Mostar: 10 activities everyone must experience

Soumaya HamdiBosnia, Halal Travel Guide

Find out why Mostar makes a great holiday destination for families, couples and solo travellers.

1. Stari Most

Wherever you read about Mostar, visiting the Old Bridge will always top the list of must-see landmarks. Built under the orders of Sultan Suleiman in 1557, a first glance at the bridge’s curved structure makes it obvious why it is so loved by historians and travellers alike. The original bridge managed to remain intact for the best part of 450 years until the terrible war in the 1990s, when it was shelled. Locals say that it took over 60 shells before the bridge finally collapsed; a testament to its fine Ottoman workmanship.

Pro tip: Although the bridge looks beautiful, it is difficult to navigate with a pram or wheelchair. The stone slabs are quite slippery and the arch of the bridge means slipping is possible, so wear sensible shoes before you visit.

 

2.Bridge jumping

That’s right, no British health and safety rules here! Gather round the highest point of the bridge where brave jumpers will queue to hurl themselves into the cool jade waters of the Neretva River. While it looks pretty dangerous, it is considered a national pastime and is a great way to experience Mostar’s bubbly culture. However, only experienced jumpers are advised to take part.

3.Shop in the Čaršija

This is located in the heart of  Mostar’s Old Town, and you’ll know it once you’ve entered. Cobblestone paths, crumbling stone buildings housing souvenir shops and restaurants, and milling tourists make this area a hubbub of culture and activity. For the ladies, enjoy browsing through a range of embroidered tablecloths that are difficult to find in the UK. The bazaar is reminiscent of the legendary Grand bazaar in Istanbul, as you will also find stained-glass lamps, handmade shoes with matching purses, silver jewellery and traditional coffee sets. You will also find locals selling their own artwork – don’t be shy to ask for a tailor-made piece!

 

Pro tip: Don’t be tempted to buy anything until you have explored both sides of the market, which is connect by the Old Bridge. Prices don’t vary wildly, but the shopkeepers are friendly so you may be able to bag yourself a good deal. You can pay at most places in both Bosnian Marks and Euros.

 

4.Climb up a minaret at Koski Mehmed Paša Mosque

In the centre is the original mihrab

You really start to feel how much history has shaped Mostar’s present when you realise just how many old buildings are still in use. This masjid is only slightly younger than the Old Bridge, but in this case it is still the original structure. Built in 1619, the mosque has a distinctly Ottoman feel with a beautiful coloured mihrab carved into the far wall. Climb up the 89 steps in the tower to reach the top of the minaret, and imagine how many times the call to prayer has been made from the same spot you stand on.

Although climbing up the minaret is daunting, you are rewarded with the best view of the Old Bridge you can possibly get – check out these photos we took! There are few other places where will you get a 360 degree view of the Old Town.

Pro tip: There is a fee of 6 marks to enter and 12 if you also want to go up the minaret. However, it is not clear if this also applies to Muslims – we made to pay but were told we were allowed to enter for free and even to pray in the mosque.

 

 5.Spend a night at the Muslibegović House

The historic Muslibegovi House, voted one of the best hotels in the world. Enjoy a night here from as little as £65 ! Photo credit: Booking.com

Also a museum, this house dates back to the 18th Century and is a find example of an Ottoman-era residential building. Once the home of the reputable Muslibegović family, it is now a luxury hotel rated as one of the top ten hotels in the world. While it is therefore more expensive, one night can go for £65 (breakfast incl.) during low season, which is cheaper than staying at a budget hotel in the UK! This is pretty amazing given the prime location and services it offers tourists in Mostar.

6.  Pocitelj

This medieval town just outside of Mostar is an absolute must for any visitor to the region. Pocitelj was once of great strategic importance, which is evidenced in the military fortifications that are still standing today. As you walk to the top of the fortification, buy home grown organic strawberries and sample a pink cordial made from local grass (which tastes really good!).

What makes this place really special though is the view of the town over the Neretva River – just take a look!

 

7.Blagaj Tekke

Resting on the pure waters of the River Buna, the former tekija or monastery is still open to the public. It’s easy to see why it was chosen by the Dervish monks as a place to meet and contemplate; the rushing jade-coloured water, numerous bird species and green surroundings make it a place of peace and harmony. It’s also a great place for couples looking for a romantic meal; come at sunset and choose a spot next to the mini waterfall.

 

Pro tip: You won’t need to pay to enter the monastery if you inform the ticket office that you will be having a meal at one of the restaurants.

 

8.Rafting on the Neretva

To enjoy this activity be sure to visit when the season starts, which is roughly from May – October each year. You can arrange this at various locations in and around Mostar, including at Blagaj Tekke or through you tour operator.

 

9.Sample authentic Bosnian cuisine

…most of which is halal!

Enjoy the local soup specialty as a starter – begova corba ­- have finely marinated grilled chicken and salad for your mains, and finish off with baklwava and Bosnian coffee.

Better yet, enjoy a prime view of the Stari Most by eating at the Urban Grill.

Find out which places we recommend you visit to satiate your hunger!

 

10.Learn about pre-Ottoman history at Stolac

Did you know that before the Ottomans, and even before the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ilyrians lived in Bosnia? Originating from Greece, they set up a thriving settlement in what is now considered Herzegovina to protect themselves from their enemies. They were eventually wiped out when the Romans invaded, and all that remains are remnants of the stone walls they built in the hills.

 

Should you wish to engage the services of a tour operator during your stay we recommend Balkan Travel Services for friendly and affordable tours.

Did you check out the rest of our halal travel guide to Mostar, including where to pray in the most beautiful mosques and where to eat halal food?  Let us know in the comments below if you think there is more we can add!