Ptuj is one of the top places in Slovenia that you absolutely should add to your bucket list!
This medieval city is charming and welcoming. Here you will find everything that you need to know to plan your trip to Ptuj!
🗺️ Where is Ptuj?
Ptuj is a medieval city of 18,000 souls in the Podravje (aka Drava) region in Slovenia. Ptuj is pronounced as Ptue in English.
This region is located to the far east, bordering the region of Styria in Southern Austria to the north and the Central Croatia region to the south. The neighboring Slovenian regions are Pomurska, Koroska and Savinjska.
The Drava river flows through the city, splitting the place into two. The area is known for its mild weather, which is all thanks to its location.
📍 What’s special about Ptuj?
Ptuj is the oldest town in Slovenia. Stone Age settlements have been found here, and later roman legions made it into a strategically important settlements.
At its peak during Roman times, the city counted a population of over 40,000. Ptuj was known during the times of emperor Trajan as the colonia ulpia traiana poetovio. The name Ptuj then came from the shorter name, Roman Poetovio or Poetovium.
The city declined when the Roman Empire fell and was attacked numerous times by different ethnicities including the Huns, the Slavs and Ottoman Turks during the Dark and Middle Ages.
All the Slovenian territorial regions were under Habsburg rule until 1918. At that time Ptuj and Maribor were one and part of the Styrian region.
After WW1, Styria was split into two, with northern Styria belonging to Austria and South Styria, today’s Ptuj and Maribor, were claimed by the Sloven state. Some other Austrian regions, such as Tyrol and South Tyrol, faced a similar fate.
The long and diverse history turned Ptuj into a culturally rich city, making it a city none like any other.
🏰 Things to see and do
The old town of Ptuj is a treasure trove. Here you can experience its culture, understand the complex history, discover monuments and take in the vibrant timeless vibes of this wonderful city!
Here are some of the most important landmarks and things to do when in Ptuj.
Old Town Roads
The cobblestone roads lead you to the center of the city. The most well-known road is the Slovenski Trg. Colorful houses standing in a row with pottery red roofs make this city a beautiful sight!
In the roads of Ptuj you will come across many unique boutiques and little family run stores. The people are charming and very welcoming!
The Mensi Trg is a large square, which serves as a farmer’s market (called Mestna tržnica on the maps). The ice cream shops are great here, and you will find a public toilet facility next to the market.
Down the Mesti Trg road you will notice a lot of art galleries and antique shops, adding to the charm of the town.
Castle and Regional Museum
The castle is the most prominent sight of Ptuj. Located at the top of the hill, it overlooks the town, Drava river and Slovenian rural areas.
From here you don’t only get a fantastic view, but you will get a chance to deep dive into the culture of the area and its intriguing history.
Take the tight passage from the Slovenski Trg road called, Grajska ulica, up to the castle. The walk is ascending, but you will be rewarded with the most spectacular views. Don’t use this passage in winter when the cobblestones are frozen because it can get dangerously slippery.
The hill top castle was turned into a museum at the end of the 18th century.
At the time of our visit, we got to see various collections:
- Musical instruments throughout the ages located in the lower castle grounds
- Local traditional Krampus masks used for carnival (Kurentovanje festivities) located in the lower castle grounds
- Roman exhibition also located in the lower castle grounds
- The castle rooms with medieval and Renaissance paintings and objects
- The armory with various weapons across the ages
The exhibitions can be visited in the summer from 10 am to 6 pm, and the lower castle grounds even up to 8 pm. In winter, they are open from 10 am to 4 pm. Generally speaking, they are closed on Monday and holidays such as Christmas day and Easter.
Entry to see all the collections is €8 per adult and €3 per child. Timing and fees may change, so check with the Ptuj castle website!
Town’s tower, St.George Church and Orpheus Monument
The town’s tower (aka Mestni stolp) is a clock tower that has been standing strong for over 800 years. It is a testament of the cities power and influence over the ages.
It’s located next the St.George church on the Slovenski Trg road. This church is known as one of the most beautiful churches in Slovenia.
Here you can find the Povoden museum, which has a large collection of local tombstones and altar pieces.
The Orpheus Monument (aka Orfejev spomenik) is located right in front of the city tower.
