Top things to do in Graz, Austria
Set out today to discover Graz, the second largest city in Austria, the capital of the province of Styria and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To visit Graz is to discover a rather unique city of its kind, a mixture of typical Austrian architecture, with much more modern buildings. Elected European Capital of Culture in 2003, some facilities are still in place and gives the city a certain originality.
In order to help you organize your stay, we have prepared a complete guide to things to see in Graz. You will also find our advice of itineraries to visit the city in 1 day and our selection of the best accommodation to prepare the best your circuit in Austria.
So, what are the unmissable places of interest in Graz?
Visit Graz: the must-sees
1. The Schlossberg
Nothing better to make a first impression of Graz than to go to observe it from above! Direction Schlossberg, a hill rising to 123 meters and overlooking the city.
To get there you have the choice:
- On foot from Schlossbergplatz square, it takes about 30 minutes to climb the 260 steps
- In an elevator that will take you inside the hill
- By funicular, starting from the place of the Emperor François-Joseph to the top (price: 2.20 €)
Schlossberg means ” Castle Mountain ” because at the time there was a castle on the hill. Until the 19th century, the Schlossberg served as a military post and refuge to the inhabitants of Graz in case of enemy attacks. The Napoleonic troops have never managed to take it. However, following the Schonberg Treaty, it was required that the fortifications be destroyed as a sign of peace. Today there is almost nothing left.
However, the inhabitants managed to preserve from the destruction 2 buildings, which became the symbols, and the main tourist attractions of the city : the Clock Tower (Urhtum) and the Bell Tower(Glockenturm).
Each with its particularity: the Clock Tower has had for a long time only one hand indicating the time, and the Bell Tower houses a bell of 4.5 tons, the “Lisl”, the biggest bell of Graz.
Today, the Schlossberg has been converted into a beautiful park where it is very pleasant to walk. You will also find restaurants and souvenir shops. And above all it offers a breathtaking view of the rooftops of Graz and the mountains in the background.
2. The Hauptplatz
Hauptplatz is the main square in Graz and the ideal starting point for sightseeing. All major streets such as Herrengasse, Sackstrasse or Murgasse leave from here.
Conceived in the Middle Ages to welcome the market, it still remains of our jorus the nerve center of Graz. You can admire the Rathaus (City Hall) and many historic buildings with beautiful colorful and painted facades .
Do not miss: the Luegg Haus, a 15th century building with beautiful arcades (now home to a Swarovski boutique) and the Adler Apotheke, the oldest pharmacy in Graz.
In the heart of the old town of Graz you will also find numerous bars and restaurants for having a drink on the terrace. But if you want to have lunch on the Hauptplatz, I recommend you try one of the many food trucks serving delicious Austrian specialties!
The square is busy all day and until late in the evening. It often hosts cultural events and festivals. During the holidays, there is also the Christmas market.
From Hauptplatz, take the Herrengasse, Graz’s most popular street.
It is the main shopping street of the city, so you will find the traditional fashion shops to do some shopping. Jewelery, shoe and clothing stores, textiles or accessories, nothing is missing! The street is completely pedestrian, you just have to pay attention to the tram.
But Herrengasse is also very beautiful palaces and magnificent facades to admire. The courtyard of Landhaushof in particular, with its arcades and cobblestones is considered a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance .
In n ° 7, I also advise you to mark a stop in front of the painted facade of the Gemaltes Haus, to admire the frescoes representing the gods of the Greek mythology.
4. The Landeszeughaus
Just next to the Landhaus is the Landeszeughaus, the must-see museum in Graz.
With more than 32,000 exhibits on four floors, the museum houses the largest collection of weapons and armor in the world ! Cannons, swords, armor, halberds, helmets, there is something for everyone!
I had already seen the armory of the Palace of the Grand Masters in Malta and the Royal Armory in Turin, but this one outclasses them all. The place is really impressive.
Among the many objects to see, do not miss a valuable piece, one of the 7 fully preserved horse armor still existing in the world.
Rates and times can be found on the museum’s official website .
5. The Saint-Gilles Cathedral in Graz
The cathedral is located in the historic center of Graz.
Built in the 15th century, during the reign of Emperor Frederic III, it is one of the most important monuments of Graz, whether cultural or artistic and historical.
Gothic style, the exterior of the Saint-Gilles cathedral may seem a little austere. On the south side and left, you will find the famous fresco “The plagues”. It represents the 3 plagues (plague, locusts and Turks) that fell on Styria during the year 1480, a terrible year for the population.
The interior of the cathedral is particularly interesting to visit. You can admire some precious objects including 2 wooden chests decorated with ivory and containing relics of Christian martyrs.
To see also: the choir of the cathedral, its altarpiece and the organ composed of more than 5 350 pipes.
6. Murinsel / The Island on the Wall
The island on Mur or Murinsel is one of the modern elements of Graz.
The island is in fact a work of art dating from Graz’s participation as European Capital of Culture in 2003. The giant shell-shaped building was designed by New York artist Vito Acconci and is connect the 2 banks of the Wall (the river Graz).
