Cake & Caviar

Road trip Slovenia: The Northeast/Vineyards and spas

Road trip 3: The Northeast/Vineyards and spas – 7 days

The Northeast is not the most touristy part of Slovenia and maybe not the most spectacular but it is my favorite part of Slovenia nevertheless. The Northeast has a feel of authenticity and serenity to it. It’s the region of thermal spas, health resorts, castles, rolling hills, rivers and wine. Lots of wine.

Day 1 Maribor:

Maribor (c) Terence Faircloth via Flickr
Maribor (c) Terence Faircloth via Flickr

Maribor is the capital of the Styria region and the second largest town in Slovenia. It’s a busy, dynamic and sometimes hasty city, just as a city should be.  There are a lot of monuments and interesting sights in Maribor, one of the most beautiful being the castle of Maribor. The cathedral of St John the Baptist, the townhall (check out the plague pillar too!)  and several museums are all worth visiting.

Wine production is very important in the region around Maribor. The Lent quarter of Maribor is home to the world’s oldest vine. The plant is over 400 years old and still produces about 40 to 50 kg of grapes every year. Taste some of the great wines in the wine shop in the old watertower, Vodni stolp. They have around 300 Slovenian wines available!

The Lent Festival is held every year in Maribor during about two weeks in the summer months. There are all kind of events in different venues around town: concerts and shows,  music, theatre, acrobats, a children festival, etc…

Day 2 Ormoz-Ljutomer-Jeruzalem:

Wine route in East Slovenia (c) ChrissyJ
Wine route in East Slovenia (c) ChrissyJ

The wine growing region in the east of Slovenia has many different wine routes (and wine of course!!) that can be discovered. Drive around through the vineyards, the green hills and the wine making landscape. The most famous route is the Ormoz -Ljutomer-Jeruzalem one. White wines are the traditional product of this area, even though some producers also produce red wines. The Beli Pinot and the Sipon are regarded as the best whites in the region.

You can start the route in Radenci (52 km from Maribor), an old thermal spa resort, in a beautiful setting between hills and vineyards. You can drink some Radenska water here, which is one of the richest mineral waters of Europe and tastes really good. In the 19th century the imperial court in Vienna and the pope would already enjoy a glass of Radenska!

Visit the gorgeous castle in Ormoz and have a stroll in its pretty park. Stop for some lunch in the little town of Ljutomer with it’s three main squares. The area of the Ljutomer vineyard hills is well known for it’s good cuisine. The journey ends in Jeruzalem, a village with less then 50 inhabitants, a splendid church and many wine tasting options.

Day 3 Ptuj:

Drive another 36 km to get from Jerusalem to Ptuj, the oldest town of Slovenia. Ptuj is a modern and lively town with a relaxed pretty old town. Visit the historical Ptuj wine cellars. The oldest Slovenian wine, the Zlata Trta from 1917, is stored in its vaults as is an extensive collection of archival wines.

Furthermore there is an open-air market, a cute square, a nice castle on a hill (Ptujski grad), a Dominican monastery, the Terme Ptuj spas, museums, the river Drava and the old town hall. No time to be bored in Ptuj!

Have an early dinner at restaurant Ribic, on the bank of the river Drava. The setting is excellent and the food is fresh and good. We ate there a few times and were never disappointed.

If you manage to be in Ptuj around carnaval don’t miss the festivities. The carnaval there is called Kurentovanje and lasts about ten days. The traditional festivities in Ptuj are the most important in Slovenia. Book your accommodation very far ahead!

Day 4 + 5 Kozjansko park:

The Kozjansko park is the largest regional park of Slovenia. It will be about 83 km driving from Ptuj to Podsreda, one of the villages in the park, where you will find the info centre of the park.The park lies between the Alps and the Pannonian plains and is absolutely worth the visit.

There are many hiking and walking trails in the park, from a few hours to a few days. There are villages in the park, five castles and thirty churches. The landscape is stunning.

Day 6 Kostanjevica na krki:

Kostanjevica na krki (c) Savič Domen via Flickr.com
Kostanjevica na krki (c) Savič Domen via Flickr.com

35 km south of Podsreda you will find one of my favorite Slovenian towns, on an artificially made island in the river Krka, with a bridge on both sides of the island. You can walk in less then fifteen minutes from one side of the island to the other.

There is not much to visit in Kostanjevica na krki but it’s so cute here, just enjoy the stroll of this peaceful little place. It’s a special town with a special atmosphere.

Galerija Bozidar Jakac (c) Srsck
Galerija Bozidar Jakac

Very close to the village you will find an old Cistercian Monastery. It hosts an art gallery, the Gallery of Bozidar Jakac, where there are regular exhibitions mostly of modern art. The small garden with hundred wooden statues is very nice too.

Day 7 Rogaska Slatina:

Clean and tidy in Rogaska Slatina (c) Srsck
Clean and tidy in Rogaska Slatina (c) Srsck

Head north for about 74 km to get to Rogaska Slatina. It is one of the oldest thermal spa resorts of Slovenia. It has a mineral water therapy tradition of more then four hundred years. You can drink the Donat Mg mineral water, full with magnesium and great for the health (but I find it has a dreadful taste!).

Everything is extremely clean and tidy in the town, it surprised me somehow but Slovenia in general is super clean and tidy so what am I bazzeling about…There are many hotels which remind the fact that Rogaska Slatina is an important health resort town in the region. It’s about 50 km from Rogaska Slatina back to your starting point: Maribor.

Extra time? Check the road trip through the Northwest and the road trip through the coast and the karst region. Did you ever go to Slovenia or are you planning on going?

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