Amazing day trips from Graz in Styria, Austria
Styria, also known as the green heart of Austria, is a forest-y state with lots of mountains, located in the southern part of Austria and famous for its castles, spas, and wines. While many people who go to Austria visits more famous areas, such as Vienna, Salzburg, or Tyrol (mainly for winter holidays), slow travelers and couples might find themselves happier in the increasingly attractive holiday destination Styria. A much less crowded but equally beautiful part of Austria that has so much to offer! Keep on reading and learn all about the most beautiful places in Styria, Austria.
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How to get to Styria
Located just outside the capital city of Graz is the only Airport in the region, Graz-Thalerhof. The airport is very small, yet modern and can be reached from lots of major European cities. Flying into Vienna International Airport is of course also an option.
Since the country is very small, the drive is not too long. I strongly recommend for everyone arriving without their own car to get a rental car at the airport, since public transport is not as amazing in the more rural areas.
Styria offers stunning diversity in landscape, culture, and food
Unlike many other parts of the world, the small country of Styria offers an amazing variety of things to do. The landscape ranges from glacier-y parts in the northwest, to stunning lakes in the district of Upper Styria to wine valleys and spas in the southern part of the country.
The cultural center of Graz is known for its medieval town’s main square and the surrounding area filled with baroque and renaissance architecture. Let’s take a closer look at the different districts and the most beautiful places in Styria, Austria.
The Dachstein area
In an addition to being a stunning backdrop for your photos the area around the Dachstein glacier offers plenty of unforgettable experiences, like the Stairway to Nothingness, the suspension bridge, the Sky Walk, and the Ice Museum. The close by town of Schladming is a small former miners’ town that has turned into the touristic center of the region.
In winter the Dachstein region is offering plenty of skiing opportunities and during summer turns into a paradise for hikers. Schladming has something to offer for everyone. The town center is lined with cute little cafes, chic bars, and plenty of shops for the less active traveler. During winter times, several famous FIS ski competitions are being held in the Dachstein area, among them the famous Schladming Night Race. Make sure to check out Hallstatt, if you are in the area.
Enjoying the area of Upper Styria
The area of Upper Styria has become very popular over the last couple of years, mainly due to the return of the famous Formula 1 race in the town of Spielberg and the huge investments the Red Bull company has taken into the area.
Castles have been restored and transformed into luxury spas, hotels, and restaurants and offer a spectacular way to spend some quiet leisure time while enjoying everything the region has to offer in a culinary and cultural way. Make sure to check out the G’schlössl in the region Murtal for a quiet spa time out.
Nature lovers will love the stunning lakes that you can find in between the mountains. The most famous of them all is the Grüner See in Tragöß. The water is crystal clear and the backdrop of the mountains is beyond impressive. This is definitely a beautiful place in Styria worth visiting.
Sadly, the lake has become quite overrun with tourists in the last couple of years. Alternatively, I suggest visiting the Leopoldsteinersee instead. The watercolor is just as stunning, the mountain backdrop is even more impressive and fewer tourists are blocking your view. Even the drive there is impressive in itself. You can drive over the Erzberg, a mountain where they mine ore.
Cheers to East and West-Styria – the most beautiful place in Styria
My favorite part of the country is the southernmost part of Styria, filled with lush green rolling hills, endless vineyards, and picturesque little villages. The names East and Weststyria might be a bit misleading, it means the most southern part of the country, divided into east and west from the capital Graz.
The area can be divided into three major wine regions, the Vulkanland (volcano land), South Styria, and West Styria. The South Styrian Wine Street is famous for its culinary highlights and is sometimes referred to as the Tuscany of Austria. The Vulkanland is in the southeastern part of the country. It is named after the residual pieces of volcanic soil in the ground.
A wide variety of grapes can be found in the Styrian wine regions, the most common being the Sauvignon Blanc. In the region Vulkanland, you can mostly find Schilcher and Traminer.
Not only the wines of the area are famous but also the food is very special. In the so-called Buschenschanken (traditional wine taverns) you can eat traditional plate of meats and cheeses from the regions alongside your glass of wine. Original Buschenschanken are exclusively allowed to serve traditional products from the region. These are definitely a must place to visit in Styria.
To top it all off you can find a huge variety of different thermal spas in the area of the Vulkanland as well, my favorite being the spa Bad Radkersburg. It is located close to a small but picturesque town near the border with Slovenia.
You can find many excellent hotels in the area as well. After a relaxing day in the spa, you can take a small walk over the bridge to Slovenia and hike the Castle, have dinner in a traditional Buschenschank or taste some local wines in one of the many wine bars of the town square.
Last but not least slow travelers that find themselves craving some city vibes should be headed for the capital Graz. You can explore the second largest city of Austria by foot from the Main Square. There are many beautiful places in Styria’s capital city, Graz. For more info head over here.
Make sure to hike the Schlossberg for an amazing view over the city. Or, have a cocktail on top of the shopping center Kastner & Öhler. I can especially recommend visiting Graz in winter to stroll around the many festive Christmas markets and enjoy some punch made with traditional Schilcher Wine from South Styria.
Is Styria worth visiting?
In my opinion, Styria is very well worth visiting. You can spend beautiful leisurely times all over the country. The many different nature areas have something to offer for any kind of visitor.
Personally, I would recommend visiting Styria in winter times. The fabulous Christmas markets, that you can basically find in any small town are such a unique feature of the county. Also, thermal spas are that much cozier on a snowy day.
Typical food of Styria
There are plenty of different regional products from Styria that I recommend you to try during your trip. The southernmost part of Styria is famous for its Kürbiskernöl (pumpkin seed oil). This has influenced the entire cuisine around the area. You will find the oil in traditional pumpkin soup, over a green salad, and sometimes even on top of vanilla ice cream.
Another famous product of the Vulkanland area is the Vulkanlandschinken (ham). You will most likely find it in one of the traditional taverns, the Buschenschank.
Starting in August, most restaurants will serve you Eierschwammerl (chanterelle), which grow in the forests of Upper Styria. You will find them in salads, as a side dish to meat and fried with scrambled eggs. Some people serve it as part of the Goulash.
Additional to the wine, the area around Graz is also famous for a certain kind of liquor, the Jägermeister. Jägermeister is a German digestif. They make it from 56 herbs and spices. While the Jägermeister corporation is technically a German company, one of the largest producers, Bauer is located in Graz.
Lastly, the area of Upper Styria is home to a special tree, the Zirbe. It is a sort of pine tree. The pine is being used for different foods and drinks, such as Zirbenchocolate and Zirbenschnapps (strong liquor). The taste is not for everyone, but definitely worth a try.
Looking for more Austria inspiration? Check out my post about visiting Vienna, Austria.