5 marvellous things to do in Slovenia’s second-largest cityNews that Maribor is set to become the European Capital of Culture in 2012 might well provoke the question “Where is Maribor?”
The city, for those who don’t know, is nestled in the rolling green hills of Slovenia, surrounded by Austria, Hungary and Croatia. The organisers of Capital of Culture events during 2012 hope that, before the year is out, everyone will know where Maribor is.
Ryanair operates direct flights to Maribor from London Stansted Airport. If you have a car and want to travel in style then why not book Stansted Airport Parking before travelling to Slovenia. Travel service company FHR can also arrange hotels near Stansted .
Maribor is a great place to go if you like wine and skiing as you will see by taking a look at this list of five marvellous things to do in Maribor.
- Watch the Golden Fox in winter
Every January provides the opportunity to see The Golden Fox in Maribor – the name given to the women’s slalom Alpine World Cup. Maribor is the perfect location for this event as its ‘snow stadium’ has the longest downhill night run in Europe. Each year about 20,000 spectators swell the city’s 100,000 population to catch a glimpse of the glorious Golden Fox.
- See the ‘Purples’ take on Europe’s finest football teams
When the snow isn’t too thick, Maribor is also a great chance to see a top-level football game. The purple kit of N K Maribor is seen as the symbol of football in Slovenia – a country which reached the 2010 World Cup finals. Reigning national champions Maribor are the only Slovakian club to have competed in the UEFA Champions League (in 1999 to 2000) and ‘the Purples’ regularly compete in the Europa League. Maribor also hosts many of Slovenia’s international matches
- Drink a bottle of ‘Donat’ water
You could say that Maribor is a sports-mad place. Its health-conscious people are hydrated by the region’s ‘Donat’ water – a natural mineral water with a high concentration of magnesium which is credited with producing amazing weight-loss results. Donat flows through Maribor and wherever it is found you are sure to find spa hotels nearby. Donat is loved by Russian and German tourists though it has yet to catch on in Britain.
- Taste the grape’s from the world’s oldest grapevine
It’s not all about water in Maribor. Mariborians are as proud as punch of their dry white wine and also their ‘Old Vine’ – it’s the oldest grapevine in the world you know.
The Old Vine festival occurs at Lent and is a festive city holiday for all apart from the vineyard workers and the Mayor. It is the Mayor who must taste and evaluate the grapes on the big day. In true Man from Del-Monte-style, when the mayor nods their head to say that the grapes are ripe then a cheer will go up from the crowd and the grape harvest (and celebrations) can begin.
At any time of the year the Vinag Wine Cellar is a magnet for European wine buffs. The dark bowels of this mustily-magical place houses 250,000 bottles of Europe’s finest vintages. Not all of the delicious liquids are kept in barrels and cisterns – wine tasting is available!
- Party at one of Europe’s biggest cultural festivals
The wine is the fuel which keeps many revellers at the Lent Festival revelling into the small hours. The festival lasts for two weeks at the end of June and has all the fun of the fair – stand-up, comedy, music and dance included. It has attracted artists such as Ray Charles, B.B. King and Stephane Grappelli over the years.
Since the Lent Festival is the biggest multicultural open-air festival in south-east Europe you could say that the title of European Capital of Culture is in safe hands!
Resource links: Maribor Tourist Information Centre