48 hours in Mostar
Why you should visit Mostar
Mostar really is an amazing little town – one that you should definitely visit if you are in Bosnia – but also as a great hop over from Croatia. Lots of agencies from Dubovnik do a trip to Mostar and Kravice Falls. After the city of Sarajevo, Mostar is the second most visited town in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Its quite incredible to think that in Mostar, during the Yugoslavia war, was in smithereens, with crazy fighting going on from one side of the river to the other.
Sniper tower, is one place which is still derelict and boarded up, and in a town which has rebuilt itself, there are small pockets where you can see the utter devastation that was caused.
You should visit Mostar for the pretty old town and to walk over the iconic bridge. Stari Most (the bridge) is the main draw, dating back to 1459 and the small narrow streets around it.You can shop and eat in the most gorgeous restaurants, but you can also go a little further afield and investigate some of the more modern areas of the town.
Maybe you want to hunt down the graffiti in Mostar? There is some amazing graffiti in the town. Although maybe a hike to the top of Hum Hill to see the Millennium Cross and amazing views unfolding beneath you.
You can easily spend 48 hours in Mostar and know that you could probably do with a couple more days!
Not Quite Norths Fast Facts on mostar
A little history of Mostar
The bridge gives its name to the town Mostar (Bridge Keeper). In the 1990’s, Mostar was a key city in the war of the former Yugoslavia, with war raging, the Serbs, Croats and Muslims tore this town apart, leaving the city devastated and in ruins and claiming the lives of over 2000 Mostar residents.
During the fighting the bridge brutally damaged, being temporarily repaired with a tarpaulin style cover over it during the war to stop snipers being able to see who was crossing. The Stari Most was fully restored and officially reopened in July 2004.
The original bridge was build in 1566 in the Ottoman period and from the 16th century onwards played a key part in commerce and development in the area.
In the last few years, things have slowly returned to normality. There is still an underlying hostility – but as a tourist, you will not notice it. The city is very safe to go to, tourists are welcome with open arms.
When to go
The best time to visit Mostar is in the shoulder seasons. The weather is more comfortable and the crowds are much less.
We went late June and it was already getting quite crowded. We went into town at 6am on our bikes to avoid the crowds in the old town. It is a small compact old town, so it doesn’t take long for it to get busy and then feel crowded.
In the evening, people are coming for dinner around 7:30 – 8:00pm – all the restaurants fill up, the shops are open, selling their Bosnian coffee sets and all number of silk scarves, jewellery, handbags and souveniers. We purchased our Bosnian coffee set from here.
The road we took to Mostar was 100% fine. I imagine that all roads into Mostar are busy as it is one of the top places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
If you visit on a day trip from Croatia, the drive time is about 2.5 hours each way, which ever route you take. This time is from Dubrovnik. Mostar is a popular day trip from Dubrovnik.
From Konjic, it is a pretty straightforward drive and you come along the E73 all the way to Mostar for just over an hour.
If you are doing a one week trip covering the Una River, Sarajevo and Mostar, you will approach from Sarajevo and drive for around 2 hours and along the A1/E73.
Where to Stay
We stayed at Camping Neretva, a fully serviced site which was right on the river.
It was a 30 minute easy walk outside of Mostar and a 10 minute cycle ride. The cost of Camping Neretva was 20 euros a night, which was very reasonable – some of the places in the town centre were a lot more expensive – 40 or 50 euros a night – and they were basically a car park.
We had a place to sit out on the grass at the back of the van, listening to the frogs and the river flowing, a nice wooden bar with tables and chairs, along with deck chairs on a veranda overlooking the river too. The chap was lovely and a beer was only 3 BAM a bottle.
What to see or do
Mostar has a lot going on for it – not only in the old town but outside the town too. There are a couple of great walks (details later), both of which are a days worth of your time.
There is also places to visit outside the old town, like the absolutely stunning church of St Peter and Paul, which is next to the Mostar Peace Bell Tower. Or the Partisan Memorial Cemetery – there is more to do in Mostar than just see the key sight sights in the old town.
The easiest way to see Mostar is to split it up into two distinctive parts – it will come as no surprise to hear that is ‘Inside the Old Town’ and ‘Outside of The Old Town’.
Not Quite Norths Interactive Map
Using the map. If you have a touch screen, use two fingers to increase the size or decrease. If you click on each of the markers, it will give you the name of the place.
I have used purple to mark Day 1 and Red to mark Day 2. Yellow is the campsite we stayed at. If you take in a walking tour (recommended) then many of these markers will be covered on that tour. This frees up your afternoon to go back to places or to take in museums.
Day 1 - the old town
Lets visit the Old Town on the first day and get the absolute tourist part done!
In the morning, go on a free walking tour. This will allow you to see all the key sights, understand a little history and get orientated with the town if you are spending a couple of days or more.
This walking tour is a super interesting tour, covering most of the key sites to see in and around the Old Town – even including a trip to Sniper Tower. We tried to climb over the walls for the graffiti later when we went back to that area for the church but couldn’t really find a suitable way in. Apparently it has some great graffiti inside – do let me know if you manage to find it yourself!
