Twentyfour places in Carinthia that might surprise you

Carinthia/Kärnten/Koroška has lots to offer and a little bit more besides. More and more young people, who want to live, work and study right at the heart of a breathtaking natural environment, in the cultural melting pot between the Alps and Adriatic and in innovative, open surroundings, are discovering the southernmost state in Austria, home to around 560,000 people. Here we introduce you to some of the hot spots waiting to be explored in Carinthia.


Lesachtal

1 – Nature at its best: Lesachtal valley


For everyone who likes to slow things down and take a relaxed approach to life. Lesachtal is the valley in Europe most untouched by man. Here in the south-west of Carinthia at the border with Italy heading towards East Tyrol, stressed minds can fully unwind and find peace and quiet while gazing over the impressive peaks, lush meadows and small villages. Only around 1,300 people live in this remote community. The part of the Lesachtal in East Tyrol became known the world over when a whole three minutes of the James Bond film ”Spectre“ featuring Daniel Craig was shot in Obertilliach in 2015.

Römerbad in Bad Kleinkirchheim

2 – Relax: thermal Roman bath in Bad Kleinkirchheim


Sit back in the bubbling whirlpool of warm thermal water and watch the skiers wind their way down the mountain from the 12,000 m2 thermal bath in Bad Kleinkirchheim. The bath with its impressive architecture is split into two areas. While the thermal springs provide various bathing opportunities, including a large out-door pool for all ages and anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of noise, the sauna area has over 10 saunas and steam baths as well as three levels of pools. The admission charges are reasonable and the baths stay open until 10 pm in the winter.

Nockberge

3 – Rollings hills: Nockberge Mountains


The Nockalmstrasse Road takes you through the Nockberge Mountains, covering 35 kilometres and passing 52 hair pin bends (a toll is charged for this road). It runs from Innerkrems to Reichenau and offers unrivalled views that are sure to impress anyone following you on Instagram. The highest points are the Eisentalhöhe (2,049 m) and the Schiestelscharte (2,027 m). The road is open between May and October. At all other times the only road users are marmots, ibexes and co. Karlbad, one of the last remaining farmers’ bath houses in the eastern Alps, also lies along the Nockalmstrasse. Since the second half of the 17th century, Karlbad has been a spa resort for farmers, hunters and lumberjacks.

Weissensee

4 – Crystal-clear: Lake Weissensee


Many people consider it the most beautiful and most pristine of all the many beautiful and pristine lakes in Carinthia: Lake Weissensee. The lake, which looks like a fjord and remains pleasantly refreshing even in the summer, is a great destination for swimming, ice-skating, diving, surfing, sailing… The crystal-clear turquoise water, where you can see all the way to the bottom in some places, leaves no-one cold. If you enjoy festivals, every July, the idyllic village of Stockenboi on the eastern shore of the lake is home to the cult ”Woodstockenboi“ music festival. The natural arena plays host to hip-hop, rock, pop and electronic sounds.

Kölnbreinsperre

5 – Energy storage: Kölnbrein Dam


Austria’s highest dam, the Kölnbrein Dam, is at the end of the 14.4 kilometre long Malta Hochalmstrasse. The ”Airwalk“ viewing platform, with its breathtaking view of the valley and 200 metres down the wall, is only for those with a good head for heights. There are also guided tours, where you can learn all about the construction of the storage reservoir – one of Austria’s largest energy stores – and see how it works.

Bonsai

6 – Small, silent, strong: bonsai museum


Europe’s largest bonsai museum can be found in the small market town of Seeboden by Lake Millstätter See. The owners of the private museum have dedicated themselves to the Asian art of bonsai and Japanese garden design since 1976. Visitors can wander through the 15,000 square metres of exhibition space and marvel at the bonsai, some of which are more than 100 years old. Günther Klösch and his family also join forces with other experts to run Japanese workshops.

Gurker Dom

7 – Gurk Cathedral


The 12th century Romanesque basilica is one of the most impressive buildings in Carinthia. The main features include the crypt under the church with its 100 pillars and the Lenten cloth dating back to 1458. The Gurk Cathedral treasury houses more than 300 objects. The ten rooms give visitors an insight into religious art of times gone by. What’s more, the Roman Catholic church canonised Hemma from Gurk who was born in around 1000 AD. She is the patron saint of Carinthia and has been buried in the cathedral’s crypt since 1174.

Gmünd

8 – Inspiring creative minds: Gmünd – the artists’ town


These days, all trendy towns have an artistic and creative district, but Carinthia has an entire artists’ town. Gmünd received town privileges in 1346 and after Friesach is the second oldest medieval town in Carinthia. Lots of small workshops and businesses can be found in the idyllic, narrow lanes and on the main square of Gmünd. Here you can buy beautiful handmade products directly from the creators themselves. Every year, art lovers come to the town for an exhibition of internationally renowned artists in Gmünd’s town tower. This small town with a population of 2,500 has yet another surprise up its sleeve: Ferdinand Porsche moved his production facilities to Gmünd between 1945 and 1950; a fact commemorated by a small, yet interesting Porsche museum.

