Latest Travel Update (May/2021): Graz and Styria region will be open for European tourists as of May 19th. So if you are planning to visit this incredible city and region, click here to read the official information about safety measures, who can travel to Graz, what is open, and how you can have fun.
The fresh air and the raindrops cooled us down during the steepest parts of the trail. Trees surrounded us, and as we went up the scenery became even more beautiful. When the rain gave us a break the only noises we could hear were our steps, the birds and myself saying how beautiful the path was and how happy I was for being able to go hiking in Graz, or more specifically near Graz.
We traveled to Graz in Austria for many reasons such as admiring the incredible architecture, enjoying museums, tasting delicious food & wine, and because of the possibility of adding nature and outdoor activities to a city break. That’s how we ended up on the Mühlbacherhütte-Pleschkogel Trail and had a fantastic half-day trip from Graz.
When you’ve done all the great things to do in Graz, take an extra day or two to explore the region, go hiking or mountain biking around. Graz mountains are beautiful, filled with forests, rivers and animals waiting for you. It’s not all about being surrounded by nature, but also exploring tiny villages, visiting pilgrimage spots, having the best panoramic views and trying delicious food.
You can have all this in just under an hour drive from Graz. How cool is that? Follow our experience on this moderate hike near Graz so you can add it to your next trip there. Otherwise, just get inspired by all the information we’ll share below that can help you explore other trails and corners of the beautiful Styria region, the green heart of Austria.
The weather wasn’t that promising, but we were determined to discover the greener side of Graz, so we put our shoes on and by 9 am we were ready for the adventure. In less than an hour by car we had arrived at the first stop of our hike in Graz, the peaceful and beautiful Cistercian Monastery Rein.
The Monastery is a real gem, one of the places to visit near Graz that everyone should add to their itinerary even if they are not doing the hike itself. The Cistercian Monastery was established in Rein in 1129 and it’s the oldest remaining Cistercian community in the world. The Monastery is an important piece of history, so while there make sure to walk around the courtyard and visit the stunning Baroque Abbey Church. After doing that, you are good to start the hike.
After visiting the monastery we started our walk through paved roads, then along a stream, and suddenly we were surrounded by big trees with dark green leaves that were shining under the rain. Two bikers passed by us, confirming that the trail to Mühlbacherhütte is not only for hikers but also for mountain bikers.
The start of the hike was easy, we were ascending slowly with eventual steep sections uphill. The clouds were heavy and carrying a mix of different shades of grey and a few patches of blue appeared once in a while. Su, our friend and hike guide, kept telling us how beautiful the trail is when the sun is shining, but to be honest, the rainy weather added an unforgettable dramatic touch to our experience and kept the heat away. We traveled to Austria in July to enjoy summer in Graz, but we realize that on a hike like this, the sun would make it harsh.
The first seven kilometers were the steepest part of the trail when we ascended over 500 meters. But the reward was a lunch break at a lovely mountain hut. After almost 2 hours of hiking we reached the Mühlbacherhütte, and we were ready for a break, a beer and some hearty food. At this point I already knew, this was one of the best hiking trails of our lives.
The intermittent rain followed us up, and although the scenery was stunning, we had to grab a seat inside. To our surprise we weren’t the only hikers facing the gloomy weather, another group of hikers and the mountain bikers we saw on the way up were there as well.
Straight from the kitchen, steaming bowls of beef soup with cheese dumplings came and they were as delicious as you can imagine. Rob had the best words to describe the food, he said: “it tastes like grandma’s soup”. He was right. The soup was perfectly seasoned and the dumplings were moist and cheesy, the perfect combination to recharge our batteries without feeling too heavy to face the rest of the trail. But before leaving we had to share a slice of cheese strudel because we never say no to a home-baked dessert.
The rain had started pouring as soon as we arrived at the hut, so we took a break and relaxed. Once the rain was over, we followed the path up, ascending until we reached the summit of our trail which was 1030 meters above sea level. The stunning views were our companions all along the way.
As we continued, we faced a bit of descending and then uphill again we went before we could actually start going only downhill. We were walking through the woods, following the hiking path until we completed the circular trail. On the way back to the monastery we passed by a tiny church, some hunting huts, and saw beautiful views of Graz mountains.
After a 24 km trail we were feeling tired, a bit dirty, but thrilled. Despite the shaky legs due to the fast pace on the way back, I held a big smile on my face from the beginning to the end of the hike. It felt like a rewarding tiredness, some mix of contentment for having pushed ourselves, explored a new place, and done all this in the company of a great friend.
Our hike to Mühlbacherhütte and back in figures
Distance: 24 km
Elevation gain: 868m
Total time: 6 hours 20min
Walking time: 4hours 15min
Highest point: 1028m
Styria Tourism’s official website has a map for this hike; it’s a slightly different path than the one we took, click here to check it out.
