Weekend in Graz itinerary for first time visitors
This post is a Graz travel guide that covers how to spend a weekend in Graz and includes all the juicy details of some of the best things to do in Graz Austria. Like what to do, see, eat and where to stay on a city break to Graz .
Graz may not be as well-known as Vienna, but it is rapidly becoming a must visit destination for travel enthusiasts looking for a fresh and authentic Austrian experience. With a city centre adorned with architecture influenced by Italian Renaissance artists and architects, a range of culinary delights and futuristic landmarks.
Graz has a unique feel and elegance that make it an ideal city break destination in Austria.
Inaugurated as the 2003 ‘European Capital of Culture’ and the 2009 ‘City of Design’. Graz has an excellent blend of Renaissance courtyards and contemporary structures.
Because of the city’s regional specialties and historical institutions, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
But don’t be fooled, thinking Graz is another stuffy European City. Oh no Sir, Graz is home to six universities and is a hubbub of activity, hipster cafes and forward thinkers.
Graz is a harmonious blend of old and new co-existing in perfect symbiosis.
This 2 days in Graz itinerary — designed to help you make the best things to do in Graz and your dream trip to Austria’s second-largest city.
how to get do Graz from London
There are three ways to get to Graz from London. Flights to Graz, costs around £110-£250, is the quickest means of transportation, and average travel time takes around 4-6 hours. There are no direct flights from London to Graz, so I had to fly to Munich (you can also fly via Frankfurt and Vienna).
The journey time for both routes lasts about 4 hours. But, I fly from London to Munich and then Munich to Graz. Graz Airport (Flughafen Graz) is about 10 km away from the city.
When I arrived, I caught a bus that took 15 minutes ride from the airport to the city centre. Graz is one of the top places to visit in Austria.
I took a taxi from the Lendhotel to the airport that took a 15-minutes ride to the airport for €15, 15 to 20-minute S5 train ride (€2.20) or any of the 630 or 631 shuttle buses (€2.20).
Weekend in Graz | Top things to do on in Graz, Austria
Day 1 in Graz itinerary
Hauptplatz (Main Square) and Herrengasse
It’s best to start your two days in Graz is at the Hauptplatz (Main Square), which is in the heart of the city and in the middle of the Old Town. From the Hauptplatz you can reach most of the Graz’s attractions on foot.
The Hauptplatz houses a statue of the Archduke and the town hall (Rathaus) and a lot of other colourful and impressively decorated buildings around the square.
Wandering around the Hauptplatz the beautiful pastel colours and intricate detailing of the Baroque style and Biedermeier buildings next to each other easily distracted me.
You’ll find that each building in the main square is unique and beautifully designed on its own. But stacked in a row of blush peach, baby blues and soft creams, on either side of the magnificent white Rathaus, forming a dazzling sight worth spending at least a good few minutes to take in.
To the right of the Haptplatz and along Herrengasse (the main shopping street in the centre of Graz), sits the beautiful “Painted House,” where you can see scenes from Greco-Roman mythology.
This street has archways leading to the fabulous inner courtyards — randomly choose one or two and check them out. You won’t be disappointed.
Don’t pass up a chance to visit the Landhaus Courtyard just next to the Tourist Information office. The Renaissance style arcade courtyard of the Landhaus is one of the top things to see in Graz.
Check out my Youtube video of cool things to do in Graz. You’ll fall in Love with this gorgeous city
Pro tip: There are trams that whizz through Hauptplatz in Graz Old Town, so always be alert when crossing the street or taking photos. I found the square busiest at midday and would recommend visiting it either early in the morning, late afternoon or on Sunday when most of the shops and restaurants are closed.
Schlossberg and Clock Tower (Uhrturm)
There’s no better way to kick-start your Graz itinerary than soaking up the best views of the city from all angles, than from the top of Schlossberg. A former fortress in the city's heart and centre of Graz, that now serves as a public park.
Climb the stairs and wandering around the Schlossberg up to the Clock Tower is a must on your visit to Graz.
