Last summer I was a volunteer as a city tour leader for a hostel in Mostar. We got so many guests just passing through, with only a day or two to explore the town. Many of these travellers fell in love with the city that they booked another night stay. Those that just didn’t have time due to other plans, asked me “What can I do in a day”. Even though everyone would tell you to stay a few days, if you are limited to time, with some planning, you can see the major sights. Of course if you decide to stay longer, check out some more amazing things to do!
If you arrive in the morning, best to check into your hostel/hotel/pansion. The hostel I worked in last year closed down, and another reopened in its place. I recommend Guesthouse Taso (hostel), Hostel Nina (hostel) and Villa Globus (pansion). I have either stayed in these or know the owners and have worked with them previously. If you are after something a bit more luxury, check out Muslibegovic House, a historical house now part hotel part museum.
Also ask if they do a free walking tour. Krizia and I would take the guests into town, and the tour would last 30-90 minutes. We would show them the major attractions, and tell them history, both the old and about the recent war. I answered a lot of questions and many asked me about my experience.
As the rest of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Mostar uses the Bosnian Mark, but some places in the old town also accept Euro. There are ATM machines throughout the town, and an exchange right next to Fortuna Tours right before you see the bridge. Everything is incredibly cheap compared to Western Europe, and especially someone from Australia like me.
Stroll through the Old Town
Shop around the market stalls
Walk down Onescukova Ulica and you will see a street full of colourful stone houses with stalls under them selling trinkets from magnets, lamps, to paintings, handbags and pasima scarves. These stalls will continue all throughout the old town and leave you feeling like you are in Istanbul rather than the heart of Europe. This is because 400 years ago the Ottoman Empire ruled and influenced the culture which has been passed through generation after generation. They contributed to the culture, food, religion, and way of life for the people of Bosnia & Herzegovina which with each generation has changed a bit.
Walk across the Mostar Old Bridge
The Stari Most is one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks.The name Mostar comes originally from the word Mostari, which means “Bridge Keeper”. “Most” in the Bosnian language means bridge and “Star” means old.
Construction on the bridge was started in 1557 to replace the older wooden suspension bridge, taking nine years to complete. It stood for 427 years until it was destroyed on the 9th of November 1993 by the Croatian forces. Thanks to the UN, The World Bank, UNESCO and several European countries including Croatia and Turkey, this bridge was rebuilt by hand (using the traditional methods) to its former glory.
Many of the older people struggled to get across, holding onto the rails as they descend down, then holding onto me if I was near them. Though it may be slippery, good footwear and the use of the raised steps help you get by. I struggled myself the first time I walked across, but last year I crossed it about 4 times daily so I got used to running up and down in massive crowds.
Watch the divers & try the jump yourself
A tradition old as the town itself, the men of Mostar jump off the 24 meter high bridge into the icy river below. Every year the men compete in an annual diving competition and this summer for the second year in a row, it will host the Red Bull Cliff Diving. I watched it last year and its just amazing.
Year after year, visitors test their bravery and strength by jumping from the bridge.Training is offered by the local divers for around 25 euros (50 marks). Less than a thousand tourists have made this jump, and upon completion your name is entered into the record books of the diving club. Even Aussie comedians Hamish & Andy have done this, I made sure i found their names in the record book #576 & #577. Naturally, Australians are usually the ones willing to try, most of the guys I saw jump last year were from Oz.
However jumping from the bridge isn’t as easy as it looks and only do it if you are a strong swimmer as the current is very fast and can be dangerous. The locals will tell you NOT to do it, but if you are still keen, take the practice try seriously, because even at 10 meters you could hurt yourself.
My favourite place to eat in Mostar is Irma Tima, a cevapi meat shop with the most friendliest owner Irma. Try the best cevapi in town (small meat sausages served in flat bread) and Pljescavice (mince meat patties). Sorry vegetarians, Bosnia is kind of delayed on vegetarian meals, as most of our meals have some sort of meat. Its not to say there isn’t options but the best food in Bosnia has meat. Check out my other post on good places to eat.
Sip on a cool drink or a traditional coffee with this amazing view. Bjeli Bar Terrace Cafe offers lunch (top level), and drinks/cakes on the bottom level. Sunsets are beautiful to watch from here.
Try the Brusnica ledeni caj ( Cranberry ice tea). Real nice on a hot day!
Check out the best views
Climb the Koski Mehmed Pasa Mosque’s minaret
The 89 steps up a narrow staircase might seem claustrophobic, but the views are well worth it. 360 degree views lets you see the bridge, the old town, the river and beyond. Entry to the mosque is 4 Marks or 8 marks for mosque/minaret and entrance to a fenced courtyard with more amazing views, which is fantastic value.
Stari Most (Old Bridge)
Nothing beats a sunset photo from the bridge itself
Under the bridge
A popular spot for both locals and tourists. You get get your classic bridge shots here, watch the divers plunge into the river, and enjoy the sun by the water. Everyday around lunch time last year I spent a good 2-3 hours sitting on these rocks, tanning by the river, and enjoying a strawberry/lemon ice cream. During peak season this area can get pretty crowded by tour groups, but dont let that stop you from enjoying some down time here.
This is the view you get on the Lučki Most (Lučki Bridge). It is the bridge you see to your right when you are under the bridge. Its not far from the old town and offers some of the best view in town.
Learn about the war
Walking throughout town its hard to not notice bullet ridden buildings, half torn apart with graffiti drawn over shelling holes. Not a pretty picture but sadly part of Mostar’s history. Its hard to walk down in a town so picturesque and see buildings like these. They bring up a lot of emotions especially for Bosnians but it is important to learn about war, so it never happens again. Visit the War photo Exhibition on the right side of the bridge’s tower, and walk across the dividing line; the front line where a bank was used as a sniper tower. On this front line life these days is back to normal, but a primary school and residential buildings exist on half torn down buildings, and you still can find bullets on the ground, sand bags still in place in abandoned torn buildings.
Have a good time
End the perfect day in Mostar with a visit to Oscar’s Summer garden. Enjoy a beer, a fruit cocktail or coffee with some dinner, great company, a mix of bosnian/english/turkish music and comfy cushion seats.
Have you been to Mostar? I want to hear your favourites!
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