A 48 Hour Guide to Ptuj, the Oldest City in Slovenia

Ptuj | © Yonashek
Photo of Andreja Posedel
15 January 2018

Ptuj’s riverside location is the main reason why this town has been significant throughout Slovenian history, especially in ancient Roman times. Then, Petovia (Ptuj) was an important Roman settlement. In addition to the town’s rich history, Ptuj is known for its Carnival. Each year during Lent visitors can observe Kurents (people wearing traditional masks) chase the winter away. We’ve prepared a 48 hour guide to Ptuj to help you explore this delightful town.

Day 1

Ptuj is located a 90-minute drive from Ljubljana, or a 30-minute drive from Maribor. Public transportation is available if you are traveling without a car.

Hostel Sonce is a good low-budget accommodation choice, while Hotel Mitra’s central location makes it a convenient choice if you’re on a larger budget.

After settling in, spend your morning exploring Ptuj Castle. It’s located only a short hike from the town center and is the most prominent attraction in Ptuj. In its grand chambers you can visit various exhibitions, including the rifle exhibition, the musical instrument exhibition, and the exhibition of traditional Pust (carnival) masks. When visiting the latter, you will have a rare opportunity to dress up as a Kurent, the traditional mask of Ptuj Carnival.

The Ptuj Castle Courtyard | © János Korom Dr.

Continue your day by exploring the city center. Since antiquity, this Slovenian Square (Slovenski Trg) has played an essential part in the everyday life of Ptuj’s residents. It is no different today.

One of the most noticeable attractions at the square is the Orpheus Monument. Almost five meters high and made from Pohorje marble, the monument was erected in the 2nd century, in honor of Mark Valerij Vera. The City Tower at the square is famous for a missing clock on the side facing Ptuj Castle. According to legend, the residents of Ptuj only installed three clocks as a protest against the lords of the castle, who refused to pay their share for the installation.

St. George Parish Church, Old Town Hall, and Lutenberg House also add to the historic and architectural importance of the Slovenski Trg. As your last attraction of the afternoon visit Minorite Monastery and the Church of St Peter and Paul at Minorite Square (Minoritski Trg).

The Orpheus’ Monument | ©P.mielen

In the evening, stroll down Drava Street (Dravska Ulica) and enjoy dazzling views of the Drava River. Stop by Restaurant Ribič, a local favorite, and end your evening with a delicious dinner and glass of local wine.

The Night view of Ptuj | ©Rochester Scouser

Day 2

Ptuj hides far too much history for you to discover all in one day. Therefore, start your second day by visiting Stari Zapori (Old Prison), where you will learn about the town’s more recent history.

Right next to the Old Prison you can admire the 13th century Dominican Monastery, a Baroque and Gothic-style complex, which nowadays hosts the town’s cultural events.

A short ride out of town leads you to two unbelievable Mithras Shrines. Between the 1st and the 4th centuries, Mithraism spread around Europe, and Ptuj was one of its biggest religious centers. Both of the remaining shrines are in magnificent condition, and offer a rare opportunity to peak into the mysterious Mithraic religion.

The Dominican Monastery | ©Ljuba brank

Upon your arrival back to Ptuj, visit the oldest winery in Slovenia, Ptujska Klet. This dates back to 1239, and stores the oldest known Slovenian wine, from 1917, as well as other priceless treasures. Sommeliers at Ptujka Klet will educate you about the long history of wine production in the Ptuj region, and will gladly serve you samples of their finest wines.

Spend the rest of the day relaxing. Ptuj’s Golf Course is one of the best in the country and is conveniently located only a short walk from town.

If playing a round of golf is not your idea of relaxation, head to Terme Ptuj. This Roman-themed resort offers five saunas, swimming pools, whirlpools and a spa center, where experienced staff will make sure that you leave Ptuj rejuvenated and relaxed.

Ptuj | ©philip-brown