For many people, Mostar is a day trip from other nearby cities, but a day alone doesn’t do the city justice. Here are some ideas for things to do in Mostar in a weekend.
Take a walking tour
Mostar has a truly fascinating history, so the first thing you should do in Mostar is take a walking tour. Not only will it give you a lot of perspective about what you’re seeing when you’re walking around, a tour will give you insider tips on what to do while you’re in town. We toured around the city one morning with Sheva Walking Tours. The tours begin daily in front of the Turkish Hammam, a former bathhouse turned museum. The fascinating tour gives you information about the city’s complex history – including the war in the early 90s – from someone who lived it. You’ll learn in detail how Mostar was under siege by Serb and Croat forces and how the city presently deals with these geopolitical tensions.
Go to a museum
If you want to know more about the history of the city than you can learn on a 2.5-hour walking tour, you can check out some of the museums in town. The Museum of War and Genocide Victims features artifacts and context to the brutality of the war that besieged Mostar from 1992 to 1995. Though terribly sad, the museum covers some of the atrocities committed during the war including the opening of concentration camps and genocide. Some of the items exhibited at the museum were recovered from mass graves.
If you prefer a less heart-wrenching museum, another popular option is the Old Bridge Museum, located in the Tara Tower on the left bank of the river. The construction of the bridge is contextualized around local life, culture, and historical developments.
Watch a local leap off the Old Bridge
Mostar’s Old Bridge is undoubtedly the city’s centerpiece; it’s the stunning architectural center that all the city’s tourism revolves around. But unlike other cities, locals still maintain an important link to their beautiful bridge: diving. The annual diving competition has been going on for over 450 years, and locals who take the leap off the bridge into the Neretva River wear the accomplishment as a badge of honor. Though the competition happens in the summer, you can see local divers jumping for tips all year round – yes, even in the freezing cold months of winter. Pro tip: there’s a coffee shop at the top of the western tower of the Old Bridge where you can get a great unobstructed view of the dive.
If you’re curious about the dive, you can train to try it yourself. The Mostar Diving Club provides training that can be completed in as little as a few hours or a couple of days depending on how skilled of a diver you are. They’ll teach you how to stabilize yourself midair and make the jump safely without hurting yourself. Of course, you don’t have to risk injury to take a dip in the river. In the summer, swimming and fishing in the Neretva is popular with locals and visitors alike.
Visit the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque
The Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque has been around since the 17th century, giving Mostar a truly unique look. What some visitors don’t know is that the mosque also gives you a unique look at Mostar. In addition to visiting the ornate interior, entrance to the mosque allows you to go up the minaret, which is traditionally used to call the faithful to prayer throughout the day. If you can power through the winding stone steps to the top, you’ll be rewarded with the best view of Mostar’s Old Town and Old Bridge.
Do some urban exploring
The conflict in Mostar left parts of the city in disrepair. In fact, many visitors are surprised to find out that the Old Bridge has been rebuilt after Croat forces destroyed it in 1993. Many buildings are still in the state the war left them. One such building which has gained notoriety since then is the former bank building turned Croat sniper tower that sits near the site that was the former front line of the war, Bulevar. The abandoned building has been overtaken with graffiti, outside and in. Though there are signs warning people from entering the building, you can use makeshift steps to climb over a wall on the rear end of the building that faces away from Bulevar. The building offers good views of the city, which is precisely why snipers used it during the war.
Wander around the Old City
The streets of the Old City are marked on either side of the Old Bridge by river rocks. On these stone pathways sit hundreds of shops, restaurants, and cafes. If you are looking for a unique souvenir, you can find coppersmiths making their wares, traditional textiles, and other handmade goods. Perhaps one of the most Mostar experiences you can have is to sit down and enjoy a good cup or two of Bosnian coffee. Having been to both Sarajevo and Mostar, I can say with certainty that if you’re interested in the best traditional Bosnian coffee, you should have it in Mostar. It’s a local tradition that is enjoyed several times a day and taken very seriously. You have to sit and savor your coffee.
When the weather is mild, many of the restaurants in the multi-layered Old City offer terraces with beautiful views. The Old Bridge isn’t even the only one of its kind. On the west side of the city, you’ll find the Crooked Bridge, which is a smaller version that is visible from many of the nearby eateries. Don’t think that just because it’s touristy, the food will be mediocre and overpriced. I don’t get into the habit of eating at or recommending such restaurants, but Sadrvan was so good, we ate there twice. If you spend a weekend in Mostar just enjoying the laid back sidewalk cafes and eating delicious local food, they’ll be days well spent.