Lake Millstätter See in Carinthia

The Millstätter See is a lake in Austria′s southern-most province of Carinthia. It is situated at an altitude of approximately 588 metres. The Millstätter See lake is some 12 kilometres long and up to 1.5 kilometres wide - which makes it the second-largest lake in Carinthia after Lake Wörthersee. However, since the Millstätter See is up to 141 metres deep, it contains the most water of all lakes in Carinthia. Some nerd calculated the amount to be 1,170 cubic metres and even added this terribly useful piece of information on the respective wikipedia article - which is where I found it when I looked up information on the lake for this article.

There are several significant towns by or near Lake Millstätter See: Millstatt (surprise), famous for its monastery (Stift Millstatt); Seeboden; Döbriach; Pesenthein; and Dellach. The lake developed some 30,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age. According to legend, the lake got its name during the time when the Romans built flourishing towns in Carinthia - derived from "mille statue", a thousand statues. Linguists think that the name has rather derived from "Mils-stadt", which means "town by the river Mils". For more information on the name, see my article on the town of Millstatt.

In the 19th century, Carinthia developed its facilities to accommodate tourism from Vienna. Rich aristocrats fled from the heat of the summer to the lakes of the South; a clever thing to do as everybody will confirm that has ever spent a summer in Vienna. Within a few years, the local villages turned from small agricultural communities to busy towns - at least for the few weeks around in July and August. The second boom period of Carinthia holidays came in the 1950ies and 1960ies, when the Millstätter See was a fashionable destination for the rich and beautiful once again, rivalling the fame of the Wörthersee. Today, the region around Millstätter See is well-known for its water sport opportunities.

Activities, Climate & Environment at Lake Millstätter See

The water flows of the lake are very slow and so the top layer of five to eight metres is usually quite steady during the summer; this makes the Millstätter See the second-warmest lake of Carinthia (again, after the Wörthersee). The water quality is exceptionally high, a result of strict protection measures following environmental problems in the late 1960ies. Today, Lake Millstättersee′s water qualifies as potable. Don′t try it, though, this usually does not refer to the most superficial water levels. Tourists come to the Millstätter See for swimming, windsurfing, sailing or fishing holidays.

Speaking of fishing: This has been a major source of income for the region around the Millstätter See and ceased to be a professional business only a generation or so ago. The town museum of Spittal maintains a branch at the Millstätter See that is dedicated to the local fisheries. You find it in a Rauchstubenhaus, an old farm house from 1638 in the Seeboden bay. In this house, a fisherman could smoke the catch of the day and preserve it this way - "Rauchhaus" means "Smoke House". The museum is now something like the "town museum" for very local history of the Millstätter See. It also displays one of the flat boats that were used for the transportation of timber and other heavy goods. Since around 1870, boats also offered cruises and other leisure trips.

The first little steam boat that pimped the Millstätter See as a travel destination started to operate in 1890. In 1901, a proper company was founded that developed a respectable leisure fleet. Today, the cruises are offered by a private enterprise, after decades of public boating on the Millstätter See. Today, many hotels around Millstätter See invested a great deal of money into so-called "wellness" facilities, modern spas, to supplement the "ordinary water-sports". What was good for the 1950ies might not be sufficient for the 21st century…

Back to: "Carinthia Sightseeing Guide"

Sightseeing by Austrian Province

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

Further Reading

Official Website of the Millstättersee region

Wikipedia on the Millstättersee

Official Website of Carinthia