If you have travelled to Slovenia before the chances are you stayed in the fine capital city of Ljubljana or at the wonderful Lake Bled. On this tour we take you to an equally wonderful, and scenic area of Slovenia, but even more off the normal tourist route. Along the way we will visit World Heritage sites, vineyards and steam railways. We also spend a couple on nights in the ancient Austrian city of Graz and travel through the world famous Semmering Pass – not once, but twice!
Tour Manager: Marion
Tuesday 4th July Flights from various UK airports direct to Austrian capital Vienna. Overnight in Vienna.
Wednesday 5th July (B,D) This morning we take the train from Vienna to Graz via the world famous Semmering Pass. The coach will meet us and transfer us to our 4 stars hotel in the very centre of Graz. Graz is the second largest city in Austria, situated on the River Mur just 120miles south west of Vienna. After check-in we have time for a light lunch before our guided tour of this fascinating city. We will start with a trip up the Schlossberg (with the funicular) and literally get the best views of the city. Then we will take a walk from the stunning cathedral, through the amazing renaissance Landhaus courtyard, double spiral staircase in The Burg Graz (official headquarter of the regional government), main shopping street, main square and town hall to an extravagant steel construction on the river Mur (Island on the Mur). This evening we have our welcome dinner in a close by restaurant.
Thursday 6th July (B, L) This morning, our coach will take us (approx. half hour drive) to South Styria Wine region, to the village of Stainz. With the local guide we will discover the history, wine and culinary importance of the area. To verify the excellence of South Styria Culinary we will have lunch at a local restaurant. Later we will take a one hour ride on a steam train “The Stainzer Flascherlzug – The Bottle train ”, that runs on narrow gauge tracks, which first opened in 1892. Today the train is a great local attraction. The name of the train comes from the time when doctor “Höllerhansl” (1866-1935) practiced medicine. He was called to diagnose diverse diseases out of urine. That is why many people travelled with the narrow-gauge railway Preding – Wieselsdorf – Stainz to Höllerhansl with a little bottle of urine in their luggage.
Friday 7th July (B) Today we have a free morning to explore, for ourselves the old centre of Graz. Perhaps visit the fairyland railway beneath the castle or a visit to the tram museum. By now we will understand all the reasons why UNESCO declared Graz old town World Cultural Heritage. In the afternoon we will check out of our hotel and take a local train to Maribor where we start our second Slovenia Tour, here we will stay and explore many places that we have yet to enjoy to the full. Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia situated on the River Drava. Don’t be fooled by your first impression, as I once was. The Old City has so much to offer, with beautiful buildings, little streets, the park and the riverside to explore. Our luggage will be transferred from Graz to Maribor for us. After check-in we have a guided tour of this lovely city. Restaurants will be pointed out to you for your evening dinner.
Saturday 8th July (B, L) Today we will have a lovely railway journey east of Maribor. In the morning, we visit Ptuj, the oldest documented town in Slovenia. The core of the old town is protected as a cultural monument. At every step monuments, bear witness to its ancient past, with traces of Roman Poetovio and the periods that followed. At a local restaurant on the bank of the River Drava we will have time for a refreshing lunch. Then we will take the train to Ivanjkovci, from where we will discover Jeruzalem, one of the most beautiful wine regions of Slovenia, the eastern part of Slovenske Gorice, the land of many vales and low rounded hillocks and ridges, where sunny south-facing slopes are covered with vineyards and orchards. At the local winery, we will have a taste of the local produced wine before returning to Maribor.
Sunday 9th July (B, L) We take a morning train from Maribor to Celje to join a one hour ride with an historic steam train that runs from Celje to Podčetrtek; the first part of this railway track constitutes the very first constructed railway track in Slovenia. We will spend the whole day in the Kozjansko region, which is an area of forests, rolling hills, vineyards and scattered farms. A road train will take us to visit the renovated Minoriti monastery complex (the part of the convent is also a celebrated pharmacy, which is one of the oldest monastic pharmacies in Europe), we will taste the local produced chocolate in a Chocolate boutique, Olimje and we will visit deer breeders. In this fairy tale-like countryside we will have a local lunch in one of the welcoming farmhouses. Tidiness and beauty of these places has convinced even the strict European commission to award village Olimje with the golden medal on Entente Florale 2009 contest. So after our lunch we will take our road train to a local brewery where we can sit and enjoy this lovely countryside before our return to Maribor.
Monday 10th July (B, L) This morning we walk along the river to take a boat for a short journey on the river Drava. We then visit the beautiful renovated puppet theatre before our visit to Vinag, one of the largest and oldest classic wine cellars in Europe, there we will have a wine tasting of locally produced wine followed by our coach trip to the Pohorje mountain range where we take a cable car to the top. Every winter the slalom and giant slalom races for the Golden Fox World Cup for women are held here. From the top, there are wonderful views of Maribor and the Drava Valley. Here we will have a delicious lunch at the restaurant on the top of Pohorje before our return by cable car to Maribor. Time for our second trip on the Drava River, this time by raft. You will experience an unforgettable adventure on a traditional timber raft on the river Drava. Splavarski trio (Rafter’s Trio), with Slovene music to help put us in a good Slovenian mood. The program includes a presentation of the river Drava timber rafting in the past, a rafter’s snack, drinks according to the “all you can drink” system and a tasting of traditional rafter’s coffee, which is brewed on board in the raft’s kitchen just as it was in the old days.
Wednesday 11th July (B, L) The scenic railway line along the Drava River will take us to Dravograd, from where we take our coach to Mežica lead and a zinc mine. With mining equipment, we will take a ride on a genuine mining train right to the heart of the mine. Driving through the 3.5 km long Glančnik tunnel lasts about 15 minutes and can truly be described as a unique experience. We will step out at the station in the heart of the mountain, 600 m below the surface of Veliki vrh. Accompanied by an experienced guide we find out more about the history of mining. Above all, we will have a typical local lunch underground. Later the afternoon train will take us back from Dravograd to Maribor.
Tuesday 12th July (B) Today we are going to visit the third largest town of Slovenia – Celje, which was an important Roman city called Celeia and in medieval times a home to the most important Slovenians (and also one of the most important European) aristocratic family – Counts of Celje. The remains of the castle owned by this aristocratic family stand on a dominant point on a hill and we will discover the castle stories with our local “medieval” guide. In a nearby local tourist farm we will have a tasting of home produced cheese and other farm products. After lunch we meet up with our local guide for a tour of this fascinating city before our journey back to Maribor.
Thursday 13th July (B) Today it is time to say “Nasvidenje Maribor, Nasvidenje Slovenija” (Goodbye Maribor, Goodbye Slovenia). Our coach will transfer us to the Graz for our return journey home via Vienna giving us a second chance to admire the wonderful Semmering Pass.
Why not stay on and join our Vintage Slovakia and Poland tour – save £200 on booking both tour individually.
This is a moderately active tour. To fully enjoy this program, participants should be able to climb a flight of stairs and walk at least a half-mile on uneven ground during several of the sightseeing trips.