Are you looking for the best things to do in Graz? From exploring Eggenberg Palace to wandering around the Old Town, this is what to do in Graz, Austria!
Are you looking for a Graz itinerary to help plan your trip? Then this is the post for you! Just keep on reading to discover some of my favourite things to do in the city (including a couple of banging restaurants too!)
What I found while I was in Graz is this is a city that’s so different from places like Innsbruck and Salzburg. Get ready because this place is really going to blow you away.
If you speak to any Austrian they’ll say the same thing – that Graz is easy going. Free-spirited. More relaxed.
They say because it’s closer to the Italian border and as it has more of a Mediterranean climate, Graz has more va va voom for life. That little bit of je ne sais quoi. You know, kinda fun.
For me though, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the location or the climate, Graz is an amazing place to visit in Austria, especially during the summer. I really think you’ll love it here.
From world-class restaurants to fresh produce from the farmer’s market, this is a city that’s really famous for food. It also has some of the craziest architecture I’ve ever come across. Just take a look at the Kunsthaus Graz below and you’ll see what I mean.
So, my challenge was to discover the best things to do in Graz in just 48 hours, including a few of the best places to eat too.
With that in mind, here’s my Graz itinerary for you – I really hope you find it useful!
Visit the Kunsthaus Graz, the modern art museum
The Kunsthaus Graz has become such an icon for the city and it is easy to see why.
Nicknamed the ‘friendly alien’, the Kunsthaus Graz was built for the European Capital of Culture in 2003. Nowadays, it is home to a number of modern art exhibitions and has a cracking café inside too. I had a particularly delicious potato salad from here (much better than it sounds).
I have to say, the Kunsthaus Graz is one of the most interesting buildings I’ve ever come across. And despite its futuristic design, it seems to fit in and complement all the buildings of the Old Town perfectly. Definitely a must-see on any trip to Graz.
If you can, there’s a little viewing platform and balcony outside the museum. I’d really recommend coming here for some of the best views of the building. After all, the architecture is modern art in itself!
Tickets to the Kunsthaus Graz cost £9/$12 and you can book them here. This really is one of my favorite things to do in the city so make sure you add it to your Graz itinerary.
Take in the infamous Clock Tower
Another icon in the city of Graz is the Clock Tower at the top of Schlossberg.
No matter where you are in the city you can see the Clock Tower towering above. Well the views get even better from the top.
The Clock Tower was built in during the 13th century and it is in such a beautiful spot. Also, if you’re looking for one of the best photo spots in Graz then this is it.
It only takes about 10 minutes to climb the stairs to the top of the clock tower, or you can pay for the lift to take you up here (see below for prices). Either way, it really is one of the top things to see in Graz.
Climb to the top of the Schlossberg
When I was in Graz I was addicted to the Schlossberg, so much so I climbed up here three times in two days.
Even though there are stairs to the top of the Schlossberg, I’d really recommend paying the €1.30 ticket to take the lift. It’s much quicker and those stairs are a killer (trust me on that one).
Alternatively, you can catch the funicular (tickets cost €2.20) which takes you around the back of Schlossbergplatz. Or you can go on a tour of the Schloss Eggenberg (the palace here).
One of the best free things to do in Graz is walk around the park taking in the views of the city below. Also, make sure you’re here for sunset for a magical summer in Graz. As you can see from the photos, it is just stunning.
Graz is unique in that a lot of the buildings have terracotta roofs giving the city that Mediterranean vibe. Who says you need to go to Dubrovnik in Croatia for that!
Dine at Restaurant Aiola at the Schlossberg
One of the best restaurants in Graz is at the top of the Schlossberg – Aiola.
This place has the most gorgeous views of the city, especially around dusk and once the city lights are being turned on.
What I love about Aiola is it’s not all about the views. They’ve got the food to back it up too. Even though they have a simple menu without a huge amount of choice, every dish really focuses on fresh produce from the region. Because this is a very season restaurant the menu changes all the time which is good.
I had the trout dish with a polenta cake and pickled rhubarb. I’m not just saying this, but it was one of the best dishes I’ve had in a very long while. I really can’t recommend this place enough.
Wander at the beautiful Murinsel
When I was researching unusual things to do in Graz, the one place I was really looking forward to seeing was the Murinsel.
This is a building right in the middle of the River Mur. It looks like a floating pebble with the river rushing around it. I just love architecture that blends into the natural surroundings, and the Murinsel certainly does that.
The Murinsel is a café and gift shop, and it’s pretty surreal sitting there in the middle of the river. A great place to come on your own with a book or to catch up with friends. Lovely little gift shop too.
Eat at Delikatessen Frankowitsch for the best sandwiches around
This place has become an institution in Graz.
Even though you might associate open sandwiches with Scandinavia, Austria have got in on the act too.
Delikatessen Frankowitsch is essentially three places in one – a wine bar with a great selection of cheese and meats, a bakery selling fresh pastries and bread, and a café selling the famous open sandwiches.
