Despite being the largest city in Herzegovina, Mostar is compact and utterly walkable making it a wonderful place for a short visit. If you only have 1 day in Mostar, especially if you are only passing through on a day tour to Mostar, you will want to make the most of your time. Check out the best 10 things to do in Mostar and have fun!
10 Things to do in Mostar in 1 Day
Stroll Across Stari Most (Old Bridge)
Stari Most, connecting the east and west sides of Mostar is not only beautiful but incredibly important. The bridge is the spiritual centre of the city that grew to either side of the steep river valley. It gave the city the name. The guards that used to stand at each side of the bridge were called Mostari. Most means bridge hence, Mostari, and the guards lent their name to the town in the 1400s.
Stari Most was built by the Ottomans in the 1500s and stood for 427 years until the awful day in 1993 when it was destroyed by Croats in the Bosnian War. Serbs and Croats tended to live on one side of the river and Bosniaks on the other and this slicing of the city began the 9-month siege of East Mostar.
The rebuilding of the bridge in 2004 means that we get to enjoy it today as a beautiful piece of architecture and it represents the slow reconnection of the two sides of the city.
Gasp at the Mostar Bridge Divers
These days, the Mostari are the brave/foolhardy people that take the plunge into the turquoise, and extremely chilly Neretva River, 24 metres below. It is a right of passage for Mostar’s 16 year-olds boys to take the leap to become men. Legend has it, to pass up the opportunity leads to a lifetime of utter failure. A bit harsh if you’re scared of heights?!
Every summer there is a diving competition here at Stari Most. It used to be independent but has now been integrated into Red Bull’s Cliff Diving World Series. Even if you aren’t in Mostar for the competition you will probably still come across Mostaris wandering the bridge collecting tips. When they have reached a limit they deem appropriate, they will take the plunge for the delight of the tourists.
Visitors are allowed to jump, but must complete a short training course with plenty of practice jumps from a 10m platform. The course is €10 and then the jump from the bridge is another €25 (but includes your registration in the official record and a certificate).
Koski Mehmed Pasa Mosque
There are two mosques within a very short walk of Stari Most on the eastern side of the river.
Built in 1618, this mosque is an excellent example of Ottoman architecture. It is no longer a working mosque, it is more of a museum and tourist attraction. You pay a small fee (~€4) to enter. This gets you into the main mosque. Around the walls are beautiful decorations but the mosque is quite small.
Visitors can climb the minaret for an extra €3. This gives a wonderful view of the river valley and bridge. Bear in mind that if the sun is low behind the bridge, your photos won’t be that great.
Karađoz Bey Mosque
Carry on north and you will reach the Karadoz Bey Mosque which is about 70 years older. Although similar inside, this is still a functioning mosque and so feels a little more alive. Karađoz Bey Mosque is one of the biggest in Bosnia and Herzegovina but still feels very small if you have visited the huge mosques in Turkey or the Middle East.
Visits are allowed outside of prayer times and entrance is ~€4. You can pay extra to ascend this minaret too but being a little further away, the views of the Stari Most aren’t that great.
Sip a Coffee at Café de Alma
Bosnia & Herzegovina loves coffee. They are the 11th biggest consumers of coffee in the world per person. That is probably because along with a vast number of Italian style espresso coffee shops, there is the traditional Bosnian coffee.
Bosnian coffee is an art form, very much like Turkish coffee. The coffee beans are ground ultra-fine and then boiled until the water is super foamy. It is served unfiltered and as such, is designed to be taken slowly to avoid a mouth full of grounds. For this coffee, you don’t just grab a white paper cup and carry on walking but sit, and linger over the pretty trays with its cups full of the dark, rich roast.
If you want to do it like a local, pop a cube of sugar in your mouth and drink the coffee over it, or dip a cube into the coffee and nibble off the dipped portion before taking a sip of the coffee.
There are plenty of spots to try this serious pick me up but Café de Alma is a wonderful choice with its beautiful view of the Stari Most and sparkling river below. Beans are roasted and ground in house and staff are keen to show you just how your tasty cup of coffee is made.
Take in the War Photo Exhibition
Mostar is a city still scarred by war. The terrible siege is still fresh in the memory of many residents. If you want to learn about what the city and its residents went through, you must visit War Photo Limited. This small museum, entry ~€10, is full of moving pictures taken during the conflict. There are several contributors, including Wade Gaddard, a photographer from New Zealand who was just 22 at the time. He moved in with a family in Mostar and captured the everyday life of citizens who were stuck here.
