Klagenfurt & Carinthia Sightseeing Guide

The former Monastery of Maria Wörth is a highlight of Kärnten (Carinthia)

The rural province of Carinthia has two seasons: It is popular in the winter for skiing and in the summer for its scenic lakes and mountaineering opportunities. The population of Carinthia is primarily of Slavonic descent; nevertheless it has a reputation for being particularly rightwing and not in very good terms with its Slovenian minority or Slovenia itself.

The capital Klagenfurt is not very large and suitable for sightseeing at a stopover. The main attractions are the area around the dragon-like Lindwurm statue, the "Neuer Platz". Here you will find the Landhaus, the seat of the Carinthian provincial government. Jörg Haider, Austria′s infamous rightwing populist, was repeatedly elected governor of Carinthia. The city hall is nearby and a variety of old buildings. Stroll the area then go to the cathedral, which has elaborate baroque decorations. Klagenfurt also has a smaller parish church with a high tower.

Carinthia′s main attractions, however, are outside of Klagenfurt. The Lake Wörthersee and the cities of Velden or Wörth are popular holiday resorts in the summer. They can be a bit crowded, but there′s plenty to do in terms of water sports. There is also a famous casino nearby.

Top-10: Best Attractions of Carinthia

1.) Heiligenblut & National Park Hohe Tauern
2.) Velden Casino, Lake Wörthersee & Maria Wörth
3.) Gurk: Romanesque cathedral in pretty surroundings
4.) Friesach: Medieval Town
5.) Bad Kleinkirchheim Spa, ski resort & Nockberge mountains
6.) Burg Hochosterwitz Castle & Magdalensberg (excavations)
7.) Ossiach, Lake Ossiachersee & Landskron Castle
8.) Spittal an der Drau, Medieval town with scenery
9.) Millstatt & Lake Millstättersee
10.) Seeboden: Water sports, hiking, Carinthian cuisine

Daytrip Destinations in rural Carinthia

For excursions in Carinthia, try the ancient market town of Gurk. It has a Romanesque cathedral and a local saint, St. Hemma. Ossiach and Villach are nice towns by a lake and best viewed from Landskron Castle, where people in medieval costumes display how the nobility in the Middle Ages used to hunt: through falconry, a very popular leisure back then.

Today, the birds of prey are impressive to watch and you will learn a bit of history, biology and on local customs - combined with a good day out. More impressive in terms of the building is the Burg Hochosterwitz Castle, which is famous for its long row of gate towers that could be defended one after another. There is a State Park-like reserve (Nationalpark Nockberge) nearby.

A short video from YouTube that might give you an idea of where to go in Klagenfurt. Carinthia's capital has relatively few sights to offer, so day-trips to rural spots is the way forward.

More Sightseeing & Nature Trips

Heiligenblut is a small town that you will probably find on many postcards in Carinthia. Its scenic setting on the outskirts of the Hohe Tauern mountain range and National Park provides the perfect background for the parish church and village. From here you will get access to the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße, the road up to Austria′s highest mountain. This is among the top-attractions of Austria and thus can be crowded in the summer. If you plan to go (and I highly recommend it), expect the top to be quite chilly (it can snow there even in August, when the valleys boil at over 30 degrees Celsius). The other end of the street is in the Salzburg part of the National Park.

Note the valleys of Gailtal and Lesachtal, as well as the Maltatal with Malta, the Rosental and the Lavanttal for more rural attractions. Carinthia has more to offer, you will find many scenic spots: Castles, market towns and villages, lakes and mountains. It is rural, so if you want to go, plan to do sports, hiking and eating rather than excessive sightseeing.

Pretty towns are Gmünd, the medieval Friesach, St Veit an der Glan, Spittal an der Drau, nearby Seeboden and Millstatt, the very popular St Kanzian am Klopeinersee near Völkermarkt, Feldkirchen, Wolfsberg or the county town Hermagor. Note the lakes of Ossiachersee, Millstätter See and Wörther See.

For a showmine and unexpected Tibetan culture, see Hüttenberg and Knappenberg. For further Carinthian villages and towns, see my list of communities in Carinthia, as well as my article on festivals and events in Carinthia. Note also my advice on "Carinthia with Children".

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Sightseeing in other Provinces

Bregenz and Vorarlberg - Innsbruck and Tyrol - Salzburg- Linz & Upper Austria - Salzkammergut - Graz and Styria - Klagenfurt and Carinthia - Wachau and Lower Austria - Vienna - Burgenland

Further Reading

Official website of the Local Tourism Council

Official Website of the Austrian Tourism Council

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Map of Carinthia
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