Mostar is a truly "living fairy tale" town. The stone bridge, the cozy houses and the unreal, green river will transport you to a different, fantasy world. Mostar is very easy to get to, not so expensive and still considered off the beaten path. However, due to its tiny size, during the peak season, you may find it hard to believe as there are so many crowds everywhere that it's difficult to squeeze through while walking down the narrow, little streets.
It's unbelievable that this unique, one of a kind place was almost completely destroyed by the devastating war as recently as 30 years ago. You won't find many traces of it in the old town area, however. It’s been perfectly restored but it’s a bit sad to realize that the amazing bridge is rebuilt, not original. There are still a few bullet holes in some of the walls that are silent witnesses of those tragic events. Nevertheless, nowadays, the overall atmosphere is idyllic and Mostar is extremely picturesque. If you didn’t hear about the war, after visiting Mostar, you wouldn't even notice that it actually happened. It’s perfectly safe and it's one of those many amazingly charming towns you must see in the Balkans.
How to get to Mostar
We arrived at Mostar after a long train ride from Sarajevo (which also surprised us with how modern well maintained and diverse it was). If you wish to find more information about Sarajevo, take a look at my post about it.
The most popular way to reach Mostar is probably from Croatia - you can join a day trip from Croatia's most famous city - beautiful Dubrovnik. I would recommend staying at least one night in Mostar as after dark, the town is even more charming - illuminated by all the lights. I wouldn’t take organized tours, though. Public transport is cheap and efficient.
Mostar, although located only 250 km away from Dubrovnik, is completely different in style - the architecture is that of an Ottoman era - while Dubrovnik is more European. You’ll feel as if you traveled between two different civilizations, not two towns. That’s why I love the Balkan Peninsula so much - it's so diverse, exceptionally beautiful, rich in history and so easy to get around.
What to see in Mostar
The stone bridge is of course the most important landmark to see in Mostar, but I would say that every street and house in the old town is worth seeing. It’s difficult to miss something because Mostar is so small and it's a one whole attraction in itself.
Here is what you can see in Mostar:
- The Stone Bridge – (Stari Most which means “the Old Bridge”) – 16th Century, Ottoman bridge over the river called Neretva. Two towers join its opposite sides. Thanks to the bridge and the location of the town among high, steep hills, Mostar is so picturesque. In the summer, you can spot divers jumping off and if you’re brave enough, you can try it yourself!
- Naretva river – OK, I know, it’s just the river but its intense green color makes Mostar even more fairy tale-like. It really seems that the water in the river has been dyed, but it’s all natural.
- War Photo Exhibition – located in one of the bridge towers, the exhibition depicts the horrific events during the war in Yugoslavia. If you are interested in history, you should visit this place. It’s a somehow traumatic experience to see how this exceptionally beautiful place was leveled to the ground.
- Ottoman Muslibegovic House & Museum – this Ottoman historical villa (17th century) luckily avoided the heaviest bombardment during the war. Now it’s a witness of how the noble families in the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans used to live. A nice place to visit in Mostar, considering the fact that the town is so small.
- Koskin-Mehmed Pasha's Mosque – 17th Century mosque, the building itself is not that grandeur or magnificent, but what’s best about it is the amazing view from the minaret tower over the bridge and the old town you can get. The entrance is very cheap – if you want to take some nice photos in Mostar, don’t miss it!
Blagaj – Dervish Monastery
12 km from the town of Mostar lies another fairy tale spot. It’s an absolute must-see place, especially that it’s very easily accessible by a public bus – don’t waste your money for a taxi. Note, however, that you’ll have to walk a little to get to the heart of Blagaj – the Dervish Monastery.
The Monastery was built in the 16th century at an amazing, magnificent location – the source of the river Buna which flows right from the cave in between the steep cliff wall. The Dervish house is literally built into the rock (just like the Predjama castle in Slovenia or Qadisha Monastery in Lebanon). The color of water in the river Buna is similar to that of Naretva’s river in Mostar. The whole scenery is pretty unreal – it will take your breath away. Although it’s the only place really worth seeing in Blagaj, don’t miss it!
If you liked Mostar – don’t miss other towns in the Balkans!
Mostar has become pretty popular due to the proximity to Dubrovnik. However, there are more hidden and as beautiful little towns and villages in the Balkans still undiscovered and fully authentic – without masses of tourists: Prizren in Kosovo, Gjirokaster and Berat in Albania, Ohrid in Macedonia. Don’t limit yourself only to the popular spots when you visit Croatia – go beyond, see the places that I mentioned and you’ll be shocked that they are completely unknown!
To find out more about them, take a look at the “Related Posts” section below.
Author: Tom @ Adventurous Travels
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