Why you should visit Mostar
Mostar is a place different than any I’ve visited in Europe. Everyone says that Istanbul is where East meets West, but the same can be said for Mostar. Walk through the Old Town, see the architecture and the things for sale, and you feel like you could be somewhere in the Middle East. Except that the people are light-skinned and Slavic. You feel a weird disconnect, especially if just arriving from the very Catholic, Mediterranean coast (which is only an hour away).
In the 15th Century the Ottoman Empire (based in Constantinople, modern day Istanbul) conquered much of Central Europe including what was then the Kingdom of Bosnia. Mostar prospered during this time. The buildings and streets of the Old Town were built, as was Stari Most (the Old Bridge) which was erected in 1566 under the orders of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman ruler. To this day, it stands as one of the most important structures of the Ottoman era and is Bosnia’s most recognizable architectural monument. It, and the cobbled-stone street leading onto the bridge on either side, are where most of today’s tourists flock.
Stari Most is considered one of the greatest architectural works of its time and endured from the year it was constructed in 1566 to 1993 when Bosnian Croats destroyed it in their siege of Mostar. It was painstakingly reconstructed after the Bosnian War and officially re-opened in 2004. It is a beautiful bridge. It is also honestly the most impractical bridge we’ve ever crossed being both very steep and incredibly slippery. I wonder how many people have cracked their faces trying to cross this bridge.
The Old Town is quite small and you can easily see it in a few hours. Most visitors to Mostar come here on day trips from Dubrovnik or even Split and see nothing else but this part of town. It actually gets eerily quiet in the evening and even on a Saturday night you’ll find most stores closed by 8pm.
Accommodation: Mostar is inexpensive. Recommendations: Villa Park (on the pricey side but nice place, great location), Elite Guest House (cheaper alternative, great location, popular), Apartments Solis (beautiful apartments, great location).
For those willing to spend more than a few hours in Mostar, there are other sights of historic and cultural significance in town. Muslibegovic’s House (below) is the finest Ottoman residential building from the time. It’s 4 floors contain beautiful wooden carved ceilings, traditional carpets, and fine Ottoman furniture. It is today both a museum and an upscale hotel. A beautiful building and even if you don’t spend the night it is worth visiting.
The Karadjoz-bey Mosque is also worth visiting. It is considered the most beautiful mosque in all of Herzegovina and has the highest minaret (which can be climbed – note that the spiral staircase is very tight). The man tending the mosque was very friendly and informative. For those who are worried about entering a mosque: we were told that it is not a ‘hard’ form of Islam in Bosnia. Lissette wasn’t made to wear a shawl and the man happily invited us to walk in the area where only the men are supposed to be allowed to pray. A good experience and if you can only visit one mosque in Mostar make it this one.
Essential in our opinion is a tour of modern Mostar for a complete understanding of what is one of the most tragic episodes in modern history. While it may not be as pretty, understanding the history and legacy of the Bosnian War was a highlight for us.
After seeing all the above, we completed our 2nd day in Mostar revisiting the Old Town. Some more images:
Related: A Guide to Sarajevo – and all the reasons why it’s worth visiting
Summarizing what to see/do in Mostar: visit the Old Town, cross Stari Most, have lunch and do some shopping. Visit Muslibegovica House and Karadjoz-Bey Mosque. See the Museum of Herzegovina if you can for information on the Bosnian War.
Day Trips outside Mostar: Kravice waterfall is 40km outside Mostar and very impressive. This tour takes you there. Počitelj is a historical site close to the Croatia border (about half an hour from Mostar). We passed it by bus and it looks very impressive. Another spot we want to visit the next time here.
Car Rental. Renting a car in Mostar is a good idea, there’s lots to see in the area. We use Rentalcars.com, they give you the best rates on car rentals.
Getting to Mostar by bus: Easy to do but there are a few twists. The bus we took from Split took about 4 hours. Once the bus turns inland at the mouth of the Neretva River, it takes about 30 minutes to get to the Bosnian border. Make sure you have your passport and don’t be surprised when they take it away from you for processing. You don’t get off the bus, an inspector comes on and takes your passport.
Once through customs, the bus will take you to a town about 15 minutes away where you will switch buses. This 2nd bus will take you to Mostar.
By Train. Sarajevo and Mostar are joined by a great train line. More: Taking the train from Sarajevo to Mostar
Getting to Mostar with an Organized Tour: This full-day tour from Dubrovnik takes you to Mostar, Neum, and Pocitelj. Recommended.
