Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the highlights of the Balkans and is one of the most popular places in Bosnia and Herzegovina (or maybe even the most popular). And it’s so famous for a reason – the city is just incredible and definitely has more Mostar attractions than just the famous old bridge.
Mostar is also one of my favorite cities that I always love to return to. I was lucky enough to visit Mostar a couple of times and had the opportunity to get to know the city a bit better than most tourists who normally can only spend a day in Mostar.
While you can see all the highlights in these few hours, I recommend staying in Mostar a bit longer to enjoy it to the fullest. And today I’m happy to share with you everything I know about this amazing city, including the best things to do in Mostar and some tips to help you plan your trip to Mostar.
Mostar, the city with around 60,000 inhabitants, is located in the southern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 130 km from the capital Sarajevo and not far from the border with Croatia. The name of the city comes from the word “Mostari” and means bridge guardian.
Why visit Mostar?
Most visitors to Mostar come here to see the famous Old Bridge. This is the first good reason why you should consider a trip here. But Mostar is more than just this iconic structure. There are numerous other interesting monuments in Mostar, which I will explain in detail later.
When you walk through the colorful bazaar on the slippery stones, you have the feeling that time has stopped here.
After the recent Balkan War in the 1990s, Mostar was unofficially divided between Bosniaks and Croatians. The discovery of the city beyond the old part is like a lesson in living history.
Mostar can also be used as a starting point for some great day trips – in the immediate vicinity of the city you will find old towns, historical monuments and an amazing nature.
Mostar is a great introduction to Bosnia and Herzegovina and thanks to its location, the city can easily be added to your Balkan route.
A brief history of Mostar
The Mostar area was already inhabited in Roman times. In the Middle Ages, two banks of the Neretva River were connected by a wooden bridge. The settlement was on the trade route from the Adriatic to the mainland and grew as a Turkish administrative center.
After the anti-Turkish uprising, the city became part of the Habsburg Empire in 1875 and after its collapse in 1918 it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. During Yugoslavia, Mostar developed into one of the most important cities in the region, but the old town remained the same with its charming atmosphere.
Mostar has been in independent Bosnia and Herzegovina since March 1992, but just two months later, in May 1992, the terrible struggles of the home war began. Not only did many people die and had to move, but numerous monuments were destroyed, including the legendary Old Bridge.
The war ended in 1995 and even if you can still see many remains from these tragic times, Mostar is a relaxed and safe place to visit.
Mostar travel tips
How much time to spend in Mostar
Most tourists only visit Mostar for a few hours as a day trip from Dubrovnik, Split or Sarajevo. And you can see a lot in Mostar in one day, but the city can also be a bit crowded and you will be rushed during your sightseeing.
I recommend spending at least 2 days in Mostar – you can see the old town without crowds, discover the city beyond and explore the area around Mostar – it hides some really great places!
How do I get to Mostar?
Getting to Mostar is actually pretty easy from all directions.
If you arrive from Sarajevo, you have frequent buses and two trains a day. I recommend taking the train – the view on the way is breathtaking! The bus also has some nice views, but those from the train are much better.
They also have at least one bus connection a day from other cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina such as Bihac, Banja Luka, Tuzla, Travnik, Jajce or Trebinje.
If you are coming from Croatia you can easily reach Mostar by bus from Dubrovnik or Split. There are some connections every day. You can also take the direct bus to Zagreb, but this would be a long trip, so it’s better to share it somewhere along the way.
There is also a direct bus from Belgrade (Serbia), but it takes 11 hours, luckily it goes overnight.
Kotor (Montenegro) is quite close, but the buses go via Podgorica and therefore take far too much time. If you plan to travel from Kotor to Mostar (or vice versa), I recommend taking the direct transfer with you 360MonsThey are cheaper and faster than the bus.
Where to stay in Mostar
Many of the accommodation options in Mostar are near the old bridge, and I definitely recommend walking to the old town as parking in this area can be difficult. Remember that the roads leading west from Marsala Tita Street are slightly uphill. If you want to book the property, you may have to go uphill a bit.
