Before my husband and I moved to Graz in the spring of 2009, we have lived in the world’s busiest city, Shanghai. Shanghai is amazing but we have the same opinion that a small and quiet European city is “the” place to settle down in. I thought of Vienna and how cool it would be to live there but I am glad that fate brought us to Graz.
I remember my first few weeks in Graz. I would spend all my day tirelessly walking around the city and getting lost on purpose. Well, to tell you honestly, even back then I know that you can’t really be lost in Graz because it is very small (Note: before you tell me that Graz is the second biggest city in Austria, please remember that I used to live in Shanghai). I was always like… “Whew, I got lost today and you know what, I discovered that there’s a nice park right around the corner from our flat!?!” Every afternoon I have tales about my wanderings ready and I recount them to my husband as soon as I open the door to let him in.
Later on, after I’ve walked through all the streets and alleys of the city center, I wanted to go further to the city’s outskirts. I didn’t have a car yet that time so the only choice I have is to learn how to use the public transport which I realized, is not a rocket science and is a really convenient way to go to places in Graz.
Like all the major cities in Austria, Graz can boast about its excellent public transportation system. “Strassenbahnen” or trams are small electric powered trains that take passengers around the city. Where the trams don’t go, buses do and since the city is really small, walking is not such a bad idea either. Riding a bicycle is also a great way to go about the city but you’ll need to be extra careful because of the tram tracks.
Trams and buses are number coded. For example, “7 Sankt Peter” and “7 Hauptbahnhof” are trams taking the same route but are going to opposite directions. You can read the stops’ names in the bus/tram and also on information boards situated in every “Haltestelle” or bus stop.
The tram tickets can be purchased from certain stops and from the bus and tram drivers themselves. The tickets are not based on how many rides you take with it. 1-hour or 24-hours- tickets, for example, are based on time validity and there are also zone tickets which will be based on zones. If you are spending a day in Graz, better get a 24-hour ticket. You can use this ticket to visit different parts of the Graz. If you want to go further to Graz’s suburbs, get a zone ticket.
Jakomini Platz is the biggest hub of busses and trams. If you have to go anywhere, this is a good starting point because busses and trams to all directions stop here.
Taxis are available too so if you are too sophisty to experience all the thrills of taking a more public form of transport, you’re very much welcome to spend your money on taxi fares but before you do, you should know that there are a lot of better things to spend your money on here in Graz other than on expensive taxi rides.
Then of course, you can drive but I have to warn you that the traffic in Graz is a little bit complicated. There are so many one-way-streets and pedestrian zones. The presence of trams and a good number of bikers also add up to its complexity. If you are not a local, better have a reliable navigation system with you when driving in Graz.