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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.