Mostar: A bridge to Bosnia and Herzegovina

While staying in Split, I took a day trip to Mostar through a guided tour. I was curious to learn more about Bosnia and Herzegovina and could not resist popping over to another country. Below is a description of what the city has to offer.

Things to Do:

Old City of Mostar. This historic part of Mostar has architecture that is heavily influenced by the Ottoman Empire. Although much of this town was destroyed during the Bosnian war, it has since been rebuilt in the original image. This part of town houses the famous bridge, lots of shops and stalls, and cafes. As part of the group tour I took, a local guide walked our group through the Old City and provided information on the city’s history. This guide was very informative and helpful. Although the Old City is small and easy to navigate, taking a guided tour is definitely worth the money. Getting to hear about this city’s past and present from a local is very important. Plan to spend about an hour with a guide.

Stari Most. This iconic bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the country. It is a must see structure originally built as part of the Ottoman Empire. It was destroyed during the Bosnian War and later rebuilt as similar as possible to the original. There is a lot of history behind this bridge, which today is intended to inspire hope. Visitors can get great views of this bridge from the nearby riverbanks. When crossing the bridge, be prepared for the slippery surface. Try to wear shoes with good grips because the steepness and slipperiness will lead to lots of sliding and potential falls. I was wearing sandals with no tread, but luckily I did not fall or slip too much. Although I did not see this on my visit, locals and tourists can jump off the bridge. For those interested in doing so, training and a small fee is required. Locals might also be convinced to jump if there is a large enough crowd willing to pay them.

Biscevic House. This house has been preserved as an example of a Turkish house in the Ottoman Empire. Visiting this site was part of the guided tour. Otherwise, I am not sure I would have stumbled across this on my own. The house has an interesting courtyard and architecture and is worth a stop. The workers provide some information and visitors are able to walk through the house. Plan to spend about 30 minutes here.

War Photo Exhibition. This is something I did not do, but later wish I had sought out. At the time of my visit, our tour guide (who was very good) wanted to educate us about more than the Bosnian War. He was saddened that Mostar was now a tourist spot mainly to hear about the war when before it had been a tourist spot for its other rich history. So while I did see and hear a lot about the war, I tried to see other things beyond the war. And although I do think it is important to seek out other things not affiliated with the war, I would recommend still stopping at this exhibit. This exhibit is supposed to be small but powerful and is located in one of the bridge towers. Visitors should be able to go through this exhibit and still have plenty of time to see other things.

Shopping:

The Old City has its own version of a Turkish bazaar so lots of stalls and shops packed together and lots of trinkets on sale. A lot of the items are the usual tourist things that can be found in most tourist areas and a lot of overlap with what is found in Turkey. For those travelers with no plans to visit Turkey, buying ceramics and rugs might be of interest. For those travelers looking for something more unique to this country, I would recommend looking at the copperware and local art. There are lots of copper items for sale in this city, including beautifully crafted and adorned trays, coffee sets, and jewelry. Any of these items would make great gifts or souvenirs. For me, the trays might make the best purchase because they will likely be used more and can make a nice centerpiece. There are also some nice pieces of art, many featuring the bridge, that would make great souvenirs as well.

What to Eat:

Since I was only here on a day trip, I only had one meal here. But the food that I saw being served is very reminiscent of Turkish food. For my meal, I ate cevapi, which is small sausages served in a flat bread. This is a simple meal that is tasty and filling. There are lots of cafes around the Old City so just look for one with an open table and a good view.

The other thing to try here is Bosnian coffee. Although locals do not like to have it compared to Turkish coffee, it tastes very similar. The difference is really in the preparation and not the taste. The other difference is in how it is served. Instead of being served in the cup, it is served in the vessel it is cooked in. Customers pour the coffee themselves. To add sugar, put the cube in the cup before pouring and let the hot coffee dissolve it.

Where to Stay:

I did not stay here overnight so I do not know too much about the accommodations here. But I did see a lot of hotels located on the streets leading up to the Old City. These hotels were obviously within walking distance of the Old City and looked to be in good condition. And I heard the prices are cheap.

Getting Around:

I arrived to and departed from Mostar on a tour bus from Split. The drive between the two cities is about 2.5 hours. I chose to come on a tour bus because this was the most economical choice that did not require me to rent a car or do much planning. The meeting point for the start of the tour was in a central location near the pier in Split so I was able to walk there from my Airbnb. The meeting point for the end of the tour was at a gas station in Mostar that was about a five minute walk outside of the Old City. As mentioned above, Mostar is a smaller city so it is walkable, and the guided tour was a walking tour.

Overall, I found Mostar to be a charming city full of history. My short trip here was a great introduction to Bosnia and Herzegovina and made me interested in seeing more of the country. This country had not previously been high on my travel list, but if I were to return to this part of Europe I would definitely travel in this country more extensively. I highly recommend travelers to take a day trip tour to Mostar from Croatia. These group tours depart from Split and Dubrovnik and include stops in Pocitelj (a small village in Bosnia and Herzegovina) on the way to Mostar and in Kravice waterfalls (where visitors can cool off with a swim) on the way back to Croatia. I visited Mostar in August, and it was very warm. There were quite a few tour groups here, but the group I went in was about 15 people so not too large. This trip is for travelers interested in learning about the culture and history of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

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