Graz is beautiful all year round. And, as I mentioned in my previous article, you can find every month something to do in the city. I often get asked by my friends abroad when is the best time of the year to come visit me and Graz. It is hard for me to answer, because I think every season has something different to offer and you can enjoy your time here whatever the weather.
Best time for: sightseeing, mild temperatures and flowers
Spring comes to Graz like a very big breath of fresh air. After the cold winter months, everything starts growing again and the flowers are in bloom. There are mainly two beautiful things that need to be visited at this time of year: first, the Stadtpark, when all the trees become full of yellow flowers; second, the Schloßberg, because new flowers are planted in the garden underneath the Uhrturm. Flowers are anyway abundant all over the centre, making Graz look so nice and joyful. If you love flowers, you should not miss visiting the market in Kaiser-Josef-Platz with its stalls selling flowers and fresh herbs.
This is the best time to visit Graz for sightseeing, in my opinion, due to the mild temperatures and to the blooming flower gardens. If you visit the Eggenberg Castle now, you might be lucky enough to see a peacock doing its mating dance with a full tail.
The temperatures get slowly warmer going into Summer, but March can still be a cooler month. Temperatures go only up to about 10°C. If you plan on visiting Graz in Spring, I recommend coming in May. At this time of year the weather is very mild, it’s usually sunny but not too hot and there aren’t many tourists around. Austrians have a lot of public holidays at this time of year, so be careful not to come on one of those holidays, as everything shuts down.
Spring is also the time when the snow starts to melt up in the mountains and many Austrians start hiking at this time of year. The closest hiking spot to Graz is Schöckl. You can get there by bus or by car. Otherwise you could take the train to Mixnitz and hike up the Bärenschutzklamm. It is too early for hiking up higher mountains, because it might be too cold and there could still be snow, so leave this for Summer instead.
Best time for: sun, nightlife and ice-cream
In the summer months (from June to September), most of the students in Graz leave the city to go home or on holiday. Although this makes the city a bit quieter, there will still be people and crowds out in the centre. This is the time of year when all the restaurants, bars and cafés open their “Gastgarten” outside and they are usually very full of people and full of life. I love taking walks in the centre in the evening in summer because the city really is alive. Besides the street festivals, sometimes you can also find live concerts in different squares. In Lendplatz you can also go dancing Salsa on Wednesday evenings.
The temperatures can get very warm in Summer in Graz, but they drop very fast as soon as the sun goes down. During the day you might get temperatures up to 33°C and in the evenings down to 20°C. If you like heat, then this is the best time to visit Graz for you!
What to do
To cool off, there are a lot of possibilities in Graz. There are open-air swimming pools near the Augartenpark and in Eggenberg or artificial lakes in the outskirts (like Schwarzlsee). Students and Graz locals like to spend their days lazing on the grass in Stadtpark, enjoying some beer with friends. The Forum Stadpark often has events in the park, with live music or djs, and they are very popular for young adults.
Another way to cool off is to have a nice cold drink in one of the bars in the centre of Graz. In summer the drink of choice is the “Spritzer“, white wine mixed with selzer. You can either have a simple “weiße Spritzer” (only wine) or you can mix it with flavourings. A very popular choice is the “Holunderspritzer“, made with elderberry syrup. But you can also find mango, strawberry, watermelon… you name it!
If wine is not for you, try having a pumkin seed oil ice-cream at Eis Greissler. The flavour might confuse you righ now, but I promise it is delicious and worth trying! Last year an ice-cream parlour specializing in vegan ice-cream opened as well, called die Eisperle. Although I am not vegan nor vegetarian, I tried the ice-cream and I really recommend it to everyone.
One last thing I recommend is to visit the Astronomical Garden at the Eggenberg Castle. At this time of year the roses will be in bloom and the Venus garden will be a beautiful sight to see.
Best time for: Sturm, Maroni and traditional clothes
Autumn is my favourite season in Graz. At the end of September the leaves begin to change, but the days are still long and the temperatures stay relatively warm until mid October.
Just before Autumn starts, the centre of Graz prepares for its very own Otkoberfest: Aufsteirern. It’s a huge folk festival with music, markets and fashion shows dedicated to everything Styrian. For one weekend, the whole city becomes big party, with every single person dressed up in traditional Austrian clothes. This is definitely worth visiting at least once in your life.
What to do
This is the best time to visit Graz for enjoying the colours of autumn foliage. Inside Graz, the best spots for this are naturally the Schloßberg, Stadtpark and Augartenpark, where the most trees are. But I would recommend leaving the city at this time of year and go down to southern Styria. Here you can immerse yourself in nature and admire the rolling hills covered in grapevines. Another insider tip from my side is to take a ride with your bike along the Murradweg soutwards and go into the fields around Feldkirchen. Here you will see many fields completely covered in pumpkins growing for pumpkin seed oil production. I love seing those little orange balls scattered around fields, it always brings a smile to my face.
A must-do at this time of year is eating chestnuts from one of the Maroni stands scattered around the city. At the beginning of autumn, chestnuts are cheaper because there is abundance of them, so make sure to get there early. If you like pumpkin, this is the best time to visit Graz for a culinary tour. Every Austrian restaurant in the city will make delicious pumpkin-based recipes. Also, since the new wine of the year is being prepared, you should try out the Sturm. This gets sold in nearly every restaurant or bar in Graz, so it won’t be hard to find.
Talking about wine, the Junker Präsentation take place yearly in November. “Junker” is how Austrians call the new wine of the year. At the Stadthalle there is a big festival, where people dress in traditional clothes and have tastings of the new wines. This traditionally takes place after Saint Martin’s day.
Best time for: Christmas markets, spa days and prom nights
The highlight of Graz in Winter is definitely the Christmas market, which usually opens 5 weekends before Christmas. The city embodies the Christmas spirit, with fairy lights and decorations everywhere. From the first advent Sunday onwards the Landhaus courtyard hosts the nativity scene made out of ice. Every year a different one gets created, but every year there is also the fear it might melt due to higher than normal temperatures.
Snow usually does not come to Graz until the new year, so do not expect a white Christmas here (although December 2018 was a bit different). If you want to see proper snow, you should go more towards the countryside and leave the centre of Graz.
The temperatures can drop very low in winter (although they are still milder compared to other parts of Austria), on average about -1°C but reaching even -10°C.
Austrian like to escape the cold by heating up at the spa. Styria is a vulcanic region and in the west there is a lot of thermal water, making it a prime spot for spas. Besides the famous and quite expensive Therme Blumau (about 50€ for a day ticket), the Therme Loipersdorf (34€) is one of the most popular choices for Graz locals. If you do not have a car to get there, in Graz itself there are two spas: the Auster swimming pool and Bad zur Sonne.
Proms (or balls or gala nights) are very important in Austrian culture. Every high school has its own prom night and they are usually open to everyone, provided you buy a ticket. There are also proms from other institutions, one of the most famous ones is the Opernball, taking place in the Opera, but also the Tuntenball and the Multi-Kulti Ball gather a large crowd. If you would like to join one, make sure to brush up on your ball dance skills. Waltzer is an institution in Austria and nearly every person knows the steps by heart.