Often touted as a must-visit destination in European travel guides, Graz boasts a rich historical tapestry that beckons tourists from all corners of the world. The city's Old Town, brimming with Baroque façades, stands as a testament to its architectural grandeur and offers a visual treat for history enthusiasts and architectural aficionados alike.
Dominating Graz's skyline is the Schlossberg, an imposing hill that offers not only panoramic vistas of the enchanting city below but also a deep dive into its ancient past. This picturesque landscape, combined with the city's historical charm, positions Graz as a top tourist hotspot in Austria.
Archaeological insights unveil that Graz's origins can be traced back to the AD 800 era. However, it was in 1128 that it got its first historical mention. Subsequently, the influential Habsburg dynasty took the reins of the city, catapulting it to a premier hub for trade and commerce. Graz's architectural marvels, many echoing Italian design influences like the splendid Schloss Eggenberg, are reminiscent of its prosperous past under the Habsburgs.
Owing to its wealth of heritage structures and cultural significance, Graz was rightfully accorded a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1999. Adding to its contemporary allure, the city also celebrates its status as the birthplace of Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarzenegger. Film buffs can indulge in a nostalgic journey through a dedicated museum that chronicles the actor's illustrious career.
For those curating an Austria travel itinerary or seeking the best European travel experiences, Graz promises an unmatched blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Dive into our comprehensive guide of top tourist attractions in Graz, and ensure a memorable exploration of this Austrian gem.
1. Old Town Graz: A Stroll Through History and Charm
Graz's UNESCO-certified Old Town is a treasure trove of historic charm and architectural marvels. Ideal for exploration by foot, this captivating district allows travelers to step back in time, surrounded by the echoes of centuries past.
Center stage in this historic enclave is the Hauptplatz, Graz's celebrated Main Square, strategically positioned on the left bank of the River Mur. This bustling square pays homage to Archduke Johann (1782-1859), an influential figure memorialized by a stately statue. His vision ushered in an era of industrial growth, bolstering trade and enhancing regional communications.
Adjacent to this statue, the architectural gems of the Old Town shine brightly. The Rathaus, or Town Hall, constructed in 1893, stands as a testament to Graz's civic pride. Meanwhile, the 17th-century Haus am Luegg captures the imagination with its ornate arcaded frontage and stucco-laden exterior.
A short walk westward from the Main Square unveils the Gothic masterpiece of the Franciscan Church (Franziskanerkirche). Its majestic west tower from 1643 and an intricately designed Late Gothic nave crowned with a ribbed vaulted ceiling are true visual delights. Within its sacred confines, the Chapel of St. Anthony, safeguarded by a 1650 Baroque grille, showcases a poignant pietà from 1720, resonating with artistic brilliance.
The Old Town further augments its cultural repertoire with diverse attractions. The GrazMuseum (Stadtmuseum Graz) narrates the city's illustrious history, while the Mohren Apotheke's Theriak Museum offers a glimpse into age-old pharmaceutical traditions. And for melody lovers, the Robert Stolz Museum celebrates the legacy of the renowned Austrian composer born in Graz in 1880.
Rounding off the Old Town experience is the enchanting Herrengasse pedestrian zone, a corridor of history adorned with regal mansions. Of these, the Painted House (Gemaltes Haus) stands out, its facade enlivened by vibrant frescos from 1742.
Address: Franziskanerplatz 14, 8010 Graz
Dive deep into the historical heart of this Austrian jewel and let its stories unfold before you.
2. Time Travel in Graz: Schlossberg and the Enchanting Clock Tower
Soaring above the historic Old Town of Graz, the Schlossberg stands as an emblematic symbol of the city's rich heritage. This towering 473-meter hill, which seamlessly blends nature's beauty with human innovation, is a must-visit for any traveler in Graz. Those eager to ascend swiftly can opt for the state-of-the-art funicular railway, ensuring they reach the summit in a mere three minutes. However, for those preferring a leisurely pace, the hill offers a scenic 20-minute walking route, dotted with picturesque moments.
