First Impressions of Bosnia and Herzegovina

I stopped at the bakery before getting picked up in Dubrovnik to spend the day in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I booked the tour with Adriatic Explore as it seemed like an inexpensive way to see a whole lot in a single day. Spoiler alert, the downside is that it just made me want to return to see more! Find out what my first impressions were of the country, and why you should visit too.

Pocitelj

Pocitelj - Bosnia and Herzegovina

We finally arrived at our first stop, the village of Pocitelj. This beautiful medieval UNESCO World Heritage site is located along the bank of the river Neretva and is a common place to stop for those on their way to visit Mostar.

Goods being sold in Pocitelj

I stopped in a few of the small shops to look around before finding some stone stairs that looked like they led up to the top of what looked like an ancient castle. I jump at the chance for any opportunity to climb up something, so I decided to see where the stairs would lead!

Clock tower Pocitelj

Stairs leading to Pocitelj clock tower

The tower ruins awaited me higher up, with views that made me speechless. I was mesmerized as I walked underneath the archway and along the old stone walls of this fortress.

Ruins Pocitelj Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ruins Pocitelj

As you walk out just past the ruins, to one side you can see the mosque that was restored after the war, and to the other is a stunning landscape of scattered red roof homes where the mountains meet the river.

Scenic Views Pocitelj

Bosnia and Herzegovina Scenery

Before I knew it, time was already up to meet at the bus and I nearly had to run back down the stairs to get there. I definitely could have spent another hour or two in awe up there and exploring more of the area! I will never get tired of small towns.

Mostar

Walking through Mostar, I was first intrigued by the colorful handmade items and small trinkets sold by the vendors lining the streets. Thankfully it was a cooler day with some clouds, as I’ve heard that it’s basically like being in an oven most days around that time of year in Mostar because of the way the mountains and hills surrounding the town close it in.

Street vendors in Mostar

Stari bazar (the old market)

Naturally, we stopped at Stari Most (Old Bridge), Mostar’s iconic arch bridge. After standing strong for 427 years (wow!) since it was built in 1556, the bridge was unfortunately destroyed in 1993 during the Croat–Bosniak War.

Even though this bridge is a reconstruction of the original, UNESCO explains its meaning well:

“The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar are symbols of reconciliation, international cooperation and the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities.”

Stari Most Mostar Old Bridge

Stari Most (Old Bridge)

To add a little extra spice to your visit to Stari Most, stick around to watch the locals dive into the Neretva river below. It is common for the young men in the town to gather donations from the tourists crowding around to watch, and then will jump once they feel they have raised enough money. Since the water below is so cold, they will come down to the shore first to take a dip in the water and get their body used to it before jumping. Those who jump are skilled in diving (the water is only three meters deep) and it is certainly not a feat for anyone to attempt!

Jumping off the bridge has been a tradition since the bridge was built, and there is now a formal diving competition held there every summer. August 2015 also marked the first time the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series was held at Stari Most. Sad to say I missed the event by just a few days!

Diving off Stari Most - Old Bridge Mostar

Local man diving off Stari Most

Soon it was time for lunch, and when asked for recommendations on places to eat, our local guide told us to eat anywhere. He explained how most restaurants have the same or similar food since the locals cook and eat at home and not in the restaurants.

I chose a place that had a nice outdoor area to sit, and ordered the classic local dish of ćevapčići (minced meat made into small sausages) sa kajmakom (with cheese). It was tasty, but it was also way too much to finish all my myself!

Ćevapčići sa Kajmakom - Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ćevapčići sa Kajmakom

In general, Mostar was a little too crowded for my liking, although it was peak season. While I enjoyed my visit, I think I still prefer to stick to the smaller towns like Pocitelj. I will say that Sarajevo is still on my to-visit list!

Although the country has had a turbulent past, they are continuing to make improvements and are trying to keep moving forward. Tourism is a huge help to the local economy, and to make it even more appealing to visitors it is also very cheap to visit. The scars of the recent war were evident throughout my day in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I would love the chance to return to meet more locals and learn about the country through them and their experience.

Have you ever been to Bosnia and Herzegovina? What was your first impression?

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First Impressions of Bosnia and Herzegovina


Comments

  1. Chris Pesce Says: January 27, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Exquisite!

  2. […] is plenty, but there are also a lot of day trips you can do in the area, like the Island of Lokrum, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, an island hopping tour, or Cavtat if you do end up staying […]

  3. […] I spent a week traveling solo with Dubrovnik as my “home base” and did day trips to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. During that time I spent less than $600 — and I could have done it for even […]

  4. […] Read More: First Impressions of Bosnia and Herzegovina […]

  5. I so wanted to visit Mostar when I plan to go to Dubrovnik but felt it’d be difficult as I’m travelling solo and do not have much time – taking a bus tour there hasn’t crossed my mind til I saw your post. Now I can do it! Thanks!!!

  6. […] Bosnia and Herzegovina is another nearby day trip worth a visit, and of course you’ll want to spend some time exploring Dubrovnik. If you don’t have a car, the best way to get to Dubrovnik from Cavtat is either by bus or boat. The #10 bus is the more economical method, costing about 25 kuna (less than $4) and is a quick half hour ride. The boat will take about 45 minutes and costs 50 kuna (about $7) one way, still a steal for a leisurely cruise along the coast. Depending on the time of year or if the weather is bad the boats may not run, so be sure to keep the bus in mind as a backup. […]

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