A Walking Tour of Graz

By Keith Jenkins

graz sightseeing on foot

A Healthy and Eco-Friendly Journey Through History, Culture and Sustainability

Graz, Austria’s second-largest city, is a treasure trove of historical and cultural landmarks, all easily accessible on foot. This vibrant city, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and UNESCO City of Design, offers a perfect blend of old-world charm and modern-day innovation. Embarking on a Graz walking tour allows you to soak in the city’s beauty at your own pace and it’s an excellent low-emission way to explore the city, minimizing your carbon footprint while maximizing your experience!

Hauptplatz, Graz

The map below features a walking route that covers the top attractions. Graz is not only rich in history and culture but also in its commitment to sustainability. Along your walking tour, you will find numerous eco-friendly shops and eateries that reflect the city’s green and community-led ethos.

It’s a relatively easy walk – the only spot that’s a bit challenging to get to on foot is the Schlossberg (Castle Hill), but no worries. You can take the elevator or the funicular to reach the top. I recommend taking it slow to soak up the city’s unique vibes. Split this route into two days, with the old town on the first day and the left bank (Lend and Gries) on day two.

Top places to visit in Graz – a walking route

Hauptplatz

This self-guided walking tour of Graz starts at Hauptplatz, the main square in the heart of the city. This bustling square is surrounded by stunning baroque architecture, with the majestic Town Hall (Rathaus) as its centerpiece. The square is also home to the Erzherzog Johann Fountain, a tribute to the popular Archduke Johann of Austria, known for his contributions to the region’s development.

graz museums with city card
Rathaus, Graz

From here, continue northwest along Sackstrasse to Schlossbergplatz.

Graz Clock Tower

Our next stop is the Graz Clock Tower (Uhrturm) atop Castle Hill. At Schlossbergplatz, you can choose to climb the zig-zag staircase to the top, or take the elevator. There’s another (fascinating) way to reach the top: a tunnel that leads inside Castle Hill. The tunnel cuts right through the hill in a gradual ascent. Along the way, you’ll pass a secondary network of tunnels and massive halls that were built as air raid shelters. At the top of the tunnel, turn left and continue up the hill to the Clock Tower.

Tunnel under Schlossberg

The iconic Graz Clock Tower (Uhrturm), with its distinct clock faces, offers panoramic views of the city and is a symbol of Graz’s enduring spirit. While you’re looking at the clock face, try to figure out the time. 😉

graz walking tour clock tower
Graz clock tower

Drop by at Aiola Upstairs café/restaurant for a well-deserved refreshment or a terrific farm-to-table meal.

Schlossberg (Castle Hill)

From the clock tower, continue this fantastic cardio workout by continuing up Castle Hill. It’s a lovely walk up amidst lush greenery and gorgeous city views. At the top of the hill, you’ll find the Chinese Pavilion and the Schlossberg Museum.

attractions in graz
View from Schlossberg

The Historic Old Town

No walking tour of Graz would be complete without wandering through its historic Old Town (Altstadt). The cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways are lined with beautifully preserved medieval and Renaissance buildings – characteristics that contributed to the old town’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Descend Schlossberg to Karmeliterplatz, a popular spot for street events and concerts. Continue down the lovely Sporgasse, a bustling street with shops and cafés. Along the way, pop into one of the side lanes to see one of the many hidden courtyards in the old town.

graz travel sustainably
Sporgasse

For the conscious shoppers among us, check out HUMANA, a vintage and second-hand clothing store, and GrĂŒne Erde, an eco-friendly/fairtrade home furnishing and accessories store.

Take a left at Hofgasse. The first thing that will catch your eye is the HofbÀckerei Edegger-Tax, the former Imperial baker. The stunning wooden façade of the bakery is in itself worth a stop.

Double-spiral staircase

Near the end of Hofgasse, turn left into the courtyard of the Burg. Head to the cylindrical tower at the far end of the courtyard for one of my favourite Graz attractions: the double-spiral staircase. This amazing stone staircase in Gothic style was built in the 16th century, and is an absolute masterpiece. It’s also called “the stairs of reconciliation”, as two people ascending/descending the opposite staircases will always meet again at each level.

Double-spiral staircase in Graz

From the Burg, you can continue to the lush Graz Burggarten (City Park) next door or cross the road to the Cathedral.

