Vienna? Of course! Salzburg? Beautiful. But have you ever been to Graz? For many international travellers, Graz still seems to be an under-the-radar stop on the tourist trail. Austria’s second biggest city combines avant-garde and the traditions, futuristic buildings and traditional costumes with ease. You can find a little bit of everything in Graz including one of Europe’s best-preserved historic centres. This is a city where Italian flair meets enjoyment and leisureliness to create a Styrian dolce vita.
Credit: Schlossberg © Graz Tourismus, Tom Lamm
If you’re planning a visit to the capital city of Styria, keep your eyes peeled and go with an empty stomach, because there’s one thing for sure about the city that’s home to 300,000 people—there’s something for everyone to enjoy! Sitting in the Graz Basin on the River Mur and surrounded by mountains, vineyards and hot springs, in 2012, the city was crowned Europe’s foodie capital thanks to its Krauthäuptel (lettuce), pumpkin seed oil and wines. This penchant for delicious food can be traced back in time to the city’s oldest cookbook (which was also Austria’s first printed cookbook, by the way) which contained a veritable feat of mouth-watering recipes even in 1686. These regional specialities taste best in one of the many street cafés or Schanigärten that line the lanes of the historic old town. Visitors and residents alike stroll past romantic courtyards, small boutiques housed in middle-age buildings and meander across impressive squares. In 1992, UNESCO named the Graz old town with its cobbled lanes, Baroque facades and Renaissance architecture as a World Heritage Site.
What at first glance seems placid and maybe even a little bit snobby morphs into an experiment for new and off-the-wall things, but Vienna’s little sister manged to shake off this slightly outdated image in 2003 when it was named European Capital of Culture. Now, the futuristic art museum (Kunsthaus) and The Island in the Mur (Murinsel) are right at home in the historic centre. The Kunsthaus is a giant blue bubble that reflects light back skywards and is a piece of art in itself. Known by the locals as “The Friendly Alien”, it is incorporated into a cast-iron facade dating from 1848. The Island in the Mur was designed by star architect Vito Acconci and sharply divided opinion before it was constructed, but today, the shell-shaped floating island has become the city’s second most famous landmark. The first, the clock tower, gives views over the city on both banks of the river, connected by Acconcis’ masterpiece. The 28-metre tower has been standing atop the Castle Hill (Schlossberg) in the heart of the old town for centuries and since 2019, thrill seekers can take the easy way down the hill on the world’s tallest underground slide. Those preferring to keep their feet firmly on the ground at the top, get a wonderful 360° view of how compact the sun-kissed city of Graz actually is. Strolling, design and culture with a healthy dose of sightseeing and a dash of adventure—there aren’t many places where it’s all possible in one day.
Bechtle’s Graz-based employees have been working in the beer-brewing district of Puntigam.
In other words, you can find everything in Graz. Even smart cookies. Graz and the Styria region are a hotbed of innovation and technology in Austria with every third high-tech innovation coming from there. And areas which are working to shape the future are sure to be home to Bechtle. The Bechtle IT System House Austria opened in the south of the country in 2008, gaining an even bigger foothold in the region with the successful merger of Ulbel & Freidorfer in 2017. Since then, the only way has been up with a second location opening in Gleisdorf in 2019. Today, a highly-skilled team of 70 are working to cement Bechtle’s success in the region, specialising in the public sector. The Graz office even has its own Competence Centre and is regularly awarded public tenders, such as the recent national tender put out by Bundesbeschaffung GmbH (BBG) for 34,000 notebooks amounting to a value of 20 million euros that is to run until the beginning of 2021.
Bechtle’s Graz-based employees have been working in the beer-brewing district of Puntigam, which is the 17th and newest suburb of the city with the brewery quarter at its green heart. The suburb takes its name from the brewery which brews Austria’s biggest-selling beer to this day. Any beer afficionados will tell you that the fermentation process generates heat, and the heat generated at the Puntigam brewery is used to sustainably heat nearby office and apartment buildings. The rest of the suburb is also very future-oriented. A green network of roof gardens that include a putting green, playground and yoga area runs through the urban area that has working and living space for more than 2,000 people.
A central complex of offices caters to the residents’ every need—from babysitting to shared lunches and urban gardening. There’s also a comprehensive concept for alternative transport with car sharing, e-fuelling stations and excellent public transportation. It’s no wonder that the Bechtle team in Graz feel primed and ready for whatever the future has in store. “The office in the brewing quarter is a highly-modern working environment for our employees. The modern open plan offices foster intensive communication between sales and technicians and also provides plenty of space for the future growth of Bechtle in Graz”, says Otmar Freidorfer, head of the southern branches, Bechtle IT System House Austria. There should be no problem then with the next major project for 2021: winning the “Bundesclient” BBG public tender for 180,000 notebooks and tablets for the school and education sector. “We would, of course, love to get our hands on a huge piece of the pie”, says Otmar Freidorfer confidently. Because which foodie doesn’t like pie?
