Maribor, Slovenia is one of these charming places that make you feel comfortable right away. Beautiful architecture, numerous cafes, laid-back atmosphere and a picturesque location with vineyards just a short walk away from the center make Maribor a perfect stop on your way between Ljubljana (Slovenia), Zagreb (Croatia) and Vienna (Austria).
You can stop in the city for a few hours only or you can visit Maribor for a few days and enjoy it to the fullest. With all the great things to do in Maribor, you won’t be bored for sure!
I visited Maribor four times so far and I will gladly include it in my Slovenia itinerary again.
Below I’m sharing with you my favorite things to do in Maribor so you can plan your trip to Maribor too.
Table of contents
- 1 Where is Maribor
- 2 Why visit Maribor, Slovenia
- 3 A brief history of Maribor
- 4 How to get to Maribor
- 5 How to get around Maribor
- 6 Where to stay in Maribor
- 7 Things to do in Maribor
- 7.1 Wander around Grajski Trg
- 7.2 See beautiful Glavni Trg
- 7.3 Admire beautiful Habsburg architecture
- 7.4 Get lost in the backstreets
- 7.5 Chill out in numerous cafes
- 7.6 Explore Lent
- 7.7 Take a picture of Maribor’s Old Town
- 7.8 Find the oldest grapevine in the world
- 7.9 Enjoy the riverside
- 7.10 Visit edgy Pekara
- 7.11 Go up to Piramida hill
- 7.12 Enjoy Mestni Park
- 7.13 Visit beautiful churches
- 7.14 Find brutalist architecture
- 7.15 Go for day trips from Maribor
- 8 Final thoughts on visiting Maribor
- 9 Further reading
- 10 Travel Resources
Where is Maribor
With a population of around a hundred thousand inhabitants, Maribor is the second-largest city in Slovenia, located in the north-west part of the country, near borders with Austria, Hungary, and Croatia.
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is around 130 km away, Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is around 120 km away and Graz, the second-largest city in Austria, is less than 70 km away.
Why visit Maribor, Slovenia
I believe Maribor is one of the most underrated cities in Central Europe and I’m always surprised how few tourists visit it.
The city is really pretty, with beautiful architecture and picturesque location. You can find numerous vineyards just a short walk away from the center. The atmosphere is very laid-back and many bars and cafes invite you to sit down for a drink and just enjoy the place.
Maribor is such a great place to visit!
A brief history of Maribor
Maribor was first mentioned in 1147 and gained importance in the Middle Ages when the fortress was built here to protect the town and the Drava valley from the Hungarian attacks. The town developed near the river where the vineyards were established, funded by the local Jewish community.
In the 14th century, Maribor was surrounded by the city wall to protect the town from the Turkish and Hungarian attacks. Under the Habsburg rule, Maribor grew rapidly as an important trade center.
During World War 2 the city was badly destroyed, over half of the city was in ruin and many of the important monuments were gone. After WW2 Maribor was part of Yugoslavia and since 1991 the city is in independent Slovenia.
How to get to Maribor
Getting to Maribor is really easy, no matter from which direction you are arriving. The city has direct daily train connections with Ljubljana, Zagreb, Graz and further to Vienna.
If you travel by car you also should reach Maribor quickly – the main motorways in Slovenia cross near Maribor.
How to get around Maribor
The city is compact enough that you can easily walk everywhere. Even places located a bit further from the center, like Piramida or Pekarna, can be reached on foot.
If you would like to travel beyond Maribor then the car is your best option.
Where to stay in Maribor
Unfortunately, Maribor doesn’t have all that many accommodation options but there are still some good places to stay. Here are some of the recommended ones:
Things to do in Maribor
Even if the city is fairly small there are some great things to do in Maribor that can be enjoyed in a day in Maribor. Below you can find all the best favorite Maribor attractions.
Wander around Grajski Trg
Grajski Trg is one of the main squares in the city where you will find some of the most important Maribor attractions.
The most popular is, of course, Maribor castle from the 15th century, built in the Baroque style. Inside you can find the Regional Museum with the collection of artifacts from the long and turbulent history of the city.
