Things to do in Graz: The 10 Best Places to Visit and Highlights
You want to visit Graz, in Austria, and you’re looking for the best places to visit?
You’re at the right place!
Grazy, Austria’s second-largest city, capital of the Styria province and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its blend of typical Austrian architecture with eye-catching modern buildings.
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you this guide of the 10 best things to do in Graz, with all points of interest and must-see attractions.
In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you itineraries to visit Graz in a day as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.
So, what are the best things to do in Graz? Where to stay?
Let’s find out!
Visiting Graz: 10 Must-See Attractions
1. The Schlossberg
The absolute best way to start your Graz tour: admiring it from above! Head to the Schlossberg, a hill rising to 123 meters, overlooking the city. From here you can enjoy a stunning panorama.
To get there from Graz city center you have options:
- On foot from Schlossbergplatz square, it takes about 30 minutes to climb the 260 steps
- By using the elevator which takes you through the hill
- By funicular, departing from Emperor Franz Joseph Square to the summit.
Schlossberg means “Castle Mountain” as there was once a castle on the hill. The Schlossberg served as a military post and refuge for the citizens of Graz, up to the 19th century. As a matter of fact, Napoleon’s troops never succeeded in capturing it.
However, following the Treaty of Schonberg, it was demanded that the fortifications be destroyed as a sign of peace. Nowadays, almost nothing remains of these fortifications.
Nevertheless, the residents managed to save two buildings from demolition, which have become the symbols and the main tourist attractions of Graz: the Clock Tower (Urhtum) and the Bell Tower (Glockenturm).
Each has its unique feature: for a long period of time the Clock Tower had only one hand indicating the time and the Bell Tower houses a 4.5-ton bell named “Lisl”, the largest bell in Graz.
Today, the Schlossberg is a beautiful park and it is delightful.
You’ll also find restaurants and souvenir shops. Above all, it offers a breathtaking view of Graz’s rooftops with the majestic mountains serving as a stunning backdrop.
It’s an absolute must-do to start your vacation in Austria off right!
2. The Hauptplatz
The Hauptplatz is the main square to visit during your stay in Graz and the ideal starting point for sightseeing.
All the city’s main streets, like Herrengasse, Sackstrasse and Murgasse start from here. They will all get you to Graz’s main points of interest.
Designed in the Middle Ages to accommodate the market, it remains today the nerve center of the city. There, you can especially admire the Rathaus (town hall) and numerous historical buildings with their superb colorful facades.
Another must-see in Graz: the Luegg Haus, a 15th-century building with beautiful arcades (now housing a Swarovski store) and the Adler Apotheke, the oldest pharmacy in Graz.
In the heart of Graz’s old town, you’ll discover an abundance of charming bars and restaurants where you can unwind and savor a refreshing drink.
And if you want to grab a quick lunch at Hauptplatz, we recommend trying one of the many food trucks serving delicious Austrian specialties! A trip to Austria wouldn’t be complete without a taste of the local cuisine!
The square is bustling all day and well into the evening. It often hosts the city’s cultural events. If you’ve chosen to visit Graz during the winter holidays, this is also where you’ll find the Christmas market.
From Hauptplatz, head to Herrengasse, Graz’s most touristy street.
This is the main shopping street in the city. There you’ll find all the main fashion boutiques if the case you’re in a shopping spree. Jewelry, shoe and clothing stores, textiles and accessories – you’ll find everything you’re looking for and more!
This must-see street in Graz is also completely pedestrian. Make sure not to let the tramway end your trip in a disaster though!
But Herrengasse is also home to beautiful palaces and magnificent facades to admire.
The Landhaushof’s courtyard with its arcades and cobblestones is considered a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance.
You should definitely go have a look at the painted facade of the Gemaltes Haus to admire the frescoes depicting the gods of Greek mythology. You’ll find it at No. 7 on Herrengasse.
4. The Landeszeughaus
Right next to the Landhaus is the Landeszeughaus. A must-see museum during your trip to Graz.
With more than 32,000 items displayed on 4 floors, the museum houses the largest collection of weapons and armor in the world! Cannons, swords, armor, halberds, helmets, there’s something for everyone. It doesn’t mean your can grab a souvenir relic though!
Among the many items to see, don’t miss a valuable piece: one of the 7 completely preserved horse armors still existing in the world.
Access and pricing information can be found at the official website.
5. St. Giles Cathedral in Graz
Continue your tour of Graz at the cathedral located in the historic center.
