For all of you out there who have been to Dubrovnik, Mostar is most likely a place you've heard of. For those of you that haven't been to Dubrovnik you must go...immediately. Firstly, Croatia is overwhelmingly beautiful,, and secondly, Game of Thrones is filmed there: Kings Landing, Qarth...it's all Dubrovnik! There are Game of Throne tours offered but if you don't have time for that, I'm pretty sure any fan of the show will recognise certain sites without a guide, I know I did: The House of the Undying and The Red Keep are very easy to spot.
However, this isn't a post about Croatia, it's a post about Bosnia and Herzegovina. Specifically about taking a private tour if you have the extra time and money.
Situated in Southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Herzegovina region of the country, Mostar is relatively close to Dubrovnik. On a tour bus this will take approximately 3 hours each way factoring in various hotel pick ups, a potential line at the borders and the simple fact that the road to Mostar cuts through some seriously impressive countryside. If that's not clear enough: windy roads in a coach = slow progress.
Now, I'm not knocking the group tours, they're great and on average will cost approximately £100 for 2 people including transport, a guide and museum entry. However, due to the proximity of Mostar to the big Balkans attraction of Croatia, Mostar is also chock full of tourists during peak season (late spring - early autumn). If you're travelling to the Balkans during this time, I highly recommend paying double. Don't stop reading! I'm not fast and loose with cash, but I do think that sometimes it's worth paying up if the experience is worth it.
For approximately £200 for 2 people, we had a car and driver to ourselves which meant there was only one hotel pickup which can be as early or as late as you want it to be (lie-ins, am I right?!). The travel time is significantly shorter because cars are just better on windy, steep roads than a bus load of people, and we stopped at a few places that the driver recommended after we asked for suggestions. Something that you wouldn't necessarily do on a group tour.
Once in Mostar, while other tour groups were huddled together trying to listen to their guide as they were jostled out of the way by other tourists, vendors or each other, we met our private guide Miho outside the Franciscan Church and we were on our way: photo op on the bridge, the history of Mostar, the history of the region, Miho's life, cafés, lunch...it all felt like we were with a knowledgeable friend, instead of a guy we'd just met. That, to me, is priceless. Plus, if you have limited time to see a city, surely one-on-one time with a local means that you get to hang out with the other tourists, and scratch the surface a little too.