Looking across the river at Mostar's old town
travel diary

Dubrovnik to Mostar day trip: blue rivers and enchanting towns

Driving through Bosnia and Herzegovina is simply stunning. We follow the Neretva River from Croatia and it’s so incredibly blue, more like ocean than river. The road twists upwards and we eventually come to Počitelj, an enchanting town, built on a hilltop in the bend of the river.

Pocitelj is tucked into the hillside

The village is beautiful, with a towering mosque halfway up the cliff and a ruined castle perches on the summit. It’s hot, around 40 degrees, but I’m so entranced by Počitelj I barely notice the heat. We walk to the castle, and manage to negotiate its steep stairs. The view is spectacular, well worth the climb… I could stare at the countryside for hours.

Of course, being a picturesque, historic town, it isn’t empty – tour groups stop here regularly – but it’s not too crowded. For a few minutes, we even have the village to ourselves. Počitelj is easily my favourite small town, even counting the Tuscan villages we’ve passed through. Still, I manage to tear myself away eventually and we continue to Mostar, the city with the sweeping bridge.

The Stare Most (old bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzevonia

Straddling the Neretva, Mostar is a relatively small city. The old town is elegant and pretty, the white bridge only recently rebuilt (it was destroyed in the war). There’s a definite similarity to some of the Croatian old towns, with the familiar slippery, white stone streets. Of course, it’s still hot and it’s also Ramadan, so the only people wandering around outside are tourists.

There's a small group of locals down by the river, sitting in the shade by the rocks. Up at the top of the bridge, young men get ready to jump off, laughing with the tourists (and presumably collecting tips). We see the first jumper dropping from the bridge, falling a very long way into the silky river, and eventually popping up, breathless and laughing. We leave them to it, and have lunch at a shady restaurant near the river.

Looking across the river at Mostar's old town

We walk through the streets of the old town, and then around it, past the mosques and churches and stalls and restaurants. There are still a few scars of the conflict in the 90s and we even wander into an exhibition about the war. I feel strangely touched by Mostar, sad but complete, as though something in me is made whole by being here. Mostar still seems to be healing, but that somehow adds to its beauty, and I don’t want to leave. The city has so much depth and experience and I feel like I could learn a lot here.

We aren’t going any farther into Bosnia and Herzegovina and I’d love to come back to see more and stay a bit longer another time. I’ve always wanted to visit Sarajevo, but now I’d like to see some smaller towns too - more of the Balkans in general, and Serbia in particular. This is a beautiful, fascinating, heart-breaking region, and I can only imagine the lifetimes it would take to understand it.

While you can do a day trip to Mostar independently, we went via a day tour from Dubrovnik.

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Roxanne de Bruyn

Author - Roxanne de Bruyn

Roxanne is the founder and editor of Faraway Worlds. She is a freelance writer and guidebook author and has written for several travel publications, including Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and The Culture Trip. With a background in communications, she has studied ancient history, comparative religion and international development, and has a particular interest in sustainable tourism.

Originally from South Africa, Roxanne has travelled widely and loves learning the stories of the places she visits. She enjoys cooking, dance and yoga, and usually travels with her husband and young son. She is based in New Zealand.

Last Updated 21 February 2023

The Stare Most (old bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzevonia


Bosnia and Herzegovina is a stunning country that will take your breath away with its natural beauty, rich history and culture, and welcoming people. A less-visited destination in Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a rich history as well as many natural attractions.