The 90-foot Clock Tower Graz is one of the major landmarks of Graz and I could see from where ever I was in Graz.
The Clock Tower has become a symbol of Graz and its history. Some parts of the Clock Tower date back to the 15th century.
The current clock mechanism is electronic and because of later additions, the minute and hour hands are reversed.
There are two options for getting to the Clock Tower: 1. You can take the stairs from the Felsensteig (a whopping 260 steps, so pace yourself when going up), which starts on the Schlossbergplatz. 2.The Schlossbergbahn (a funicular) or 3. The glass Schlossberglift, which runs through the middle of the mountain.
I climbed the stairs twice, yes the views were that good I had to do it TWICE! Even with 260 stairs along the footpath. I would suggest leaving some time for yourself to stop and take photos (or rest a little) as ascending to the Clock Tower.
The climb will leave you a little winded, but it will be worth it, for the epic panoramic views over Graz, you’ll enjoy it. It’s a top Graz sight-seeing spot.
I visited a sunrise and midday and recommended going at dawn and watching the sun come up and wash over the terracotta roofs of the buildings and winding narrow streets below.
Schlossberg is also home to the highest indoor slide in the world. The slide lasts about 30 seconds, and you can only reach the entrance at the Schlossberglift (combined ticket 5 Euro).
If you visit, try this as it looks like an incredible ride. It bummed me out that, I didn’t have enough time to ride it myself, but I saw it in action, and it looked like so much fun. If 48 hours in Graz is all you have I would definitely visit the clock tower and Schlossberg first.
Getting to the Schlossberg:
Option 1: On foot (over the Felsensteig Stairs, about 15 minutes)
Option 2: With the Schlossberglift (Elevator) (1,60 Euro per person)
Option 3: With the Schlossbergbahn (Funicular) (2,40 Euro per person)
Kunsthaus Graz (Art Museum)
Still wondering what to do in Graz? Then visit the The Kunsthaus Graz or ‘the friendly alien,’ as it affectionately referred to by locals. This building resembles a part alien spaceship, part vital organ depending on where you’re viewing it from.
The Kunsthaus is one of the most futuristic buildings in Graz and stands out against the more historically designed buildings.
The Graz Kunsthaus has also become the second most crucial landmark in Graz. They commissioned this Avantgarde masterpiece when Graz’s was named the ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2003.
Designed by British architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournie. The building is located on the right bank of the River Mur, a once-neglected part of the city.
This side of the river has undergone a re-gentrification since the Kunsthaus Graz and is now a very boho part of the city with many hipster cafes, charity and up-cycle shops with a focus on social initiatives.
The lower floor of the museum is a restaurant and media lounge (Camera Austria) and the second floor hosts a myriad of exhibitions. These exhibitions are temporary, so check ahead before your visit to see what’s on.
Pro tip: The Graz Kunsthaus is closed on Mondays.
Address: Lendkai 1, Graz
The Murinsel Graz - The Island in the Mur
The Murinsel is an artificial island which looks like a massive glass shell. It’s suspended over the River Mur by two footbridges connecting it to the river banks.
The cool thing about the Murinsel is that the glass-panelled domes of the structure give an impression that it’s floating on water.
The Murinsel connects both the new and the old sides of the city. The island, along with the Alien, has breathed life back into this part of town.
The islands in the Mur, commissioned by Graz as “Cultural Capital of Europe 2003,” and designed by American artist Vito Acconcii.
There is also a cafe in the Murinsel where you can grab a coffee or cocktail, relax and feel like the river flow beneath you. I had drinks in the Murinsel during my visit to Graz and its very chi chi with a calm, relaxing vibe. The cocktails here aren’t bad either.
The Murinsel can be lowered or risen depending on the tide levels of the river. Visiting the Mur island is a must see on a Graz city break.
Mariahilferpl. 1, Graz, Austria,
Graz travel tip: Visit the Murinsel at night when it is illuminated by bright blue and red. The lights also serve as navigation lights — a warning to other ships straying into the Mur. The island in the Mur is one of the top places to see in Graz Austria.
