Maribor, the capital of Slovenian Styria, is surrounded by Pohorje and wine-growing hills. It represents a perfect destination for wine lovers, for those longing for an escape to nature, and to enjoy sight-seeing medieval architecture.
The second-largest city in Slovenia, Maribor was first mentioned as a castle in 1164, as a settlement in 1209, and as a city in 1254.
Due to its favorable strategic location, it quickly developed and became an important industrial center by the 20th century. Maribor was also declared European Youth Capital in 2013.
Read on to discover the most wonderful things to do in Maribor, Slovenia!
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Where to Stay in Maribor
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Maribor. Generally, budget means singles/doubles for around $40, mid-range is from about $40-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.
We are working on hotel guides for Slovenia’s major cities – after all, you’ve just read one! Ljubljana is still on the way, but if you’re visiting Bled, you can start with our guide to where to stay at Lake Bled and the best hotels near the Straza Lift in Bled.
When traveling to Slovenia, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible. The country is gaining in popularity as a tourist destination, so some of the best spots do sell-out early!
Great Things to Do in Maribor
What I like the most about Maribor is the variety of activities for all ages. In addition to the most typical tourist spots, Maribor features a large selection of wine labels for tasting, traditional gastronomy, and endless natural beauty.
And the best thing is that everything is so close by. So if you want to spend the day in nature, attend a festival, or go wine tasting you can do all that in one day. So here you have, in no particular order, the best things to do in Maribor…
Visit the Old Vine
So to start with, let’s go visit a place that everyone in Maribor is proud of: The Old Vine, the oldest vine in the world!
This vine can be found in the Guinness World Record since it’s the oldest noble vine in the world. and you can find it in the center of the old town of Maribor!
The Old Vine House offers visitors a wine cellar with a tasting room where you can sip top-quality wines from the wine-growing region of Styria in Slovenia.
They also offer guided tours through the rich wine heritage and museum exhibitions. In the souvenir shop, you can choose your favorite souvenir, including delicious Slovenian chocolate for yourself or your friends.
So if you are searching for some great wine tasting, you are at the right place. In case you travel in September you can take part in the Old Vine festival as well.
Discover Maribor Castle
Since you are already in the center of the old town, why don’t you just stop for a peaceful visit to Maribor Castle? This is one of the most remarkable monuments in the city.
The castle is the largest and most beautiful building in the city, it has three doors outwards and a fourth one that opens to a lovely garden. It was built by Emperor Frederik III in 1478.
Once inside, you can discover the wonders in Maribor Regional Museum and check out some exhibitions. Entrance is free on February 8, May 18, the 3rd Saturday in June, and December 3.
The castle is closed on Mondays, on public holidays, on December 24, and on December 31. The entrance fee is € 5.
Check Maribor’s Main Square (Glavni Trg)
The main, central square in Maribor is a beautiful place to visit when walking around the city, it’s really old as it was first mentioned back in 1315.
Throughout the Middle Ages until the first half of the 20th century, the place has witnessed a very lively commercial activity.
In the middle of the square stands Mary’s sign which was built in 1743. It was made by Joseph Straub at the request of Maribor citizens in appreciation for the end of the plague in the city.
You can also find the Townhall or Mariborski Rotovz in the same main square area. All around, there are many cafes, restaurants, shops, bakeries, and more
Admire the Water Tower
Take a walk in Lent, which is the oldest part of Maribor and is the best example of the town’s rich cultural heritage.
On the left bank of the Drava River, right next to the water, a mighty Renaissance fortification has been standing since the 16th century. It has an unusual, pentagonal shape that once defended the walls of the Styrian capital.
The Water tower stands on the banks of Drava River, in fact, next to the huge reservoir lake of the Zlatoličje Hydroelectric Power Plant. It was built in 1555 out of stone and has massive walls with firing lines.
Although it seems like is only a monument, that’s not the case. The water tower is the intersection of Maribor’s past and present as well as the city’s past and future.
The ground floor of the Water Tower has been transformed into a modern wine cellar, where, since May 2009, they offer a tasteful combination of top quality wines with a pleasant, intimate, and innovative atmosphere.
They also prepare a variety of snacks, dishes that are chosen specifically to ensure that the experience in the winery meets the taste of guests surrounded by modern and friendly vibes.
Enjoy a Visit to Maribor Synagogue
Luckily, Maribor is quite small compared to other European cities. So once you are in the center, you can find many interesting and historic monuments to visit. One of them is the only synagogue in Slovenia.
This building is one of the most important monuments of the Jewish culture in the country.
