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Why Carinthia?

From majestic mountains to shimmering lakes, from more beautiful hiking routes than you can shake a stick at to some of the best motorcycling roads in Europe. This is the blend of things which typifies the loveliness of Austria’s most southerly province.

By the same token culture vultures appreciate the varied opportunities offered everywhere by concert halls and theatres and most especially the countless village and town choirs and bands, all amateurs, all amazingly skilled and talented.

The indisputable highlight of the area is the mighty summit of the Großglockner to the west: the highest mountain in Austria is reached via the breathtaking High Alp road right next to it. The medieval castle of Hochosterwitz is also well worth a visit, being a perfect model of an impregnable fortress. But these are just two examples from many.

When was the last time you swam in drinking water?

All visitors are entranced by the unique natural beauty of the landscape, where national parks with their clear waters are as unspoilt as ever. Water sports and bathing are one reason Carinthia has a world-class reputation: the superb quality of the water in its lakes and rivers makes it a first choice for any water sport holiday. If water is your element, you can choose between the reinvigorating crystal-clear waters of a mountain lake or the relaxing tranquillity of the warm bathing lakes . . . either way, you’ll love it. And all this in a climate that is characterised by warm sunny days in summer and bright clear cold days in winter, thanks to its proximity to the Mediterranean sea.

Situated at the heart of Europe and therefore the meeting point for numerous peoples, Austria has always been a melting pot of different cultural influences. Pasta from Italy, Viennese pastries and dreamy imaginative creations are nowadays permanent features of sophisticated Carinthian quality cuisine.

The fayre in the area where Austria, Italy and Slovenia meet is a blend of dishes which represent the best of the Alps and Adria. Carinthia fosters a cuisine notable for its generally light, summery freshness. The delicious fragrance of herbs blends ideally with the taste of freshly-caught fish – pike perch and catfish from large lakes, or trout from the countless mountain streams. Fresh aromatic meat comes from mountain farms and vegetables from verdant fields.

Hunting lends the Carinthian cuisine an added diversity: venison, chamois and many other kinds of game are traditionally served with fresh cranberries (picked on the higher pastures of the Carinthian mountains), chanterelles and ceps from the forests, and full-bodied red wine, (often a well kept Austrian secret!).

A particular indulgence is a plateful of farmhouse produce in a farmhouse or guesthouse offering snacks. Here actual home-produced food arrives on a wooden plate, anything from full-flavoured cheese and smoked sausages and freshly baked bread to fresh apple and pear cider.

Carinthia’s best-known dish is Kasnudel, however. The pasta dough is rolled flat, fashioned into fist-sized pockets and filled with a blend of various delicacies. The classical ”Kasnudel” contain curds and mint, but there are variants with other fillings – meat, or spinach, potatoes and mushrooms, or (in a sweet incarnation) prunes.  Each valley has a slightly different tradition.

Carinthia is often described as the most beautiful province in Austria. The combination of mountains, lakes and towns have inspired many painters and musicians such as Johannes Brahms to incredible creative heights. The unique light, which hints at Mediterranean splendour, bathes the landscape in different shades of softness as the seasons pass. In the spring the .bright pink fruit blossom sparkles in the valleys. On sunny autumn days the woods blaze with seasonal colour alongside alpine meadows, and both compete with the brightness of the blue sky. Winter conjures up a fairy-tale landscape in which the fir trees vanish under a cloak of snow. Summer is perhaps the most beautiful season, when poppies, daisies and wild lilies bloom on the mountain slopes.

Festivals are celebrated everywhere and on warm summer evenings by a lake you get a real sense of Mediterranean wellbeing. But Carinthia doesn’t just lie geographically and climatically at the intersection of three countries. The influence of southern neighbours can also be felt in the culture and local communities. Carinthian people have picked up a love of life and an easy-going temperament from their neighbours. A warm sense of hospitality and open-heartedness ensure that the visitor feels at home right away. Carinthia’s tourism motte is ‘Holiday with Friends’ – and they mean it!

