I’m the first person to maximize my time somewhere by taking day trips to certain cities. Sometimes it feels like just a taste is better than nothing. Similarly, Mostar is a day trip destination for a lot of people. Bosnia and Herzegovina itself is barely on most people’s travel radar, so its small southwestern town of Mostar is often relegated to a three-hour stop from other larger cities in the country or from a nearby country like Croatia. Here’s why the city is worth a longer stay.
Aside from the fact that it has a gorgeous medieval old town that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mostar has a complex and interesting history, a vibrant café culture, and some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. When you limit your time in the city to just a few hours, you get to see the bridge and call it a day. While the reconstructed Old Bridge is quite an impressive sight to see, it’s just one of the things that make the city special. In fact, simply by hanging around the bridge long enough, you might get to catch someone jumping into the Neretva River for tips while you’re having coffee nearby. The coffee experience itself is meant to be savored. If you have enough time to devote to the city over a couple of days, you can drink your Bosnian coffee with a side of baklava and people watch from one of the sidewalk cafes, the way coffee is meant to be enjoyed.
One of the most worthwhile ways to enjoy the city is to take a free walking tour. We went on a historical walking tour with Sheva Free Walking Tours, which I highly recommend. Through our tour with Ševko, we learned all about Mostar’s complicated history dating from the time the Old Bridge was built to the bloody Croat-Bosniak War, which our tour guide fought in himself. The experience told first hand is eye-opening and gives you a way to enjoy the different parts of the city and understand how and why the city remains divided to this day. During the course of the tour, he recommended some of the spots to get good views, explained how to get into the abandoned sniper tower turned graffiti mecca. If you’re into that kind of the thing, the company also offers an Urban Landscape Walking Tour.
If you stay in Mostar for a couple of days, you can stop at all the destinations your guide recommends or actually go into some of the cultural sites like the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque or check out some of the off-beat things to see like the Bruce Lee statue in Park Zrinjevac. You can shop around for a truly unique souvenir from one of the coppersmiths in town that make jewelry and coffee sets by hand. In the summer, Mostar is especially worth a long stay because you can take a dip in the clear river. If you’re really ballsy, you can even spend an afternoon doing the training to safely dive from the 24-meter Old Bridge yourself.
Even if you end up deciding you’ve have enough of Mostar after a couple of days, it’s in the perfect place to see some of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most unique sights like Krevice Waterfalls and the Dervish monastery of Blagaj which juts out of the edge of a cliff on the Buna River. Mostar gives you easy access to these places and more of the wonders of the region of Herzegovina. So by visiting Mostar for more than a couple of hours, you have more time to explore the surrounding areas, too.
Most of all, Mostar is a great place to kick back and relax. It may not have dozens of museums or attractions, but it’s a good place to disconnect from the rush of your regular life and enjoy a slower paced vacation, meet some of the friendly locals, and eat a few incredible meals. So if you’re considering a Mostar day trip, make it two or three.