Carinthia and Graz

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Carinthia and Graz - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Burgbau

    How was a medieval castle built? The team at Burgbau are finding out, building a castle to exacting medieval standards: no electricity, no modern tools, and only natural materials. The aim is not only to build an "authentic" castle, but also to keep these heritage crafts alive. When complete, the complex will include a residential tower, residential building with a chapel, castle courtyard, farm buildings, and a castle garden. The site can only be visited as part of a guided tour.You will you see stone workers, ironmongers, and carpenters at work and discover the how and why of medieval construction practices. In June, September and October, tours are at 11 am and 3 pm; in July and August, tours are at 11 am, 1:30 pm and 3 pm.

    St. Veiterstrasse 30, Friesach, Carinthia, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €11, Closed Nov.--Apr.
  • 2. Hochosterwitz

    The dramatic castle of Hochosterwitz crowns the top of a steep, isolated outcropping, looking as if it has just emerged from the pages of a fairy tale. It was in this castle that the forces of "Pocket-Mouthed Meg" (Margarethe Maultasch) were tricked by two slaughtered oxen dropped onto the heads of its soldiers. Those inside the fortress were starving, but the strategy succeeded, and, dispirited by such apparent proof of abundant supplies, the Tyrolese abandoned the siege. The most recent fortifications were added in the late 1500s against invading Turks; each of the 14 towered gates is a small fortress unto itself. Inside, there's an impressive collection of armor and weaponry plus a café-restaurant in the inner courtyard. There's a glass elevator (accommodating wheelchairs) from a point near the parking-lot ticket office. The hike up the rather steep path to Hochosterwitz adds to the drama. Your reward at the summit is spectacular vistas from every vantage point. There's a restaurant in the castle and a food stand in the upper parking park. Get to the castle on the back road from Treibach or via Route 83/E7.

    Hochosterwitz 1, Launsdorf, Carinthia, 9314, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €15, elevator €9, Closed mid-Nov.–Mar., Apr., Oct. 10–5; May–Sept. 9–6
  • 3. Schloßberg

    The view from the summit of Graz's midtown mountain takes in the city and much of central Styria. A zigzagging stone staircase, beginning at Schlossbergplatz, leads to the top. It's 260 steps, so you may prefer to use the Schlossbergbahn funicular railway (Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Kai 38; €2.50) or an elevator carved through the rock face (Schlossbergplatz; €1.80). The Schlossberg, a Romanesque castle with Gothic elements turned Renaissance fortress, constitutes only a portion of this site, and is one of the few places not conquered by Napoléon. A few steps east of the funicular station at the top is the Glockenturm (bell tower), an octagonal structure from 1588 containing Styria's largest bell, the 4-ton Liesl, in the upper belfry. Its 101 chimes resound three times daily, at 7 am, noon, and 7 pm. The Open-Air Theater, to the north, is built into the old casements of the castle and has a retractable roof. Both opera and theater performances are presented here in summer. There are ruins of the older structure, and many a modern café here, too.

    Am Schlossberg 1, Graz, Styria, 8010, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Funicular Sun.–Wed. 9 am–midnight, Thurs.–Sat. 9 am–2 am; elevator 8 am–12:30 am
  • 4. Schloss Eggenberg

    This 17th-century palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the eastern edge of the city and the largest Baroque palace in Styria, is surrounded by a large park full of peacocks. Enjoy a guided tour of the Prunkräume (state rooms); they are noted for their elaborate stucco decorations and frescoes, and contain one of the few depictions of Osaka before 1615. There's also an arcaded courtyard lined with antlers. The many attractions here include a traditional art gallery, a collection of coins, and an archaeology museum. The Alte Galerie (old gallery) contains a world-famous collection of art from the Middle Ages through the Baroque period. Among its treasures are works by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Hans and Lucas Cranach, the Admont Madonna wood carving from 1400, and a medieval altarpiece depicting the murder of Thomas à Becket. At the Archaeology Museum, the holdings include a remarkable collection of Styrian archaeological finds, including the small and rather strange Strettweg ritual chariot from the 7th century BC. Stop by the outdoor café for a break, or wander through the park to relax in between visits to the many sights.

    Eggenberger Allee 90, Graz, Styria, 8020, Austria

    Sight Details

    State rooms and guided tour €15; Alte Galerie, Archaeology Museum, Coin Cabinet and Park €9.50; 24-hour ticket valid for all museums of Landesmuseum €15 Park and Gardens: Apr.–Oct. 8 am–7 pm, State-room tours Apr.–Oct., Tues.–Sun. 10, 11, noon, 2, 3, and 4, Alte Galerie, Archaeology Museum and Coin Cabinet: Apr.–Oct., Wed- Sun. 10–5 State Rooms closed Nov.–Mar., other museums closed Mon. and Nov.--Mar. requires as part of a guided tour
  • 5. Alter Platz

    The old town square of Klagenfurt, or Alter Platz, is still the center of the city. Brightly colored buildings dating from the 12th century frame this pedestrian meeting area. A Trinity Column representing God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, dating from 1680, now stands in the Alter Platz. These columns were built all over Europe as a thanks to God from the people for having survived the plague that killed nearly 25 million Europeans during the Middle Ages. The brightly colored yellow building is the old town hall.

    Alter Platz, Klagenfurt, Carinthia, 9020, Austria
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  • 6. Austrian Open-Air Museum

    Blanketing more than 100 acres of hilly woodland, the Austrian Open-Air Museum is worth a visit. A fascinating collection of about 80 authentic farmhouses, barns, Alpine huts, working water mills, forges, and other rural structures dating from the 16th century through the early 20th century has been moved to this site from seemingly every province of Austria. Buildings that otherwise would have been lost in the rush to "progress" have been preserved complete with their original furnishings. Most are open to visitors, and in several of them artisans can be seen at work, sometimes in period costume. It is also possible to have a guided tour in English. There is a restaurant serving regional specialties and a café by the entrance. You can reach the Austrian Open-Air Museum by car from Graz via Route 67 to Gratkorn, by train (25 minutes, with a change) to Stübing and a 2-km (1½-mile) walk from there, or by municipal bus (35 minutes) from the train station directly to Freilichtmuseum Stübing.

    Enzenbach 32, Deutschfeistritz, Styria, 8121, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €10, Closed Nov.–Mar., Apr.–Oct., daily 9–5; last admission at 4
  • 7. Burg

    The scanty remains of this former imperial palace now house government offices. Most of this uninspired structure is from the 19th and 20th centuries, but two noteworthy vestiges of the original 15th-century stronghold remain: the Burgtor (palace gate), which opens into the sprawling Stadtpark (municipal park), and the unusual 49-step, 26-foot carved stone double-spiral Gothic staircase from 1494 to 1500, in the hexagonal tower at the far end of the first courtyard. While meandering around take note of the Spor, a statue of a seed, which represents the center of Graz.

    Hofgasse 15, Graz, Styria, 8010, Austria
  • 8. Church of St. Barbara

    Bärnbach offers the amazing vision of the Church of St. Barbara; it was completely redone in 1988 by the late Austrian painter and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The exterior is a fantasy of symbols in brilliant colors and shapes, including 12 towers representing all of the world's religions. A tour is available and must be booked in advance at the rectory; it costs €3 and lasts an hour.

    Piberstrasse 15, Bärnbach, Styria, 8572, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Voluntary donation without tour, Daily 8–6
  • 9. Dom

    Gurk's claim to fame is its massive Romanesque Dom topped by two onion cupolas and considered the most famous religious landmark in Carinthia. It was founded in the 11th century by Hemma, Countess of Zeltschach, who after losing her two sons and husband decided to turn to religious works. She tied two oxen to a cart and let them walk until they stopped on their own. At that spot, she founded a cloister and gave all her belongings to the church to build a cathedral. Construction on the cathedral began in 1140 and ended in 1200, though Hemma wasn't canonized until 1938. Her tomb is in the crypt, whose ceiling, and hence the cathedral itself, is supported by 100 marble pillars. The Hemma-Stein, a small, green-slate chair from which she personally supervised construction, is also here, and alleged to bring fertility to barren women. In the church itself, the high altar is one of the most important examples of the early Baroque in Austria. Note the Pietà by George Rafael Donner, who is sometimes called the Austrian Michelangelo. Be sure to visit the bishop's chapel, which features rare late-Romanesque and Gothic frescoes. At the end of August and in early September, a concert series is held in the cathedral. Tours may be restricted by church services, but run daily at 11 and 2:30. Advanced reservations are required.

