Amazing Things To Do in Graz, Austria

Austria, the country of beautiful mountains, castles, rivers, and a bunch of really interesting cities to visit. Just recently we visited the UNESCO World Heritage City of Design, Graz. We knew we were in for a treat with the architecture, but we had no idea how much there was to see and do in Graz. Although, you’d think we’d be ready for Austria to surprise us since we’ve loved all the places we’ve been like Linz and Salzburg.

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Locals Know What To Do in Graz

The best way to see any city is to go with a local, and that is just what we did in Graz. We signed up for a photo walk with local photographer, Christian Iberer, and we were happy we did. Not only did we see the best Graz attractions, but he showed us many hidden secrets and great vantage points for taking amazing photos of the city.

Getting Around Graz

Luckily, most of Graz’s sights are within an easy walking distance and can be completed in a day or two with no problem. Public transport in Graz is plentiful and easy to use. Plus it’s one of the cheapest day tickets in Europe. No matter where you want to go there is a tram or bus stop nearby.

Choose a pin for your travel board and keep planning those trips to Graz!

Graz, Austria, a UNESCO World Heritage City of Design with lots to see and do! Traveling to Austria? Don't miss the amazing city of Graz!
Power Tip: Buy a day ticket for all the public transportation for Graz. At only 4 Euros it’s a bargain!
Graz Old Town is just splendid, even in the rain.

Graz Old Town is just splendid, even in the rain.

Things to Do in Graz, Austria

We started out at a café in a shopping mall, called the Steirerhof. Our guide said we would want to see the view before we headed out into town and he was right. We met at Area 5 first thing in the morning. Overlooking the city center, this rooftop café not only offers a stunning view of the city from a birds-eye view, but it also serves a pretty decent cafe latte macchiato in the morning and becomes a hopping night spot after dark.

A statue of a fruit pit to signify the city center of Graz

The center of Graz is called the “stadt-kern” which literarlly means pit, as in the center of a fruit. Here there is a statue dedicated to the city center. I’m not sure it should be on the top Graz attractions list, but it is quirky!

Graz Old Town

After our coffee and some fabulous photos of city views, we headed straight to the Old Town where we walked the streets gawking at the beautiful buildings. There truly is a mix of facades, mostly from the Baroque period, but all stunning. Here we went in and around a few key buildings like the Landhaus, which is well known for its courtyard. And in the back of the Landhaus is a special double spiral staircase.

If you have time, you will want to see the Rathaus in the central square and take some time to visit the Styrian Armory which is a unique museum that houses world’s largest collection of medieval of weapons and the suits of armor.

Street art with pink flamingoes in Graz, Austria.

The river walk is filled with street art like this. Color and flamingoes, you can’t miss it as you walk to Mur Park in Graz.

 Kunsthaus Graz

This art museum not only has fantastic exhibits, the whole building is a work of art. Architects Colin Fournier and Peter Cook were commissioned to design this special building for Graz’s selection as the 2003 European Capital of Culture.

Inside is an incredible café where we were told we could find the best breakfast in Graz, and we have to agree. We highly recommend it, but be aware if you don’t have a reservation, get there before opening time. It’s very popular!

Address: Lendkai 1, 8020 Graz, Austria
Art Museum Opening Times: 10-5:00 PM Tuesdays through Sundays. Closed Mondays.
Café Opening Times: 9-11:00 PM Monday-Thursday, 9-1:00 AM Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday 9-8:00 PM.

Surfing on the Mur River underneath the art museum or Kunsthaus.

I think this photo captures the quirkiness of Graz. Surfing on the Mur River underneath the art museum or Kunsthaus.

Murinsel

An American architect, Vito Acconci, designed this artificial island in the middle of the River Mur. Metal walkways take you to the round building where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack from the café. There is both indoor and outdoor seating. We sat outdoors, but the interior is a gorgeous blue. According to the people we were with, locals don’t frequent the café. They only go when they are showing the town to people. I wouldn’t let that stop you, though. I loved it.

Address: Lendkai 19, 8020 Graz, Austria
Opening Times: 10-6:00 PM Daily

A visit to Graz would not be complete with having a coffee here at the cafe on the Murinsel.

The interior of the Murinsel’s cafe. Modern and beautiful, it’s well worth a stop on your day in Graz.

