A world-class cultural center, a scenic gem with fabulous urban vistas, a modern architectural marvel, and simply a lovely place to spend time, Graz offers everything you could hope for from a central European city.
Built around the river Mur and a rocky bluff that was easy to defend, Graz looks the part, especially when you take the funicular railway to the summit of the rock.
The huge student community fuels one of Austria's liveliest music and clubbing scenes. Bars like Glöcklbräu will keep any night owl happy.
Graz may look stately, but its heart is modern. You can find cutting-edge art at wonderful institutions like the striking Kunsthaus Graz and Atelier Jungwirth.
Graz also offers museums for almost everyone, from the child-friendly exhibits at FRida & freD to the science-heavy Naturkundemuseum.
Catch sublime performances at the Opera Graz House, attend free evening chamber music shows at the Chamber Music Hall, or check out today's electronic music trends at the Springfestival.
Climb aboard the Schlossberg Lift and ride to the top of the Schlossberg hill and fortress. Located in the center of Graz, Austria, Schlossberg is a public park that houses entertainment venues, restaurants, and cafes. If you want to walk, take a romantic stroll uphill through the colorful forest pathway overlooking the town. Once you reach the top, visit the Grazer Uhrturm clock tower and admire the magnificent mechanism that decorates the center of the park. When you are done touring, have lunch on the patio of the Starcke Haus restaurant to feel like you are dining in the clouds.
Take a tour of the largest historic armory in the world. As you stroll the first floor, you'll be introduced to firearms from the 16th-18th century. Marvel at the 704 artillery and accessories accompanying the mortars, guns, and falconry. The unique pistols, Hussar armor, and Horseman's armor are just a few of the impressive items exhibited on the 2nd floor. Housed on the third floor you'll find armor from the German workshops, such as the 1814 Rossharnisch made from 42-carat gold. As you roam the fourth and last floor of this museum, you'll be fascinated by the barracks and ladders used pre-firearms.
Located in the district of St. Leonhard Graz, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church is the largest church in Graz. This Roman Catholic church was designed by Georg Hauberrisser between 1881-1887. Its neo-Gothic brick style architecture includes a tall nave, an under-church, and a tower that is 109.6 meters tall. Marvel at the magnificent neo-Gothic stained glass windows that serve as a historic reminder of the neo-Gothic influence in Austria.
Stroll over to the southern side of the Graz Cathedral and marvel at the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II. Inside the mausoleum, you'll find the Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria. The Emperor's marble tomb sits under two marble slabs on the left side of the chapel's altar. Above the crypt, you'll be mesmerized by the oval dome lingering over the crypt. You'll swoon at the vibrant red marble sarcophagus decorated with the faces of the Emperor's parents Archduke Karl II and Maria of Bavaria.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a fascinating destination. Built in the 18th century, the Eggenberg Palace is furnished with a plethora of original furniture, tapestries, and decorations from the 17-18th century. This castle has 24 rooms with pristine antiquities. As you walk into the Planetary Room, explore the seven planets known in the 18th century and recorded on the wall. As you tour the corridors, you'll be mesmerized by the Osaka Folding Screen said to have been laid with Indian paper. Finally, venture through the rest of the palace rooms, such as the Rococo.
Graz has something to offer at almost any time. Christmas markets make it an enchanting festive destination while festivals, galleries, and museums light up trips at other times of year.
Graz Airport (GRZ) offers plenty of connections to European aviation hubs. Take bus 630 or 631 to the city center (EUR2.20) or queue for a taxi (around EUR25).
You can easily get from Vienna to Graz Hauptbahnhof by train (around EUR25), along with Munich or Salzburg. After arriving, take trams 1, 3, 6, or 7 to the Old Town.
From Vienna: take the S6, then the S35. From Salzburg: take the A1 then the A9.
Both Eurolines and Westbus run international buses into Graz, with connections to Munich, Vienna, Budapest, and Berlin, among many other cities.
From the 16th-century Schlossberghotel - Das Kunsthotel to the more modern Hotel Wiesler, Graz is not short on superb accommodation choices.
Innere Stadt - the Old Town is stunning. Set beneath the castle hill, this UNESCO-listed neighborhood is a place to wander around at your leisure.
Schlossberg - towering over Graz, the castle hill is accessible via a funicular and commands magnificent views over the city.
Sankt Leonhard - the other side of the hill from the Old Town, Sankt Leonhard is pleasant and tidy, and a great base to explore the city as a whole.
Single tickets on buses and trams cost EUR2.20, and 24-hour passes cost EUR5.
Expect to pay a meter drop of EUR4 in Graz, followed by around EUR2 per mile.
Car rental options include Hertz and Europcar, and rates should be around EUR20 per day.
Herrengasse is the most important shopping street in town, while Kastner and Öhler is the largest store, and is located just off the main square.
Supermarkets in Graz include Billa, Lidl, and Spar, where you can expect to pay around EUR3.90 for a gallon of milk.
Restaurant Florian is a lovely spot thanks to its rose garden (and Styrian cuisine), while Michelin-starred Aiola is another standout. Expect prices to range from EUR15 at mid-range places to over EUR50 at the best restaurants.