Graz in Austria: 20 wonderful places to visit!
The unbelievable variety of impressive things to do in Graz makes this destination just perfect for a city trip. Especially the extremely charming historical old town, with the famous Clock Tower as its landmark, inspires visitors from all over the world. However, this city has much more attractions to offer. Countless interesting museums, beautiful castles, palaces and churches and also modern architectural buildings can be explored on a trip to Graz. In addition, there is a huge selection of hip pubs, cool scene bars and top restaurants, which see to culinary well-being, and the legendary nightlife of Graz. No matter if you visit the city on a day trip or for a couple of days – Graz is always worth your time!
In this travel guide we will give you all the important information and tips for a perfect visit to Graz in Austria. We also show you the most beautiful things to do in Graz, great pictures and the best places to stay in the city.
Best Places to Visit in Graz
Since 1999, the old town of Graz has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to its many fascinating attractions, in addition to Vienna and Salzburg it is one of the most beautiful cities for a sightseeing tour in Austria. During a city walk, a new highlight is waiting for you almost at every corner. Also fantastic is that most of the attractions can be explored comfortably by foot during a city walk.
The Graz Schlossberg, where the Clock Tower is located, is the absolute heart of the city and certainly the most important place to visit in Graz. It is only a few minutes’ walk from the old town’s center to the top of the hill, whereby the walk along the Kriegersteig probably is the most beautiful ascent. Many also like to take the famous Schlossberg cable car or the elevator to enjoy the probably most spectacular view of Graz.
But not only the view from the top is unique, wonderful attractions like the Clock Tower of Graz with its beautiful park, the 34-meter-high bell tower, the casemates in the exposed cellars of the former Schlosshauptmannhaus and the Chinese Pavilion are just a few of the places to visit here. In addition, several cafés and restaurants as well as a beer garden offer refreshments with a panoramic view of Graz.
Tip: In only 40 seconds the Schlossberg Slide, the longest indoor slide in Europe, takes you back down to the historic center of the city.
The absolute highlight on the Schlossberg is the 28-meter-high clock tower, the landmark of Graz. It is enthroned above the city and can be seen from many places in the city center. Built in the 13th century, it has had its present appearance since the new fortification in the 16th century. A special feature of this attraction is the clock face: the minute and hour hands are reversed!
Amazingly beautiful is also the park with its pretty flowerbeds, which is located directly beneath the tower.
Fairytale Train & Schlossberg Slide
Not only on the Schlossberg, but also inside the mountain there are exciting things to experience! Really unique here is a slide with the Schlossberg slide, an amusing way to get from the Schlossberg back down to the city in about 40 seconds.
The Märchenbahn (fairy-tale train) is especially interesting for small children. During a half-hour ride, visitors go deep into the Schlossberg and discover a fairy-tale world with a witch kingdom, fairy-tale forest, and a cave of robbers and treasures.
The Grazer Burg (Graz Castle) is located directly in the city center and was built as early as 1438. Badly damaged in the Second World War, it was rebuilt in 1947. In the process, various new buildings were constructed, which are known today as the “New Castle”. Many areas of the castle area are open to the public and many attractions there, such as the castle courtyards, the double spiral staircase, the Styrian Gallery of Honor and the “city center” can be visited free of charge.
Beautiful and really worth seeing is also the Burggarten, a lovely park with its picturesque rose gardens. It is a true oasis in the city and the perfect place for a relaxing sightseeing break.
Double Spiral Staircase
An insider tip among the attractions in Graz is the double spiral staircase. Built in 1499 it is located in the castle courtyard and is accessible free of charge. The so-called “reconciliation staircase” depicts the separation and reconciliation. It consists of two symmetrical stone stairs running in opposite directions, which converge spirally on each floor, and at the same time separate again. For architecture fans and photographers it’s a must see in Graz!
Graz Hauptplatz (Main Square)
Graz Hauptplatz is the center of the old town and certainly the most beautiful square in the state capital. Already laid out in 1160, this historic place still enchants with an extra portion of charm and the many beautiful attractions, such as the Archduke Johann Fountain Monument and the magnificent City Hall. Really cool are also the traditional Graz market stalls, where hearty sausages and delicious organic juices are offered.
Rathaus (City Hall)
Another important sight in Graz is the Rathaus (City Hall) on the main square of the city. This building was erected at the beginning of the 19th century and its impressive facade was decorated according to the late Gothic style. In every season, countless events take place here directly in front of the building.
The Christmas market in winter with oversized Advent calendar lighting, the Sound Light Festival in spring, sand sculptures, as well as the Long Table of the Capital of Enjoyment in summer are just a few of the highlights.
