Bosnia and Herzegovina is proud to have its own little slice of the Adriatic, even if it is only a 24km strip. The Adriatic Sea from Split to Dubrovnik is crystal clear and simply gorgeous, Neum included. The closed bay here, shielded by Pelješac Peninsula, is protected from many of the strong winds of the open sea. Most of the town was built during Yugoslav times as an isolated retreat for the communist elite.
Although Neum can’t compete with the likes of Dubrovnik, Ston and Makarska, it does offer good value for a seaside holiday. Some of the infrastructure is rundown in comparison and even incomplete but year by year the tourist offer at Neum improves. During the summer months, it is quite crowded – this is not the place to go looking for a peaceful cove or empty beach.
Neum is a holiday resort town, though you have to be prepared to cut it some slack. There is not much on the cultural ‘to do’ list, but there is plenty of fun and sun to be had. Besides swimming and sunbathing, there are boats for hire at several places on the beach, and from Neum, you can jump on the excursion boats that travel up and down the Adriatic coastline.
Watersports are generally cheaper here than in Croatia. Scuba-diving gear, parasailing equipment, boats and jet skis can be hired on the beach, and the bay is perfect for a fun day on the water. Some of the major hotels can arrange watersport hire from the beachside outlets. Dubrovnik is only an hour’s drive from Neum, and the peninsula of Pelješac is a stone’s throw away. From Orebić on Pelješac you can catch a ferry to the beautiful island of Korčula.
For those looking for culture, you must head towards the hinterland. Behind Neum you can find the village of Hutovo and the ancient ruins of Hadžibegova Kula Fortress, used by the Turks to defend their western front. The holy site of Svetište Kraljica mira is a shrine to the Queen of Peace in Hrasno. It has mostly local significance but those who have come on a pilgrimage often pay a visit to this tiny hinterland shrine. Hutovo Blato, Ljubuški and Međugorje are all within an hour’s drive of Neum for day trips. Mostar is just a bit further away.
Getting to Neum
It may seem confusing when you look at the map of Neum, and note its position relative to Croatia: the only land connection Neum has to Bosnia and Herzegovina is through the hinterland towards Hutovo where a narrow two-lane road winds through the hills.
To go to Neum via the main coastal road you must first enter Croatia (at the Metković border crossing if coming from Mostar), then re-enter BiH after the tourist settlement of Klek. Neum is 8km from the border crossing. Some 22km later and you’ll be crossing back into Croatia heading towards Dubrovnik. It may sound baffling, or at the very least impractical, but it’s the unique situation.