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Munich to Mostar: A journey to Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Old Bridge in Mostar, soaring high above the Neretva River, has long been a landmark of immense meaning. 

 

Since its construction in the mid-1500s, its impressive design has been a nod to the power of human creativity. Its collapse during the 1990s shocked people across the world and drew attention to the conflict devastating Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

 

Today, the reconstructed bridge serves as “a symbol of reconciliation." It's a beloved stop among train travelers who make the journey to Bosnia and Herzegovina 

 

Last year, I stood among the shops of Mostar’s Kujundžiluk bazaar at dusk, gazing in awe at the illuminated “new” Old Bridge. Seeing the bridge in person was a poignant end to an Interrail trip I took from Central Europe into Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

 

Depending on where you begin your train journey, it takes time to reach destinations such as Sarajevo and Mostar; travelers must switch from a train to a bus to cross the Bosnian border. But those who make the journey are rewarded with lush valley views, delicious cuisine, and often-summery weather that extends well into the autumn. 

 

In this itinerary, you’ll learn how to use a 5-day Pass to replicate my journey from Munich to Mostar, crossing Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Eurailers can easily take longer exploring the route, making stops in cities and towns along the way.  

 

Ready to go? Just choose your Pass, book any needed seat reservations and pack your bags. 

Map showing route from Munich to Mostar

1. Munich, Germany

 

Your adventure begins in Munich, the big and bustling heart of Bavaria in southern Germany. Though the city is famous for its Old Town and raucous Oktoberfest celebration, it’s easy to escape the crowds and experience a slower pace of life in Munich. 

 

  • Small, locally-owned shops are scattered throughout Munich, offering travellers a memorable place to pick up a souvenir. Wortwahl Buchkultur, a unique bookstore and stationary shop, is a short jaunt away from Munich’s old town. 

  • Experience a taste of Munich’s traditional cuisine with a visit to Königlicher Hirschgarten, a restaurant with origins said to date back to the late 1700s. On a sunny afternoon, you can happily lose an hour or two sitting at the outdoor tables, sampling regional specialties such as bratwurst (though the menu includes vegetarian options as well). 

  • Nymphenburg Palace once served as a luxe summer residence of Max Emanuel, an elector of Bavaria who came into power in 1679. Today, the palace and its surrounding grounds are a sumptuous place to immerse yourself in the nature surrounding Munich. 

Bird's eye view of Munich, Germany

Take a direct train from Munich to Budapest. Travel time: 6.5 hours

No seat reservations required

2. Budapest, Hungary

 

Budapest, an ornate and fascinating capital city, sprawls across each side of the Danube River in northern Hungary. There’s great beauty in the city’s famous landmarks (such as the Hungarian Parliament Building), but travelers should pay attention to Budapest’s smaller details as well. Look for a carved archway here, a pop of colorful graffiti there – delightful details hiding in plain sight. 

 

  • To get a sense of how the Danube bisects mighty Budapest, climb to Buda Castle for a bird’s eye look at the city. The palace complex, situated on a hill overlooking the river and city, showcases more than 2,000 years of Budapest’s history. 

  • If the forecast calls for rain, never fear – Budapest’s lavishly decorated coffee houses are a unique place to caffeinate and conversate with fellow travelers. New York Café is a convenient 15-minute stroll from Budapest-Keleti train station. 

  • Try regional specialties such as goulash and lángos at the Great Market Hall. Or, live like a local and pick up some fresh fruit, nuts and other produce to snack on during your next train journey. 

Bird's eye view of Budapest's castle complex

Take a direct train from Budapest to Zagreb. Travel time: 6.5 hours

Seat reservations required

3. Zagreb, Croatia

 

Calm and lovely, Zagreb feels a world away from Croatia’s ultra-popular beachside destinations to the south. It’s a pleasure to stroll Zagreb’s mellow streets on a sunny day and explore the capital city – I recommend beginning with the “upper town,” home to a number of noteworthy sites, plus some top-notch views over the rest of the city.  
 

  • Fuel up with a visit to Dolac Market, a daily open-air gathering of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, cornbread and beyond. You’ll know you’ve reached the roughly 80-year-old market when you catch sight of the red umbrellas providing shade for the vendors. 

  • The Museum of Broken Relationships, housed in a stately white house in Zagreb’s Upper Town, is filled with mementos of lost loved ones, sent in by people across the world. The collection is a powerful reminder that despite our differences, we are united by our shared experiences of heartbreak. 

  • Once a bomb shelter during World War II, Grič Tunnel under Zagreb’s Upper Town now hosts art installations throughout the year. 

Landscape of skyline in Zagreb, Croatia

International connections from Zagreb have been suspended for some years now due to construction. Travellers can take a direct bus from Zagreb to Sarajevo. The bus is not part of the Pass network, and tickets must be purchased separately. Travel time: 6.5 hours 

4. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

After a long journey, you’ve finally reached Bosnia and Herzegovina. Begin by exploring the streets and hillsides around Sarajevo, the country’s scenic and captivating capital. As you wander the city’s bazaar and winding streets, take time to slow down and absorb the ebb and flow of daily life in Sarajevo. 

 

  • There’s no shortage of small businesses selling Bosnian coffee and bureks in Sarajevo’s bazaar – which means you should try as many of them as possible during your time in the city. Sač’s vegetarian burek became my personal favorite during my trip to Sarajevo. 

  • Travel from the valley floor to the mountains on Sarajevo’s beloved cable car, first constructed in 1959. In a mere 12 minutes, you’ll be transported to the trails of Mount Trebević, with a sweeping view of the city below. 

Bazaar in Sarajevo, filled with traditional copper souvenirs and other items for purchase

Take a direct train from Sarajevo to Mostar. Travel time: 2 hours

No seat reservations required

5. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Your journey culminates in Mostar in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where summer weather often extends long into the autumn. With a lively town center, beautiful surrounding hills and numerous day trip opportunities, it’s easy to fall in love with Mostar. 

 

  • Catch a bird-eye view of Mostar’s Old City and the Neretva River with a visit to the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque. After admiring the mosque’s striking architecture, make sure to climb the minaret for a breathtaking, 360-degree view of Mostar. 

  • In addition to exploring Mostar, consider a day trip to nearby destinations. I was awestruck by the sight of Kravica Waterfall and Počitelj, a medieval settlement above the Neretva River. 

  • End your time in Mostar with a leisurely dinner at one of the many restaurants perched above the river, preferably with a view of the city’s iconic Old Bridge. Take time to reflect on your trip and your time in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We suspect you’ll leave the city already dreaming of your return. 

Old bridge in Mostar, surrounded by lush hillsides

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