Graz Cathedral

Just across the road from the Burg stands the Graz Cathedral, a harmonious blend of Gothic and Baroque styles. Its sober exterior contrasts with the striking interior adorned with intricate frescoes and Baroque furnishings.

Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II

Next door to the Cathedral, you’ll find the impressive 17th century Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II. Crowned by beautiful turquoise domes, the Mausoleum is one of the top historic and cultural sights in Graz.

graz sightseeing walking route
Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II

Glockenspiel

From the Mausoleum, explore the maze of streets and alleys that gradually descend to Herrengasse. Don’t miss the Glockenspiel, a historic carillon that plays 3 times a day (11am, 3pm and 6pm). The Glockenspielplatz and adjacent Mehlplatz are lovely squares for a refreshment and to people-watch.

Glockspielplatz

A sustainability-minded fashion store that’s worth checking out in this area is Peaces, where hand-printed garments are crafted from vegan and organic fabrics.

Landhaus

Continue down the hill to the Landhaus, a stunning Renaissance palace with its famous arcaded courtyard. In this impressive building, you’ll find the Graz tourist office as well as the Armoury Museum that houses the world’s largest collection of historic weapons.

Landhaus

In the vicinity, you’ll also find one of my favourite restaurants in Graz: Landhauskeller, located inside a gorgeous courtyard. The restaurant specialises in Styrian cuisine and has a great collection of regional wines.

Joanneumsviertel

Walk along the atmospheric Schmiedgasse, with its many shops, cafés and restaurants, before turning right to the Joanneumsviertel (Joanneum Quarter). This large cultural centre encompasses the New Gallery, Natural History Museum and Center of Science Activities. Read more about museums in Graz.

For a terrific vegan meal, I recommend Café Erde, a short walk away from Joanneumsviertel.

Mur River

This Graz walking tour continues (the following day) along the Mur River. A walking path lines the riverbanks, making it possible to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and simply listen to the rapids and enjoy the green surroundings. Follow the path to the Murinsel.

things to see in graz austria
Mur River

Murinsel

You can’t miss the Murinsel, a unique floating platform in the middle of the Mur River. Designed by New York artist Vito Acconci, this modern marvel is both a bridge and an island, featuring a cafĂ© and an amphitheater. The Murinsel represents Graz’s innovative spirit and its commitment to blending nature with urban development.

murinsel graz
Murinsel

Lend

Cross the Mur River via Murinsel to the trendy Lend neighbourhood. Once a derelict part of the city, Lend is nowadays a vibrant place with a strong sustainable and community-centric ethos.

Each morning, between 6am and 1pm (except Sundays and public holidays), farmers from the surrounding region arrive at Lendplatz to sell their freshest produce. The Lend farmers market is one of my favourite places to visit in Graz. It’s a lively place where you can also just sit back with a coffee and enjoy the bustling market.

Graz farmers market

Just behind Lendplatz, you’ll find BO SUPPE, a literal hole-in-the-wall that serves delicious, organic soups.

Sustainable and community businesses in Lend

Explore a bit more of the Lend neighbourhood and continue down Mariahilferstrasse. This broad street is home to numerous stores, pubs and restaurants. For sustainable shopping, pop into tag.werk, a fashion accessory store that focuses on youth employment, sustainable design and upcycling.

Colourful bags at tag.werk

Further down the street, check out Hummel, a women-owned Levantine cuisine restaurant, where seasonal low-waste mezze plates are served. Across the street, pop into PANE. This bakery offers a delicious range of breads but also sells yesterday’s bread for a hefty discount. The proceeds of the ‘old’ bread is donated to local charities.

Kunsthaus Graz

You’ll soon find yourself at Kunsthaus Graz, affectionately known as the “Friendly Alien.” This contemporary art museum, with its distinctive biomorphic shape, stands in stark contrast to the traditional architecture of the city.

The quirky Kunsthaus in Graz

The Kunsthaus showcases modern and contemporary art, making it a cultural hotspot for art enthusiasts.

places to visit in graz
Inside the Kunsthaus

A walking tour of Graz is not just a journey through history and culture but also a step towards a healthier lifestyle and a more sustainable future. The city’s rich heritage, combined with its commitment to eco-friendly practices, makes it a perfect destination for mindful travelers. As you traverse the cobblestone streets, climb the verdant hills, and explore the innovative spaces, you will discover that Graz is a city where the past and future harmoniously coexist, offering a unique and enriching experience.

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