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Love Food? Here’s Why Graz Should Top Your List

From local truffles to pumpkin seed oil, here’s what to experience in Austria’s culinary capital.

Graz’s iconic clock tower hovers above the city, where from high above the past blends into the contemporary.

Graz’s iconic clock tower hovers above the city, where from high above the past blends into the contemporary.

Graz Tourismus/Harry Schiffer

For centuries, Graz’s clock tower has watched over the city’s main square, which serves as its heart and hearth. The city is ringed by lush farmland and fertile vineyards, making it a veritable Shangri-La for food lovers, and the clock’s hands harken back to a time when organic, farm-to-fork, and slow food was simply a way of life.

Today, there’s no better celebration of the beginning of harvest season than the Long Table. This biannual open-air gastronomic event honors Graz’s position as Austria’s culinary capital. Hundreds of Austrians and visitors from near and far toast to the city’s epicurean abundance in Old Town with lush red carpets rolled out, white tablecloths fluttering in the breeze, and candlelight casting a glow on the ornate facades of homes dating to the 17th century.

Regardless of the season, there’s something local for every food fan. It’s not all fine dining—daily farmers’ markets ensure home cooks and restaurateurs alike can serve the region’s freshest and finest. Juicy apples, plump pumpkins, and crisp lettuce tempt local chefs, while visitors can gather a picnic before exploring Renaissance courtyards, modern museums, and bohemian neighborhoods that are just as much a feast for the eyes as they are food for the soul.

What to eat and where in Graz


The restaurant Aiola Upstairs overlooks the city of Graz.


If you plan your adventures around three square meals a day—plus snacks—then Graz is the destination for you. Start early with breakfast at Aiola Upstairs, where floor-to-ceiling windows and al fresco seating provide a panoramic view over the city center. Admire the clock tower, baroque steeples, and terracotta roofs, while feasting on dishes like scrambled eggs with locally sourced cheese, horseradish, and sourdough bread. All are among the culinary specialties for which Graz is renowned.

At lunch, maximize your time at Dreizehn by Gauster, a restaurant and wine bar in one of Graz’s most charming squares. Inside, you’ll find contemporary furnishings, or grab a table outside to check out the Mediterranean vibes of Franziskanerplatz and enjoy a leisurely glass of locally produced wine. The two-course lunch menu (often featuring local truffle specials) followed by a sweet treat and espresso is a favorite for travelers on the go.

Enjoy a side of history with dinner at Landhauskeller restaurant, located inside a must-visit Renaissance courtyard known as a Landhaus. Decor hearkens back to a bygone era when blacksmiths visited what was then a tavern. Today, the restaurant also features lovely touches including luminous glassware and warm wooden paneling that you can admire while feasting on dishes like steak tartare and schnitzel.

What to see in Graz

Graz Tourismus/Harry Schiffer

Grab a cocktail or snack at Murinsel, one of Graz’s most iconic contemporary buildings

Graz Tourismus/Harry Schiffer

Graz is just as historic as it is cosmopolitan, a virtual smorgasbord of different architectural influences ranging from baroque and Renaissance to medieval and art deco. This impressive mix has earned it a designation as a UNESCO City of Design.

On Opernring Street, the opera house built in the style of Graz-born master builder Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach beckons architecture aficionados and music lovers alike. It’s open for tours and is one of the city’s top performance venues. (Try to squeeze in an hour at nearby Operncafe, an elegant setting to enjoy a coffee with pastry or a glass of wine.)

If you want to travel further back in time, visit the 15th-century castle located a few blocks away. Its double spiral staircase creates a distinctive optical illusion and makes for a great photo opp. The castle gardens provide a secret hideaway, unknown to most except for city dwellers who’ve happened upon the green area while seeking a quiet respite.

The Kunsthaus Graz

The Kunsthaus Graz

Graz Tourismus

Two futuristic sites here are favorites for photographers, including the Kunsthaus Graz museum building. The biomorphic curvature formed from 1,066 acrylic glass panels has been nicknamed the “friendly alien” by locals.

Murinsel is a destination itself, perhaps best visited at night to admire its illumination reflected on the water. This man-made island resembles a half-opened shell, with domed glass forming the roof for a café and bar. (Try a beer brewed from hops and barley from farmers in Graz’s Leutschach region.) Blue, wave-like benches create an amphitheater for performances or relaxing and admiring Murinsel’s reflection on the Mur River.

What to do in Graz

Graz Tourismus/Harry Schiffer

Peaches at the Kaiser Josef Markt in Graz

Graz Tourismus/Harry Schiffer

Graz has a youthful vibe thanks to its large university and student population. That means plenty of opportunities to hike, climb, and run through the city. But for a more leisurely experience that makes it easier to stop and smell the roses—or fresh bread—you should consider walking.

Start your stroll with views from the top of Schlossberg, a hill in the city center blanketed by a canopy of green trees. You can reach the top via a funicular and descend along a winding stone staircase. Or channel your inner daredevil by taking a ride on the world’s longest underground slide from Schlossberg to the bottom.

The Lend neighborhood is one of the city’s most bohemian, full of design-forward boutiques and independent coffee shops like Paul&Bohne. The enclave also hosts one of Graz’s two farmers’ markets, and besides Kaiser Josef Markt, Lendplatz is the perfect place to assemble the fixings for an epic picnic or pick up souvenirs. Pro tip: Grab a bottle of pumpkin seed oil (or several) as this regional specialty is rarely available elsewhere. Styria’s “green gold” has a fresh, nutty flavor that makes a great gift and can be used in salad dressings and drizzled on soup or even on vanilla ice cream.

Learn more about Graz, Austria’s capital of food while you are planning your trip to Austria.

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