The Joanneum Quarter is home to many interesting museums and so a visit should really be on the “to do list”. The Neue Galerie Graz with modern and contemporary art and the Museum of Natural History with a huge variety of interesting exhibits are especially worth seeing. The CoSA – Center of Science Activities, where technology and natural sciences are made easy to understand through play and experiments, is really cool and a real highlight also for children.
The Landhaushof is the picturesque courtyard of the Grazer Landhaus and another visitor tip on our list of the best things to do in Graz. Especially impressive is the architecture with the magnificent arcades of the Renaissance building. The historic fountain and the faun statue are also worth seeing. Really pretty and a small highlight is the green wooden gate with the Styrian Panther, which has become a popular photo motif.
Tip: In winter, when the famous ice sculptures of the Graz nativity scene are illuminated, a particularly beautiful backdrop awaits you.
The Landeszeughaus, one of the main attractions of Graz, is definitely worth a visit. It was built during 1642 to 1647 and was once the central arsenal of Styria. Today a museum, you can admire the world’s largest historical armory with 32,000 objects. To learn more about it, the very interesting guided tours through the museum are really recommendable. These take place daily at 11:00 and 14:00 (German) and at 12:30 (English).
Herrengasse & Painted House
Herrengasse is the most important shopping mile and enchants with its many stores and boutiques and countless magnificent buildings. Very centrally located, it runs between the main square and the Jakominiplatz, and offers shopaholics everything their hearts desire. But also for sightseeing in Graz this street should not be missed: Here you will discover beautiful baroque buildings, countless buildings from the founder times where the nobility once lived, and the Landeszeughaus is also located in this street.
One of the most interesting houses in Herrengasse is the Painted House. It is hard to miss, because the entire facade with over 220 m² was artistically painted here. A historical wall tattoo that you should not miss on any trip to Graz.
The Kunsthaus (Art House) is one of the city’s landmarks. This futuristic building was erected in 2003, the year of the Capital of Culture, and has been a popular tourist attraction in Graz ever since. Many visitors compare it to a human heart, others recognize it as a spaceship and its creators lovingly refer to it as “friendly alien”. The museum hosts various art exhibitions. Also the viewing platform on the top floor is really cool, from where you can enjoy a nice view of the old town of Graz and over to the Schlossberg.
Tip: On the first floor you will find the very hip Kunsthaus-Café, which serves really tasty breakfast and mega good burgers!
Museum of History
A very interesting attraction of Graz is the Museum of History. The museum is located in a beautiful palace in the old town and, above all, history lovers will enjoy the well-chosen exhibits. By no means should you miss the magnificent Hall of Mirrors, which is located in the right wing of the town house. Very few people know that this museum is also included in the Joanneums-24-hour ticket.
The Murinsel (Mur Island) was built as part of the 2003 Capital of Culture and is now a popular place to visit in Graz, which has actually become a landmark of the city. It is a floating island, which can be accessed from both sides of the river Mur via a bridge. The really cool, futuristic design in the form of a half-open shell is particularly captivating. Inside, there is a cozy café that invites you to take a sightseeing break with a view of the rushing Mur.
Tip: Thanks to the beautiful lighting, this attraction is a real highlight at night!
Especially worth seeing is the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II, an impressive building which was built in the early 17th century. This imperial resting place lies somewhat hidden behind the cathedral of Graz. With its turquoise roof domes, this attraction is a real eye-catcher and a very popular photo motif. But you should also have a look at the interior of the mausoleum, where, among other things, the resting place of Ferdinand’s mother, Maria of Bavaria, is located.
Tip: The entrance to the mausoleum is free of charge.
The Graz Cathedral is considered one of the most culturally significant attractions in Graz and should therefore not be missed on any sightseeing tour though the city. Together with the mausoleum, the old university and the castle, this sacred site forms the so-called Graz City Crown. This church is not only interesting from the outside, but also the interior with its magnificent high age and the beautiful fresco paintings is amazing.
Tip: Very interesting is also the God plague picture, a remnant from the Gothic period. This fresco is somewhat hidden on the southern outer wall of the cathedral in Graz.
A real insider tip in Graz is a visit to the Glockenspielplatz, because here a very special spectacle awaits you. Every day, punctually at 11:00, 15:00 and 18:00 a.m., a cute couple of traditional costumed figures appear at the gable of the house and dance to the local carillon. A small highlight that is best enjoyed in one of the cozy cafés on the square.
Eggenberg Palace is one of the most beautiful castle complexes in Styria. In addition, this important building is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is therefore a real must see on every city trip to Graz. Here you can marvel at the unbelievably beautiful state rooms, the castle church “Maria Schnee” and the Planetary Hall, completed in 1685. Picturesque are also the historical rose gardens, which bloom in full splendor from the end of May to June. With a bit of luck you will also discover the castle’s peacocks during your visit, which regularly stroll through the extensive landscape garden.
Tip: Eggenberg Palace is located just outside the old town and can be easily reached by tram.
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