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If you’re visiting Austria, then there’s a need to visit Graz at least once during your trip. It’s the second largest city in the country, just behind Vienna, and has perhaps one of the best city centers in all of Europe.
It’s been a cultural capital, a city of culinary delights, and the city is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Situated on the Mur River, this city rose to fame in the 12th century under Babenberg rule and hasn’t looked back since.
Are you planning on a visit to Graz or maybe you’re looking for a new weekend getaway? Here are some of the essential sights to see in this amazing city!
Get an Incredible View of Graz Right Away By Doing This!
Schloßberg is a hill that dominates over Old Town Graz, standing a total of 123 metres high. At the very top is a demolished fortress that once protected the area, but now provides one of the best views of the city. On a clear day, you can see across the sea of red roofs to the mountains beyond with ease. What isn’t easy, however, is the climb up the hill from Old Town to get there.
You’ll be rewarded with the public park that has been established at the top of the hill. There are several restaurants, cafes, and other entertainment venues that will help you enjoy the day to its fullest extent. Napoleon was responsible for much of the destruction, but the people of Graz paid a ransom to keep the bell and clock towers, both of which have prominent places within the park. Take a close look at the clock when you’re up there – you’ll notice that the hands have opposite roles!
Why Not Dine in the Middle of a River?
When Graz was named as the European Cultural Capital in 2003, an artist from New York designed a unique platform that sits out in the middle of the Mur River like an artificial island. This landmark looks like a giant seashell and it contains a playground for the kids, an amphitheater, and a charming cafe. Called Murinsel, or Mur Island, it’s the perfect place to have some coffee or your favorite cocktail while the river swirls around you.
You’ll also want to make the time to enjoy the Kunsthaus, which is a modern art museum that was also built in the 2003 celebrations. It is called the “Friendly Alien” by its creators and the nickname has stuck locally. It’s the lighting components of this building that make the outside so special, as each light ring is controlled by a centralized computer to create big pixels, or BIX, that make for a unique communication method to request a meeting with Earth’s leaders.
If you’re planning a visit to Graz in the near future, then be sure to include these essentials with your other plans to see the essential sights within this city. From the past to the future, there is a little bit of something that will touch everyone’s soul in a unique way… just make sure to bring some comfortable shoes while exploring
Sightseeing and Tours
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Where to stay ?
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Map and distances
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When you are visiting the city, make use of the local tourist information where you can get free and professional assistance in planning what to see and do during your vacation. At the tourist information you can also get a wide range of brochures and maps of the city and the region for free.
In the following section you can find more local information about the city.
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Best of Graz
See And Do In Graz
The Cultural Capital of Europe 2003 still spares no effort in enthusing its visitors with an array of enticing cultural highlights, events and festivals. Musical performances at the Graz Opera house, the Schauspielhaus, at hip museums like the Kunsthaus or stunning baroque venues such as Eggenberg Palace, add to the cultural bouquet.
Outstanding architectural masterpieces like the artificial Island in the Mur and the Kunsthaus Graz, known as the “Friendly Alien”, are symbols of modernism and growth. Graz is a city of courageous contrasts and proud to be a member of the UNESCO City of Design family.
The city has officially earned the title “Capital of Delight“, wowing visitors with numerous culinary events all year round. In September, the city presents itself from its folkloric side. The festival “Aufsteirern“ celebrates Styrian folk culture in all of its facets: food, music, dance and fashion design. You’ll spot Lederhosen and traditional Dirndl dresses all over the city. And of course, local producers, winemakers and restaurateurs will be ready to set your taste buds alight with regional and seasonal delicacies.
A Practital Tip
A practical tip from the start: If you want to explore Graz, wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing. Why? Even if Graz is actually small – the second-largest city in Austria with a quarter of a million resident by no means a “big city” – you should be prepared for the fact that time also flies in the many short lanes. Comfortable footwear goes easy on busy feet here. In the historic old town with its roads, streets, squares and courtyards there’s lots to explore and even more to be enjoyed, for Graz is also the culinary capital which you should not only see but taste as well.
Historic Old Town
Best experienced on a guided city tour. April-October, daily at 2:30 PM leaving at Information Office at Herrengasse 16. Strolling through the old town of Graz is like wandering through different periods, buildings from baroque to gothic to renaissance are lining up next to each other. UNESCO rewarded the historic city center of Graz a World Cultural Heritage site.
Schlossberg & Clocktower
The Clocktower sits on top of the Schlossberg and represents the historic landmark of the city. To reach the Clocktower take either the modern glass lift through the mountain, the steep funicular or walk up 660 steps to enjoy a breathtaking view of the historic old town.
A journey into the Cosmos. A building portraying time. That is how one could describe Schloss Eggenberg, erected in 1625-56. The owner: Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, political devisor of Emperor Ferdinand II. The architect: Giovanni Pietro the Pomis, who also planned Ferdinand’s Mausoleum in Graz. Today, Styria’s most splendid palace is used for cultural events, and it is home of the „Alte Galerie“- the old gallery.