Here are some of the recommended places to stay in Mostar:
- Budget: Hostel Lovely Home (9.4 / 10 when booking), Hostel Sema (9.6 / 10 when booking), Hostel Aurora (9.3 / 10 when booking)
- Middle class: Pansion Bubamara Mostar (9.3 / 10 when booking), Pansion Infinity (9.6 / 10 when booking), Pansion Villa Nur (9.6 / 10 when booking)
- Luxury: Bosnian National Monument Muslibegovic House (9.2 / 10 when booking), Hotel-Restaurant Kriva Ćuprija (9.4 / 10 when booking)
How to get around Mostar
Most of Mostar’s attractions are within walking distance of each other. This is the best way to get around the city. You can even walk to some of the more distant places, such as the Bruce Lee Memorial.
If you want to visit Mount Hum or the abandoned hangar, you should arrive by car. For day trips in Mostar, it is best to also drive or take part in the organized tour (e.g. this).
Is Mostar expensive?
Even though Mostar is a very touristy place, prices are affordable there (especially when compared to nearby Dubrovnik). You can expect to pay € 10 or less for dining in the restaurant. The coffee should be € 2 or less. The overnight prices depend on the location and the standard, but are also very fair.
In general, Mostar is not an expensive place to visit.
Women traveling alone in Mostar
I often travel alone in the Balkans and some of my trips to Mostar were also alone. I’ve never had any problems.
I remember when I first arrived in Mostar in the evening. The city can be a little dark in the evening and it may feel deserted, but there was not much to worry about and my biggest enemy was my imagination.
If you’re a watchful observer, you may notice some tension between two parts of the city, but as a tourist it shouldn’t bother you too much. The people in Mostar are very friendly and welcoming and I made good friends with the locals as a solo traveler.
Activities in Mostar
Now that you know everything about visiting Mostar, it’s time to talk about the best things to do in Mostar. And there are many of them, you will definitely not be bored!
Walk across the famous old bridge
The Old Bridge in Mostar is probably the most famous and most photographed place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most famous sights in the Balkans.
Originally built in the mid-16th century, it replaced the older wooden bridge that connects two parts of the city separated by the Neretva River. Unfortunately, the bridge was destroyed during the Balkan War on November 9, 1993 (You can see the heartbreaking video here) and what we can see now is the newly created version. Stones from the original bridge were used to complete the new structure, which was completed in 2004.
In fact, the city of Mostar was named after the bridge – “Old Bridge” means “Stari Most” in Bosnian.
The bridge is only 30 meters long and 4 meters wide, but crossing it can be a bit difficult, especially with too many tourists (which is common in Mostar). The bridge is quite steep and very slippery, so you need to be extra careful when walking. Make sure you have comfortable shoes, flip-flops are definitely not recommended!
The Old Bridge in Mostar, together with the surrounding old town, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.
Climb to the minaret for the best view of Mostar
There are some excellent viewpoints from which you can admire the Old Bridge in all its glory. The most spectacular, however, is the minaret of the nearby Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque.
It can be difficult to get to the top, especially for people who are claustrophobic – the stairs are very narrow. During my visit, there were parts where the light didn’t work, so I had to climb into total darkness (luckily, there were no other tourists, so we didn’t have to maneuver to get past each other).
But as soon as you get to the top of the minaret, forget about the fight as you are impressed by the view. You can see the 360 degree panorama of Mostar with the old bridge in front of you. This view is really worth the effort. You cannot find a better view anywhere else in the city.
Find other viewpoints to admire the old bridge
If you feel like getting to the minaret of the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, it is too difficult for you. I have good news – there are many other great viewpoints in Mostar.
My two favorites are from Lučki Bridge (the closest bridge on the Neretva River that you can see from the old bridge) and from the river bank on the left when you face the bridge. To get close to the river, you have to turn right on Gojka Vukovića street, near the Konzum shop, next to the parking lot and the destroyed houses.
