11 Things to Do in Graz in the Winter: The Ultimate Graz Christmas Guide

Despite Graz not being as popular as Salzburg or Innsbruck, it’s still one of the best places to visit in Austria during winter. 

In Graz, you will find charming Christmas markets and a mix of modern and old architecture. 

You can walk through snowy streets, see historic buildings, and try local food. Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about visiting Graz at Christmas time.

How Cold Does it Get in Graz?

Generally, the coldest months here are December, January, and February. During this period, the temperatures often hover around the freezing mark, with average lows ranging from -2°C to -6°C (28°F to 21°F).

In my personal experience, having been in Graz every December, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern. Despite the common association of winter with snow, I can’t remember the last time I saw Graz blanketed in snow during December.

Christmas Market

Ice sculptures on city streets, lights and decorations, delicious sausages, and mulled wine at the main city square set the mood every winter.

The beautiful Nativity scene, sculpted from 35 tons of ice, is just a part of the atmosphere. Like in other large Austrian cities, Graz’s Christmas market takes place in several squares and locations, such as Glockenspielplatz, Schlossberg, Mehlplatz, Tummelplatz, and Färberplatz, with the most famous and largest being at the main square, Hauptplatz.

The Christmas market at Hauptplatz, in front of the City Hall, is the biggest and most visited. A magnificent Christmas tree and decorated stalls delight visitors of all ages. A magical walkway stretches from the City Hall to the Christmas tree. Visitors enjoy tasty snacks, desserts, and winter drinks, and can find various Christmas products and crafts.

The market in the Franciscan Quarter is Graz’s oldest Christmas market. Around the Franciscan Church, you can try various sweets or warm up with mulled wine and punch, surrounded by thousands of lights. A children’s Advent event with a carousel also takes place here.

The third must-visit place is Schlossberg. Over five weekends above Graz’s rooftops, you’ll find culinary products and beautiful crafts from Styria. The Aufsteirern Christmas market wraps Schlossberg hill in a contemplative joy, away from the city center’s bustle. The Liesl bell tower is full of surprises, enchanting with its festive atmosphere. The Schlossbergbahn funicular takes you directly to the Aufsteirern Christmas world.

Of course, you shouldn’t miss the ice Nativity scene, the most famous attraction of Graz’s Advent. It’s located in the Landhaus courtyard, near the main Christmas market at Hauptplatz. Another major attraction is the fun train that rides through Graz’s historical center, passing between the Christmas markets.

Ice Skating

During the winter season, the best place for ice skating in Graz, especially for children, is the Winter World in Jahngasse, near the state sports center.

The rink, over 2500 square meters of polished ice, is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm. Ticket prices are 5.50 € for adults and 3.50 € for children.

There are also skating lessons for kids, hockey games, and curling tournaments.

Besides the ice rink, there’s also a fair called “Advent Paradise” with local specialties. Food and drink are sold at the stalls, so you can refresh yourself after a day on the ice.

Schlossberg Hill

As I mentioned above, one of the Christmas markets is on this 473-meter high hill. It takes about 20 minutes to walk to the top or just three minutes by cable car. 

At the top, visitors not only enjoy a beautiful view of the city but also see one of Graz’s most famous landmarks, the 28-meter tall Uhrturm (Clock Tower) from 1561. 

Today, it’s pretty much all that’s left of the former massive fortress. Here, you can also see the bell tower that houses Graz’s most famous bell, a five-ton giant named Liesl. For those seeking a thrill, there’s the Slide Graz, the world’s tallest underground slide. 

It’s 175 meters long, and you can reach speeds of up to 25 kilometers per hour on it. Of course, you need to be taller than 1.3 meters to ride it.

Eggenberg Palace

Located near Graz, Schloss Eggenberg (Eggenberg Palace) is the most magnificent baroque complex in Styria and was the residence of one of Austria’s most powerful families, the Eggenbergs.

It’s famous for its palace with astronomical symbols: the four towers represent the seasons, the twelve gates symbolize the months, and the 365 windows represent the days of the year. 

The palace is also known for its well-preserved court salons, picturesque gardens, and art from the oldest Austrian museum, the Joanneum (Universalmuseum Joanneum). 

