visiting Bosnia as a solo traveler

I’m not entirely sure how Mostar Bosnia wound up as a 4 day/3 night stop on my 2017 summer travels, but this little oasis in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a destination of rest and adventure.

As a single female solo traveler in my mid 30’s- and an artist- I travel a little differently from the typical 20-something backpacking with a group. I liked Mostar because it really accommodated my travel style: I place much higher value on comfort, prefer a slower pace that leaves space for art and rest, and I like my adventure not-too-far from the comfort of safety.

stari most travel art journal
Finding time to art-journal on the road is an important part of travel for me.

Mostar was a good fit for my travel goals for many reasons. It’s a small town, which makes it feel more comfortable and less rushed. Low prices for food and lodging across Bosnia and Herzegovina made it possible to afford a far more plush accommodation than I’m usually able to afford, and the tourism-based economy in this small town meant that Mostar’s service workers typically spoke English and were friendly to foreigners, helping me be more confident in my ability to explore and communicate safely.

Why I Chose to Vacation in Bosnia & Herzegovina

When I tell people I vacationed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I get some odd looks. “Why,” I’m often asked, “did you choose to visit Bosnia?”

1. Seeking New Perspectives.

Travel is an opportunity to experience other cultures and to have my eyes open to a new perspective, but in an increasingly globalized world, it becomes easier and easier to travel thousands of miles from home without ever experiencing immersion into another culture. Most tourist destinations, especially large cities, have so adapted to the globalized tourist that they can feel like a carbon copy of other tourist destinations. Bosnia offered an opportunity to escape popular tourist destinations.

A Bosnian-Herzegovinian breakfast

“In an increasingly globalized world, it’s becoming easier and easier to travel thousands of miles from home without ever experiencing immersion into another culture.”

2. Travel Should be Challenging

My personal values when it comes to travel, is that a good trip combines culture, natural beauty, and personal challenge. Italy and Croatia, respectively, were the first two of my 2017 trip, and Bosnia was the latter for me. It was difficult to journey alone into a country I knew primarily through news reports on its war in the 1990’s. Knowing, through research, it was a safe destination, I chose to enter a country that was a little uncomfortable and where I would be the “different” or “othered” person.

Ceiling shots of the outdoor portion of one of the mosques in Mostar.

3. Ethics of Tourism

Aware of the both negative and positive impact that tourism can have on a place, I chose with intention to take my tourism dollars into a country where the unemployment rate ranges at 40-50%, to stay in locally owned hotels, tour through a local tour group, and buy from market vendors.

Rural Bosnia fast food- women with baskets of dried fruit to sell.

Why I Loved Solo Travel in Mostar Bosnia

1. Best Day Tour Ever

I did a lot of day-trips with tour groups while I traversed Eastern Europe, but by far my favorite was the Herzegovina Classics tour.  Fewer tourists in Mostar meant this was a small group and the locations were amazing.

2. Best Hotel of the Whole Trip

The exchange rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina meant that I could upgrade my hotel to more than I could typically afford. I stayed in a boutique hotel that was also a national monument in Bosnia, and the hospitality was absolutely sublime.

Turkish-Ottoman era windows in my hotel room in Mostar

3. Small Town.

Mostar, though packed with tourists mid-day when I visited in July, is a small town. I enjoyed the walkability of the city and the open cafes. Mostar’s open market, winding around either side of the famous bridge, was more quaint and better priced than Sarajevo’s famous  Baščaršija market.

4. Restaurants

I spent weeks in Italy and Croatia, you guys, and my FAVORITE meal was in Mostar, at a tiny place called Tima – Irma. It was so good I returned to the restaurant twice and lament that I did not find a way to add a third visit.

5. The Bridge

OF COURSE, Stari Most was the focal point of my visit to Mostar- as any tourist’s. The central location of the bridge means it’s not something you “go to visit” as much as a part of your visit, serving as the footpath between the two halves of the city I traversed at least twice a day. (Pack GOOD shoes for this city- the limestone path underfoot is very, very, very slick- dry or wet- especially on the bridge)

I was told local men jumped from the bridge, but despite spending a lot of time in the city for three days, I never saw this exhibition until my last night at sunset when one young man stood for a very long time while the crowd gathered and his friend collected money enticing him to jump. Finally, with a gasp from the crowd, he leaped from the bridge into the water far below.

In Summary

If you are considering Mostar, GO. Mostar offers the opportunity to experience another culture without giving up familiarity entirely and offers amazing food, hospitality, and natural beauty for an excellent value. I’ll finish up by leaving this video here, my very favorite souvenir of my time in Bosnia, recording the evening I watched the sunset from Stari Most as evening prayers were called out over the city.

visiting Bosnia as a solo traveler

2 thoughts on “3 Days Traveling Solo in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina”

  1. Could you share your method of travel to Mostar? I’m planning a visit next June and I’d love feedback. Thank you!

    1. Hi Lindsey, I traveled to Mostar from Split by bus. The bus station in split is large and the agents all spoke English. I’d use the website to figure out what bus I needed to arrive when I wanted, and then go to the station with the info written down (in case the agent didn’t speak English) and purchase my ticket- they are cheaper in stations than online. In July 2016 there were 2-3 buses between split and Mostar daily and it was, I think, less than $15. There is no train, but the bus travels down the Croatian coast for most of the trip and the views are beyond Stunning!

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