The historic city of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina is both charming and complicated; idyllic and evocative. The first sight of the centerpiece bridge makes visitors swoon – but seeking out lesser-visited corners of the city can result in an everlasting love. When we visit Mostar, we like to dig into the history, venture into nature and connect with locals. Since we’ve spent more time in Mostar than most tourists, we’ve devised a list of 21 things to do in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina to help other travelers experience the city.
21 Things to do in Mostar
Stand at the top of the Old Bridge
When you visit Mostar, crossing the historic Old Bridge that spans the viridian Neretva River is an essential experience. Built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, the high-arched, stone bridge was destroyed in the Croat-Bosniak War in 1993. After the war, the Old Bridge was rebuilt to the same specifications of the original bridge – even using local Tenelia rock and the Ottoman method of construction.
Tip: While landscape photos from the top of the bridge are stunning, photos of people standing at the top of the bridge don’t fare as well. Instead, the person being photographed should stand on the south side of the bridge and the photographer should cross to the west and immediately turn left onto the small terrace to take the photo.
Climb the Koski Mehmet-Pasha Mosque minaret
Mostar is home to many mosques – just look at the horizon and count the number of minarets piercing the sky. The 17th century Koski Mehmet-Pasha Mosque is the second biggest mosque in Mostar and is located on the left bank of the Neretva, just upriver from the Old Bridge. Visitors (not required to wear head coverings or remove shoes) are invited inside the mosque and can climb the 88 stairs of the minaret for 360 degree views of Mostar. For those who fear heights and confined spaces, the views from the riverside beside the mosque are also lovely (but still require a ticket).
Tip: The staff at the mosque are open and helpful. Don’t hesitate to ask questions – especially if this is your first visit to a mosque.
Feast on local cuisine
Meat lovers rejoice: the cuisine in Mostar is meat-heavy…and delicious. Feast (and we mean feast) on platters of cevapi (sausages), japrak (grape leaves filled with meat and rice) and shish kebabs (skewers of beef and lamb). For quick take-away, indulge in burek – a meat-filled pastry and Balkan specialty that is filling enough to be a complete meal all on its own (albeit not a particularly healthy one). Check out the top-rated restaurants in Mostar!
Tip: Need a break from traditional Bosnian fare? Step out of the Old Town and find local restaurants serving a variety of food. Our recommended spot: Megi – an Italian restaurant with a Bosnian influence that is heavily favored by locals.
Look up from the base of the Peace Bell Tower
The church bell tower is the tallest structure in Mostar, standing at 352 feet. It was completed in 2000 and there is some contention that the soaring height of the tower is meant to emphasize the presence of the Catholic church in Mostar, fueling the dissonance still lingering from the Croat-Bosniak War. However, many locals in Mostar refer to the tower as the Tower of Peace; as the church assures peace and co-existence were the intention. Next to the bell tower is the Franciscan Church of Saints Peter and Paul – also rebuilt in 2000 – which resembles an airplane hangar more than a church and has a plain façade that is mimicked on the interior, as well.
Tip: There is an elevator inside the bell tower that takes visitors to the height of 262 feet for views over the city.
View the Old Bridge from below
While the views from the Old Bridge are phenomenal, views of the Old Bridge are perhaps even better. On the right bank of the river, wind your way through the Old Town down to the riverside, south of the stream. The embankment is a great spot to pose for a picture with the iconic bridge in the background.
Tip: Bring a blanket and picnic (or a few beers) – the embankment tiers are ideal for a leisurely rest and meal-with-a-view.
Buy a copper souvenir
Both streets leading away from the Old Bridge are lined with tourist shops. Many of the trinkets are kitschy and likely mass-produced in a foreign country – like scarves and magnets. However, war relics, such as artillery shells and gas masks – as well as bits of Yugoslavia-era memorabilia – are also for sale from many Old Town vendors. For authentic souvenirs that aren’t tinged with a heavy heart, we suggest seeking out homemade merchandise, like Bosnian coffee pots (called dzezva) or copper jewelry. Locally hand-crafted copper goods are a unique keepsake.
Tip: Just west of the Old Bridge, past the first café on the left is a coppersmith who makes a wide array of items for sale at affordable prices.
Visit the historic village of Pocitelj
Located about 30km south of Mostar along the banks of the Neretva River is the village of Pocitelj. With high hills, the land has long held strategic significance. Although many of the current structures – the mosque, religious school, bathhouse and houses – were damaged in the war and had to be reconstructed, the fortress at the top of the hill was left unscathed.
Tip: For phenomenal views over the village and river, climb to the top of the tower and peer through the windows.
Enjoy sunset from the Terasa Bar
Perched above the shops on Kujundziluk Street on the east side of the river is the small and simple Terasa Bar. The no-frills rooftop patio allows patrons a view of the Old Bridge, river, mountains and surrounding city. With drinks only costing slightly more than in other cafes in Mostar, snagging a front row seat at sunset can’t be beat.
Tip: The patio tends to fill up right before the sun goes down. Get there early to get a spot!
