Graz, in southeast Austria, is built around its castle, the Schlossberg, built more than 1,000 years ago. Nicknamed the ‘red roof city’, it is renowned for its stunningly well-preserved old town, which was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999. Graz is one of the most cosmopolitan and lively cities in Austria, home to six universities and some 50,000 students. Leisure-wise, expatriates living in Graz are extremely well catered for, with a huge choice of coffee houses, wine bars, inns and restaurants — many offering renowned Styrian delicacies — plus farmers’ markets, shops and cultural venues.
Graz’s wealth of historic buildings, narrow streets, public squares and courtyards mean culture lovers are spoilt for choice. Popular attractions include the Burg in Graz, the official headquarters of the regional government and Eggenberg Palace, the largest baroque palace in Styria.
But Graz, awarded UNESCO City of Design status in 2011, is also a truly modern city. The European Capital of Culture 2003 is now home to an eye-catching building, the Kunsthaus, commissioned for the city’s stint as Capital of Culture and now an exhibition space for contemporary art. The Island in the Mur is also a new part of the cityscape and a popular place for evening cocktails, where visitors can enjoy views of the river on both sides.
There are plenty of places to visit in wider Styria too, including the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum, located at his place of birth in Thal near Graz.
Graz has a fantastic location, being within easy reach of other major European cities and resorts by road or rail.
Graz airport, around 5 miles south of the city center, operates flights to and from major Austrian and German cities. The main train station, Graz Hauptbahnhof, is on the western edge of the city center and has frequent connections to Vienna and other Austrian cities, plus connections further afield, such as to Zagreb and Zurich.
Graz is very easy to get around thanks to its reliable and integrated public transportation services; the city operates six tram lines, 24 bus services and eight night buses. There is also the option of using the Altstadt Tram, which takes passengers through the old town free of charge.
Expats should also consider cycling as a means of getting around. Graz has long been dubbed the most cycle-friendly city in Austria and has an extensive cycle network.
Education has a long and proud tradition in Graz; of its population of almost 300,000, some 50,000 are students and famous names associated with the city’s learning establishments include Johannes Kepler and Nikola Tesa. The city is home to six universities: the University of Graz (founded in the 16th century, it is one of the oldest in Europe), the Medical University Graz, Graz University of Technology, the University of Music and Performing Arts, and two universities dedicated to applied sciences, the FH Joanneum and the Campus 02.
There is an excellent choice of schools in the city, including Graz International Bilingual School, a bilingual (German and English) senior secondary school for students aged 10 to 18.