Crowning the Schlossberg is its pièce de résistance: the illustrious Clock Tower (Uhrturm). This 28-meter-tall architectural marvel, erected in 1561, isn't just a feast for the eyes. It stands as a historical sentinel, being the only remnant of the once-imposing fortifications that graced the hilltop. Their dismantling post the Treaty of Vienna in 1809 left the Clock Tower as an enduring emblem of the city's resilience.
Yet, the allure of Schlossberg doesn't end there. Delve deeper into its historical tapestry with the enigmatic Turkish Well (Türkenbrunnen), a remarkable 94-meter-deep structure. Adjacently, the majestic Belfry (Glockenturm) from 1588 holds its own, proudly housing the massive eight-ton bell, affectionately dubbed "Liesl" by the Graz residents.
While history and architecture dominate, the Schlossberg also offers reprieve for the weary traveler. The hilltop café, with its sprawling vistas of Graz, is the perfect spot to unwind. For art enthusiasts, the open-air theater brings culture to life under the stars. And families aren't forgotten – the delightful miniature railroad ensures young explorers are equally enthralled.
In essence, Schlossberg isn't just a hill; it's a journey through Graz's storied past, with unparalleled views and experiences. It remains an essential chapter in any Graz travel story. Don't miss this captivating fusion of nature, history, and culture during your Austrian journey.
3. Armored Chronicles: A Closer Look at the Styrian Armoury's Exhibits
Situated on the bustling Herrengasse street in Graz, the Styrian Armoury (Landeszeughaus) stands as an emblematic testament to the city's rich history. This renowned establishment is nestled amongst the many jewels that make up the Universalmuseum Joanneum collection of museums - an array of attractions that mark the town's illustrious past.
With roots tracing back to 1644, this iconic spot has long served as the provincial arsenal, holding the historical tales and artifacts of centuries gone by.
The Styrian Armoury is not just another armory; it's recognized globally as the largest historical armory in existence. Its vast collections boast an impressive 13,400 small arms and related accessories. This staggering inventory includes a whopping 4,259 pistols. The armory's artillery compilation is equally breathtaking, featuring an array of volley guns, mortars, cannons, and the more compact falconets. Additionally, accessories that accompany these artillery pieces add further depth to the collection.
Stepping further into the annals of military history, the Armoury presents a collection of over 2,000 edged weapons. These include elegantly crafted swords, menacing broadswords, and razor-sharp sabers, providing a glimpse into the weaponry favored by warriors of bygone eras.
However, what captivates most visitors is the mesmerizing array of armor on display. This collection showcases the evolution of protective gear, spanning from rudimentary shields and chain mail to intricate full-body armor suits. Notably, among the 3,844 armor pieces, there's a remarkable horse armor crafted around 1510 in Innsbruck, standing out as a testament to the craftsmanship of that era.
To ensure an authentic experience, the exhibits in the Armoury are presented in the traditional style, devoid of modern signs or placards that might disrupt the age-old ambiance. However, to cater to the needs of the international audience, complimentary visitor guides in English are available at the entrance. For those interested in diving deeper into the history of each piece, an affordable audio guide offers detailed descriptions and rich background stories.
Herrengasse 16, 8010 Graz
and step back in time to witness the martial glory of the past.
4. Landhaus and Courtyard: The Essence of Renaissance Grandeur in Graz
Crafted meticulously in the quintessential Renaissance style back in 1565, this awe-inspiring edifice stands tall in Austria's architectural landscape, often celebrated as one of the country's premier Renaissance landmarks.
As visitors are ushered through its grandiose main façade, an architectural masterpiece adorned with signature rounded windows and an inviting loggia, they are greeted by the enchanting arcaded courtyard. This open-air expanse, punctuated by magnificent three-tiered pergolas spanning two of its flanks, houses a splendid Renaissance fountain, further elevating its charm.
For those aiming to soak in the vibrant cultural essence of Graz, coordinating your Landhaus exploration with its schedule of lively outdoor events is a splendid idea. From mesmerizing concerts that echo the city's musical legacy to theatrical spectacles that bring stories to life, this venue is a hub of cultural rendezvous. Within its walls, the luxurious Knights' Hall beckons, a space distinguished by its meticulously crafted stucco ceiling from 1746, mirroring the opulence of yesteryears.
