With so many destinations in the WHL Group‘s ever-expanding network, we have an incredible wealth of local travel information at our fingertips. Through the Inside Word, our local partners – all travel experts – share their top tips on what to do, what to eat, where to party and where to shop in their necks of the woods. This month, we hear from Zana R-Bilal about local travel in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina … from the inside.
As an apparition site of the Virgin Mary that is well recognised by Catholics worldwide, Medjugorje is a Bosnian town with deep spiritual poignancy. Pilgrims and soul-searchers come from far and wide to partake in the sanctity of the place, get in touch with visionaries and simply enjoy the grace-filled ambiance. I recommend a minimum of three days in Medjugorje, as the longer you stay the more you can make time for personal prayer, reflection and religious activities in the community.
To start out, follow the path up Apparition Hill where the young visionaries first encountered Our Lady. As you climb, you can see the inspired artistry of the bronze plaques depicting each mystery of the rosary. If climbing Mount Krizevac is too arduous, there is also a gentler path with the Stations of the Cross around the Risen Christ statue.
In addition, there is a daily International Mass with the Rosary and Healing Prayers, and Veneration of the Cross and Adoration in the evenings. Daily Holy Masses are made in several languages. Frequent talks by local Franciscan priests of the Medjugorje parish are also held in the blessed John Paul II Hall and there is daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament each afternoon in the Adoration chapel.
Before leaving Medjugorje, visit the surroundings full of natural beauty and historical interests. The gem of the region is the famous Waterfalls of Kravice, where in summertime you can swim with the locals or just enjoy the scenery while having a meal or cup of coffee at the nearby restaurant.
For a bit of history, visit the old city of Mostar with its historic bridge rebuilt across the beautiful Neretva River. The bridge and the area around it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through the narrow streets of the old town filled with souvenir shops, restaurants and historic buildings.
Even closer, in Ljubuski (15 minutes’ drive of Medjugorje), you will find the parish church of St. Anthony, where you can take in the ancients relics of the first Franciscan priests in this area. Then visit ”The Mother” gallery with its splendid portraits and statues.
Not everyone realizes that the town of Medjugorje is also in close proximity to fantastic Balkan cities. A one-day excursion could take you to Sarajevo (the capital of Bosnia) or a four-day trip could cover Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia. If you would like to combine a pilgrimage with some relaxation by the beach, try a day trip to the breathtaking Makarska Riviera along the Adriatic coast.
Purchase rosaries, statues or books at different local souvenir and handcrafts shops. You will find interesting wooden crafts of Jesus and Mary, as well as angels and crucifixes hand-carved from Medjugorje stones. Medjugorje souvenirs can be blessed by a priest if you bring them to evening prayer at St. James Church.
At mealtime there is a good choice of cafés and restaurants in Medjugorje that serve local cuisine.
Galileo Restaurant is known for its exclusive fish delicacies, and at Columbo Restaurant you will find the best choice of Italian cuisine and other International dishes. Have a meal at Voktor’s Restaurant for the kinds of homemade local specialties that keep people coming back for more.
The biggest treat in Medjugorje is the peaceful time for prayer in such inspired surroundings. Just walk through the fields to the Blue Cross or Apparition Hill. If you stay longer, take time to be a part of Medjugorje’s local community. Meet the families while attending Holy Mass, stop for casual conversation with locals or simply take your quiet time and space for personal reflection.
To liven things up with locals, visit The Garden House, where local musicians play traditional instruments every Friday night. During the evenings, most cafés and restaurants are open. Try a glass of warm red wine or tea while sitting on one of their terraces and enjoying the great people-watching views of the streets from above. You will be able to feel the peaceful yet joyful vibe of quiet little Medjugorje.