Steirer Kas Cheese of Styria
Making pumpkin seed oil
Music in the courtyard of the Landhaus
Lipizzaner horses stalls
Explore the Unexpected in Graz
Photos Courtesy Austrian National Tourist Office
The Styrian capital is well-known for its medieval city center and modern architectural highlights, a most pleasing contrast for all senses. Graz is surrounded by rolling hills lined with vineyards, orchards and bright pumpkin patches, which gives this area of Austria the loving nickname “Styrian Tuscany.”
Explore the charms of Austria’s second largest city and its beautiful countryside. Combine the arts, architecture, culinary highlights and country delights in one spectacular three-day itinerary.
Local cheeses, nutty pumpkinseed oil, cured meats and fresh produce of all kinds – a delectable breakfast awaits at both the Kaiser-Josef-Market and the Lendplatz Market, the city’s two larger farmer’s markets. There's no better introduction to Graz than its home-grown specialties, and you'll find a mouth-watering array here Monday through Saturday, from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Despite being Austria’s second-largest city, Graz has an historic center that's conveniently compact. From the modern Kunsthaus and Island in the Mur to the medieval armory and remaining fortifications on the city mountain, you can cover much of the Old Town in a single morning. Between its hidden alleys, famed Italian renaissance courtyards and houses dating to the 13th century, history is alive and well here.
Island in the Mur
Graz is a great shopping town. Start at its largest and prestigious department store—Kastner und Oehler. Be sure to see the rooftop bar and restaurant, great for a light lunch. The new terrace affords a unique vantage point on Graz's city mountain, and sweeping views over its medieval roof-scape. Then, leave time for the boutique stores in the streets and alleys off the Herrengasse.
Rooftops in the City Center of Graz
Summer brings evening concerts at romantic spots like the Island in the Mur in the renaissance courtyards of the Old Town and even in Kasematten (former dungeons) on the Schlossberg. The Graz Opera is famous for its modern interpretations of the classics, and they contrast beautifully with the historic opera house itself.
Graz Opera House
Take a day trip to the western part of Styria, the province surrounding Graz. A 45-minute drive brings you to the small village of Piber, home to the world-famous Lipizzaner horses, and a 400-year tradition of breeding and raising them. The animals are reared here in preparation for life at the renowned Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Enjoy a typical Styrian buschenschank at lunchtime, stopping first in Bärnbach, the small town where famed Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser designed the St. Barbara Church in his colorful and eccentric style.
Buschenschank is the name given to Austrian wine taverns in which specially licensed local winemakers serve their most recent year's wines for short periods following the growing season. They are renowned for their atmosphere of Gemütlichkeit shared among a group enjoying young wine, simple food and traditional music.
A visit to a local wine tavern, usually right next to the owner’s vineyard, is always a special occasion. Rolling vineyards, clean air, baskets of fresh bread and generous platters of smoked meat, cheese, spreads and pickles—it's paradise. Typically, the Brettljausn is served family style on a big wooden board or "Brettl." A variety of local wines is available to accompany your meal. One favorite is the rose-colored Schilcher, also available as a sparkling wine.
Round out the day with a visit to one of the many pumpkinseed oil mills, such as Hamlitsch in Deutschlandsberg. Pumpkinseed oil is the signature produce of Styria, a healthy, dark-green oil made from a special pumpkin that produces seeds without a husk. It's delicious on salads.
Back in Graz, head to the restaurant der Steirer for tapas from the region you just visited. By now you just might recognize the local wines, which are also available for purchase in the adjacent shop.
Airing the linens
The Open Air Museum in Stuebing is just a 30 minute drive to the north. Set in a pristine nature park, the museum comprises more than 100 historic buildings from all over rural Austria and brings to life a time without electricity, telephone or even motorized transportation. From stately farms to small barns, rural schoolhouses and chapels to an authentic grocery store, the architectural reconstructions are astonishing.
Should you care to spend the afternoon here, you can visit Schoeckl mountain, a favorite hiking destination that delivers stunning views over the region. (The mountain is also accessible via cable car.) For more of a cultural stop on your way back to Graz, the animal park and exhibition at Herberstein Castle is also popular.
Kunsthaus Art Museum
Graz for Art and Design Enthusiasts:
In addition to its stint as Cultural Capital of Europe in 2003, Graz has also been distinguished as a UNESCO city of design, reflecting the active expression of urban culture and conscious design of the city environment. This is visible in its many museums and galleries, and in the newly developed areas around the Kunsthaus and the Joanneum Quarter.
For details, go to www.austria.info/us