Hike in the mountains
The mountains surrounding Mostar are an ideal escape from the crush of tourists in the city. Trails cut through pine forests and lead to high peaks. A popular trail from the city center leads to the large cross on Hum Hill – which most hikers say can be completed in about two hours one-way. However, to really get a good dose of nature, drive into the mountains and then hop on a trail outside of the city.
Tip: Rujiste Mountain – which stands 5,587 feet – is known for its ski resort, but in the summer, there are hiking trails through the forest. Bonus Tip: After hiking Ruijiste Mountain, stop at Snjezna Kuca-Rujiste for a traditional Bosnian mountain meal.
Wander through a cemetery
It’s difficult to believe that Mostar’s picture-perfect Old Town could have been exposed to the ugliness of war. To better understand the war and reflect on the reality of it, wander into one of the many cemeteries in Mostar. You will find the majority of gravestones date to the early 1990s.
Tip: Interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the war that raged in Mostar? Take the Mostar in War Historical Walking Tour.
Listen to live music at Black Dog Pub
Hanging over the Radobolja creek that flows into the Neretva, just upstream from the small Crooked Bridge, is the Black Dog Pub. Unlike most of the other cafes and bars in Mostar, at Black Dog Pub there is local craft beer on tap and in bottles – which is a relatively new concept in Mostar. Live music is regularly scheduled – and recently Quiz Night was added to the list of evening events at the pub. While the interior exudes the feel of a cozy bar, the outdoor riverside terraces are a relaxing retreat. After sampling the brews Black Dog Pub has on offer, beer enthusiasts might want to join the Mostar Beer Tasting Tour.
Tip: While the OldBridz beers seemed to be most popular local beer at Black Dog, we enjoyed the Livanjsko Pivo on tap!
Swim at the Kravica Waterfalls
As fascinating as it is to learn about the history and culture of Mostar and the surrounding villages, it is equally enchanting to immerse yourself in the region’s natural wonders. The Trebizat River spills over tufa rocks, cascading 80 feet down into pools of glowing cerulean water – and creating a naturally stunning sight. Visitors to the Kravica Waterfalls can wade right in for a swim in the cool water or stay dry on the shoreline and enjoy a beverage at one of the cafes.
Tip: Follow the dirt trail along the flow of the river for a peaceful stroll or rent bikes from the cafe and ride to the small waterfalls.
People-watch from Caffe Stari Grad
Find a seat at one of the outdoor tables at Caffe Stari Grad and watch the endless stream of people as they make their way to and from the Stari Most bridge. You’ll likely see tourists eating ice cream, couples strolling arm-in-arm, shopkeepers chatting and families assisting toddlers learning to walk on the slick stones.
Tip: The café has Mostarska Pivo on tap – which is brewed locally!
Tour the Dervish Monastery at Blagaj
Built in 1520, Blagaj Tekija (or Tekke)– a Dervish monastery – stands at the base of a high cliff at the mouth of the Buna River karstic spring, Vrelo Bune. The house, which has been used by various orders, is a place to pray – although, today, it also functions as a tourist site. After touring Blagaj Tekija, find a place along the river to enjoy a Bosnian coffee or meal and enjoy the peacefulness.
Tip: For the best photos of Blagaj Tekija, cross the bridge to the opposite side of the river and follow the dirt path to the clearing.
Drink a Bosnian Coffee
Bosnian coffee delivers a caffeine jolt that is steeped in tradition. Similar to Turkish coffee, the thick liquid is served in a dzezva – a small (usually copper) pot with a long handle – along with a tiny ceramic cup, two sugar cubes, a glass of water and a gummy and sweet Turkish delight all situated on a tray.
Tip: If you have never had a Bosnian (or Turkish) coffee, how to consume it can appear a mystery at first. The waiter can help, but here are the basics: Scrape the foam from the top and stir it gently into the coffee, but be careful not to unsettle the grounds that sit in the bottom of the pot. Put one sugar cube in the ceramic cup and slowly pour the coffee over the sugar until it is covered. Use a spoon to help dissolve the sugar, then add more coffee without letting any grounds spill into your cup. Sip and enjoy…and finish with the Turkish delight!
Walk in the marshlands
The Hutovo Blato Nature Park is a preserved wetlands area – which was once used as hunting grounds. Declared a nature reserve in 1995, the park covers 28 square miles and has one of the largest wintering bird populations in Europe. Some of the activities at the park include bird watching, fishing, biking and taking a boat ride through the marshy waters.
Tip: Contact the park in advance to organize your visit.
Watch war footage at the bookstore
At the east end of the Old Bridge is a bookstore and souvenir shop, Old Bridge Gallery. In the back of the store, they play a short documentary on the Croat-Bosniak War – and, more specifically, on the destruction of the Old Bridge – on a continuous loop. (Fee: 2 euro per person)
Tip: Although images and video of the war can be found on the internet for free, there is a profound impact of watching the film in the store and then moments later stepping onto the very bridge you just witnessed crumbling into the river.
