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Graz, the City of Design


Graz is the second largest city in Austria. Just two and a half hour by train from Vienna, it's the perfect long weekend getaway. With loads of history, architectural diversity and lots of terrace cafés, this UNESCO City of Design has plenty to offer and will easily keep you longer than planned.

The Kunsthaus or art museum has been called many things - the friendly alien, whale and porcupine. It looks like a giant pickle to me from this angle.

The rooftop of the Kunsthaus that gave it the nickname, friendly alien.

View of the red rooftops of the old town with the Rathaus in the center, taken from the Schlossberg. Old town Graz is a Unesco designated World Heritage Site.

How to get up to Schlossberg (Castle Hill)? There are 206 steps to climb to the Schlossberg. Thank goodness there are other choices to reach the top. There’s a lift at the bottom of this hill and a funicular just down the street. The funicular fare is included with the day transport pass and the lift fare is €1.30 one way.

The Clock Tower (Uhrturm) was rebuilt in 1569 (the core of it had stood on the hill since the 13th century). It’s all that’s left of the fortress that once surrounded Castle Hill. The long hand is the hour hand and the short hand represents the minutes, a simple way for residents downhill to read the hour from a distance. Steps lead down to the garden where you can also get panoramic view of the old town.

Gemaltes Haus (Painted House)
The façade of many buildings in Graz are intricately adorned with reliefs or painted fresco style like this building on the Hauptplatz. The frescoes date back to 1742.

Also on the Hauptplatz is the Luegg Haus decorated with Baroque style reliefs.

Notice the medallions between the windows of this building and the floral arrangement in the center and on the sides forming a frame. 

Graz has beautiful churches in the Baroque/late Gothic/Styrian architectural styles. This is the Franciscan church with a peaceful cloister that is open to the public.

Mur Island is an artificial floating island on the Mur. The artist, Vito Acconci, wanted to convey a giant sea shell. Two footbridges anchor the island to the banks of the river. The “shell” holds an amphitheater, a café and a playground.

How to get there:
It’s 2 1/2 hours by train from Vienna Hauptbahnhof to Graz. One way ticket in first class is a €76.40. Second class is around €55.00.

Where to stay:
Ibis Graz
Europlatz, 12
Ibis Graz is a clean, no frills hotel conveniently located across from the Graz train station and within walking distance to the old town. The rooms are on the second floor and are quiet. There’s a Hofer supermarket at the back of the hotel and Spar grocery store at the train station. There are several restaurants and bakeries in the vicinity. Tram and bus options are across the street from the hotel.

Where to eat:
Herrengasse 5
This is a seafood restaurant, part of a chain which I have patronized since my first visit to Vienna many moons ago. You can order a complete meal, salad or sandwiches. Their Norwegian salmon meal with potatoes is a good deal for around €16. The Graz location is in the city center. They have a few outdoor tables which are on the main pedestrian only street.

How to get around:
Trams are the easiest way to get around the city. An all-day pass costs €5.60 (student price) and is sold at any Tabac stores. There’s one at the train station.


Images by TravelswithCharie


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