Slovenia is fast becoming a hot destination to visit in Europe with travellers from all across the globe being charmed by the car-free, cobbled streets of Ljubljana’s Old Town and the tranquil beauty of Lake Bled. However, many visitors tend only to set their sights on those two destinations and fail to explore more of what the country has to offer, including Slovenia’s second city of Maribor. Located only 130 kilometres northeast of the capital of Ljubljana, there are many things to do in Maribor that make it an excellent addition to any Slovenia itinerary.
Situated in the Styria region in the heart of Slovenian wine country, Maribor is a small city but it packs a lot of charm, history, and wine into its picturesque cobbled streets. Though diminutive in size, there is a lot to see and do in Maribor and its distinct lack of tourist crowds make it an attractive alternative destination to some of Slovenia’s more popular destinations.
Are you thinking of visiting Slovenia’s second city and wondering what to do in Maribor? Well, then read on to find out how to spend a day in this charming Slovene city.
Is Maribor Worth Visiting?
Before I dive into all of the things to do in Maribor, I need to answer the question that many travellers to Slovenia ask themselves: “Is Maribor worth visiting?” With a distinct lack of information about the city available out there (especially when compared to Ljubljana or Bled), it is understandable why potential visitors might ask this.
However, if you’re wondering if it’s worth it to visit Maribor, the resounding answer is yes, it is. Maribor has a lot to offer — just as much, honestly, as the capital city of Ljubljana. With a lot of fascinating history and even more delicious wine, Maribor is a destination that is sure to charm any visitor to Slovenia.
Maribor also sees far fewer tourists than other destinations in the country, making it easier to make a local connection and understand day-to-day Slovenian life. Maribor is also a great winter destination to visit if you want to include some affordable skiing in your Slovenia itinerary. There is a ski resort located fewer than ten kilometres outside of the city centre, meaning you can enjoy a quaint city break and a skiing getaway all in one location.
Maribor really deserves more attention than it gets and it is very much a Slovenian destination to add to your itinerary.
Getting To and Around Maribor
As the second-largest city in Slovenia, Maribor is reasonably well-connected to other major cities in the region. Due to its proximity to Austria, you can easily reach Maribor by train from Vienna or Graz and there are also numerous bus and train connections from Ljubljana.
If you want to visit Maribor as a day trip from Ljubljana — which is very doable, though you may miss out on some things — you can easily do this independently via bus or train as it only takes about an hour to reach the city from the capital.
Going by organised tour, however, will allow you to easily see some of the attractions and sites surrounding Maribor as well as some nearby attractions like the town of Ptuj.
This tour includes stops in Ptuj and the Žiče Carthusian Monastery along with Maribor.
Once you are in Maribor, it’s easiest to get around on foot. The city centre is incredibly compact and walkable and there aren’t too many hills that will tire you out. There are also numerous streetside cafes and wine bars that are sure to be inviting should you need to rest your feet from all of your exploring.
Top Things to Do in Maribor
Now that we’ve discussed the merits of Maribor as a tourist destination and how to get to and around the city, it’s time to discuss what to do while you’re there.
While there are certainly a number of things to do in Maribor, the city is small and its highlights and main sites can be easily seen in one day. Whether you choose to spend the night in Maribor or visit as a day trip, follow this one-day itinerary in order to plan your perfect trip to Slovenia’s second city:
Start your day in Maribor’s charming main square — Glavni Trg (which literally translates to “main square” in Slovene). This cobbled square is incredibly charming and an excellent starting point to explore Slovenia’s second-largest city.
Here you can see the lovely Renaissance-style architecture of the Maribor Town Hall and also snap a few photos of the elaborate Plaque Monument — dedicated to the victims of the Bubonic Plague epidemic that claimed a third of the city’s population in the 15th Century.
There are a few streetside cafes here and a distinct lack of tour groups, ever adding to this square’s charm. Historically, this was home to Maribor’s merchants, however, today it is simply a meeting place in the city.
After wandering through the main square, head into the Old Town and stop for a pick-me-up at Rooster Coffee. This hip cafe has fully embraced the speciality coffee trend and serves up some delicious drinks from their freshly roasted beans at affordable prices. They also have a brunch and lunch menu that is sure to please if you’re feeling a bit peckish before you begin to properly explore Maribor.
Due to its relative proximity Vienna and to and its Austro-Hungarian roots, there is a strong cafe culture in Maribor and no visit to the city is complete without at least one stop in a streetside cafe.
Head to a Museum
After you’ve been sufficiently caffeinated, it’s time to learn a bit more about Maribor’s history at one of the city’s museums. If you’re interested in a broad history of the city of Maribor itself, then make sure to head to the Regional Museum, which is located in what was once the Maribor Castle. Here you can learn everything about the archaeology, ethnology, and history of Maribor — entry is €5, with discounts available for students and pensioners.
If you’re more interested in Maribor’s modern history, then make sure to head to the Museum of National Liberation, which covers Maribor’s role, struggles, and occupations, through World War I, World War II, the formation of Yugoslavia and Slovenia’s independence. The museum is small and you will only need about an hour to see it all — entry is €3 per person.
Old Town Walk
After learning about Maribor’s history in one of its museums, take the time to let your feet guide you through the charming cobbled streets of the Old Town. There is a great energy and laid-back pace of life in Maribor, along with some beautiful Austro-Hungarian architecture that is sure to enchant you.