This place is usually less crowded than the bridge and the surrounding area, but offers such a good view of the old bridge. I spent hours there, just relaxing and enjoying the place.
From one of the restaurants nearby you also have a good view of the Old Bridge. Many of them offer terraces where you can enjoy the beautiful panorama.
Find the crooked bridge
After seeing the old bridge, you should find the crooked bridge (Kriva ćuprija). It is tucked away behind Onešćukova Street (the main shopping street to the Old Bridge), just a few steps away from her better-known brother.
The Crooked Bridge was built in 1558, eight years before the Old Bridge, and is an identical, smaller version of the legendary Mostar attraction. The tiny bridge over the Radobolja river was created as a prototype of the Old Bridge, hence all the similarities.
What you can see now is the rebuilt version of the bridge – the original one was destroyed during the 2001 flood.
While there are usually crowds on the Old Bridge, the Curved Bridge is blissfully empty and you can easily admire the technical masterpiece of the old days.
Walk around the bazaar
The Old Bazaar – Kujundžiluk – is the most charming (if somewhat cheesy) place in Mostar. It is also one of the oldest parts of the city and dates from the mid-16th century.
The bazaar with its cobbled, winding streets was once the center of Mostar with over 500 workshops! Today the place is very colorful and full of souvenir sellers and tourists shopping in Mostar.
This is actually the best place for souvenirs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the prices are really reasonable.
The bazaar may be a bit small, just a few streets on either side of the Old Bridge, but it is certainly a great pleasure and one of the best things to do in Mostar to walk around it.
Buy local goodies
If you want to try local products, especially in liquid form, you can buy homemade rakia and other alcoholic fruit drinks in Mostar. They are very good so it is easy to lose track if you try them all. Just a piece of friendly advice – you want to learn from my mistakes, so don’t mix them, or you’ll have a very difficult morning.
In addition to alcohol, you can also buy local jams and honey. The local products in the Balkans are very good, so you can be sure that the things you can buy here are delicious.
In the bazaar area you will find shops selling local delicacies.
Visit the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque
The view from the minaret is not the only reason why you should visit the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque. It was built in the early 17th century and is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture in Mostar.
The interior of the mosque is bright and colorful and very beautiful. During the Balkan War, the mosque was badly damaged, but restored and can please the eyes of visitors again.
Visit other mosques in Mostar
While the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque is the most popular mosque in Mostar, there are a few other Islamic temples worth visiting.
The 16th century Karađoz Bey Mosque is the largest mosque in the region with the impressive dome. This is still the working mosque. So make sure you follow all the rules and prayer times when you visit.
Another mosque worth paying attention to is the Nezir Agina Mosque near the Crocked Bridge.
Visit the war photo exhibition
If you are interested in Mostar’s recent history, I recommend visiting the War Photo Exhibition.
It is located in one of the old bridge towers (on the opposite side of the river from the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque) and shows photos from the Balkan war in Mostar in the 1990s. There are around 50 pictures by New Zealand photographer Wade Goddard that show what life was like in Mostar during this tragic period.
From the tower you can also see the Ol Bridge from a unique perspective. This is another bonus when visiting the exhibition.
Visit the Old Bridge Museum
In the tower opposite, you can visit the Old Bridge Museum. It opened in 2006 shortly after the bridge was rebuilt and focuses on the iconic structure, its history and important events. There are also archaeological objects found during the reconstruction of the bridge in the early 2000s.
This is a great place to learn more about the famous old bridge and its background.
Visit the Catholic Church and the Franciscan Monastery
When you visit Mostar, you will immediately notice the high tower of the Catholic Church. It was originally built in 1866, but was destroyed during the war. The rebuilt version included a much higher tower (to emphasize the Croatian group and Christian heritage in the city) and the Franciscan monastery.
You can take the elevator to the top of the tower to see Mostar from a different perspective.
