I know it is the ultimate privilege to be able to say this, but travel can be stressful. And that’s why you need to incorporate days to slow the eff down when you’re living a life of frequent traveling. Lucky me, I was able to do this slowdown in the cute, quaint little city of Trebinje, Bosnia – a town of 30,000 people with virtually no foreign tourism, for now. Yet for such a small town, Trebinje truly has the best of Bosnia, all in one tiny package. While there aren’t that many things to do in Trebinje, it’s the perfect place to embrace the good life and live a little slower – if only for a time.
Peacefully stroll along the river
The river that goes through Trebinje, the Trebišnjica, is stunningly beautiful. This is the perfect place for a walk even on hot summer days, as the river breeze is nice and cool. As you walk, admire the glassy beauty of the water. Notice how it mirrors the buildings on the other side of the river bank.
Admire the beautiful mountains
I’ve never seen mountains quite like Bosnia’s. Vaguely Martian in their undulations, they’re somehow both barren and supple. It’s the perfect landscape to fix your eyes on.
Marvel at the most peaceful Old Town in the Balkans
Trebinje has perhaps the least busy, least touristy Old Town in all of the Balkans, which is in itself almost enough of a reason to visit this historic town. The Old Town was built by Ottomans in the 18th century and is remarkably intact. It’s lovely to walk through, not least because virtually no one will harass you.
Shop at the sleepy market in the main square
This market is open daily in the mornings but is best on Saturdays. You can get everything from the freshest organic produce to local honey to home-cured prosciutto to a variety of handmade cheeses. Sadly, the cheeses are in danger of becoming extinct with impending EU regulations, should Bosnia be admitted to the EU. So go now and eat all the cheese. For science.
Make sure you also buy the homemade ajvar (red pepper spread) and, if you’re daring, rakija (fruit-based “brandy” prepared in two-liter bottles).
Hike to the fortresses
If you want even more of the landscapes, make sure you don’t miss the hiking in Trebinje. Trebinje is surrounded by seven hills, each with its own unique calling card, such as the abandoned Austro-Hungarian fortress on Fort Strač. The hikes are moderate, taking about an hour and a half or so to complete, requiring no special footwear. Be sure to stay on the path as Bosnia continues to have issues with stray landmines.
Marvel at one of the most beautiful bridges in Bosnia
The Arslanagić bridge is one of Bosnia’s most beautiful – and this is a country that knows its bridges (have you seen the Old Bridge of Mostar? — stunning). Complete with two large arches and four smaller ones, its unique design is characteristic of its former Ottoman influences.
Visit the Old Monastery in town
Seeing the Herzegovacka Gracanica monastery gave me a serious sense of deja vu because it’s a replica of the Gracanica monastery in Kosovo, which I had seen when visiting Prishtina. Done in the Serbian Orthodox style, this monastery is definitely worth a visit, as it’s unlike most other religious buildings you’ll see in Bosnia, which will largely be mosques. But because Trebinje is part of Republika Srpska, a semi-autonomous entity within Bosnia & Herzegovina, it is actually majority Serb – and hence majority Orthodox. Another thing you’ll notice is that all the street signs are in Serbian Cyrillic, which is something you won’t see in Mostar or Sarajevo!
Watch a sunset from the Old Monastery
About an hour before sunset, take a walk towards the Old Monastery with a few Sarajevsko beers (or a water bottle of rakija, no judgment, get your Balkan on) and watch the sun set in the beautiful hills that surround Trebinje.
Go wine tasting
Did you know Herzegovina (the region that Trebinje falls under) is a famous agricultural region, particularly noted for its wine? Nope, me neither. There are lots of places just a few kilometers outside of Trebinje where you can do wine tasting at local wineries, though these usually require a small group and an appointment. Wine tasting is very cheap – usually about 10 marks (5 euros) including food! Or, if you’d like to sample some local wines at a restaurant, try Vukoje. It’s upscale by Bosnian standards but you still would be hard pressed to spend more than 10 or 15 euros per person.
If you’re not going wine tasting but you want to seek out some local wines at the grocery store or restaurants; look for zilavka if you want white, and vranac if you want red.
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