Graz, Austria is a beautiful city with plenty of things to do for tourists and visitors. As we look at some of the best things to do in Graz, what makes the city for me is the good blend between the infrastructure of a developed city and a relatively local vibe to it.
Despite being the second-largest city in Austria, it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle feel of say Vienna. Graz is not as touristic comparatively, and this might just be where the charm is.
Best time to visit Graz
Graz is a great city to visit all year round, but there are certain seasons when things might be better than others. If you want to avoid crowds and enjoy some of the cheapest things in Graz then late spring or early fall will suit you best!
In the summer months, things are more expensive and busier. In Winter, some places might close earlier and you have shorter daylight hours.
Graz City pass
If you are looking to explore the city of Graz and its many attractions, then the Graz City Pass is a great option. This pass provides you with free or discounted admission to many of the city’s top attractions, including the Schlossberg Castle, Kunsthaus Graz, Joanneum, the Graz Zoo, and more!
The pass is valid for 24 or 48 hours and can be purchased at any of the participating attractions.
Top Things to Do in Graz
Whether you are looking to explore Graz’s history or simply enjoy its beauty, there is something for everyone in this city. Here are the 17 best things to do in Graz, Austria.
This majestic castle is one of the most popular things to do in Graz. It was built as a fortress during the Middle Ages and has since been renovated into an incredible structure that houses museums, restaurants, gardens, and more!
The Schlossberg is also home to some breathtaking views of the city below. You can take a lift up to the top or climb your way there on foot for free! This is a great place to admire the sky colors during sunset and it can be a quiet place to hang out at night as well.
If you are not a fan of stairs, then the Schlossberg Tunnel is a great alternative to get up to the castle. The Tunnel was built in the 1800s as a way to connect the upper and lower parts of the castle.
It’s now open to the public and makes for a fascinating stroll through the passage. There is only one pathway open, it is well lit and fitted with metal grill platings.
The entrance is right next to the lift that brings you up to the castle. However, this has no entrance fee, so it’s a great free thing to do in Graz!
Graz Clock Tower
This tower was built in 1560 and is one of the most iconic things about Graz! It’s a great place to take photos or just enjoy some fresh air on top of the hill above Schlossberg Park.
The clock tower has been used for many things throughout history including as an observatory where people could see stars during nighttime hours when there wasn’t any light pollution yet.
This modern art museum showcases contemporary artists from around Europe, including works by Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer & Thomas Demand.
The museum is located in a unique building called “Friendly Alien” that was designed specifically for this purpose. Tickets cost €15 or less and include access to all exhibitions as well as audio guides! (Free entry with Graz Card) Link to Website with prices and opening times.
In addition, there is a stylish cafe in the lobby. It is great for having coffee, working and just people watching. Lots of discussions seem to happen here. There is also usually a good lunch menu at an affordable price here on weekdays.
Old Town Graz
This is the historic district of Graz and it’s definitely the highlights! It has many beautiful buildings, churches, and cobblestone streets.
Be sure to stop by the Glockenspiel in Hauptplatz which chimes every hour and plays traditional Austrian music. You will also find some of the great food that Graz has to offer! There are many restaurants, cafes, and bars in the Old Town.
The Joanneumsviertell is a unique museum in Graz that showcases art from the 19th and 20th centuries, with an emphasis on Austrian artists. It also has several other exhibits including natural history specimens (dinosaurs), history of medicine displays and many more things!
Tickets cost €12 or less but include access to all exhibitions! (Free entry with Graz Card). There are also many things happening at the Joanneum throughout the year so keep an eye out on their website:
This zoo is one of only two zoos in Austria where you can see elephants! It’s also home to over 600 other animals such as giraffes, tigers and more!
The Graz Zoo is located next to the Schlossberg and can be easily reached by foot. Tickets cost €15 or less depending on age group (Free Entry with Graz Card) Link to Website with prices and opening times.
Graz Opera House
This beautiful opera house was built in 1827 during the Austrian Empire period. It’s a great place for music lovers because it hosts many concerts throughout the year, including Mozart’s “Magic Flute” every Tuesday night at 20:00 pm (€17-21 per person).
You can buy tickets online here: Link to Website with prices and opening. Or you can buy them at the box office on the day of the concert.
This large park is a great place to relax after exploring all of Graz’s attractions. It has ponds, streams, gardens, and more! The large greenery is a popular spot for locals to exercise, hang out and chill.
The Stadtpark is also home to many events throughout the year such as concerts, markets, and even an ice skating rink in the winter! This can be one of the most relaxing things to do in Graz.
Herz Jesu Kirche
This church was built in the 19th century and houses the tomb of Prince Bishop Zwerger. It has an interesting Gothic architecture that makes it stand out from other churches in Graz.
Karl-Franzens-Universität Botanical Garden
This botanical garden is located on the University of Graz campus and is open to the public. It has over 20,000 plants from all over the world!
The garden is free to enter and is a great place to relax in nature. You can also learn about different types of plants here! This is one of the best things to do in Graz for nature and botany lovers.
A cool-looking and artificial “island” in the Mur river that is designed by New York artist Vito Acconci. The Murinsel is fun to visit as it serves as an anchor for the Graz design scene. The contemporary venue also features a cafe, theater, and a great view of the Mur river.
The Murinsel hosts events throughout the year so if you’re in Graz during summer or autumn then be sure to check out the event schedule!
The island/building also lights up at night and its architecture really stands out with the lighting amidst the dark surrounding.
This is a beautiful palace that was built in 1625 by Count Eggenberg. It’s now used as a museum and is one of the most popular things to see in Graz!
The palace has many different rooms and exhibits on display including armour, paintings, furniture, and more! There is also a huge park with a garden, mini-maze, and playground that is home to some beautiful peacocks.
This cathedral was built in the 12th century and is one of the oldest things to see in Graz! It’s a great place if you’re interested in history or just want some quiet time on your own 😉
The cathedral has many things going for it including being home to some beautiful artwork such as stained glass windows, sculptures, and paintings by local artists.
Mausoleum Kaiser Ferdinands II.
A beautiful mausoleum that was built in 1634 for Emperor Ferdinand II who died at the age of 59 years old after ruling over Austria for almost 30 years!
The mausoleum is very ornate and contains many things on display including paintings, sculptures, and more!
The most impressive as[ect has to be the building architecture seen from the outside. There is an imposing feel when looking up at the mausoleum from the steps right below the entrance.
This is the largest and oldest armory in Europe! It was built in 1642 and has been used for many things over the years including as a museum.
The Landeszeughaus contains around 32,000 items on display including armor, weapons, tools, and furniture! Marveling through all the different variations in the arsenal is one of the most intriguing things to do in Graz.
Thalersee is a beautiful lake located outside the city center of Graz. It’s perfect for a day out with friends or family when the weather is good.
It is about a 20-minute drive from the Old Town. You can also get there with public transportation, although it does usually involve quite a few changes.
Where to stay in Graz
Although Graz is not as popular compared to other Austrian destinations like Vienna and Salzburg, it still receives a good number of tourists each year.
There are many different types of accommodation in Graz to suit everyone’s needs! Here are some well-rated options that you can consider.
– Hotel Grazer Hof
– Pension Schlossberg
– Botel Wient