The guide is very knowledgeable and you even get to see some of the murals and graffiti on this trip. It will really align you as to where you can go in the afternoon after you have eaten lunch. Don’t forget to ask your guide where the good food places are and get that sorted from the get go. The start is from 9.30am until 12:00 if you do the daytime tour – although they do an evening one as well.
Take a relaxing lunch over one of the many restaurants which overlook the beautiful Neretva.
There is a small war museum in Mostar which I highly recommend. It is just on the edge of the old town. The Museum of War and Genocide victims is considered to be the most important reference of the war in Herzegovina. They recommend you start at the top and then work your way down. It is hard going, reading some of the survivors statements and just seeing how things were. Both Damo and I cried at various parts, it is just a little mind-blowing.
I bought a book from their which is called ‘I begged them to kill me’ – a book on women and their own stories during the war. I actually went back to buy the book the following day, I just felt compelled to hear their stories.
You will want to take a break after a couple of hours in the museum, it will be time for a coffee or beer – which ever you favour. Maybe take yourself back into the old town, you will see some of the buildings that you saw photos of in the museum, only then they are in ruins and now they are restored and housing trinkets and coffee sets.
Stop off at one of the pretty restaurants around the Stari Most or the Crooked Bridge. The food is actually very reasonably priced – and the food is very similar in all of the restaurants.
You will be able to get pizza, river fish or cevapi and traditional Bosnian foods too. Its a great time to see the old town in a different light too – it really does look quite beautiful.
Just remember mozzie cream if you are affected by mosquitos – I am and picked up quite a few bites!
Day 2 - Further Afield in Mostar
After breakfast and fuelling up with Bosnian coffee, take a walk out to the Partisans War Memorial. This WWII memorial is about a 15 minute walk out of the old town and is a less frequented place to visit. You will be able to visit the old Bishops Residence and the Cathedral as well as enjoy a nice wander around the large area of green.
After seeing this, head back into town to find the Mostar Bell Peace Tower and the magnificent Church of St Peter and Paul.
A trip to the top of the Bell Tower is 10 BAM and includes entry to see the church next door. Don’t skip the church! When the young man opened the doors I just stood there in the door and said ‘WOW’. It was absolutely breathtaking. And I am not a religious person. The church kept locked and only opened for service or for visitors with tickets due to the threat of damage.
As you walk back towards the old city, you will find yourself walking amongst derelict buildings which were destroyed in the war and have remained that way.
As you go past the Sniper Tower, which shows on Google simply as ‘Abandoned Building’, you will see the remains of shell markings in the tarmac at the zebra crossing. It really is a stark reminder as to what really happened in this town in very recent history.
The recommendation now is to just ‘get lost’. Wander the streets of places outside of the main tourist pitch. Drink coffees in the bars where the locals hang out, stop at a pekara to get a nice meaty burek to snack on and keep you fuelled to just walk and walk.
You will come across buildings that are bombed out shells, mosques, which you can visit (make sure you have scarves to wrap as a skirt, or over your head and cover shoulders etc), visit the churches and go and find the Bruce Lee statue!
Remember you will have covered much of the old town off when you went on your walking tour – so as you make your way back to cover any other parts of the town that you want to see in more detail. The little museums that sit either side of Stari Most bridge – one is a museum of the bridge, the other a War Photos exhibition.
You probably have walked your socks off today so its time to head back to the motorhome to cook your own dinner and sit on the veranda drinking beer at the campsite, listening to the frogs and their incredibly noisy activities.
Alternatively you can go grab another meal in the old town overlooking the river. The old town can get quieter in the evenings (outside of peak season) as lots of people do day visits to Mostar – it is massively popular from Dubrovnik and also Sarajevo. These people have obviously all disappeared now – so the town is much quieter – and you get to see it from a totally different angle that in the daytime.
Got More Time to Spend?
Take a hike up to Hum Hill – the big hill that you can see from the town with the cross on it. You need to stick to the road though rather than overland due to landmine risk.
Take a hike which is just outside Mostar to the Izvor Mostarske Bijele, which is an amazing walk which will take you to spectacular caves and canyons – like a totally different planet! You can park your motorhome up nearby and walk for 2.5 hours – you will want at least an hour there as well, with a 2.5 hour walk back. You need walking boots and can follow the markings – or, the alternative is to hire a guide from Mostar who can drive you closer in a 4×4 and you hike for just one hour, with an hour there and an hours hike back. Google it – it is stunning!!
not quite norths travel tips
Wear hiking boots for the walks – you get small snakes! Don’t want them nipping at your ankles!
Take scarves for the mosques.
Don’t wear flip flops in Mostar – the cobbled streets of the bizarre and the steepness and smoothness of the stones on Stari Most make these very difficult to walk in.
When hiking, stay on the official trails because of the risk of landmines.
Our thoughts on Mostar (Coming Soon)
Where to next?
Depending on which way you are going, you might want to take a visit to Rama Lake, a very beautiful lakeside stop over, perfect for swimming and relaxing for a couple of nights before you spend a full on 48 hours in Sarajevo!
It could be a little adventure you are seeking with the white water rafting in Konjic, or perhaps you now seek solace by the seaside – in which case check out Neum – the 12 miles of Bosnian coastline !
We work hard to create our itineraries – if you like it, let us know!