Churches and Cathedrals

Two of the central churches in the city are the Franciscan Church of Graz and the Graz Cathedral. Both are worthy of a stop to see the architecture, altars, and stained glass windows. We walked all the way through and around the Franciscan Church which has a beautiful inner courtyard, which was so quiet even though it was smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of downtown.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum

The childhood home of this famous actor, bodybuilder and politician. The museum is small, but if you are a fan it’s well worth a stop.

Address: Linakstraße 9, 8051 Thal, Austria
Opening Times: 10 – 5:00 PM, closed Mondays and Tuesdays

An historical must-see sight in Graz, the Mausoleum of Ferdinand II.

An historical must-see sight in Graz, the Mausoleum of Ferdinand II.

Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II

An imposing building, we spent some time capturing its majesty below the picture-perfect skies.

Address: Burggasse 3, 8010 Graz, Austria
Opening Times: 10:30-12:30 and 1:30-4:30 Daily

Clocktower of Schlossberg, the number one attraction in Graz.

The imposing clocktower at the top of the Schlossberg. You won’t forget the time while sipping that glass of wine with those spectacular view of Graz.

Schlossberg

There are many ways to climb this iconic mountain in the middle of Graz. We walked up a nice path and came down the steps, but you can take the Schlossberglift, or just walk through the mountain in a tunnel. For me, it’s probably one of the best things to do in Graz. At the top, not only is there a stunning clocktower and steller views, but there is a world-class cafe that will fortify you with strength for the hike down.

A specialty for kids, there is a fairytale train, or Marchenbahn that will take them on a storybook adventure around the mountain as well.

Even when you have a busy day of Graz sightseeing, we suggest taking your time and a quick rest at one of the many beautiful parks.

Don’t forget to take a few breaks and rest those feet in some beautiful green surroundings. Graz parks and green spaces are beautifully manicured and peaceful.

Green Spaces

We couldn’t get over how green Graz was. We wandered through a couple of parks, and the weather was just perfect. People were everywhere walking their dogs, riding skateboards, chatting with old friends on benches. Two of the ones we visited are the  Stadtpark and the Stadtischer Augarten, or the river walk.

Practical Information for Graz

How far is Graz from Vienna?

Everyone flies into Vienna, and you can certainly try to do Graz in a day trip, but it might make more sense to at least spend one night in this amazing city. It’s a pretty straight drive south for a little over 2 hours. Basically you just get on the E59 and go. However, as we’ve previously told you, the Austrian countryside is gorgeous, so getting off the autobahn and taking a secondary road will take longer, but I guarantee it will be prettier.

Another way to go is to take the train from Vienna to Graz. It takes between 2.5 and 3 hours, and it is extremely easy and comfortable.

Lastly, there is the bus, which will take a minimum of 3 hours, but it’s cheaper of course.

These are the many stairs descending the Schlossberg, my pick for top sight in Graz!

Steps coming down from the Schlossberg.

Graz Parking

Parking in Graz is expensive and difficult to find. There is some street parking around the edges of the old town and this could work for a short stay of two or three hours, but for longer stays you’ll need a parking garage in Graz. One of the more centrally located is Tiefgarage Pfauengarten, sandwiched in between the Schlossberg and the city park. Over 800 parking spots, in a clean, well lit and secure underground parking, but you’ll pay for the location (about 3 euro per hour or up to 30 euros per day).

Tiefgarage Pfauengarten
Karmeliterpl. 4d, 8010 Graz

Our Recommendations –  Graz Hotels

Schlossberghotel-das Kunsthotel is at the upper end of our usual budget but still affordable and great value and comfort for the money. It is located in the old town, right on the river, across from the Murinsel and in the shadow of the Glockenturm (clock tower).

Another of the great, old town hotels in Graz is the Hotel zum Dom – Palais Inzaghi. This beautiful Baroque hotel was once the city palace. Now it is another affordable four star option right in the middle of things.

If you’re looking to save a few bucks–and let’s face it who isn’t?–you can opt for the Ibis Budget Graz City and stay for half the cost of the average Graz hotel still enjoy a clean, comfortable room, near the action, and with a decent breakfast to boot.

Our Recommendations – Graz Restaurants

The current, don’t miss restaurant in Graz center is Landhauskeller serving the best modern Styrian and Austrian dishes. Everything on the menu is amazing, but the spinach dumplings are the best in town! Reservations recommended.

