Neum is a resort town on the 9 km strip of Adriatic coast that belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In other contexts this country is often loosely referred to as "Bosnia", but Neum is specifically part of Herzegovina. That entity is undefined and contentious so on this page the country is abbreviated to BiH. In 2013 the Neum strip had a population of 4653, most of them in the town itself.
Neum shouldn't be the only place you visit in fascinating BiH, but for most it will be. That's because its territory separates Dubrovnik from the rest of Croatia, so any visitor who takes this route has to briefly exit not only Croatia but the EU, then re-enter; then do the same when their excursion returns north. Traffic tail-backs have been common, and there may be other complications, outlined below.
This situation arose from a 1699 peace treaty: Ottoman expansion was smashed forever at the Battle of Zenta, and new borders were drawn with Venice, the Holy Roman Empire, and the growing regional superpower of Austria-Hungary. The land border hardly mattered in the days when only goat-herd trails crossed the rugged mountains and most travellers reached Dubrovnik by sea, as you still can. In the 20th century highways were built but the future Croatia and BiH were part of Yugoslavia, and the border was just a county line. It mattered more once those countries became independent, and even more when Croatia joined the EU and committed to joining the Schengen free movement area: Neum meant you coudn't even move freely between Dubrovnik city and the northern part of Dubrovnik region.
Pelješac Bridge opened on 26 July 2022 and that changed everything for Neum. This 2,404-metre bridge leaps from Komarna to the Ston Peninsula and enables motorists to drive from Split to Dubrovnik without leaving Croatia. Traffic volumes via Neum have plumetted, and may fall further once all the bridge access motorways are completed in Sept 2023. So you only come this way now because you choose to, or are prohibited from the bridge, such as cyclists. Neum is still the shortest route in road km, the border tailbacks have dwindled, and you can look ahead on highway apps to gauge the queues.
Neum now has to re-invent itself. It remains a highway rest-stop and low-duty resort, with cheap tobacco, alcohol and fuel: you might save €10 by filling your tank here. But it's also a beach resort in its own right, cheaper than surrounding Croatia. Montenegro promoted itself as "the Mediterranean like it used to be" so Neum has to think of a similar slogan, and develop the facilities to go with that.
This section applies to anyone passing through, while the later sections consider transport assuming you plan to stay here.
- Crossing points: the northwest border crossing is called Klek in Croatia and Neum 1 in BiH. Nine km along the road, the southeast crossing is called Zaton Doli in Croatia and Neum 2 in BiH. These are the only crossings for foreigners. Imotica border crossing on the minor road 3 km north of Neum 2 is only for locals. Tourists are usually turned back: just occasionally they're waved through, then wish they'd been stopped when they hit the pot-holed lane on the BiH side.
- Queues vary at the borders. They're often trivial, but at the height of the tourist season before the bridge opened it could take an hour to enter Neum and 15 mins to leave.
- Passport checks are brief and customs checks are rare, but you do need your passport handy. The hold-ups are not because anyone has dodgy documents, but because at least one traveller on every bus has packed their passport inside their case deep within the bus baggage trunk. Most countries' citizens (including Russian and Chinese) may enter BiH without a visa, and these passports are waved through and don't get a stamp. Citizens of most African, Arabian and South Asian countries, and of Belarus, need a visa: you might be waved through without a check, but you can't chance it because the exit kiosk or the return border posts might check. Visas need to be multi-entry to permit return, and your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the term of your visa (the visa-free majority don't need any extra validity.)
- Driving: your licence is valid in BiH on the same basis as in Croatia, so you don't need an International Driving Permit. It's the vehicle that's the problem: you must supplement your motor insurance to include BiH, and there are no facilities at the Neum borders to buy supplementary insurance as there are at several other BiH borders. If you rent a car in Croatia and use it to cross Neum, they'll charge extra for taking it out of the EU, and apply that charge to every day of the rental even if you only make the brief transit. This has been a disincentive to flying into Dubrovnik and using it as a base for touring the rest of Croatia.
