Graz “upon second glance”: Beer Walk and City Tour of Graz’ Lend and Gries districts.

October is a wonderful month to visit the city of Graz in southern Austria. The brightly colored foliage of the trees has made a “fairytale stronghold” out of the iconic Schlossberg hill. Towards the end of the month, the gourmet capital city Graz welcomes its visitors with yet another highlight: the Graz Truffle Festival. I’ll tell you more about it in a separate article. First of all, let me take you to the city center of Graz, through the lesser-known districts of Lend and Gries south of the Mur river and to an insider tip north of and outside the main city area. In times like these, I believe it is all the more important to rekindle a certain kind of wanderlust. So here we go!

Graz, du Schöne: Blick auf den Grazer Schlossberg mit seinem bunten

Graz, you beauty! View of the Schlossberg hill in central Graz from the Erzherzog Johann bridge across the Mur river.

 

Overnight at the Hotel Gollner Graz near the famous farmers’ market Kaiser-Josef-Platz.

Heading to Graz, I can warmly recommend an overnight stay at the Hotel Gollner with its familiar ambience in the middle of the city centre. You may be torn between having breakfast at the hotel itself or at the nearby Kaiser-Josef-Platz farmers’ market: Both possibilities are delicious! I also really enjoyed returning to the hotel after more than three years and being warmly welcomed like an old regular. From the Hotel Gollner, you are also very close to the Graz Opera House, the traffic junction Jakomini-Platz, the historic old town and the beautiful city park of Graz.

Gemütlich: Das Hotel Gollner mit eigenem, begrünten Innenhof dank dem wir komplett ruhig schlafen.

Cosy comfort: Thanks to the inner courtyard of the centrally located hotel, it is absolutely quiet to relax.

 

Zwei Schritte weiter und ich bin hier: Am berühmten

Literally two steps away: The farmers’ market at the Kaiser-Josef-Platz square right in front of the opera building.

 

Von hier aus ist es nur ein Katzensprung ...

Again, from here, it is only another few steps …

 

... hinunter in die Altstadt, die Ihr über zahlreiche kleine Gassen und gemütliche Alleen erreichen könnt.

… to walk past the opera and reach the downtown city centre, a lovely walk past narrow streets and tree-lined alleys.

 

Tipp: Wer am Kaiser-Josef-Platz in die Straßenbahnlinie 1 einsteigt

If you get on the tram at Kaiser-Josef-Platz (tram line 1 towards Mariatrost), I recommend getting off only seven stops later, at “Hilmteich / Botanischer Garten” with an entrance to a large, forest-like parkland right inside of Graz!

 

Ruth, of “Discover Graz”, has us discover the city’s lesser-known districts Gries and Lend as part of a guided walking tour.

” … urban development is happening right now and in these districts. In a few years, Gries and Lend will certainly not be recognizable again”, says the informative website of Discover Graz about the tour south of the Mur. Our guide Ruth gives us a warmly welcome, herself a state-certified “Austria guide”. We like her at first sight and she knows a lot about the Murvorstadt, where she lives with her young family. Casually, we share information about our similar family backgrounds (we are both mothers to toddler sons) and I find liking the area even more, visibly noticing it’s appealing to families, too.

We start our tour by walking across Erzherzog-Johann Bridge (Ruth kindly picks us up directly from our Hotel Gollner) and down into Griesgasse at the corner of Südtiroler Platz and Kunsthaus. It is no coincidence that Graz’ famous “friendly alien”, the Kunsthaus Art Gallery Graz, also opened here, south of the Mur, in the Lend district back when Graz became European Capital of Culture in 2003. I don’t even know the Griesgasse or Gries district itself, except for its corners with Restaurant Steirer and the Hotel Weitzer Graz. Fascinated, I follow Ruth and listen to her stories, which, just as I like it, open the doors to various backyards and interesting finds. There are even some really well-done street art graffiti paintings here! Now this is a side of Graz I really didn’t know, although I have been here many times before!

Herzlich willkommen in Graz! Unsere Stadtführerin Ruh Nezmahen von "Discover Graz" ...

A warm welcome to Graz! Our city guide Ruth Nezmahen, of “Discover Graz” …

 

... (ent)führt uns durch die weniger bekannten Grazer Stadtviertel Lend und Gries, hier mit Blick in die Griesgasse südlich der Mur ...

… takes us through the city’s lesser-known districts of Lend and Gries, here with a view down Griesgasse south of the river Mur …

 

... nahe des Griesplatzes am Ende der Straße gibt es zwischen Reichengasse und Bürgerspitalgasse eine winzig-kleine Galerie interessanter Street Art Graffiti-Gemälde zu bewundern ...

… and near Griesplatz square, right off Reichengasse and Bürgerspitalgasse, there is a tiny backlane featuring some highly interesting graffiti portraits. Worth checking out on your next visit to Graz.