Yet, Graz's architectural journey doesn't conclude at the Landhaus. A stone's throw away, the historic Graz Burg awaits exploration. This timeless palace, etched in history, is renowned for its innovative 15th-century double spiral staircases, known as the Staircase of Reconciliation. As these intertwined pathways ascend, they meld harmoniously on every landing, conjuring a mesmerizing optical illusion for the beholder.
5. Graz Art Museum: Austria's Pinnacle of Contemporary Art
This architectural marvel serves as a stark contrast to the city's traditional edifices, making it a focal point of contemporary design in Graz's historic landscape.
Delving into the vast spectrum of contemporary art, Graz Art Museum prides itself on curating a selection that captures the essence of the mid-20th-century art movement. This haven for art enthusiasts showcases global talents, inviting artists from every corner of the planet to display their masterpieces. Its galleries constantly evolve, offering visitors fresh perspectives with its rotating temporary exhibits, ensuring each visit is a unique experience.
For those wishing to truly capture the essence of Kunsthaus Graz, a nighttime visit is a must. As dusk settles, the building metamorphoses into a luminous spectacle, reminiscent of a spaceship ready for interstellar journeys. Its radiant facade offers an enchanting spectacle against the night sky, making it a favored photographic spot among locals and tourists alike.
Enhance your museum journey with insightful English language guided tours or delve into the narratives behind each exhibit with the comprehensive audio-guides available. This ensures a holistic experience, shedding light on the contemporary art narratives housed within.
Address: Lendkai 1, 8020 Graz
Step into the world of avant-garde artistry at Kunsthaus Graz and witness the harmonious blend of past and present in Austria's architectural and artistic spheres.
6. Murinsel (Mur Island) Unveiled: Graz's Architectural Marvel on Water
This artificial island, ingeniously crafted from steel, draws inspiration from the organic form of an inverted seashell, seamlessly blending modern architecture with nature's fluidity. Spanning 47 meters in length, this floating masterpiece sits majestically amidst the river's currents, anchored securely to the riverbanks by two pedestrian footbridges.
At the heart of the Murinsel, visitors will find an intricately designed amphitheater that serves as a cultural hub. From captivating concerts to riveting performances, this space reverberates with the energy of Graz's vibrant arts scene. For those wishing to relax and absorb the serene surroundings, a chic café on the island offers the perfect vantage point. Families visiting will be delighted to find an engaging children's playground, complete with a challenging rope maze and a slide, ensuring hours of fun for the young explorers.
Whether you're a culture enthusiast, a coffee aficionado, or seeking a serene escape in Graz, the Murinsel is a must-visit destination that promises a blend of art, leisure, and recreation.
Address: Mariahilferpl. 5, 8020, Graz
Let the Murinsel transport you to a world where avant-garde design effortlessly coexists with nature's raw beauty, only in Graz.
7. Graz Cathedral: A Historical Beacon of Spiritual Architecture
For history enthusiasts and architectural admirers, Graz offers an unparalleled experience with its Late Gothic marvel, St. Gile's Cathedral, also celebrated as Grazer Dom. Featured prominently on the list of top attractions in Graz that won't cost you a dime, this cathedral is a tangible testament to the city's rich past. Its construction spanned from 1438-1462, marking a monumental evolution from an earlier church dedicated to St. Giles, a religious cornerstone mentioned as early as 1174.
A highlight that beckons the attention of every visitor is its grand main doorway, adorned magnificently with the coat of arms of its legendary builder, Emperor Frederick III.
Adding to the cathedral's allure is a captivating Late Gothic fresco, known as the Landplagenbild, situated on its southern facade. A visual masterpiece from 1485, it paints a vivid picture of Graz's historic challenges, encapsulating the city's resilience against threats like pestilence, the imposing Turks, and a devastating locust invasion.
