WEEKENDER - MARIBOR
National Geographic Traveller (UK)|September 2021
Against a backdrop of a restored old town, the Slovenian city is embracing its cultural identity, from colourful festivals to age-old winemaking.
Jessica Vincent

On the banks of the Drava River, Slovenia’s second-largest city cuts a handsome dash. A riot of colour, the medieval, red-roofed houses and turquoise church spires of Maribor stand against a forested backdrop of the Pohorje Mountains. As the seasons change, so too does the landscape, shifting from green to orange to brown and then snowy white.

The city itself is no stranger to transformations, either. After decades of war and occupation, Maribor has been revitalised. It’s no clearer than in the car-free centre, where restored baroque buildings are now home to fine dining restaurants and boho cafes serving speciality coffee and vegan ice cream. With six of its restaurants receiving Michelin stars for the first time in 2020 and now the 2021 European Region of Gastronomy, Slovenia is enjoying its culinary moment in the sun — palpably so in Maribor, where the streets smell of freshly baked rye bread and tarragon-filled dumplings, and restaurants serve buckwheat stews, and Slovenian ales are sipped kerbside on candle-lit Poštna Street.

The country’s largest wine region is right on the doorstep, too. Here, family-run vineyards age their wines just as the Romans did, with the finest bottles appearing on tables across the city.

DAY ONE OLD TOWN & OLD VINES

MORNING

Glavni Trg, Maribor’s main square, in the old town, was once a marketplace. Second World War bombing badly damaged many of its pastel-coloured, 14th-century buildings, but most have now been restored to their former glory, and there are plans to reintroduce a farmers’ market — a tradition dating back to medieval times.

Take it all in from the terrace of Nana, a cafe serving brunches made using local ingredients such as pumpkin seeds and honey. Afterwards, head to Gosposka Ulica and Cesta, the main shopping streets, to browse Idrija lace in Slovenski Zakladi or handmade souvenirs at ARTmijeMAR. Refuel with homemade vegan ice cream at Ilich, a cafe dating back to 1909.

AFTERNOON

It would be remiss to visit Maribor without experiencing its wine culture. A five-minute walk from Glavni Trg is Vinag Wine Cellar, one of Slovenia’s largest and oldest underground wineries. Walking through dimly lit tunnels lined with bottles and barrels is an adventure in itself, but the wine-tasting, which takes place inside a room-sized concrete tank and involves squeezing feet-first through a metal hatch, is quite the experience, too. For an extra fee, you can enjoy local cheeses with more wine, all by candlelight.

Afterwards, cross the river to the Lent area to visit the Old Vine House. Home to the world’s oldest productive vine (at the ripe old age of 400), this small museum tells the story of Slovenian winemaking and offers tastings and purchases.

EVENING

There was a time when the neighbourhood of Lent didn’t have a great deal to tempt visitors, but the growing number of wine and cocktail bars are slowly pumping life back into this historic riverside hangout. Vinoteka Maribor, housed in a former 16th-century fortress known as the Water Tower, has an extensive list of ecological wines from the Podravje region, plus views over the Drava.

A few minutes’ walk away, the recently revamped Piranha Cocktail Bureau serves some of the city’s best cocktails from a menu of 277 spirits, while Kavarnica Rokaj, a bar where posters of Queen and AC/DC grace the walls, is the place for Slovenian craftales with a generous side of rock ’n’ roll.

TOP 5

Vineyard visits

VADHUBER

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER (UK)View All

Reconnect With Nature In Isère

Isère is the third-largest ski area in France, meaning there’s no shortage of winter adventures — from Nordic skiing to frozen waterfall climbing

3 mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
November 2021

Cambodia - Revived Khmer Dishes And Vibrant Street Eats

There’s a buzz around the Southeast Asian kingdom’s cuisine — not only is its street food scene thriving, but recipes and traditions once lost in the shadows of history are experiencing a resurgence.

