I have been wanting to visit Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina for as long as I can remember. I have always heard about the rich culture and history in Mostar, that I just had to go even for just a day trip. One year while visiting family in Bosnia, I convinced my family to go with my husband and I for a day trip. Once it was agreed upon, my dreams were finally coming true! It was about a two hour drive from my grandmother’s house through the most beautiful mountains and valleys I have ever laid my eyes on. I spent most of the drive with my head glued to the windows, and trying to snap as many photos as I could.
Background on Mostar:
Mostar is located in Southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is surprising how close it is to Croatia and the Adriatic sea because you could feel the warm sea breeze while walking through the old town. Mostar comes from the word Mostari, which were the bridge keepers of the Stari Most. The words Stari Most in Bosnian mean old bridge. Mostar is well known for the Stari Most (Old Bridge) that was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. The purpose of the Bridge was to connect the two parts of the town over the Neretva River. The bridge was one of the best architectural monuments built by the Ottoman’s in the Balkans. The Stari Most was destroyed in the Yugoslav war in 1992, but was rebuilt after the war in the 2000s by the help of the United Nations and a few other organizations.
All in all Mostar is absolutely magical and has stolen my heart completely! We were only able to spend a day there, but that day will forever be burned in my memory. If your only able to go for a day trip, do not fret, you will be able to see all the important historical monuments while enjoying the magic of the town.
Arrival in Mostar:
Once we arrived in Mostar, we had to find a good parking place that was not too far away from the town and the bridge. We went in August and it was very warm with temperatures 40 degrees Celsius. Other than the occasional sea breeze, it was hot as heck and we did not want to do any extra walking. There are many paid parking lots that are relatively cheap. Maybe 5 euros (or a few Bosnian Marks) for 24 hours with someone at the parking lot at all times. We chose to pay to park due to convenience because of the crowds and heat. As we are walking up to the iconic entrance to the old town, I was beaming with excitement. The cobble stone roads and old buildings sucked me in instantly!
Lunch in Mostar:
Before walking to the Old Bridge, my family and I decided it was time for some lunch. We stopped at a restaurant called Restoran Lagero, which is located right by the Old Bridge. The outside seating offered beautiful views of the bridge and the other side of Mostar. The food was delectable and some of the best Cevapi I have ever eaten. If you do not know what Cevapi is, it is minced meat formed into sausages with pita bread and a pepper spread. They are absolutely delicious and a famous Bosnian meal. After lunch enjoy a cup of Bosnian coffee, which is very similar to Turkish coffee. The coffee is served in a metal dzezva. A dzezva is a metal pot with a long handle that is used to cook the coffee in. The coffee is pretty strong and served in small coffee cups, but delicious and a good way to get a taste of the culture.
Walking on the Stari Most:
After eating a large meal (which may not have been the best idea in that heat) we set out to see the Stari Most. Walking on the iconic Old bridge was the best feeling. I felt in awe the entire time while looking out from the bridge and seeing the beautiful scenery of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar is situated in a valley with majestic mountains on either side of the bridge. A sense of pride embraced me as I noticed all of the tourists that came to see this iconic town. When you walk across the Bridge you are able to see the other side of Mostar directly across, behind the bridge toward the Koski Mehmed Pasa Mosque, or the front where most people jump from. It is pretty slippery on the bridge itself so make sure and wear good and comfortable shoes. I wore tennis shoes and had no issues!
There are many different religious churches located in Mostar such as the remains of an early Christian Basilica, the clock tower, Orthodox church, Catholic church, Franciscan Monastery, and Jewish cemetery and Synagogue. For amazing views of Mostar, make sure and go to the Koski Mehmed Pasa Mosque and climb the Minaret. The climb is pretty steep and narrow but totally worth it. Mostar is very well known for the Cultural and Ethnic diversity that it holds, and how these different Ethnic backgrounds have lived amongst each other for all these years.
The Markets in Mostar:
Make time to walk through all of the markets in Mostar. There are some very neat finds at these little markets on the cobble stone roads. I bought some beautiful paintings of Mostar by a local artist for about 10 Euros a piece! There were a lot of hand crafted items such as purses, pouches, copper plates and pens, copper coffee cups, etc. I could have spent all day walking through the markets and stumbling upon these beautiful hand crafted items. Unfortunately I over packed my suitcase and did not have enough space to buy everything that I wanted.
View Below the Stari Most:
Before we left Mostar, we walked down the stairs to the side of the River right below the Old Bridge. The view from that stand point was breath taking. It gave us a sense of how tall the bridge really is and how small we felt underneath it. The Stari Most is about 24 meters tall (78 feet tall). There is an annual Red Bull cliff diving competition held usually mid August. Divers all over the world come and dive off of the Stari Most. Even though we were not there during the diving competition, we were able to see and get a video of a diver jump from the bridge. It was such a dramatic moment while the crowds cheered the diver on and clapped after his dive. This was definitely a day that I will never forget. Even though we were able to experience a lot while in Mostar for one day, I do wish that I had more time to soak up all the beauty. I plan on returning again one day while I am in Bosnia so that I can feel the magic all over again.
If Mostar is not on your bucket list, than it should be. You will not regret taking a day trip or spending a few days in this iconic and historic old town. There are many day trips offered if you are in Croatia (especially Dubrovnik and Split). Do not miss the opportunity to hop across the border and experience this lovely town. There is a reason why Mostar is deemed where the East meets the West, and once you have been you will see what all the fuss is about.