Right in the center of the square, you can see the statue of St. Florian, erected here in the 18th century to protect the city from the fire.
Grajski Trg is one of the most vibrant parts of Maribor, with numerous cafes where you can relax and enjoy the city’s atmosphere.
On the side of the square (already on Trg Svobode), next to the castle you can see a sculpture that doesn’t really fit to the place – that’s one of the famous ex-Yugoslav spomeniks, Maribor Liberation Monument built in 1975. It’s often called “Kojak” by the locals as it looks like the bald head.
See beautiful Glavni Trg
Glavni Trg (Main Square) is the largest and the most beautiful of all Maribor squares. You can find here some impressive buildings, such as the Town Hall, the first brewery in Maribor, or the former casino. I bet you will stop here for a bit longer to admire the amazing architecture.
The Town Hall, originally the Gothic building from the beginning of the 16th century, was rebuilt around 1565 in the Renaissance style with numerous decorations we can admire still today. Be sure to see the yard of the town hall too, you will be surprised how beautiful it is. This is such a hidden gem of Maribor, always reminding me of Wawel Castle in Kraków or Italian yard in Lviv.
In the middle of the square, you can see the 17th-century Plague Column, a popular monument you can find in many cities in Central Europe. The one in Maribor is really impressive and rich in decorations.
Admire beautiful Habsburg architecture
I’m a big fan of the architecture from the Habsburg times (end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century), that’s one of the best things Central Europe has in common. No matter if you are in Vienna, Lviv, Zagreb, Brno, Chernivtsi or Novi Sad, the grand buildings from that time look somehow familiar. And Maribor is no different.
There are not that many of Habsburg-style impressive buildings but those you can find in Maribor surely look great. You can find the best ones around Slomskov Trg (the university and the post office look amazing!) but you can be sure to randomly stumble across some great finds all over the city.
Get lost in the backstreets
The Old Town in Maribor is full of backstreets and winding lanes that are perfect for a random stroll. Getting lost here is a pure pleasure and you can be sure to find some cool spots around.
There are edgy lanes full of street art, random arches above the streets and lots of cafes where you can sit down and relax. Wandering around the old town is one of my favorite things to do in Maribor.
Chill out in numerous cafes
Speaking of cafes – Maribor, like many places in former Austria-Hungary, has a great cafe culture and you can clearly see it in the Old Town. There are so many cafes it’s easy to lose track and most of them are busy from early morning till late night hours.
You will find most of them along Slovenska ulica (going from Grajski Trg) and Postna ulica (between Glavni Trg and Slomskov Trg) as well as along the riverside.
The best cafe you can find in the city is Rooster Coffee located at Ulica 10. oktobra 1.
Lent is the oldest part of Maribor, located at the bank of river Drava a short walk from the Old Town. It is such a pleasant area to visit, with cobbled lanes, pedestrian streets, and lots of bars and cafes.
There are also a few important Maribor attractions, such as Judgement Tower, Water tower, old city walls from the medieval times or the Jewish district with the synagogue. Be sure not to skip this part of the city during your trip to Maribor!
Take a picture of Maribor’s Old Town
While Maribor is a very picturesque place with all the winding lanes and beautiful architecture you can see the best view of the city from the Glavni Most across Drava river. That’s also where you will take the best picture of Maribor’s Old Town vista, with rows of red rooftops and beautiful architecture right in front of you.
Find the oldest grapevine in the world
You might be surprised that Slovenia has some really good wines and one of the main regions where it is produced is in and around Maribor.
In Lent district, you will find the oldest grapevine in the world. It’s been growing there for over 400 years and it is listed on Guinness Book of Records as the oldest noble vine in the world still bearing grapes. When you see it you will notice it looks pretty good for its age!
Being planted at the end of the Middle Ages, the grapevine is the silent witness of the city’s history, it has been through a lot yet still manages to grow and give grapes.
