Mostar - More than just a bridge ✨
Updated: Apr 28, 2021
March 26th – April 4th 2021
(Link to our instagram to see our highlights of the whole trip)
Look at the view over Dubai as we were flying to Bosnia and Herzegovina 📸
When we touched down on Bosnian soil in Sarajevo, it was very apparent at how much beauty there was on both sides of the plane – I was thinking ‘What has this trip got in store for us?’
We headed through customs and met the lovely women that were leasing us the car from Budget.com.
We picked up our hire car at the airport which was very simple to navigate. It certainly helped Anya speaking her mother tongue so fluently with the hire company and got us off on our travels quickly whilst driving in tow with my colleagues who had also decided to visit Mostar and Sarajevo too.
Our first trip was to navigate the windy roads through the mountains, which was a very spectacular and seemingly scenic route.
On our journey, we stopped off for lunch at Zdrava Voda, which is based above the Neretva river on our route. It was a fun stop-off with Anya being the language tutor for us all with key words for tasty, beer and thank you – You can tell that the staff absolutely loved us 😂
Once finished with the huge onslaught of Bosnian food, we went our own ways as we entered in to Mostar and that’s when Anya and I went to surprise all of her family.
Here are some photos of the unveiling of the whole surprise to each family member:
Now the real nitty gritty of our travels started on our first full day! 🗺
Mostar means ‘bridge-keeper’, it is an historic city in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is known around the world for its old bridge (Stari Most), but it was even more incredible to find out that it was first founded entering the record books as a city in 1474.
With this information in my armoury, from reading up about the city and its history before our trip and also a lot of information from Anya, with it being her birth city. It was an inevitable delight for me to want to visit the most famous landmark in Mostar, Stari Most.
In the morning, we took a short walk down from our apartment to Stari Grad which was very quiet at 7am. It was a weekday and during Covid times with no travellers, which made it a beautifully quaint journey and like our own personal city tour.
I managed to stop and take 100 photos in the space of a 15-minute walk (Which made it extremely fun for Anya)!
We eventually stopped at Night Bar Duradzik cafe, which had some of the very best views of Stari Most whilst having a morning coffee. This was also the spot where we both decided to Facetime family members for a weekly catch up. This spot was also great to capture some sun with it not being covered, otherwise if you want cover, then you would head to the opposite side of the river.
After a couple of hours taking in the peacefulness of Mostar and the views of the bridge with a coffee, we took a short 20-minute drive to Blagaj Tekija.
Blagaj Tekija is a Dervish monastery that has been standing for an incredible 600 years. It can be found outside Mostar with a 30-minute drive, but remember to use a ‘sat nav’ to save getting lost.
This picturesque monastery is set at the base of a huge cliff and next to the source of the river Buna. It’s a great place to go and visit for a couple of hours, with the addition of some of the very best fish restaurants in Bosnia located there too.
To find the monastery, we used the ‘Waze App’ to show us the one lane dirt roads that halved the journey. They were not hard to maneuver in our small rental car from the airport.
After our busy day of sightseeing, we went over to Anya’s aunt and uncle’s house for some food and pivo (beer) for me to introduce myself a bit longer than the surprise of the previous day.
I (Patrick) went for a 6km run from our apartment through Mostar and back. I love running as it allows me to see things from a different perspective – such as I had never been to Mostar before and this part of the city was brand new to me. I was then able to tell Anya about places that she had never seen since not being back for nearly 2 years.
With the culture in BiH always starting their days with a coffee at a café, Anya and I decided to do exactly the same everyday
This time in Stari Grad (Old town), Patrick chose Marinero, which was perched alongside the river and with a great view of the crooked bridge, which was built before Stari Most, to see if the structure would work with its unique design.
After our beautiful morning with a coffee and a laptop, where we got in some much-needed admin. We joined up with the rest of the family for a day out to Goranci. Anya’s family had been giving such amazing reviews of a restaurant there named ‘Konoba’, so we had to head there and see what all the fuss was about.
After a play in the park opposite the restaurant with the children, we went for dinner and ordered a roast spread for the table, let’s just say that we were not eating again that day!
After such a beautiful dinner with most of Anya’s family, we then went for a 3km walk around Goranci to help our food digest and enjoy the beauty of the countryside. We then head home before meeting my colleagues for a drink and catch up near the Crooked bridge. Once we met them, we head to a craft beer pub next to the bridge and it was like I was in heaven – I LOVE CRAFT BEER!
