When you’re done wandering Dubrovnik’s 12th-century fortifications and Game of Thrones sites, plan for a Dubrovnik to Bosnia day trip!
When you’ve finished wandering the 12th-century fortifications, soaking up the sun on the Adriatic Coast, and gazing at the Game of Thrones castles in and around Croatia’s UNESCO-tagged southern city, there might be time left for a Dubrovnik to Bosnia day trip.
I am always amazed that misconceptions about travel to Bosnia remain decades after the 1990s war. It is my favorite country in Europe, and I consider it a personal challenge to encourage more travelers to visit. If you have concerns or questions about visiting Bosnia-Herzegovina, you will want to check out this pillar post: Bosnia and Herzegovina Travel Guide for First Timers: 10 Things We Learned.
There are a variety of day trips from Dubrovnik to Bosnia you can consider, and they are super-easy to plan. This is mainly thanks to the proximity of Dubrovnik to the international border. After just a few hours cruising through the rugged Dinaric Alps, you can cross the famous old bridge of Mostar or swim in wild waterfalls deep in the Bosnian mountains.
This guide has all you need to know about planning your day trip to Bosnia from Dubrovnik. It’s packed with enticing suggestions on where to go and what to see but also deals with practical aspects of the trip, from border crossings to travel times. Let’s begin!
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Table of Contents
How far is Bosnia from Dubrovnik?
There’s not all that far to go from Dubrovnik to Bosnia. As the crow flies, the city is a mere 2.9 miles (4.7km) from the international border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The road is a little longer, as the shortest highway linking the two countries needs to navigate around Mount Srd – the mountain overlooking Dubrovnik itself – and then weave through a gap in the Dinaric Alps. Expect to travel just under 7.5 miles before you hit the border.
Most travelers use the major border crossing at Neum, though. Neum is some 41 miles (66km) directly north of Dubrovnik along the Adriatic coast. We took this route by bus from Dubrovnik to Bosnia-Herzegovina, even though we planned to stay longer than your Dubrovnik to Bosnia day trip will be.
Travel times to places in Bosnia from Dubrovnik
There are many enthralling places to explore once you’ve crossed the Croatian border into Bosnia. Many take just a few hours to drive from Neum on the Adriatic Sea. Here’s a quick look at average travel times to some of the most bucket-list-busting spots in Bosnia, all of which are best accessed on the main Adriatic Highway via the Neum border crossing:
- Pocitelj – 1h50 driving.
- Kravice Waterfalls – 2h10 driving.
- Mostar – 2h30 driving, 3-5 hours on public transport.
Border crossings between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina
There are over 30 designated land crossings along the 579-mile Croatian-Bosnian border. Day trippers out of Dubrovnik probably only need to know about three.
The first – and the closest to Dubrovnik itself – is the Brgat Gornji Border Crossing, though it’s not all that commonly used by travelers or tour operators. Then there’s the more remote mountain crossing around Slano, also rarely used.
Finally, the busy crossing at Neum lets you enter Bosnia by simply following the spectacular Adriatic Highway northwards. The latter is the one you’re likely to head to, since it links up to the main highways that go north to Mostar and Kravice Falls.
As of January 1st, 2023, Croatia is officially a part of the Schengen Zone. That means compulsory passport checks are now in place at all of the above-mentioned border points. When they get busy in the peak of the summer months, there can be significant delays of up to 60 minutes or more. The crossing tends to be smoother on the outward leg as you leave the EU than returning and re-entering the bloc.
The best places to see on a Dubrovnik to Bosnia day trip
Finally – the part you’ve been waiting for! With all the passport checks and border crossings done and dusted, what exactly is waiting behind the Bosnia-Herzegovina border within a day’s reach of Dubrovnik?
Answer: Loads! Yep, from roaring waterfalls to enchanting old towns topped by mosque minarets and Ottoman buildings, there are many attractions to choose from. Most Dubrovnik-Bosnia tour packages include at least one or two of the following.
Handsome Pocitelj is less than an hour’s drive past the border at Neum, making it one of the first places you’ll pass through as you drive deeper into southern Bosnia. The small town occupies pride of place on a bluff over the Neretva River. It’s an official National Monument of Bosnia & Herzegovina, with a history that goes back to the late 14th century.
An excellent way to go here is to book a guided walking tour of the old town, an area that’s also called the Walled town of Pocitelj. The whole thing is nothing short of an open-air museum. At its top, a medieval citadel keeps watch, while the Hajji Alija Mosque sits below, boasting interiors that are said to have some of the finest acoustics in the world!
What’s notable about Pocitelj is that it’s one of the few historic locations to emerge from the wars of the 1990s almost unscathed. As such, it’s also one of the best places to learn about Bosnia’s long and ancient history and the surrounding area.
There’s nothing like a cool swim in crystal-clear water to refresh you after a two-hour drive up the highways! The Kravice Waterfalls (also sometimes spelled the Kravica Waterfalls) are usually the first stop on a day tour from Dubrovnik. They are both close to the international border and downright irresistible.
Tempted? Good. Stop in the parking lot at the top of the hill and make your way down. You’ll soon be greeted by a gushing cascade that rolls over a bluff in the middle of lush hornbeam, pine, and oak forests. A vast plunge pool opens on the Trebižat River below, offering ample places to swim. Just be wary – the rocks can be slippery and the water is cold! For lunch, don’t miss the restaurant right on the side of the water there. It serves traditional local dishes like freshwater fish and Balkan dumplings.
