Graz is a historic city in Austria, surrounded by idyllic nature. Graz is the second largest city in Austria with about 250,000 inhabitants. Graz is especially known for its well-preserved historic center and Castle Mountain, where only the ruins and the bell tower of the ancient fortress remain.
GRAZ AS A TRAVEL DESTINATION
Graz’s beautiful historic architecture
The well-preserved historic center of Graz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as are the centers of Vienna and Salzburg. The medieval old town with its Renaissance and Baroque palaces and colorful houses attracts tourists to wander and enjoy themselves in a precious setting. The narrow alleys of the old town are full of restaurants and cafés.
In addition to its historical attractions, Graz is a vibrant city of culture, home to many students and artists.
Graz is a lively student and cultural city
Graz is known as a green city with lots of green space. The lively culture and city life is guaranteed by the large number of students in Graz. With its four universities, Graz is one of the largest student cities in Austria, with a total of more than 40,000 students.
Important attractions in Graz’s cultural field include various museums, of which the Museum of Contemporary Art, which resembles a submarine in particular, is well worth a visit. Of the museums, the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum is probably the most special .
Graz’s cityscape is colored not only by live street art, but also by numerous restaurants and cafés. Thus, despite its historic milieu, Graz is much more than just an open-air museum of architecture.
In Graz, spring begins early
Graz is located very close to the Slovenian border, and the city enjoys a pleasant climate with even a hint of Mediterranean. In early spring, the city’s climate is pleasant and warm. Indeed, the many park areas of Graz attract both locals and tourists to spend time outdoors and enjoy themselves. The park-like areas of Graz Central Park and Linnavuori in particular are ideal places for sunbathing.
The city of Graz is surrounded by numerous wonderful natural areas. In return for a city break, you can go hiking in the nearby hills. The highest peak near Graz rises to less than 800 meters. Cycling also offers a good opportunity to explore the surrounding nature.
Especially Plabutsch to the west of Graz and Schöckl, a little further east, have many well-marked hiking and cycling routes.
There are also many interesting vineyards around Graz.
FLIGHTS, ACCOMMODATION AND MOVEMENT IN GRAZ
There are no direct flights to Graz from Helsinki, but the city can be reached by a connecting flight. For example, Lufthansa flies to Graz via Frankfurt. Other possible exchange places are, for example, Munich and Vienna.
There is a train connection from Graz Airport to Graz Central Station. The train connection is complemented by a bus that also runs to the main train station.
Alternatively, you can also travel to the city by train from nearby cities. In practice, this is mainly Vienna, to which there are good air connections from Finland. The train journey from Vienna to Graz takes about two and a half hours.
Accommodation in Graz
Accommodation in Graz is available quite well. There are several mid-range and upper-middle-class hotels in the city center, but there are no five-star luxury hotels in the city, and the best hotels in the city are satisfied with four stars.
Budget travelers will also find what they are looking for in the Graz hostel selection, but most budget accommodations are located outside the historic center. Thanks to the reasonable size of the city and the efficient public transport, accommodation outside the city center does not cause any major inconveniences.
Getting around Graz
The historic center of Graz is the easiest to walk on. Other parts of the city are accessible by a comprehensive tram and bus network.
The need to use public transport also depends a lot on the location of the accommodation. Staying in the city center does not necessarily require public transport.
Cycling is also popular and the city has excellent cycle paths.
ATTRACTIONS OF GRAZ
The symbol and main attraction of Graz is the Schlossberg or Castle Mountain. On the edge of the mountain is the bell tower of Graz, which originates from a ruined fortress on the mountain.
Today, the fortress serves tourists as a museum that focuses not only on the history of the fortress but also on the military history of Graz. There are many different parts to the museum area, and you can visit the corridors dug inside the mountain, among other things. Otherwise, Linnavuori has been transformed into a magnificent park-like area with a lot of different vegetation and trails for hiking around.
The castle mountain is over 120 meters high and offers great panoramic views over the rooftops of Graz towards the surrounding mountains. The top of Linnavuori can be reached by several forest paths, by underground lift, cable car and along old wooden stairs.
The castle hill was once under Slavic control, and the city of Graz is named after the Slavic word Gradec for small castle.
The charming old town of Graz
Graz’s Old Town is full of cozy cafés and restaurants, with a nice stop on the terrace to admire the architecture and enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere.
The Old Town of Graz dates back to the Middle Ages, and the building stock was later supplemented, especially by Baroque buildings. The market area, Hauptplatz, built into the center, is still the pulsating heart of the city, on the edge of which is one of the city’s most beautiful buildings.
The feature that connects the different buildings in the old town of Graz is the red roofs. In addition to the town hall, the most significant of the individual buildings are the cathedral, the 17th-century mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II , the church of St. Catherine and the Graz Opera House, Austria’s second largest.
Murinsel Island and Museum of Contemporary Art
Graz served as the European Capital of Culture in 2003. To this end, a special submarine-like museum of contemporary art was erected in the city, which is extremely modern in appearance. The eye-catching exterior of the building hides a fine museum that every art lover should visit.
Another landmark of modern Graz is the artificial island of Murinsel in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The special structure floats on the river and, with its bridges, represents accentuated modern architecture.
The Museum of Contemporary Art and Murinsel are so close to Linnavuori that a tourist looking towards the river can marvel at the interesting gap of the eras.
Beautiful Eggenberg Castle
Eggenberg Castle, located outside the center of Graz, is one of the most important Baroque castles in Austria. Today, the building serves as a fine museum that is worth a visit when visiting Graz.
Eggenberg’s Baroque castle was built in the 17th century and was designed by Italian architect Giovanni Pietro the Pomis . The castle was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010 as a complement to the historic center of Graz.
Basilica of Mariatrost
The Basilica of Mariatrost is located on a hill of over 400 meters in Graz. Thanks to the hill location, the 60-meter twin towers of the basilica can be seen from afar. The basilica was built in the 18th century in the Baroque style.
The best attractions in Graz
- Linnavuori and the bell tower
- Eggenberg Castle
- Herrengasse weapon show
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- Graz Cathedral
- Town hall
- Mausoleum of Ferdinand II
- Basilica of Mariatrost
- Murinsel artificial island
- Opera House