This is a 2nd century Roman grave marker carved out of white marble, and it is the oldest preserved monument in its original location in Slovenia.
It was used as a pillory during medieval times, so due to its rough uses, inscriptions are hard to read today.
The Dominican monastery (aka Dominikanski samostan), established in 1230, is located to the west of Ptuj at the banks of the Drava river.
The well-preserved medieval architecture and beautiful gardens is its pride and reason why you should visit this monastery.
The Minorite monastery (aka Minoritski samostan Sv.Petra in Pavla on maps) is a reconstructed former gothic presbytery with a baroque monastery attached to it. The caretakers are very nice and welcoming!
It’s free to access the Minorite monastery, the Dominican monastery charges about €4 per adult. Both can be accessed anytime between 10 am to 4 pm.
The Dominican monastery is closed on Saturdays and Sundays and can only be visited from beginning April to end of September.
If you have to pick between the two monasteries to visit, due to time constraints or cultural interests, then pick the Dominican monastery, whose architecture is far more impressive.
Mithras Shrine III and the Roman brickwork kiln are two of the remaining archeological roman sites that people can visit.
Mithras was a mystical roman religious cult, and they had turned this area into one of their bases.
A former Roman craftsman workshop was discovered in Ptuj and that’s where you can see the brickwork kiln which was used to make pottery. They also discovered that others worked here as well including, glassmakers, stone carvers and smith.
You can visit them with a guide. Contact them at least 3 days before you intend to visit to book a timing slot with the guide to discover this unique roman side of Ptuj.
Each entry fee is set at €2 per adult, €1 per child and preschool children can visit for free.
The Thermal Park Terme Ptuj is a place where you get to relax after a day in the old town.
Natural thermal waters are known to be beneficial to body and mind and due to it’s location, these waters are sure to rejuvenate you!
The Thermal park consists of an indoor and outdoor family bathing area and an adult only saunas.
They offer various day and evening passes for both areas, so there is something for everyone!
The Ptuj wine cellar (aka Ptujska klet), is conveniently located in the old town, is the oldest winery in Slovenia and also one of the oldest in Europe all together!
They offer guided tours of their cellars which includes a wine and local food delicacy tasting. These are priced somewhere from €14 per adult onwards.
You can visit this historical landmark from Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 4 pm (except Saturdays they close at 12 pm).
Their wines are locally sourced because the Štajerska Slovenija wine district and Haloze Hills are famous wine terroir. You can expect to see old wine barrels, old wine bottles, and you will meet very knowledgeable hosts.
Popular Slovenian wines include Furmint, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
Other notable places:
- Bridge over the River – a walking and cycling bridge and favorite spot to take photos.
- Round tourist photo spot (Turistični okvir) – Located at the other side of the town across the bridge and river, from here you can take a great picture of the old town and castle on the hill.
- Old Town Hall (Mestna hiša) – Dynamic architectural building near the Tourist information.
- Lake Ptuj – To take in the natural beauty of the area. A birding platform with a tower is open to the public.
Carnival (Kurentovanje) – Held every year in February, it is Slovenia’s most important traditional carnival festivities. Here you will see unique hand carved masks, called Kurent, and furry sheep skin creatures, including Krampus.
George’s Fair (Jurjev sejem) – A medieval market with costumes and shows held on the 23. April.
Oswald’s fair (Ožbaltov sejem) – Held every year on the 5th of August. Here you can expect to find a market with traditional foods and hand worked local items. Try to get some of the honey from the region, it is exceptionally pure!
Catherine’s Fair (Katarinin sejem) – Organized on the 25th November, is a pre-Christmas event with a market selling all kinds of things including second hand items.
🚗 Getting there
Ptuj is easily accessible from all major places via highway. Note that the 7-day Slovenian highway Vignette is priced at a whopping €28!
From Ljubljana to Ptuj by car it takes 1 1/2 hour and the distance is about 80 miles (ca. 129 km). By bus, it’s about 2 1/2 hours.
You can also fly into Ljubljana or into Graz in Austria to get there.
The distance from Graz to Ptuj is shorter, only 1 h 15 mins by car and 1h 40 mins by train.