We had a couple in there, which was really nice as they have an outside area that has a beautiful aerial view of Stari Grad. We had a amazing catch up about their trip so far and also giving them some tips on where to visit next from our insider knowledge. THEN 9PM CURFEW had us running back to our apartment due to the city’s COVID curfew.
After a morning run which was a bit further, as I needed to clear my system from all the previous day’s food and drink. I ran from one end of Mostar to the other, which was a 9km run and I felt great after it.
Once we were sorted for the day, we met Anya’s cousin Sanyin for a coffee along the main high street in Mostar (Braće Fejića). It was really nice to meet Sanyin after seeing him on our @activitytraveller Instagram regularly! We had another COFFEE and then went to Anya’s aunt and uncle’s house for some healthy lunch before going for a coffee with the girls of Anya’s family at a café called Kariola in Zrinjski Park in Mostar.
After planning the next few days over a coffee with the family in the lively park, we decided that we would scale the heights of Fortica Mountain to visit the new skywalk attraction that we could see up near the clouds. This viewpoint really was a landmark to put on the ‘must visit’ list as it shows the true beauty of Mostar from the sky. It was amazing to see Mostar from so high up and the kids absolutely loved it!
Today was started off in the perfect way – to head down to Stari Grad for a coffee!
We were trying to visit all the highly recommended cafes in Mostar and this was one of them. Sadrvan Restaurant was situated in-between Stari Most bridge and the Crooked bridge, so it was easy to find and had always had quite a few people dining when we had previously walked past. We both had breakfast here and then Anya had to shoot off to get her hair blow-dried, so I stayed and worked on our website (www.activitytraveller.com).
With us deciding on the previous day’s coffee trip, that we would start visiting a few of the local towns and tourist spots outside of Mostar, we decided that Kravice Falls was going to be the first ‘Hit up’ of our outer travels with a short 30-minute journey.
When we arrived, there was only one other car there that had a family of 4 and we were questioning whether we were in the right place, due to it being so quiet!
After a short walk down to the falls in the 25 Celsius heat, I was blown away by the beauty of the falls and certainly took our opportunity of no other tourists being there with a full-on photoshoot. I am sure that we will visit here again when the summer comes around and we will pass it on our road trip to Croatia and Montenegro.
After we had spent a few hours on our photoshoot and taking in the beauty of the falls, we headed back to meet Anya’s family for some home-cooked Spaghetti Bolognese. It was absolutely delicious and had answered many questions that my stomach was asking me since the early morning breakfast.
Later in the evening, we met up with a few of Anya’s cousins (Helena and Lea) and their friends for a catch up at Blok bar near Mepas Mall. It was so lovely to meet and hear the positivity radiating off these lovely women and they were all doing so well for themselves. The world definitely needs a bit of life from these girls. It would be a much better place, with level of creativity and entrepreneurship skills they have and businesses that they have set up, such as:
Beautiful Art - @stone_stories
Counseling Room for children & parents - @udruzenjenoviput
Wedding Planning @myfairytale_weddings
Lifestyle - @lifestyle_hercegovina.info
An early night was in the plan, for our extremely busy day of travelling and sightseeing tomorrow 😁🙌
The busiest day of travels was yet to come, but with it having so much fun stuff in, it was our favourite day of the whole trip too!
We started our day off with a 40-minute drive from Mostar to Počitelj, which an extremely historic village and fort. We spent a few hours scaling the dizzy heights of the village all the way up to the top of the lookout tower in the fort. It is really one of the most beautiful places that I have visited on any of my travels. Počitelj was extremely quiet due to the season not starting yet and also covid restrictions for most countries (Not us 🥳).
During our scaling of the fort, we bumped into a man who was taking photos too and after a very interesting chat, we found out that he had flown from Qatar to travel around BiH. His name was Telal and both him and Anya had a very interesting and in-depth conversation about the country and the war, which was amazing to hear them have so much knowledge which taught me a lot.
Throughout the village, there were a few points that were great vantage points to lookout from and get yet another photoshoot in.
After walking around the village for a while, we visited Mogorjelo, which is an old Roman villa and then Šišman Ibrahim-immersed Mosque which has some epic views.
After a morning of sightseeing and dying from the increasing heat, we started our drive back to Mostar and had a Pekara (bakery) stop on the way with some incredible views of mountains encroaching from every side.