Plan to spend some time just strolling along the lovely lanes, popping into some shops, and seeing where your feet may lead you. This is one of the best ways to get to know any European city and Maribor is no different.
Make sure to stroll by the Maribor Cathedral and if it’s a Saturday or Sunday, you can climb to the top of the bell tower free of charge. In the bell tower, you will also find a small exhibition to the fire watch woman who used to live there while also being able to experience some beautiful views of the city. Also, make sure you walk by (or even go inside) the beautiful Franciscan Church on the other side of the old town.
You also can’t miss Liberty Square and the spherical WWII monument erected there. If you look closely at the monument, you will find that there are faces etched into the metal of some of the Maribor soldiers who fought in the war — including the former Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito.
Lunch at Sedem
After you’ve spent your morning leisurely exploring the old town, it’s almost certain that you’ve worked up an appetite. Luckily for you, there are numerous fantastic lunch options in Maribor depending on your particular tastes. However, if you want to sample some of the best Styrian cuisine to be found in the city, then make sure to head to Sedem.
This fine-dining restaurant is a great lunch option because of its fantastic and affordable set menu option. There are varying degrees of the lunch menu, but you can get an incredibly high-quality meal with local specialities for about €10 per person. The restaurant also operates as a school and it is the only such restaurant in Slovenia.
If you want something a little bit more casual or more kid-friendly, we recommend heading to La Pizzeria in the old town. This pizza place serves a range of delicious thin-crust pizzas at good prices.
After lunch, it’s time to get back at it and head to the riverside to see the Maribor Synagogue. Though this building does not look like much and it is not in active operation today — it does still operate as a Jewish cultural centre — it is one of the oldest preserved synagogues in Europe.
Jews were expelled from Slovenia in 1497 and while some did return prior to WWII, there isn’t much of a Jewish community in Maribor today, but the continued existence of this small house of worship is sure to bring to mind the Jewish culture that once existed in Maribor.
Old Vine House
Now that you’ve had lunch, visited the synagogue, and had a bit of a stroll, it’s time to visit one of Maribor’s most famous sites: the Old Vine House. The reason this house, located on the riverfront just down the hill from the main square, is so famous is that it is home to the oldest grape-producing vine in the world. This vine, which winds its way around this historic house, dates back over 400 years and still produces between 35 and 60 kilograms of grapes for wine each year.
There is a small museum in the house explaining the history of this vine, however, the main attraction of the house is definitely to try some Slovenian wines. The Old Vine House offers numerous different levels of tastings that can introduce you to the world of Slovenian wine.
Vinag Wine Cellar
If you didn’t get enough of Maribor’s wine culture at the Old Vine House or you’re just interested in learning more, then it’s time to head to the Vinag Wine Cellar. This is a wine bar and massive underground cellar that you are able to go down and explore. Though the cellar itself is not in use any more, it operates as a museum and it is an important aspect of the history and heritage of Maribor.
Guided tours of the cellar are available, however, you can also tour the cellar independently. You will receive a detailed map of the cellar with descriptions of what you’re looking at, so if you can’t make a tour it ensures you are not missing out. Entry into the cellar is €3.
After touring the cellar, you can sit up at the cafe and enjoy a glass or tasting of even more delicious Slovenian wines!
After all of that wine in the late afternoon, it’s time to work it off by exploring some of Maribor’s lovely green spaces. Maribor’s City Park is an excellent place to start as it’s tranquil setting and tree line pathways just invite you to stroll through it.
The park is quite large and has everything from beautiful grassy spaces, numerous benches for relaxing, and even some duck ponds. This is the perfect place to go for a leisurely stroll with some people watching.
If you want a bit more of a workout, want to see some great views of Maribor and the surrounding countryside, or just want to find a great place to watch the sunset, then you have to climb up Pyramid Hill.
This small hill overlooking Maribor is a popular place for locals to stroll up and there is a pathway that winds through the vineyard-lined hillside that will take about 20 minutes to summit, depending on your fitness level. The path isn’t too steep and it is a very easy hike. If the weather is fine, it is also incredibly pleasant to enjoy the late sunshine with all of the grapevines surrounding you.
The views from the top of the hill are simply lovely and you can see the entirety of Maribor and some of the surrounding wine country, making it an excellent place to end your day and one of the top things to do in Maribor.
Where to Stay in Maribor
Though Maribor isn’t nearly as popular with visitors as places like Ljubljana or Bled, there are still a number of great places to stay to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a budget guesthouse, a private apartment or a comfortable hotel, you are sure to find an accommodation option in Maribor to suit your needs. If you’re wondering where to stay, have a look at our top suggestions:
Anna House — If you’re a more budget-conscious traveller in Slovenia looking for an affordable yet comfortable place to rest your head, then this hotel is a great option for you. It’s centrally located and there are a range of rooms available for all types of travellers. Click here to see their availability
Hotel Maribor — If you’re after a more plush hotel during your time in Maribor, then this is a fantastic choice for you. There are numerous clean and comfortable rooms available — all equipped with a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, and a patio with river views — and there is a great breakfast included in the room rate. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Maribor hotels!
Slovenia’s second city is such an underrated destination and truly deserves more visitors. There are numerous things to do in Maribor that are sure to delight any type of traveller.
When travelling in Maribor, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you wondering what to do in Maribor? Have you been? Let us know in the comments!