8 mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
November 2021

Spiritual Tales Meet World-Class Wines On A Drive Through France's Verdant Heart

Pilgrims and Parisians alike know the treasures of Burgundy, whose gleaming ecclesiastical architecture, family-run chateaux hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants punctuate a patchwork of world-class vineyards south east of the French capital. While many travellers solely focus on the Côte d’Or wineries, a leisurely road trip along the Route Nationale 6 reveals the sensory — and spiritual — draws of the wider region

10+ mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
November 2021

Spend 72 Hours In Busan

With long beaches and mountain temples, Busan has emerged from Seoul’s shadow to become a thrilling destination in its own right

6 mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
November 2021

Transformative Travel - The Wild Is Calling In British Columbia

Heading into the wild comes naturally in the vast Canadian province of British Columbia, with its big open spaces, fresh, clean air and ability to offer transformative travel from the outside in

3 mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
November 2021

MALDIVES

Framed by palms and with sparkling turquoise sea, nowhere does beachside bliss like the Maldives. And with a string of new openings, this Indian Ocean the islands’ hotel scene has never looked better.

6 mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
November 2021

A TALE OF TWO CITIES The inside guide

From the pulsing beat of capital Nairobi to the gentle lapping shores of lakeside Kisumu, we take a dive into two of Kenya’s cities

4 mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
November 2021

THE FINAL FRONTIER

THE SEVERE, SERRATED NORTH SLOPE OF ALASKA LIES 250 MILES INSIDE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, FAR BEYOND THE TREELINE AND UNDER 1,400 MILES FROM THE NORTH POLE. RESILIENT IÑUPIAT COMMUNITIES AREN’T THE ONLY REASON TO VENTURE TO THIS ICY COASTLINE — THE ‘ROOFTOP OF AMERICA’ IS THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH TO SEE POLAR BEARS IN THE WILD

10+ mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
November 2021

BUENOS AIRES

Famed for its boulevards and ballrooms, the Argentine capital is reinventing itself through restaurant collaborations, a new arts district and a revamped dockland park

10+ mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
November 2021

5 Foodie Adventures

From nibbling on insect pakoras to tasting cheese matured in a coal mine, try something new with these memorable Welsh foodie experiences

4 mins read
National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Wales 2021
RELATED STORIES

Motivated Perfectionist

Janja Garnbret, the most dominant comp climber on the planet

8 mins read
Gym Climber
Issue 4, Winter 2019-2020

The Land of Roast Goose and Dumplings

Alexander Lobrano returns to the sleepy villages of eastern Slovenia, where family-run inns serve the best-preserved old-fashioned cooking of Mitteleuropa.

10 mins read
Saveur
November 2015

Rain in Slovenia's Plains

Driving from Ljubljana through to Bled and Bohinj, two happy campers hike, canoe and amble along until weather plays spoilsport

6 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
September - October 2021

A PIECE OF PARADISE IN CENTRAL EUROPE

My idea of Paradise is a pretty place with mountains all around, a small population, totally peaceful, wonderful monuments not only of history but also of poets, church bells ringing occasionally, charming golf courses, no political rallies and demonstrations, clean roads, and wonderful cuisine, easily accessible from my home and some friends from a previous era to relish past associations.

3 mins read
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist
June 2021

Bilateral Relations Between Slovenia And India

Bilateral relations between Slovenia and India are not focused solely on political and foreign affairs. Economic cooperation represents an extremely important part too. India is the second most important trading partner of Slovenia in Asia.

4 mins read
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist
June 2021

5 EU states seek summit on ‘unfair' vaccine handouts

VIENNA (AFP) – Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Latvia have called for a European Union summit to discuss “huge disparities” in the distribution of vaccines, according to a letter published yesterday.

1 min read
The Philippine Star
March 14, 2021

UAE sends aid to Slovenia in fight against COVID-19

In continuation of UAE’s efforts to provide a helping hand to all brotherly and friendly countries, UAE leadership has been keen to contribute to supporting the health sector in Slovenia

3 mins read
Gulf Today
February 09, 2021

Paradise hooked

Searching for a place to rejuvenate the soul and reconnect with nature?

7 mins read
The Field
February 2021

MAHEPA announces: Hydrogen fuel cell driven Hy4 has flown

MAHEPA consortium is proud to announce that technology developed as part of the project has been successfully proven in flight on-board the Hy4 aircraft.

1 min read
Aviation Update
January 2021

HOW TO... GET THE INFRARED LOOK

Replicate the ethereal black-and-white infrared look with a neat trick using Photoshop’s Channel Mixer command.

1 min read
Photography week
December 24, 2020