Set in a valley surrounded by hills, Graz is Austria’s second largest city. Historically, it is an important crossing point between Western and Eastern Europe. So much so that the Ottomans came all the way here but could not besiege Austria. Since Graz is located in a valley surrounded by hills, it is quite difficult to get over the hills. There are observation towers, castles and many other factors that increase security measures.
The city started to form around the Mur River, which divides the city in two, and then spread towards the mountainous areas by taking this river as its center. The rushing river adds a harmonious sound to the city. Most of the places to visit in Graz are located in the area we call Old Town. Of course, there are also places to visit on the outskirts, and we can reach them by private car or public transportation. If there is time, they are not too far to walk.
Kunsthaus is an exhibition space with periodic exhibitions. This modern art museum is most interesting for its exterior architecture. It is called A Friendly Alien because it resembles an alien with blue colored organic skin like octopus skin. It is probably the most unusual building in Austria. Built in 2003 for the European Capital of Culture in Graz. With the exterior light technology used, it adds a different and fun color to Graz evenings.
You can visit from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00 and we didn’t go inside, but the ticket for adults costs 9,5€. There are also 24 and 48 hour options, just in case you want to come the next day. If you are interested in Kunsthaus exhibitions, you can follow which exhibition is on at this address.
When you walk over the Eric Eddegger Step bridge connecting Schlossberg and Kunsthaus, you will see a different structure called Murinsel on the side. This floating platform was built in 2003. Like Kunsthaus, it was built for the Graz 2003 European Capital of Culture Organizations and is one of the projects that combine art with water in Graz. Part of the shell-shaped Murinsel is used as an amphitheater and part as a cafe. There is no entrance fee, you can even use it to cross the street. If you stay in Graz in the evening, be sure to see the night view of the Murinsel and its illuminated state.
At Sackstrasse 18 is the Graz Museum, where you can follow the traces of Graz’s past. It is a city museum where you can see the development of the city. GrazMuseum is for those who are interested in the urban development, political, economic and social history of the city as well as art and culture. City museums are one of the best communication points where we can get information about the city’s past. The Graz Museum, which has saved everything in the city from dying and kept it alive, has not failed to look at the history of Graz from today’s perspective. Over time, the city museum has expanded its archive through acquisitions and donations. The museum moved to its current location in 1972 and has been operating in the Palais Khuenburg ever since. The entrance fee is 5€.
When we continue towards the end of the street where the museum is located, we come to a square called Hauptplatz Graz after the end of the street. There is a fountain in the middle of the square surrounded by historical and colorful buildings and there are sculptures around the fountain. We can call this lovely square the square of the city. This is a market square. In the old times, merchants used to come here to market and sell their products. Today, this tradition continues and a market is still held here from time to time.
Styrian Ammunition Museum
The Styrian Armoury Museum, which is said to be the largest ammunition and armor museum in the world, exhibits approximately 32 thousand weapons, armor and equipment. The museum has four floors and is full of equipment. For Austrians, this equipment has great sentimental value. These weapons and armor, which were effective in the protection of their country, are a monument for Styria not to forget its past. Entrance fee is 9,50€.
From the square we walk 600 meters along Sporgasse or directly from here to Grazer Burg. This is about a 10 minute walk. Grazer Burg is one of the historical buildings in Graz. There is an unusual architectural structure here. A staircase called Double Spiral Staircase (Doppelwendeltreppe). Described by the people of Graz as a symbol of eternity, this staircase looks like an optical illusion because it consists of two opposite spiral staircases that meet on each floor. There is also the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II in the neighborhood. You may want to see it if you are in that direction.
We go back to the old city center and look upwards. The hill and the clock tower on the hill are the next stop on our route. Schlossberg Hill can be climbed on foot if we want to go up faster, or by elevator or funicular if we want to go up faster. Schlossberg is the only point where we can watch Graz from the top. The castle that used to stand on the hill is one of the rare castles that can never be overcome. Today the castle no longer exists, but the old clock tower and bell tower are still standing.
That’s all there is to see in the city center, now let’s venture out a bit and see the important buildings in the surrounding area. 4km west of Graz city center is a palace built for Eggenberg, who was governor during Ferdinand’s reign. Eggenberg Palace is accessible on foot or by private car. We did not enter the palace, but the exterior architecture of the palace looks very beautiful. You have to pay a small fee for the garden, you can skip the palace.
Another building within the borders of Graz is Gösting Castle, located north of Graz. This castle is actually a ruin. The reason why it is a ruin is that lightning struck here and the lightning exploded the ammunition inside. The family who bought the castle did not rebuild it and built a more modern palace in Gösting, Graz. You can go up to the castle in the ruins and watch the view, and the road to the ruins is a beautiful road in greenery. These can be an excuse to go up to the castle.
What else to see in Graz?
There are other places to visit in Graz, depending on your interests. Graz Tram Museum, 7km from the center of Graz, is a museum that mostly exhibits the trams used in the tram network in Graz. But you need to research the days the museum is open before you go. Even if you go on an ordinary day, you might find it closed. The Lieboch Technical Railway Museum at Bahnhofstraße 8 Lieboch is another museum with the same concept. Graz Toy Museum at Hartiggasse 4 may be of interest to toy lovers.
Where is Graz and how to get there?
Arriving in Graz by private car is also preferable for ease of transportation. Renting a car may be the best idea, especially for a trip to Austria. It takes 2 hours (200km) from Vienna to Graz, 1 hour 40 minutes (140km) from Klagenfurt to Graz and 3 hours (280km) from Salzburg. It is not necessary to rent a car just to visit Graz, but it is more enjoyable by car if you are going to visit the surrounding cities. If you are coming to Graz with your caravan, there is a camping and parking area for caravans at Martinhofstraße 3 Graz. There are buses going to Graz city center 200 meters away from the parking area. For price information here.
City transportation in Graz: The tickets you buy for public transportation in Graz are valid for all bus and tram lines. If you want to go to Schlossberg Hill, you can also use the funicular with these tickets. You can buy tickets from bus drivers or ticket machines. You have 1-hour, 24-hour, weekly or monthly ticket options. For tourists, you can buy a 3-day ticket option for 12,10€. If you buy a 3-day tourist ticket, you must get it stamped. These tickets are calculated in days, not hours.
Getting from Graz Airport to the city center: Graz is actually very easy to get to because Turkish Airlines flies regularly to Graz Airport (GRZ), which is located near Graz. After landing at the airport, you can take the 630, 631 buses to the city center. The buses to Graz Jakominiplatz cost €2.20 and it takes 20 minutes to reach the city center, which is 9km away. To get to Hauptbahnhof by train, you can use the S5 line departing from the train station 300 meters from the airport. You need to buy train tickets from the ticket machines before boarding the train.
Graz is a major transportation hub from major cities in Austria such as Vienna, Linz, Inssbruck, Klagenfurt, Salzburg or cities outside Austria such as Stuttgart and Frankfurt. The main train station in Graz is one of the most important stations in Austria and not far from the city center. The train station is located between the old town of Graz and Eggenburg Palace. If you are planning to arrive by train, you can use oebb.at or bahn.de.