The Mountainous European Road Trip With Experiences Rick Steves Will Never Forget

If you can rely on anyone to show you some of the best of Europe, it's America's favorite travel guru, Rick Steves. Steves has traveled far and wide in Europe and seems to love it all. The travel expert has an infectious excitement for the places he visits, from the well-known to the less-explored. Until early 2022, he conveyed that excitement on his website. In a blog post, Steves wrote about a picturesque road trip through a largely forgotten part of the continent. 

Steves' trip took him from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Mostar, a city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dubrovnik is firmly on the tourist trail, thanks in no small part to "Game of Thrones," which featured Dubrovnik's ancient walls. Mostar is not as well-known as Dubrovnik, but many travelers visit when they're in the Balkans. As Steves points out, most take the scenic coastal road if they're traveling between the two cities. Steves, however, took an inland route, driving winding mountain roads through tiny villages. In doing so, he got a glimpse of parts of Europe many travelers never see. 

The road less traveled

Setting out from Dubrovnik, Steves quickly left Croatia behind, crossing the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina and heading toward the city of Trebinje. Bosnia is full of underrated destinations for tourists on a budget; Trebinje is even less well-known than most. The city lies in Republika Srpska, a partly independent entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the population is mainly Serbian. The history and demographics in this part of Europe are complex, which seems to be part of why Steves wanted to explore the region in depth.

Steves writes that he found Trebinje "bustling and prosperous." Its setting is one of the most striking in all of Europe. Green hills and mountains surround the city, the calm Trebišnjica River that flows through the center is lined with picturesque buildings, and the Old Town is wonderful for a stroll. 

A video published on Rick Steves Classroom Europe depicts Steves at Hercegovačka Gračanica Temple, an Orthodox Church on a hill above Trebinje. The main religion in Republika Srpska is Orthodox Christianity, in contrast to much of the rest of Bosnia, where many people are Muslim. The church is grand, both outside and inside. The interior is painted in rich colors and ornamented in gold. Visitors on Google love the view over the city from the church.

Onward to Mostar

Steves describes driving along quiet mountain roads to reach the small town of Nevesinje. Here, he enjoyed people-watching, soaking up the details that were so different yet remarkably similar to life back in the U.S. He also explored an old mosque. Careva džamija (The Emperor's Mosque) stands near the edge of town and is an unassuming brick building with a minaret rising next to it. The mosque is a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, though it is now employed occasionally, as it stands in Orthodox-Christian-dominated Republika Srpska.

From Nevesinje, Steves spent another hour navigating hairpin turns in Bosnia's mountains to reach lovely Mostar. The city was part of the Ottoman Empire for several centuries, and the Turkish influence can still be felt today. Mostar's most famous attraction, Stari Most (Old Bridge), was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century. The bridge and surrounding Old Town area were faithfully rebuilt following the civil war in the 1990s and are now a UNESCO-listed site.