What is it about Maribor, Slovenia that keeps teams coming back year after year?
The rolling green hills dotted with vineyards and sunflower farms greet you upon crossing the border. As the second largest city in Slovenia, Maribor is mostly known for being the heart of the Slovenian wine growing region. Its rich wine tradition is marked by the existence of the oldest vine in the world.
At base of the famed Pohorje mountain you’ll also find an array of adrenaline options accessible by gondola. From skiing and sledding in the winter to hiking and a mountain top obstacle course in the summer, this city has no shortage of team building activities to offer visitors. However the city’s history, tells a different type of tale.
Cross the Drava River into ‘old town’ and you’ll land at the City Hall which Hitler spoke from in 1941 during his attempt to convert Slovenia into a “German State”. By the end of World War II, the tiny town of less than 100,000 people experienced more bombing by the Allies than any other major city in communist Yugoslavia. When Tito (Josip Broz) united the six Yugoslav republics to form the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the landscape of Maribor was a battleground for freedom.
Although Tito’s death in 1980 brought about more political tension and economic crisis, Slovenia had already re-positioned itself as one of the most economically advanced former Yugoslav republics. A 10-day war in 1991 gave birth to the modern day nation of Slovenia. Since Slovenia’s succession from Yugoslavia, Maribor has been slowly transitioning into the popular destination for adventure travelers, foodies and wine lovers that we experience today.
But there’s something else happening in Maribor, that’s sparking the interest of volleyball coaches and fans worldwide. Top US college volleyball teams like Penn State and the University of Texas are putting Maribor, Slovenia on their itinerary for their foreign volleyball tours to gain access to top level international competition, extra pre-season training and a unique cultural exchange among athletes from diverse backgrounds.
Maribor is home to a dedicated international volleyball hub, also known as the Dras Center. The sport complex offers optimal training conditions for visiting teams with multiple volleyball courts, an in-house gym, a wellness spa and delicious dining options where spectators can enjoy homemade delicacies while watching volleyball.
Volleyball teams from Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, England, Iran, Brazil, China, and Israel, as well as the Junior National Teams from China, Russia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and all over Europe are coming to Maribor to gain access to elite international players and coaches.
After almost two decades of hosting volleyball tours in Europe, it’s become evident to us that Maribor is one of those magical places that always tops the list of best travel experiences for teams. We certainly have a lot of love for it.