Unusual Things to do in Graz, Austria

By Abi King | Austria

Jul 10
The best and brilliant things to do in Austria

The best and brilliant things to do in Austria


Unusual Things to Do in Graz


Graz. It’s not the most inspiring of names, now is it?

Short, squat, and sounding more than a little like the French word for fat, it lacks the flourish that sweeps Barcelona and Vienna into the linguistic catwalk of European city names.

But names can be deceiving.

For Austria's second largest city not only has plenty of unusual things to do, she also has some unbeatable awards to her name. 

UNESCO City of Design

UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Austria's Culinary City of Delights

Home of Arnie "the Terminator" Schwarzenegger

So with that to whet your appetite, let me show you more beautiful and unusual things to do in Graz. 

Unusual Things to do in Graz: See the City from Above

The Schlossberg Tram Ride - travel to the top of the city and the landmark Schlossberg area. Take in the clocktower, the cafes, and the Chinese pavilion or just relax and scenically admire the city spread out below (a la the top photo.)

Take A Tour Bus - yes, you will feel like a tourist. But, bah, whatever. It's the most straightforward way to see the architectural sites spread across the city. Find details here. 

Dine on a Rooftop Terrace - Dine or grab some Apfelstrudel in the cool rooftop restaurant of Kastner Oehler, a cream and gold shopping institution in Graz.

View from the K&O Terrace in Graz


Unusual Graz: The Strangest Stained Glass Window in the World

It was a church like any other. Well, already that’s not quite true. There are monastic churches, all barren and bare. Peruvian churches with links to Seville, all dripping with gold and ruby red blood. Masterpieces and hidden Welsh hermit houses.

But let’s for the sake of the story, stick with the basics of a church we’d know.

Quiet. Slightly cool. Altars, pews, the odd arch-angel. Still water in a silent font, stained windows in primary blues, reds and greens.

And there, in the midst of it all, two faces came to focus, to shimmer into view.

That moustache.

That flopping, loppy fringe.

There, indeed, as promised, in the crowd of the crucifixion, emerged the stained glass faces of one Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

I left the glass behind and stepped back into the busy, summer street.

Parks Bio Faritrade Coffee Shop KG

Feel all veggie, wholesome and homemade in this cute little offering with streetside white tables.

Hofbäckerei Edegger-Tax

OK, since it opened its doors in 1569 it’s hard to claim it’s new on the scene. But it’s definitely worth popping in to taste the sugar-dusted history of the city.

Unusual things to do in Graz: Healthy eating

 

The Lendplatz Farmers’ Market

Full of fresh fruit and veg plus some sneaky caffeine and sugar-laced cafes at the edge. Look out for the nearby building painted black with symbolic poppies – a tribute to those who died years ago during the black death.

Grand Cafe Kaiserfeld

A cosy, Viennese-style coffee house with Andy Warhol style portraits of local boy Arnie.

Graz Creative NeighbourhoodSave

Mariahilferplatz: The Creative Neighbourhood

Once a no-go area, this side of the river has transformed itself into a hub of hip creativity. Look out for coffee shops, charity design shops and plenty of outdoor spots for soaking up views of the Schlossberg.

Heidenspass

Cool, creative design with a focus on recycling materials.

Mangolds

Bright, spacious vegetarian restaurant where you pay by weight for your food. Impossible to eat here and not leave feeling healthy and inspired.

Outdoor poetry readings in GrazSave

Outdoor poetry readings in Graz

Hotel Wiesler & Its Cool Eatery

Once an art deco landmark in the city, today the Hotel Wiesler has embraced shabby chic and hipster cool.

I’d highly recommend staying here but if that’s not an option, stop in for dinner or drinks at the Speisesaal. Look out for art deco clues from the past or visit the barber for the hipster present. Plus, it’s right next to the Kunsthaus with great views of the old city.


 

Graz Austria in architecture

Graz: A UNESCO City of Design

 

Graz Austria by Night by @insidetravellab

Graz: bombing spared most of the Old Town, focusing on the industrial area

Panoramic view of Graz Austria

Panoramic view of Graz Austria

Graz Synagogue

A bright new synagogue replaces the one destroyed during the Nazi regime

Graz Botanic Gardens

Graz Botanic Gardens

Renaissance Graz

Renaissance Graz

Graz Town Hall

Graz Town Hall

View from the K&O Terrace in Graz

View from the K&O Terrace in Graz

Murinsel: The Island in the Mur in Graz, Austria

Murinsel: The Island in the Mur in Graz, Austria

The friendly alien in Graz, Austria

Graz, Austria and the friendly alien: the Kunsthaus

 

 

The Kunsthaus, or friendly alien, from above

The Kunsthaus, or friendly alien, from above

 

The Graz Clocktower

The Graz Clocktower

 

Graz, Austria - the cool city of design with a sugar laced bakery that dates back centuries. A cool and unusual weekend break in Europe via @insidetravellab

About #roundtripAustria

Disclosure. My trip to Graz was a part of the #roundtripAustria project involving five blogs covering various cities, regions and activities all over Austria as part of a Captivate project in partnership with the Austrian National Tourist Office. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like.

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.

  • Maria says:

    Love your writing and the pictures are beautiful! Would love to visit Austria properly sometime (I’ve only been in the winter for skiing trips), it’s looks wonderful :)

    • Abi King says:

      Ah, thanks Maria! I really, really appreciate it. I, too, would like to go back and see more of Austria after discovering Graz. The trip really made me realise how worthwhile it is to step beyond the classic routes – there’s so much waiting to be found in the world. Hope you get back in summertime!

  • Kirstie says:

    The Kunsthaus looks like pulpo! Beautiful images. I love cities that are bravely designed…

    • Abi King says:

      Haha! Yes, it does! Pulpo is a much better nickname than friendly alien! For me, the big joy of Graz was that although the modern architecture was so striking, the traditional Old Town still stood strong too. It’s nice that it isn’t either/or like so many places. Also, it’s very “lived in.”

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