The final segment, and perhaps the most important to my own study abroad experience (specifically the drinks and nightlife), puts Graz on par with nearly any city in Europe. By discovering the culinary scene and nightlife in Austria’s second largest city, you will stumble upon a lively, youthful, and cosmopolitan mecca hidden in Central Europe.
Aside from the many coffeehouses and bakeries, there are many different types of cuisine unique to Graz. The most typical Graz eatery is the Bausatz chain, which lets you build your own pizza, burger, or pfandl (an Austrian dish made from spaetzle, a type of egg noodle) for only 5-7 euros. There are seven Bausatz locations in Graz, all with their own unique flair. If you want a good view and a young crowd, go to Area 5, located directly on Jakominiplatz, the central transfer point for the city’s buses and trams. Or if you want a cheap place to eat in the Old Town that has a bit more elegant atmosphere, check out Continuum on Sporgasse, Old Town’s most picturesque street. The food will not disappoint, and the beers are cheap.
No trip to Graz would be complete without soaking in the city’s nightlife. With an abundance of university students, live music, and night clubs, the nightlife in Graz is unbeatable for a city of its size. After dinner, start your night out by visiting one of the many bars in the city center that offer live music. You can find just about any type of music in Graz, from Austrian punk rock at Music House to one of the many jazz cafes around the city center. Stockwerk Jazz is a perfect quiet place to start the night out, listen to jazz, and hang out with locals. Austrians are surprisingly easy to talk to once they have a drink in their hand, and will be especially interested in you and eager to practice their English if you try to start a conversation. Try asking them about politics, history, or culture. Many bars also host traditional Austrian folk music. If you walk by a window and see a man in lederhosen playing a type of accordion or violin, do not pass without going in; you’ll be thankful for the authentic experience.
If you are looking for a bar without music, visit Office Pub in the Old Town. The Office Pub is owned and operated by the University of Graz, and run by English-speaking international students. On Wednesdays, “International Night,” the place is packed with exchange students from all over the world. The beer is priced lower and the atmosphere can’t be beat. It’s also incredibly easy to spark up a conversation with someone here, as most of the patrons, while not tourists, are traveling themselves.
If you are feeling energetic, there are many night clubs throughout the city that play electronic and pop music. In the summer, there are often techno concerts on the shores of the Mur, near the main bridge that connects the Old Town to Lend, where the famous modern architecture of the Kunsthaus art museum illuminates the city. On the Lend side of the river there are an abundance of night clubs. Postgarage is my personal favorite, and has hosted some pretty famous DJs. If you’re not feeling the night club scene, I would recommend Miles Jazz Club, which has free live music nightly and is open late.
One important note to keep in mind when going out in Austria, specifically Graz, is that most bars and clubs allow smoking indoors. This can be annoying for many, but from a certain perspective contributes to the charm and ambience of Austria. Austria is the last country in Western or Central Europe to allow smoking in restaurants and cafes, and the question of a smoking ban has been a hot topic in politics recently, which is another good topic for conversation if you’re looking to converse with locals.
Through this series Graz, Austria: Beyond Vienna, Salzburg, and the Alps I have given more of a local’s guide to Graz. If you decide to stop and see Graz during your next trip, please let me know. I’d love to help you out and give some more specific tips and pointers for getting around the city and the rest of Austria. I could go on and on about walks along the river Mur that you could take, interesting restaurants to try, scenic bike routes, or historic points of interest in Graz. Viel Erfolg in your travels and Servus!
Guest Author: Keegan Roembke
I am a student and writer from Indiana currently living in Ghent, Belgium, working on a Master’s in Global Studies. My passion for writing and poetry stems from travels and constant curiosity about the world. I write poetry, social commentary, and travel pieces on Medium and Vocal, and recently graduated from the University of Southern Indiana, where I studied German and International Studies. I have travelled to 22 countries throughout Europe and Africa by train, bus, and foot. Read poetry and commentary at https://vocal.media/authors/keegan-roembke