 

But the surprises do not end here. We continue heading to a rather unusual church, the church of Saint Andrä, which is unlike any other church I have ever seen. What makes it so unique? First of all, provocative words are written in oversized letters all over its façade. At the front gate, there is also a massive light switch on the side of the church (another art installation) silently asking us: Who turns the light on (and off) here? Inside, the church is no less thought-provoking: there are art installations, drawings and images that I would only have suspected in galleries and modern art museums. But never as part of a church, which, mind you, is still used for church services. So much openness in spirit deeply impresses me. Check this out.

Blick entlang der Außenfassade der Kirche St. Andrä in der Grazer Murvorstadt ...

View along the outer facade of the Saint Andrä Church in Graz …

 

... auch innen drin ist die Kirche nicht minder beeindruckend- und führt auf faszinierende Weise Kunst und Kirchentradition zusammen. Einzigartig. Bei Eurem nächsten Besuch in Graz müsst Ihr hier vorbeischauen!

… inside, too, you can see traditional church art mingled with modern drawings in a very unique and, to me, appealing way! Highly recommend you visit when next in Graz.

 

We end our “Discover Graz” tour with a walk through the Mariahilfer Straße in Graz’s Lendviertel and pay a midday visit to the “Hungry Hearts” – American Streetfood store there. Again, highly recommendable!

 

Calling all beer lovers: When in Graz, do not miss the city’s official beer walk taking place each Friday.

A popular category in the city’s foodie calendar of events is the Friday beer walking tour, taking place between 5.00 and 9.00 p.m. Fittingly, this tour ends in the middle of the Old Town; we could easily continue eating and drinking. But after four hours of food-and-beer-touring, we are filled to the brim with stories, beer tastings and matching beer meals. I have already experienced culinary beer tours like this one in the city of Salzburg and recently also in the Mühlviertel in Upper Austria, but I did not immediately place them with Graz. I think I simply underestimated the local beer culture and Graz’s brewing scene. As a #winelover, the geographical proximity to the Styrian wine-growing areas around Graz is probably just closer to my heart! The good thing about this is that I was all the more impressed by the beer walk: Thanks to our competent team of state-certified Austria Guides, we were once again able to learn a lot about Graz and its delectable beer and food culture.

Der Kulinarische Bier-Rundgang in der Stadt Graz startet direkt hinter dem

The culinary beer walk through Graz starts right behind the Grazer Landhaus, at the Restaurant Landhauskeller …

 

... geht weiter im Gösser Bräu Graz, in dem wir ...

… and continues with a visit to Gösser Bräu Graz, where we are served wonderful local tasting meals perfectly matching the beer varieties served.

 

... schon mal eine Bierverkostung an einem eigens kreierten Bierfächer probiert?

Have you ever done a beer tasting with a beer fan? It indicates all the variety of tastes and brewing cultures there are in the world, some of them reflected in the local Graz beers we get to taste as part of the tour.

 

Im Glöckl Bräu schließlich endet der kulinarische Bier-Rundgang, nicht ohne vorher noch ein oder zwei berühmte Frankowitsch-Brötchen in der Altstadt aufgeschnappt zu haben ... wie gesagt: Ihr braucht vor und nach dem Rundgang nicht wirklich viel zu essen!

Glöckl Bräu restaurant has us finish our beer walk with a happy sigh: My recommendation is not to drink or eat too much ahead of the tour, as you will certainly feel quite full after.

 

Last but not least: Two sweet escapes in and near Graz.

Still in Graz, but looking as if out of town already: Check out this view of the Graz clock tower on the Schlossberg hill from Café Rosenhain on Rosenhain hill. Well worth the little detour from the old town, it is only a 20-minutes-walk from say Geidorfplatz square north of the main city park. Fascinating how green Graz is. Just under a quarter of the city area, we learn during our search for truffles in the Graz city forest (!), is covered by parks, meadows and forests. In my next article, I will tell you more about our hunt for truffles right inside the town of Graz!

Blick auf den Grazer Uhrturm am Schlossberg vom Café Rosenhain aus.

Worth the climb: View from Rosenhain hill and café towards downtown Graz and its iconic clock tower at Schlossberg hill.

 

Finally, after a little drive out of town, I discover a view of Graz that I would never have found on my own, were it not for my dear local friend and colleague Susanne Höller. The view is off “her home hill” in Deutschfeistritz, the place where Susanne lives. Thank you very much, dear Su, for taking me up there! Next time, I will gladly come back with my own family for some more day hikes. Beautiful place!

Blick auf Graz

View towards Graz and across the gently rolling hills of the alpine upland in Styria. Well worth coming up here: Thank you so much Su!

 

Check out even more of my travel pictures about Graz and its Truffle Festival here:

 

Disclaimer: I have been invited to visit Graz as part of the annual Truffle Festival, taking place each year in late October / early November. All opinions are my own.

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