Mostar, a city located in the south of the Balkan nation of Bosnia & Herzegovina is quickly becoming a popular place to visit for those who are travelling through the Balkans. Because of its small size and relative proximity to neighbouring Croatia, many tourists in Mostar opt to visit the city as a day trip from Split or Dubrovnik. And while you can certainly see a good portion of this compact city in the span of a few hours, it is far more worthwhile to spend one of two days exploring Mostar and its surroundings. If you have the time to include it as a proper stop on your itinerary and are wondering what to do in Mostar, then make sure to follow this itinerary to make sure that you get the most out of this Bosnian city.
Though small in size, Mostar has a lot to offer visitors and taking the time to get to know the history — both recent and centuries-old — and culture of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s fifth-largest city is well worth it. So if you’re planning on heading to this lovely city and are looking for the top things to do in Mostar, then look no further.
Is Mostar Worth Visiting?
Before I dive into what to do in Mostar, let’s answer a more pressing question: is Mostar worth visiting? Well, likely I wouldn’t be writing an entire article on a city that wasn’t worth it to visit, so I would have to answer that question with an emphatic “yes.”
Mostar has a tonne to offer visitors and though it is small in size, you’ll find it hard to get bored if you plan on spending one or 2 days in Mostar. The city is incredibly historic and it’s also one of the most beautiful in the region, with impressive views of the Stari Most, the cobbled old town, the deep blue-green of the Neretva river, and the dotting of minarets that pepper the skyline. It is one of the most interesting places to visit in the entirety of Europe and it’s mixture as both a historic Ottoman-era town to it’s more recent Austro-Hungarian influences make it unique among other cities on the continent, as well.
Mostar has a fascinating history and it is also one of the best places to visit if you want to learn more about Bosnia & Herzegovina’s heartbreaking role in the Balkan wars of the early 1990s. Mostar was actually the second-most destroyed town in all of former Yugoslavia during the conflict in the ’90s, just after Vukovar, Croatia. You can still see many of the scars of the war in Mostar to this day and it remains one of the most ethnically divided cities in Europe.
Mostar is also quite easily digestible and in just a short amount of time, you can really get to know the city. You can wander through the picturesque city centre in a few hours and visit a handful of museums in just one full day, and you can spend another digger a bit deeper or maybe taking a day trip to some of the historic and natural sites that lie in Mostar’s vicinity.
Whether you plan to go as a day trip or you want to spend one or 2 days in Mostar, there is no denying that this beautiful and historic city in southern Bosnia & Herzegovina is absolutely worth visiting.
Getting To and Around Mostar
Now that you’ve decided that Mostar is worth visiting, you probably need to know how to get there and how to get around once you arrive. Luckily, both of these are very straightforward and easy for visitors to navigate.
Mostar is a popular place to visit amongst tourists and locals alike in Bosnia and Croatia, so you will be able to find numerous bus connections there from many other neighbouring cities both domestic and internationally. For instance, there are very frequent bus connections between the capital of Sarajevo to Mostar every day and there are also a handful of trains that leave daily, as well.
From further afield, Mostar is well-connected with cities like Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia and you can also reach the city from Kotor, Montenegro.
Once in Mostar, all you need is your own two feet to be able to see most of the city. Mostar is quite small and compact and, besides that, the entirety of the Old Town is pedestrianised so you have to get around on foot anyway. Also, contrary to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, Mostar is relatively flat so you’re not going to have a number of steep hills to contend with during your sightseeing. It is worth noting that the cobblestones in the old town can be fairly uneven and slick, so it is worth wearing good footwear to avoid slipping or twisting any ankles. Basically, flip-flops are a bad idea.
All in all, Mostar is easy to get to from a number of neighbouring cities and is incredibly straightforward to get around once you’re there.
What to Do in Mostar: Day One Itinerary
Spend your first day in Mostar exploring the main sites within Mostar and its old town. Because of its small size, you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. However, in order to make sure you maximise your time in this beautiful city, follow this itinerary to ensure you have the best possible trip to Mostar.
Start your morning with a caffeine boost at Cafe de Alma, located close to the Hamman Museum in the Old Town. This is one of the only coffee shops in Mostar that roasts its own beans and its incredibly friendly, helpful and passionate owner is more than happy to teach you all about the culture of Bosnian coffee while also showing you how to properly drink it.
Bosnian coffee is very similar to traditional Turkish coffee and that is due to the Ottoman influence in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Contrary to the “grab and go” coffee culture common in North America, Bosnians cherish their coffees by sitting down in a cafe and sipping slowly and enjoying some leisurely conversation. So take some time in the morning to do as the locals do and sip a delicious Bosnian coffee!
After you’ve been sufficiently caffeinated, it’s time to head to Mostar’s most famous and iconic attraction — the Stari Most, or Old Bridge. No visit to this city without walking across this historic site at least a few times and it is one of the best things to see in Mostar.
This bridge was originally constructed in the 16th century by Ottoman architect Mimar Hayruddin (who was an apprentice of famous architect Mimar Sindin — the man responsible for designing Istanbul’s famous Blue Mosque). At it’s highest point, the bridge stands at about 22 metres above the Neretva River, depending on how high the water is at the time of year.
