Coming to Graz and not knowing where to start? Here are a the main attractions that you should not miss during your visit!
Uhrturm and Schloßberg
A hike up the castle hill (Schloßberg) is always worth it, with good and bad weather. The view over the city is breathtaking and on a good day you can see as far as the mountains in the north. The castle was built over 1000 years ago but it now sadly lays in ruin, remembered though in the name of the city (Graz comes from the slavic word Gradec, meaning castle). Up here you can also see the Uhrturm (Clocktower) from up close. Check the time on the clock and on your watch. See any difference? The arms for hours and minutes are switched around. This is because there used to be only the hours arm once and the one for minutes was added later. If hiking up is not possible for you, you can take the glass lift inside the hill or the funicular.
The centre of Graz is worth a visit by itself. Bask into the beauty of the tall, colourful buildings and just enjoy strolling around Herrengasse (main street), up along Sporgasse or through any of the little alleways constellating the road. Make sure you stop and admire the “gemaltes Haus“, with its frescoed facade, and visit the courtyard of the Landhaus and its renaissance-style archways (don’t forget to take a pic in front of the green door with the Styrian Panther painted on it). If you have the time for it, the Armoury is worth a visit (entrance where the tourist office is). On the same side of the stre et as the frescoed house, take one of the tunnels and find yourself in a nice little area full of restaurants and cafés. Here you can find the Glockenspiel, a musical tower which plays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Just off of the main square you can also find a cute area around the Franziskaner Church, also packed with cafés and restaurant, that has a nice Italian flair.
If you want to know a little bit about the story of Graz from its foundation to modern times, make sure to visit the GrazMuseum (which is close to the main square). A ticket for adults is only €5 and the exposition is modern and really well done. I always learn something new when I go there. It also does not take up that much of your time, so it’s perfect if you have some time to fill or it’s raining outside.
Mausoleum, Cathedral, Burg and Stadtpark
If you walk up the Sporgasse from Hauptplatz and turn right just before you reach the top of the hill, you will find the Mausoleum of Ferdinand II towering over the Cathedral. It’s very striking due to its blue domes and height. For less than 10€ you can also enter the tower and go up to get a view over the whole of Graz. Closeby is the Burg and the Stadtpark, the biggest park in Graz. You can access the Stadtpark from many places in Graz, but the Burg is a bit more hidden and only accessible from near the Mausoleum. Don’t forget to visit the double spiral staircase here too. Only two of them exist in the whole of Europe!
Kaiser-Josef Platz and Opera house
If you come on a Saturday to Graz, make sure to head to Kaiser-Josef Platz before 12 p.m. to experience the hustle and bustle of the farmer’s market. The market isalso on from Monday to Friday but with less stands. Here make sure you try out some styrian apples and some delicious cakes. Take away as souvenir some Käferbohnen (scarlet runner beans) or a bottle of pumpkin seed oil. The Opera house towers over the square. It is the second biggest opera in Austria after Vienna’s. The glass bridge connecting the old and the new building serves as storage for props and scenery for the stage. You might be able to get a sneak peek of what is currently going on in the theatre.
Kunsthaus, Murinsel and Lendviertel
The western side of the river Mur has been getting more and more gentrified in the past decade. It probably started when they made it one of the hotspots of the hipster scene. The Kunsthaus and the Murinsel are two highlights that accentuate this area with their complete modernity. The Kunsthaus is the glass building known also as “friendly alien” which homes the museum of modern art. It now also offers a very popular café (Kunsthaus Café) with a very nice garden in summer. The Murinsel is an architectural beauty. It is an island connected by two bridges that floats on the river and raises with the level of the water. Don’t miss walking around the Lendviertel. From Mariahilferplatz you get a great view of the Uhrturm and all around you are nice cafés and bars. I recommend spending your evening here. Sometimes there are even markets or events going on on the square.
As a Unesco World Heritage site, the Eggenberg Castle is a must see! This fairytale castle is surrounded by a large vibrant garden. Domestic peacocks and peahens live here and you can also feed them. Take a tour of the inner festive rooms, they are so beautiful and worth a visit. If you happen to come to Graz during the Long Night of the Museums, you can visit the castle at night light up only by candles. This gives it a wonderfully romanit atmosphere. You can reach the castle by taking tram 1 from Hauptplatz or Jakominiplatz, direction Eggenberg/UKH.
If you want more tips and tricks of what to see and do in Graz, have a look at my other blog posts here.