Metnitzer Totentanz

9 – Eerie images: Metnitz’s Dance of Death Museum


People have always been fascinated with death. The tradition of the dance of death started in the 14th century. Artists depicted the influence and power of death in allegoric images in particular. One impressive example of this is the Metnitz Dance of Death, which is on display to the public. The only remaining frescoes in Austria of a dance of death from the 15th century and other medieval images of the dance of death can also be seen. The small museum in the quaint town of Metnitz is stylishly arranged and allows you to step back to another time.

Museum Liaunig

10 – Great art from around the world: Museum Liaunig


Museum Liaunig could easily be in Vienna, Paris or New York. Yet the private art museum of the industrialist Herbert Liaunig is located on Carinthia’s border with Slovenia in Neuhaus/Suha. An extensive collection of Austrian art from 1945 onwards, supplemented by leading representatives of classic modern art and exemplary work by international artists, are on display to the public in a changing programme of exhibitions. The historic collections of the Liaunig family are viewed in contrast to the contemporary art. It isn’t just the contents of the art museum which are inspiring, but the building itself: an impressive piece of architecture in its own right, the building’s interior covers 4,400 square metres, most of which is actually under a knoll.

Werner Berg Museum

11 – An artist’s impression of rural life: Werner Berg Museum


For 50 years, between 1931 and his death in 1981, artist Werner Berg, who originally hailed from Wuppertal, lived in Lower Carinthia. The Bleiburg/Pliberk community on the border with Slovenia have dedicated a museum to him. This houses a permanent exhibition of more than 150 oil paintings, wood-cuts and drawings. Every year it also welcomes special exhibitions of renowned international artists. Many people consider Bleiburg/Pliberk a hidden gem for cultural events in Carinthia, for example, concerts are regularly held at the Breznik guest house, which also brews its own beer.

Planetarium

12 – Stargazing: Planetarium Klagenfurt


Just a 5-minute walk from the main entrance to the university is a great place that may (perhaps) make for an unforgettable date. In the Minimundus miniature park, you can stroll under the Eiffel Tower (smaller than the original one but all the same) without having to fork out the airfare or ramp up your carbon footprint. And in the Klagenfurt Planetarium, you can even gaze romantically towards the heavens and go stargazing during the day. The planetarium puts on various shows, explaining the origins of the universe. Even though the building and vestibule may appear slightly dated; the planetarium’s technology, which projects images onto a huge dome, certainly isn’t. What’s more, the joint ticket option also gains you entry to the Happ reptile zoo next door.

Adlerarena

13 – Kings of the skies: Eagle arena at Castle Landskron


The privately-run Eagle Arena in Castle Landskron near Villach is home to various birds of prey. In a 45-minute show, visitors get to experience for themselves how the animals hunt and live. Experienced falconers work in the Eagle Arena, enabling the birds of prey and owls to live as is appropriate for their species. They are also committed to preserving the diversity of these animals in the region. What’s more, the falconry is included in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.

Pyramidenkogel

14 – A clear overview: Pyramidenkogel tower


Berlin has the TV tower on Alexanderplatz. New York has the Empire State Building. Paris has the Eiffel Tower. All of these offer breathtaking views of vibrant cities. Carinthia’s most important tower, the Pyramidenkogel, isn’t going to be outdone. Standing 920 m tall – the world’s tallest wooden viewing tower, this is an architectonic masterpiece – from the top, you have a 360-degree view of Carinthia and its impressive landscape of lakes around Lake Wörthersee and Keutschach. One of the most state-of-the-art panoramic lifts in Europe will take you to the top (access by stairs is also provided) and a slide installed inside the tower can be used for a quick descent.

Obir Tropfsteinhöhle

15 – Drip, drip, drip: Obir Dripstone Caves


Around 150 years ago, miners searching for lead and zinc came upon the Obir Dripstone Caves. Near Bad Eisenkappel in Lower Carinthia, a bus takes you deep into the caves, where you join a 1.5-hour long tour along an 800 m underground route with plenty to see on the way round, including incredible natural works of art, which have taken 200 million years to form. The caves are at an altitude of more than 1,000 m above sea level. A visit to the dripstone caves is a great idea if you are finding it a bit too hot in the summer: the temperature in both summer and winter is a constant 8 degrees Celsius.

Tscheppaschlucht

16 – In amongst the mountains: Tscheppaschlucht Gorge


The narrow Loibl Valley (which has some very sad episodes in its history) leaves Carinthia heading for Slovenia. At the start of the pass in Lower Loibl is the gateway to the Tscheppaschlucht, which promises a walk in a stunningly beautiful natural environment. It passes waterfalls and rope bridges – the most daring of which is the Teufelsbrücke or Devil’s Bridge. The path uses ladders and steps so walking boots are recommended. Children and dogs should be steady on their feet. Once you reach the end of the walk, a shuttle bus will take you back to your starting point.

