Austria is known for music, cake, skiing, Sound of Music and beautiful architecture and art. Most of the tourists visit Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck. However, there is a lesser known town I would like to introduce you to: Graz, located in the region of Styria, is a beautiful town with traditional charme and hip restaurants, bars and shops.
Graz? Where is that?
Graz is the capital of the region of Styria and is the second largest region (regarding the size in square kilometres) of Austria. We call it “Green Styria” because the region has beautiful forests, lakes and mountains. Styria is not only a popular region for skiing but also The Steirische Weinstraße (Styrian wine road) is a famous area for chilled-out wine tastings and the region’s hot spas are popular weekend getaways. Styria is also well-known for its baroque-style architecture being the host of many palaces, monasteries and
Styrians have a unique dialect which might sometimes be hard to understand if you are only used to standard German. Aaaand you know who is Styrian? Arnie, our Austrian Oak 🙂
Where to Eat and Drink
This is one of my favourite places in Graz. Dine with one of the best views of the town. The famous Grazer Uhrturm (clock tower) is right on your left. I love going to the rooftop for breakfast or coffee. The cake selection is really nice. (Sackstraße 7-13)
This restaurant is popular among locals for business lunches. I really like the vibe and the Austrian food is delicious. (Schmiedgasse 9)
With its international and local delikatessen it is also a great place for a quick snack and coffee. (Stempfergasse 2)
Eckstein is the favourite of the local in-crowd and has delicious local food. (Mehlplatz 3)
Great selection of coffee and also good for a quick lunch. Try the Zotter Trinkschokolade – hot chocolate made with chocolate from world-known chocolatier in the Eastern part of Austria. (Opernring 22)
Located on the opposite side of the Mur River, Der Steirer serves delicious local food – try the Backhendl (fried chicken). (Belgiergasse 1)
Another beautiful view of Graz right next to the Grazer Uhrturm (clock tower). Perfect for some drinks with your friends.
What to Eat
Styrian food is delicious and the region is very famous for its wine and pumpkin seed oil. There is no visit of Styria without a “Steirisches Backhendl” (fried chicken). It is very often served with a green salad and potato salad with the delicious green pumpkin seed oil. With Styria being one of the main wine producers of Austria, pair it with a nice glass 🙂
If you are looking for a traditional Dirndl, Seidl Trachten is the place to go. “Tracht” is the expression for traditional clothing – probably the two most famous are the Dirndl dress and Lederhosen. With a big selection, I have bought my Tostmann Dirndl there. Tostmann is an Austrian Dirndl brand with one of the longest company histories. If you do not want to do the “full-on” traditional outfit, I recommend buying a nice Trachten-jacket which you can pair with jeans. (Schmiedgasse 13-15)
Austrian designer Lena Hoschek has established herself also outside of Austria with her 50s-style inspired clothing. The designer herself started out in Graz. Therefore, her flagship store in Graz is a must-see for all fashionistas. (Joanneumring 3)
I have mentioned the rooftop already. This department store is one of my favourite places to shop in Austria. Even if you are not in shopping mood, the building is a must if you are interested in architecture: the department store opened its doors in 1883 and was renovated in 2010. It is a beautiful symbiosis of tradition and modern trends. An interesting thing about shopping in Graz is that the product range is a bit different than in Vienna – my impression is that because of the tourism, Vienna caters to the taste of Eastern Europeans while Graz focuses more on Southern Europeans. Therefore, depending on your preferences, you have the option to shop for different styles. Kastner und Oehler has a big range of middle-segment and premium brands. (Sackstraße 7-13)
Graz Centre around Hauptplatz
Whether you want to shop or just enjoy the beautiful town centre, the area around Herrengasse and Hauptplatz is the historic centre with beautiful buildings. Walk over to the Mur River towards the Kunsthaus Graz (see below).
If you need a workout, you can walk up the Schlossberg from Sackstraße. If you do not feel like walking, do not worry, there is also a lift 🙂 In any case, make your way up the mountain and explore the area around the famous clock tower – the main sight of Graz.
The building reminding me of a stomach is a must-see for architecture fans. I did not know how famous the building by the London architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier actually was. I randomly met an architect in Hong Kong a couple of years ago and he was carrying a bag with a picture of the Kunsthaus and got really excited when I told him that I am Austrian. The Kunsthaus regularly hosts contemporary art exhibitions.
How to Get There
Graz is about a two hours drive from Vienna. I usually take the car but you can also take the train from Vienna. There is a direct train at every full hour which will take you from Vienna Main Station (Wien Hauptbahnhof) to Graz (Graz Hauptbahnhof) within 2.5 hours. There is also the option of taking the bus, but I recommend taking the more convenient train. The prices of the tickets depend on the timing. Try to book early to get early bird tickets.
Graz also has an airport connecting the city to major European cities. However, it might be more convenient to fly to Vienna and spend a day to visit Graz from there.