Practical Information about Mühlbacherhütte-Pleschkogel Trail
You can get to the Cistercian Monastery Rein by car, by bus or by bike. If you want to do other hikes around Graz or just explore the region renting a car is a good option. You can search for the best car rental prices here. Driving is not your thing? Then you can choose between taking a taxi or a bus there, or even renting a bike in Graz and cycling to the monastery (16 km, roughly 1hour). The regional bus 101 departs from Graz Hauptbahnhof every half an hour and the trip to the Rein Gemeinde stop (the closest one to the trail) takes about 35 minutes.
To keep your stomach happy, plan a stop at the Mühlbacherhütte and also bring some snacks with you. We weren’t that well prepared, but our lovely hike buddy and guide was wiser enough to bring a few snacks along. We had a pastry as a sweet treat before the biggest ascent and apples from her parents’ house at the end of the trail. They were the perfect boost we needed to keep going at a good pace.
Bring water! Bring a bottle or two as you will only be able to buy drinks at the mountain hut.
Dress according to the weather. Graz weather can change a lot, we were there in July, and we had sun, rain and wind all in one day. Hiking boots are not mandatory, but a good pair of trail running shoes is essential, especially if you happen to go hiking on a rainy day.
Last but not least, keep everything on the trail clean and preserved as you found it. You might encounter insects, birds, and beautiful flowers, admire and respect them without interfering.
Other hikes near Graz, Austria
There are plenty of hiking trails near Graz, from easy to more difficult ones, from pilgrim trails to long-distance hikes. The good part is that most of them are close to the city center, mostly 30 to 60 minute drives.
For those of you who are really into hiking, I strongly recommend exploring Graz and the whole Styria region. You will find trails that can take from 3 to 7 days to complete, going through different towns, mountain tops, valleys, thermal spots and wineries. There are a few hiking routes that go from the glaciers to the wine region that sound amazing.
We didn’t have time to explore other trails (one more reason to go back to Graz), but while we were there we found 2 hiking spots you might like, here they are:
We can say that Schöckl is the most famous mountain near Graz, and it’s easy to understand why. At the height of 1445 meters the views are fantastic, and the mountain is a paradise for outdoor sports. You can go there for hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, enjoying the panoramas during a cable car ride, eating and drinking at a mountain hut, or for a fun ride down with the Hexenexpress, a fun toboggan run.
It’s easy to get to Schöckl Mountain. It’s located 15 km north of Graz and you can go by car, bike, taxi or public transportation.
If you want to have a taste of nature and fresh air but you don’t have the time to go on a day trip from Graz, or you really just don’t want to leave the city, there is one place you can go. Schlossberg Hill is the easiest hiking/walk in Graz, you will have great views and can end your walk with a nice breakfast, lunch or a cold beer hilltop.
Sunrises and sunsets are amazing from there, and as the park is located in the city center, it’s easy to reach by public transportation or on foot. We stayed at Das Weitzer Hotel, and it took us only 10 minutes to walk to Schlossberg from there.
The hike we did and these two places we mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg, there is much more to see and experience in Graz and its surroundings. To discover all the fantastic hiking trails and walk paths in Graz click here, this is the official website of Graz region and there are a couple of hiking trails listed there.
You should also have a look at the Styria region website – click here – as they have a great number of hikes near Graz and in the region. Another good source of information about hiking in Graz is the website Kommot, click here to read their suggestion of the best 20 hikes around Graz.
But before you start dreaming with your outdoor adventure in Graz there are a couple of things I want to share with you:
1st – Read our Graz Travel Guide to find all the info you need to plan your trip. From where to stay in Graz, to what to do, best restaurants to go to and how to get around.
2nd – Always check the official websites to see if the trail you chose is open to the public. Some hiking and mountain bike trails are closed during winter.
3rd – Always check the weather forecast before heading to any hiking trail in Styria.
4th – If you don’t have any experience hiking, don’t be a fool and don’t get lost in the forest. There are guided tours in Styria or self-guide experiences that you can do risk free.
5th – Always have travel insurance while traveling, especially if you are doing outdoor activities. We use World Nomads and SafetyWing. Just click on the name of the company and book your insurance now. If you need more information on it, read our Travel Insurance Guide here.
For those who love sports, I want to mention that Graz holds an Ironman 70.3 race and we wrote a guide about where to stay for the Ironman competition (clique here to read it).
That’s a wrap! Are you ready to venture yourself in the mountains of Graz? If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, drop us a message below.
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PS: This trip was organized in partnership with Graz Tourismus but as usual you get our true impressions and opinions.