Landhauskeller
Schmiedgasse 9, 8010 Graz
+43 316 830276

Traditional, but anything but old fashioned, the Hertzl Weinstube serves up local Styrian dishes using fresh regional products. You’ll also find an excellent selection of local, Styrian and Austrian wines. Reservations recommended.

Herzl Weinstube
Prokopigasse 12, 8010 Graz
+43 316 824300

If you’ve got a hankering for something a little more simple, head over to Burgereck for a local, fresh ground beef burger, chicken wings, or langos. Their burgers really can’t be beat.

Burgereck am Jacko
Marktstand Nr. 12, Jakominiplatz, 8010 Graz
+43 660 8380503

There are several other restaurants tucked away on the Mehlplat and Glockenspielplatz. If you can’t get a reservation a one of the recommend locales, you’ll likely find an open table there (Il Centro for Italian is always good).

Have you been to Graz? Do you have any tips? Did we miss any of your favorite sights?

Pin some amazing things to do in Graz for your future Austria planning!

Heard of Graz, Austria? You should have! It's a UNESCO World Heritage City of Design and tons of fun!

27 Comments

  1. Wow – I had no idea. When we lived in Zagreb we used to drive to Graz to catch cheap Ryan Air flights to Dublin, but I never spent any time in the city. At the time, it was a 2 hour drive from Zagreb, but I think there is now a better road through Slovenia so it’s probably even closer. Looking at this I’d love to go back and explore Graz. My Uncle (married to my mother’s sister) was from there, but he left in the 70s and never went back. To many memories for him of Nazi occupation.

    1. Anne, Wow, you have quite a connection to the city. I do think you should go back. It’s just gorgeous, small, easy to get around and has fantastic food and museums. Seriously, is there anything else?

  2. We’ve been thinking of visiting Vienna some time soon. It’s good to know that Graz is only a 2 hours drive from Vienna, so we’d probably visit this city too. We didn’t know that there’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum in Graz! We’re not huge fans of him, but still might want to tour it just out of curiosity. Do you know if it’s a private museum, and if it’s held by a family member of the actor?

    1. Mei and Kerstin, I don’t know whether it is private or not, but I do think it’s a quirky little stop and worth it. There’s plenty to do in Austria…one of my favorite countries.

  3. I was traveling in Austria a few years ago, but Graz was not in my itinerary, but now the way you describe it I’m sure I have to come back.

  4. I haven’t been to Graz before – it looks really cute! Great idea to go for a photo walk with a local – I love doing things like that. And I am totally up for visiting an arnold schwarznegger museum!

  5. Graz also has a little design festival which I’ve wanted to go to a couple of times (but never made it yet!) so good to have some other recommendations of things to do during a weekend there if I ever do manage to go to design week!

  6. What a charming city, and with so much so offer! I always prefer to stay a night rather than just a day trip – I feel like you haven’t really seen a place unless you’ve experienced it before and after sunset and over a cup of coffe 🙂 I love the shot of surfing on the Mur River, it reminds me of seeing people white water rafting down the river in Geneva!

    1. Erica, I agree. I love to spend a couple of days just about everywhere I go, but I always love to give people what to see in one day. I loved Graz and want to go back!

  7. Graz looks like such a fun place! I would definitely go to the Arnold museum. If you’re in his hometown, you can’t not go! I would also give that staircase a try! I love stairs and those look like they lead to a beautiful view!

  8. Wow. I love Vienna and am planning to go back in July, but you’ve just derailed my plans slightly! Thank you for taking me off my beaten path, so many details and anecdotes I now want to see for myself!

  9. I never knew that there was so much to do in Graz, Austria and what a beautiful looking place. Loving the building in Graz Old Town I could wonder around in there all day. With it being only around 3hrs to get there from Vienna, I can definitely do it as an add on. Thank you for the tip on visiting Rathaus in the central square, I have made a note of that.

  10. Austria is a country I’d like to visit, having made only a brief stop in Vienna many decades ago, I’ve singularly failed to go and see more of this country despite it offering so much of what we love to see when we travel. Graz has been recommended a few times to me recently and reading your post I can see why. The beautiful old town architecture is charming, and I love cafe culture. I’d also love to see the modern architecture of Kunsthaus Graz and Murinsel. And yeah, I’d have to visit the Arnie Museum!!!!

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