I’ve been hoping to visit Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina for a long time but even if the town is located near some main Balkan highlights – Dubrovnik (Croatia), Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) or Kotor (Montenegro) getting there smoothly by public transport isn’t always so easy.
Fortunately, during one of my visits to Kotor my friend and I rented a car to do a few day trips from Kotor, and that’s how we ended up in Trebinje. The town turned out to be such a pleasant place to visit!
Where is Trebinje?
Trebinje is a town with just a bit over 30 thousand inhabitants, located in the south-west corner of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Republika Srpska, near the borders with Croatia and Montenegro. Dubrovnik is 30 km away, Herceg Novi in Montenegro 40 km away, Mostar 120 km away and Sarajevo 200 km away.
If you travel around the Balkans by car it’s very easy to visit Trebinje!
Public transport options are a bit more limited but still available: there is one bus per day from Dubrovnik, a few from Mostar, Sarajevo (East Sarajevo bus station) and Podgorica (Montenegro).
A short history of Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The place was first mentioned in the 10th century and quickly became an important center in the area, on the road from Ragusa (now Dubrovnik) to Constantinopole.
After being part of the Serbian Empire and the medieval Bosnian state, Trebinje was under the Ottoman rule since 1482. During the Ottoman rule, most of the Trebinje attractions that you can admire now were built.
In the late 19th century, Trebinje was under the Austro-Hungarian administration, later on, it became part of Yugoslavia and eventually Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the Bosnian War in the 1990s, Trebinje was severely damaged: ten of the local mosques were destroyed, and many Bosniak people had to leave the town.
Things to do in Trebinje
While there are not so many things to do in Trebinje, the city is charming enough to spend a delightful day there (or more). The city is very compact, and most of Trebinje attractions are within walking distance from each other.
I started my trip to Trebinje with a visit to Hercegovačka Gračanica – the monastery located on the hill above the city, with the best view of Trebinje.
The monastery dedicated to Virgin Mary is a fairly new building, opened in 2000. It belongs to the Serbian Orthodox church and is a copy of the Gračanica Monastery from near Pristina, Kosovo.
The monastery is really beautiful and worth visiting, but the real highlight here is the view over the whole city.
Trebinje is located in the valley of the river Trebišnjica, surrounded by impressive mountains. You can see everything clearly from Crkvina Hill, with Hercegovačka Gračanica monastery.
One thing you will notice right away is Arslanagić Bridge, and that’s where you should head to next.
The bridge was built in 1574, but at first, it was located in another place further down the river. When the dam was built in the area in the 1960s, the bridge was moved closer to the city and now is one of the main things to see in Trebinje.
It’s very distinctive, with six arches (two big ones and four smaller ones) and can easily be put among the top 3 beautiful bridges in Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with famous bridges from Mostar and Visegrad.
It’s a pleasant walk along the river from Arslanagić Bridge, and after a few minutes, you should be already in the center of Trebinje (it is a small and walkable town). The view of the walled Old Town from across the Trebišnjica river, with the impressive mountains in the back, is one of the prettiest you will find in Trebinje.
The Old Town itself is very pleasant and much larger than it seems at first, perfect for a random stroll around. You will find here a few monuments, such as mosques, old gates, stone houses or Herzegovina Museum but the best thing to do here is just walk without a map and find some charming corners.
It’s not as touristy as the Old Town in Mostar (quite the contrary, actually), and you can find here a true spirit of the slow-life in the Balkans, away from the tourists’ crowds.
In the Old Town, you can also sit down in one of the outdoor cafes and enjoy the moment, looking at the streetlife around and soaking up the sun (Trebinje is known as “the city of the sun” for a reason).
Just outside the Old Town, you will find the pedestrian Jovana Duvacica street and Trg Slobode square – both are another hub of cafes and restaurants in Trebinje.
This area of the city is full of plane trees, some of them are over a hundred years old! They give a much-needed shadow in the summertime and are a natural rooftop of the cafes and a local market that takes place in the main square.
This is a favorite place for locals to hang out – even when I visited the site, in mid-week in mid-March, there was a bunch of people around and not a single tourist in sight. In the summertime, the patio under plane trees can host up to 500 people!
Too bad the plane trees still didn’t have leaves after winter, I can only imagine how beautiful this part of Trebinje looks like in more favorable months.
That’s also where I stopped for lunch, in the restaurant of Hotel Platani – one of the best hotels in town. It looked a bit upscale, but the prices were still very affordable (around 10 Bosnian marks for a meal) and the food super delicious!
The outside seating area of the restaurant was also a perfect place to observe the life around. I can definitely recommend this place for a lunch stop!
My last stop in Trebinje was Church of St. Archangel, located on another hill above Trebinje, right across Hercegovačka Gračanica monastery.
The church itself is beautiful and has a bit of unique architecture, but again, the main reason to come here is to see yet another stunning view of the city from another perspective.
Unfortunately, at that time, the sun has disappeared, and it started to rain a bit (soon it got much worse), so it was about time to call it a day and head back to Kotor, Montenegro.
Is it worth to visit Trebinje?
Yes, yes, and one more time, yes! The city is so calm, so laid-back and so pretty you can relax here, away from the crowds, and enjoy a real Balkan vibe.
I can imagine that even in the summertime it doesn’t get too crowded, despite being located so close to famous and touristy places. If you need to break your journey for a few days, Trebinje might be the right place for that.
While I spent only a day in Trebinje, I think it’s worth to stay here a bit longer.
Not only the city offers its fair share of attractions, but it can also be an excellent base to see some interesting places around, and there are plenty of them: churches, wineries, old fortifications from the Habsburg times.
You can even go for a day trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia from Trebinje, to save some money.
I regret a bit it took me that long to finally visit Trebinje, but I’m glad I made it there eventually. Now I’m just hoping to squeeze it in my itinerary during my another trip to the Balkans, this time for more than only one day!
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