Directly next to the Landhaus is the Armoury. With about 32,000 objects in the 17th-century mansion on Herrengasse, Graz is home to the most extensive historical Armoury in the world and was once an essential arsenal in Inner Austria.
In the Armoury, there are rows of shining suits of armour, giving the mansion a museum-like appeal. You will also find swords, chainmail, cannons and a warhorse body of Armoury. This museum is one for lovers of history and battle strategists.
Next, I visited the city’s vibrant main square in Sporgasse. The busy shopping street is lined with some of the most picturesque old-world buildings and store-fronts.
Head to the Hofbackerei to treat yourself to some delicious pastries in the former Imperial bakery.
This is the oldest surviving bakery in Graz and one of the oldest in Austria, dating back to the 14th century. I guess you can say they have pastries down to a fine art (I make weird jokes go with it). This is the place to sample imperial era biscuits such as their “Sissibusserl” or “Kaiserzwieback”.
I sampled a few of the “Sissibusserl”, and they were soft and chewy, with an almond flavour and a crunchy outer layer.
It's also said that the Hofbäckerei Edegger-Tax bakery is one of the best-known facades in Graz. You cannot miss the splendid wooden shop-facade — crowned with a gilded double-headed eagle. It’s one of the main Graz attractions in the Old Town.
Hofgasse 6, Graz 8010, Austria
Dinner at Glockl Brau
To cap off my eventful first day in Graz. I had dinner at the Glockl Brau that serves up authentic Austrian food and a beer as big as my head.
They have a great seasonal menu and an extensive beer selection. If you are looking for something hearty and filling at the end of a long day of exploring look no further.
Glockenspielplatz 2-3 | 8010 Graz, Graz 8010,
Day 2 in Graz Itinerary
Farmers Market and Lendplatz or Kaiser Josef Markt
Graz has 14 farmers' markets — yes you read that correctly 14 farmers' markets!
One of the most iconic institutions in the city, Kaiser Josef Markt, is the largest farmer’s market in Graz.
Originally called Holzmarktplatz (wood market square), they renamed the market Kaiser-Josef-Platz in the 19th century.
There is a farmers market (Monday - Saturday), but on Saturdays, practically the whole city heads there to fill their baskets with fresh produce.
Wandering the market’s stands, I saw leeks, pumpkin seed oil, potatoes and cured meat. If you’re getting hungry, you can deck into one of the huts around the market.. Visiting the farmers market should be at the top of your list of things to do in Graz.
The second daily market in Graz is in the LEND district, the Lendplatz. This is not a side of Graz that I think a lot of tourists would visit as it's an up-and-coming area.
But it’s a market filled with regional delicacies and is frequented mainly by locals.
There are some small cafes and eateries around the market that you can grab a cup of coffee or light snacks from.
Pro tip: Market regulations state that stalls must be closed by 1 pm, so arrive early. The markets are also closed on Sundays.
Wander the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II
Commissioned by Kaiser Ferdinand II, while he was a resident in Graz and a ruler of Inner Austria, this is the most significant Habsburg tomb in terms of art history.
It was to become one of the most important buildings of the early 17th century in Austria. The oval dome above the tomb chapel was the first of its kind built outside Italy.
Burggasse, Graz, Austria
The Double Spiral Stairs
Though most of the castle (the imperial residence of Emperor Friedrich III in the 15th century) is not open to visitors, the Doppelwendeltreppe is one of the top things to see in Graz.
Comprising two parallel spiral stairs, this double-spiral staircase fuses, parts and joins again on each floor. A masterpiece of stone masonry from the end of the Gothic period.
Views of Graz from Kastner & Ohler
Ok, I will not lie, the views of Graz from Kastner & Ohler, will get you all the likes on the ‘Gram’. It’s incredible; there is a view of the Clock Tower to your right. The city centre, Hauptplatz and the Castle at Schlossberg hill from Freiblick cafe at the premium department store.
There is a glass-sided platform at the side of the cafe, that jutted out over the roof. This gives you the perfect view of down Hauptplatz and the Clock Tower.
