I was looking for hidden gems around six years ago when I visited Bosnia & Herzegovina. I had already visited the likes of Paris, London and Rome, so I was searching for something less known when I stumbled upon Mostar. This small city in the South of Bosnia and Herzegovina has now become one of the most sought after destinations in the Balkans. Despite its popularity during the summer months with tourists in Dubrovnik visiting for a day trip, outside of summer it is relatively peaceful. Here are my highlights to help you plan your visit in this complete guide to Mostar.
Your Guide to Mostar
In the centre of the Old Town is the Old Bridge (Stari Most), a picturesque structure that connects both sides of the old town. In summer it hosts the popular bridge jumping competition with locals and tourists alike. Be sure to head across the bridge as on the eastern bank of the bridge you will find the more interesting Muslim part of town. The west on the other hand, is mostly home to the Catholic Croats. The bridge of Stari Most is therefore a sobering reminder of the divide and difficulty this country has faced. While today Bosnia & Herzegovina is peaceful, the past is not forgotten.
Visit the Don’t Forget Stones
Throughout the city you can find constant reminders of the war with “Don’t Forget” written in stones. There is one at the entrance to the Stari Most Bridge to remind visitors of the bridge’s collapse during the siege of Mostar. The stones remain to serve a reminder of the Bosnian War.
When I was In Sarajevo, I struggled to see remnants of the war that took place from 1991-1995. However in Mostar much of the city reflects the war and serves to remind people to never forget.
The War Photo Exhibition
Over in the Western Town above the Stari Most Bridge lies a War Photo Exhibition. The exhibition is home to 50 images from the Bosnia War. It will cost just 3 euros to enter and I found this to be a really captivating look back at Bosnia’s past. If you are a looking to understand this country on a deeper level, I would highly recommend a visit!
The alleys near to the bridge are filled with trinkets and treasures. If you are looking for an authentic souvenir to take home from your travels, this is a great place to find it. Be sure to follow the narrow staircase that leads up to the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque’s minaret. Here you will find panoramic views of the city.
The Old Bazaar
If you are shopping for souvenirs in Mostar, you might consider some of these handmade trinkets from one of the vendors near the Old Bridge:
Handicrafts made from bullets – After the Bosnian war ammunition was littered throughout the country. Some clever locals collected the used ammunition and have turned them in to a variety of quirky souvenirs.
War paraphernalia – Speaking of the war, there are many chances to purchase helmets, badges, knives and all manner of ex-war paraphernalia to take home.
Pointy slippers – Perhaps my favourite souvenir to buy in Bosnia was the house slippers used by Bosnians. When entering their home, Bosnians remove both their shoes and socks. Thus it has become common practice to wear house slippers.
Day Trip: Blagaj Tekija
If you are visiting Mostar for longer than a day, you may wish to venture elsewhere in Bosnia. As beautiful as Mostar is, there are some other less visited cities and attractions nearby. Blagaj is a great place to start as it is a mere ten minutes by car. It is here you can visit the famous Blagaj Tekija, a Dervish monastery built in to the cliff.
Read more: How to Visit the Blagaj Tekke in Bosnia
Day Trip: Počitelj, Čapljina
Another great day trip should you have more time is to visit Počitelj, Čapljina. This town is just a a short 32 kilometre drive from Mostar. The hillside village is commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful photographic locations in Bosnia. Best of all, not many tourists know about it! I visited this town with my local host who insisted he had a secret location