Try local dishes

Styria’s cuisine ranges from local Styrian specialties to macrobiotic, vegetarian dishes, and a mix of Italian and Austrian cuisines with a hint of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

I recommend trying: smoked trout with lentils and ginger, pork fillets with Roquefort cheese and tomato slices, various pastries, sweet and savory pancakes (like those filled with mushrooms and chanterelles and then baked), ‘volcano ham’, salty dumplings (larger than the Czech ones and made with spinach or bacon), sausage soup, homemade noodle soup (frittaten), pumpkin soup with pumpkin oil, veal offal ragout, veal shank in a sweet and salty sauce, Styrian snails, lasagna, muffins made from local beans (kaferbohne), chili balls – stuffed doughnuts, Schlick doughnuts, Mozart balls, and definitely apple strudel with fresh cheese.

Along the three wine roads, the famous Styrian Sauvignon Blanc, Weißburgunder, Muskat, Blauer Zweigelt are produced, and the region’s protected mark is the Schilcher rosé wine. A practical souvenir is a bottle of pumpkin seed oil (kernöl), for which Styria is renowned.

The Landeszeughaus 

The world’s largest historical armory, containing about 32,000 pieces of weapons, tools, and armor.

Among its collection are 2,000 swords and sabers, 4,259 pistols, and some of the most spectacular exhibits include armors, such as horse armor made in 1510. 

The armory, like many other attractions in Graz, is part of the multidisciplinary museum institution Universalmuseum Joanneum.

This museum houses at least 4.5 million items, with its branches spread throughout Styria. The Universalmuseum Joanneum is one of the largest institutions of its kind in Central Europe.

Kunsthaus Graz

Opened in 2003 as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations, the museum specializes in contemporary art from the 1960s to the present.

The Kunsthaus doesn’t have a permanent collection but instead hosts a range of temporary exhibitions and projects, showcasing both Austrian and international artists.

The building itself, designed by architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, is a piece of art. The unique shape and ‘BIX Façade’, which is a large-scale media installation, distinguish the Kunsthaus Graz in the city’s skyline.

Inside, the space is adaptable, for different types of exhibition formats. Kunsthaus Graz is also a part of the Universalmuseum Joanneum.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum

Located in Thal, a small town a few kilometers from Graz, is housed in the building where Schwarzenegger spent his childhood. Opened in 2011, it invites visitors to “face the Terminator personally,” as stated on its website. 

The idea for the museum was conceived in 2007, and Schwarzenegger himself supported this vision. He even donated some of his personal items to the museum’s collection, as mentioned on the museum’s website.

One of the notable features of the museum is a large bronze statue of the famous actor flexing his muscles. 


This is another structure built when Graz was designated as the ‘European Capital of Culture.’ It can be said that Murinsel has reconnected Graz to the River Mur. 

It’s also a bridge that links two parts of Graz. One side is more traditional, dominated by Schloßberg, and the other is more modern, where you first spot the Kunsthaus.

The Gothic Graz Cathedral

Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Giles, was built between 1438 and 1462 on the site of an earlier cathedral. At the entrance, you’ll find the coat of arms of Emperor Frederick III, who commissioned the cathedral. 

On its south outer wall, facing a small square, are remnants of an old fresco from 1485, depicting Graz under threat from the Turks and plagues. Inside, the cathedral is decorated in a baroque style and is truly enchanting. The nave is separated from the choir by an arch built in 1477. 

The high altar in the choir, depicting the Miracle of Saint Giles, is particularly striking, and there are several smaller altars in the aisles. Don’t miss visiting the mausoleum in the church. Emperor Ferdinand II built it in the early 17th century, and it’s known for a tomb adorned with paintings and sculptures.

Christmas Concerts

Around Christmas time, you can catch some really nice concerts that get you into the holiday mood. 

Places like the Styriarte Festival put on great holiday shows with all sorts of Christmas music. The Graz Cathedral and the Minoritenkirche are also good places for these concerts, especially if you like classical music. 

Another place to check out is the Stefaniensaal at the Congress Graz, where they have a bunch of Christmas concerts too.