The best time to visit the Kravice Waterfalls is early- to late spring. The water will be in full flow then, plus the crowds of swimmers that the peak season summer months bring will have yet to appear. The falls are within the Kravica Nature Park and carry an approximately $10 entry fee per person.
Mostar day trips will take you deep into the region of Herzegovina in southern Bosnia. I highly recommend coming this far for visions of the legendary Stari Most Bridge and walks through a charming 16th-century Ottoman old town. The former is now an icon of the country.
The original bridge was built centuries ago but was infamously destroyed during the Croat–Bosniak War of the 1990s. It’s now been completely reconstructed to showcase its handsome Ottoman architectural style and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. See if you can spot the brave locals plunging off the sides into the glistening waters of the river Neretva that gurgles below.
Cross the bridge, and you’ll enter the historic core of Mostar. It’s a great place to enlist the help of a local guide. They’ll spin dark wartime tales, point out the bullet holes that still pockmark the façades, reveal the wonders of the grand Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, and lead you through the heady Bazaar Kujundžiluk (also called the Old Bazaar), an area of winding cobbled lanes that has stores selling silks and carpets and shisha pipes and more.
Mostar is such an incredible place that you could easily spend two, three, or more days getting lost in its maze-like center and exploring the region. It has museums dedicated to hammam bathhouses, the tumultuous 20th-century wars, and gorgeous mountains topped with medieval fortresses on the horizon. Staying is undoubtedly something to consider if you don’t have to be back in Dubrovnik in a hurry.
If you have some extra free time after getting lost in the historic town center of Mostar, it’s always easy to tack on a trip out to Blagaj. It’s little more than a small village, but it’s worth visiting to snap a shot of the so-called Dervish House (also known as the Blagaj Tekke).
The house is a former Ottoman monastery dating back to the end of the 15th century. It’s perched plum on the edge of the inky-blue Buna River and has a small collection of old carpets and mural art inside.
Blagaj is also the home of the Stjepan Grad fortress, a site with a formidable history of almost 1,600 years to its back – there’s evidence of Roman settlements in these parts, you know! You can drive up if you have your rental car. If not, hit the so-called goat track, and you can reach the top in around 30 minutes. The reward will be free time to see a half-ruined castle and 360-degree panoramas of the valley with the Dinaric Alps rising like daggers in the distance.
The best way to plan a Bosnia day trip from Dubrovnik
There are a few ways you could plan your adventure into the heart of the Balkans from the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. The best options manage to check off all of the must-see locations we touch on above while also keeping those travel times to a minimum. Some people prefer the simplicity of a pre-made guided tour. Others will like the freedom of DIY day trips, though some extra complications are involved if you go down that route. Let’s dig a little deeper.
An organized tour is a great way to keep travel admin to a minimum while ensuring you see the best things along the way. These pre-made packages usually include the mainstay draws of the region. Itineraries typically start with a stop at the Kravice Waterfalls and then push on to the main attraction, the center of Mostar. You can expect a guided walking tour of the city and some free time to hit the souvenir shops before returning toDubrovnik by evening. Organized tours either leave from a designated spot in Dubrovnik or include collection at your hotel in the morning. Most include lunch.
A private tour is very similar to an organized tour, except you won’t have to share the trip with anyone else. It’s just you and your travel companions here. The upshot is that you’re often free to tweak and change the itinerary to ensure you visit the places you want to see the most. Looking for extra photography time at the Dervish House in Blagaj? No worries. Want to spend the whole afternoon lost in the Old Bazaar of Mostar? Easy. Most private tours include collection and drop-off right at the door of your hotel in Dubrovnik.
The final way to plan a day trip from Dubrovnik to Bosnia is to go it alone. Rent a car, hit the Adriatic Highway, cruise up the coast, cross the border yourself, and go at your own pace. It’s a fun and very flexible way to do things and means you’ll get the freedom to leave whenever you like, return whenever you want, and see whatever you like along the way. Sadly, there can be some extra charges associated with vehicles rented in one country for use in another, so be sure to check that before you book your wheels. You might also need specific documents, such as an international driver’s license.
There can be better options than public transport on this route. Yes, there is a direct bus service from Dubrovnik to Mostar most days and even a couple of times per day during the peak summer months. However, they often take a few hours longer than they say they will; three hours quickly becomes five, especially with those border crossings to get through! The bus trip we made was on a miserably hot day with no air conditioning, and one fellow passenger’s antics made for a very crabby driver!
Plus, return schedules don’t match up to allow for day trips in and out of Bosnia in one fell swoop, so you’ll undoubtedly need to spend at least one night somewhere like Mostar if you’re determined to avoid tours or car hire. Not that this would be a bad thing! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Mostar and wished we would have planned for several more nights!
However, if you want to have more flexibility and freedom to explore Bosnia and other nearby destinations, you might want to consider hiring a car in Dubrovnik. You can find the best prices on car hire in Dubrovnik with Enjoy Travel, where you can compare prices, choose from a variety of vehicles, and book online with ease. Whether you need a small car for city driving, a family car for extra space, or a luxury car for some fun, you can hire a car in Dubrovnik with Enjoy Travel and enjoy their friendly service, flexible policies, and unlimited mileage. You can also pick up your car at the airport or the city centre. With a car hire in Dubrovnik, you can easily drive to nearby places such as Kotor, Sarajevo, or Split, and experience the diverse culture, history, and scenery of this region.
In conclusion, if you’re visiting already, plan for a Dubrovnik to Bosnia day trip. Not only will you add one more country to your overall travels, but you’ll also experience the unique parallel cultures of Bosnia-Herzegovina and understand how history contributes to life there today.