20 recommended tourist attractions in Graz
Graz is a city with a wide parkland, lots of red roofs and a narrow but fast river flowing noisily through the center It instantly captures the heart. The picturesque mountain, connected to the center by steps, a cable car and a glass elevator, is the city’s calling card.
Architecturally, Graz alludes to nearby Italy with its Renaissance courtyards and Baroque palaces. Nevertheless, there is a youthful energy here, with a handful of modern buildings, a vibrant art world, and a vibrant student nightlife. Here’s a list of Graz’s most entertaining sights in Austria.
Kunsthaus Museum Graz
Kunsthaus Museum Graz.
Designed by British architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, this world-class contemporary art space is referred to by locals as a “friendly alien.”
The building embodies Cook’s style, a sexy biomorphic blob with photovoltaic skin that at the same time is completely out of place in its ancient historical surroundings, but still sits quite lyrically in it. The exhibitions organized here change every three to four months.
Address: Kunsthaus Graz, Lendkai 1, 8020 Graz, Austria.
A symbol of the once powerful and influential region of Styria, Palais Eggenberg occupies an important historical and cultural place, both in the city of Graz and in Austria as a whole. Tucked away in the western part of Graz in the Eggenberg district, the palace, surrounded by magnificent parks and gardens, is a testament to the power and wealth of the rulers of Styria.
Among the highlights are the beautifully decorated state rooms with a fascinating planetarium full of frescoes, the Planetary Garden and the pavilion. The Eggenberg Palace is worth a visit to understand the history of Styria and of this region of Austria.
The address is Schloss Eggenberg, Eggenberger Allee 90, 8020 Graz, Austria.
St. Egidio’s Cathedral
The Cathedral of Sant’Egidio.
Dating back to the 15th century, the Domkirche became a cathedral in 1786. Its interior combines Gothic and Baroque elements, with grid vaults on the ceiling. The main works that can be seen here are Conrad Laib’s 1457 painting “Crucifixion in the Crowd” and the faded Gottesplagenbild fresco on the outside of the cathedral, painted in 1485.
Address: Domkirche zum Heiligen Ägydius in Graz, Burggasse, Graz, Austria.
Graz Arsenal | Photo: Dennis Jarvis / Flickr.
If you are at all interested in historical weapons and implements of war, you’ll be delighted with the Schirian Armory, which has the largest collection of arms and armor in the world, with more than 30,000 pieces on display.
Historically, the Styrian area was one of the main areas of conflict against the Ottoman Empire, so a state-owned armory was built to arm the people. The magnificent collection of arms and armor, which has been preserved, is now on display in the original building.
The Armory is stunning, full of gun racks, spears and pikes, shelves of rifles and pistols, and stacks of full uniforms and artillery pieces such as cannons and mortars. Even people who are not versed in military historical items will be able to appreciate the scale of this fantastic collection.
Address: Landeszeughaus, Herrengasse 16, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Parish church. | Photo: wikimedia.
Towering on Herrengasse between the main square and Jacominiplatz, the city’s parish church has an attractive Baroque exterior. Inside, the post-war stained glass windows by Salzburg artist Albert Birkl have a controversial anomaly: The fourth panel from the bottom right (left of the main altar) clearly shows Hitler and Mussolini watching the beating of Christ.
Address: Röm. kath. Stadtpfarrkirche zum Heiligen Blut, Herrengasse 23, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Schlossberg Castle | Photo: Herbert Frank / Flickr.
Rising up to 473 meters, Schlossberg is the site of the original fortress where Graz was founded and is marked by the most famous symbol of the city, the clock tower. Its wooded slopes can be reached by steep country trails, or by the Schlossbergbahn elevator or funicular.
Opt for a short walk or take the streetcar 4 or 5 to Palace Square/Murinsel to use the elevator.
Address: Schloßberg, Am Schlossberg 1, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Clock Tower in Graz
Clock Tower in Graz.
Located on the legendary Schlossberg Hill and clearly visible from many places in Graz, the Clock Tower has become a true symbol of the city and its history. The tower has a striking design with bright white walls, a large overhanging wooden balcony section and a tiled pointed roof that dates back to the 15th century.
The clock mechanism is now electronic, and because of more recent additions, the minute and hour hands have actually swapped places, often leading to confusion. This structure is a real wonder and a must-see in Graz, and besides, it is nice to hear the ringing of the bells, which used to ring to warn people of a fire or even an execution.
Address: Clock Tower, Am Schlossberg, 8010 Graz, Austria.
The bridge island of Mourinsel.
In 2003 Graz was designated the European Capital of Culture, in honor of which the Murinsel was designed and built. The river Moor flows through the center of Graz, and to celebrate this the Murinzel was invented – suspended above the river by two bridge walkways, a wonderful glass paneled dome, giving the impression that it floats on water. Inside is a cafe and a rest area overlooking the river, as well as a children’s playground.
Address: Murinsel, Mariahilferpl. 5, 8020 Graz, Austria.
Mariatrost Basilica. | Photo: barnyz / Flickr.
Located in the Mariatrost district, which is about a 20-minute drive from the center of Graz, the basilica is the most important building known throughout the Styrian region as a sacred place of pilgrimage. The basilica is accessed by a climb of 200 steps, framed by alternating statues of angels and historical figures.
On the outside, the building is Baroque with two large symmetrical towers and a pale yellow facade, and the impressive shrine to the Virgin Mary is one of the main attractions inside, along with several detailed frescoes and a pulpit. There are also several restaurants and the Tram Museum nearby.
Address: Basilika Mariatrost, Kirchpl. 8, 8044 Graz, Austria.
Museum of Contemporary Art Jungwirth
Museum of Contemporary Art Jungwirth | Photo: regional.shop / A
Graz’s most attractive museum of modern art specializes in photography. Its calendar of exhibitions covers reportage, fashion and more conceptual work and also includes some of the biggest international names such as Paolo Roversi.
Address: Atelier Christian Jungwirth, Opernring 12, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Peiber Horse Farm
Peiber Horse Farm.
West of Graz lies the village of Piber, where the world famous Lipizzaner stud farm is located. The farm was originally founded in the Slovenian town of Lipice, but was moved here when Slovenia was annexed after World War I.
Every year between 40 and 50 foals are born on the farm, but of these only about five stallions are allowed to be sent to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna for training.
The address is Bundesgestüt Piber, Piber, Österreich, Austria.
Rathaus Town Hall and main square
Rathaus Town Hall.
Right in the center of the old city of Graz, the Rathaus has served as the town hall for hundreds of years and has undergone several changes in design, from the Renaissance to the neoclassical building seen today. The impressive town hall has a beautiful facade reminiscent of the Budapest parliament building with similar white columns and dentils, topped by an ornate dome.
The building is located at the end of the main square in Graz, and there is also a large fountain dedicated to Archduke Johann, who was a prominent figure in the development of Styria. All the buildings surrounding the square have a certain charm, while the market stalls are filled with vendors selling their wares.
Address: Rathaus der Stadt Graz, Hauptpl. 1, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Austrian Open Air Museum
Austrian Open Air Museum.
The Austrian Open-Air Museum in Stübing, located about 15 km northeast of Graz and consisting of about 100 Austrian manor buildings, is ideal for families.
The museum is about a 20-minute walk from the Stübing train station. Turn left from the train station and walk over the tracks, then under them before reaching the entrance.
Address: Österreichisches Freilichtmuseum Stübing, Enzenbach, Stübing, Austria.
New Gallery of Graz
New gallery in Graz. | Photo: Universalmuseum Joanneum / Flickr.
The new gallery is the crowning glory of the three museums in the Joanneumsviertel complex. The stunning collection at ground zero is a highlight. Although not huge in scale, it showcases striking works by artists such as Ernst Christian Moser, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller and Johann Nepomuk Passini. Egon Schiele’s work is also on view.
Address: Neue Galerie Graz, Joanneumsviertel, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Parliament Landhaus | Photo: barnyz / Flickr.
It’s rather unusual to find such a building in European countries like Austria, but the Landhaus defies conventions and has a distinctive Renaissance style that would look quite appropriate on the Italian coast. Once a stately home, these days it houses the Styrian parliament, yet it is still accessible to the public.
The exterior of this building has a fantastic design, but what really makes it stand out is the arched courtyard. Full of arches and fine details, the courtyard resembles a Roman temple or villa, and looks great complete with a tiled roof and a clock tower.
Address: Grazer Landhaus, Herrengasse 16, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Ferdinand II Mausoleum
Mausoleum of Ferdinand II. | Photo: barnyz / Flickr.
