Explore the charms of Austria’s second largest city with your eyes, ears, and tastebuds.
What makes Graz Austria’s “Culinary Capital”? For one, the city is surrounded by lush farmland and peaceful wine country that supply Graz with the freshest ingredients. This is most apparent at one of Graz’ colorful farmers’ markets, where producers sell their choicest meats, vegetables, eggs, and baked goods to hungry locals.
Start exploring Graz’ food scene at the market on Lendplatz, surrounded by the city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods. Have breakfast at Die Süße Luise, stocked with lovingly mismatched furniture and a great pastry selection.
Pick up a snack for later from one of the farmers: Styrian runner beans are thumb-sized beans you can buy pre-cooked and seasoned with salt. They’re a staple in local salads and a delicious source of plant protein!
Walk towards the river Mur until you see a blue, amorphous construction by the water. This UFO-like building is Graz’ modern art museum and a futuristic masterpiece in itself. The Kunsthaus was designed by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier for Graz’ tenure as European Capital of Culture. Since then it has shown works by Ai Weiwei, Sol LeWitt, Andy Warhol, and many more.
After walking the Kunsthaus’ yawning exhibition rooms you’ve earned a great lunch. One of Graz’ specialties is a juicy fried chicken, often served with buttery rice or potatoes. Get a mean fried chicken (and other local nibbles) at Der Steirer, just a short walk down the river.
There, you’ll also find restaurant Speisesaal, with a chandelier-lit dining room and a lunch menu that changes daily. Speisesaal puts an Austrian twist on international soul food.
Walk across the river, through Graz’ Old Town, down winding Färbergasse street. Once you hit a small plaza towered by two historic mansions, look up. Under the gable of one are two metal doors that open three times a day for a special show: a carillon with two dancing figures chimes at 11am, 3pm, and 6pm. The so-called Glockenspiel was built in 1884 and plays three different melodies for each show.
Just around the corner, find two of Graz’ ecclesiastical treasures. Graz Cathedral looks a bit hefty and unadorned from the outside - a stark contrast to the opulent Baroque decorations and Gothic vaulted ceilings that wait inside. Peer up at the golden high altar where a crowd of intricate white stone sculptures enact the Coronation of the Virgin.
Next door to Graz Cathedral stands the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II, a grand Baroque tomb with its own small church. There’s an air of Florentine refinement to the mausoleum with its turquoise domes and beautiful stucco. Visit the gravesite of Ferdinand II and the red marble sarcophagus where the Emperor’s mother found her final resting place.
Gasthaus Stainzerbauer sits just behind the Mausoleum and has served food for over 100 years. The menu is traditional Austrian: order a veal Schnitzel prepared in concentrated butter and, of course, the obligatory Styrian fried chicken.
Once a month, you can sample one of Graz’ most iconic flavors at Stainzerbauer. Try a variety of pumpkin seed oils, which are Styria’s flagship food products. Explore the nutty taste of this dark oil on anything from salads, to soup, and ice cream.
To understand the culinary abundance that surrounds Graz, you have to see it for yourself. On your second day, venture south towards the hilly wine region known as Southern Styria. Before you leave, grab a casual breakfast at one of Martin Auer’s many locations. We recommend the bakery's dark country bread and the scrambled eggs with pumpkin seed oil.
Leave a little room for something sweet, because your next stop is the Zotter chocolate factory an hour south-east of the city. Chocolate manufacturer Zotter makes exceptional chocolates largely by hand and lets you tour the facilities where their cocoa-fueled magic happens. Taste chocolate in all stages of production and bring home Zotter’s most outlandish creations from the gift shop. You can easily treat this as your lunch and take full advantage of the all-you-can-eat ticket.
If your stomach can handle a little digestive walk, Riegersburg castle sits just a ten minute drive beyond Zotter. Hike up the castle trail (or take the panoramic elevator) and walk the 12th century stronghold’s storied chambers. The museum of witchcraft inside the castle offers a spooky look into the fascinating history of witches in Austria’s south.
If you’d rather spend the afternoon outside, drive straight into Styria’s stunning wine country. Gentle, sun-soaked hills, small historic villages, and a sing-song-y local dialect make the wine region of southern Styria one of Austria’s most charming patches of land. Take a gentle hike in one of the vineyards and enjoy the warm sun on your back.
The ultimate place to finish your culinary exploration around Graz is a Buschenschank. These traditional wine taverns dot the wine region and serve their home-grown Sauvignon Blanc and other varietals. Locals love their Buschenschank not least because of the hearty Styrian food that’s often sourced from nearby farms. Try Weingut Schauer in Kitzeck! Weingut Kästenburg also offers cozy rooms for an overnight in the country.
Discover the vast wine region just outside the city of Graz.Graz’s Wine Region