And it’s also one of the oldest European synagogues as well, counting over 600 years! Since 2011, it has been the home of the Jewish Cultural Heritage Center.
The Synagogue hosts various cultural events on the subject of Judaism and Jewish culture, and the restored cultural and historical monument is also an interesting place for visiting students.
Increasingly, local and foreign travel agencies are also taking part in the program. The Synagogue particularly inspires tourism from Israel.
Explore the Basilica of Our Mother of Mercy
Continuing with religious monuments, make a point not to miss the most beautiful church in Slovenia. Situated in the old town of Maribor, the Franciscan Basilica of Our Mother of Mercy is worth a stop in your itinerary in town,
The basilica presents a really rich interior. Built in Neo-Romanesque style, the building is 57.5 meters long, 24 meters wide, and 17.5 meters high.
You can enter any day from 7 am to 9 pm. In 1906 Pope Pius X elevated the former pilgrimage church to the status of a minor basilica, an event commemorated by the coat of arms on the front of the church, carved by the academic sculptor Viktor Gojkovich.
It was the first church with this title in the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
Have a Cuppa at Moja Kavarna (My Café)
Since you are there, right across the street from the Basilica, you can find one of the best coffee places in town, Moja Kavarna (which translates into my café).
It’s in the heart of Maribor and they serve one of the best coffees in town and some great gourmand desserts. It’s elegant and has a nice atmosphere. On the plus side, the staff is really welcoming.
I specially love to visit it during December as they have the best Christmas atmosphere in Maribor. During the merry season, don’t miss the Christmas carols that you can even hear as you walk past the cafeteria.
Prices are a bit expensive for local standards, but it’s worth a visit.
Have Dinner at Ancora Restaurant
I have eaten in many restaurants in Maribor, if not all, since I really love food and like to try new dishes in every place I explore.
Generally, I would say whichever restaurant you choose in the old part of town will provide excellent value for money, trust me, you won’t regret any! You can find anything from Slovenian to Mexican, Italian, Balkan, and Middle Eastern food.
Most of them offer both vegetarian and vegan options top.
I personally love to eat at a café & restaurant known as Ancora. They have many options, including delicious Italian dishes such as pasta, pizzas, and more.
My friends love to order patata con Pollo (or potatoes with chicken), while my favorite food is risotto with seafood, the best risotto with seafood I’ve ever eaten.
The staff is friendly and the prices are fair. The dining room is spacious and there’s also a lovely rooftop terrace.
Check Out the Local Gastronomy at Gostilna Maribor
For those who want to try Slovenian food, I recommend checking out Gostilna Maribor. The restaurant is located on the Main Square of Maribor and they offer local Styrian cuisine.
They serve freshly baked bread, beef soup, fried curry, esigflays, buns, and goulash. They also take pride in their apple strudel and apricot dumplings as well as in other delicacies typical in Slovenian cuisine.
I personally love the way the restaurant is set, the decorations… but most of all the truly delicious food.
You’ll find many options for vegetarians too. The staff is also friendly and the prices affordable. This is definitely one of the best restaurants in the Styrian region.
Take a Walk in Calvary
For those who love to spend their day in the open, I highly recommend going for a walk in Calvary, which is a favorite walking point both for locals and visitors.
Calvary is a 375-meter-high hill from where you have a wonderful view of the city. from the bottom of the stairs, it takes about 20 minutes to get up to Calvary. After the short path through the forest, you can see the church of Saint Barbara.
Other than the nice views, this is also a great way to get some exercise and prepare yourself for some more exploring in the rest of the city.
Hike Up to the Pyramid
Another great place quite similar to Calvary is the hill known as called Pyramid, one of my favorite places in Maribor.
I think the path is much easier than the one going up to Calvary, and more enjoyable too.
It’s a 25-minute wall from the old town to get by the foothills of Pyramid. The view from up there is also fantastic! Just imagine watching the entire town and the slopes of the vines as you also breathe some fresh air.
At the top of the hill, there’s a gorgeous chapel with a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Spend Some Time at the Three Ponds
Another favorite of mine in Maribor is the Three Ponds or Trije Ribniki (in Slovenian). They are located north of the city center, near Maribor City Park and Pyramid hill.
The ponds are man-made lakes filled with water from nearby streams. The first pond features a fountain, the second has an artificial island for nesting ducks and swans, and the third one is the warmest and freezes only occasionally in winter.
This is an awesome place for walking, jogging, cycling, doing yoga, or just enjoying the beauty and peace of the place.
Although the ponds are beautiful in all seasons, I mostly prefer them in fall, when the warm color of the season lightens up the whole atmosphere.
