Graz, Austria

American tourists go to Salzburg and Vienna but few of them go to Graz.  I’ve grown weary of tourist traps in Europe over the last few years, so Graz sounded appealing.  Plus, I could take a train through it to Maribor, Slovenia, another non-destination for tourists.  Graz looked picturesque so it seemed worth at least a night.  My original plan was to detour to the beautiful lake town of Hallstatt, Austria but the weather was not supposed to be ideal there – and it was a big hassle to detour, so I abandoned that plan and headed directly for Graz.

The train ride (2 to 3 on the map) from Salzburg through the Alps was breathtakingly beautiful – but the windows were sealed, so it was difficult to take pictures.  I made few attempts.

Austria between Salzburg and Graz, from the train

My hotel in Graz was a bit pricey (The Drei Raben, a Best Western) but well located and with a king bed.  With only a short time there, it seemed worth the splurge.

You can quickly see why few American tourists visit Graz: it lacks the cultural attractions of Vienna and Salzburg and also the picturesque squares that make it look like a fantasy land.  Yet it has regal bearing of a classy old city: lots of neat old buildings and churches.  Plus it has trams – which for some reason always catch my photographer’s eye.

Graz, Austria, Der Platz Am Eisernen Tor

The most obvious scenery is up on the clock tower hill known as the Schloßberg.  Back in Napoleon’s day, when he (and his army) defeated Austria, he mandated that the armaments up on this hill be destroyed, but the town was allowed to keep its cute little clock tower.  Now the hill is a park with a restaurant and the tower.  You can take an elevator up there.

Schlossberg and Uhrturm (clock tower), Graz, Austria

Uhrturm (clock tower), Graz, Austria

The other eye-catching object in Graz is the Kunsthaus (aka “Friendly Alien”) – an art museum that itself has a “modern art” design:

Kunsthaus, Graz, Austria, from Grazer Schlossberg

Kunsthaus, Graz, Austria

And of course, the Schloßberg provided great vantage points for looking down and photographing the city from different directions.  Of course, I was up there several times.

Graz at Dusk

The old town of Graz is also picturesque – some neat old buildings and, of course, the ubiquitous “plague column.”

Karmeliterplatz, Plague Column, Graz, Austria

Here’s a video of the center of Graz:

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