The project was to be temporary and retired at the end of the year but the inhabitants, for whom this strange work had become a symbol of the city, wanted to keep it.
Inside this unusual emblem, you will find a café and an amphitheater. One of the curiosities to see in Graz.
7. The Kunsthaus Graz
Another curiosity with futuristic architecture to see absolutely in Graz, the Kunsthaus. The Kunsthaus is the contemporary art museum of the city.
It is located on the other side of the wall in relation to the historic center, so you can go through the Murinsel to visit it.
It was also built in 2003 by two London architects who nicknamed their work “Friendly Alien”. And we must admit that the museum’s exterior structure is really odd: indefinable form, blue color and a kind of tentacles on the roof ! A perfect example of the atypical character of Graz, between modernity and tradition.
The Kunsthaus does not offer permanent exhibitions only temporary for a period of 1 to 3 months, and both national and international artists, then you will be surprised by the visit!
8. Eggenberg Castle
Last must-see place to see in Graz, Eggenberg Castle.
Located a little away from the city, you can take the # 1 tram line to reach it.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the largest castle in Styria. It was built in 1625 by the imperial adviser of Ferdinand II, Hans Ulrich Von Eggenberg. Unusually, the construction was organized around time and seasons : 4 towers for 4 seasons, 365 windows for days, 31 rooms on each floor, 24 ceremonial rooms etc. …
You can visit some rooms of the interior of the castle like the room of the Planets and its wall paints the 12 signs of the zodiac, the rooms of reception and the Old Gallery. Some of these rooms are only accessible by guided tour, which is a shame.
The castle also includes several museums including the museum of archeology and the cabinet of the Mintwhere you can see several pieces dating from antiquity to the eighteenth century.
The castle also has a superb and large park (entry fee, around € 2). You can stroll among the peacocks and even picnic on the area specially made available. There is also a cafe.
How many days to visit Graz
1 day is enough to visit Graz. Everything is easy on foot, except for the Eggenberg castle where it is better to take the tram. The monuments to see are all concentrated in the historic center or nearby, it’s very convenient.
Itinerary – 1 Day in Graz
Here’s how to visit Graz in one day :
- Climb by funicular, lift or walk to Schlossberg to admire the panorama
- Walk to discover the historic center of Graz: Hauptplatz and Herrengasse
- Visit of the Landeszeughaus
- Passage through the Saint-Gilles de Graz cathedral
- Lunch break
- Crossing the island on the Mur
- Discover the Kunsthaus and its unique architecture
- Late afternoon at Eggenberg Castle
Where to stay in Graz
Like all cities in Austria, Graz is no exception, and accommodation is quite expensive. So we will never repeat enough but book as soon as possible to prevent the best accommodations are taken!
- Ibis Budget Graz City : Hotel of the famous chain located just 5 minutes walk from the city center. Functional and clean double room from 60 € per night, breakfast at 6.90 €. The most: good value for money, calm and geographical location.
- Roomz Graz : Located 15 minutes walk from the city center. Modern and bright double room from 100 € per night, breakfast 15 €. The most: the very welcoming staff, the comfortable bedding, the choice and the quality of the breakfast. This is our heart stroke for its benefit / price ratio.
- Augarten Art Hotel : Located 1km from the historic center. Tram station nearby to reach the center. Elegant double room and design from € 180, breakfast € 15. Most: the decoration of the hotel with many works of art, the comfort of the rooms, the swimming pool, the kindness and the availability of the staff. Our favorite, the ideal for a luxury stay in Graz.
Where to eat in Graz
- Area 5 : Located on Jakominiplatz. The restaurant has a large roof terrace for panoramic views of Graz. The place is very nice. The dishes are simple but you can select the ingredients for your pasta or salad for example. The price / quality ratio is unbeatable. Ideal for the lunch break.
- El Gaucho : Located on Landhausgasse street. Steak house offering a wide choice of very good meat. You will be able to choose the weight and the different accompaniments. Quality is at the rendezvous. Red meat lovers will be delighted.
- Der Steirer Graz : Located rue Belgiergasse. You can enjoy typical Austrian dishes in a neat and authentic décor. Varied menu, homemade dishes, wide selection of local wines and a great value! Reservation recommended.
How to get to Graz
From France there is no direct flight to Graz. So you will have to land in Vienna .
- By car: 2h by car
- By bus: 2h25 for 9 €
- By train: 2h50 for 25 €
- By car: 2h50
- By bus: 3h50 for 14 €
- By train: 4h30 for 19 €
- By car: 2h25
- By bus: 2h40 for 12 €
- By train: 3h30 for 14 €
Tourist map of Graz
To help you visualize the city a little better, I made you a tourist map of Graz, listing the places to visit I’m talking about in this top 8 things to do. You can display the legend of the map by clicking on the button at the top left with a small arrow.
Have you planned to visit Graz during your holidays in Austria?
Are you going to Austria? To read also
- Check out all our articles on Austria : All our articles about Austria are listed here.
- Hallstatt: The 6 things to do during your stay
- Salzburg: The 12 must-see places to visit
- Vienna: Top 20 things to see absolutely