I have a new favourite place in the world. Mostar, you were so hard to leave. I wish we had longer here. I wish we were traveling more in Bosnia. I wish, I wish, I wish!!
We had a magical time in Mostar, with just over 2 days to explore this little town. Or is it a city? We spent quite a lot of our time doing very little as it is very hard to do anything in a hurry in Bosnia. The locals will tell you off if you try! I had to pop back home one evening as I’d forgotten my reusable shopping bag. I jogged, because that’s what I do. A local man stopped me staying ‘do not run. You much walk. You are on holiday. You are in Bosnia.’ He then explained the difference between Bosnian mentality and the rest of Europe.
Where we stayed
Also to help with a slower pace, we were staying somewhere stunning. We were the only ones in a ‘shared’ traditional Bosnian home. It had the most sensational deck/courtyard, with grape vines growing overhead and thick red roses winding up the sides. It was right next to Mostar’s main river which flowed the most stunning deep blue. With this as your dinning room, each meal has to take at least 1.5 hours. At least.
Getting in, out and around
The main way to access Mostar is by bus. Bus in. Bus out. We had 5 hours each way, first coming from Split and then leaving to Dubrovnik. The leaving provided a little drama as I had booked the ticket for the wrong day. Our first major travel dilemma. They don’t check your tickets until you are on the bus though…. And as I write this post we are on a bus I didn’t book, and so far the driver appears to be letting it happen. He’s pointed out my error, shaken his head and moved on. Fingers crossed we don’t get kicked off down the line.
To see all the major sites in Mostar, walking is easy. We got everywhere we wanted to go on foot. The main sightseeing attractions are all central and as long as you are staying in the middle of town it’s all good. The surrounding towns are also meant to be worth visiting, but we were having so much fun we didn’t want to leave. People tend to do this with private tours, all the hosts seem to run their own. It was about €30 for a day trip, exploring a number of surrounding towns.
Our Mostar highlights
Um just being there! That’s at the top of the list. Just existing in Mostar is devine. Here are some of our favourite activities/things to see.
Climb the sniper tower:
At the time this felt like one of the most daring things I’ve done. In reality tourists and locals do this all the time. I read about this in Cheryl Howard’s blog.
Just outside the centre of Mostar is a derilict old high-rise that was used as a sniper towner during the Bosnian War. It’s vaguely fenced off but if you go around the back of there is a fence you can climb under to get in. I’m fairly certain that this is the first time in my life I have gotten down in the dust and broken glass to slip under a fence!
The inside is decorated with the most amazing graffiti. Much of wish is anti-war, anti-violence, anti-single use plastics and of course the odd phrase by a vegan. It’s a bit like a modern art gallery. The tower is about 10 stories high, you can go up the stairs all the way to the top and then climb a ladder to get onto the roof. This is worth it for the view of Mostar.
Visiting the tower was also quite a profound reminder of Mostar’s recent history. For those of you who don’t know, I recommend reading this overview overview.
The tower has only concrete and tiling left. The exterior cladding is gone and the walls are scored with bullet holes. The interior concrete walls are intact and the bathrooms are still tiled. My next job is to find out what the building used to be.
Visit the old bridge at sunset
Stari most, the old bridge is one of the the main reasons that people visit Mostar. Many cruise ship tours also only come for the day which makes it very busy. The awesome thing, they all leave around 4-5pm and suddenly the cities population drops. We had the enchanting pleasure of being on the bridge at sunset while the call to prayer sung from each surrounding mosque. This is a memory that will stick with me forever.
Sitting under the old bridge at night
When out for dinner on our second night the waiter said “after this you must go to the shop, buy beer and sit under the bridge. It is romantic.” The man was right. Instead of beer we had rakija, a Bosnian spirit but it was still very romantic. Again the crowds had gone, there were a few others doing the same thing but we were largely alone. The town and bridge are beautifully lit up at night and it is perfect to see it from the darkness below with bats swooping above our head. Magic.
Climb the Hum
Mostar is nestled in a small valley, surrounded by mountainous hill ranges. The Hum is a massive hill that overlooks Mostar and was part of the front line during the war. There is a massive cross at the top which you can see from the town below and is illuminated at night time. We intended to climb it. The plan was:
- Get up with the first call to prayer.
- Have a snack.
- Climb the hill.
- Eat breakfast at the top while watching the sun flood over the town.
- Get home and start the day before the forecast thunderstorms arrive.
The reality was:
- Wake up with the call to prayer.
- Vaguely say “we can go now if YOU want”.
- Fall back to sleep.
- Wake up spectacularly late.
- Have a long breakfast on the beautiful terrace while gazing at the river.
- Finally leave at 10.45…..
- Walk across town and up the hill in the baking heat.
- Eat bananas at the top
- Run down and home because you can hear the thunder rumbling.
This expedition was totally worth it. It was long and hot and the climb took much longer than we expected. The walk to the base was about 4km and the climb up the hill was over 5km. It took us about 2 hours to walk up and 45 minutes to run home again.
You have to go the whole way on the road and there is little verge for you to walk on but there were very few cars for the last 3-4 km. It’s very important to stay on the road and not try and take short cuts as there is a risk of encountering land mines from the war. As you climb up there are stone cravings depicting the crucifixion, leading to the cross at the top. The view of the hill range is amazing and it is also an opportunity to see how far Mostar extends.
We had an amazing time in Mostar and really hope that we get to go back one day. We hope that this post inspires you to go to and give you some ideas about everything Mostar has to offer. It is so much more than a daytrip to see an old bridge. The bridge is amazing, day and night, but there is so much more here and you really need a few days to get the feel of it.
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Chloe and Daniel