I love nothing more than getting off-the-beaten-track when travelling, so it’s no wonder that I instantly fell in love with Trebinje in Bosnia & Herzogovina. We only stopped over for the day, but that was all it took for this pretty little city to steal my heart with its authentic charm and postcard good looks.
It’s always refreshing to visit somewhere untouched by tourism and Trebinje was a welcome break from the crowds and commercialism of Dubrovnik. So if you find yourself in the Balkans region, be sure to make a beeline for this hidden gem of a city – even if just for the day!
How to get to Trebinje:
Trebinje is located in the southernmost part of Bosnia & Herzogovina, less than a 4 hour drive from the capital of Sarajevo and 2 hours from Mostar. Trebinje can also be reached in under an hour from Dubrovnik, making it an ideal day trip from Croatia’s most popular city. Buses run once a day from Dubrovnik bus station (check locally for times) or you can book up a guided tour with Dubrovnik Day Tours.
Alternatively if, like us, you’re planning on road-tripping to Montenegro from Dubrovnik, then Trebinje provides the perfect stopover along the way. We hired a rental car with Hertz and drove across the border at Ivanica-Gornji Brgat. The whole process was quick and easy – it took us less than 10 minutes to make the border crossing and earned us a shiny new passport stamp (just remember to have your passport and cross-border ‘green card’ at the ready!)
What to see and do in Trebinje:
The city of Trebinje itself is compact, so a day or even a few hours is enough to appreciate the main sights. But having experienced the city’s laid-back vibe, I can totally imagine whiling away the days here, indulging in the tourist-free serenity.
If you do have longer to spend in Trebinje, you can hike to historic fortresses, sip on local wine in the surrounding valleys, or simply relax and soak up the culture. But if a day is all you have to spare, here are a few experiences in Trebinje you won’t want to miss.
Take in the views from Hercegovačka Gračanica Monastery:
There’s no better way to get your first glimpse of Trebinje than from above and the beautiful Hercegovačka Gračanica Monastery offers up the best panoramic views in town.
This Serbian Orthodox monastery is located at the top of a hill with stunning 360-degree views of Trebinje and the Trebišnjica River below, surrounded by rugged mountains.
There was a wedding taking place when we visited, so we didn’t get a chance to peek inside, but the monastery is normally open for the public to explore. There’s also a cafe and souvenir shop at the top of the hill, so you can sit back and enjoy a coffee with those jaw-dropping views.
Step back in time in the Old City:
Trebinje’s walled old city is so tiny that we very nearly missed it! But what this old town lacks in size, it more than makes up for in rustic charm. Admire the picture-perfect stone houses, shuttered buildings and leafy squares before joining the locals for a beer in one of the quaint bars or cafes.
Take a riverside walk:
Running right through the centre of Trebinje is the Trebišnjica River – the world’s longest sinking river (I had no idea what this meant either but apparently the river runs for 116 miles, largely underground!) Follow the pedestrian pathway along the river banks, admiring the mirror-effect of the old buildings and trees as you go. Be sure to look out for ‘Kameni Most’ (Stone Bridge) and even go for a dip in the crystal-clear waters at marked swimming spots along the way.
Visit Perović (Arslanagić) Bridge:
Bosnia and Herzogovina sure knows a thing or two about bridges and one of the country’s most beautiful Ottoman structures can be found right here, in Trebinje.
The iconic 16th century Arslanagić Bridge is the most famous spot along the river path and is a must-see for any first-time visitor to Trebinje. Look out for the iconic water-mills and step on to the historic bridge itself for gorgeous views of the river and surrounding valleys.
Head to the market square:
At the heart of Trebinje is a leafy piazza, lined with unpretentious hotels, restaurants and al fresco seating. Every morning, the square bursts into life with local market stalls, selling everything from traditional wine to traditional flat-breads.
Be sure to grab yourself a home-made lemonade and slice of baklava (more like a slab, if you head to the wonderful Hotel Platani!) and people-watch until your heart is content.
So there you have it – Trebinje in a nutshell. This lovely little city was the perfect introduction to Bosnia and Herzogovina and has put the country high up on our return-to list! Heading to Croatia next? Take a look at my guide to spending 24 hours in Dubrovnik.