Happy December! Today we are in Graz, the Styrian capital and Austria’s second-largest city, to take you on a special journey. We’ve already shown you 10 places that will make you fall in love with Graz at first sight, so now we’ll dig deeper and show you our favorite spots to relax away from the tourist trail.
What all of these spots have in common is that they are greener and quieter, ideal for a winter walk in times of social distancing, and a visit will help you to unwind and clear your mind.
A small hint: to keep yourself warm, we recommend taking a hot coffee or tea with you to enjoy these outdoor gems, even in cold weather.
We start our tour at Rosenhain, a lovely hill located on the outskirts of the Geidorf district. Rosenhain literally translates to “hill of roses”, so it’s pretty clear where the name comes from! Although there are currently no roses, Rosenhain is still worth a walk, even in winter. You can either walk up the hill through the forest or reach it via Panoramagasse. At the top of Rosenhain, you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city – can you spot Graz’s signature landmark, the Uhrturm (the clock tower), from here? We could stand here forever to marvel at this beauty!
Already in the 16th century, Georg Stoboeus, Prince-Bishop of Lavant, was awestruck by the hill: “If the gods had been driven out of heaven by the giants, they would certainly not have chosen any other place to live but this corner of the world.” We guess he was right!
Tip: Once bars and restaurants are allowed to open again, we highly recommend combining your trip with a visit to Café Rosenhain. The cute café is located in a glass pavilion with an amazing panoramic view, and in summer you can sit on its sunny terrace while sipping your spritzer.
Our next spot is the Hilmteich, a delighful pond in Mariatrost. Perhaps you’ve already been here on a summer boat trip? But did you know, Hilmteich is worth a visit during any season! You can either take it easy with a leisurely stroll around the pond, or if you prefer to be more active, you can hit the tracks of Leechwald (the adjacent forest) in your running gear.
Our personal highlight of Hilmteich is definitely the gorgeous castle known as “Hilmteichschlössl”. We just can’t get enough of its stunning architecture! In the post-COVID era, you simply must pay a visit to Café Purberg, located inside the castle. Fun fact, the purpose of the castle, erected in 1858, was not to provide lodgings for an emperor. Its mere purpose was to serve as a fancy restaurant for the upper class! As you can see, the inhabitants of Graz have been serious about their love for food and drinks ever since 😉.
We are “climbing“ another hill now, but this time it’s the Lustbühel in the Waltendorf district. Its name translates to “pleasure hill”, so it’s already pretty obvious that this place must be scenic. And it is! At the heart of Lustbühel is its eponymous castle. It was erected as a “leisure castle” because it didn’t serve any representational purposes, just private ones such as hunting. Before the castle was built the area was used as farmland, and it has kept its rustic vibe to this day, as the green meadows and footpaths invite you to stroll around the expansive territory. Insider tip: follow the small path after the playground to reach a lookout. Here you will not only have a magnificent view over Graz, but you can also watch beautiful sunsets as the sun slowly vanishes behind the surrounding hills.
Lustbühel is also a great destination for a family excursion, as it features a petting zoo where kids can see horses, goats, sheep, and many more animals!
If you’ve ever been to Graz you’ve certainly come across Stadtpark, the largest park in the inner city – but have you heard about its little sister, Burggarten? It is a small and very clean park, and usually you won’t find a lot of people there. Its main entrance is kind of hidden, you can reach it via the gate close to the popular Promenade café. The highlight of Burggarten is the lovingly restored building of the ‘’Orangerie’’, a type of greenhouse which was commonly used to grow citrus plants in the past. Today, the Orangerie in Burggarten is a venue for events and can be booked for weddings among other things.
When you walk past Orangerie, you will find a few hidden benches which offer a nice view over Stadtpark. Don’t forget your camera to take some pictures of this beautiful place! Your Instagram followers will be grateful. 😉
Chinese Pavilion at Schlossberg
One of our favorite spots in Graz is of course its most iconic landmark, the Schlossberg with its famous clock tower. However, today we don’t want to focus on the clock tower, but rather put another building in the spotlight: We’re talking about the enchanting Chinese Pavilion, which is located a little higher up the mountain than the clock tower. It was erected in 1890 as a replacement for a vine arbor, and today it is a popular spot for weddings. Inside the pavilion, you’ll find wooden benches that invite you to linger – with fog covering the city on most winter days, the pavilion even has a mystical vibe to it.
Our last stop is Augartenpark, situated on the banks of the river Mur. If you’ve been here before and have been attentive, you might have realized that something has changed. Due to the construction of the big power plant project across the river Mur, the area around the park was redesigned, and you can now reach the water directly from the park. Also new is the concrete and wood furniture, where you’ll to be able to take a seat or lay down and enjoy the spring sunshine. Yes, we might already be thinking ahead, but it’s never too early to make up your mind about a good place for a sunbath!
We hope that, despite the cold, our tour of Graz’s best outdoor spots could convince you to go outside and discover some new places to relax. Always remember, a walk a day keeps the doctor away 😉.