(4 on the map.)
Maribor is a short train ride from Graz, but because the train is co-operated between Austria and Slovenia, there’s a short layover at the border while the crew changes – but there’s no passport check, as both Austria and Slovenia are in the European Union.
Maribor is another one of those towns that’s not on the tourist map, but I wanted to get a fuller picture of Slovenia, plus I wanted to see another non-tourist city. My first impression walking from the train station to my hotel (the Hotel Orel) was not good, as the buildings are a bit ordinary and rundown, but my impression improved once I got closer to the town center. There are some nice squares and buildings. The Orel is smack in the middle of the small old town – an ordinary business-class hotel, a bit stale but convenient and comfortable. Because it was warm out, I felt lucky to get one of the rooms that was air conditioned.
Beyond the nice town squares and old buildings and churches, the most scenic part of Maribor is down by the Drava river and the Lent neighborhood. Unlike the storybook feel of Ljubljana’s downtown, Maribor’s river seems pretty ordinary but still scenic, with a few interesting bridges and an interesting kind of “townscape.” There’s also a gorgeous view of the St. Joseph Church slightly upriver (but walkable). Maribor’s river area is walkable and interesting, with festive activities on the downtown (Lent) side. Kayakers seem to enjoy the river; I also saw a “party barge” go up river at dusk, complete with DJ. (This may have been part of a celebration of the Festival of the Vine; Maribor is a wine-making region.)
I did visit one museum in Maribor: the National Liberation Museum. The exhibits about the Yugoslavia’s World War II resistance and about Slovenian culture were interesting, but the section about Slovenian’s actual liberation from Yugoslavia in 1991 was not very coherent to someone who doesn’t know the full story.
I enjoyed some tasty Italian food at the Ancora Bar and Restaurant, casual and cheap, right around the corner from the Orel.
I had two nights in Maribor, and it was barely enough, even though the town isn’t exactly full of high culture or unique diversions. (I also devoted half a day of that to a side trip to Ptuj, see below.) I didn’t have a car, so I was exploring on foot. I wish I’d gotten up to Pyramid Hill overlooking Maribor.
Here’s a video of Maribor: across the Drava River from Lent at dusk: