It is unfair how the city of Graz comes in last when people talk about Austrian cities. It is no contest that Vienna and Salzburg are amazing and that Innsbruck and Linz are interesting but Graz has a lot of qualities that make it equally amazing and interesting.
For one thing, Graz can also brag about its old architectures. As a matter of fact, its city center is one of the best-preserved cities in Central Europe. Deservingly, it has been added to UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage Sites in 1999 and in 2003, Graz was the first ever Austrian City to be awarded “Culture Capital of Europe.”
A day in Graz is definitely a very short one. Graz is a small city but that doesn’t mean that there’s not much to see. The Schlossberg, which is situated right in the middle of Graz, was once a volcanic mountain and as such, it has caves that are now used for various exhibits and other events. Although named as “Schlossberg” (Castle Mountain), it is actually not that high and can be hiked to the top in around 30 minutes. A view of Graz from the Schlossberg is impressive! So it is recommended that you visit Schlossberg and I double recommend that you use the steps to go up the mountain. An elevator is also available but you definitely want to sweat off some pounds before you gain them back from dining in Schlossberg Restaurant. Yep, a restaurant and some cafes are available there and that means excellent food plus an excellent panoramic view equals wonderful and relaxing time.
Moving on, there’s a river that runs through the city. Mur is a normal river but it is made special by the people of Graz who, I believe, want to enjoy Graz and all its features to the fullest. Near the river lies a very interesting building called the “Kunsthaus” (Art Museum). The building itself already says how the people here value modern art. Then there’s the “Murinsel” (Mur Island) which is another piece of wonderful architecture that serves as a bridge, an amphitheater, and a café.
So if you want a cup of coffee on a river, drop by Murinsel. Who knows, you might even get lucky and witness one of the small events being held there every now and then. If you want comforting walk, a pathway is available on along the river and you can also do some river surfing on the Mur in the summer.
The “Innenstadt” or city core showcases century-old structures that are preserved and are particularly cared for. Much of the “Innenstadt” is set as pedestrian area and as such, open air cafes and restaurant are countless. Shops and boutiques line up the main street but don’t snub the alleys because most of them will lead you to other interesting sights. On occasions, the “Hauptplatz” (main plaza) serves as a venue for special market events for farmers, craftsmen, artists, homemakers, and many more.
Graz also houses a lot of parks and of which, “Stadtpark” is my favorite. When the weather is good, I usually go there to read a book and enjoy the sun and the greenery. Frequent visitors of this park are students from nearby universities. Sometimes you’ll see them sun bathing while flipping textbooks and taking down notes. Isn’t that cool? I kind of envy them because I attended a university where there’s just concrete grey—boring!
There are more about Graz I would like to share but a year of living here can’t be summed up in one blog post. If we happen to meet in person, I’d be happy to tell you about it over a cup of coffee in a nice café…in Graz.