Are you looking for a little city guide to Graz? From wandering around the alien architecture of the Kunsthaus Graz to climbing up the Schlossberg for the best views of the city below, these are the best things to do in Graz!
Graz is different to other cities in Austria.
If you speak to any Austrian they all 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.
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. There really are so many things to see and do here.
Graz was the first stop in our ‘Operation Eagle’ series around Austria.
This is where we set the legend that is Eddie the Eagle to a number of different challenges all around Austria.
For those of you who don’t know him, Eddie the Eagle is a British national treasure. He shot to fame after finishing dead last in the ski jump at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Even though he didn’t leave with a medal, he won over hearts all around the world, so much so they made a film about his life in 2016.
While we were in Austria, I was part of the team that was coming up with some weird and wonderful challenges for Eddie. Think cooking challenges and unique triathlons. Anything to get Eddie out of his comfort zone while showing off some of the best things you can do in Austria.
Anyway, you can read more about what we got up to in our ‘Operation Eagle’ series here.
But firstly, make sure you watch our Graz episode below to get a flavour of what it’s all about!
When the cameras weren’t rolling, I wanted to see as much of Graz as possible.
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.
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.
Here’s my little guide to Graz – I hope you find it useful!
1. Kunsthaus Graz
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 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.
Tickets to the Kunsthaus Graz cost £8 and you can book them here.
2. The 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!
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!
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.
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 for that!
4. Restaurant Aiola
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.
I had the trout/salmon 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.
When I was researching 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.
6. Delikatessen Frankowitsch
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!
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. The Farmer’s Market
As I said, one of the thing’s 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!
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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