Things to do in Graz, Austria’s Second City
Explore the best things to do in Graz for a fantastic weekend getaway. Stop wondering if Graz is worth visiting & see its magic for yourself!
There are so many things to do in Graz, Austria, that you need to put it on your European bucket list ASAP. Located just 190 km (~118 miles) southwest of Vienna, Austria’s Second City is home to an impressive armory, an overwhelmingly charming Old Town, and even more fascinating history.
Graz is an easy train or bus ride from many Central European cities. You can get from Vienna to Graz in two and a half hours. There are also private and group transfer options to ensure you can maximize your budget on delicious Austrian food or some fantastic souvenirs.
The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, it was crowned the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2003 and the City of Design in 2009. It is also one of the best-preserved historic cities in all of Europe.
Graz is home to an abundance of colleges and universities, with over 60,000 students living in the city to study. This makes it a fantastic place to explore fascinating art scenes and people-watch.
It is also beautiful! It’s split by the Mur River, which divides the city into the old and new halves.
There are so many great things to do in Graz you’ll be wishing you had planned a longer stay!
What to do in Graz
No matter how many days in Graz you have, head straight to Old Town once you arrive. This is the cultural and social hub of the city.
Here, you’ll find Schlossberg Hill, which used to act as the city’s fortress. It is also one of the best places to take in the stunning views of Old Town.
Be sure to wander down into Alstadt von Graz and see the medieval streets for yourself. Old Town is packed full of narrow, winding lanes and small plazas, each with its own unique charm.
Old Town is also known for its impressive architecture. This is where you’ll find the famous colorful buildings and Hauptplatz, Graz’s beautiful central square.
You can use this stop as an excuse to check out Uhrturm, the famous clocktower. This iconic location is definitely Instagramable. The wooden balconies and interesting clock face make this one of the most often visited tourist attractions in the entire city.
After Old Town, venture over to the armory, which is what Graz is known for. The armory is home to Styria’s provincial armory and the world’s largest historical collection of weaponry. There are over 30,000 items displayed from the late medieval and Renaissance periods, dating back to as early as 1551. This slice of history is an absolute must for first-timers visiting the city and any history buff.
Kaiser Josef Platz Markt should be next on your list. It is a daily market that sells fresh produce, sausages, and a wide range of goods daily. In addition, this is a great spot to check out some local culture.
Other things to see in Graz are the Painted Houses and the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II.
The Painted Houses are along Herrengasse, the main shopping street. They are beautiful, colorful buildings that have scenes from Greco-Roman mythology painted on them.
The Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II is seriously impressive. He commissioned the tomb in the 1600s, and it is full of lavish artwork and statues. Ferdinand II’s mother is buried in the mausoleum and is encased in a red marble sarcophagus.
Things to do in Graz on a Sunday
Austrians love their rest and relaxation.
Should you find yourself in Graz over a weekend, do know that many things are closed down or only open for limited hours.
Don’t worry, though. We know what to do in Graz on a Sunday! It is the perfect day to get out into nature and take a walk or hike up into the mountains. Schökl offers a unique view from the top and is the perfect Sunday option as it won’t be as crowded as Schlossberg.
Kalvarienberg is another oft-forgotten mountain. A church at the top offers soaring views of the city. It was an important site for shaping the history of Graz.
The Eggenburg Castle gardens are open for visitors, and the Botanical Gardens are open from 8-14:30.
Sunday is a great day to stroll through the city and snap photos. You can rent a bike and go for a ride along the Mur. You’ll be amazed at how empty the streets are! All these are fantastic free things to do in Graz too!
Where to eat and drink in Graz
Because the city caters to college students and tourists alike, there are plenty of great opportunities for tasty food and fun nights on the town.
If you’re looking for where to eat in Graz, find at least one authentic Austrian restaurant. De Steirer Graz is a fantastic restaurant with delicious local food that won’t break the bank.
Dreizehn by Gauster is another top-rated restaurant with simple, delicious food.
If you happen to be in town in August, you can’t miss Long Table of Graz. Highly revered chefs come together to prepare a 5-course meal for over 7,000 diners. This is an alfresco dining experience you can’t miss!
Nightlife in Graz
Nightlife in Graz is also surprisingly exciting. There are plenty of bars and pubs to choose from, ranging from local dive bars to fancier cocktail lounges.
M1 Martini Bar is the perfect spot if you’d like to enjoy drinks on a rooftop and take in the city view.
Kottulinsky, exactly the opposite, is the hippest underground bar, perfect if you’re looking for a good range of music and a place to dance.
Somewhere in the middle is Viertel 4. This bar is great all year round and serves excellent drinks.
The nightlife has something for everyone, so be sure to leave yourself a free evening to experience it!
So, if you were wondering, Is Graz worth visiting?
Hopefully, this clears things up! With so much culture and an ever-growing list of things to do, Graz should undoubtedly find its way to the top of your list!
Yes, Graz Airport, also called Thalerof, is located about 10 km from the city center. It is easy to get from the airport into the city by public transit or a taxi in about 20 minutes.
Graz Hauptbahnhof, the main train and bus station, is a major hub in Central Europe. The best part about this station is that it is conveniently located near the city center, about 1.3 km away. There is a public bus that can drop you in the center of town in a matter of minutes.
You can really visit Graz any time of year. The summers are lovely, with pleasant temperatures and little rain. Winter, especially leading up to Christmas, is also great because there are plenty of charming Christmas markets throughout town. Fall and Spring are considered shoulder season, with fewer tourists but still with fantastic weather and plenty of things to do.