Austria’s second largest city after the capital Vienna, Graz combines charm and trendiness in equal measure. The charm comes in the form of its superbly preserved historical centre, which owes its beauty to the Habsburg Empire dating back 900 years. Their legacy is evident in the city’s numerous medieval and renaissance monuments and buildings, which have helped to secure Graz the status of a UNESCO world heritage site.
The period architecture sits side by side with several ultra-modern buildings, including an impressive Arts Centre, which at first glance resembles a suspended bubble, while looming large over the city is the Grazer Schlossberg mountain and its eye-catching fortress. Also ubiquitous are Graz’s student population, thanks to the six universities housed here, who add a youthful atmosphere to the magic and magnetism of this bustling European city.
The closest international airport to Graz is Graz Airport, which is located around 8km to the south of the city, and offers scheduled flights to cities throughout Austria and Germany, along with some destinations in Switzerland and England, including Zurich and London.
The airport is conveniently close to a railway station, situated just a short walk from the passenger terminal, and provides hourly train transport into Graz city centre.
Graz’s location in a sheltered basin on the south-eastern side of the Alps protects it from the prevailing winds coming off the Atlantic, and ensures the city experiences generally warm and calm weather all year round.
Summers are the most popular time to visit Graz, when you can expect warm to hot weather, though rarely reaching uncomfortable levels. The evening temperatures remain favourable, tempting people to sit on bar and restaurant terraces.
The temperatures cool in autumn, and winter brings heavy overnight frosts which add a noticeable crispness to the air, followed soon by spells of snowy weather.
Spring usually arrives quite early, and by the end of March flowers are blooming and the trees have sprung back to life, with daytime temperatures staying above 10C.
One of the best museums and art galleries in Graz is the Kunsthaus Graz which is famous not only for what's inside but also as a prominent local landmark, resembling a bubble in its appearance. Once you've marvelled at the exterior, you should head inside to explore the array of temporary exhibitions.
Other notable Graz museums include the Landeszeughaus (Museum of Armour), which houses more than 30,000 pieces of weaponry and is the largest of its size in existence. Another popular museum is the Stadtmuseum (City Museum), which dates back more than 80 years and resides within the Palais Khuenberg, offering an abundance of information on the history of the Styria region of Austria.
Other notable landmarks include the Graz Cathedral which dates back to the middle of the 15th century, the Franciscan Church (Franziskanerkirche), the Heart of Jesus Church (Herz Jesu Kirche) and the eye-catching Eggenberg Castle (Schloss Eggenberg), which features an impressive 365 individual windows.
The Hauptplatz and adjacent Calf's Quarter are also popular areas for dining. On the other side of the River Mur is the Lend district, where a further selection of good eating venues can be found.
Alternatively, within reach of Graz are several other Austrian cities of interest, including the capital Vienna, Linz, Maribor and Salzburg.