Perfect for road trips
On my first trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, three of us piled into a car, pointed to places on the map and just drove across surprisingly well-developed roads, well, for the most part.
What we didn’t quite anticipate was just how damn often we would be stopping the car to stand in awe of the natural beauty that is packed into Bosnia and Herzegovina. The lakes are a mesmerising shade of blues and greens, towering mountains collide with clouds and tiny villages, and bridges of all shapes and sizes link together roads that offer just as much to enjoy as the attractions themselves. If you are looking for a great value, adventure-filled road trip then Bosnia and Herzegovina is a real winner.
So many of the best moments of our trip were in tiny villages with confused locals, little cafes that welcomed us like old friends and multiple other places I could never name or find on a map again. If you revel in getting lost and new discoveries then my friends, this is your next road trip destination!
Mostar, both old and new
Mostar is the typical postcard-perfect picture of Bosnia and Herzegovina that graces nearly all tourist advertising for the country. Stari Most, the old bridge which isn’t that old having been reconstructed post-conflict, draws in day-trippers from cruise trips and is where most people chose to spend their short trips to the country.
Honestly, it’s not had to see why when so much of the country is still yet to be explored by the masses and the relatively affordable food, especially in Mostar new town, makes this a pretty good value city break. Away from the crowds on the bridge, where daredevil divers jump into the freezing waters below, this city has a really charming and peaceful way of life.
In the new part of Mostar, where few tourists stray, countless restaurants serving up first-class food and surprisingly extensive cake menus are complemented by cool bars and cafe culture. Gigantic Yugoslavian monuments sit amongst overgrown grass, old derelict banks sport bullet holes and street art and locals go about their day to day life pretty uninterrupted from visitors. Meanwhile, in the old town which is pretty packed by day, once the sun sets and the daytrippers depart it becomes a magical land of cobbled streets glowing in orange hues and multicoloured lanterns. Come for Mostar if you will, but make sure you stay for everything else!
Coffee, wine and food
The food in Bosnia and Herzegovina gets a pretty bad rep, and after my first visit where I lived off Cevapi and Rakaia (sausages and liquor) I had written it off as a foodie destination. Coming back for my second visit though, where locals took me under their wing and showed me all the food on offer I think the reputation is so wrong.
Plates of meat, minced meat, stuffed meat, sliced meat; meat is a pretty big deal here, and as my vegetarian friend will tell you from our road trip, it’s not really geared up to a plant-based diet. But beyond the meat, the cakes, and there are whole stores with 100’s of them, are incredible and the locals take coffee and cake seriously. You’re not going to find many takeaway coffee shops here, you sit down, enjoy your cake, and people watch for as long as you can.
At Alma Coffee in Mostar old-town, where they roast and prepare their own coffee I was walked through how proper Bosnian coffee is made and this strong liquid served up with Turkish Delight is some of the best I’ve tasted. Bosnia and Herzegovina wine might not be famous on the international stage but the reds especially are delicious, and again, the prices are pretty tasty too.
Traditional dishes such as lamb cooked under the bell, a ceramic dish which is immersed in the flames and embers, are indulgent and juicy while fresh fish provides a lighter option. Also, they eat doughnuts, cheese and honey at any time of day, that’s a country I can get behind.