Graz is the city situated in southeast direction of Austria. Though most of us are aware of Salzburg, Innsbruck and Vienna, Graz is actually the second largest city in Austria and the capital of the southern province of Austria called Styria.
How to reach Graz?
Though Graz has it’s own airport and is well connected with Austrian airlines and Lufthansa airlines. I would rather suggest to visit it be train. We visited Graz after exploring Vienna, hence train seemed to be a logical solution. We were not disappointed. I have already described about how to and where did I book our train journey in our travel plan blog.
We loved the visuals during this journey a little bit unexpected. But I have a minor issue.. They have tooo many tunnels through which the train passes through, hence just when you are seeing a beautiful scene in front of you and then the train enters a tunnel. I wish they had made this journey tourist friendly as well.
Things to know before you visit
A lot of places, museums are closed on Monday in Graz. Even few restaurants and shops are closed on Sundays. Hence plan your trip and details accordingly.
Farmer markets are popular in Graz and are a good places to explore fresh vegetables, fruits and even freshly produced pumpkin seed oil.
Schlossberg and Clock tower
One of the most well known tourist location in Graz is Schlossberg. It is a castle hill with beautiful views of the city.
One can climb the hill or take an elevator. After reaching the top there are different areas to explore on the hill. First and most distinct spot would be the Uhrturm or the clock tower. What is unusual about this clock is that the long arm denotes the hour and short arm denotes the minutes.
We explored Schlossberg for almost few hours and ended up in a cafe uphill with views of the city. While climbing up one comes across different areas with beautiful views as well as old retained monuments. Be it canons or old wells you are bound to find them all. If you are going with elderly people in summer don’t forget water bottles and caps as it gets very sunny and finding shade uphill is difficult.
I don’t think Hilmteich forms a part of usual tourist list as it is away from the main city. It’s is a place for the locals to walk around a mini lake, roam in the woods and basically unwind. But it has been promoted by them for tourism as well. Hilmteich is the name of the lake and the surrounding gardens and forest has walking trails where one can relax and rejuvenate.
Pumpkin seed oil Icecream
In the region of Styria and in South of Austria, it is very common to add Pumpkin seed oil to salads and different savoury dishes. It is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is not used as a cooking oil though. Hence when this company when made an icecream out of it by mixing with vanilla flavour, it was an instant hit with locals of this region as well as in entire Austria. I enjoyed it, the taste is kind of nutty but tasty. It is a must try when in Austria. Find an icecream shop by this particular company ‘eis greissler’ in major cities of Austria as they are highly recommended by many.
Similar to many other cities in Europe, Graz also has a building which was constructed with a specific purpose in recent times and then was retained because of its popularity. Kunsthaus was built as part of European Cultural Capital city celebrations in 2003. It is a museum with a difference as it houses different exhibitions showcasing modern and contemporary art forms from 1960s till date, hence before visiting them, check their website to know which exhibitions are currently displayed.
In an otherwise orthodox looking buildings, this building stands out and is easy to spot even from distance.
Old Town of Graz and Hauptplatz
Old Town of Graz and Hauptplatz are very beautiful and well preserved. Infact old town of Graz is declared as UNESCO’s world heritage site.
Since Graz is unusual tourist location, I think exploring this city will be largely personal preference, yet these are the places I managed to see and would recommend if you have time. It is also described as a student city and students form a large part of their population.