Enjoy the riverside
The riverside along the Drava is not only a perfect place for a stroll but can be a good place for outdoor activities. There are so many water sports you can enjoy in Maribor, from boat tours to kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Maribor can be a place for active holidays too!
Visit edgy Pekara
While everyone is raving about Metelkova in Ljubljana, Maribor also has its alternative hub.
The cultural center Pekarna is located a bit outside of the center, in the former military bakery from the end of the 19th century (hence the name, “pekarna” means “bakery”). There are numerous cultural events as well as the hostel where you can stay.
But even is there is nothing going on at Pekarna you should visit the place to see a different, alternative side of Maribor, to enjoy the cool vibe and to see some decent street art.
Go up to Piramida hill
One of the best things about Maribor is how close to nature the city is. It takes only a short walk from the center to go to Piramida hill where the castle used to stand a few centuries ago. Today you can find there the chapel from the first half of the 19th century.
Piramida offers probably the best view of the city and surrounding area, with grapes growing all around. The way up is rather easy and for most of it, you will go through vineyards which is super nice too. The hill is a popular leisure area of locals and you will meet plenty of people around.
Enjoy Mestni Park
Mestni Park (the City Park) is a large green space just outside the center, dating back to the end of the 19th century. It’s such a pleasant place to relax, stroll around, and just take it easy. You will find there three ponds, the aquarium and lots of winding lanes to wander around.
You can visit Mestni Park on the way to Piramida Hill.
Visit beautiful churches
Among all the great buildings and monuments in Maribor you will also find beautiful churches.
The most impressive is Franciscan Church – the brick basilica from the end of the 19th century, built in the place where the monastery used to stand since the 12th century.
Another church you should visit is Maribor Cathedral, from the 15th century. It is possible to go up to the bell tower to enjoy the view of the city.
Find brutalist architecture
Maribor, like most of the cities in former Yugoslavia, has some brutalist architecture around. Fans of this architectonic style won’t be disappointed, I was over the moon when I found some nice concrete buildings in the city center.
You can see them at Ulica škofa Maksimilijana Držečnika near Grajski trg or along Razlagova ulica (pay attention to the university building there).
Go for day trips from Maribor
Maribor can be also a good base to explore the surrounding area and it surely is a beautiful place where you will find plenty of attractions.
The nearby Pohorje mountains are the easternmost part of the Alps, with pleasant and not too high peaks (the highest one is 1543 meters above the sea level). It’s a perfect spot for hiking or skiing in winter.
If you’ve seen the famous picture of the heart-shaped road with vineyards around that’s near Maribor too, in the village of Špičnik, near the border with Austria.
Only a short ride away from Maribor you can visit Ptuj – the oldest town in Slovenia with charming corners, red rooftops and picturesque castle.
You can also go from Maribor to Graz. The second-largest city in Austria is only an hour away and is a wonderful yet underrated place to visit, full of attractions.
Final thoughts on visiting Maribor
As you can see there are plenty of things to do in Maribor that should keep you busy for a few solid hours at least. But the main reason why I enjoyed city that much was its laid-back vibe, a perfect mix of Central Europe and the Balkans. You can have here the best of these two worlds and at the same time avoid crowds of Ljubljana, Vienna or Zagreb.
I’m always surprised how come not so many people know about Maribor and its attractions but I think it’s a matter of time the city will be discovered, it’s hard to keep such a gem hidden for too long. I’ve been four times in Maribor so far and I’m already looking forward to my next trip there!
Slovenia is one of my favorite countries and I can’t count how many times I’ve been there. I covered it extensively on the blog too. You might want to read some of the articles I wrote about Slovenia:
- 30 Best Things to Do in Slovenia
- Slovenia itinerary – places to visit in Slovenia in 3 – 10 days
- Ljubljana pictures that will inspire you to visit the lovely capital of Slovenia
- Alternative Ljubljana guide
- 13 Best Things to Do in Lake Bled, Slovenia
- Slovenian Alps – a paradise on Earth!
- Ptuj, Slovenia – a charming little gem
- Postojna Cave and Predjama castle – highlights of Slovenia
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