    Domplatz 11, Gurk, Carinthia, 9342, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours: church, bishop\'s chapel, and crypt €9; church and crypt €5.50, Daily 9–5, Aug. 9–6, winter 10–4, Treasury closed Nov.–Apr.
  • 10. Dominican Monastery

    The Dominican Monastery of St. Nikolaus von Myra is named after St. Nikolaus, the man who eventually became pop culture's Saint Nick and Santa Claus. The monastery is near the town's moat, and was rebuilt in 1673, though the church nearby dates from 1217. Take a moment to notice the stone statue of the Virgin Mary inside the monastery, and the massive crucifix.

    Stadtgrabengasse 5, Friesach, Carinthia, 9360, Austria
  • 11. Domkirche

    On the cathedral's south exterior wall is a badly damaged 15th-century fresco called the Gottesplagenbild, which graphically depicts contemporary local torments: the plague, locusts, and the Turks. Step inside to see the outstanding high altar made of colored marble, the choir stalls, and Konrad Laib's Crucifixion from 1457 (considered one of the top late-Gothic panel paintings of German-speaking Europe). The 15th-century reliquaries on either side of the triumphal arch leading to the choir were originally the bridal chests of Paola Gonzaga, daughter of Ludovico II of Mantua. The Baroque Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II, who died in 1637, adjoins the cathedral. Its sumptuous interior is partly a design by native son Fischer von Erlach, and his only work to be seen in Graz. Call ahead to make an appointment to visit the Friedrichskapelle and Konrad Laib.

    Burggasse 3, Graz, Styria, 8010, Austria
    0316-8041890-for appointments

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Mausoleum €6; Friedrichskapelle and Konrad Laib €3, Domkirche daily 11–dusk; mausoleum daily 10:30–12:30 and 1:30–4, Mausoleum closed Mon., Wed., and Thurs. in Jan.–Apr.
  • 12. Domkirche

    South of Neuer Platz (take Karfreitstrasse) is the Domkirche, completed as a Protestant church in 1581, given over to the Jesuits and reconsecrated in 1604, and finally declared a cathedral in 1787. The 18th-century side-altar painting of St. Ignatius by Paul Troger, the great Viennese Rococo painter and teacher, is a fine example of the qualities of transparency and light he introduced to painting.

    Domplatz, Klagenfurt, Carinthia, 9020, Austria
  • 13. Glockenspielplatz

    Every day at 11 am and 3 and 6 pm two mullioned windows open in the mechanical clock high above the square, revealing a life-size wooden couple, the man adorned in lederhosen, a tankard of beer in his upraised fist, accompanied by a dirndl-clad Austrian maiden. An old folk tune plays and they dance on the window ledges before returning to their hidden perch. The musical box was erected in 1905 by the owner of the house. Look into the courtyard at No. 5, which has an impressive 17th-century open staircase. The house at No. 7 has an arcaded Renaissance courtyard. Have a typical Austrian meal right next door at Glöckl Bräu, where they brew their own beer. Every time a new barrel is opened, the bells above ring.

    Glockenspielplatz 4, Graz, Styria, 8010, Austria
  • 14. Hauptplatz

    It's easy to find the Hauptplatz (main square), with its old town hall and gleaming, multicolor, pastel facades. As you stroll you'll discover aspects of the medieval-era town: beautiful stone houses, the double wall, and the towers, gates, and water-filled moat.

    Hauptplatz, off Kirchgasse or Herrengasse, Friesach, Carinthia, 9360, Austria
  • 15. Hauptplatz

    This triangular area was converted from a swampy pastureland to a town square by traveling merchants in 1164; today it's the central meeting spot of Graz. In its center stands the Erzherzog Johann Brunnen (Archduke Johann Fountain), dedicated to the popular 19th-century patron whose enlightened policies did much to develop Graz as a cultural and scientific center. The four female figures represent what were Styria's four main rivers; today only the Mur and the Enns are still within the province. The Luegg House, at the corner of Sporgasse, is noted for its Baroque stucco facade. On the west side of the square are Gothic and Renaissance houses. The spectacular, late-19th-century Rathaus (City Hall) totally dominates the south side. From the Neue-Welt-Gasse and Schmiedgasse you get a superb view of the Hauptplatz.

