Ptuj is Slovenia's oldest and most famous historical town. The earliest known mention of it was made by the ancient roman historian Tacitus in 69 BC.

The site of the present Ptuj was first settled by the Celts, but there is abundant archaeological evidence indicating that the city's first heyday only came in Roman times, when the town was referred to as Poetovia.

Ptuj retained its importance throughout the Middle Ages. Its present character and appearance are mainly due to its well preserved old town centre, whose Gothic architecture is combined with Renaissance and Baroque features. The town's historical heritage is best exemplified by Ptuj Castle, where the rich collections of the Regional Museum of Ptuj are housed. Other famous buildings include the Town Hall, the Church of St. George, and a Minorite and a Dominican monastery. The latter houses several archaeological collections and a reconstruction of two temples dedicated to the Roman god Mithras.

Each year in February, part of Ptuj's unique cultural heritage is brought to life with Kurentovanje, Slovenia's largest carnival, particularly famous for the traditional Slovenian carnival figures of pagan origin called Kurenti, who are traditionally believed to banish evil spirits and bring good luck. The town's wine cellar, founded over seven hundred years ago, boasts some of Slovenia's oldest wines, mainly from the nearby Haloze wine growing region. Ptuj's tourism offerings notably include the Terme Ptuj spa resort, renowned for its thermal pools and a choice of spa and wellness programmes.