Step inside to be mesmerized by the cathedral's predominantly Baroque interior. The expansive nave, punctuated by a stately triumphal arch, sets the stage for the awe-inspiring choir area. The choir's centerpiece, a towering high altar, proudly showcases an altarpiece that brings to life the Miracle of St. Giles. As you tread the aisles, a series of intricately designed monuments and altars unfold, each echoing tales of devotion and artistic mastery.
Address: Burggasse 3, 8010 Graz
Discover the confluence of history, art, and spirituality at the heart of Graz with a visit to Grazer Dom.
8. Graz Mausoleum: Blending Art, History, and Spirituality
After exploring the iconic cathedral, your next stop should be the impressive Graz Mausoleum. Strategically constructed in the early 1600s adjacent to both the cathedral and St. Catherine's Church (Katharinenkirche), this historic site was commissioned by Emperor Ferdinand II. Dive into the rich heritage of Graz as you witness the remarkable Tomb Chapel, adorned with intricate artwork and stunning sculptures.
Often referred to by locals as "the crown of the town", the mausoleum stands tall, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Graz. And for those seeking that perfect photo opportunity, the steps leading up to the Graz Mausoleum serve as an unparalleled selfie-spot, capturing the essence of this Austrian gem.
9. The Majestic Mariatrost Basilica: A Must-Visit in Graz
The stunning Baroque Mariatrost Basilica dominates Graz's skyline, perched majestically atop a hill. Visitors and devotees alike embark on a spiritual journey, ascending a path paved with over 200 steps. As they climb, they're often engrossed in reading the enlightening messages that line the way, each one a beacon of faith and reflection. Upon entering this revered pilgrimage destination, you're greeted by an intricately designed Baroque interior. However, a striking contrast is the Madonna on the high altar, which showcases a late Gothic style, a testament to the intricate craftsmanship of yesteryears.
Among the numerous awe-inspiring features of the basilica, the 1779 pulpit crafted by Veit Königer stands out, echoing tales of ancient sermons and spiritual teachings. Equally captivating are the meticulously inlaid side altars and the vividly painted frescoes that adorn the walls, capturing biblical scenes with great finesse.
Beyond its architectural marvels, the basilica offers another treat for the senses – panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Many locals and tourists alike frequent this hallowed spot to drink in the sweeping views, especially during dusk. The ethereal sunset, as viewed from the basilica, paints the sky in hues of gold and crimson, offering a tranquil respite from the bustling city below.
10. Schloss Eggenberg Chronicles: Delight in Graz's Baroque Splendor
Constructed in 1635, this illustrious Baroque palace stands as a testament to grandeur with its imposing four towers, opulent state apartments, and intricate Rococo adornments.
One cannot miss the captivating allure of the banqueting hall's walls and ceilings – a quintessential representation of Baroque architecture. They are lavishly decorated with an astounding collection of over 600 art pieces, encompassing a diverse range from the signs of the zodiac to the complex planetary system.
The grandiosity of celestial motifs extends into the famed Reception Room, colloquially referred to as the Room of the Planets. This space is a highlight among the suite of 24 staterooms, meticulously brought to life by the talented Styrian artist, Hans Adam Weissenkircher.
For art connoisseurs, the Alte Galerie within the palace is a treasure trove. Here, visitors can marvel at iconic pieces like the Admont Madonna from 1320, the poignant Lambrecht votive tablets of 1440, and a vast assortment of Baroque sculptures and paintings. To enrich the experience, English language guided tours offer deep insights into the palace's rich history and architectural splendor.
11. The Natural History Museum
Dive into the Wonders of the Natural World at the Natural History Museum in Graz. Established in 1811 by the esteemed Archduke Johann, this esteemed institution stands as a crown jewel among the Universalmuseum Joanneum group, reflecting the city's rich commitment to culture and history. Spanning multiple levels, this museum proudly showcases a vast array of collections, offering insights into geology, zoology, and botany.
As you journey through its corridors, you'll be transported back in time, gaining knowledge about the region's history right from the earth's inception. The museum's captivating fossil displays and intriguing exhibits shed light on the mysteries of Ice Age creatures, ancient volcanoes, and the transformative phases of our planet.
