For as much as I love Graz, once in a while I still like getting in a car or a train to visit other places. But sometimes I only have one free day to go somewhere. Thankfully, there are many places around Graz that are not too far for a day trip.
Here are some places I recommend where I have been to myself and how to get there if you do not have a car.
Distance: 198km / 2h30”
The capital of Austria is only around 2 and a half hours’ drive from Graz. If you leave early in the morning and stay until the evening, you have plenty of time to see the centre and the main sightseeing spots of Vienna. Start your day by going to St Stephen’s Cathedral because from there you can walk to all the different hotspots of Vienna: the Hofburg, the Rathaus, the Opera and the rose gardens.
I would not recommend going to the Sacher café for a slice of Sacher, as it is a real tourist trap. You can spend hours queueing for a table and then pay up to 10-15 euro for cake and coffee. My usual haunt is the Gerstner Café in front of the Opera, where I am always amazed by the kitschiness of the place.
How to get there
The best option for a day trip is to take the Flixbus, which takes you directly to Westbahnhof, a stone’s throw away from the main shopping street in Vienna. There are buses going every hour or half an hour from Graz to Vienna, leaving from the Opera or from Murpark. The prices are quite cheap, you can get tickets starting at 9€.
There are also trains going every hour to Vienna Main Station, but they are slower and more expensive than the Flixbus.
You can drive there by car and maybe be lucky enough to find parking near the centre. From Saturday at 1:00 p.m. to Monday morning parking is free for everyone.
Klagenfurt am Wörthersee
Distance: 135km / 1h30”
One of the most beautiful places in Austria, in my opinion! Klagenfurt itself is quite small and you can walk around the centre in about half an hour, but the real hit is the Wörthersee (lake Wörth). Rent a bike or go there with public transport from the centre of Klagenfurt, and immerse yourself in the beauty of this lake surrounded by mountains. You can take a ferry around the lake to see other towns or go up to the Pyramidenkogel, a viewing tower with a slide to go down. In summer you can also just chill by the lake and go swimming in the Strandbad.
The lake is surrounded by a cycling path, mounting up to around 40 km. With a good fitness level, you can spend the day visiting every town on the lake. I recommend stopping at the bakery Wienneroither in Pörtschach, taking some cake with you and then going down to the lake to enjoy them.
How to get there
Going there by car is probably the easiest and more flexible thing to do, because you can go everywhere easily without having to stick to a schedule. Aside from high season, you can find parking easily and for free in front of the Strandbad in Klagenfurt. In the centre it’s a bit harder, one option would be to park at the City Arkaden shopping centre and then walk from there.
Having said that, ÖBB (Austrian train company) has stepped up its game recently and there are buses going to and from Klagenfurt a couple of times a day. They take about two hours and stop at the main train station in Graz and Klagenfurt. From there you can move around with public transport in Klagenfurt, there are buses going to the centre and to the lake.
Distance: 70 km / 50”
Maribor has long been called Graz’ little sister and if you go there you can kinda see the similarities, with the river and the red rooftops. The region of Styria used to encompass both cities once, before it was split between Slovenia and Austria. The area around Maribor is nowadays still called Styria by Slovenians. Furthermore, both cities were European capitals of culture at some point in their lives, Maribor in 2012, Graz in 2008.
Maribor is quite small, but the city centre is very pretty and reminiscent of Austrian towns. The river is very famous for being the home of lots of swans and the highlight of your trip to Maribor will be visiting the world’s oldest vine.
Have a delicious steak at the Jack & Joe Steak and Burger Club close to the river or some traditional Balkan food at Restaurant Orient. Have the best view of the city from the panoramic terrace of Luft 360.
How to get there
By car, you can get there very quickly over the motorway. But be careful that you have to buy a vignette for the Slovenian motorway before you cross the border (15€ for 10 days). If you want to avoid this, you can get out at Spielfeld and continue on the normal road.
You can also get there with the Flixbus, it takes 1h10” and costs 5€. Otherwise you can find a car pooling ride on the Slovenian website Prevozi.
Distance: 198 km / 2 h
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, in my opinion. It has just about the same size as Graz, but it is much more lively. Wander around the city centre, go up to the castle and don’t miss visiting Metelkova (a prime spot for your instagram shots). One of my favourite places is the flower market on Dolnicarjeva street. The only skyscraper of the city has a rooftop bar with amazing views.
How to get there
Getting to Ljubljana is a bit more complicated if you do not have a car. There are buses and trains but they are slow and you have to change in other cities.
Just like for Maribor, can also look for some car pooling possibilities on Prevozi.
I already spoke about Southern Styria in a previous blog post, so to get some ideas you can read more about it there. There are more things you can do in the wineland, which also extends to the west and east of Graz. Here are some tips of what you could do in this area:
Zotter is a real-life Willy Wonka style chocolate factory. For around 15€ you can learn about Zotter, see how chocolate is produced and fill your belly to the brim with chocolate as you go.
Getting there by car is quite easy, but with public transport it can get tricky. You have to take a train from Graz to Feldbach and then continue by bus. The buses though are irregular and maybe getting a taxi would be more reliable.
A day at the spa
There are a lot of spas in the area around Graz if you want to spend your day relaxing:
- Therme Loipersdorf
- Therme Bad Blumau
- H20 Therme Resort
- Parktherme Bad Radkersburg
- Therme Nova
- Therme der Ruhe
Since there are so many, I can’t say how to get there for each of them. Going by car is the easiest choice, obviously. On the respective websites you will be able to find how to get there by public transport.
Out in nature
Bärenschutzklamm is a beautiful place for a spot of hiking in nature. You walk along bridges and paths going up waterfalls in the mountain. It is really a wonderful place to go to on a day trip.
You can come here by car or by train (getting off at Mixnitz station).
Grüner See is a small lake about an hour away from Graz famous for being emerald green in spring and summer. It is a beautiful sight and definitely worth a visit. You can hike all the way around the lake and in the nearby forests and mountains.
You can get there only by car, there are no buses taking you there.