Burgbau Friesach | Foto: Burg Friesach Errichtungs-GmbH

17 – Just like the Middle Ages: Friesach Castle construction site


Friesach is the oldest town in Carinthia. The panorama of the medieval town is dominated by three castles. To find out how these castles were constructed centuries ago, a new castle is being built in Friesach using old tools and methods – so there are no engines or electricity, it’s all being done with the power of humans and animals. Only natural building materials, which would have been available at that time, are being used, so that’s timber, stone, lime and water. Anyone interested in the Middle Ages will find this a fascinating construction site and the public are welcome to visit. What’s more, the project is being supervised by historians from the University of Klagenfurt.

Rafting

18 – For adrenalin junkies: rafting and canyoning


The rafting and canyoning opportunities on offer in Carinthia, including those in Mölltal in Flattach or in Obervellach, provide thrilling experiences for anyone who likes their watersports on the wild side. The hard-core outdoor sport has existed here for more than 30 years and vast experience has been gained in that time.

19 – Home-brew: Carinthia’s craft beer breweries


Fifteen years ago, Klaus Feistritzer and Alois Planner started to brew beer in their grandma’s stock pot in Kötschach-Mauthen, at the end of the Gailtal valley. Loncium beer is now considered one of the most superior craft beers in Austria. Loncium, the old Celtic name of the Mauthen district, is available in various guises: from the “normal” classic beer to variants with unusual flavours, the choice is huge. And if you fancy a go yourself, the brewery also runs in-house brewery seminars. The Wimitz brewery in Wimitz, with its unrivalled landscape, is just as successful. This brewery also uses local products.

Burg Glanegg

20 – Carinthia is also home to quality wines: Glanegg Castle


The vineyard run by Franz and Alexander Lassnig lies at the base of Glanegg Castle. It produces Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Weissburgunder, Zweigelt, Donauriesling and Blütenmuskateller. Quality products are often closer to home than you think. Excellent banquets are held in the vineyard’s wine tavern in the summer, where you can sample home-made products, including the local Mangalitza-Speck (a bacon speciality) with its unique taste.

Linsendorfersee

21 – A little gem on the River Drava: Lake Linsendorfersee


Imagine that it’s August. It’s 32 degrees Celsius. Carinthia is teeming with life (including lots of tourists). The car parks around the lakes are all full. And you are looking for that coveted “secluded spot” where you can find some peace and quiet. The place you are looking for is in Lower Carinthia, close to Grafenstein. Just head to Lake Linsendorfersee next to the River Drava. Since it is fed by running water, it is cooler than Carinthia’s other lakes. Just in front of the lake is a mountainous mass, there is a lovely sunbathing area, a small kiosk sells chips, ice cream and beer, and you will find more swans here than people.

Villach

22 – Town on the River Drava: Villach


The second largest town in Carinthia has always been a crossroads. It is the place where both motorways and trains travelling north, south, east and west diverge. The townscape itself is dominated by the River Drava, which meanders through the heart of the town. You will find an inviting selection of small, quality eateries on its banks. There are two major events on Villach’s annual calendar: in February, Villach is consumed by the hustle and bustle of Fasching (carnival) while in August thousands of people visit the town on the Drava for Kirchtag week. Many of the visitors come from nearby Italy to enjoy huge quantities of the comparatively cheaper beer on sale this side of the border. But Villach has much more to offer: an international festival of street art; the small, yet wonderful neuebuehnevillach with its sophisticated theatre performances; or the rocktastic Straight Ahead Festival.

Stift St. Paul

23 – Take some time out: St. Paul’s Abbey


St. Paul’s Abbey in Lavanttal has a history dating back over 900 years, making it one of the oldest Benedictine monasteries in Austria. The complex comprises a Romanesque church at the centre, the abbey museum (home to one of the most important private collections in Austria) and the abbey grammar school with more than 600 pupils. The abbey library is particularly imposing and holds around 70,000 books. It contains around 3,000 manuscripts dating from the 5th century and 800 incunabla, making St. Paul’s the most important collection of books in Austria after the National Library. During the summer and autumn, visitors can also enjoy expertly curated exhibitions.

24 – Dealing with the horrors of history: Peršmanhof


Peršmanhof is located in Bad Eisenkappel. The farm was a base for partisans in the Second World War. Towards the end of the war, around 150 partisans were camped around the farm, waiting for the war to end. Just before then however, on 25 April 1945, a horrendous massacre was carried out by an SS police regiment and eleven civilians were murdered. People today are still shocked that the war crimes have not been punished by the courts set up after the war. A museum dedicated to the stories and resistance of Carinthia’s Slovenes during the period of national socialism continues to commemorate these events.

Our tip: Kärnten Card / Carinthia Card


With the Kärnten Card you can visit a number of attractions free of charge or at a reduced rate! Students who receive a “Studienbeilhilfe” grant, can purchase the Kärnten Card at a discounted price under certain conditions. Further information is available in German at https://www.kaerntencard.at/winter/kaerntner-familienkarten-aktion/.