In addition to the majesty that is Graz, the surrounding Austrian countryside is alive, not only with the sound of music, but also plenty of fascinating sites. Among the most impressive is the nearby Riegersburg Castle, which is a true example of what a fairytale castle would be like in the real world.

About an hour away from Graz, the fortress of Riegersburg sits outside the small Austrian town. It is actually situated atop an extinct volcano, and was built in the 12th century and vastly fortified 13th century to protect the Holy Roman Empire from southern invasion by the Ottoman Turks. The invading Turks who attacked, and even laid siege to Vienna in the 17th century never took the massive fortress.

Today visitors can take in the castle, which makes an imposing sight from the roads leading to the town, and take part in tours of the 100+ rooms that are open to the public. Much of the main floor serves as a museum of the history of the region and castle, while the underground levels are devoted to a 1980s Stryian exhibit on witchcraft and wizardry.

From atop the castle you can get a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside, and it is said on a clear day you can see all the way to Hungary!

To the North of Graz there are numerous mountains to explore, some you take a cable car up and in the Summer you can do a bob sleigh on individual cars.

The Schöckl mountain is the most popular daytrip destination for residents of Graz and a great spot for taking in a magnificent panoramic view of Styria on a beautiful day. It is served by a cable car and part of the plateau on top is now accessible for the handicapped and families with kids in strollers. This is the highest mountain in the region and many paragliders take off from its top to sail down into the valley below and land on a meadow near the base station of the cable car in St. Radegund. A thrill just to watch.   

Near Mixnitz there is the fantastic ladder climb up a canyon framed by beautiful mountainsides called Bärenschützklamm. Parts of it are terrifying as you cross gulleys and waterfalls but the views are breathtaking.  Once you climb the 160 or so ladders you can reward yourself at a country inn at the summit of the mountain serving local fare, cake, and drinks.The walk down via a trail through the woods is also spectacular but a lot less hair-raising.  Allow at least 4-5 hours. Address: Bärenschützklamm Kirchdorf 6 8132 Kirchdorf Österreich