Erected in the 15th century under the rule of Emperor Frederick III, it stands as one of Graz’s most significant landmarks in terms of culture, art, and history.
The exterior appearance of St. Giles Cathedral might appear somewhat austere due to its Gothic architectural style. However, on the south side and to the left of the building, you will find the famous fresco “God’s Plagues“.
It represents the 3 plagues (locusts, war and the Black Death) that struck Styria in 1480, a terrible year for the population.
The interior of the cathedral is especially fascinating to explore. You can admire precious artefacts including 2 wooden chests adorned with ivory said to contain relics of Christian martyrs.
Also worth seeing: the cathedral choir, its altarpiece and the organ composed of more than 5,350 pipes.
6. Murinsel / The Island on the Mur
Continuing this Sightseeing Guide to Graz, let’s explore the Island on the Mur, also known as Murinsel. This iconic attraction represents one of the modern elements that contribute to the unique character of Graz.
The island is indeed a work of art, born out of Graz’s distinction as the European Capital of Culture in 2003.
The building, shaped like a giant shell, was designed by New York artist Vito Acconci and it connects the two banks of the Mur (Graz’s river).
The art project was supposed to be temporary and removed at the end of the year 2003, but the locals, for whom this strange work had become a symbol of the city, petitionned for its preservation.
Inside this unusual piece of architecture, you’ll find a café and an amphitheater. Definitely one of the must-see attractions in Graz.
7. The Kunsthaus Graz
Another futuristic architectural curiosity to visit in Graz, the Kunsthaus.
The Kunsthaus is the city’s contemporary art museum.
It is located on the bank facing the historic center, so you can cross the Murinsel (the island) to visit it.
It was also built in 2003 by two London architects who nicknamed their creation “Friendly Alien”.
A particularly fitting name since the exterior structure of the museum is really strange: an indefinable shape, blueish color, and what looks like tentacles on the roof! A perfect example of Graz’s unique character, blending modernity and tradition.
The Kunsthaus only hosts temporary exhibitions lasting 1 to 3 months, featuring both national and international artists, so you’re always in for a surprise when you visit!
Now you know what to do in Graz when it’s raining!
8. Eggenberg Castle
The last must-see attraction in Graz, Eggenberg Castle.
Located a bit outside the city, you can take tram line 1 to reach it.
Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is the largest castle in Styria. It was built in 1625 by Ferdinand II’s imperial advisor, Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg.
Strangely enough, the construction was organized around time and seasons: 4 towers for the 4 seasons, 365 windows for the days, 31 rooms on each floor, 24 state rooms and so on…
You can visit some of the castle’s interior rooms such as the Planetary Hall with its wall painted with the 12 zodiac signs, the reception rooms and the Old Gallery. Some of these rooms, however, are only accessible through guided tours, which is a bit of a shame.
The castle also houses several museums such as the Archaeology Museum and the Coin Cabinet, where you’ll get to see various coins some dating back to the antiquity.
The castle also has a beautiful and large garden (entrance fee around €2). You can walk among the peacocks and even have a picnic in the designated area provided. You’ll also come across a café, perfect for grabbing some refreshments if needed.
Best things to do around Graz
After exploring Graz’s city center, you can continue your stay in Austria by visiting the surroundings of Graz.
I have prepared my selection of the most beautiful places to see around Graz.
9. Rabenstein Castle
Let’s start with Burg Rabenstein, a castle located about 35 minutes by car north of Graz.
Built in the 12th century, the castle has been beautifully renovated and perfectly combines old and modern styles with its rotating glass elevator offering a 180° view of the surrounding forest.
The guided tour of the castle, which lasts about 1h30, allows you to discover the inner courtyard, the chapel, and the ceremonial rooms. You must however book your reservations on the official website to visit it.
10. The Austrian Sculpture Park
The Sculpture Park or Österreichischer Skulpturen Park is another must-see near Graz. It’s located 13 km from the historic center.
The park is home to more than 70 giant sculptures created by Austrian as well as international artists. It spreads over 7 hectares (about 14 acres).
Open every day from April to October. What’s more, admission is free. Definitely worth a visit if you’re an art lover or if you want to take some original photos.
How many days to visit Graz?
1 day is enough to visit Graz.
The whole tour is easily done on foot, except for Eggenberg Castle that you’ll reach by tram.
All the must-see monuments are concentrated in the historic center or nearby, which is pretty convenient.
Visiting Graz in 1 day
If you only have 1 day to spend in Graz between 2 legs of your Austrian tour, there is no need to worry: it will be more than enough to visit the old town.
Here’s my itinerary to visit Graz in one day:
- Funicular, elevator or walking up to Schlossberg to admire the panorama
- Stroll through the historic center of Graz: Hauptplatz and Herrengasse
- Visit the Landeszeughaus
- Stop by St. Giles Cathedral
- Lunch break
- Crossing the island on the Mur
- Discover the Kunsthaus and its unique architecture
- Late afternoon at Eggenberg Castle.
Where to stay in Graz
As with other cities in Austria, accommodations tend to be on the pricier side.
I can’t emphasize enough: book as early as possible to get the best deals!
Here is my selection of the best hotels to stay in Graz:
- Hotel Daniel Graz: Located a 10-minute walk from the historic center. Modern and pleasant double rooms starting at €77 per night, breakfast for €25. Strong points: the location, the good breakfast, the friendliness of the staff.
- Hotel Mercure Graz City: Located 400 meters from the clock tower. Spacious and comfortable double rooms starting at €100 per night, breakfast for €18. Strong points: the comfort of the rooms, the location, the quality of the breakfast.
- Hotel Weitzer Graz: Located in the heart of the old town. Spacious and well-equipped double rooms starting at €120 per night, breakfast for €25. Strong points: close to all places of interest, the hearty breakfast, the impeccable service.
- Augarten Art Hotel: Located 1 km from the historic center. Tram station nearby to reach the center. Elegant and design double rooms starting at €180, breakfast for €15. Strong points: the hotel’s decoration with numerous works of art, the comfort of the rooms, the swimming pool, the kindness and availability of the staff. The best hotel in Graz for a luxury stay!
Where to eat in Graz
- Area 5: Located on Jakominiplatz. The restaurant has a large rooftop terrace for a panoramic view of Graz. The place is very nice. The dishes are simple and you can choose your own ingredients for your pasta or salads. The value for money is unbeatable. Ideal for lunch.
- El Gaucho: Located on Landhausgasse Street. Steakhouse offering a wide selection of excellent meat. Select the weight of the meat portion and choose from various side dishes. Quality is guaranteed. Red meat lovers will be delighted.
- Der Steirer Graz: Located on Belgiergasse Street. You can taste typical Austrian dishes in a refined and authentic setting. Varied menu, homemade dishes, a wide selection of local wines and excellent value for money! Reservation recommended.
How to get to Graz?
From France, there are no direct flights to Graz. You will have to land in Vienna.
As flight prices to Graz vary a lot, it’s a good idea to compare them as early as possible. To do this, you can use our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner. It’s the guarantee of getting the best price.
Getting to Graz from Vienna:
- By car: 2h
- By bus: 2h25
- By train: 2h50. Timetables and fares are available here: Omio.
How to get to Graz from Salzburg:
- By car: 2h50
- By bus: 3h50
- By train: 4h30. Timetables and fares are available here: Omio.
How to get to Graz from Linz:
- By car: 2h25
- By bus: 2h40
- By train: 3h30. Timetables and fares are available here: Omio.
Rent a car Graz
You don’t need a car to explore Graz as the city center is mostly pedestrian-friendly.
However, renting a car becomes essential if you want to be independent when visiting the surrounding areas or if you have planned a road trip in Austria (obviously!).
To easily compare the prices of car rentals in Austria you should check out Rentalcars.com. You’ll have direct access to all the rates from rental companies located at Vienna airport, for example.
Click the button below to compare car rental prices for your trip to Graz:
Graz Tourist Map
To help you visualize the city a bit better, I’ve created a tourist map of Graz listing the places to visit that I talk about in this top 10 things to do. You can display the map legend by clicking on the button with a small arrow in the top left corner.
Are you planning to visit Graz during your trip to Austria?
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
You’re traveling in Austria? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Austria: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Austria are listed there.
- 20 Best Things to Do in Austria: all best places to visit and activities
- Itinerary: One week in Austria – The perfect itinerary for your 7-8 days trip to Austria
- Graz: TOP 10 best places to visit
- Hallstatt: TOP 6 things to do during your stay
- Innsbruck: The 15 best things to do and see
- Linz: TOP 12 places to visit and must-see attractions
- Salzburg: The 17 best things to do
- Vienna: TOP 25 tourist attractions