Don’t just head to the cafe for a ‘Gram’ photo and leave. Stay and enjoy the views and delicious food. I highly recommend the local soup with herb dumplings, it was terrific.
Sackstraße 7-13, 8010 Graz (on the roof of the Kastner & Öhler Department Store)
Walk along the West Bank
Once you’re done with lunch, head to West Bank – one-half of Graz’s twin towns. The West Bank houses developing neighbourhoods like Gries and Lend, and is home to hip coffee shops and designer stores.
Evening Dinner at Gasthaus Stainzerbauer
After two days of adventure in Graz. I ended my evening with dinner at the Gasthaus Stainzerbauer. A cosy restaurant was serving up some of the most delicious traditional Austrian cuisine with a modern touch.
The restaurant is tucked away, but less than 5 minute walk from the Hauptplatz. Walking into the Stainzerbauer felt like going back in time with its enclave type dinner area, dark wooden tables and seating.
You can get much more traditional than this restaurant — it’s even been around since 1577!
But enough of that, let’s get down to the good stuff. The food, well it was culinary perfection all the way. The starter was a fusion take on the take with four different fish. I had the Wiener schnitzel with cranberries (I had never had schnitzel with cranberries before but I think this is the only way to have schnitzel now) for my main. Dessert was a cheesecake topped with fruits. They paired this with a light Rosé.
I was sad to have my last bite and last night in Graz.
Buergergasse 4, Graz 8010, Austria
These are just a few of the things to do in Graz Austria.
Where to Stay in Graz
If you’re a first-time visitor to Graz, staying in the Old Town area may appeal more to you, but if you are a solo traveller or budget conscious, then staying in the LEND district might be for you.
I stayed in both areas during my visit to Graz and can honestly say that both areas were terrific and showed two different sides to Graz. The old historical side and the modern, young, innovative side.
Whichever side you base yourself, Graz is a compact city, and most things to do in Graz are within walking distance of both areas.
Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in Graz
Old Town Graz
The historic city centre is Graz’s main attraction and has been deservedly named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s well preserved architectural facades and narrow alleys tell the city’s story dating back to over 900 years. Staying in the historic Old Town will allow you to explore Graz in all of its glory.
At the end of your day’s adventure, you could join sitting in the roadside cafes to people-watch and enjoy the local atmosphere.
You may also want to venture into the Hauptplatz, the city’s main square, and stand in awe at the sight of the city hall. You won’t get bored in Old Town.
In the northern part of the city, Lend District stands out as a beautiful and energetic area with loads of cultural gems.
Packed with an impressive range of market, bars, restaurants and cafes, this district is attractive to Graz’s younger population and students in the area.
Best Hotels in Graz Austria
I stayed at both hotels and couldn’t recommend them enough. Both hotels are beautiful and unique, and the staff were all lovely and attentive.
Grand Hotel Wiesler
Grand Hotel Wiesler is one of the to Hotel in Graz Austria. Located in the Old Town of Graz next to the Mur River. The hotel is also 100 yards from the Graz Kunsthaus and five minutes from the Schlossberg Funicular.
The Grand Hotel Wiesler is one of the most stylish luxury boutique hotels in Graz. The atmosphere is very young and hip, with a list of ‘who’s who’ that have stayed there.
And I mean ‘who’s who’, from Mick Jagger to the Dalai Lama and me (well it had to go down hill somewhere 🤣). This hotel has welcomed them all.
The rooms are spacious and minimalistic with interesting design elements that will have you taking a second look.
Like the distressed walls and hand-painted Talavera sinks from Mexico. Some rooms even have views of the Clock Tower from their windows; sadly, my room didn’t come with a view. But I had huge windows that perfectly let in tons of natural light.
The breakfast at the hotel restaurant is also something that should not be missed; the breakfast buffet is to die for. Everything is fresh and seasonal; there is even an actual honeycomb where you can get your own fresh honey, there was fresh bread and cured meat galore. There is no way you will leave this hotel hungry.
There is also brunch with a live DJ on Sundays for all you brunching queens.
