Graz, Austria’s second-largest city and the capital of Austrian province Styria, has a lot to offer; its historic centre is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the city has been the Cultural Capital of Europe and a City of Culinary Delights. Graz is also known for long university tradition.
If you plan a one-day trip to Graz and wonder what to visit, check out our little guide on things to do so you can get the most of those 24 hours.
Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when you plan a full day of sightseeing, energizing breakfast is a must; Austrians prefer a sweet breakfast with different pastries with butter and jam. People of Graz are big coffee fans so join them and have a smooth latte or cappuccino. Some of the most popular places to enjoy breakfast are Tribeka cafe offering various sweets, coffee decorated like an art and river views, and Granola company if you want to have breakfast with an American touch.
The UNESCO protected Old Town of Graz abounds in well-preserved historical monuments and buildings. Explore the whole area on foot and don’t miss the main highlights; Hauptplatz, the main square, is situated on the left bank of the river and is home to Archduke Johann statue. Rathus or Town Hall and Haus am Luegg will amaze you with its architecture and decorated facades. Franciscan Church in Gothic style with vaulted ceiling and its west tower is another notable landmark. Graz has one of the best-preserved historic centres in the world. Stroll along Herrengasse, the street with a rich history, lovely mansions, various shops and cafes. Also, don’t miss the Painted House. If you are a museum fan, in the Old Town you can find Graz Municipal Museum, Robert Stolz Museum and Mohren Apotheke’s Theriak Museum.
Schlossberg, a hill overlooking the city, can be reached with a funicular railway, via 300 steps or with a 20-minutes walk via footpaths. The most-known Graz landmark is situated here; it is Uhrturm, 28-meter-tall Clock Tower built in the 16th century. Back in the time, it was part of a massive castle. Make sure you snap a picture. Other landmarks include Turkish Well and Stable Bastion. Besides history, the hill offers many entertainment venues, restaurants and cafes with amazing views over the city. The hill is locals’ favourite recreational spot.
Grazer Dom or Graz Cathedral is one of the most important historical buildings in the city. Built in mid-15th century on the site of a former church, this impressive cathedral is a perfect combination of Gothic architecture and Baroque finishing. The Cathedral may look simple on the outside but it is remarkable on the inside. Frescoes inside date back to the times of emperor Frederick III and depict him wearing a ducal crown. Most precious objects in the church are two reliquaries. After the Cathedral, you can also visit the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II.
It is time to have a break from all the walk and to pick a nice restaurant to enjoy some food. Graz is known as Austria’s culinary city. If you wonder what to try, local dishes include beef goulash, minced meat fritters and turkey strips in sauce. You can also take a food tour, it could be the best way to try the local food that place is known for. Don’t skip dessert and have a piece of the most famous Austrian cake – Sacher, chocolate cake with a thin coat of apricot jam and chocolate icing on top.
With your bellies full, head to the Graz Stadtpark, a green island in the middle of the city where you can relax on park benches and walk between chestnut trees. This large municipal park has a huge playground and several cafes. Bring some nuts if you want to make friends with squirrels in the park. You could also pay a visit to the Botanical Gardens with flora from four distinct climatic zones, from tropical to alpine.
Graz was named European Capital of Culture in 2003 and there are plenty of eye-catching buildings in the city but two of them are an absolute must-see. Ultra-modern Graz Art Museum (Kunsthaus Graz) shaped as an alien focuses on contemporary art and houses different exhibits. At night, the building lights up like a spaceship. Another modern landmark is Murinsel, man-made island in the middle of the river Mur. It is made entirely of steel and has two footbridges connecting it to the banks. The middle section is used for concerts and different events and there is also a children’s playground and a cafe.
When the night is falling, you can choose between several nightlife options; our recommendation would be visiting Graz Opera House and later hit the bar. The second-largest opera house in Austria offers splendid productions and impressive performances from musical theatre to ballet. If you are looking for a place to have a drink, there are plenty of bars to choose from. Gosser Brau is a traditional brewpub with many different beers and a variety of Austrian dishes. Flann O’Brien is the largest Irish pub in town with live music performances almost every night. For a bit more classy experience, have a cocktail in Bar Ernst Fuchs.