From the cobblestoned streets of the Old Bazaar to the views of Stari Most bridge arching gracefully over the Neretva River, Mostar is utterly enchanting! Mostar is one of the most visited destinations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This small city is overflowing with history and culture. It’s also surrounded by stunning landscapes. Expat Explore has put together a list of reasons why Mostar should not be missed!
Mostar, in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a popular stop for travellers visiting the Balkans. The country has a rich mix of ethnicities (including Bosniak, Croats and Serbs) and religions. There is a turbulent history of occupation and war here, with events taking place as recently as 1995. While the land may still bear many of the scars and relics of war, Bosnia and Herzegovina is shaking off the dark days of the past and is emerging as a must-see travel destination in the Balkans.
The iconic Star Most is the top attraction in Mostar. “But it’s just a bridge…” some people might think – it is so much more than simply a bridge! Seeing the striking architecture first-hand and taking a walk across the smooth stone walkway is an experience travellers won’t soon forget.
Stari Most translates to ‘Old Bridge’ in the Serbo-Croatian language and this impressive landmark was a 16th century Ottoman engineering masterpiece; built to connect the two sides of town across the Neretva River. It stood for hundreds of years before it was destroyed by artillery fire from the Bosnian war in 1993. It has been painstakingly rebuilt, using as much of the original stone as possible that could be recovered from the rushing river waters below, and reopened in 2004. The bridge was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2005.
Today, on a visit to Mostar you’ll most likely find bridge jumpers lining the edges of Stari Most. The local tradition of bridge jumping dates back to the 1600s. Bridge jumpers – usually young men – will collect money from bystanders and once they decide enough money has been raised, they will make the jump into the icy river 24 metres below.
Travel tip: Visitors can attempt the jump however they will require permission and training as it can be incredibly dangerous for novices.
Walking through the cobbled streets around the iconic Stari Most, it’s difficult to imagine that just over 25 years ago, the city was ravaged by the effects of the Bosnian War. Experience the history of the city and the region on walking tours of the city and “war tours” of sites of importance surrounding Mostar. Many locals living in the city today experienced the war first-hand. Learn more about the Bosnian conflict at places including the War Photo Exhibition near Stari Most and The Museum of War and Genocide Victims. You can also visit spots like the ‘Don’t Forget Stone’, the Mostar Peace Bell Tower, the graffiti-covered Sniper Tower and the bullet-riddled buildings along the front line.
Mostar’s history is not all about war. This city has a past influenced by the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Yugoslavia. Centuries ago, the town was a centre for crafts and trading. Today, this atmosphere can be experienced at the Old Bazaar and markets lining the riverbanks around Stari Most which have a distinctly Eastern feel.
Other historic places of interest include the Herzegovina Museum, which illustrates the region’s history dating back millennia, and Muslibegović House which is a well-preserved example of Ottoman architecture.
There are a number of markets, restaurants and unique points of interest around Stari Most. It’s easy to spend a few hours exploring the narrow streets! Shop for local trinkets and souvenirs among the stalls of the Old Bazaar and enjoy a bite to eat while you’re here.
Another popular attraction is the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque. This is another iconic landmark in Mostar and the minaret can be seen from most of the city. Pay a visit and climb to the top of the minaret for incredible views over Mostar.
Just around the corner from the hustle and bustle of the historic centre, you’ll find Kriva Cuprija also known as the “Crooked Bridge.” The small bridge may look familiar – it was actually built as a trial run for Stari Most!
As mentioned before, Mostar is a city divided with Bosniaks mostly residing in the east and Croats living in the west. Many amenities like schools, churches and post offices remain separate. However, there is one major thing that unites the people – Bruce Lee. His statue to be precise! There is a life-size bronze statue of Bruce Lee that is on display in the Zrinjski City Park (on the western side of the city). The idea of the statue was that the symbol of Bruce Lee was something everyone could rally behind. Pay a visit and snap a photo doing your best Bruce Lee pose when you visit!
Mostar is in a very convenient location in the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is relatively easy to access from popular destinations such as Dubrovnik in Croatia and Kotor and Budva in Montenegro. Even better, there are a number of beautiful locations to explore just outside the city!
Blagaj is a village home to Blagaj Tekija – a Dervish Monastery built in a breathtaking location under a cliff! It’s located right at the source of the River Buna. Visitors admire the surroundings and visit the monastery for a small entrance fee.
Počitelj is a scenic, historic village and an open-air museum. The old fortress town has an impressive location – perched on the riverbanks of the Neretva River, it offers sweeping views of the surroundings.
Visit Kravice Falls which is 40km outside of Mostar. This lush natural spot feels like an exotic escape in the middle of the Balkans! It’s a popular swimming destination and is the perfect place to spend a warm afternoon. Relax in the natural pools and admire the beautiful waterfalls.
Experiencing the cuisine is a definite reason to visit Mostar! Bosnian food is a mix of Turkish, Eastern European and Mediterranean influences. There is a huge focus on meat and flavour. Try these classic Bosnian dishes: ćevapi (small grilled minced meat sausages), burek (pastries filled with meat, cheese or vegetables), sogan dolma (stuffed onions) and Bosnian lonac (a meat-filled stew).
Feeling thirsty? You’re in luck! Bosnian coffee is another must-try. The ritual of drinking traditional Bosnian coffee is a huge part of Bosnian culture. The flavours are similar to Turkish coffee and Bosnians traditionally serve their coffee individually in a džezva – long-necked coffee pot.
Last but certainly not least, Bosnian wine! Bosnia and Herzegovina may not produce huge quantities of wine but the country does create some tasty varieties including Žilavka, Trnjak and Blatina. Finish off your days of exploring Mostar with a glass of something local!
Do you need any more reasons to add Mostar travel to your bucket list? This beautiful city is a must-see on your next trip to the Balkans and Eastern Europe! Take a look at tours that visit the region and start planning a trip for the future!
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