Mostar to Blagaj Day Trip: A $6 Itinerary
Despite having first heard about Blagaj years ago (thank you, Pinterest), I never really knew much about the town except for the fact that the photos looked gorgeous. Nonetheless, it was added to our never-ending list of travel goals and finally ticked off this month while visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina.
If you're spending time in Mostar, you're in a great place to explore Herzegovina and all that this region has to offer. There are plenty of organized tours and day trips available from Mostar to unique places like Stolac, the Kravice Waterfall and Medjugorje (to name a few!). With only one day to spare, we set out on our own Mostar to Blagaj day trip and are sharing our tips to help with your travel planning. We made a fun travel vlog all about our visit (linked at the bottom) and it's also helpful to know that Blagaj sounds more like blahguy.
Mostar to Blagaj: How to Get There
The small town of Blagaj is about 12 kilometres southeast of Mostar and an easy bus ride away. You can of course visit as part of a guided tour or take a taxi there but, we've chosen the cheapest option of taking a bus with the locals which adds to the fun for us. To get there, we waited at the bus stop right in front of the bright yellow United World College building and boarded bus #11 headed to Blagaj. This is the Spanish Square/Španski Trg area and bus tickets can be purchased from the driver for 2.10 marks each (cash only) since Blagaj is in the second tariff zone. The bus ride was around 30 minutes and we had some help getting off at the right stopped after asking a student sitting beside us on the bus.
I found the bus schedule a bit confusing and had to ask our host for help but basically routes #10 and #11 will take you from Mostar to Blagaj making various stops along the way. We happened to take bus #12 on the way back but it followed a different route so we got off at the main bus terminal on the East side once back in Mostar.
[Side note: Because of language barriers and since we had no data on our phones to rely on, there was an awful lot of asking for help in this region but we found that everyone was SO incredibly helpful! From our bus drivers to the lady at our favourite burek shop in Mostar, everyone we crossed paths with was always more than willing to help.]
Getting off the bus you'll see some cafes and shops but because we visited in the off season (February) there was not much open. We followed the signs to Blagaj, passed a large parking lot and took a street down toward the river. If all else fails, you'll hear the powerful river running below and you can follow the thundering sounds to get the best views of Blagaj.
The Dervish House: Tekija Blagaj
If I'm being honest, I didn't know much about Blagaj or the Dervish House prior to our visit. I didn't even know that it was called the Dervish House but now know it is also commonly known as Tekija Blagaj or Blagaj Tekke. The picturesque monastery dates back to 1520 and is now a national monument. It was built for the Dervish cults and sits at the base of a steep cliff where the Buna river begins. The monastery is now mainly open for tourists but rituals and ceremonies do still take place here.
A tour inside the Dervish House is not to be missed if you're visiting Blagaj and it will only take about 30 minutes to roam the colourful rooms. Entrance to the Dervish House is 4 marks (February 2017) and tickets can be purchased at a small booth outside the monastery. Once inside, you'll be asked to remove your shoes and women are given head scarves to wear (depending on what you're wearing, you may also be asked to cover up). We were given brochures with more information about the monastery and were able to read about each room as we toured the interior.
Be sure to stop at the small balcony for great views of the emerald Buna river. Apparently, during the summer months, you're able to take a short boat trip for a few marks and go right inside the small cave where the river flows from.
Blagaj Day Trip from Mostar: Total Cost
With a limited amount of time in Mostar, our priority on our second day was to visit Blagaj and the monastery so this day trip is ideal for those on a budget with a sense of adventure to go at it sans tour guide. We left Mostar at 11am and were back in the city around 3pm leaving plenty of time to get lost in the streets and admire the architecture. A great thing about Blagaj is that there is no cost to enter and explore the river and views of the monastery. Total transportation and admission for this DIY tour came out to 8.20 marks (Feb 2017 prices) which was great for our budget!
BUS TICKETS FROM MOSTAR TO BLAGAJ: 2.10 marks each way (4.20 marks return)
ADMISSION TO BLAGAJ TEKIJA: 4 marks per person
When you total up your bus tickets and admission to the Dervish House, a day trip from Mostar to Blagaj will cost you under $6 CAD. After taking in the views and touring the monastery, you can enjoy a Bosnian coffee or a traditional meal at one of the many restaurants that line the river. There are also several market stands selling souvenirs meaning your $6 day can easily be doubled or even tripled ;)
If you're looking for fun things to do in the area to maximize the day, we noticed there's a fortress perched high atop the cliff in Blagaj. The Old Fort of Blagaj is also known as Stjepan Grad and we didn't realize until afterwards that there's a narrow hiking trail or 'goat path' that will take you right up to the fortress. The hike is apparently pretty steep at parts and is about an hour from the base of Blagaj but worth it for the chance to explore an abandoned fortress and enjoy some amazing views.