Mostar Travel Guide
Apart from Sarajevo, Mostar is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s top tourist draws. It owes its popularity to its iconic bridge – thankfully, rebuilt after the horrors of the Bosnian Civil War.
When you aren’t gawking at this gorgeous span, war history will take up the rest of your time. After learning about the conflict, you’ll better understand the horrors of war.
Come check out our Mostar travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mostar is a city surrounded by incredible scenery and no shortage of things to do. However, there is no denying that Stari Most, or the “Old Bridge,” is by far its top attraction. In reality, there’s nothing old about the current span – it is a recent rebuild of the original. The Croatian military deliberately destroyed the bridge during the Bosnian Civil War – more on that later.
To set the scene, though, let’s talk about the origins of the original Stari Most. It was a span commissioned by Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century. Upon completion, critics hailed it as a masterpiece of Ottoman design and engineering.
The sublimely beautiful nature of this bridge even gave Mostar its name (“most”ar – most meaning bridge.) And then, the Bosnian Civil War happened. While Croatians maintain that its destruction was merely strategic, experts disagree. As such, its demolition was possibly an act of cultural terrorism.
Once hostilities ceased, planners drafted plans to reconstruct the beloved landmark. From 2001 to 2004, reconstructors remade it using as much original stone as possible. Today, just as in the past, the bridge is a popular gathering place for local youth. Male teenagers prove their “toughness” by diving from the top of the span into the river below. Even if you choose not to join them, you can secure excellent photos from either bank.
The civil conflict that ravaged this area in the 1990s left scars that afflict Mostar to this day. Learn about it by checking out the Museum of War and Genocide Victims. In a clean, well-organized space, this museum will transport you to a world completely different from today’s touristy city.
It was a world of constant fear. Snipers, ethnic cleansing, and straight-up malnutrition/starvation were all real dangers. Displays and exhibits break these (and other issues) down in chilling detail. Captions are available in English, as well as a score of other languages. To give this sobering but necessary attraction the attention it deserves, allow two hours.
The Mostar area is part Catholic, and part Muslim. To explore the Islamic side of this town, drop by the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque. This hall of worship dominates the mostly lowrise skyline of Mostar with its soaring minarets and dome. Local authorities raised this mosque in the early 17th century. While it did sustain war damage, much of the original structure remains.
As you walk through its interior, it will become apparent that its stained glass windows are its best quality. Its carpets, which were a gift bestowed by Austrian monarch Franjo Josip, are also a standout feature.
Admission fees cost about 6 Euro per head. Remember that you are in a sacred place – dress respectfully. This edict means no exposed knees, chests, or shoulders.
Finally, make time to swing by Kajtaz House if you have room in your travel schedule. A judge’s house in one of the older neighbourhoods in Mostar, this estate used to be part of a larger mansion. Back then, it was the harem, or the part of the residence where only women could be present.
Today, it is a residence under the protection of UNESCO. Within, period furniture, artifacts, and displays will allow you to travel back to that era, if only in spirit.
On the outskirts of Mostar, a hulking, crumbling concrete structure provides a frightening reminder of the war. Known as Sniper Tower during the Bosnian Civil War, this former Yugoslav bank gave sharpshooters the perfect nest.
From it, they rained bullets down on the innocent civilians of Mostar. Often, a market trip turned fatal, thanks to a gunshot fired a couple of kilometres away from this building. Today, you can explore this structure, which is a haven for graffiti art. However, note this building is not maintained – standard urban exploration safety rules apply.
Get further transported into the days of the Bosnian Civil War by visiting the War Photo Exhibition. You’ll find it in the western tower off the Stari Most bridge. Taken by Kiwi photog Wade Goddard during the conflict, there are a stunning expose on the horrors of war.
Get an idea of what life is like for Mostar locals by dropping by the Old Bazar Kujundziluk. Along cobbled streets, you can find craft stalls, souvenir shops, and restaurants. After snagging a scarf, give burek, a local speciality, a shot!
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, salvage the day by hanging out at Mepas Mall. There’s nothing iconic about it, but the sales are often good!