Many people probably wouldn't really know much about Graz, but it definitely is a splendid city to do a day trip from Vienna! We recently ventured over while we revisited Austria as I had heard great things about the city! It is Austria's 2nd largest city sitting in the Styria region of Austria and named the old town was named a UNESCO world heritage site in '99.
The train ride to Graz from Vienna is an easy 2 and a half hour journey through the Semmering region. If you book early online, you can get "SparSchiene" train tickets for only 9 Euros which is pretty good value I must say for an incredibly scenic train journey at the OBB online portal found here.
Once in Graz, check into Hotel Wiesler right in the middle of the city centre and an easy cab ride from the train station. After dropping your bags off head straight out to the city centre and head up the Schlosbergbahn a funicular ride up to the Schlosberg and once up the funicular you can enjoy incredible views of the city. Before going up the funicular though, pop by the Island in the Mur (Murinsel), a floating platform in the middle of the Mur designed by New York artist Vito Acconci when Graz was crowned European Capital of Culture during 2013.
Also while up on Schlosberg walk around the top and enjoy all the other view points such as the Uhrtum, the Graz clock tower which is one of the iconic sights of Graz. Once you're ready to explore the old town of Graz pop down to the old town via the Schlosberg lift or via steps down from the clock tower, approx 300 steps down but certainly one of the most scenic & beautiful ways down!
Once in the old town, be sure to check out the Landhaus courtyard and the other courtyards just behind the grand buildings just behind the main drag, the painted houses just opposite the town hall (Rathaus) located in Hauptplatz. Once you've explored the main square area, visit the cathedral and mausoleum via the bakery Hofbakerie Edegger-Tax, pretty inside and out with a vast array of cakes for sale!
Just around the cathedral area you'll find the double spiral staircase which is probably way prettier in person than what it sounds like online! If it is a nice day out, have a stroll through Stadpark just outside of the gates past the double spiral staircase!
Depending how big of an appetite you've worked up, choices for lunch can either by at Frankowitsch, a gourmet sandwich shop just along the main shopping street (and may I add a stunning street too!) or if you'd like a break head back towards Hotel Wiesler & have a meal at the restaurant downstairs, the Speisesaal.
Spend the afternoon at the Kunsthaus, the art museum of Graz also built as part of the 2003 capital of culture celebrations. The building is a very distinct one which can be spotted miles away, although the best view of it is from the Schlosberg.
Be sure to book a table at Der Steirer just a stone's throw away from Hotel Wiesler for dinner and you definitely won't be disappointed! I enjoyed a traditional and incredibly tender roast pork dish - by far the best food I've had in Austria for a long time! While you're here, remember to order the fried chicken - I personally can never go past fried chicken and this didn't disappoint - crispy skin while still keeping the meat juicy - delicious!!
After a pleasant night's at Hotel Wiesler (the cutest and loveliest boutique hotel around Graz!) sleep grab a coffee next door at Tribeka before making your way back to the train station for your next onward journey!
Fun fact: Graz is your gateway to visiting Arnold Schwarzennegger's birthplace, where the museum is located in Thal, a very short trip away from Graz!
We Stayed: Hotel Wiesler