The first time I ever heard about Bosnia and Herzegovina, I was at school, but I’ve never payed much attention to this country until I was planning my summer trip. First of all I already decided going to Croatia, so I couldn’t help wondering: why not add another country to my list and make a quick stop at Bosnia and Herzegovina? After seeing Mostar’s pictures around Pinterest and Blogloving I was convinced. I booked a hostel to stay 3 days there. Spoiler alert: major mistake, I wish I had spent at least a whole week.
Some general information about Bosnia you should know before you get there. The country is located in the Balkans, and the three main languages as Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. I advise you to read a little bit about the Bosnian War before getting there. Not only because it is so recent, but also because it gave me a lot to think during my short stay there. But don’t worry if you get there clueless about the country’s history, it’s just a bonus to the breathtaking views.
1. The journey
Have you ever heard that life is a journey and not a destination? It is so true when it comes to the trip from Split (Croatia) to Mostar (Bosnia). First of all, I was really disappointed because some guy from my hostel in Slip said that Mostar was really just a bridge (he couldn’t be more wrong). But he gave me great advice: be aware because the landscape on the way it’s beautiful. I just wish I had a car to stop in every awesome location on the way. But the bus is also nice, just pick a place by the window and be mesmerized.
2. The hostel
When I got to my hostel in Mostar the hostess gave me this nice welcome cake. And who doesn’t love cakes? Most of the guests in the hostel where solo travelers like I was which was amazing since solo travelers and more friendly, despite popular belief. In Mostar everything is way cheaper than in Western Europe. The hostel rooms are much cleaner also.
It wasn’t a normal day in Bosnia; it was raining a little bit. I was told that some things might not be open because that was the day where the Srebrenica massacre took place. Of course I knew that Bosnia had a war 20 years ago, but I’ve never heard about that particular part, which was the biggest genocide in Europe since The Holocaust.
3. Old town
After one year backpacking through Europe, I was tired of the same sightseeing. I confess I lost all interest in visiting churches, so when I saw Old town I was amazed. It was so much different from everything I’ve ever seen before. Some might say It looks like Istanbul, probably because of its Ottoman style. A lot of restaurants have a meal for a great price and an amazing view on the Stari Most “Old Bridge”.
This bridge was built in the 16th century and it connects the two sides of the city. It’s not just an amazing bridge but it also represents something. The Stari Most was completely destroyed during the war, and completely renovated after it. Some people jump in the river, but since it stretches 26 meters, it’s safer to pay locals to give lessons in how to jump it first.
4. Kravice Waterfalls
Once in Mostar, take a tour. You can see all of The Old town by walking, and it’s the best way to do it. A tour costs about €25 and will take you to places public transportation won’t. After taking the van, the guide starts by telling us about the war and how a lot of constructions in the city weren’t renovated even after 20 years after the war ended.
After Krka in Croatia, I just thought I wouldn’t be amazed by waterfalls. But only 40 km away from Mostar Kravice was a sight for sore eyes. Be aware that no matter how hot it is, the water is REALLY cold. You can explore the waterfalls, jump into the lake, or just eat while appreciating a nice view.
Just 30 km from Mostar my next stop was Pocitelj, a village from the Middle Ages. The place was astonishing, calm and there weren’t thousands of other tourists. That’s one of the best things in Bosnia: it has beautiful places and apparently no one ever heard about it. But be prepared, it was a lot of walking and going up and down the stairs to get to the best views. Also, there’s no place to eat or drink besides the local’s houses, which is not an optional unless the tour guide takes you to a local woman’s house. Then she will offer tea and treats (in exchange of money, of course), it gives you an even more personal experience.
Probably the second most famous picture of Mostar in Pinterest, this village-town was what I was looking forward the most when I book this trip. It’s in the spring of the Buna River and a monastery. It was built around the 1520’s and it survived many centuries and wars.
I visited Blagaj at night. It was amazing; the place has a vibe that I can’t describe. It’s beautiful; I can still hear the sound of the water till today. And every time I think about it I feel as astonished as I was the day I went there. Don’t forget to take a sip of clean water and make a wish. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to come back the next day to visit it during the day and to take better pictures.
It doesn’t matter anyway. Mostar was so much more than taking spectacular pictures for Instagram. The best places I’ve ever visited were the ones that surprised me. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an underrated country, but its history made me feel connected with it. This trip really made me feel like every place is unique and amazing; a place that is so multicultural has it perks. Pack your bags, and fall in love with Bosnia and Herzegovina the way I did.