15 Fun Day Trips from Graz, Austria Foodies Will Love
No trip to Austria is complete without a visit to the culinary city of Graz, Austria’s second largest city after Vienna. This city is a gem for your Europe bucket list itinerary. This historic and charming city in the green and very lush Styria region in southern Austria has amazing food, wine, and the surrounding beautiful sites of South Styria.
Not only is it the Culinary Capital of Austria, but its location is also ideal for so many interesting and easy day trips from Graz.
Head out of Graz in almost any direction and you’ll discover interesting attractions, castles, spas, breweries, distilleries, and so many unexpected and fun places to eat, relax, and explore — and all the while enjoying the beautiful scenery in South Styria, Südsteiermark in German.
Travel the countryside between charming small towns and you’ll know why this is called the “Green Heart of Austria”. It’s one of the most beautiful places to see in Austria.
For the kind of slow travel experiences we love and recommend, Graz is a great place to start but seeing the countryside around the city lifts the lid on some of its loveliest, most hidden parts.
The roads around Graz are excellent and routes are well marked (even if you don’t understand German), so day trips are very easy. We highly recommend renting a car with a GPS or use your phone. This gives you the freedom to stop where and when you want, and stay for as long as you’d like.
If you prefer not to drive, there is both train and bus service, though limited, to some of these attractions to visit around Graz.
We’ve done these 14 easy day trips from Graz over the past few years and they are a great way to slow travel South Styria.
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Where is Graz, Austria
Graz is Austria’s second latest city after the capital of Vienna. Austrians pronounce it Gratz with a roll of the R, so practice saying it if you want to sound more local. Graz is located in the southern part of Austria in the region of Styria — in fact, it’s the capital of Styria, also known as the Green Heart of Austria.
When you fly into Graz, it’s easy to see why — the surrounding landscape is lush and green with rolling hills. Styria is not only beautiful, the region doesn’t get the heavy (crushing) tourism that many cities in Europe see.
Austrians come to enjoy the incredible scenery and of course, the amazing Austrian white wine.
Anytime of year is a good time to visit Graz, though the harvest time in late summer and fall are super popular, with all kinds of food and wine festivals going on. Late August is also time for the Graz Long Table (Lange Tafel) the biggest culinary event of the year.
So if you’re a foodie, make plans now to visit, and add in one or two of these day trips from Graz into Styria to complement your stay!
Day Trips from Graz
(30 miles / 49 km)
The town of Gamlitz is a great place to enjoy a day trip, and just 30 miles south of Graz. Make your first stop in town the Schloss Gamlitz (Castle Gamlitz), a lovely historic building with a wine museum and tavern for wine tasting. Head out on to the South Styrian Wine Road for to taste some of the best wines in Austria.
There’s no shortage of wineries in the Gamlitz area — seven to be exact — and one of our favorites is Weingut Lackner-Tinnacher. There are food and wine festivals as you head into harvest season, so plan your visit around one.
Families will love the Motorikpark, a health and fitness park for body, mind, and soul. There’s myriad fun exercise stations, swimming (in the ponds) and even camping on site. Visit the Pfarre Gamlitz, or Parish of Gamlitz, is a beautiful old Roman Catholic church that is definitely worth a visit. Enjoy lunch or dinner at Weingut Sattlerhof or Weinlandhof Hotel-Restaurant.
Gamlitz isn’t a big place but it is charming to say the least, so make a little time to check it out.
Schloss Eggenberg (Castle Eggenberg), Graz
Eggenberger Allee 90, 8020 Graz, Austria
This historic site isn’t really a ‘day trip’ in the traditional sense, since it’s located in Graz. But it’s a tram ride away and a definite must-see in Graz — plus you could easily spend the the better part of the day here exploring the castle and grounds. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it on the expansive lawn.
In Hauptplatz, the main square in Graz, catch the tram to Schloss Eggenberg. Look for the ticket machines in Hauptplatz or buy a ticket at one of the news stands. It’s a pleasant ride that takes about 45 minutes. When you arrive, it’s an easy walk along a tree lined street to the entrance.
To tour the palace buy a ticket at the entrance. At the time of this writing, tickets for adults are a little over $17 USD for adults. Tours are given on the hour from 10am to 4pm and last fifty minutes. This is the the most significant Baroque palace complex in Styria and the preservation of furnishings and 17th century artifacts, including more than 600 ceiling paintings in the 25 state rooms is amazing.
