On your radar: Graz, Austria

On your radar: Graz, Austria

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

The delightful city of Graz is Austria’s second-largest city and capital of the region of Styria. It features an incredibly well-conserved city center and is tucked in southeast Austria on the Mur River. When the area is blanketed in a layer of fluffy white snow, there’s no better time to experience the local charm. Grab your coat and mittens and get ready for a winter wonderland in Graz you won’t soon forget! 

One of the main draws to the city is the center. According to the UNESCO World Heritage website, the historic city center and palace in Graz “bear witness to an exemplary model of the living heritage of a central European urban complex influenced by the secular presence of the Habsburgs and the cultural and artistic role played by the main aristocratic families.” The local architecture here reflects movements from Balkans and Mediterranean and yet creates harmonious integrations of various styles. You’ll find over 1,000 buildings in the city center ranging from Gothic to contemporary style. Wander around the streets admiring the architecture as the snow discreetly crunches under your feet. 

One particularly delightful building you’re sure to see in the city center is the Graz Cathedral. Though the outside may not look particularly inspiring, the inside is quite stunning and contains a Gothic fresco. The fresco, called “Gottesplagenbild” (God’s Plagues), represents the plagues that struck the city in 1480 - locusts, war and Black Death. The inside consists of Gothic architecture with Baroque furnishings that combine to create the perfect ambiance for its parishioners. 

Surely a trip to Graz isn’t complete without eating some of the local cuisine. Don’t miss out on dining on fried chicken served with rice or potatoes at a traditional Styrian restaurant. This is a local favorite and considered some of the best-fried chicken you’ll ever find. Try Gasthaus Stainzerbauer, which has been serving food for over 100 years. Here you’ll find other traditional dishes as well, like schnitzel, served up in a cozy dining area. Be sure to sample some of the local wines as well. Head into the cellar for the perfect wine tasting before a sumptuous meal in this delightful restaurant. 

If you have the pleasure of visiting Graz in the winter, ‘tis the season for some holiday merriment! Don’t miss visiting Graz Winterworld at Karmeliterplatz. Here you can rent a pair of skates and gracefully glide across the ice rink and then get ready to hit the Christmas markets. Surely no amount of time will ever quantify as “too much time” at a Christmas market, so start at the Christkindlmarkt on Hauptplatz.  This is the main attraction and located in the center of the old town. Check out the lovingly decorated stalls with their handcrafted wares. Sample as much food as you can handle, and of course, have at least one mug of glühwein. Enjoy the massive Christmas tree that graces the center and at night admire the advent calendar that is projected onto city hall. 

Graz should be on your radar as the perfect little holiday getaway. Leisurely stroll through the city streets, stop for some holiday cheer at the markets or spend the afternoon skating to your heart’s content. There’s no shortage of good food, fun activities and great people in Graz. 

Why Go There

Austria is one of those truly incredible countries that just keeps giving and giving when it comes to things that draw you in. The city of Graz is no exception. From incredible food to awe-inspiring architecture, the city center alone could entertain you for days. Visiting during the holidays is a special treat, as the chill in the air and the beautiful Christmas decorations only add to the charm of the city. Spend a day or two getting to know Graz and all it has to offer.

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