It may be missing Sound of Music accolades and a glamorous history, but Austria’s second largest city had quietly marched on slowly becoming the country’s hippest destination.
Graz is a city with many faces, a veritable mish mash of the beautifully old and the daringly new. The Schlossberg, a leafy green mountain smack bang in the middle of the city with a bell tower on its peak dominates the skyline surrounded by one of Europe’s best preserved old towns. By contrast, since being named as the European capital of cool in 2003, more cutting edge building projects have popped up along the skyline including the blue, a spaceship-looking Kuntshaus, dedicated to contemporary art and Murinsel – a multi-use playground in the middle of the Mur River. This unusual cultural combination has been a fascination of tourists and even earned Graz the title of an Unesco City of Design, an accolade only anointed to a handful of other European cities. The famous Steirischer Herbst festival celebrates the city’s artistic side every September and October attracting thousands of tourists looking for a cultural hit. The plentiful cultural activities, restaurants and nightlife make it a perfect location for a weekend break. If you’re short on time soak up the view by taking the lift to the top of the Schlossberg or for those more inclined to relax, knock back a cold one in one of the city’s many 400-year-old taverns. For families, a trip on the Grazer Märchenbahn is worth exploring. It is a little train that runs through the tunnels of the Schlossberg while telling fairy tales in German. Be sure to pack a camera!