Farmer’s Market on Kaiser-Josef-Platz
In former times the Kaiser-Josef-Square used to be a timber-market.Today the people of Graz rather think of culinary delights than of history when they talk about this market. Fresh local products are offered by their producers on a daily basis. Many products are grown organically and some of them have a long standing tradition such as the “Käferbohne” (special kind of large beans), apples and of course the pumpkinseed oil.
Good restaurants in Graz
Is it the relaxed southern ambiance in the city, enhancing all of your senses and giving you a great appetite? Is it the mild, sunny climate where fruit, vegetables and vineyards thrive? Or is it the many farmers’ markets, selling only the freshest local produce? Or the amazing restaurants and bars.
It’s all of this, and more – an unbeatable recipe for enjoyment.
Graz is pure heaven for foodies. It even wears the title „Austria’s Capital of Culinary Delights“. Once in Graz a visit to the farmer’s market is a must, in order to see what Graz chef’s are offering. Look out for ,,Käferbohnen“ (runner beans), „Kürbiskernöl“ (pumpkinseedoil), „Krauthäuptel“ (crisp fresh salad), „Kren“ (horseradish) or „Vulcano Schinken“ (special ham).
Restaurant El Gaucho
Steak break. El Gaucho im Landhaus steak house is the perfect location. This tastefully renovated historical interior is the perfect setting for stylish presentation of an highly creative range of variations on the theme of steak and fish. The original Argentinean grill and open show kitchen are complemented by a display wine cellar and range of open, oversized bottles. With its cocktails and outstanding selection of wines, the EL1 Bar has a cheerful ambiance right through to the early hours.
Address: Landhausgasse 1, 8010 Graz | www.elgaucho.at
Restaurant Der Steirer
This popular restaurant offers Styrian cuisine at its very best, like crispy fried chicken with pumpkin seed oil salad, “Tafelspitz” (fine boiled beef) served with soup & marrow, hearty goulash and roast pork. Tip: the Styrian tapas – as a snack, an appetizer or with a glass of wine. The selection ranges from fried carp with creamy cucumbers to hamburger with mashed potatoes & pan-fried blood sausage, and is always adapted to the culinary season.
Address: Belgiergasse 2 |www.der-steirer.at
Rustic cosiness and high quality home cooking are common words in restaurant guides, yet there is hardly a place in Graz deserving these attributes better than the Stainzerbauer. Located next to the Cathedral and the Mausoleum it offers a great choice of local cuisine and outstanding wines. Outside dining in beautiful Renaissance courtyard.
Address: Bürgergasse 4 |www.stainzerbauer.at
Restaurant Starcke Haus
High over the city roofs the Starcke Haus is not only one of the city’s most romantic places, it is a restaurant offering great local cuisine. Seasonal and primarily organic, regional products mean a steadily changing, but always interesting fine menu to be enjoyed over a glass of Styrian wine. Great outdoor dining in the gardens of the Schlossberg.
Address: Schlossberg 4 | www.starcke.at
Recommended hotels in Graz
Would you prefer to stay in the middle of the old town or slightly outside the centre? In a first-class city hotel, hip design hotel, comfortable B&B or spacious apartment? Graz offers a wide range of accommodation at different locations and prices, always with top-quality facilities and offering typical Styrian hospitality.
The art of living.Galleries have opening hours, and museums also prefer to close earlier rather than later. At the Schlossberg Hotel, located at the foot of the Schlossberg in the heart of Graz’s old town, there is certainly something to see around the clock. Helmut A. Gansterer put it this way: “This hotel gives breadth to the soul. It is the finest art hotel in Europe. There is no other with such a concentration of contemporary originals in perfectly restored architecture and furnishings.”
Address: Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Kai 30 | Phone: +43 316 8070-0 | www.markohotels.com
If you like central locations, then the Hotel Weitzer is the right hotel for you. It is a new, modern hotel with exceptional facilities and rooms for an ideal stay. At the Engelreich you can enjoy a fantastic breakfast, but also cook by yourself. Some of the rooms feature a balcony and an amazing view of the Schlossberg. Our guests have also the possibility to rent a Mercedes SL or bikes to explore the city.
Address: Grieskai 12-16 | www.hotelweitzer.com
The Hotel Gollner offers the full range of luxury one would expect from a first-class 4-star hotel. Its proximity to the pedestrianized zone in the centre of Graz makes the hotel the perfect starting-point both for business travellers and those who just want to explore and enjoy the city. The Gollner has all the advantages of a personally run family hotel – its well-trained team are genuinely charming and helpful. Enjoy individual, discreet 5-star service in a 4-star hotel with traditional Austrian hospitality.
Address: Schlögelgasse 14, 8010 Graz www.hotelgollner.com
“Urban Stay – Smart Luxury” is the credo at the Daniel – tasteful minimalism and service that focuses on an uncomplicated sense of wellbeing. 107 rooms with free WLAN, air conditioning and rain shower. The best breakfast in town every morning. 10 minutes’ walk into the city centre, bus and tram stops right in front of the hotel. Or you can explore on the Vespas and bike boards available from the in-house fleet.
Address: Europaplatz 1, 8020 Graz www.hoteldaniel.at
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