Visit the Muslibegovic House and the Biscevic House
To see the beautiful old houses from the Ottoman period, you should visit the Muslibegovic House and the Biscevic House. They were built in the 17th century and both now serve as a museum and can give you an insight into life in the old Mostar.
You can also stay at Muslibegovic House, which was considered one of the best accommodations in the world a few years ago. Click here for more information about accommodation at Muslibegovic House.
Find remnants of war in Mostar
Mostar was badly hit during the war in the 1990s, with heavy fighting in and around the city. You can still see many remains of these tragic times today.
While most of the destroyed buildings in Sarajevo are in good condition, there are ruins in Mostar on every corner. Everything looks beautiful and shiny in the old town and only a more attentive visitor will recognize the “Do not forget” signs 93.
However, if you walk a street or two beyond the tourist area, you’ll find destroyed houses and bullet holes on the walls. The symbol of war in Mostar is next to the old bridge the so-called “sniper tower”. The building of the former bank was used as a shooting range and today only the skeleton of the building remains, which reminds everyone of the Mostar tragedy.
More information on the remains of the Mostar War can be found here.
See the infamous Sniper Tower
This is probably the most haunted building in Mostar, a sad reminder of the war in Mostar, as opposed to the breathtaking gymnasium that is across the street.
Before the war in the 1990s, the building served as a bank, but when the fighting began, snipers used it as their position – after all, most of the city could be seen from the tall building. Today the building is a ruin, but local artists used it as a gallery – you can see many murals on the wall around the Sniper Tower as well as inside the building.
It is forbidden to go in and the entrance has been bricked up, but if you are fit enough you can jump over it and do Urbex.
Say hello to Bruce Lee
You might not expect that, but in Mostar you can meet Brue Lee or at least his life-size statue. It was unveiled on November 26, 2005 and was the first Bruce Lee statue in the world (the famous one from Hong Kong was unveiled just a day later). You can find it in the Zrinjevac park next to the sniper tower in the city center.
It is said to be a symbol of solidarity in the ethnically divided city, but the sculpture was often destroyed because the locals viewed it as a provocation. Nevertheless, it is such a strange place that shows that Mostar is more than just the famous bridge.
Enjoy the street art scene
One of the most surprising things in Mostar is the amazing street art scene. There are some amazing murals all over the city, especially on and around the abandoned sniper tower, near the university and along Alekse Šantića Street. There is also the annual Street Art Festival with artists from all over the world who create their works on the walls of Mostar.
I wrote the whole article about Street Art in Mostar – click here to read it.
Admire the beautiful high school
The gymnasium, a bit away from the Old Bridge, is one of the most beautiful buildings you will see in Mostar. It almost looks like a copy of Vijecnica – the town hall in Sarajevo.
The high school was founded in 1893 as the second school of this kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the impressive building was completed in 1902. It was designed in the Moorish revival style to promote Bosnia’s national identity, and is now considered a national monument.
The high school is still in the building, but you can at least admire how beautiful it is from the outside.
Enjoy the food scene
The Bosnian food is really delicious and you can try it in Mostar. Most restaurants are located in the old town and even if they are in the tourist area, the prices are still fair.
Some of the Bosnian dishes you should try are grilled meat, cevapi and pljeskavica (minced meat).
Unfortunately, vegetarians find it difficult to eat local dishes, but restaurants usually have meat-free options, often grilled vegetables, which are delicious.
Drink the famous Bosnian coffee
Bosnian coffee is a paradise for all coffee lovers. It’s strong, fat, and definitely gives you a lot of energy when you’re tired of Mostar’s sights. In addition, it is served in a traditional set called džezva – it is a small pot with a long neck that is usually beautifully decorated. The coffee in it tastes even better!
You can taste traditional Bosnian coffee at numerous locations in the old town.
Admire brave divers
The famous diving competitions take place in Mostar every summer in late July. Brave men jump from the Old Bridge to the cold Neretva River and this event always brings with it many people who admire their extraordinary skills and courage.
But even without the competitions, you can see local people hanging out on the bridge and collecting money for the jump – once they have enough (usually around € 50) you can see them jumping in the traditional style. It only takes a few seconds, but it definitely looks impressive!
Go to Hum Mountain and enjoy the breathtaking view of the surroundings
You will most likely notice the hill with the big cross over the city – this is Mount Hum. The Millennium Cross, which appeared on the mountain and was seen from most parts of Mostar, was somewhat controversial in the city’s Muslim community (just like the tower of the Catholic Church).
The best way to get to the mountain is by car. However, if you decide to take a walk, also follow the road as the slopes may still be broken down. From the mountain you can admire the spectacular panorama of Mostar and the surrounding area.
See the real face of the city
Most people only visit Mostar to see the old bridge and surroundings and don’t really go beyond the old town. That is a big mistake!
It’s worth getting out of the tourist bubble and wandering through the random parts of the city. You will see what the real Mostar looks like, with numerous cafes where the locals are, and unfortunately still too many memories of the difficult times in the 1990s. But to get an idea of the city, it is also worth seeing these parts of Mostar!
Visit the abandoned aircraft hangar
Urbex fans and exploring abandoned places will find another interesting place in Mostar. An abandoned aircraft hangar is located on the outskirts of the city.
It is hidden on the slope and was used to store fighter jets in the time of Yugoslavia. Today this is just a huge concrete cave with nothing inside.
Bring comfortable (and covered!) Shoes and a flashlight if you want to visit the place. You will need it.
Walk through the old town in the evening
Most of the tourists visiting Mostar only come for a day, often as a day trip from Dubrovnik. In the evening the old town is blissfully empty and then you will see and feel the real magic of the place.
If you’re lucky enough to visit the off-season, you may even have the whole area to yourself and hear nothing but your own footsteps on the cobbled streets.
In the evening, when the crowd is gone, Mostar reveals the other face and that is what makes this city so unique and amazing. You don’t want to miss that!
Take day trips from Mostar
While Mostar itself is a great place to visit, the city can also be used as a perfect base for some day trips.
The most popular places to visit from Mostar are Blagaj (with the dervish house and the source of the Buna river), Pocitelj (a charming little town glued to the hill above the Neretva river, a perfect example of the Ottoman Architecture) and the Kravica waterfall and Medjugorje (famous for its religious cult). The best way to see all of these places at once is to take the tour – Click here for details.
However, you can also visit more distant places like Konjic, Trebinjne or Stolac. Maybe even take a day trip from Mostar to Dubrovnik!
Final thoughts on visiting Mostar
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina was my dream destination when I saw the picture of the legendary bridge. It was years ago, I had no idea about the history, background and meaning of the city, but this one view was enough for me that I really wanted to visit Mostar.
The city did not disappoint me, I fell for it from the moment I saw the Old Bridge and enjoyed it more and more with every minute. Today it is still one of my favorite places in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the Balkans. Every time I see the Old Bridge, my jaw drops a little. This view never gets boring.
I am sure you will enjoy Mostar as much as I do. It is a truly unique and amazing travel destination that you cannot miss on your trip to the Balkans!
I am a frequent visitor to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans and have covered this region extensively in this blog. You may find these articles interesting and useful when planning your trip to the Balkans:
For my Polish readers, I strongly recommend checking this out The blog of my friend Paweł, who also wrote a lot about Mostar (and took a few pictures you could see in this article).
Finally, I left a few announcements that may interest you:
- Sign up for my newsletter or follow me on bloglovin to get updates on the new posts
- Join my Facebook group on Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the former USSR and connect with other travelers and enthusiasts from these regions – Just click here!
- I have added some useful links to services and products that I personally like and use so that you can plan your own trip to Mostar. They are often affiliate links. Dies bedeutet, dass ich eine kleine Provision bekomme, wenn Sie etwas über meine Links buchen / kaufen, ohne zusätzliche Kosten für Sie. Thank you so much!
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