Graz is located at the Eastern part of Central Alps, and it is divided into two parts by the River Mur. You can find highlands generated from limestone and slate on both sides of the Mur's valley. The 1446 m high Schöckl also rises here.
Graz is the second largest city of Austria with a population of about 290 000 people. Graz, capital of Styria province, combines a great modern life and historical architecture in a beautiful mix of past and present. The city has 6 universities, so student life keeps the city vivid and "up-to-date". This mixes well with one of the most preserved old towns in Central Europe, providing an excellent destination for tourists from all over the world. The city of Graz became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1999, and it was awarded the title of the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2003.
The name of the city possibly derives from the Slavic word "gradec", which means a small castle. The city might have served as a fort. Later, the city became an important commercial and cultural center, and the residence for many Austrian aristocrats. The Jewish heritages of the city were destroyed by the Nazis, but a small group of Jews came back to the city after World War II ended and were partially compensated by the city with the building of a new synagogue. Graz was luckily not destroyed heavily during the air strikes of the Allies in the second stage of the war, preserving the buildings of the inner city.
Graz is approximately three hours south of Vienna by train, and two hours by car. You can easily get along in Graz without a car. There are several bus and tram lines in the city. If you are arriving by train, you can get from the train station (Hauptbahnhof) to the city center by one of the tram lines. In addition, some of the buses operate during the night as well on weekends. University students live a "busy" life during the weekend nights.
The Old Town: strolling through the Old Town, one can admire the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Secession style buildings. Looking down from the Schlossberg, you can see the roofs of the houses, romantic streets, beautiful Italian palaces and houses with their inner gardens.
The Schlossberg: this 474 m high, small, green hill with its clock-tower is one the landmarks of Graz. If you are in Graz, you must see it. Schlossberg commands the best view over the brick-roofs of the city. The enormous figures and the inverted clock hands make similar impression. You can get to the Schlossberg on the 260 staged Schlossberg stairs. If you do not want to go on foot you can travel by the Schlossberg railway or you can get to the Schlossberg by an elevator.
If you are a tourist in Graz, you definitely have to see the following monuments: Hauptplatz (Main Square), Rathaus (City Hall), Domkirche (Graz Cathedral), Franziskanerkirche (Franciscan Church), Herz Jesu Kirche (Heart of Jesus Church) and Schloss Eggenberg (Eggenberg Castle).
What else can you do in Graz?
Graz is the ideal destination for plenty of reasons. You can go for an easy day trip into the countryside from Graz. There are lots of museums, monuments, but you can go hiking or hot-air ballooning, too. If you choose to visit during autumn, you must see the Steierischer Herbst (Styrian Autumn) festival, which is all about art, music and literature.
For your stay in Garz, we recommend the following hotels and pensions:
1. Grand Hotel Wiesler***** A true grand hotel for the demanding travelers.
2. Hotel Augarten**** Design hotel with contemporary interiors, fits well into the atmosphere of the city.
3. Hotel Gollner**** The best family-run hotel in Graz. You will surely feel at home here.
4. Hotel Daniel*** Near the railway station, within walking distance of the historical center.
5. Pension Altstrassgang*** Lovely pension with low room rates.