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Maribor is Slovenia’s second largest city, but somehow often overlooked as a tourist destination. The charming capital, Ljubljana, seems to steal all of the attention. While there is no disputing that visiting Ljubljana for the city sights is a must, Maribor is distinctly different. The more industrial city offers a ‘real-life’ vibe, yet the area abounds in nature retreats and an incredible inner city wine culture. For people who wonder if they should visit Maribor, here are six marvelous reasons.
6 Marvellous Reasons to Visit Maribor
Maribor Castle Ruins and Pyramid Hill Views
On the northern edge of the city center is Pyramid Hill (Piramida), a vine-covered, 1,250-foot high hill with a small chapel overlooking the city. In the 12th century, the old Maribor Castle was built on the hill where it stood until 1790. Remains of a well and part of the Maribor Castle floorplan are visible today. The chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary was erected in 1821.
The easily walkable path leads visitors on a half hour stroll to the top through hillside vineyards. The vines, which at one time were left to wither, are maintained and harvested by a collaboration of wineries in Maribor. In addition to the lovely city views, the café on the top of Pyramid Hill serves wine made from the hillside vines. Standing atop Pyramid Hill is one of the top things to do in Maribor!
The Old Vine House and Vinag Cellar Wine
There is a long history of winemaking in the Maribor region. In fact, Maribor is home to The Old Vine: a 400-year-old vine, which is the oldest known producing vine in the world. The Old Vine grows on the front of The Old Vine House – a building that was once part of the city wall along the Drava River. The Old Vine House is used as a wine museum and tasting room. The Old Vine was planted during the Middle Ages, but still produces 75-120 pounds of grapes each year – making the wine highly valuable and only offered as prestigious gifts rather than for sale or tastings. For more information about The Old Vine, visit the official website.
The Vinag Wine Cellar isn’t quite as old as the vine – only dating back to 1844. However, it still ranks as one of the largest classic wine cellars in Europe, stretching 1.5 miles below Maribor’s city center. The Vinag Wine Cellar was the biggest producer of wine for Yugoslavia, but is now a museum, storage facility and tasting room. Featuring 100-year-old oak barrels, a 16,920-liter barrel built in 1862 and a concrete tank that was used from 1888 to 1915, the highlight (besides the tasting, of course) is the cellar where cobweb-covered bottles of wine from around the world are stored.
Lent District on the Drava River
Lent, the oldest district in Maribor, is laid out along the banks of the Drava River and was once a busy trading port full of rafts carrying products to shops and inns. In the 16th century, protective walls and towers were built to fortify the city, which successfully secured the residents from Turkish invasion. When the railway reached Maribor in 1844, however, the river and Lent fell out of favor, only recently revived in the 1980s.
Home to the Old Vine, Lent is marked by defensive towers, historic churches and the old Jewish Quarter. The Lent District is also home to many cafes, top Maribor restaurants and bars (making it a hot spot for Maribor nightlife!). Promenading through Lent’s preserved sights provides a history lesson on the region, however, the best views of the district are from across the river.
Maribor Food and Drink Outdoors
At the center of Maribor are a number of pedestrian-only streets and wide squares lined with impressive architecture. And on those streets and squares are a copious number of outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Maribor Main Square Eats
Start with a cup of coffee or glass of wine on the main square, Glavni Trg (or head across the street for a better view of the square). The square features Maribor’s Town Hall, built in 1515, and a white marble Plague Column, dating to 1743. From the northwest corner of the main square, Postna Ulica heads north to the Maribor Cathedral. The narrow street is packed with outdoor tables to enjoy craft beer and regional fare. Some of the best Maribor restaurants and bars along this street are: Fudo, Isabella and Bascarsija.
In the Maribor Lent District, trendy restaurants, bars and clubs line some of the city’s oldest streets. Take a stroll down Dravska Ulica (Rooster Lent) and Mesarski Prehod for Maribor nightlife. Along the riverside, there is a cafe in the Water Tower, craft beer at a rocker bar (Rokaj) just east of the Glavni Most Bridge and ridiculously good burgers at Jack & Joe.
Enjoying a meal or drink outdoors isn’t limited to dining establishments. City Park Maribor, located on the north side of the city, has ample benches and grassy knolls perfect for a picnic.
Maribor Bell Tower History
The bell tower at the Maribor Cathedral, St. John the Baptist, has been multi-functional since its inception. Built in 1325 next to the town’s parish church, it served as both a defensive structure and the church steeple. In 1792, after earthquakes and fires, the Maribor Bell Tower was redesigned to include a balcony and apartment, which was the home of the city guard. The duties of the city guard were to look out for and alert the fire brigade of fires in the area, a service that was performed until 1933.
Steps to the balcony and preserved apartment can be climbed for free (donations accepted). The stairs wind around the interior of the tower, passing the enormous hanging bells that ring out the time. The apartment is full of interesting historic details and views from the balcony stretch across the rooftops of the Maribor city center to the surrounding sloping hills.
Pohorje Mountain is a mile-high range to the southwest of Maribor, easily accessed by Maribor’s #6 bus. The wintertime Maribor ski resort transforms in the summer to a green space for hiking, biking and outdoor activities. (Check out the Pohorje Webcam here to see what conditions are like currently!) A cable car transports visitors to one of the peaks where trails scatter in all directions. For a real workout, however, there are hiking paths that lead to the top from the lower cable car station.
Our top tips for your trip to Maribor
- The best time to visit Maribor is…anytime! The city always has something going on!
- EuroPark is the biggest Maribor Shopping Mall.
- Need more reasons to visit Maribor? Check out the official tourist office website for more things to do in the city!
Where To Stay in Maribor
During our visit to Maribor, we stayed in an awesome Airbnb Apartment. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space. Maribor holiday apartments can also be searched on FlipKey (which is part of TripAdvisor) or on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner.
However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Maribor hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels in Maribor (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: Hotel City Maribor or Garni Hotel Terano – or start your Maribor hotel search on Booking.com.
Budget travelers can search for Maribor Hostels – like hostel Maribor 4Rooms or Hostel Pekarna. Or, find a deal on a hotel room by bidding on Priceline. For a true bargain – and a unique experience – search for hosts on Couchsurfing, where travelers stay with locals for free.
Getting To Maribor
Visitors typically travel to Maribor by train, bus or car. The Maribor Bus Station and Maribor Train Station are located on the east side of the city center, but within walking distance to most central Maribor accommodations. We arrived by bus from Ljubljana and opted for a train for the return journey onward to Zagreb.
Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!). When we need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner or Flight Hub.
Before You Visit Maribor
- Maribor is a walkable city…but only if you have the right shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city! Make sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook before arriving.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
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