Graz is a sunny city in Austria surrounded by mountains which protect the city from bad weather and all the negativity. Well, at least it looks like it. Graz is a traditional Austrian city with a dash of Italian culture in the Steiermark region. This city is super lively because it has the University of Graz, the Graz University of Technology, the Medical University of Graz and the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz so the city is full of students, youth energy and a lot of free events in the city.
Also, it is just two hours away from Vienna which with Flixbus is an inexpensive, easy way to travel and it is a great destination for the weekend.
Things to do in Graz, Austria
Get lost in the historic city center
The city center of Graz, Austria is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and trust me there is a reason for that. It is filled with small streets, tall pastel-colored buildings, and astonishing squares. The city has an undeniable vibe of coziness and you instantly feel like you are not here for the first time.
Schlossberg in Graz
It is impossible to visit Graz and skip Schlossberg. This giant mountain is in the middle of the city, loved by tourists and locals alike. When you reach the top of the hill you will see the main attraction which is the 28 meters high a clock tower (Uhrturm). Schlossberg is a great place to admire the landmark of Graz and the mountains which surrounds the city. Check the tourism center’s information before traveling to Graz, because sometimes in the tunnels of the Schlossberg there are organized some special events. For example, Helloween party in old, mountain tunnels.
Let’s start with the shape of this building which I think is so extraordinary. This modern art museum is the shape of a heart and I am not talking about that lovely heart which we all doodled when we were kids. It is a real heart! How cool is that? No need to say that it has become an icon of the city. Inside the heart, you will find a modern art collection which didn’t impress me personally, although maybe it was just bad timing because the exhibition changes all the time.
It is a modern floating island in the middle of the Mur river. It was designed by Vito Acconci in 2003 to commemorate Graz city’s recognition as European Capital of Culture. In this island, you will find amphitheater for special events and a cafe. I recommend to visit it in the evening when this island is lit up with blue lights.
In Graz, you will find a lot of students, because there are like five huge universities and one of the most popular is the University of Music and Performing Arts. Why should you care if you are just a tourist in Graz?
The main reason is that those students love to earn extra money by playing in the city center’s streets and also, it is possible to find a high-class concert for a really funny price. I lived in Graz for 6 months and there was not even a single day that I was not listening to classical music.
It looks that hiking is in Austrian people’s blood, I literally saw an old man sprinting to the top of the mountain while I was desperately catching my breath. Every Sunday the city becomes quiet because all the locals go hiking and nothing is working. I mean only one shop in the central train station and some expensive restaurants are working on Sundays, that’s it. You will easily find the mountains to hike because as I mentioned before, the whole city is surrounded by mountains.
Austrians also love biking, it is a fun activity until you understand how many hills Graz has. Actually, I believe that biking is a great way to see the city because it’s cheap and you get to the places faster. The only huge disadvantage is the bicycle’s roads. Many bike’s roads are on tram lines and those lines are the exact size as a bike’s tire which easily gets stuck. I had my shameful moment when I got hurt and I broke my bike. So I am speaking from my personal experience, please be careful.
Polaroid photography walking tour is an interesting way of seeing the whole city with a local guide, get to know the city, learn new photography skills and get awesome Polaroid photos – it’s an amazing trio!
Graz is a part of Steiermark region in Austria and the dark gold or regional product here is pumpkin seed oil. If you go to restaurants you will find a lot of meals with this oil, from salad to schnitzel. My personal favorite was Kürbiskernöl ice cream! I know it sounds a bit strange, but it was the best ice cream I had ever tried. You can find it on almost every corner in “Eis Greissler”
If you visit Graz on a Christmas time then you will see how the main city square turns into a magical place. Every weekend there are concerts, Christmas fair, many attractions for children and of course hot wine.
If you will visit Austria in the Advent period I hope you will meet KRAMPUS! It is an eval creation or anti-Santa which visits bad children and beats them. That is so crazy! Krampus Night is on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day. Public celebrations on Krampus night have many people walking the streets dressed as Krampus and looking for people to beat.