    Hauptplatz, Graz, Styria, 8010, Austria
  • 16. Klopeinersee

    With water temperatures averaging 28°C (82°F) from spring to fall, this lake is a popular spot for sunbathing. Surrounded by gentle mountains, it's a little over 1½ km long (1 mile long) and 1 km wide (½ mile wide), and motorboats are not allowed. To reach the Klopeinersee, take the west Völkermarkt/Tainach exit from the A2 autobahn and follow signs to the lake. It's about a 30-minute drive east of Klagenfurt. For information on lakeside hotels and pensions, as well as hiking and biking in the region, contact Klopeinersee Tourismus.

    Klopein, Carinthia, 9122, Austria
  • 17. Kunsthaus

    Across the River Mur from the Altstadt is the modern-art museum nicknamed the "Friendly Alien"—and indeed, it does look like an alien ship landed smack in the middle of the town's medieval orange-tile, gabled roofs. Designed by London-based architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, with the aim of forging an interaction between the traditional landmarks of Graz and the avant-garde, it resembles a gigantic, blue, beached whale with spiky tentacles—which light up at night. Inside, the vast exhibition rooms are linked by escalators and spiraling walkways, with an open arena at the top offering spectacular views. There is no permanent collection here, only temporary exhibits of renowned modern artists. Check out the gift shop on the ground floor.

    Lendkai 1, Graz, Styria, 8020, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9.50, Closed Mon., Tues.–Sun. 10–6
  • 18. Landesmuseum Johanneum

    The oldest public museum in Austria is a vast complex located between Neutorgasse, Kalchberggasse, and Raubergasse. The Joanneum Quarter holds the natural history collections, the Neue Galerie Graz, and the Bruseum, dedicated to Styrian artist Günter Brus. The Natural History Museum showcases exhibitions from all of Joanneum Universal Museum’s natural sciences departments, including botany, geology, paleontology, mineralogy, and zoology. The Neue Galerie’s permanent collection features art from the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Joanneumsviertel, access Kalchberggasse, Graz, Styria, 8010, Austria
    0316-8017 9100

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Natural History Museum or Neue Galerie Graz €9.50; 24-hour ticket valid for all museums of Landesmuseum €15, Closed Mon., Daily 10–5
  • 19. Landeszeughaus

    With 32,000 items on display, the Styrian Armory is the largest preserved arsenal in the world, and one of the biggest attractions in Graz. Built between 1642 and 1644 on behalf of the Styrian nobility, the four-story armory still contains the 16th- and 17th-century weapons intended for use by Styrian mercenaries in fighting off the Turks. Empress Maria Theresa closed the armory in 1749, due to extended periods of peace; however, it remained intact to illustrate the history of the area. The collection includes more than 3,000 suits of armor (some of which are beautifully engraved), thousands of halberds, swords, firearms, cannons, and mortars—some hanging off the ceiling, others projecting off the walls, and still more sitting on the floor. The sheer quantity of displays can be daunting, so thankfully the most unusual items are highlighted, sometimes in striking displays.

    Herrengasse 16, Graz, Styria, 8010, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9.50, 24-hour ticket valid for all museums of Landesmuseum €15, Closed Mon. and Tues., Apr.–Oct., Mon. and Wed.–Sun. 10–5; Nov.–Mar. admission only as part of a guided tour
  • 20. Landhaus

    One of the most notable sights of the city is the Landhaus, with its towers and court with arcaded stairways. It was completed in 1590, and at the time formed a corner of the city wall. The only interior on view is the dramatic Grosser Wappensaal (Great Hall of Heraldry), which contains 665 coats of arms of Carinthia's landed gentry. On the ceiling is a stirring rendition of the Fürstenstein investiture ceremony portrayed by Fromiller, the most important Carinthian painter of the Baroque period. The Gasthaus im Landhaushof, on the ground floor, is well worth a stop for lunch.

    Landhaushof 1, Klagenfurt, Carinthia, 9020, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €4, Apr.–Oct., weekdays 9–4, Sat. and holidays 9–2, Closed Sun. in May--Oct., closed Sun.--Mon. in Nov.--Apr.

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