So far I haven’t been able to enjoy summer to its fullest like I was able to do last year with my many travel adventures in July. However, I have valid reasons for being stuck at one or two places at the moment – I was rather busy with moving apartments (don’t get me started with the organisational matters that come with that!) plus we got an addition to our family at the end of June (I’m an auntie!). Nevertheless, I managed to squeeze in a day trip to Graz. It was actually an overnight trip but I spent less than 24 hours there.
Graz is the second largest city in Austria (over 320,000 inhabitants) and capital of the state Styria. With a total of 6 universities and 2 colleges and over 50,000 students Graz is truly a student city. The city combines the old and new: home to the apparently biggest medieval historic city centre in Europe, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, that bears witness to over 850 years of architecture with houses such as the Landhaus or the Schloss Eggenberg, which is in contrast but perfect harmony with state-of-the-art works of buildings such as the Kunsthaus Graz or the MUMUTH.
Graz has fairly good options for vegetarians, and also some for vegans. On our first evening we stumbled upon the Café Erde – a place that ‘makes people happy with vegan delicious food’. And this slogan is not an exaggeration I must say! During the day they serve a daily changing menu with soup and a dish of the day for €8.40, and in the evening you can order á la carte with dishes like salads, wraps, burgers, or Schnitzel, with prices between €5.90 & €8.40. I’d have preferred to go there for lunch as the menu was more appealing to me (a bit more creative in my opinion), but the Cheese Burger was delicious too! And the banana chocolate cake (and whatever else that was in there) was the perfect treat for the day!
The main reason for me going to Graz in the first place was to meet friends and have brunch on Sunday. The Café Mitte might be a bit expensive, and the self-service system is not speaking for the relatively high prices, but the brunch buffet that they have is really good and there are many options one can choose from, for only €13,90! As I just came to Graz for meeting those friends I did not want to take any pictures during our meeting, so you would need to go there yourself and see all the delicious food you can get for brunch! ;) The interior of the restaurant is really hip and trendy, and they also have tables right in front of the restaurant, so it’s a great place for brunch. I think many others who were there that day would agree with me on that as there was no single empty table while we had brunch there (and I think this is often a sign for a good place, right?).
A definite must on my trip to Graz was taking the Schlossbergbahn – a funicular that takes you from the city up the castle hill where you have a beautiful view over Graz. Since 1894 the Schlossbergbahn funicular has been bringing people up the hill. It only takes a few minutes but with the glass roof of the funicular one has a great view over the historic centre of the city.
If you want a one-way trip up the hill it would cost you €2.20, but the public transport tickets for zone 1 are also valid on the funicular, so we could do it ‘for free’. The funicular runs up the hill every 15 minutes and operates on a daily basis from 10:00 to at least 22:00 (til 24:00 during the week and on Fridays and Saturdays til 02:00).
Schlossberg & the Clock Tower
The Schlossberg – the castle hill – of Graz is a recreation area and vantage point. It only takes a short time to climb the hill and have a great view of Graz and the city surroundings. A castle was built on this hill a thousand years ago, giving the city its name as the Slavonic word ‘Gradec’ for little castle transformed into Graz. No one could ever take this fortress; however, Napoleon (who was also unable to do so) defeated the Habsburgs and demanded the demolition of the fortress. A great amount of money was paid to the conquerer to prevent the demolition of the Clock Tower.
High up on the hill (but not even on the highest point) the fortified medieval Clock Tower is still standing. It got its present shape around 1560. The hands on the clock often confuse people as it’s not a regular clock. Originally there were only the long hands for the hours which could be seen from the distance, and the hands for the minutes were added later, causing a ‘swapping’ of the hands. Near the Clock Tower there is a beautiful garden with a splendour of flowers, plants and benches so people could relax and enjoy the wonderful view.
As my boyfriend and I were staying overnight in Graz, we climbed the Schlossberg hill in the evening so I could see Graz by night from up there. It was really busy up there, quite a lot of people had the same plans as we did, but we still had a great view and enjoyed the atmosphere up there.
Graz actually has a lot to offer despite the fact that it’s rather small. A few years ago I thought otherwise but only because I have never really seen much of the city or really done anything interesting there. However, after spending a few days there every year over the past couple of years I realised that Graz is a charming city after all and I like coming back once in a while.