The Mannerist-baroque mausoleum of Ferdinand II was designed by the Italian architect Pietro de Pomis and started in 1614. After Pomis’ death, the mausoleum was completed by Pietro Valnegro, while Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach added copious stucco and frescoes inside. Ferdinand (1578-1637), his wife and son were buried in the crypt.
Address: Mausoleum von Kaiser Ferdinand II, Burggasse, Graz, Austria.
Karl-Franzens-University Botanical Garden
Karl-Franzens-University Botanical Garden | Photo: Matthias / Flickr.
If you don’t know what to see in Graz besides cathedrals and museums, head to the Botanical Garden. This haven of greenery and natural wonders, showcasing the typical style and distinctive architecture of Graz, has several armadillo-shaped greenhouses that join together to form this unusual shape.
Inside these magical greenhouses are plants, exotic flora, cacti and other natural elements that are divided into four different climate zones. Scientists and tourists have studied the many beautiful plants here, and since there is no entrance fee, this is an ideal place if you are on a tight budget.
Address: Botanischer Garten der Karl-Franzens-Universität, Schubertstraße 59, 8010 Graz, Austria.
The Sculpture Park.
As you stroll through these gardens near Graz, you will see curvaceous metal and surrealistic forms of vivid color emerging from the ordinary landscape. Harmoniously combining nature and art, the Austrian Sculpture Park will create a wonderful fairy-tale day and introduce you to the work of some of Austria’s most important contemporary artists, including Fritz Wotruba and Franz West, Erwin Wurm and Heimo Zobernig.
Address: Österreichischer Skulpturenpark, Thalerhofstraße, Premstätten, Austria.
This neo-Baroque opera house has witnessed many early performances of Mozart’s music. Check out their program for upcoming events here.
Address: Graz Opera, Kaiser-Josef-Platz, Graz, Austria.
One of Graz’s taller landmarks, the Franciscan Church or monastery has a large tower that dominates the surrounding buildings. It was originally built as a defensive tower that overlooked the city walls.
The church has a modern renovated interior that contrasts with the ancient exterior, and there are many bars, cafes, and eateries in the surrounding area. The building, located in the city center, is worth a visit.
Address: Franciscan Church, Franziskanerpl. 14, 8010 Graz, Austria.
The 20 best sights in Graz – descriptions and pictures
Graz (Austria) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Graz with descriptions, guides and maps.
City of Graz (Austria).
Graz is a city in southeastern Austria, the capital of Styria. It is the second most populous city in the country after Vienna. Graz boasts one of the best-preserved historical centers in Europe, which is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is filled with grandiose baroque buildings and interesting sights. A large hill, the Schlossberg, towers over the picturesque Altstadt. Many of the surviving historic buildings are influenced by Italian architectural styles. And Graz itself is an important cultural, educational and scientific center of Europe.
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Geography and climate
Graz is located on the river Mura, 200 km south-west of Vienna, near the Slovenian border and 50 km from Slovenian Maribor. The climate is temperate. Because of its location, south-east of the Alps, Graz is protected from the cold west and north winds. It is much warmer than the rest of Austria and has more sunny days.
View of Graz
- Population – 280 thousand people.
- Area – 127.56 square kilometers.
- Language: German.
- Currency – the euro.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
- The Tourist Information Center is located at Herrengasse, 16.
The roots of Graz go back to the Roman past. The Romans built a small fort at what is now the old town. In the Middle Ages, the Slovenes built a larger fortress. The name “Graz” comes from the Slovenian word “gradec”, which means a small castle.
Panorama of Graz
Graz was first mentioned in 1128, when the dukes of Babenberg turned this place into a major trading city. In the 15th century, under the Habsburgs, the city became the capital of Inner Austria. In the 16th century, Graz was repeatedly attacked by the Turks. Although the fortress located on the Schlossberg was never taken. During World War II, the city was liberated by Soviet troops and was virtually unaffected by bombing.
How to get there
Graz Airport is 9 km to the south of the city center. It is connected by regular flights to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Munich, Stuttgart, and Zurich. From the airport to the center you can take bus 630, 631 and train S5.
The main station (Hauptbahnhof) is located on the western edge of the historic center. Direct trains go to Graz from Vienna, Salzburg, Zurich, Zagreb and Budapest. Near the city pass the freeways A9 and A2.
Don’t forget to buy a bottle of Kernöl (pumpkin seed oil). This oil is typical of Styria and has a unique and pleasant taste. It can be purchased in the area of Kaiser-Josef-Platz, Lendplatz.