12. The Green Gem of Graz: Municipal Park and Botanical Gardens
Graz Stadtpark beckons visitors with its harmonious blend of history and contemporary design. Established in 1869 atop the city's ancient fortifications, the park exudes a rich historical aura. Its centerpiece, the Emperor Francis Joseph Fountain, stands majestically, adorned with intricate statues and monuments that pay homage to Austria's illustrious writers, pioneering scientists, and iconic politicians.
Further enhancing the city's green tapestry is the enchanting Botanical Gardens, situated amidst Graz's elite residential enclave. This botanical haven boasts a cutting-edge greenhouse, teeming with rare and exotic flora spanning global regions. The lush exhibits are thoughtfully divided into tropical, Mediterranean, temperate, and alpine zones. Navigating through this verdant sanctuary, visitors are treated to a network of rustic wooden walkways and charming bridges, making the journey as delightful as the destination itself.
Top Destinations to Explore Near Graz: Day Trip Recommendations
Visiting Stuebing's Renowned Open-Air Museum
Experience Austrian Heritage: Dive into the Heart of Rural Tradition at Europe's Premier Open-Air Museum.
Austria's crown jewel in historical preservation, the Open-Air Museum Stuebing is not only one of the continent's finest but also stands as Austria's most extensive. Encompassing a sprawling area, this remarkable destination boasts 98 meticulously preserved historical farm buildings representing every region of the country.
The museum's inception was driven by a passion for highlighting the artistry behind these structures and offering insights into the life and labor of the people who once inhabited them. Here, visitors can journey through six centuries of rural Austrian history, gaining an understanding of the evolution of folk skills, crafts, and cherished traditions.
While 76 of the edifices are original structures—each painstakingly dismantled from their initial sites and reassembled with precision—the rest are expertly crafted replicas, representing those iconic landmarks that couldn't be relocated. The diverse array features not only homes and barns but also specialized structures like a dovecot, ropewalk, oil press, and corn mill. The collection further extends to include a blacksmith shop, forge, wine press, winemaker's cottage, and a windmill. To round off the experience, visitors can explore various alpine mountain huts, each representing distinct alpine regions.
For those eager to savor the flavors of historical Austria, Gasthaus Zum Göller offers a delightful gastronomic journey with its array of local delicacies.
The Allure of Voitsberg and the Lipizzaner Stud Farm
Nestled in the heart of the Styrian region, Voitsberg offers an unparalleled blend of historical and natural beauty. For those seeking panoramic vistas, a trek to the Castle Krems (Burgruine Krems) not only rewards with breathtaking views but also with intriguing exhibits of contemporary art and meticulously curated gardens.
Further enhancing the region's historical allure are the enchanting, forest-shrouded ruins of the Neuleonrod castle. Equally captivating, the village of Tregist, situated near Voitsberg, boasts the meticulously painted façade of a quaint chapel that mirrors the artistic legacy of the region.
However, Voitsberg's global claim to fame lies in its association with the iconic Lipizzaner horses, the celebrated stars of Vienna's Spanish Riding School. These majestic creatures trace their lineage to the Piber Federal Stud located in the serene village of Piber, just an hour's drive from Graz. Recognized as Europe's oldest thoroughbred horse breed, visitors can witness the symbiotic bond between the elegant white Lipizzaners and their spirited black foals.
For those eager to delve deeper into the Lipizzaner saga, the Baroque palace at the stud serves as an inviting visitor's center. Tourists can opt for self-guided explorations or join a comprehensive guided tour encompassing the stables, farrier's shop, and an insightful museum. Ensuring a complete family experience, the stud also houses a children's playground and adventure trail. For an immersive equestrian experience, visitors can even reserve a memorable carriage ride, gracefully powered by a team of these renowned Lipizzaner horses.
Graz Turist Map: Top Sightseeing Destinations and Simple Day Trip Ideas
To ensure a well-rounded visit, our comprehensive Graz guide, complete with a detailed map that pinpoints the most notable sites and suggests enticing excursions, this guide serves as your indispensable companion to discovering the many facets of this Styrian jewel. Ensure that your visit is not only memorable but also well-rounded with our comprehensive guide by your side.