Graz: Austria’s answer to Berlin. Mingle with the lively locals (and a fair few Austrian students as the city is home to four universities) in the country's second-largest city. A culture vulture’s dream, it is brimming with art and cool concepts, and attracts less tourists than its German counterpart. Winning.
Eat your way through the city like goulash is going out of fashion. Die Steirer is *the* diner for teasing your tastebuds with the country’s cuisine, as you can plod your way through dishes in a tapas style. Many fingers in many pies. The pretty bistro serves up goulash, lamb cutlets, stuffed peppers and many other delicious, hearty dishes. They have a ‘wine of the month’, which celebrates the young winemakers from the Styrian region. We’re all for celebrating wine tbh.
If breakfast is your (strawberry) jam, chic café Blendend is highly recommended in the blogging world. A huuuuuge platter of homemade spreads, cheeses, meats, salads, fruits; it’s like those brunches we envied on Gossip Girl back in 2007. Look out for Nocciolata, which is like Nutella, but So. Much. Better.
Landhauskeller is another one for the hit list. The Rovers Return has nothing on this pub, as it has been going strong since the 16th century. The place has evolved since then, obvs, and is now super stylish, but still holds a certain atmosphere that you just can’t find anywhere else in the city. Tafelspitz (beef), grilled fish and interesting takes on classic desserts, like Tiramisu, populate the menu.
Really hammering home the whole culture vibe, the Augarten Art-Hotel is the perfect place to lay your head after a day of sightseeing. Bright and elegant with splashes of colour, the hotel is filled with contemporary art, which you can muse over for hours if you’re not laying in a food coma after all that aforementioned eating.
Alternatively, Feichtinger Graz Hotel is a great 3-star venue with simple, spacious rooms and a great dining area to kickstart your day. Located just five minutes from the city centre, it is an ideal base for a whistlestop sightseeing city break.
Murinsel Graz is a breath-taking, steel structure in the middle of the River Mur, which has totally earned its status of an island. Unless we’re being picky, then technically the whole thing is more akin to a ship, as it is held down by an anchor. Beautiful, even more so at night, the structure was designed by artist Vito Acconci in 2003 – the year Graz was named Europe's Cultural Capital. The shell-like structure has an amphitheatre, cafe and maze, all in shades of blue.
Another intriguing building in the city is the magnificent Eggenberg Palace, situated in West Graz. The design is based on the Gregorian calendar, alluding to the concepts of time, days, hours. It has 365 rooms, 24 state rooms with 52 doors… you get the drift. The Baroque beauty is HUGE (erm, let’s revisit the whole 365 room thing again, shall we?), but is definitely worth a visit.
If you’re after a view, The Schlossberg, up in the hills, is a fortress that provides a beautiful view of the Old Town and, of course, all the red roofs below. The old Clock Tower is #Instagoals, too. The Old Town itself is home to an array of incredible architecture, renaissance buildings, secret courtyards, galleries, museums - basically the hub of Graz’s culture scene. It is also a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Graz is part of the Styrian region, awash with lush greenery, bright blue lakes and exceptional mountains framing your view. While there are many beautiful parks to cycle through, such as the Murradweg National Park, or Grazer Schlossberg (which leads up the fortress), take a day trip to one of the surrounding towns to bask in natural beauty.
If you’re after an super intense detox and really want to splash out, head to Austria’s Viva Mayr clinic. Featured in the likes of Vogue, and frequented by celebrities and models alike, the clinic is based on Lake Wörth, just outside Graz. Their restorative light and sound therapy pod was developed at the University of Graz, but be warned, this detox is a little less holiday, more hardcore...
For a typical Austrian pub, head to the century-old Gosser Brau. They serve their own beer and a range of Austrian dishes too if you get peckish in between pints. Another one for great beer is the Bierbaron, which serves over 20 different types. They also have build-your-own burgers and pizzas – it’s quite popular with the Graz students. The vibe is great if you’re with a group of mates.
If you’re less about the beer and more about the cocktails, you cannot pass up the elegant M1 cafe-bar. They have over 200 cocktails on offer and they even do brunch on the weekend. The bar is set over three floors, and has a beaut terrace and sprawling spiral staircase. You’re welcome.
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