Lendhotel is located in Lend District, hence the name. Even though this hotel is not in the heart of the city. It’s around 20 minute walk to the city centre and most of the top attractions in Graz.
Lend is the creative area in Graz with lots of co-working space and one of the largest districts in Graz. Lend is also one of the more multi-cultural parts of Graz with people from Croatia and Lebanon.
What I loved about this hotel was the quirky art. I found pieces dotted around the whole hotel. The hotel is owned by Dietrich Mateschitz, a Formula 1 race car driver and owner of half of Red Bull. You will see elements of race cars used as inspiration throughout the hotel lobby.
The hotel is modern with stunning contemporary artwork, but the rooms were minimalistic and spacious.
The hotel even has a top ﬂoor terrace with a 360° view of the Old Town.
If you stay at the Lendhotel, get breakfast, you will not regret it or need to eat again until lunch. Everything is fresh and locally sourced from the farmers' market up the street.
Look, Graz isn’t called the culinary capital of Austria for no reason and both the hotels and restaurants I dined in showed this effortlessly.
Best Guided Tours in Graz
Graz city tours provide a laser view of any adventure, and they can be especially invaluable when you have only a little time to spend in a place. Some of the best Graz sightseeing tour include:
Graz Guides – Guide Association for Graz and Styria
Tourist Guides – Tourist Guides Zöhrer OG
Guide service Graz
City Guides Graz
Art of Guiding
Day Trips from Graz
Without a doubt, Graz is one of Austria’s most beautiful cities. Its historic core, rich cultural climate and refreshingly young atmosphere make it a dream destination for many travel enthusiasts. But there are other amazing destinations around Graz that you could head to for a day trip.
Here are some of the best places to visit from Graz and how you can find your way there if you do not have a car.
Graz to Vienna
Austria’s capital is only 2 hours 30 minutes away from Graz. If you leave in the morning, you’d have plenty of time to visit the major sightseeing spots in Vienna. Start your adventure by heading to St Stephen’s Cathedral as you can walk from there to all the many attractions in the city: the rose gardens, the Rathaus, the Opera and the Hofburg.
How to Get There
Flixbus is your best option for a day trip from Graz to Vienna as it will take you directly to Westbahnhof, just a stone’s throw away from Vienna’s main shopping street. Buses leave from the Opera or Murpark every hour or half an hour, and the ticket prices, starting at €9, are cheap.
Every hour, trains also leave the Vienna Main Station to Graz, but they are not only slower but more expensive than the Flixbus.
Graz to Grüner See
Only an hour away from Graz, Grüner See is a small lake widely known for its emerald green colours in summer and spring seasons. It is a magnificent sight to behold and worth a visit if you are in Graz. Your trip here will be especially fantastic if you’d like to go hiking. You can hike your way around the lake and nearby mountains and forests.
Buses do not go to Grüner See, so you can only get there by car.
Best Restaurants in Graz
If you’re a foodie, a trip to Graz is your perfect getaway. The chefs here transform straightforward ingredients into traditional dishes with an international feel, with their incredible imaginations and culinary know-how. Here are some of the best restaurants in Graz:
That I dined at above
Serves traditional open faces sandwiches you should miss.
This restaurant is perfectly set up for a romantic rendezvous. Its traditional-style dining room, an impressive rose garden and winter garden conservatory make for a perfect setting for a romantic dinner. Its menu includes a variety of fine wines that complement the gourmet Austrian cuisine.
Sitting inside the fantastic and evocative Renaissance Landhaus building, this restaurant is one of the unlikeliest places to find local steaks and Argentine dishes. The beef here is a blend of Austria’s dry-aged beef and Argentinean El Gaucho beef. They allow the Austrian beef to age for 32 days to achieve the precise flavour the restaurant offers. If steaks don’t appeal to you, you could choose from any of the other delicacies such as soft-shell crab or goose liver as well as a range of great beers.
Graz feels like a small town but with a big city personality.
I hope my Graz weekend itinerary inspires you to make Graz your next city break destination.
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