- Pets: Croatia is considered "low risk" for rabies (foxes being the chief hazard) but BiH is "high risk". This means that your dog, which is presumably immunised and micro-chipped with a "pet-passport", and which spends the entire transit cooped in a car devoid of foxes, may henceforth be regarded by officialdom as a lethal slavering monster. No joke: western vet protocol is that an animal from a high-risk country must be quarantined if healthy, but immediately killed if it becomes unhealthy, then to be posthumously pardoned when a postmortem reveals only a dental infection.
- Mobile phones: Dubrovnik region has boosters either side of Neum so your mobile should remain attached to Croatia, and thus within the EU data-roaming area. But it might instead latch onto BiH where charges for international callers are much higher. Consider switching off or going into flight-mode.
By far the closest and best-served airport is Dubrovnik (DUV IATA), 80 km by road across the border in Croatia. You can make the journey by bus, changing in Dubrovnik.
Other airports within 200 km of Neum are Split (SPU IATA, Croatia), Sarajevo (SJJ IATA, BiH) and Tivat (TIV IATA, Montenegro).
If you intend to stop over, make this known at the border post when you enter from Croatia, so they can swipe your passport into their system and might even give you a stamp. You're allowed to stay in BiH for up to 90 days (less for some visa-holders) so this will prevent any arguments and interrogations when you subsequently leave. Similarly, make sure you're swiped out.
Highway 17.3 clambers up the mountainside from Neum to reach Hutovo, and eventually Mostar, without crossing the border (though there might be a police car at the edge of town checking any vehicle with non-BiH plates in case anyone's snuck into the country via the back door.) There's no public transport up this road, so you can do it with your own vehicle, but all bus routes cross Croatia even for BiH destinations.
Neum is 60 km from Dubrovnik city, 80 km from Dubrovnik Airport (DBV IATA), 70 km from Mostar, 30 km from Ploče, 90 km from Makarska and 230 km from Split. There's no bus station, just wait at the 1 bus stop on Highway 8 (Jadranska Magistrala). Ask around locally for the schedule, which is very approximate since it factors in hold-ups that may not match, so the bus either flies through early or is way late. You might be advised to join the bus at its rest-stop rather than the bus stop.
For Dubrovnik there are at least four buses a day, taking an hour: they're nearing the end of their journeys from elsewhere in Croatia and may be full. Especially for day-trips to the city, enquire locally about marshrutkas - these are shared taxis, taking residents in for shopping and other essentials in the morning and bring them back mid-afternoon.
These same four buses run north via Ploče and the Makarska Riveria resorts to Split taking 4-5 hours; some swing inland onto the motorway and bypass Makarska. From Split they variously continue to Šibenik, Zadar and Zagreb.
There are 2 or 3 buses a day from Dubrovnik via Neum to Sarajevo, usually taking 7 hours via Mostar.
From border post to border post, the main highway through Neum strip is 9.2 km long. The town occupies half of that, while the rest is just tiny places such as Kamenice, so the term "Neum" here applies to the whole strip and its hinterland.
This means that you might need a taxi between your bus drop-off and your accommodation, especially given the steep terrain. They'll probably be happy to take a €5 note.
- 1 Muzej i Galerija Neum, Gospe od Zdravlje 1. M-F 08:00-16:00. Small museum next to Crkva Gospe od Zdravlja ("Lady of Health") the RC church, a striking modern concrete building.
- 2 Klek peninsula is across the inlet from Neum town. When BiH is described as having 20 km of coastline, it's factoring in this peninsula, as the highway cuts inland through Kamenice to total 9 km. Klek is wooded and a road runs up it to a marina at Opuće. The very tip, hard to believe, is disputed between BiH and Croatia. From here you look north across the bay to the Pelješac bridge and the Croatian villages of Komarna and Klek - the name means "key".
- 3 Vranjevo Selo one km east of town is the scrappy remains of a necropolis, mostly 14th / 15th century but its oldest parts are Roman. In 2022 the site is overgrown and unkempt.
- The landfill tip on the lane next to the east border has somehow got itself listed as a "museum". That's probably correct in a few centuries time, come back in 2300.
- 4 Pelješac Bridge spans the channel west of Neum.