Once back, we picked up Anya’s cousin Helena and her husband Vedran and hit Rujište Mountain which is a steep drive up and over Fortica mountain. We met the owner of @quad_mostar and two enormous quadbikes that we were hiring for an hour. We were able to venture out over the wilderness to see some more of the already spectacular country. We were blown away by the ruggedness of the terrain and the amount of enjoyment that we all had, we will definitely be hiring them out for much longer when we return in the summer!
Another morning and another coffee! ☕️
To start the morning, Anya dropped me off at Gradska Kavana Rondo for my morning coffee which is a lovely café situated on the roundabout opposite Glazbena škola and you get great views over the area when seated upstairs.
Anya went to get her haircut which wasn’t long at all and then we were on our way to Stolac! @stolacx
From Mostar to Stolac, it’s around a 25-minute drive if you don’t get stuck behind a bus 🚌 but the views for the whole journey are really quite remarkable as you follow the river for miles and miles!
Here are some photos:
After much research, I managed to find a restaurant that was based next to a waterfall. We had never been and so this was going to be our first stop.
When we arrived at Old Mill Restaurant in Stolac, we were blown away by the beauty of the restaurant, the waterfalls and the food on everyone’s tables! It has to be one of the best breakfast spots we have ever visited!
We had heard good things about the restaurant through our own research but this place has to be EVEN BETTER!!!!
We ordered the traditional Balkan dish which is uštipci and it was incredible, we were left wanting to drive here every morning for the rest of our stay. Everything at the restaurant from the food, to the beautiful picturesque location of the Bregava and the service was everything that we could have wanted. We highly recommend it and will be taking Anya’s family to it on our trip in the summer.
Our trip to Stolac was one of our favourites, after an incredible breakfast we parked at the bottom of the fort hill and then took the short 10-minute walk up to the Vidoška Fortress. With it being the hottest day on our trip (creeping over 25’c), we had a stop when we got in the fort and had another photoshoot, here are some photos below:
The Vidoška Fortress was a great place to enjoy views over Stolac and the surrounding areas, we highly recommend making this spot a stop off on any journey that you are making around Mostar and even down to Croatia or Montenegro.
A little bit of information on the fortress.
It was founded by the Byzantine emperor Constantine in the 5th century, the castle survived many empires, including Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians. It was one of the best-fortified towns in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and it remains to date the largest citadel in the country.
On our journey back to Mostar, we stopped off at the Radimlja.
The Radimlja necropolis is located in Vidovo polje, 3km drive away from Stolac, on the Čapljina – Stolac road. The Radimlja necropolis is one of the most valuable monuments of the medieval period in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The majority of its stećak tombstones date from the 1480s through to the 16th century, as evidenced by the epitaph on one of the tombstones. This was the period when the family Miloradović-Stjepanović from genus Hrabren lived in the settlement located on hill Ošanići.
We had never even noticed them on the drive past but they are extremely interesting, especially with the history dating back to the 1480s.
Another stop off was to visit Križ na Humu. This has the enormous white cross placed at the top, which you can notice from anywhere in Mostar. It was a tight road as we climbed the heights and I am always a nervous passenger when Anya is driving anyway, but add in sheer drops and a one lane road – I was a nervous wreck 🤢
Once we got to the top, the views were exceptional and I really could have spent hours looking over the city and learning more about it through research and see – BUT another photoshoot was on the cards and we got some absolute belters, have a look at these and enjoy:
Why is there a cross you ask?
The Millennium Cross is a Roman Catholic cross on the hill of Hum above Mostar. It was erected as a symbol of the jubilee of two thousand years of Christianity, hence the name Millennium. The cross was also erected as a symbol of the suffering that this city has gone through in its recent history. It is 33 meters high. It is the highest cross in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The last part of our evening, was to spend the last few hours before curfew with Anya’s beautiful family. We were waited on by the men of the family (Vedran and Vlado) with their handmade dishes – Pizza and Pancakes. We were really spoilt by their quality of cooking and felt like human houses when getting up to leave and beat the 9pm curfew.
I bet you can’t guess what we did and where we did it to start the day? ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️
Yes - we started our morning with a coffee over the best views of Stari Most at Urban Grill Terrace. We had not been here before but were looking to sit and see the bridge from the opposite side to where we have previously sat and we just walked in to it.