In 2010, Schloss Eggenberg was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cultural significance to Austria.
Schloss Seggau (Seggau Castle)
(24 miles / 40 km)
Schloss Seggau, Seggauberg 1, 8430, Leibnitz, Austria
In nearby Leibnitz (just 27 miles/44 km south of Graz) be sure to visit Schloss Seggau, the majestic hilltop castle surrounded by woodland with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. We recommend taking the scenic route through Leibnitz which will get you there in forty-five minutes, not much different from the highway, but way better scenery.
Seggau Castle has served and continues to serve many purposes in the community. At one time it was a Bishop’s residence, has housed the administrative offices, and today is considered a top shelf regional hotel and popular convention center.
Built on Roman ruins is the 325-year old wine cellar complete with tastings and a boutique wine shop selling the castle’s own wines. Seggau Castle illustrates art and architecture from various periods — including Roman and baroque. And Styria’s largest historical bell, the ‘Seggauer Liesl’ is on display.
No doubt the most peaceful space on the grounds is the new St. Michael’s Chapel. It features Wickenburg stained glass windows and a floating cross designed by famous Austrian artist, Alexander Silveri.
To truly experience all that is Schloss Seggau, we highly recommend a guided tour preferably the combination tour, ‘Kombiticket’, of both the castle and the wine cellar. The tour is in German so if English is your primary language, call ahead to see when an English speaking guide is available. Times change so check the website, for current tour times and pricing.
When your tour is finished, the Schloss Cafe is great for a late lunch. If you decide not to rent a car, there is bus and train service from Graz to Leibnitz. From the station it’s about a thirty-five minute walk to the castle or take a taxi. This is an excellent and easy to day trip from Graz and well worth the time.
Lipizzaner Piber Stud Farm
(28 miles / 45 km)
Piber 1, 8580, Austria
Located just 28 miles (45 km) west of the city of Graz, the Lipizzaner Piber Stud Farm in the town of Piber in the Lipizzanerheimat region is well worth a visit.
Getting there is relatively easy if you rent a car. There is bus service from Graz to Piber, but the service is limited. There is also train service from Graz to Köflach which is about 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) south of Piber.
You could take a taxi from Köflach, but we think renting a car to set your own schedule is the best option. It takes about 45 minutes on the Süd Autobahn (a toll road), and just a bit longer if you plan a route through the rolling hills.
We have always taken the winding roads through the hills covered by vineyards, forests, and farmland. It’s far more relaxing and enjoyable, and besides, there are wineries to visit along the way.
It’s hard to miss the village of Piber. Its imposing baroque castle stands high on a hill brightly contrasted against the green of the mountains and highland meadows. Piber is home to the most popular attraction in all of Lipizzanerheimat — the Piber stud farm (The term ‘stud’ refers to the breeding farm itself).
It is here that the elegant and world renowned Lipizzaner stallions are selectively bred, and only the very best of the best stallions are sent to become performers at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
A visit to Lipizzanerheimat makes a perfect day trip from Graz. You can take a tour of the stud farm to see the Lipizzaner horses and learn how they’re cared for and bred at this historic site. But there is more here than just horses. You can watch a farrier make a horseshoe and demonstrate how it is nailed to the horses hooves.
There is a children’s play area, historic buildings, and a very nice cafe serving traditional Austrian food and a gift shop.
St. Barbara’s Church
(25 miles / 40 km)
Piberstraße 15, 8572 Bärnbach, Austria
You can get to Bärnbach directly from Graz by bus, but it takes over an hour and service is limited. The cost of a taxi at $70-90 USD one way is prohibitive. Here’s where it’s nice to have a car.
Bärnbach is famous for the very unique Church of St. Barbara. So that you don’t miss any of the symbology and quirky design features in the church or on the grounds, it’s best to do a tour here. Have you ever wondered how glassblowers produce such beautiful and delicate pieces. Make a reservation at the Stölzle Glas Center to watch glassblowers form their works of art.
Afterwards walk over to the GlasMuseum Bärnbach to see incredible glass pieces and shop for something unique to take home. It’s easy to do a day trip to Piber and still have time to explore Bärnbach. Before you leave stop at the Eis Salon Corso in the center of town (you can walk from the church) for some rich and creamy ice cream.
