Founded in 1129, Stift Rein is the oldest Cistercian monastery in the world and is situated in a very picturesque spot in the hills about 25 mins drive from Graz (15 km). The monastery has a beautiful baroque interior, festival halls and library. Guided tours in German are provided daily at 10.30 am and 13:30 pm. Group English tours can be booked on request. There’s also a good restaurant for lunch – Stiftstaverne Rein. In front of the Abbey is a big open field perfect for a picnic. Plus good public toilets and a gift shop selling ice cream (useful for bribing kids for the hike below!). You can also reach Stift Rein by bus from the Graz train station (110 & 140).
If you are reading this during the corona shutdown – the church is still open (limited to 5 visitors at a time), there are no tours but the gift shop is still open and the restaurant is offering a pick up service.
The surrounding woods have lovely hiking paths. We did the dark green Ulrichsbergrunde hike (3.5 km / 1.5 hrs) a nice path which takes you up to a tiny church in the woods, along the ridge and then back around through the valley (trees the whole way).
From the Abbey car park, walk towards the school and restaurant and follow the small road up into the woods and look for the hiking sign by the cave (number 1 on the map above).
Head up into the woods, when you get to the pictured crossing – turn left, continue up the hill and shortly take a sharp right (where there is another of these not so helpful 33 signs) to continue up to the small chapel.
There a bench here and is a nice spot for a rest, plus good boulders for kids to climb on, you can head back now if you just wanted a short hike with small kids.
Otherwise continue on the path marked with the Austrian flag, behind the church (just behind the wooden porch).
This path will take you down around the hill, and along through the woods. Just keep following the Austrian tree marks to keep on the right path. There are a few benches spread out during the whole hike so good places for a breather. But it’s a pretty flat hike (just the first section up to the church is steeper). Lovely views through the trees to the surrounding hills.
Eventually you will reach an intersection, with another map sign. Turn left and this is your return route to the Abbey.