The most important shopping street of Graz – Herrengasse. Many stores are located in the area of Mariahilferstrasse, Schmiedgasse, Sporgasse. City Park Shopping Center is located on the south-western outskirts of downtown Graz. Large shopping centers outside the historic center: Shopping City Seiersberg (can be reached by bus 78) and Murpark (streetcar line 4).
Christmas market in Graz
Typical Styrian cuisine is a mixture of Austrian cuisine with Mediterranean influences. Typical dishes: Pumpkin soup, Styrian chicken breast with corn, yogurt with herb sauce, anise cookies, Styrian-style chicken breaded with herbs, walnut roll, smoked trout in tartar sauce, Kipferl with pumpkin seeds, trout with riesling wine, fried apple rings, beef fillet with mashed potatoes and celery, pumpkin cream with vegetables, beef steak with beans.
View of Graz
The Old Town (Altstadt) of Graz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains many medieval houses and Italian Renaissance buildings, secret courtyards and narrow streets. The main square – Hauptplatz – is located on the left bank of the river Mure. There is a statue of Archduke Johann.
Main square in winter
On Hauptplatz is the town hall, built in the late 19th century, the historic 17th-century Luegg House with its attractive arcaded façade and stucco decorations.
West of the main square is the Gothic Franciscan Church (Franziskanerkirche), known for its tall 17th-century west tower and a late Gothic nave with a ribbed vaulted ceiling. The Herrengasse pedestrian area with its many beautiful old mansions, including the beautiful and picturesque Gemaltes Haus with frescoes from the 18th century, is a must-see.
The clock tower on Schlossberg
Schlossberg (“Castle Mountain”) is one of Graz’s most popular landmarks, offering stunning views of the old city. The massive medieval fortifications were mostly dismantled after the Treaty of Vienna in 1809. Only the old Tower with the 13th century clock has survived.
The hill has a height of 473 meters. You can climb it by cable car. There are several other sights here as well: the 94-meter Turkish well (Türkenbrunnen) and the 35-meter bell tower (Glockenturm) from 1588 with an eight-ton bell.
The Styrian Arsenal (Landeszeughaus) is the largest collection of historical arms in the world. The Armory was created in 1642 and today it is the only arsenal in Europe that is preserved in its original state. It includes over 30,000 exhibits, which cover historical periods from the 15th to the 19th century. Collections include: arms for common soldiers and sophisticated armor sets for the nobility, small arms and accessories, artillery and edged weapons.
The Landhaus is one of the best Renaissance buildings in Austria. It is located in the heart of the old town on Herrengasse. This building with magnificent facade was built in 1565. It has a beautiful arcaded courtyard and Renaissance fountain, luxurious halls and exquisite ceilings.
The Graz Cathedral is a late Gothic church built between 1438-1462 on the site of an earlier religious structure. Of particular note is the main portal decorated with the coat of arms of Emperor Frederick III. Remains of a late Gothic fresco from the 15th century can be seen on the southern wall. The interior of the church is Baroque.
Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II and Church of St. Catherine
The mausoleum was built by an Italian architect for Emperor Ferdinand II in 1614. It is one of the first domed structures outside Italy. The interior of the mausoleum is decorated with intricate frescoes. There is also a red marble sarcophagus built for Ferdinand’s mother, Maria of Bavaria.
The Basilica of the Mariatrost (Birth of the Virgin Mary) is a beautiful Baroque basilica located on the top of a hill. It has a beautiful Baroque interior, an impressive altar and frescoes. The basilica offers a stunning view of the surrounding area.
Church of the Sacred Heart
The Church of the Sacred Heart is a neo-Gothic church built in 1887. It is the largest religious building in Graz and has the third largest church tower in Austria (109.6 m) as well as stunning stained glass windows.
Eggenberg is a stunning 1635 baroque palace with four towers in the corners, located three kilometers west of the city center. It was built on the site of an ancient medieval castle from the 13th century. Inside you can view more than 600 magnificent works of art, including a lapidarium with one of the largest collections of Roman stones in Austria, a coin collection and a gallery with works from the Romanesque period and the late Baroque.
The Kunsthaus is a contemporary art museum housed in a stunning, innovative building.
Murinsel is an artificial island built of steel in 2003. The middle part consists of a unique amphitheater used for concerts and other events, as well as a cafe and a playground with a rope maze.