Terme NOVA Spa
(30 miles / 49 km)
An der Quelle 1, 8580 Köflach, Austria
If you have the time and would like to stay overnight in the area, we highly recommend the Terme NOVA Spa in the town of Köflach. Depending on which route you choose, it’s only a 45 minute drive from Graz to Köflach on the Süd Autobahn.
A drive through the hills and vineyards takes about the same amount of time and is far more enjoyable.
The Thermal Spa at Terme NOVA has a huge indoor/outdoor pool that draws mineral water from the Barbara Spring, keeping the average temperature a very nice 36.5C (96° F). The pool draws its mineral water from the Barbara Spring, and the modern design of the spa gives it an open and peaceful feeling. The spa facilities such as the saunas and massage rooms are on two levels.
There’s also a very good restaurant that serves traditional Austrian food and smaller snacks in between dips in the pool.
Piber, Köflach and Bärnbach are situated very close together. Plan a full day and visit all three for the perfect day trip from Graz.
Zotter Chocolate Factory
(32 miles / 52 km)
Bergl 56, 8333 Riegersburg, Austria
The Zotter Chocolate factory is an easy day trip from Graz and a must for foodies visiting South Styria. It’s only 52 kilometers (32 miles) from Graz and you can be there is less than an hour. This isn’t your everyday chocolate producer. Yes, a tour here is very educational but it’s also super entertaining and a lot of fun!
Zotter uses only organic fair trade ingredients and produces its chocolates and confections completely in-house. This is a true ‘bean to bar’ experience. You don’t just get to watch the production — you actually get to taste chocolate as it is at every stage of production. There are an unbelievable 500 tastings to be exact, and you can indulge in as much as your sweet tooth demands.
There’s plenty of activity outside the factory as well. Outside in the Edible Farm there are animals, a petting zoo, a kids’ play area and a very good cafe, Oko-Essbar Restaurant. If you’d prefer something lighter there’s always the hotdog stand and wing bar. This is a great day trip for families or anyone interested in seeing, and of course tasting, how some of the finest chocolates in Europe are made.
Schloss Kornberg (Kornberg Castle)
(33 miles / 54 km)
Dörfl 2 Kornberg near Riegersburg
Just 34 miles east of Graz is the stately Schloss Kornberg, or Kornberg Castle near Riegersburg. Take the scenic route through the hills and beautiful countryside and you’ll be there in less than an hour, that is if you can resist the temptation to stop for photo ops around every bend.
Kornberg Castle was originally built as a fortress and has changed hands many times through the centuries. It was turned into a residential castle 300 years ago and has been owned and occupied by the Counts of Bardeau since 1871.
Many events take place here from craft shows, music and medieval themed events.
There are only five rooms open to the public as the castle is still occupied, but guided tours are offered on certain days of the week through some of the private areas of the castle. The stunning artwork and colors of Europe’s largest carpet exhibition is on display and there’s a new planetarium where you can learn about the universe. This is also a popular wedding venue with its own chapel and an a la carte restaurant. Be sure to stop in the handicraft shop which has wonderful items from the area’s artists. If you’re in the area at the right time of year, visit the beautiful Easter and Christmas exhibitions.
The castle and grounds are relatively small by castle standards making a stop here easy to combine with your day trip to the Zotter Chocolate factory.
Knappenhof Winery and Alpaca Farm
(34 miles / 54 km)
Kranach 44, 8463 Eichberg-Trautenburg, Austria
For a truly unique and relaxing day trip, be sure and stop at Knappenhof, just 34 miles south of Graz in the quaint village of Gamlitz. From there, it’s just a short drive to Sernauberg and the Knappenhof Weingut & Ferienhäuser. The winery has some very nice accommodations especially the Holiday House which can sleep four.
There are actually two locations for Knappenhof — Gamlitz and Eichberg. Eichberg is home to Knappenhof’s excellent buschenschank, which also has accommodations for up to four. So whether going for the day or maybe an overnight, Knappenhof is ideal.
But for that something special, at the Gamlitz location there is a family of alpacas that lives in Knappenhof’s vineyards. You can meet the alpacas (if they’re in the mood) with just a short walk down the lane to their large enclosure.