You can’t mention Maribor, without mentioning Pohorje. Maribor Pohorje is just a short drive from the city and offers various activities in the area including skiing, hiking, cycling, and wellness. Wine roads stretch across Pohorje, offering visitors various culinary pleasures.
Pohorje is surrounded by natural sights such as waterfalls and rainforests, with hiking and biking trails leading through the forests.
If you are searching for some adrenaline you can check Pohorje Adrenaline Park taking a ride in the summer sleighs. Pohorje is a green oasis of beautiful nature and countless opportunities for relaxation and recreation.
Here, you’ll find one of the largest winter resorts in Slovenia. It has about 45 kilometers of ski slopes and 20 different ski lifts. Pohorje is suitable for all skiers and has established itself as a family ski resort.
Marvel at the Beautiful Svecina
For romantic souls and wine lovers, Svečina is a small town about 18km away from Maribor and one of the best tourist spots in the Styrian region.
The beautiful view on the heart-shaped road opens on the edge of the hill near the Dreisiebner Touristic farm, where you can also find a monument of St.Yuri. Dreisiebner Tourist Farm is also known for its long tradition of viticulture and winemaking.
On this often sun-kissed position of Špičnik, they produce white wine varieties including Laško and Rhine Riesling, Yellow Muscat, Sauvignon, Traminer, Kerner, Chardonnay, White and Gray Pinot, Risan and Zemling. In addition to wine, they also prepare several homemade delicacies.
So, what better way to spend your day than drinking delicious Slovenian wine and sampliny delicious food while watching the sunset with the amazing view of a romantic heart? This tour from Lubljana takes you there to spend the day.
Boat Trip on the Drava
Enjoy Maribor from another perspective and embark on a Drava boat trip. This way, you’ll pass by many historic monuments while drinking a cup of coffee and enjoying the landscape.
The course of the river goes from Quay to Lent, passing the Studenška footbridge, and then back towards Lent, under the railway bridge, to the two-level bridge, and back to the starting point.
The boat ride is about 45 minutes and you have to book in advance when traveling from October to March.
If you travel from April to September, they offer regular rides on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays for around € 5 per person.
As you just could see, plenty are the things to do in Maribor during your time exploring the area. Bookmark this post for your next adventures in Slovenia and come back for more Slovenia content soon!
5 Things to Pack for Slovenia
We have a full Slovenia packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!
A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. We suggest Lonely Planet Slovenia if you’ll be traveling quite a bit around the country, or if you are planning a multi-country Balkan trip, Lonely Planet Western Balkans includes Slovenia and many of its neighbors.
Pacsafe Citysafe or Other Anti-Theft Bag: This is the bag both Allison and I use (it’s unisex, so even men can enjoy it). It has a pouch with RFID technology so our credit cards can’t get scanned from afar, interlocking zippers to make it harder to pickpocket, slash-proof mesh inside, and it’s roomy enough to be a perfect sightseeing day bag. We also think it’s stylish enough that it’s just our everyday bag!
A Sturdy Moneybelt: If you don’t want to get a new bag with anti-theft features as I use, you can use a money belt instead. I prefer to have these features built into my bag instead, but I know for a lot of people a money belt is a less expensive investment than a new bag.
Grayl Water Filter: While the water in Slovenia is safe to drink, you’ll want this if you plan to do a lot of hiking or you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors (or if your stomach is sensitive to tap water from different countries). If you don’t want to be buying millions of plastic water bottles, you can get a reusable water bottle that comes with a water filter so that you can stick to the tap water and reduce your plastic waste.
Rain jacket: Did you know Ljubljana is one of the wettest cities in Europe? It’s also quite rainy in Maribor and other destinations around Slovenia, so pack wisely! I strongly recommend this Marmot PreCip jacket (here’s the women’s version; here’s the men’s), which is totally waterproof and will keep you going strong throughout whatever weather is thrown your way. If you don’t want to carry a rain jacket, at least pack a travel umbrella.
More Slovenia Travel Resources
If you’re just starting to prepare for your trip to Slovenia, read our guide to planning a trip to Slovenia which features an 11-step checklist!
If you need more Slovenia travel inspiration, check out the best places to visit in Slovenia, the best Slovenian castles, the most breath-taking Slovenian waterfalls, and what Slovenian souvenirs you should bring home.
If you’re headed to Slovenia in the off-season, check out our guide to what to do in Slovenia in winter. We also have a guide to visiting the Lake Bled Christmas Market and the best Lake Bled winter activities if you’ll be here from the end of November through the beginning of January!
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Slovenia (or really, any part of the world)! Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel – so it’s better to play it safe.