Head of the southern branches,
Bechtle IT System House Austria
Describe yourself in three words:
Goal-oriented, a flair for business, funny.
Win the morning, win the day.
One thing nobody knows about you:
When I was young, I wanted to be a lawyer, but I was scared of the bad guys!
The super power you’d like to have:
To be able to be a fly on the wall.
Your perfect day:
Wake up feeling good and then spending the day somewhere with my family.
Your favourite town and why:
Valdobbiadene because they have the best prosecco.
Things you couldn’t live without:
Good food and drink.
Most exciting project:
Selling my own company to Bechtle.
I’d like to swap with this person for a day because…
I don’t want to swap with anyone.
Your favourite word:
If you cast an eye over your desk, you see...
A well-organised and tidy desk.
It’s this job and nothing else because:
...I’ve been enjoying it for the last 30 years!
“Graz has it all” used to be the Styrian capital’s slogan and it’s true. It has it all and then some. Mediterranean flair, culinary delights and historic sights plus rich and diverse creative and cultural scenes. Florian Gradwohl, head of services in Graz und Gleisdorf shares his personal highlights and top tips for a day out in Graz.
The Schlossberg is a natural spectacle, central recreation area and vantage point all rolled into one. The rocky hill which is said to have been thrown at the city by the devil, rises 123 metres above the banks of the Mur. And this is in the middle of the old town, which is worth seeing on its own merits. Make your way up the more than 260 steps, on the funicular or in the lift and slide all the way back down again.
The Styrian Armoury (Landeszeughaus) located in Herrengasse is the world’s largest preserved historical armoury, where row upon row of medieval armour and weapons are on display—32,000 in all over 5 floors.
Eggenberg Castle is the largest and most impressive Baroque castle and grounds in Styria. With its breathtaking state rooms and extensive palace gardens, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a real draw for visitors.
The Frankowitsch delicatessen
located in Stepfergasse is legendary. Everybody knows its extravagant bread-based creations, and in Graz, this is the place to be—to meet people, to feast and buy delicacies that can’t be found anywhere else.
The Schlossberg Restaurant is the place to go for handmade truffle gnocchi, Black Angus filet steak or Styrian salad with pumpkin seed oil all served in a chic atmosphere with the best view of the city. And in the summer, guests can enjoy the cosy beer garden.
You can’t get more central than the Grand Hotel Wiesler, situated on the banks of the River Mur in the old town. Elegant suites and rooms decorated in an industrial style have attracted Hollywood stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger to stay in the venerable house.
Aiola Living combines boutique hotel and store all under the motto “a stay to take with you”. The extravagantly furnished rooms offer stylish accommodation in a perfect location.
Right in the heart of Graz and only a few steps from the main square, the Kastner & Öhler department store is home to Austria’s largest selection of fashion items spread over 40,000 m2 and five floors. Enjoy an unparalleled view over the main square and clock tower from the glass balcony on the roof terrace.
The most photographed location in Graz is Ferdinand Haller in Herrengasse. The shop, located in a former chapel, sells sweets, chocolates and all kinds of other treats. At Christmas, the windows are filled with tree decorations of all shapes and sizes.
Pull up a chair at the Freiblick Tagescafé and enjoy delicious breakfasts and a view of the Schlossberg. But if you’re too late for breakfast, you won’t be disappointed with the selection of quiches and desserts.
Not as famous as the Viktualienmarkt in Munich, but just as good, the Kaiser-Josef Market is the oldest and largest famers’ market in Graz. If it’s Styrian specialities you’re after, this is the place to come.
If you want to take the weight off after a busy day, head to Omas Teekanne. Hot or cold, in smoothies, sweet dishes or sauces, tea is king here. You can also find flea market treasures, unique gifts and handmade trinkets.
Schöckl mountain may not be the highest at 1,445 metres, but it does offer some spectacular views from its peak. Numerous paths, mountain pastures and a summer toboggan run make the Schöckl the perfect place to unwind.
Do some laps in the 50-metre pool or relax in the sauna. Both are possible in the modern Eggenberg pool and spa. The bath owes its nickname “oyster” to its unusual architecture.
“Meet you at the Weikhard Uhr?” The Weikhard Uhr (clock) has been the place to meet-up with friends since 1930. The Bauhaus-style clock stands in the heart of the old town’s main square in front of a jewellery shop that bears the same name.
Young and old alike also meet at The Island in the Mur. The 47-metre long floating platform includes a café, a play area, open-air theatre and exhibition space for up and coming artists. Good to know: The Island looks beautiful illuminated at night.
Credit: Murinsel © Graz-Tourismus, Harry-Schiffer
Bechtle update editorial team
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Published on Mar 31, 2021.