As mentioned in my Dubrovnik, Croatia post, during one of my days in the Balkans/Dalmatian Coast, I opted to book a full day tour to visit neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, specifically to see the beautiful city of Mostar. A day trip or tour from Dubrovnik to visit Bosnia is well worth it if you do not have the time to spend the night in Bosnia, which I do think is worth considering given how much there is to see and do beyond Mostar and a quick whirlwind visit.
Although it is still barely out of the dark from its grim modern history, Bosnia and Herzegovina is hauntingly beautiful, and very much should be on everyone’s radar.
I booked through Viator and a solo traveler cost for the full day tour was $75. I specifically book the Mostar and Kravice Waterfalls Tour from Dubrovnik(small group) tour. They pick up from all hotels in Dubrovnik and will drop you off there again, or if your driver is kind enough he can be flexible and drop you off where you want following the tour, which was the case for me. Over all it is a well organized tour, the van used is comfortable and spacious enough for the 3 hour each way journey. At each stop, there is plenty of time to enjoy and explore on your own. Our driver/guide even made an extra pitstop at a hotel/winery in Herzegovina for us to sample some local wine on the way back to Dubrovnik. The only thing I wish there was more of, was more narration and explanation of the history and culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina to provide us with the necessary context when we roamed about on our own. The driver does mention a few things as we pass along certain places. I knew enough from learning about the war and thankfully Tom from my Game of Thrones tour gave me ample history as well, but I still did need to google some things as the tour went on.
After 1.5 hours of driving, we cleared customs/immigration which during low season was a breeze, but during peak season it can take hours to clear the border, but that is due to be eased with the opening of a bridge to allow folks to drive down Croatian without crossing the Bosnian border. The first stop was a short restroom and stretch break in the Town of Neum, the only part of Bosnia and Herzegovina that touches water, this was negotiated after the war. It cuts through Croatia.
After another 1.5 hours we arrived at Kravica Waterfalls. You can swim in the waters, but it the water was far too cold so I did not do this. During peak season and when its not a pandemic, there are other activities to do such as boat rides and more areas of the park are open for you to explore/ relax in. For me, I just walked around a bit, but mainly stayed by the main falls and had myself a nice refreshing bottle of Bosnian beer and talked to my fellow travelers.
Next up, was Mostar. Once off the car in the parking lot on the outskirts of old-town, you could see in the apartment complexes and buildings, bullet holes and scars from the war, a constant reminder of the country’s dark past. Our driver walked us to old-town, gave us a brief explanation, meal suggestions and left us to explore at our own for about 2.5 hours, which was more than enough time. The most famous sight here is the “Old Bridge” which technically was rebuilt. It is a famous Ottoman era bridge that spans the river, it is also famous for the daredevil divers who jump off the bridge into the river. There is an official competition/festival for the diving but on the daily basis, its just a handful of daredevils who once accumulate enough cash in their hat from tourists, will dive for a show.
Highly recommend you visit the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, mainly to go up its minaret for unrivaled views of the city and the bridge. But, its also a quiet corner of the town and there are a few benches in its little park/enclave with peaceful views. The views also show the juxtaposition of Orthodox Churches with Mosques and ruins from the war. All a reminder of some of the reasons the war came to be between Serbia and Bosnia/Herzegovina and how even to this day the country is divided into a Serbian part and Croatian part, and that within the nation they are still divided, largely along ethnic/religious lines, sadly.
After this, I walked towards the Museum of War and Genocide, which was sadly closed for unknown reasons on the day of my visit. I suppose COVID? A freshly squeezed bottle of pomegranate juice from a stall across the road made up for this disappointment.
I then returned across the bridge to have lunch at Tima-Irma a traditional restaurant, amongst the many in Old-Town, serving the Bosnian National dish of Cevapi: mutton and beef sausage with somun (bread), onion and a tomato/paprika paste. I had it with a small bottle of Bosnian dry red wine. I would recommend this spot. The service is nice, they speak English and there is an English menu. The place was full of locals and tourists alike, it is small and felt more authentic than its many neighboring restaurants.
Following a tasty and filling lunch, I walked down some steps to the river bank for a different perspective of the town and bridge. You can also pay and do a speedboat ride down the river if you wanted to. I then meandered back to the mosque, and was able to use my ticket again to enter its garden and just sit and relax and enjoy the view before time was up to head back to the van.
About 1.5 hours from Mostar, we made a restroom break at Hotel Stanica Ravno which is also a family run winery in Herzegovina. We sampled some Herzegovinian wines, including a honey infused one. I bought a bottle of Trnjak red wine, which apparently is the best of the endemic grape varietals. It was quite good when I finally had it upon my return home.
After clearing the border again, we were back in Dubrovnik and just before sunset, I was dropped off at the restaurant for dinner.
It was a packed day, and a lot of sitting in a van. However, to me at least, it was well worth an initial taste of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to see the truly beautiful Mostar and its famous “Old Bridge.”