For a special experience book a guided walk with the alpacas. The walk lasts from 1.5 to 2 hours on a trail within their enclosure and reservations are a must. Knappenhof also offers walking tours to learn the area’s biodiversity, an outdoor spa with a barrel sauna, infrared cabin and a hot tub, and when in-season a guided mushroom hunt.
Knappenhof’s wines are excellent and a tasting is a must. All activities, tours, and tastings are done by reservation only.
Die Brauerei Brewery
(45 miles / 73 km)
Die Brauerei, Schillerplatz 3, 8463 Leutschach, Austria
Die Brauerei is a must-stop for beer and wine lovers. Located in Leutschach, a small village just 45 miles south of Graz, it makes a great — if not unusual — stop along the South Styrian wine road. You can get there via the toll road or take country roads. The secondary road only takes about ten minutes longer but is a very pleasant drive.
The brewery is easy to find as you enter Leutschach — it’s right on the main street — and is a lot of fun with some very unusual but really good beers. Owner Wolfgang Dietrich has the philosophy that ‘beer is food, healthy and good for you’. This is a small batch operation and because there are no additives or preservatives there is no large distribution.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and tasting here. The beers of the day were RossNatur, a light natural beer, Ginseng Dragon, a dark natural beer with ginseng added to the process, and wine beer which is RossNatur with wine added. He brews other beers as the seasons change but to enjoy it you’ll have to go there and maybe buy a bottle or two to take back to where you’re staying.
Wolfgang also runs beer making classes. A full day class, 10am to 4pm, features hands on brewing, beer tastings, a nice lunch, and everything you ever wanted to know about beer.
Some other interesting classes include a Wedding Day Brewing where a bride brews beer for her wedding, making divorce beer (hopefully not the same bride), and brewing your very own birthday beer!
Aeijst Gin Distillery
(22 miles / 35 km)
Aeijst Gin, St. Nikolai im Sausal 6, 8505 St. Nikolai Im Sausal, Austria
Another fun day trip from Graz going in the same direction as Leutschach, is a tour of the Aeijst Gin Distillery (pronounced Aced). There are other routes to get there but in this case the toll road is probably the best bet. South Styria is known for its wines, not necessarily gin, but one visit to Aeijst will change your perspective. The owners of Aeijst are working hard to make themselves known.
Only 100% organic ingredients are used to produce their hand crafted gin using their secret recipe.
You can have a guided tour and tasting by request and just buy some gin if you like, or attend a workshop (by reservation only) to make your own gin from the many botanicals, spices, and fruits. After distillation is complete you can taste and bottle the gin made from your personal recipe. It’s a beautiful facility and the family owners are very friendly.
By the way, if you’re a gin lover you’ll find that their signature gin is excellent.
TIP: Visit These two facilities in the same day!
Leutschach is a bit farther than St. Nikolai im Sausal along the same route. Our recommendation is to make arrangements to visit both on the same day. Go to Der Brauerai first and on the way back to Graz visit Aeijst Gin Distillery.
South Styrian Wine Road
(29 miles / 47 km)
With its incredible crisp white wines, this is a must-do when visiting South Styria (Südsteiermark). Starting at Ehrenhausen, the 44-mile long South Styria Wine route winds through quaint Austrian towns and villages making its way through the heart of the South Styria wine country.
The road is self-guided and there are signs on the side of the road to let you know you’re on the South Styria Wine Road (Südsteirische Weinstraße). For this adventure we recommend renting a car to make your own pace and stop where you want.
Like self-guided drives through the wine regions in Chile, the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany, and Oregon’s Williamette Valley, you’ll pass by lush green vineyards and can pull over to take a closer look now and then. Everywhere we stopped we found people friendly and happy to chat and answer questions.
In the fall, wine lovers from all over Austria flock to this wine region to taste the first press of wine called stürm. Generally a bit higher in alcohol than wine, drinking stürm with folks is a fun experience, and you’re sure to make new friends.
The Weinstraße will take you past Gamlitz and scenic vineyards clinging to the rolling hills. There are inviting wine taverns and buschenschanks all along the way. The winding road takes you to the small wine growing village of Sutztal then on to Leutschach, the end point of the Wine Road, where you should stop for a beer or two at Die Brauerei.
TIP: Spend the night!
