Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Things to do in Mostar. Balkans with kids.
I bet that for those who treat Bosnia and Herzegovina only as a transit country on their way to Croatia, Mostar will be the Bosnian Dubrovnik. But Bosnia and Herzegovina was never a transfer country for us. So, if I would hear someone trying to find similarities between Mostar and Dubrovnik in order to prove that Mostar is worth a one day visit, I would simply finish that conversation. I’m not kidding. Because Mostar is something spectacular and a one day trip is not the way to appreciate its beauty. So this is about the beauty of one of our favorite places in Bosnia. I am going to write you how to enjoy this place without being overwhelmed by tourists. There are still some places that I’m not gonna mention coz they became our favorite spots and honestly we were the only tourists there. And no matter how egoistic this may sound, I still hope it’s going to stay this way 🙂
Mostar, a little bit of history
For a long time Mostar was just a tiny settlement of less than 20 houses on the banks of the river Neretva. The center of political power was Blagaj, which lies 15 km south of Mostar. The city in this valley was only built by the Ottomans. Under Turkish role, Mostar became the administrative and military center of Ottomans in Herzegovina. This all took place in the 15th century. Later on, the old town emerged around the new stone bridge (today known as the Old Bridge). The Old Bridge (completed in 1566) became the center of Mostar and new quarters started to appear on both sides of the Neretva.
Before the military conflict in the 90’s, Mostar had one of the most multi-ethnic and balanced population in Yugoslavia. After the military fights between Croats and Bosnians had stopped, the city tried to reunite. The Old Town and the Old Bridge (the symbol of unity of Mostar) were heavily damaged and had to be reconstructed. However, till today some tensions between Catholics and Muslims remain, especially in nationalistic groups.
Things to do and see in Mostar
Mostar is the kind of city where it is better to soak the atmosphere than run from one site to the other.
The Old Bridge. Stari most is a Unesco World Heritage Site and famous in Mostar. That’s as well where you are going to meet most of the tourists. The bridge connects both parts of the Old Town, so no wonder everyone walks on it.
There is as well the annual diving competition during which people jump from the Mostar Old Bridge. In 2019 we visited Mostar during the Red Bull Cliff Diving event. That was spectacular.
The Old Town in Mostar lies on both sides of the Old Bridge. Walk its cobbled streets, enjoy Bosnian coffee and listen to muezzins calling for prayers.
The Neretva River created fertile valleys in Herzegovina and has been a source of precious water since ancient times. It gives life to this area and is highly respected among the locals. I must admit, the Neretva is one of the most epic rivers we’ve seen and one of the coldest as well 😊 Go for a swim and check out its temperature just beneath the Old Bridge.
One of many mosques in the city. Cejvan-Cehaja`s Mosque is the oldest mosque in Mostar built in 1552.
Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque
This mosque was built in 1617. As it is open to tourists, you can visit it and make photos. The minaret is as well open to the public. Climb the stairs up and enjoy the breathtaking view of Mostar on the tiny platform around the minaret.
Although today the Tepa Market offers as well cheap China products, it is still one of the best places to buy local products, fresh vegetables and fruit. Try fresh figs, grapes and pomegranates and local honey.
Drink Bosnian coffee and Turkish tea
Do your sightseeing Balkan style: with a coffee break now and then. But remember, it has to be Bosnian coffee. If you are into black tea, enjoy a cup of a traditional Turkish tea instead. Drinking coffee in Bosnia is kind of a ritual. If you are visiting people and are offered coffee, don’t even think about saying “no”. And for the love of God, don’t ask about latte or cappuccino. The coffee comes in a small metal džezva and is drunk from a small round cup, callled fildžan. It is often served with a traditional sort of candy, which you should not dip into your coffee. (We couldn’t leave Bosnia without getting us a set of džezva and fildžans and a huge stock of Bosnian coffee, so during writing this article, I’m actually drinking one 😊)
Tips for visitors:
1. The Old Bridge is quite slippery, especially after the rain, so be prepared and pick appropriate shoes for your sightseeing. The cobbled streets of the Old Town are as well better to walk in flats than high-heels.
2. The city heats during day, while the number of tourists grow (many of them visit Mostar during a one day trip). To avoid the heat and crowds, do your sightseeing in the morning or in the evening.
3. Mostar offers really nice souvenirs, which you may not find in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia is a country of copper products, but for these better visit the Old town in Sarajevo. Mostar on the other hand offers beautiful jewelry in eastern / Arabic style. Ask what material it is made of. I always go for copper and bronze. However, what you often will hear and see is alpaca silver. Remember, alpaca silver has no real silver in it. It is made up of copper, zinc and nickel and sometimes iron. There are of course some cheap style products, but you can find gems among them as well.
Don’t miss as well decorative coffee and tea sets and trays.
If you like mosaic Turkish lamps, buy them in Mostar, you will not find such a variety in other places in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Apart from that, they were the cheapest in Mostar.
4. Fresh fruit and vegetables buy at the Tepa Market from locals. They are simply delicious. For the rest of groceries go for Konzum, a supermarket chain you will find everywhere. If you are travelling with a car, check local sellers at the side of the roads in front of the city; apart from food you will find there beautiful sheepskin rugs for sale.
5. What to eat: when we are in Balkans, my favorite is cevapi (grilled meat sausage) and Shopska salad. We must admit, all grilled dishes are highly recommended. Order them with bread and seasonal salad.
6. To get the most out of your stay in Mostar, ask locals for tips, enjoy their company, and try their specialties.
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