In front of you awe-inspiring mountains rise majestically on the horizon. Carinthia is vitally important as as a hiking and climbing destination, as a base for paragliding and is a superb setting for all sorts of outdoor activities.

Holiday makers are simply spoilt for choice, as they can experience almost every sport in beautiful surroundings. The large bathing lakes offer superb conditions for all sorts of water sports, from splashing about on a lilo to diving, wind-surfing and sailing. Summer water temperatures are often a very pleasant 24 degrees. The crystal clear waters and mountain streams are irresistible to anglers, and local tourist offices can offer advise appropriately. The gorges and rivers of the countryside are ideal for touring, whitewater rafting or pleasure cruising.

Visitors can choose between thrills and relaxation on the land too. Whether they go explore on a motorbike or have a leisurely bicycle ride around a lake, seek excitement through a challenging climb or savour the sweet forest air on a country walk, they can have a great time and please themselves. Thousands of kilometres of footpaths mean that there’s something for everyone.

When it comes to hiking holidays, Carinthia has a wealth of options for holiday makers wanting to enjoy the great outdoors. The beautiful countryside of the mountains, rivers, lakes and forests, offers an unrivalled choice of different locations and, because it is an area designed for hiking holidays, its numerous easy to follow trails through picturesque landscapes guarantee both fun and adventure. So what are you waiting for? Whether you are a beginner or seasoned explorer, pack your bags, get into your walking shoes and discover that the mountains offer unforgettable hiking holidays every step of the way.

Landscapes of great natural beauty, pure mountain air, an extensive and well signposted network of cycle paths, and an excellent infrastructure, – these all make a cycling holiday in Carinthia a first-class experience. If you want to plan a cycling holiday in Europe, then choose this area because it offers an abundance of great cycle routes as well as a variety of accommodation that offers the full back-up – from a repair service, to cycle sheds, to delicious, healthy meals!

Every white-water aficionado dreams of negotiating swirling rapids, gliding beneath overhanging bushes and branches and shooting over waterfalls.The sport’s appeal lies in its direct confrontation with Nature, the roar and thrust of the tumbling water, and the excitement of going to your limits. There’s no reason why your dreams shouldn’t come true – as long as your personal safety is assured. All of Austria’s rafting and canoeing schools have to comply with stringent requirements and ensure that thrills always go hand in hand with safety.

Finally, don’t forget about winter sports, as from December to March everyone is either talking about them or doing them. Lots of lakes regularly freeze over and offer skating and curling. On the slopes of the Karawanken mountains, the Tauern, or Gurk or Gail valley Alps, there are ski runs and tracks for all those wanting an alpine experience: from bobsleigh riders to downhill and cross-country skiers.

Aside from the ski season between December and March, night birds find the greatest variety of evening entertainment in Carinthia’s biggest towns: Klagenfurt and Villach.

Alongside night clubs there are quaint bars where you can meet people in and spend a pleasant evening. You are spoilt for choice between hip themed bars and cosy wine bars, pubs and of course ‘Beisl’, original Austrian bars in which strangers quickly become friends. Around Klagenfurt’s parish square there’s always a pub open. In the summer months night life shifts to the lakes or picturesque castle ruins. The region is famous for its considerable number of top-rate music, theatre and smaller-scale performing arts festivals. The Carinthia summer festivals with classical music in Villach and Ossiach enjoy a worldwide reputation. On the open-air stage of the mountain ruins of Friesach or Finkenstein and on Klagenfurt’s lake stage entertaining plays are put on.

The diversity of events is also evident in the community and church celebrations which every town and village enjoys making their own. As early in the year as February everyone goes to the carnival in Carinthia.The oldest fair is the ‘Wiesenmarket’ in Bleiburg and St Veit, the biggest shindig of the year is the Villach church day in August. In the winter many alpine chalets and valley communities hold Après-Ski-Partys, every village in the ski resort having its own secret formula.

 

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