The town was established in the 13th century on the trade road between Maribor and Celje. It was granted market rights in 1313. It was originally called just Bistrica. The present name of Slovenska Bistrica (German: Windisch-Feistritz) first appears in records dating from 1565.
Before 1918, the town had a German-speaking majority (in the last Austrian census of 1910, 57.7% of the inhabitants declared German as their language of daily communication), while the surroundings were almost exclusively Slovene-speaking.
The town now has over 6,500 inhabitants and increasing. Many locals commute to Maribor for work, less than an hour’s drive away.
The town offers several interesting sights, including Bistrica Castle, churches, a Roman road, Ančnik fort (an Ancient Roman fort) and more. It is also a good starting point for people wishing to hike on Mount Boč, a nearby mountain peak and park.
The parish church in the settlement is dedicated to Saint Bartholomew (Slovene: sveti Jernej) and belongs to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Maribor. It is first mentioned in written documents dating to 1240, but was greatly rebuilt and extended in the Baroque style in the 18th century. The belfry dates to the 19th century. Two other larger churches in the town are dedicated to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows and Saint Joseph. They date to the 15th and 18th centuries.
Notable people that were born or lived in Slovenska Bistrica include the following: