Styria, the Green Heart of Austria, is a hospitality, relaxation and adventure destination whose snow-capped mountains and natural geothermal spas are sure to steal your heart writes dluxe Magazine’s Stephen Goddard.
Styria’s capital, the second largest city in Austria and home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites- will surprise you at every turn with its eclectic medieval architecture and lively creative scene. A visit to the old town is a must with its many historic buildings and churches – don’t miss the Cathedral; a relatively uninspiring building which hides a spectacularly decorated baroque interior!
While away an hour so at Mehplatz Square (known locally as Graz’s ‘Bermuda Triangle’) which is lined with boutiques, cafes and shops and is the perfect place to relax with a glass of Uhudler and soak up the sun with the locals.
For the best view in town take the Schlossberg Funicular to the Schlossberg where you can ramble around the fortress or simply dine at Aiola Upstairs and enjoy exquisite cuisine and spectacular vistas of the city and beyond. The perfectly located Das Weitzer hotel is a great place to stay whilst in Graz.
40 minutes from Graz are the sun-kissed orchards, endless vineyards and sparkling thermal pools of the Thermenland region. Rich in natural treasures with more than 1700km of biking tracks, four wine trails and even a castle route comprising of 16 castles, there is ample opportunity to explore the gorgeous surroundings. But if the outdoors is not for you then why not lose yourself in one of the 6 spas the region has to offer? Base yourself at the Falkensteiner Therme & Golf Hotel in Bad Waltersdorf which offers an 18 hole golf course, 2,500m sq wellness area with indoor and outdoor pools, luxury spa facilities and a vast breakfast buffet that is guaranteed to set you up for the day.
Not to be missed in this region is a visit to one of the many Buschenchanks such as Weingut Glatz in Bad Waltersdorf. These rustic, inn-like buildings are often in beautiful surroundings and are run by local
winegrowers who serve delicious home grown, local food alongside some fantastic wine tasting.
If you need a hit of adrenaline then take a trip to Projekt Spielberg. Sitting at the foot of the Austrian Alps this high energy recreational theme park offers everything from driving experiences, go-karting, off-road experiences and even rally car experiences where you can race around the track with a motor sports legend. Served by 9 culinary establishments offering excellent cuisine you will not go hungry. The Schonberghof is the perfect spot to enjoy lunch with impressive views over the distant racetrack, and if you like it that much, there are plenty of good hotels in the region to spend the night and extend your stay.
To the west of the region lies Schladming Dachstein, one of the top five tourist regions in the Alps which boasts world-class pistes and cross-country tracks that cater for everyone from the amateur to the athlete. With 230 piste kilometres to enjoy and activities from sledding to fatbiking you will not have time to be bored!
A clear day is the perfect time to take in the breathtaking landscape of lush meadows, forests,
mountain summits and lakes from the top of Der Dachstein where you can also enjoy a visit to the Ice Palace, but not before a walk along Austria’s highest suspension bridge which clings to the rugged mountain edges 400metres in the air. Relax at the end of a hard day in one of the 98 quaint ski lodges such as Hotel Starchlhof which is located directly on the slopes.
Travelling to Austria is easy with BMI Regional who are the only airline in the UK to offer direct flights from Birmingham Airport to Graz. All fares are inclusive of 23kg hold luggage, complimentary drinks and snacks on board, allocated seating and speedy 30 minute check-ins.
Fares from Birmingham to Graz cost from £99 one way. www.flybmi.com