Graz is the second largest city of Austria and only a 2,5 hour trainride away from Vienna. When we ask people about Austria they often mention Vienna, Salzburg or Innsbruck. Graz is not always on the list which is a pity because it’s definitely worth a visit!
Graz has it’s own flair. The historic center with it’s narrow cobblestone streets, the colourful historic buildings, big courtyards, and inviting squares make everyone feel welcomed. The old town of Graz is an Unesco World Heritage Site since the year 1999. In the year 2003 it was the European Culture Capital and in 2011 it became Unesco City of Design. If you are interested, you can find streetart, design stores and museums everywhere. As Graz is known for the variety of Universities, the population of students is very high. That turns Graz into a very relaxed, easy-going and hip town!
In summer you can feel how close Graz is to Slovenia and Italy. The streets are filled with pavement cafés, so called ‘Schanigärten’, which invite you to sit down and have a good cup of coffee. Or you sit down at the citybeach beside the river Mur and enjoy a drink while watching the riversurfers.
First thing we advice you to do is to walk up the Schlossberg. It’s the hill in the middle of the city from where you can overlook the whole area. We love to get an overview over a city! From there you can also see all the red roofs that make Graz famous. You could walk up in the early morning and enjoy breakfast up there.
There are several ways to get up the hill. You can either walk up starting from the Karmeliterplatz, it’s an easy walk. If you want a steep walk you take the 260 stairs starting from the Schlossbergplatz. You can also take the Schlossbergbahn or the Schlossberglift, an elevator the goes through the hill itself which is quite exciting.
During World War II a tunnel system was built inside the hill to protect the civilisation from aerial bombing. Nowadays you can access a part of this tunnel system. There’s a passage from the Schlossbergplatz to Karmeliterplatz, an eventcomplex called Dom im Berg and a fairytale train for children.
Depending which way you choose to walk down, you can enjoy walking through the Sporgasse, probably one of our favorite streets. You will then stand at the main square which you saw already from above. Later you can have a Käsekrainer at one of the food stands. When you walk through the Sackstraße, walk into the big shopping building Kastner & Öhler. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, just take a look inside. Take the escalator to the top and you will find yourself in a café with a nice roof terrace. Walk out there and enjoy the view, now from the other side as you face the Schlossberg. It’s beautiful!
Continue your way through the Sackstraße and take your way left to the river Mur. There you can access the Murinsel. It’s a floating island which was installed during the year 2003. We think it’s actually really special, where else can you find a floating island?
Kunsthaus/House of art
When you leave the island on the other side you will stand on the Mariahilferplatz. In the evening you will find some nice pubs in this area! During the day you can take a look at the Mariahilferkirche and walk along the Mur to your left or through the Mariahilferstraße. You cannot miss the Kunsthaus, house of art, which was also completely renewed for the year 2003. Austrian and international art is shown there in changing exhibitions. Did we tell you that we like museum shops? 😉 Take a look inside. You can also eat there really good.
Landhaushof & Styrian Armory
Make your way back to the other side of the river over the Erzherzog-Johann Bridge. On the right side you can take a look at the Franziskanerchurch and walk over this inviting square which always gives us the feeling to be somewhere in Italy. Continue your way through the Schmiedgasse till you find the so called Landhaushof on your left. Take a look at this outstanding Renaissance-style arcaded courtyard. If you have time and are interested, you can visit the Styrian Armory just there. It’s the biggest historical armoury collection worldwide.
When you leave the Landhaushof on the other side you will find yourself in the Herrengasse. The Main street of the old town of Graz. Turn to the right and enjoy walking through this street. There are no cars in the inner city which makes it so friendly, just watch out for the trams! You can then turn to the right into the Hans-Sachs Gasse till you stand at the Tummelplatz, a big quare. At the corner you have a Childrencafé which is a great meeting point for families with small children!
Walk through the Schlossergasse along the Bischofsplatz through the Enge Gasse on your left untill you stand at the Glockenspielplatz. Make sure to arrive here at 11, 3pm or 6pm to see the couple dance in the gable of the building. The carillon played the first time in the year 1905, 24 bells are playing 3 melodies. The whole are there is called the Bermuda triangle as you can easily get lost in one of the numerous restaurants, cafés and bars in the night 😉
Cathedral and double spiral staircase
Take the street on the right side of the Glockenspiel-house and you will find yourself in the Bürgergasse. Walk up the steep street where you can have a look at another courtyard in the left and the mausoleum and cathedral on the right. Across the street behind the Cathedral in the Burg you will find the douple Spiral Staircase, make sure to visit it, it’s really beautiful! The Garden behind the Burg is also always nice to visit. If you have more time you can also make your way to the Stadtpark, a big green park which is very inviting in summer.
You can then make your way back to the Sporgasse through the Hofgasse and look at the oldest bakery in town, the Hofcafe Edegger Tax. If you’re hungry we recommend to stop at the Freiheitsplatz and go to Café Mitte, which is one of our favorite. It’s not austrian food but really authentic thai food and we love thai. On Saturday and Sunday you can also brunch there but don’t forget to reservate. We will for sure write another article about our favorite places to eat in Graz because there are so many! 🙂
If you have some more time, hop on the tram number 1 and go to the Eggenberg Castle. It’s a beautiful castle and park which is always worth a visit.
That was basically our walk through Graz but there are so many nice small streets that you can continue your way. You can not get lost and will find lot’s of new charming places by just walking around!
We hope we could make Graz tempting for you. We promise that you will not be disappointed. If you’re searching for a relaxed, beautiful, small town full of charme, history, art, good food and friendly people then go to Graz!