When I visited Bosnia and Herzegovina I wasn't prepared for the beauty that I was going to see and experience. I based myself in Mostar and travelled around surrounding towns and further north to Sarajevo for the day, the locals are kind, the food is great and the history is sobering. I wish I could have stayed longer because I know there was far more to discover than what I had in 3 days.
Explore the Town
This should always be the first thing you do when you enter a new city, get up early and experience the town during the golden hour when most people are still asleep, walk through the cobblestone streets and check out the markets later in the day. Enjoy some traditional baklava with an eastern European beer and get to know the locals. The fabulous thing about Mostar is that it's not a one level town; there are bridges leading to different streets and descending stone stairwells which take you to beautiful cafes and pubs.
Be sure to check out 'Stari Most', the towns old bridge which connects two parts of the city over the Neretva River. The current bridge is a rebuild of the original 427 year old, 16th century Ottoman bridge which was destroyed in 1993 during the Croat-Bosniak War. Spanning 29 metres across the river and only 4 metres wide it's easily recognisable for it's arch shape, during the day in the summer months you will have the chance to see dare devils risking their necks to jump off the bridge which can reach 20 metres high depending on water level. The jump requires practice before hand to ensure no limbs are damaged entering the water as there have been a couple of deaths and serious injuries in the past.
Mostar also has their own pack of friendly stray dogs, which I believe a few of the establishments take turns in caring for, you will usually see about 3-4 of them wandering the streets together or soaking up the sun in the rocky platform below Stari Most.
If you're craving a cold beverage then check out the Black Dog Pub, the staff are great and the stone building borders the river below for a constant stream of natures music.
If history, war and abandoned buildings interest you then I suggest making the short trip to see the sniper tower in Mostar, the former bank which was claimed during the Croat-Bosniak war by snipers as a vantage point is now a derelict building filled with colourful displays of art and graffiti. It is not recommended to enter due to multiple safety risks, but standing outside the bricked up entrance is enough to make anyones spine tingle.
Standing 10 stories high it gives incredible panoramic views over the city, the building is surrounded by 12 feet high concrete walls and the main entrance is bricked up, access is not advisable due to safety risks of broken glass, lack of stairwell railings and an empty elevator shaft but any eager explorer can easily find a way inside if they don't mind getting their hands a little dirty.
If Mostar is going to be your main place for accomodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina then I recommend visiting Sarajevo for the day, there are plenty of museums which cover local history including the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the most recent Croat-Bosniak war. If you leave the main city centre and venture out to the main streets you will be able to spot buildings still scared with hundreds of bullet holes, a sobering experience really especially if you have just left one of the many pubs within the main centre.
A 20 minute drive south from Mostar you will find Blagaj Tekija, a 600 year old monastery sitting at the base of a cliff. The scenery surrounding the monastery is stunning with clear blue water fresh enough to drink straight from the river. It costs a few marks to enter the monastery and you must remove your footwear and cover up with head scarves and skirts which are provided if your clothing isn't already appropriate.
About an hour from both Mostar and Blagaj Tekija, these falls are truly a beautiful sight to be seen, the size of the falls differ all year round depending on rain fall but the pond below is freezing cold no matter how hot the summer temperatures can reach. To get to the other side there is a small boat that can take you across for a couple of euros and from there you can slowly dip into the cold fresh water and admire the falls from the pool.
Unfortunately there is no public transport to these falls but check with your accomodation as our hostel ran a day trip. It costs to enter so be sure to take a few euros or marks with you as well.
On your way back from Kravica you can stop into a historic town called Pocitelj, about 25 minute drive from Kravica and it is believed this town was built sometime in 1383 and is built up of stone. You can climb the many stairs to the top of fortress and overlook the town and valley below and explore the fortress itself. The town is well known for it's fresh juices such as pomegranate and cherry and the markets are hard to ignore.
Travel New Zealand