The best view by a country mile and it was covered, so we were protected from the hot sun whilst enjoying our coffee and our mainstay local breakfast uštipci.
We got some of our best photos from this spot and that’s because it should be the number 1 place to visit on anyone’s trip to Mostar and looking for some food.
With Mostar being a city that has endured a turbulent history, I wanted to learn more and deepen my understanding so we thought it’s best to do this by visiting a local museum and which better one to go to than the Old Bridge Museum (Muzej Stari Most), which is in my favourite part of town, if you hadn’t worked this out already ❤️💛.
After a perfect morning of history and food with Anya and myself, we got changed and headed to one of the most well-known rooftop bars in Mostar - Calamus Club. It was a short walk from where we were staying and I had heard good things from the local people that had recommended it to us.
Calamus Club is a great place to sit and enjoy the views of Mostar and the surrounding mountains with a drink and some bar snacks. I think we could have spent the whole evening there if we had no plans, just because I love a view and it was really tranquil.
After an hour of being lost in the skyline for an hour, we headed to Teco café to meet Anya’s cousins and their friends & babies. It was a short walk from the club and was a nice way to see a different part of the city that we hadn’t already explored. The café had some really super drinks options and the food was on the healthy/veganside, which Anya had been longing for all week.
After a few hours of chatting about absolutely everything, we walked back across town to get our steps in and also to beat the curfew, which was a great way of exercising and digesting our endless vegan desserts ready for an early night.
This morning, we woke up nice and early and were feeling sluggish from our lack of exercise other than walking for the whole trip, so we stuck a Joe Wicks workout video on Anya’s phone and smashed it out. This enabled us to start the day off correctly with some exercise and prepped us for a great day!
After our early start, we had to go and get a Covid test to be able to get on our flight, with Anya’s family knowing the city well, they were able to direct us to one 5 minutes away from where we were staying.
We were in and out after a short 20-minute wait and we were on our way to … Stari Grad ❤️🙌
With me having my own way yet again for visiting Stari Grad, I had heard very good things about a restaurant called Hindin Han and now was a time to visit and also the rain had started to come in to Mostar hard.
We found the restaurant before the rain hit the bridge and got some great photos again 📸
Heated, out of the rain and with coffee & uštipci (No, that’s not all we ate but very close). We managed to get a table that gave us views looking out over Mostar as the rain came down and it really was beautiful.
If I could make a list of my three favourite Stari Grad restaurants with a view, Hindin Han would be in there quite easily.
A drive to Mepas mall was the next part of our day, as we were meeting Anya’s cousins and Vedrana for a coffee before heading to another TOP restaurant in Mostar called Del Rio. This was an opportunity for us to say thank you to Anya’s family for being so hospitable and to treat them to a meal at one of the city’s number 1 restaurants. They ordered us a huge platter of meat and sides, this was not on the menu but wow it was amazing and then we got the desserts ordered in, they were so good that I ordered myself two different ones as I got jealous of Anya’s dessert 🍰
Last thing before hitting the sack was to head to Anya’s aunt and uncle’s house to say goodbye before everyone got emotional.
Our final day in Mostar and Bosnia & Herzegovina!
This day has been getting ever closer and it comes with real sadness that it is now upon us. We had to say goodbye to Anya’s family last night as we were leaving Mostar in the morning and no one likes waking up before 10am.
We drove to Sarajevo airport at around 8am with a stop off at Zdrava Voda for some coffee and bread, to go with the meat and cheese that Anya’s aunt had generously given to us for our journey.
It was really nice to finish our trip at the same restaurant that we started off at, with my colleagues all those days ago #sentimental
When we arrived at the airport, everything had gone too smoothly with getting a test in Mostar and the whole trip, so when was something going to go wrong?
The flight operator wouldn’t accept our covid results from our test one day previously because it did not say ‘PCR’ on the document that was written in English.
‘What do we do know I hear you ask!’
We had to get a test outside the airport in a portacabin 1 hour prior to our flight and the gate closed … I managed to persuade them to hold it for us to receive our result and they kindly did. I am not sure how a test result comes in under 1 hour in Sarajevo when Dubai takes at least 7 but who cares, WE MADE OUR FLIGHT!
The end of our trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina was here and what an amazing time we both had!
We both highly recommend a visit there if ever you are thinking of somewhere to go in Europe.