Set among the hilly vineyards and lush forests of eastern Slovenia, Maribor may well be the most charming destination you’ve never heard of. The second largest city in the country has numerous outdoor opportunities, mouthwatering local cuisine, a rich wine history and plenty of sights.
What to do in Maribor
See the world’s oldest grapevine
Plenty of cities are known for their wine production, but Maribor has something the others don’t: a 400-year-old grapevine, officially the world’s oldest. It’s right in the Old Town, intertwined with medieval building the Old Vine House. Inside you can find out more about the viticultural history of the region and do a tasting tour.
Marvel at the Old Town
With pretty narrow streets, elegant squares and beautiful architecture, Maribor’s Old Town is the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll. Admire the different architectural eras that come together, from the ancient medieval Judgement and Water Towers to the baroque grandeur of Maribor Castle and the gothic brilliance of Maribor Cathedral. The easy-going Old Town’s laid-back vibes are best appreciated with a cup of coffee at one of the terraces overlooking the magnificent Glavni Trg (Main Square).
Embrace the local culture
The European Capital of Culture in 2012, Maribor has plenty of museums, festivals and events. Head to the Regional Museum, set in the Castle, where exhibitions ranging from fine art to postcard collections sit side by side. The show-stopper here is a spectacular painted Knight’s Hall with a lovely adjacent Loggia.
Every year at the end of June the city hosts Lent Festival, featuring theatre, opera, ballet, jazz, classical music and dance performances spanning two weeks. B.B. King, James Brown and Ray Charles have all performed there.
Get out and about
Proximity to untouched nature is what makes Maribor unique. The expansive City Park feels more like a forest than an urban park, ideal for long walks along the three ponds, picnics under the branches of ancient trees and seeing wildlife up close at the local terrarium and aquarium. Continue your Maribor outdoor adventure by taking the Pohorska Vzpenjača cable car just outside the city, where breathtaking views of the wider Pohorje region await.
Get the wheels rolling
Bike along Maribor’s Drava River up to the Pohorje Mountain Range, passing pastoral landscapes and stopping in the historic towns of Ruše and Fala. There’s a map to help plan an excursion.
Where to stay
With contemporary looks, spacious pastel-toned rooms and a top-notch restaurant with the best terrace in town, Hotel City Maribor is a four-star that delivers on quality and price. It also has a central location and 24/7 fitness centre. Doubles from £97, B&B.
Heart of Maribor hostel is a top budget option. Located close to the Old Town, it offers great value, simple, cosy rooms. Doubles from £26, B&B.
Šiker B&B Hotel outside Maribor features bright and pleasant rooms overlooking Pristava lake – the perfect place to chill out in a tranquil setting. Doubles from £72, B&B.
Where to eat
Pushing culinary boundaries, Mak Restaurant is a slow food gem headed up by chef David Vračko. This menu-less spot blends unexpected flavours inspired by local cuisine.
To try some of the local dishes and regional wine, check out Malca Mimogrede. The five-dish menu is changed weekly: be sure to try žlikrofi, traditional Slovenian dough dumplings with potato filling.
When it comes to breakfasts, brunches and everything in between, Piaf offers a diverse menu of eggs, sandwiches and crepes.
Fancy a burger or ćevapi (a traditional Balkan kebab-like speciality)? Okrepčevalnica Šiš is Maribor’s street food spot to satisfy all your meat cravings.
Where to drink
Maribor is all about wine. Recently opened LeVino Wine Bar boasts a serious Slovenian wine collection and stylish design.
A cosy riverside terrace, high-quality cocktails and 277 spirits on the menu make Piranha Cocktail Bureau the perfect spot for a trendy evening drink.
Coffee enthusiasts rejoice: Maribor has you covered. Rooster is an exemplary spot featuring its own roastery, top-notch caffeinated drinks and a selection of healthy dishes.
LUFT 360 is the city’s best rooftop bar, with a great drink selection and feel-good vibes.
Where to shop
For all things local and handmade, ARTmijeMAR in the heart of the Old Town has a great selection of souvenirs hailing from more than 200 Slovenian artisans.
Slovenska is a beautiful concept store that showcases local designers and products.
E2RD Gallery, a handcrafted jewellery boutique created by designer Bojana Kovačič Zemljič, is a rising star in Slovenia’s artisan scene.
Built in 1913, the grandiose steel-arched Old Bridge is a quintessential part of Maribor’s landscape.
Nuts and bolts
What currency do I need?
What language do they speak?
Slovenian is the official language.
Should I tip?
Tipping isn’t obligatory but 10 per cent for good service is always welcome.
What’s the time difference?
What’s the average flight time from the UK?
Wizz Air flies direct to Ljubljana in around two hours.
The Old Town is easily explored on foot. Otherwise, there’s a good local bus system; tickets can be bought at newsstands around the city (€0.80 per single ticket) or on the bus (€2).
Pyramid Hill, reached by a short hike up from City Park, offers views over the whole of Maribor.
Street Food Market is the city’s summer highlight. From 29 to 31 August it gathers together more than 40 street food joints.