Until 1993, the bridge stood its original construction from the 16th century. It was, however, almost completely destroyed on the 9th of November 1993 by Croatian forces during the Balkan wars. It was reconstructed to look exactly as it did originally and was officially opened to the public in 2004. Though the vast majority of the bridge has been recreated, the first eight steps on either side of the Stari Most are the original from the 16th century.
If you’re fortunate enough, you might be able to see a local diver make the 20+ metre jump from the highest point of the bridge. Divers collect money from tourists on the bridge throughout the day to raise money for the diving club, and there are usually a couple of jumps that occur each day. It is truly something that is interesting to see, especially when you can observe the incredible technique of the divers as they plunge into the chilly waters of the Neretva.
Old Bridge Museum
On the east side of the Stari Most lies the Old Bridge Museum, which is located in one of the towers of the bridge. If you want to learn more about the history of this iconic landmark and also about its reconstruction and destruction, then this is the place to go. Entry costs 10 BAM per person and you can also see some great views of the bridge and the Old Town from the museum, along with learning all about the history, innovative architecture (for the 1560s), and significance of Mostar’s most famous site.
Mostar means “bridgekeeper” in Bosnian and, as the city is spread between two banks of the Neretva river, there are numerous bridges throughout the city. If you want to see one of the most beautiful bridges (and the only one that wasn’t destroyed during that 1990s war), then make sure to head to the crooked bridge.
The Crooked Bridge is almost an exact replica of the Stari Most, however, it is significantly smaller. It was built as something of a “practice run” before construction was started on the Old Bridge.
As I previously said, it is the only bridge in Mostar that wasn’t destroyed in the war, however, it did completely collapse after due to strong winds and flooding and was reconstructed. In fact, 80% of the Old Town was more or less destroyed in the war and was historically recreated to look exactly as it once did in order to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
War Photo Exhibition
The next stop on this Mostar itinerary is another museum — the War Photo Exhibition. Located on the west bank of the Stari Most, this small exhibition displays exactly what you think it would — photos of Mostar during the 1990s wars. As mentioned previously, Mostar was the second-most bombed city in the Balkans during the conflict in the ’90s and this small museum gives an excellent and sobering insight at just how much devastation the city endured.
Entry into the museum is 6 BAM per person and it is open from 9 AM – 10 PM daily.
Koskin Mehmed Pasha Mosque
If you want to learn more about Mostar’s Islamic heritage in a beautiful setting, then you cannot go wrong heading to the Koskin Mehmed Pasha Mosque. This historic mosque acts as a museum where you can learn more about Islam in Mostar. For an extra fee, you can also climb to the top of the minaret in order to take advantage of some of the most beautiful views of the Old Town — which is one of the best things to do in Mostar.
Entry into the mosque is 6 BAM per person, however, if you also want to visit the minaret, it will be 12 BAM per person.
After a morning full of sightseeing and museums, its time to get some sustenance with some lunch. There are a number of great restaurants to choose from in Mostar, but if you want a great lunch suggestion, we recommend heading to Food House if you want to eat in a nice setting within the Old Town. They have a range of menu items including vegetarian options and traditional Bosnian food along with some international favourites.
If you want to be slightly closer to our next stop on this Mostar itinerary, then Delicata is also a great option. They have a range of options including pizza, pasta, and traditional Bosnian food in a great courtyard setting.
Museum of War and Genocide Victims
After lunch, it’s time to head to another sobering stop in Mostar, the Museum of War and Genocide Victims. This is an excellent place to visit if you want to learn more about Bosnia & Herzegovina as a whole during the war in the 1990s. The museum concentrates on the human toll that this horrible conflict cost the people of Bosnia & Herzegovina and how it has shaped the country — both culturally and politically — today.
The museum is open daily from 9 AM – 9 PM and costs 10 BAM per person, with discounts available for students and seniors.
Not far from the Old Town lies yet another sobering site that brings to mind the conflict and horror that Mostar endured less than 25 years ago. This abandoned building, which lies on the west side of Bulevar road — a street that acts as an unofficial dividing line between the Croat and Bosniak sides of town — was at one point a bank building that was then used as a sniper tower for Croatian forces during the 1990s war.
Today, the building is a shell of what it once was and, while officially closed to the public, it is a place of “dark tourism” that many people like to visit. It is covered in graffiti, some of which can be seen from outside of the tower. It is worth noting that visitors aren’t allowed to enter the building, however, many people hop the fence to see more graffiti and climb to the top. If you do so, please be careful as there are no protective barricades.
Mostar Gymnasium & Spanish Square
Not far at all from the Sniper Tower lies the Mostar Gymnasium, an Austro-Hungarian era school that is still in operation today. It is located next to the Spanish Square so named — to honour Spanish troops who perished during the Balkan wars.