The Weinstraße is unlighted for most of its length. It gets really dark after the sun sets and the roads are narrow and winding. If you plan to make a long day of it, book an overnight in one of the lovely buschenschanks near Gamlitz (winery/inns) in the area.
TIP: E-Bike the South Styrian Wine Road!
A really fun way to explore the wine road is by using an electric bike. We did this, and it was an absolute blast! It takes a little planning but is a great way to get around on a sunny day. Reserve bikes with Bike Box — they have a number of pick up/drop off points throughout South Styria around Graz including several on the Wine Road.
If you haven’t ridden an electric bike you’re in for a treat — especially on the uphills!
The Heart-Shaped Road, Špičnik
(37 miles / 59 km)
Špičnik 2, 2201 Zgornja Kungota, Slovenia
This LOVE-ly attraction has become one of the most Instagrammable spots in Europe, and the fact that one tourist attraction spans two countries in a single view makes for enviable diplomatic goals! Set along the South Styrian Wine Road, the famous heart shaped road is actually located in nearby Špičnik, Slovenia.
That’s right… South Styria and Slovenia are such close neighbors in the EU, as you can see from the picture… we’re sitting in Austria and viewing the road in Slovenia. Just drive out to Dreisiebner Špičnik, park your car, and take a quiet walk to the vineyard’s edge.
See how lovely international neighbors can be, especially when wine is involved? Contrary to some claims, the road really is heart-shaped, but you have to be in Austria to see it!
(42 miles / 68 km)
How fun that you can take a day trip to another country, right? If you have the time, we recommend a day trip into Slovenia — it’s so close after all. From Graz to Maribor is less than an hour - 42 miles (68 km)! The country of Slovenia is woodsy and beautiful with wonderfully pristine areas including the pretty city of Maribor with its Renaissance-style town hall and 15th-century Maribor Castle.
Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge
In two and a half hours you can drive the 138 miles (222 km) from Graz to Lake Bled, Slovenia. The lake and surrounding area is as postcard-beautiful as it gets! So why go to Lake Bled? Rent a boat for a few hours, or hike one of the marked trails that will take you to the top of the mountain for a panoramic view overlooking the lake.
Take the water shuttle out to an island in the lake to visit the historic Church of Mary the Queen. This is such a beautiful setting that photographs of the church and island are routinely found in travel publications.
There are a few beaches for swimming but the water can be cold. Other than the great scenery and outdoor activities, we think the best reason to drive to Lake Bled for the day is to indulge in Lake Bled Cream Cake, a Slovenian food specialty. Yup, it’s that delicious.
If you decide to include a side trip to Lake Bled, combine it with a hike through Vintgar Gorge. The Gorge is one of the highlights of Lake Bled and only a few minutes north of the Lake itself. Hiking Vintgar Gorge takes an hour or two, but save this spot until the end of the day when the crowds go home. Then you’ll have the quiet beauty all to yourself!
TIP: Driving between Austria and Slovenia
Driving between Austria and Slovenia is easy, but you’ll have to stop for a mandatory ‘vignette’ sticker to attach to your windshield before you cross the border into Slovenia. These can be purchased in service stations along the highway for however long you plan to stay.
Your rented car will already have the vignette for Austria so you don’t have to obtain one before you cross back into Austria. We purchased one for a week on our way from Austria through Slovenia for 7,50 euros. If you’re caught without one, the fine is steep.
There is bus service from Graz to Lake Bled but it takes four to five hours. Train service is even worse taking five to six hours. A rental car will cost a bit more but is well worth the convenience.
(27 miles / 45 km)
An der Mur 13, 8472 Sankt Veit am Vogau, Austria
If you’re heading to Gamlitz or the Wine Road, turn left in Ehrenhausen and cross over the small bridge. Five minutes on the other side of the river you’ll find the hamlet of Sankt Veit am Vogau and Genussregal Vinofaktur, a must-stop for food and wine lovers.
The quirky building topped with shipping containers houses over 2,500 Styrian wines and culinary products from over 250 regional producers. Taste some wine or take a tour of farm production from pigs and chickens to honey and oils, and all inside. They have a wonderful gift shop with an impressive selections of local foods, oils, and sauces.
Before you leave try their cafe, a great place to grab lunch. The pizzas and the charcuterie boards here are amazing. Everything we’ve had at the Cafe has been so yummy! You can’t miss this place!