If you’re in the market for a cute, non-touristy and easy to navigate town in the heart of Austria, find the next train and take it immediately to Graz (the capital of the region of Styria). And if you’re looking for the definition of the phrase ‘autumnal bliss’- take that train to Graz in early November. Think I’m kidding? Think again, and take a look at the pictures below!
The town of Graz itself is most recognized throughout Europe for its incredibly cool town square (Old Town), which is extremely pedestrian- friendly as it doesn’t even allow cars! The entire city centre is accessible by foot or by the streetcars, so it’s an extreme pleasure to walk through a European city without wondering which way to look before you cross the street or sprinting to avoid being hit by the tiny cars whizzing through intersections! Graz also has a river down the middle (the river Mur), and there’s just nothing I love more than cities with charming rivers and hills framing the landscape. There’s also plenty to see in Graz, definitely enough to fill up a weekend trip just in the city itself.
Our first stop in the city was to the gorgeous Baroque palace, Schloss Eggenberg (Eggenberg Palace in English). Since it was a Sunday, we unfortunately were unable to explore the supposedly beautiful inner rooms such as the Planetary room, but we were still able to explore the open park and grounds of the palace as well as the courtyard. I can’t tell a lie, some of my favorite parts of the gardens were the numerous peacocks wandering around (both the pure white and Indian blue varieties)! The palace was beyond cool- one of my favorite parts was how it was constructed according to the Gregorian calendar: the palace has 365 exterior windows for each day of the year and 31 rooms on each floor for days of the month, in addition to other details. It was also very relaxing to wander among the autumn leaves and large statues littered among the trees, surrounded by the Austrian countryside.
While we were there, we stopped for a traditional Austrian autumn snack: Maroni, which are essentially roasted chestnuts. They are sold on the streets of Vienna and Graz through the fall season, and are a must-have if you happen to pass by one of the stands.
Graz is full of interesting sights, some of which have been constructed by the city to increase tourism and the cultural influence of the city. The art museum, with a “unique” architectural structure is one major standout, as well as ‘The Island’, a circular bar in the middle of the River Mur. After a walk around the city exploring the various platzes (squares), we found some amazing street food in the town square (bratwurst with senf, which is mustard and AMAZING). We headed into one the largest and newest department stores I’ve ever been in called the K&O- if you’re ever there, make sure to take the escalator all of the floors to the top. You’ll be rewarded with amazing views of Graz’s red roofs, which are prominent all over the city and very, very cool.
And since we were apparently very into climbing great heights on this trip, there was no better way to end our time in Graz than with climb to the top of the Schloßberg, a hill overlooking the city at the site of a demolished fortress. Schloßberg literally means ‘castle mountain’, and that’s exactly what it is! The hill contains an Uhrmturm, which is a clock tower that is a recognizable symbol of the city, and some amazing views! If I lived here, I could picture climbing up with a cup of coffee and a fantastic book- and just sitting for hours reading and thinking.
All in all, the last stop of our trip was amazing. The people could not have been friendlier, the scenery could not have been more gorgeous, and there’s just no getting around the fact that Austrian food is FANTASTIC. I’ve already made my Austrian friend, Nadia, commit to shipping me some of the Styrian pumpkin seed oil that they use as salad dressing- it’s a little slice of heaven. Austria is definitely an underrated tourist destination, in my opinion, and was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been: inside and out.
Next week, my Tuesday post might fall a few days later due to the fact that I will be in PARIS until Thursday! I mean, there's worse problems to have. Keep checking back for a post on our visit to the adorable Irish Dingle Peninsula (especially if you like sheep...)