“ Cafe boat offering river Drava cruises in Maribor, Slovenia. „
The first time we visited Maribor in the summer of 2007 we said that there should be boat trips on the river Drava. In the autumn of the same year we bought our flat in Maribor and despite visiting at different times of the year, it was not until the late summer of 2010 that we got the chance to see the city from the Drava.
During the summer the Dravska Vila is moored at "Pristan" - the Slovenian word for "port" which is a rather grand way of describing what is not even a jetty but a few steps down to the water from the road that runs long the riverfront. In days gone by Maribor riverfront was a busy place with boats and barges loading and unloading on their way to and from (eventually) the Black Sea. On this particular part of the Drava goods were conveyed by raft and you can see photographs and paintings of how the port looked in an exhibition in the museum in Maribor's castle. At certain times of the year, as part of various festivals, you can go on an evening cruise on a raft where a meal is included in the price; we've never been able to go on one of these cruises so we were delighted to take up the chance of an hour long evening cruise on the Dravska Vila
During the day the Dravska Vila operates as a floating café and remains moored at Pristan, with trips taking place in the evening on weekdays and late afternoon and evening at weekends. You don't need to buy tickets in advance; you can just turn up shortly before the boat is due to set off.
There are two trips, one lasts about half an hour, the other an hour. The longer one goes west as far as the Maribor otok - the island in the Drava near Kamnica - turns round and comes back past Pristan and as far the twin bridge to the east. The shorter trip goes west as far as the new footbridge, turns round and goes as far as the twin bridge.
The cruise is a novelty more than anything. The Maribor and Lent waterfront and skyline is undoubtedly handsome but you don't really see any more than you would from a vantage point on the Stari Most, for example. It's a nice way to spend an hour on a summer's evening but you'd have as nice a time strolling along the Lent embankment, stopping off at the old water tower for a glass of wine. There was only one waitress on the boat and while it wasn't really busy, we still had to wait a while for our drinks; half an hour seems to pass by in no time at all and by the time your drinks come you don't have long to polish them off.
There's no commentary on the trip so don't expect to learn anything about what you're seeing. If you've already explored on foot this might be a nice reprise as you pass by the Jews Tower, the House of the Old Vine and the Water Tower but if you've just arrived or you're on a flying visit this isn't the best way to get a flavour of Maribor.
I wouldn't say this is an essential Maribor activity and at Euro4.50 for a half hour trip (and Euro9 for an hour) it's not cheap either. If you're feeling flush or you just want to do something a bit different then you might just consider it but don't feel you've missed out if you don't.
There are two tours a day on Saturday and Sundays and one daily Wednesday - Friday. Otherwise the boat is open as a cafe between 8 .00am and 10.00pm (11.00pm on Fridays and Saturdays). I've heard the cakes are excellent.
The Dravska Vila is a modern and well maintained boat with comfortable seating on the upper deck and in the spacious cabin. I'm not sure whether it's wheelchair accessible.