Grab a Craft Beer with a View of the Crooked Bridge
Traditionally, wine and raki are the drinks of choice in Bosnia & Herzegovina but in the last few years, a craft beer movement has swept through the country. Luckily, the two best places to try a wide variety of this hoppy happiness have wonderful views of the Crooked Bridge. Keep an eye out for Gorštak Pivo’s beers, they makes a great IPA. You could grab a riverside seat at Craft Beer Garden Imaimoze.
From this drinking den, you will be a stone’s throw from the Crooked Bridge. This smaller arch bridge crosses the tributary, Radobolja River. It was built 8 years before Stari most as a dry run. It survived until 1999 when it was finally damaged by flood waters. The city reconstructed it in 2001 and it looks as good as ever.
A Spot of Shopping in the Old Bazaar -Bazar Kujundžiluk
Stalls, shops and restaurants line the cobblestone paths that extend to either side of the Stari Most. There has been a market here since Ottoman times and some of the articles on sale are very much the same. Bronze coffee sets, decorative trays and other eastern trinkets are on offer. You will also find traditional textiles next to a fine selection of tourist souvenirs.
Take a Turn around Park Zrinjevac
A short walk from the Old Town, on the western side of Mostar, is Zrinjevac Park. it is a small green area, with an air of being mildly ignored. However, the walk up to the park is dotted with bullet-riddled buildings and street art so even just the round trip is interesting.
Within the park is a weird and wonderful addition, the world’s first Bruce Lee statue. The city unveiled it the day before Hong Kong unveiled thier version. Bruce Lee was picked as a symbol of unity. Everybody in Mostar could agree on the ideals of the good guy winning, the strength of Kung Fu and Bruce Lee’s skill and loyalty. During Soviet rule, pirated videos of Kung Fu movies had sparked a bit of an obsession in the city’s residents (nunchucks were quite “the thing”)
As nice as the project was, it did demonstrate that the city isn’t as unified as hoped. It was damaged and had to be rotated. Both sides of the city had complained that it was facing them and the stance was aggressive. It now faces in a totally neutral direction.
On the other side of the bridge from Eni Hostel is The Spanish Square. The small green space with memorials and trees is named after the Spanish soldiers who died fighting in a special mission during the Bosnian War. We sat there for a while just enjoying the sunny day and it was super peaceful.
Then you can check out the Gymnasium Mostar or Gimnazija Mostar. It was one of the first schools in the post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina to integrate Serb, Bosniak, and Croat youth at school. A pretty bold statement considering the political state of the country.
Climb Mostar Sniper Tower
Mostar Sniper Tower won’t be for everyone. The abandoned bank tower is a magnet for street artists and adventurous explorers. It is possible to enter and climb Mostar Sniper Tower (check out our blog post all about it). Even if you don’t want to do that, it is still worth seeing the art painted around the ground floor which is open to the street.
Information for Visiting Mostar
How to Get to Mostar
Train and bus passengers arrive in a slightly disappointing part of town, about a 20-minute walk east of Stari Most.
- Bus from Sarajevo (~2.5 hours) – The drive from Sarajevo is beautiful once it hits the river valley. Take your seat on the right hand side of the bus (when facing forward) for the best views. Departs hourly.
- Bus from Dubrovnik (~3 hours) – Don’t forget your passport as you will be crossing the border. Departs four times daily.
- Train from Sarajevo (~2 hours) – Again, the trip through the valleys is stunning and wonderfully relaxing. Departs twice deily.
Where to Stay in Mostar
Mostar doesn’t have a wide variety of great hotels, but if you do have the chance to stay the night in
If you are on a tight budget you’ll want to check out the best hostel in town, Hostel Majdas. On arrival, you may be asked to draw a little sign for you door, an indicator of the fun and quirky vibe. Rooms are set around a nice courtyard and the rooms are big and colourful. The staff are extremely friendly, eager to share a whole host of local knowledge and run great day tours.
Tips for Visiting Mostar
- Stari Most gets really busy in the middle of the day. If you have the chance, go at the beginning or end of the day.
- The bridge is surprisingly slippy and combined with the cobbles, make sure you wear sensible shoes (especially if you plan to climb the sniper tower).
Old Mostar has an unmistakable fairytale quality. This small section of the city is all some people see, especially when they only have 1 day in Mostar. Take an hour or so to walk out of this central area and see some of the real city. Crossing Most Musula further North, you can make a neat circuit and complete things 10 things to do in Mostar.