, next to the Sniper Tower in the center of the city.
It is supposed to be a symbol of the solidarity in the ethnically divided city, however the sculpture was often vandalized as locals saw it as a provocation. Still, it is such a quirky place to visit, showing you that Mostar is more than just the famous bridge.
Enjoy the street art scene
One of the most surprising things in Mostar is its amazing street art scene. You will find some amazing murals all over the city, especially on and around the abandoned Sniper’s Tower, near the university and along Alekse Šantića street. There is also the annual street art festival with artists from all over the world creating their works on the walls of Mostar.
I wrote the whole article about street art in Mostar – click here to read it.
Admire the beautiful gymnasium building
Located a bit away from the Old Bridge, the gymnasium is one of the most beautiful buildings you will see in Mostar. It looks almost like a copy of Vijecnica – the Town Hall in Sarajevo.
The gymnasium was established in 1893, as the second school of this kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the stunning building was finished in 1902. It was designed in the Moorish Revival Style, as the way to promote Bosnian national identity and today it is considered a national monument.
The gymnasium is still located in the building but you can at least admire how beautiful it is from the outside.
Enjoy the food scene
Bosnian food is really delicious and you can try it in Mostar. Most of the restaurants are located in the Old Town and even if they are in the tourist area the prices are still fair.
Some of the Bosnian dishes you should try include grilled meat, cevapi and pljeskavica (minced meat).
Unfortunately, vegetarians will find it a bit difficult to eat local dishes but restaurants usually have some meat-free options too, often grilled vegetables which are very delicious.
Drink the famous Bosnian coffee
Bosnian coffee is a heaven for all the coffee-lovers. It’s strong, thick and will definitely give you lots of energy when you get tired of Mostar sightseeing. What’s more, it’s served in a traditional set, called džezva – it’s a small pot with a long neck, usually beautifully decorated). The coffee in it tastes even better!
You can try traditional Bosnian coffee in numerous places around the Old Town.
Admire brave divers
Each year in the summer, at the end of July, the famous diving competitions take place in Mostar. Brave men jump from the Old Bridge to the cold Neretva river and this event always brings a lot of people who admire their exceptional skills and courage.
But even without the competitions, you can see local guys hanging out at the bridge, collecting money for the jump – once they have enough (usually it’s around 50€) you can see them jumping in the traditional style. It takes only a few seconds but it sure looks impressive!
Go to the Hum mountain for the stunning view of the area
You most likely will notice the hill with the big cross towering above the city – that’s Hum mountain. The Millennium Cross that appeared on top of the mountain, seen from most parts of Mostar, was a bit controversial among the Muslim community in the city (just like the tower of the Catholic Church).
The best way to get to the mountain is by car but if you decide to walk be sure to follow the road too as the hillsides might be still mined. From the mountain, you can admire the spectacular panorama of Mostar and the surrounding area.
See the real face of the city
Most of the people visit Mostar only to see the Old Bridge and the area around and don’t really go beyond the old town. That’s a big mistake!
It’s worth to go out from the touristic bubble and wander around the random parts of the city. You will see how the real Mostar looks like, with numerous cafes where local hang out and sadly still too many reminders of the difficult times in the 1990s. But to get the full idea of the city it’s worth seeing these parts of Mostar too!
Visit the abandoned aircraft hangar
Fans of urbex and exploring abandoned places will find yet another interesting spot in Mostar. On the outskirts of the city there is an abandoned aircraft hangar.
It is hidden on the hillside and was used to keep fighter jets in the time of the Yugoslavia. Today this is just a huge concrete cave with nothing inside.
Be sure to take comfortable (and covered!) shoes and a flashlight when you decide to visit the place, you will need them.
Walk around the Old Town in the evening
The majority of tourists visiting Mostar come for a day only, often as a day trip from Dubrovnik. In the evening the Old Town is blissfully empty and that’s when you will see and feel the true magic of the place.
If you are lucky and visit off-season, you might even have the whole area to yourself and hear nothing but your own steps on the cobbled streets.
In the evening, when the crowds are gone, Mostar reveals the different face and that’s what makes this town so unique and amazing. You don’t want to miss that!
Go for day trips from Mostar
While Mostar itself is a great place to visit, the city can be also used as a perfect base for some day trips around.
The most popular places you can go to from Mostar are Blagaj (with the Dervish house and spring of river Buna), Pocitelj (a charming little town, glued to the hill above Neretva river, a perfect example of the Ottoman architecture), Kravica Waterfall and Medjugorje (famous for the religious cult). The best way to see all these places at once is to join the tour – click here for details.
However, you can also visit places a bit further away, such as Konjic, Trebinjne or Stolac. You might even go for a day trip to Dubrovnik from Mostar!
Final thoughts on visiting Mostar
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina was my dream destination from the moment I saw the picture of the iconic bridge. It was years ago, I had no idea about the history, background and importance of the city but this single view was enough for me that I’ve wanted to visit Mostar really badly.
The city didn’t disappoint, I fell for it hard from the moment I saw the Old Bridge and enjoyed it more and more with every minute. Today it is still one of my favorite places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the Balkans and each time I see the Old Bridge my jaw drops a bit. This view never gets boring.
I’m sure that you will enjoy Mostar as much as I did. It is a truly unique and amazing destination that you can’t miss during your trip to the Balkans!
I’m a frequent visitor in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans and I covered this region extensively on this blog. You can find those articles interesting and useful when planning your trip to the Balkans:
- Your ultimate Balkan travel guide
- 17 best places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Best things to do in Sarajevo
- Where to stay in Sarajevo – best Sarajevo accommodation
- 23 Amazing Things to Do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
- and many more!
For my Polish readers, I highly recommend checking my friend Paweł’s blog who also wrote a lot about Mostar (and took a few pictures that you could see in this article).
For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:
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- Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
- I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Mostar too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. Thank you!
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