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Steiermark, known as the "Green Heart of Austria" is a wonderfully diverse Region, with lakes, mountains, vines and valleys. The regional capital, Graz is a magic city, close to the Hungarian and Slovenian borders, and close to the Weinstraße, home to a lot of very good Austrian wines. Austrian wine still suffers in Britain due to the anti-freeze scandal of the late 80s, but the Schilcher and similar wines are very crisp and great to enjoy. A trip down the Weinstraße has to be recommended to anyone visiting Steiermark. In the Northwest corner is the spa town of Bad Aussee, with its beautiful lake, which is great for a weekend away from it all. On the way to Bad Aussee, there are a great number of Ski resorts from the smaller ones, such as Steinach-Irdning, to the world famous resorts of Schladming and Haus. Skiing is excellent, although slightly pricey, but the atmosphere in the place during World Cup ski races is great. The Styrians sure know how to party. Steiermark also is home to the A1 Ring, the prettiest Formula One track on the calendar. There are pretty little villages offering rustic charm and hearty cooking just a stone throw away from the track. Moving westwards, into the Murtal, there are glorious villages, steeped in legend and plenty of opportunities to ski, and go walking in the summer. Murau and the surrounding area offer plenty of rustic charm, and the Murtalbahn allows you to hop on and off from one village to the rest. For mountain biking fans this area is great. Graz is Austria's second city and has a very active scene, with clubbing, and great shopping as well as more traditional pastimes. Although it is not real Heurigen territory (a Heuriger is a restaurant/bar that serves local wine) any of the Heurigen you discover will make you dismiss Yates' Wine Lodges as an utter joke. Steiermark is great to explore, and I would recommend a EuroDomino railpass, so that you can enjoy this spe
ctacular region by the very reliable train services that also afford you a great view of the landscapes. The only difficulty is the regional dialect "Steirisch" as even the Viennese have problems with it, but it won't figure too highly!
"Styria (German: Steiermark; Slovenian: tajerska; Czech: týrsko) is a state or Land, located in the southeast of Austria. In area, it is the second largest of the nine Austrian states, covering 16,388 km². It borders Slovenia as well as the other Austrian states of Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Burgenland, and Carinthia. The population (as of 2001) was 1,183,303. The capital city is Graz. There is a significant tourist trade, based on numerous mountain resorts."