Explore the streets beyond the Old Town
Many tourists never leave the confines of the Old Town – and by doing so, they miss the neighborhoods where most locals live and work. Crisscross the bridges up and down the river or explore the lanes that crawl into the neighborhoods. In the area to the north of the Old Town is Mepas Mall – complete with name-brand retailers, an upscale restaurant, a bowling alley and movie theater – that is sure to be packed with local residents. Walk a stretch of Bulevar, the front line that divided the opposing sides during the Croat-Bosniak War. Venture into the western suburbs, dominated by Croats. Notice the mix of new and old buildings – and a smattering of structures destroyed in the war that have been left with only a shell and are still waiting to be renovated.
Tip: Be sure to pass through Spanish Square (Spanski trg), where the Mostar Gymnasium (Gimnazija) is located. The striking yellow building, which was rebuilt in 2009, houses Mostar’s only integrated school, which is attended by both Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats.
Make a deal with a diver
For more than 400 years, divers have been leaping from the Old Bridge into the swift waters of the Neretva River. It used to be a rite of passage, but more recently, the divers have become entrepreneurial – and now only dive from the bridge when enticed by tips from tourists (we’ve seen them earn up to 100 euros for one dive). In 2015, the inaugural Cliff Diving World Series sponsored by Red Bull took place on the Old Bridge. The event included a diving competition and other stunts – and due to popularity, it might become an annual occurrence.
Tip: The best place to watch the divers is from below the bridge…but be patient. They tease the crowd by standing on the edge of the bridge, but don’t jump until they’ve earned enough cash.
Meet and mingle with locals
To get a real feel for Mostar, strike up a conversation with a local. Most people speak English – at least the younger generations and those in the tourist industry. The people tend to be open and honest – and conversations can cover a wide range of subjects from Yugoslavia to the war to bridge jumping to current politics.
Tip: Be sensitive when asking questions about the war. Anyone over the age of 30 most likely has firsthand memories of the fighting…and anyone younger surely grew up hearing personal stories about the war.
Stroll through the Old Town at night
After the sun sets and the shops close their doors, take a stroll through the quiet streets of the Old Town. Without the buzz of activity, the streets transform into a place of peacefulness. The stones on the Old Town streets, polished by thousands of footsteps, glow under street lamps and the sounds of the babbling river rise on a light breeze.
Tip: For those who are early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise, the stillness of the Old Town can also be experienced at dawn.
We want to know: Have you been fortunate enough to visit Mostar? What would you add to our list of things to do in Mostar? If you haven’t been to Mostar, what would you most look forward to doing in the city? Tell us in the comments below!
Our Top Tips for when you visit Mostar
Ways To Experience Mostar
Mostar is a city that is easy to explore using your own two feet. Rambling through the city without a specific destination can reveal parts of Mostar that are less-often seen by tourists. For a more enaging and educational walk through the city, however, join a local for a Mostar Old Town Walking Tour.
Some of our recommended Things To Do in Mostar require taking a trip outside of the city center. Not all sites are reachable via public transportation and will require a car or organized tour. One of the most popular tours from Mostar combines three of our recommended sights, in a single day trip to Kravica, Pocitelj and Balgaj (or the same trip with an additional stop at Medugorje, a city where local girls witnessed the apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1981).
Food and wine-lovers have ample opportunities to sample the local cuisine in the Old Town. However, on a Full-Day Wine and Food Tour, either exploring the area of Herzegovina East or Herzegovina West – visitors can be introduced to a broader range of regional cuisine and locally-produced wine direct from the winery. As mentioned previously, those interested in the local craft beer scene and breweries should check out the Mostar Beer Tasting Tour.
Travelers who would rather have someone else take charge of all the planning details of a trip to Mostar should consider the Mostar 3-Night Complete Package.
Information and Wifi
There are many tourist agencies in Mostar that can offer advice, but we depend on Tour Guide Mostar as a central source of reliable information. Their website has a wealth of tips and recommendations – direct from Mostar locals – that can enhance your trip to Mostar. Tour Guide Mostar has also brought free wifi to the Old Town, allowing tourists to easily connect to the internet in the heart of the city.
Where To Stay
During our visit to Mostar, we stayed in two awesome Airbnb Apartments owned by the same Super Host, Tarik. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) Not only are his apartments clean, comfortable and very close to the Old Town, he goes a step further and organizes tours for his guests – like the full-day tour mentioned above. We highly recommend booking with Tarik!
For those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, however, there are many Mostar hotels to choose from in – or close to – the Old Town. Check out these top-rated hotels for your upcoming trip:
- Hotel Kapetanovina (which has a three veiwpoint rooms each with their own terrace)
- Hotel Kriva Cuprija
- Hotel Eden
Or These Hostels:
Before You Go: Our top tips for your trip
- Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes that are slip resistant (the stone streets of the Old Town are slick!). I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- Although the information is limited, it’s still a good idea to get a guidebook prior to arriving. Having a map can also be useful – especially if self-driving!
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
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