Eating: There are lots of restaurants in the Old Town catering to tourists. Just outside the old town is the National Restaurant. It’s recommended by locals (also the #1 rated restaurant on Trip Advisor).
Related: How to spend a week in Sarajevo (and how to get there)
Related: Taking the train from Sarajevo to Mostar
Related: Why Mostar needs more than just a day trip
PS. Looking to book flights, hotels, tours, or rent a car? Have a look at our Travel Resources page.
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Really enjoying your posts as we are prepping to go to Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Bosnia….stumbled on your page and am now gobbling this it up! Great stuff!!!!
Thanks so much Sean! If you have any questions let me know.
Interesting look on Mostar and the road to it. Biba is a bit too much frustrated with the current situation in the city and the country as whole and although he speaks the truth for most of the time, in my opinion you get just more depressed with such lookout on things. You live in Mostar which is a stuning city when you add the surroundings as well, I dare to say that you must be more positive. It is another thing that it is neglected to a degree in some parts because of political bickering, especially the boulevard which was (and still kinda is) the dividing line and the Maršal Tito street which should be the real main pedestrian street of Mostar leading to the old part of the city as it is the most cosmopolitan one in the city.
It is not that Mostar is not financially able to restore all of it as it is an important city in the country (fifth largest city in country, historic, tourist, seat of city and canton government as well as of some federal ministries and public companies) just the government is too inert. The thing that bothers me in Mostar is something completly different. But looking on the complete picture, Mostar is lovely city with many jewels that just need a bit of investment and for me, as a person from Sarajevo, a perfect getaway city for a day or two. Especially if you go to Blagaj, Počitelj, Kravice, Međugorje and similar as well.
Hope you plan to visit Sarajevo as well, I highly recommend that you arrive with the train from Mostar (sadly the line from Ploče, Croatia is discountinued after 128 years of service and probably will only be open during summer season) as the road between Mostar and Sarajevo through the Prenj canyon carved by the green Neretva is majestic. When it comes to Sarajevo, that is another story. Beautiful city, as a picturesque village surrounded by hills and mountains, amphitheatrical with numerous lookout points, wherever you stand you will catch a view and generally a museum on open where you can distinctly see the shift from Ottoman influence which is really strong and the Austro-Hungarian one and the further on socialist and modern one.
Have a great day 🙂
Very informative comment, thank you AZ. We visited Mostar last year (in 2015) but we will be back in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo for sure a place that we want to see one day.
I’m curious; so what is this thing that bothers you in Mostar?
Wow that bridge ties everything together and looks incredible from far away. Thanks for providing different shots of it (including the close up one on the bridge itself). It does look a little skippering with those stones – definitely a tripping hazard). But… yet another place I have to add to my “list.” I really need to stop reading about places like this – now there’s too many and not enough time/money.
You can easily break your face in two on that bridge. Might like really cool but not the most comfortable to cross. Unique place Mostar and so different from its neighbors.
Most beautifull city on the world… My dear MOSTAR <3
Thank you Emina 🙂
Carolyn J Cox
Love the photos. I have lived in Mostar 10 years. It is a beautiful part of the world. Next time, look me up. I can help you explore places like Blagaj that is about 15 minutes outside of Mostar and is another incredible gem.
Thank you Carolyn, that’s very nice of you! 🙂
Carolyn J Cox
as we would say, nema na cemu (you’re welcome)
Lovely images as usual! I can’t believe they let her in the men’s part of the mosque. Very progressive. Sigh..another beautiful place 🙂
If you think that’s beautiful Kemkem – we are in Kotor, Montenegro right now. Wow. We’re more impressed with Kotor than we were with Dubrovnik (where we were a few days ago).
But yes, Mostar beautiful plus is different with that Ottoman culture and terrible history. Just a fascinating region…
Frank, I do agree that Mostar seems very Turkish! I loved it mainly for that reason. It certainly is completely different than Croatia, which I also loved. Great post!
Paul at "No Pension Will Travel"
Interesting to see what we might have seen had we been able to stay longer. Given the opportunity, I would have spent more than mid-day in Mostar.
We really think it’s worth a few days and even having stayed 2 days we wish we had stayed a 3rd to see those nearby attractions. We’ll be back to Bosnia…
Terrific tips – Now I am looking forward to visiting (next year) more than ever!
Thanks for taking the time to comment Rebecca 🙂