What makes this school unique — aside from its distinctive Moorish-revival style architecture (reminiscent of the city hall in Sarajevo) — is that it remains as the only fully integrated school in the city. Mostar is one of the most ethnically divided cities in Europe and there are separate schools (and sides of the city) for both ethnic Bosniaks and ethnic Croats. The Mostar Gymnasium, however, is the only school that integrates the two ethnic groups in the city.
If you want to get some of the best views from of the Old Town and the Stari Most, you need to walk a bit further down the road from the Mostar Gymnasium and the Sniper Tower to the Lučki Most. This bridge, which is open to both cars and pedestrians, is located just south of the Old Bridge and offers some of the most spectacular views (and photo opportunities!) of the bridge and Old Town as a whole. You will also notice a distinct lack of tourists here, even though it is only a few hundred metres from the Old Town.
After all of this sightseeing and sobering war history, it’s time to unwind for the afternoon while enjoying a locally brewed craft beer. One of the best places to enjoy a Bosnian microbrew is at the Craft Beer Garden, which is located just above the Crooked Bridge and offers quite charming views of Old Mostar. This place serves up beers from microbreweries all over Bosnia, however, if you want a beer local to Mostar, we recommend trying one from Old Bridz Brewery. Prices here are also affordable, with the most expensive beer costing 7 BAM for a 500 ml glass.
You can get an introduction to a number of these sites on the Mostar Free Walking Tour. Run by the highly knowledgable Sheva, he will give you an incredibly detailed look into the history and culture of Mostar and offer some insight into all of the sites and monuments mentioned on this what to do in Mostar list. He offers multiple tours per day depending on the season and it meets in front of the Hamman Museum in the Old Town. Though the tour is free, remember that this is how he makes his living so it is good practice to tip when the tour is over whatever you feel the tour was worth.
After working up quite the appetite during your full day of sightseeing and museum hopping, its time to head to dinner. We recommend eating at Hindin Han restaurant, which is situated over the Neretva River in the Old Town. They offer a wide array of traditional Bosnian cuisine at affordable prices in a good atmosphere.
If you want to head out after dinner and experience Mostar by night, a great idea is to head to the Black Dog Pub. Mostar doesn’t have much by way of nightlife — being such a small city — however, this bar located on one side of the Crooked Bridge offers live music and local beers most nights of the week. It is a popular spot to head for a night out in Mostar for both locals and tourists alike.
What to Do in Mostar: Day Two Itinerary
If you’re wondering what to do in Mostar for a second day, then most people choose to head out of the city centre and explore the area surrounding the city. While the mains sites of Mostar can certainly be seen in one day, allowing yourself two days to be able to see the city and the surrounding area is a fantastic idea.
Day Trips from Mostar
Located fewer than 15 kilometres outside of the Mostar city centre lies the beautiful and tranquil Blagaj Tekke, which is one of the most popular day trips from Mostar. This traditional Dervish monastery dates back to the 16th century and it is still in operation today. It is a beautiful spot to visit and is well worth it if you want to see a slice of Bosnia’s history.
The Kravice Waterfall is arguably the most famous day trip from Mostar. Located about 45 kilometres southwest of Mostar close to the Croatian border, this beautiful waterfall and its inviting blue waters are incredibly worth visiting in the warm summer months. You can walk around and enjoy the beauty of falls, however, if you’re daring enough, you can also take a plunge and swim in the clear, icy waters.
Located a bit further east from Kravice and about 30 kilometres due south from Mostar is the historic village of Počitelj. Today, this village acts as an open-air museum and it is famous for its beautiful setting on the west bank of the Neretva and for its excellently-preserved Medieval-era fortress.
Another of the most famous day trips from Mostar is to Medjugorje, a historic Christian pilgrimage site located about 25 kilometres southwest of Mostar, also close to the Croatian border. It is famed for its apparent apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six local children in 1981. It has only officially been a pilgrimage site recognised by the Vatican since May of 2019.
If you don’t have your own car, one of the best ways to see all of these sites easily is on a day tour from Mostar. If you are a backpacker, you will find that many hostels will operate a tour with a driver themselves. However, if you aren’t staying in a hostel, we recommend taking this full-day tour which will take you by most of these sites with a helpful guide.
Where to Stay in Mostar
Mostar is becoming more and more popular amongst tourists and while many visit this city only as a day trip, there are still numerous great places to stay in Mostar if you plan to spend a night or two here. If you’re wondering where to stay in Mostar, have a look at these top suggestions:
Hostel Majdas — If you’re a backpacker, budget or solo traveller, this small hostel is an excellent choice. Family-run by incredibly friendly owners, they have a few comfortable dorm rooms available, great common areas, they offer day tours of the area surrounding Mostar and have a great breakfast included in the rate. Click here to see their availability
Hotel Eden — A centrally-located hotel situated within easy walking distance of Mostar’s most famous sites, they have a range of clean and comfortable rooms available and a bar and swimming pool on site. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Mostar!
Figuring out what to do in Mostar really isn’t a hard task, as there is so much to do in and around this historic city that you are sure not to be bored over the span of a short trip.
When travelling in Mostar, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Wondering what to do in Mostar? Have you been? let us know in the comments!