With about 20 different sandwiches, you’re almost spoiled for choice. Almost. It literally took me about 10 minutes to order just three!
Pay your respects at Graz Mausoleum
If you’re looking for one of the best views in Graz, head to the Mausoleum.
Found right in the heart of the Old Town, you can climb to the top of the tower for €6, an it is well worth it for the views.
What I loved about this viewpoint compared to the Schlossberg is you’re right in the middle of all the buildings. It really gives you a much closer perspective of the city and it such a good photography spot.
Take a stroll around Graz Old Town
No trip to Graz would be complete without wandering around Old Town. Just make sure you bring your camera along because you’re going to need it.
The best place to start in Old Town is the main square with the epic town hall right in the centre. From there, you can pick any direction and just get lost.
For me, the best thing about walking around the Old Town is all the murals and paintings on all the buildings. They make the city look so elegant and regal – it really takes you back in time too. Just think Motzart and you’ll understand what I mean.
You’ll also find the Graz Cathedral, the Opera House and the Natural History Museum all within a short walking distance of the Old Town.
Eat at the trendy Restaurant Eckstein
If you’re looking for one of the best restaurants in Graz then look no further than Eckstein.
Located in Old Town, Eckstein has quickly built up a reputation for its modern twist on traditional Austrian dishes.
While I was there I went for the arctic char with Jerusalem artichoke puree and wilted greens and it was just delicious. A lot of people think Austrian food is really heavy with meat and dumplings – eat at somewhere like Eckstein and it’ll quickly change your opinion on Austrian cuisine.
Visit the Farmer’s Market
As I said, one of the things Graz is famous for is food, so no visit to the city would be complete without a trip to the Farmer’s Market.
The main market is the Kaiser Josef Market and it is on every day (apart from Sunday’s) from 6am till 1pm. Here you can pick up anything from freshly baked bread to cheese.
Also, it is an amazing place to pick up some pumpkin seed oil, something that the region is renowned for. Nicknamed ‘black gold’, pumpkin seed oil has a really nutty taste and it is very healthy for you too. Don’t be afraid of it because they pour it on everything in Graz so make sure you take a bottle of it home with you!
Learn about the history of Graz
The history of Graz goes back far. The city was first documented in 1128, and in 1379 it became the seat of the Leopold line of the Habsburgs.
Karl-Franzens-Universität, also called the University of Graz, is the city’s oldest university, founded in 1585 by Archduke Karl II. This is a really cool place to visit and again the architecture is beautiful.
Early in the 19th century Archduke Johann, benign brother of Franz I, founded the first museum in Austria, the Joanneum, in Graz. In the late 1990s the historic centre of Graz achieved the status of a Unesco World Heritage site.
Schloss Eggenberg (Eggenberg Palace)
Schloss Eggenberg (Eggenberg Palace) is one of the most popular attractions in Graz. Located just on the outskirts of the city, this place was built by Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg in 1625.
The 17th century palace is the most important example of Baroque architecture in the region of Styria and in 2010 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Apparently the design of the construction and interior follows a mathematical and allegorical model, conceived to make Schloss Eggenberg into a complex symbolic reflection of the universe. How cool is that!?
I’d really recommend going on a guided tour around Eggenberg Palace. This gives you access to the gardens too which are just gorgeous. This place is a must on my Graz itinerary and I really hope you enjoy it here!
Hotels in Graz
NOVAPARK Wohlfühlhotel – Even though Novapark is in the north of the city, it is still just a short 10-minute journey to the city centre. The hotel features 2 restaurants, a bar, a terrace, as well as a spa and wellness area, with one of the restaurants and the bar being located in decommissioned airplanes. How cool is that!? A standard double room costs around £79 (US$100) per night.
Hotel B&B Graz Hauptbahnhof – This hotel was recently renovated in 2016 and is just a short 10-minute walk from the Old Town and the Kunsthaus. A bit like a hotel, a bit like a B&B, Graz Hauptbahnhof has everything you need all in one place. There’s a really yummy breakfast buffet available too. A rooms costs around £89 (US$113) per night for a double room.
NH Graz City – This is one of the newest hotels in Graz which opened in August 2018. I really love the architecture of this place and the rooms feel like they’re apartments, a little home away from home. Graz Cathedral and Mausoleum is 200 yards from NH Graz City, while Graz Clock Tower is a 3-minute walk away. A standard double room costs around £248 (US$315) per night.
This post was in association with Visit Austria and Visit Graz promoting some of the best things to do in Austria during the summer – it’s not all about the winter sports here! As always, views are entirely my own and without bias.
What are some of the things you’d like to do in Graz? Where else would you like to visit in Austria? Make sure you let me know in the comments below!
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Friday 13th of July 2018
Ultimate things to do? This is pretty much the standard sightseeing list for everyist in Graz (still worth doing it, though - it's a great city!)
Monday 23rd of July 2018
I wish I had longer in the city but no doubt I'll add some more over time!