Outside of the city, Graz boasts landscape completely unique to Austria. Despite being further from the Alps than most of Austria, the area presents chances to soak up a beautifully unique outdoors scene. Whether you are looking to hike, bike, explore the country side, or be guided through wine country, Graz and its surrounding area will provide exceptional experiences that showcase Austrian charm, with its rolling green hills, vineyards, mountains, and bucolic ambience.
If you are in Graz and have an itch to hike, Schoeckl Mountain, standing at 4,741 feet, is a majestic excursion. When I hiked Schoeckl in January, it was snowing and there was little to no visibility, yet it was still magnificently beautiful. The hike up from the base will take you 1-2 hours, and you can take a bus from Hauptplatz or Jakominiplatz that will get you to the base for just a few euros in 15 minutes. In the winter, it is possible to ski at much lower rates than you can find around Innsbruck in the Alps. One of my favorite parts of hiking in Austria is seeing mountain bikers slowly trek up the mountain, only to fly down past you minutes later. At the summit of Schoeckl, there is a traditional Austrian Gasthaus where you can fill up on Schnitzel or Schweinebraten, and warm up with a glass of Gluhwein in the winter if you are so inclined.
Only 30 minutes away there is another worthwhile excursion, Barenschutzklamm, where you can find an even wider variety of hiking, restaurants, and landscapes. Barenschutzklamm can be hiked in the winter for free, and in the summer for three euros. The hallmark of this hike is a man-made wooden ladder that winds around rocks, waterfalls, and up a valley to a plateau where you can stop for a bite to eat before deciding whether to continue hiking up to the summit, which offers views of snow-topped mountains and luscious green valleys, or to go back down by a different route.
An absolute must while you’re in Graz is the Styrian wine road. The 250-mile wine road winds through the rolling hills of Styria, adorned with old red-roofed houses and a combination of marshland and vineyards. The best way to tour the wine road is to get a map from the Graz Visitor Center on Herrengasse and rent a bike, set off from Graz, and pick one of eight stages of the wine road to embark on. Along the road, there are many taverns and restaurants situated near the vineyards that sell local wines. It’s charming, vibrant, and a side of Austrian culture that many don’t take the time to see.
If you are looking for some of the more touristy stops, the Graz Visitor Center has an abundance of free information. It is also housed in the largest medieval armory in the world, which offers tours for eight euros. On a rainy day, it and several museums are a great option for staying indoors. Kunsthaus, the Graz Museum of History, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum (Graz is the hometown of Schwarzenegger) are all unique museums specific to Graz and Austrian culture. Schloss Eggenberg is also an indoor option if giant, historical Hapsburg castles are to your liking; an even older can be found after a short hike to the Roman ruins at Burg Goesting. And Graz is also home to the second-largest Opera in Austria, which sells affordable tickets compared to Vienna and is ornately adorned in Baroque magnificence.
Be sure to check in next Friday, May 31st for the third and final part of this series Graz, Austria: Beyond Vienna, Salzburg, and the Alps – The Food, Drinks and Nightlife.
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