Culture

Hidden Slovenia

2 to 11 July
Slovenia

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 of nights in the ancient Austrian city of Graz and travel through the world famous Semmering Pass – not once, but twice!

Highlights

  • Visit to Unesco world heritage site of Graz old town
  • Complete non-touristy region
  • Wine tasting
  • Cable car trip
  • Steam train trip
  • Stunning scenery
  • All four-star hotels with 6 nights in Maribor

Tour Manager: Marion  marion@ptg.co.uk 

Itinerary

Day 1 Tuesday 2 July Flights from various UK airports direct to Austrian capital Vienna. Rail transfer from the airport to the centre of Vienna. Overnight in Vienna.

Day 2 Wednesday 3 July (B, L) This morning we take the train from Vienna to Graz via the world-famous Semmering Pass. Our coach will meet us for 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. The coach will meet us and transfer us to our 4 stars hotel in the very centre of Graz.

Day 3 Thursday 4 July (B, D)  Graz is the second largest city in Austria, situated on the River Mur just 120miles south west of Vienna. A leisurely morning 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). We then have a free afternoon 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. Plenty of free time before we meet in the evening for our dinner in a local restaurant near the hotel.

Day 4  Friday 5 July (B)  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 arrival, we have a guided tour of this lovely city including the famous puppet theatre before our visit to the Vinag wine cellar. Vinag is one of the largest and oldest classic wine cellars in Europe, there we will have a wine tasting of locally produced wine before free time for the evening and dinner. Restaurants will be pointed out to you for your evening dinner.

Day 5 Saturday 6 July (B, L) This morning we walk along the river to take a boat for a short journey on the river Drava. We will be met by our coach for a 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.

Day 6 Sunday 7 July (B, L) 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.

Day 7 Monday 8 July (B, L) We take a morning train from Maribor to Podčetrtek; the first part of this railway track constitutes the very first constructed railway track in Slovenia. We 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 a local brewery where we have a break to sample the local beer and enjoy this lovely countryside before moving onto 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.  After our late lunch we may take the opportunity to feed the deer. Our road train will then return us to the railway station for our train back to Maribor.

Day 8 Tuesday 9 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. 

Day 9 Wednesday 10 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.

Day 10 Thursday 11 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.

Hotels

Novum Hotel Prinz Eugen, Vienna (1 night)
Hotel Mercure Graz City, Graz (2 nights)
Hotel City, Maribor (6 nights)

Flights (updated 12/11/18)

BA702 11.35 Heathrow to Vienna (arr 15.05)
BA703 15.40 Vienna to Heathrow (arr 17.05)

EZ8955 06.55 Gatwick to Vienna (arriving 10.05)
EZY8960 21.25 Vienna to Gatwick (arr 22.45)

EW9337/9750  07.55 Birmingham, via Düsseldorf, to Vienna (arr 14.45)
EW9751/9330 15.25 Vienna, via Düsseldorf, to Birmingham (arr 19.10)

OS464 13.00 Manchester to Vienna (arriving 16.25)
(12/07) OS463 10.15 Vienna to Manchester (arr 11.40)

EZY6935 06.40 Edinburgh to Vienna (arr 10.30)
(13/07) EZY6936 11.05 Vienna to Edinburgh (arr 12.50)

No Fly Option via Eurostar

12.58 St Pancras Eurostar to Brussels
18.25 Brussels to Cologne 
21.21 Cologne to Vienna (Nightjet sleeper)

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • 10 day holiday from London: £1,695
  • 10 day holiday joining in Vienna: £1,495

Options

  • Single room supplement: £240

Deposit

  • £500 with flight option or £250 for all other options

Price Includes

  • Travel and activities as outlined in the itinerary
  • 4-star en-suite hotel accommodation
  • Meals as outlined in the itinerary: (B) Breakfast, (L) Lunch, (D) Dinner
  • Services of our Tour Manager (fully escorted from London Heathrow)
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