A Solo Travel Guide to Graz, Salzburg & Innsbruck
This June I embarked on my first ever solo trip, which was a multi-destination adventure through Austria. I visited Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck over 5 days and 4 nights with a jam-packed itinerary from Visit Austria. Typically regarded as a winter destination by Brits, my summer experience of Austria came with endless blue skies and European sunshine. The green mountain landscapes, fairy-tale old towns and historical architecture surprised me in a way I wasn’t expecting and by the end of the 5 days I had totally fallen in love with Austria.
My route was perfectly planned so that I could take the train onwards to my next destination (spectacular cross-country and mountain views guaranteed). I’m going to share my itinerary and all my city highlights in this post so that you can plan a similar Austrian travel itinerary! Although my trip lasted 5 nights, this itinerary would be perfect for a 7-night trip, or longer if you want to fit in days for hiking or cycling.
Austrian Travel Itinerary
Number of Nights: 1 (but I’d recommend 2)
Where I Stayed: Hotel Wiesler Grieskai 4-8
Graz was the first stop of my Austrian travel itinerary, where I spent 1 night at the boutique Hotel Wiesler (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hotel of choice when in Graz). Centrally located on the River Mur and by the edge of the beautiful Old Town, this hotel comes highly recommended from me.
Despite being the second largest town in Austria, Graz is much less well known than Vienna and Salzburg. The city has a charming Old Town, which is full of hidden courtyards and passageways. The Italian influence is evident in everything from the architecture to the gelato. I loved the al fresco foodie culture and that people were outdoors enjoying Aperol Spritz around every corner (another thing Graz has acquired from the Italians).
Day 1 – Graz
Day 1 began with a fantastic guided walking tour with Helen Miles from Austria Guides. Graz is full of hidden corners that you may never find on your own, so a guided tour is an absolute must in this city. Helen showed me an eclectic mix of historical sights and cool local hangout spots, including the rooftop bar of Graz’ top department store, Kastner & Öhler (a stylish place to come for a drink and for amazing photo opportunities).
She pointed out the traditional Glockenspiel in the Old Town and all of the best foodie spots. We escaped the heat for a while in the beautiful Graz Catherdral and on my tour I learned that the two best gelato shops can be found on the Spoorgasse. I went back later that day to try one out for myself!
Day 2 – Graz
My second day in Graz began with a visit to the Lendplatz Farmer’s Market. It was lovely to see locals buying their fruit, vegetables and flowers and a stroll around the market was a nice insight into local life in Graz. The market runs from at 6.00am to 1.00pm and there are many other Farmer’s Markets in the city.
Towering over the city of Graz is the Schlossberg, and visiting it was my highlight of the day. Translating as ‘castle hill’ the Schlossberg is a rugged hill in the city centre with a famous Clock Tower on top.
Climb the stairs or take the lift then stop for lunch at the stunning Aiola Upstairs Restaurant. This chic, contemporary restaurant has serves delicious food for breakfast, lunch or dinner but it’s also a great spot for coffee or a glass of wine. Despite being in prime tourist location, it remains popular and ‘in style’ with locals.
After lunch, I took a 15-minute stroll along the footpath on the edge of the hill until I reached the Schlossbergbahn Funicular. Along this walk you’ll find the most spectacular city views and you can reward yourself with a cool beer at the Scholossbergbahn beer garden. Take the funicular back down into the town and your afternoon loop is complete!
On the evening of Day 2 I took a 4-hour train journey from Graz to Salzburg with OBB Rail. The first class carriages are surprisingly affordable and very comfortable, with leather seats, plugs, free Wi-Fi and a full bar service. The mountain scenery is spectacular and travelling through it by train is a special experience in itself.
Austrian Travel Itinerary
Number of Nights: 2 (but I’d recommend 3)
Where I Stayed: Hotel Amadeus Linzer Gasse 43/45
Although it’s the smallest, Salzburg was definitely the most famous city on my Austrian travel itinerary. As the birthplace of Amadeus Mozart, it’s a city inspired by music and is also well known as the city where The Sound of Music was filmed. Of all three cities I have to say that Salzburg captured my heart the most, and I will be writing a separate post dedicated to Salzburg. Coming soon!
Day 3 – Salzburg
My first day in Salzburg also began with a guided tour, this time with local Salzburg guide Martina Gyuroka. I told Martina I wanted to see the filming locations of The Sound of Music, so she began our tour in the beautiful Mirabell Palace and Gardens, where many famous scenes were filmed.
Our walking tour took us over the Makartsteg Bridge (Salzburg’s very own love-lock bridge) and on to Getreidegasse (the most prominent shopping street in the city). It was here I got to try on my very own Dirndl, a traditional dress worn by Austrian women. It’s not uncommon to see women still wearing the Dirndl in every day life, particularly for special occasions. I stopped for a Chicken Schnitzel at Zwettler’s. The dish was delicious and the restaurant was incredibly authentic.
During the afternoon I took Salzburg’s funicular up to the Fortress Hohensalzburg, the most iconic historical attraction of Salzburg. The fascinating fortress is perfectly preserved and dates back to 1077! I took the downward pathway back into town before heading up to another viewpoint at the Museum of Modern Art. The Museum’s M32 Restaurant is an amazing place to stop for lunch or a sweet treat. I ordered an Apfel Strudel and took in the city views below.
That evening I was lucky enough to have dinner with a different Martina from Visit Salzburg who took me to a hidden local spot in the city. Tucked away in a narrow street is a Paul Stubm (Herrengasse 16), an authentic restaurant and beer garden that is popular with locals. This place is a hidden gem and well worth a visit.
Top Tip: Buy yourself a Salzburg Card for all-inclusive entry to all the top attractions and free travel around the city.
Austrian Travel Itinerary
Number of Nights: 1 (but I’d recommend 2)
Where I Stayed: Nala Hotel, Muellerstrasse 15
The final destination of my Austrian travel itinerary was Innsbruck, which I travelled to from Salzburg via OBB train again. The journey only took 2 hours and Innsbruck station is right in the heart of the city. Before arriving, Innsbruck was the city that I knew least about but it was the city that surprised me the most. Dramatically framed by imposing mountains at every angle, Innsbruck is in the heart of The Austrian Alps.
In winter it’s a haven for skiers and snowboarders who can reach the slopes in just 20 minutes. In summer the green mountains become a haven for mountain bikers and hikers. There are plenty of summer hiking routes and a modern Funicular, which can whisk you 2,000m up Nordkette mountain in just 20 minutes. If you had an extra day or two to spare, I would definitely recommend exploring Innsbruck’s summer hiking trails.
Inside Innsbruck city itself is the enchanting Old Town, which is probably the closest I have come to stepping inside a real life fairy-tale. The baroque buildings and cobbled streets are enough to take you back in time. Coloured houses line the riverfront and are framed by the spectacular mountains below. Innsbruck is a gem in The Alps and I felt lucky to spend my final night in Austria here.
Day 4 – Innsbruck
The weather was beautiful on my Day 4 so a trip up to the top of the Nordkette Mountain seemed like a clear choice. I found the Funicular Station right in the city centre, which whisked me up to 2000m to the main Nordkette station. If you do the same, be sure to schedule in enough time to stop for lunch at Nordkette Restaurant. The views are spectacular and stopping for lunch, a coffee or a glass of wine is the perfect way to appreciate them.
If you dare to venture even higher you can hop on an additional Funicular which will take you an additional 300 meters to Hafelekar. I made the extra journey and was met with possibly the most incredible mountain view I have ever seen. I felt above the clouds and on top of the world. It’s definitely worth going that little bit further.
Half way up the Nordkette Mountain is the Alpenzoo, Europe’s highest zoo with 2,000 alpine animals. Zoos aren’t really my thing so I decided not to visit, but it’s another popular thing do to on the mountain.
Day 5 – Innsbruck
I flew back to the UK on Day 5 but I had just enough time in the morning to head to Innsbruck’s famous Swarovski Crystal World. It’s located about 20-minutes out of the city and you can get there on a shuttle bus from the Central Station. The Swarovski Crystal World entrance takes you underground into a magical series of rooms, which all creatively feature Swarovski Crystals.
Every room is a creative spectacle with weird and wonderful things. It’s definitely something that needs to be experienced to be understood, but if you want to know more be sure to read this helpful Swarovski Crystal World blog post from Wanderlust Chloe.
Top Tip: Buy yourself an Innsbruck Card for all-inclusive entry to all the top attractions (including the Funicular, Swarovski Crystal World and the Alpenzoo).
Thoughts on My Austrian Travel Itinerary
Looking back I am amazed by how much I packed in to just 4 and a half days in Austria. I would recommend this Austrian travel itinerary to anyone but would advise taking it at more of a relaxed pace. I think 2 nights in Graz, 3 nights in Salzburg and 2 nights in Innsbruck would be optimum and would perfectly fill 7 nights in Austria.
This trip opened my eyes to Austria as an incredible summer destination, which promises beautiful cities, history, spectacular views and a sense of adventure. If you choose to discover it, I am sure you’ll feel the same.
What did you think of my Austrian travel itinerary? Have you been to any of these cities or do you feel inspired to plan your own Austria trip? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please leave me a comment at the bottom of this page!
Want to read about the personal side of my Austria solo trip? Read 8 Things I Learnt On My First Solo Trip
This blog post has been sponsored by Visit Austria as part of the #UncoverAustria campaign. All views are my own.