After Sarajevo, I was bracing myself for Mostar. I knew about the beauty; but I wasn’t sure how much the city was still affected by the war, especially compared to Bosnia’s capital and the horrors we’d seen there.
The huge difference with Mostar though, is once you get into the historic centre, it doesn’t feel like it was a war-torn town at all. Even around the bridge, which was destroyed, there are very little scars, and it’s easy to forget what once was.
Plus, Mostar has very much turned its attention to tourism. The bustling markets and crowded, narrow streets were completely different to Sarajevo, but I quickly immersed myself in it and enjoyed the (dry!) cobblestones and beautiful views over the water.
I’m saying it now: I LOVED Mostar!
It’s become popular with day trippers from Dubrovnik, which had me slightly worried, but for now, it’s not intensely crowded and it’s still cheap. And it’s such a charming, fairytale town that it’s hard not to be enchanted by it.
AND – it didn’t rain! It threatened to, but it didn’t!
We started with a walking tour, taking us through the centre of town, across the famous bridge, and through the markets along to the mosque (which you can see in the photo above).
Every building had character; every corner had a surprise. It was clean, it was friendly, and it’s just a lovely little town.
Of course, the star of the town is the bridge: Stari Most, or “Old Bridge” (it sounds so much better in Bosnian).
It’s hard to believe the bridge is only fifteen years old – after it was completely destroyed in 1993, it wasn’t fully rebuilt until 2004, and since then it’s become iconic. But looking back at photos from before the war, you would barely notice the difference between this and the original 16th century bridge. That’s part of what made it so amazing. Now, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.
For the famous view, you do need to pay a fee, which I hadn’t realised. It was fully worth it though – you pay an entrance fee of about €3 (6 Bosnian marks) to the mosque and go around to the terrace at the back. You can also pay extra to go up to the top of the minaret, but I felt like this view was great enough.
We spent quite some time here taking photos, waiting to see if the sun would come out (it did AFTERWARDS, of course).
We took a wander back through the markets, stopping at quite a few of the artworks. I buy postcards everywhere I go, so instead of picking up a typical tourist one, I bought one with artwork instead.
I didn’t know this from our trip (maybe our guide told us and I didn’t hear) but the markets, or “Čaršija” as they’re known, are split between each side of the bridge with the Bosniaks on one side and the Croats on the other. It’s completely unnoticeable to tourists passing through, but I found this really interesting to read about.
Our guide had recommended Restoran Sadrvan for lunch, and although it seemed like it was probably very touristy (it’s right by the bridge!), we went to have a look and found most of our tour had wound up there too. And the food was delicious! I was excited to try Bosnian food, as I hadn’t really had a chance to eat anything traditional the day before (that cake pictured in my last post was delicious though?!).
I don’t know if we would have found somewhere better, but this place was really nice, with an outdoor garden terrace. Our food came out in traditional dishes, I tried something I’d never even heard of (and I don’t remember what it was now, but some sort of Bosnian curry? It was almost like beef olives in a curry sauce), and I even got a postcard!
Naturally, we also stopped by the bridge to watch some divers. Someone on our tour even jumped, which I didn’t realise he was doing!!
The bridge has attracted hundreds of people to jump off it – I can’t find any exact numbers, but it looks like almost 2,000 tourists have dived off the bridge since it re-opened in 2004, most of them Australian. Only five women have jumped. It’s risky business – it’s a 24 metre dive into cold, shallow water, and locals train hard to get it right. People have died doing it.
 The guy from our tour has posted a video of the tour, including his dive! He was diver #3028.
But for locals, it’s almost like a coming of age ritual. An initiation, if you will.
It’s also become the most touristy thing about Mostar. People from the diving club walk up and down the bridge in nothing but speedos, collecting money from tourists who are waiting for the dive. I get it, though – the person who’s about to dive is risking their life, and they want people to be watching.
We took some ice creams down to the rocks below the bridge for another great view, and spotted another diver! Great timing.
And the sun had finally come out, so I got some beautiful photos of the water – yes, it really is that colour, in most of Bosnia too!
It was the perfect way to end our short time in the town.
There was a lot I didn’t get to do in Mostar. I didn’t visit the museum about the bridge’s destruction (I think I’d had my fair share of war museums the day before!), and I felt like I could have happily explored more of the town.
I would also love to see it at night, when most of the tourists have gone.
There was just something so charming about the entire historic centre. It felt old and authentic, and the tourists couldn’t detract from that.
Plus it’s beautiful, with the subtle mountains and the picturesque mosques and the occasional pop of colour.
So if there’s one thing I’m taking away from here, it’s this: I will DEFINITELY be planning a trip back to Bosnia! I loved Sarajevo and I loved Mostar. We stayed in a town called Trebinje, near the Croatian border, and that was charming too. The locals are incredibly friendly. The scenery is OUTSTANDING.
And it’s cheap as hell! In Trebinje, 3 of us went out for dinner, and the main course and drinks came to 26 BAM, or 13€. FOR ALL 3 OF US.
Bosnia has very quickly shot up into my top ten countries, which, in all honesty, surprised the hell out of me.
But I will say this: with Mostar gaining popularity and introducing people to Bosnia, I’d say it’s going to become more and more visited. So go – and go now!
Have you been? Did you love Bosnia as much as I did?!
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