Visiting BOsnia's 12 miles of coastline
Did you know that Bosnia had a beach? A beautiful stretch of clear Adriatic coastline to enjoy? No? We didn’t either. But it has 12 miles of Bosnian coastline to enjoy – and we decided to add this into our roadtrip to Bosnia and Herzegovina and see what it was all about. And actually, we are so glad we did.
You could however quite easily spend a week for 50 marks (£25 ish) parked roadside with the sea 4 metres from your window and knuckle down to some serious lazing about, dipping in and out of the sea – and hike around the spit and just have some down time.
Neum's location in Bosnia
A little history
The thing that we were asking ourselves is
“How come Bosnia and Herzegovina has just 12 miles of coastline? Why isn’t it part of Croatia? Why didn’t the Dubrovnik part go to Bosnia too?”
Was it part of the fracturing of the former Yugoslavia? Well – turns out it goes back way beyond the terrible civil war, from which Croatia declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
Popular belief is that President Tito gifted it to the Bosniaks, but in fact, Tito merely confirmed that the 12 mile stretch of coastline belonged to Bosnia when he declared the second Yugoslavia after liberation from the Germans after WWII. The first Yugoslavia was created in 1929, the second in 1946 and the third in 1992 before it ceased being in 2006.
I will try and keep it as simple as possible for you – I got sucked into spending an entire day reading about the Ottoman and Venetian empires of the middle ages.
Cast back to the Ottoman/Venetian ruling back in 1699, when the fishing village of Neum was part of Ragusa (known now as Dubrovnik). The Venetians and Ottomans were very powerful in that time (the world was carved up very differently to how it is now).
The Prince Rector (the elected leaders of Dubrovnik) gave up a small slither of their land to the Ottomans, figuring that the Venetians would not attack the powerful Ottoman Empire and it would therefore be protected. Whilst Ragusa was now considered to be safe and protected, the hinterland (Bosnian strip) was vulnerable.
Ragusa was way ahead of its time – it acted as the ‘Switzerland’ of modern history! It set itself up as a free trading and democratic society between powerful forces, allowing the business of trading to take place with a port to distribute goods.
This worked until Napoleon came onto the scene and conquered much of Italy. Whilst Nepoleon was sweeping through from the west and the Austrian Hungarian Empire sweeping down from the top, the Austro-Hungarians took Croatia and Bosnia to add to its landmass. With the ruling leadership of these areas having changed hands – including Dubrovnik, the trade agreement between two powerful Empires no longer existed.
Under Austrian Hungarian control, the border lines from history were not changed at all, meaning that the strip of coastline of just 12 miles, with the small town of Neum at its centre, remained part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the motorhome: the M17.3 coming into the tiny bit of Bosnian coastline is going to be the likely way you will come in from Bosnia, which is just a brilliant road. I wish half the roads in the UK were this good!!
From Croatia – you will pass through the borders – don’t forget that the coastline is only 12 miles long. Its the border that that everyone used to travel through if they are in Croatia to get from Split down to Dubrovnik. There is a bridge now, which you can see from the town, so the borders are much easier to cross. Less people go into Bosnia than continue straight to Croatia. If you want to hit this little part of the country. the Croatia to Croatia travellers are filtered out over the bridge.
If you are coming from Trebinje, you will come up on the M6 and then cut to the M17.3 as you come into the town.
Where to Stay
There are no campsites around the area, but you can find a few places on Park4Nights. The place we stayed was roadside, but it was right next to the beach and the charge was 14 BAM per 24hrs payable by meter in coins. Make sure you do pay as they do come round and check!
We got a parking ticket fine as the ticket we purchased, we had stuck to the side window (we had a silver screen covering the front) so that it could be seen. The parking attendant missed it! You have a chance to go into the main town of Neum, to the local parking place, which is just outside the police station to pay the 14 BAM on the same day.
We decided we wanted to sort that out immediately which led us to taking the motorhome into town, knocked over plastic flexi-poles because the corners were so tight, a 6 point turn (maybe 8!) and the entertainment for the people in the local bar!
This car park does appear on P4N as an option – but for a 7m motorhome it was very tight and I wouldn’t recommend it. It was also expensive to stay there and the music would have been really loud.
We stayed on the opposite side of the bay (on the little spit of land) and even there at night time, you could hear the music playing. They seemed to be very keen on Elvis for some reason. The warning being that if you want somewhere completely quiet, then this might not be a stop for you. You can actually drive over the spit to the other side – but it is a single track of stone and gravel – not sure how difficult that road gets because we didn’t try it.
Aerial footage of neum, bosnia and herzegovina
What to see or do
Basically you are going to swim, sun, read, relax and eat food! Its a very popular resort, which you can imagine, being the only 12 miles of beach! You can hire jet skis, pedalos, boats etc.
We parked away from the main town, it was actually lovely and not packed out with tourists, but walking round the main town is was really super busy and not to our liking – but plenty of bars, restaurants, music and people.
The spit of land that comes out of Neum, is great for mountain biking – the track that takes you onto the main spit is gravel/stone track, so you can definitely ride out there for a day, stopping off to dip in the water – or you could take a long walk too. Enough to keep you occupied for 3 or 4 days if you wanted to.
A dip in the sea is welcoming as the water is warm and calm and the currents are not strong. The beach was stony – but you will not need to worry about having water shoes – no sea urchins around here, which are common on the Croatian coast.
Our thoughts on Neum, Bosnias Coastline
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