- 5 Obli Vrh is the ridge north of town, with a great view of the bay and beyond. Reach it by the lane branching off M17.3 just beyond St Antony's church, a 3 km hike.
- 6 Hutovo is a village 22 km inland up Highway 17.3. It has several traditional Ottoman buildings, and stećci - large medieval carved tombstones - in its necropolis.
- Water sports such as jet-skiing and SUP paddleboarding are available through the hotels. You can snorkel off any accessible beach with your own mask and snorkel, for vistas of eelgrass and karstic boulders remarkably similar to those of Croatia. As of 2022 there is no scuba-diving centre in Neum.
- Etnofest Neum is a traditional Croatian music festival held in mid-August.
- Neum Underwater Film Festival is held in mid-August.
- Money: the official currency is the BiH convertible mark, abbreviated as BAM, but the Croatian kuna is also universally accepted, and many shops accept euros.
- Alcohol and tobacco are much cheaper here than in Croatia.
- Konzum is the main supermarket, at the highway junction. It's open daily 07:00-22:00.
- Main highway M2 has Jelovnik (within Motel More), Odisej, Marinero (below), Gradska Kavana Neum, Pekara Magistrala and Jadranpromet. They get suddenly busy when a bus pulls in for a rest stop.
- Marinero, Hwy M2 (next to Konzum supermarket and main bus stop), ☏ +387 63 353584. Daily 06:00-23:00. Decent food especially the pizza, cash only.
- Kralja Tomislava is a street hairpinning down to the shore and a large public car park by Hotel Sunce. Its restaurants miss the passing traffic on the highway above, so they feel less like a bus station cafe.
- 1 Restoran Laguna, Kralja Tomislava 26, ☏ +387 36 880812. Daily 08:00-23:00. Great reviews for the service, choice and cuisine here.
- Bonaca, Kralja Tomislava 48, ☏ +387 36 880182. Daily 07:00-00:00. Good restaurant with sea view terrace, open year round.
- Restoran Jopi Neum, Dr Franje Tudmana 3, ☏ +387 63 324522. Daily 08:00-00:00. Right on the coast by the car park, so higher prices for standard food quality.
- Gostionica Galeb, Kralja Tomislava, ☏ +387 63 571070. Daily 08:00-00:00. Right on the shore, you're paying for the view, and be careful with what else they try to charge you for.
- 2 Škoj, Mimoza 2, ☏ +387 63 656795. Daily 10:00-22:00. Simple beach-side restaurant for sea food.
- Alcohol is inexpensive and widely available in restaurants, cafes and hotels. Neum is a family-oriented resort and doesn't have free-standing pubs - party animals have to head to Dubrovnik, and pay Croatian prices.
- Wine is grown locally, for example by Puntar Wine Estate, and the grapes are also made into brandy.
- Hotels are mostly Tito-era concrete monstrosities. They're more expensive than private Villas, but still far cheaper than equivalent accommodation in Croatia.
- 1 Hotel Nova, Primorska 7, ☏ +387 36 885 220. Consistently clean comfy place on the seafront. B&B double 150 BAM.
- 2 Hotel Stella, Ruđera Boškovića, ☏ +387 36 880 381. Mid-range hotel with 84 rooms.
- Hotel Zenit 200 m north of Stella is a crumbly old place and doesn't accept credit cards.
- 3 Hotel Sunce, Kralja Tomislava, ☏ +387 36 880 033. Hulking Tito-era hotel above beach, reasonably comfy. B&B double 150 BAM.
- 4 Grand Hotel Neum, Zagrebačka 2, ☏ +387 36 880 222. Huge block of a resort hotel, mixed reviews for comfort and service. B&B double 160 BAM.
- 5 Agroturizam Matuško, Moševići, ☏ +387 63 683 718. Pleasant accommodation 10 km out in the countryside, though most visitors are just stopping off for lunch. B&B double 80 BAM.
- Inland, roads wind up the hills of Herzegovina to Hutovo and eventually to Mostar.
- Dubrovnik is an hour's drive south of Neum.
- North you can stay on the coast road through Ploče for resorts such as Makarska, or turn inland on the motorway towards Split.