Klagenfurt-based Carinthia (Kärnten in German) is nicknamed the southern, sunny area with 9,636 km2, making it the 5th largest region in Austria. It is a mountainous, hilly province that tourists visit mainly in the summer, as you can bathe in its many lakes and go hiking in its forests.

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Kärnten (Carinthia) was established as a separate duchy in 976. But before 976, the area belonged to the German Bayern region. It became part of Tyrol in the 13th century and later Austria in the middle of the 14th century.

Where is Carinthia?

Carinthia is the southernmost province of Austria. It is bordered by its neighbours East Tyrol, Salzburg, Styria, and Slovenia, with Italy on the south. Its capital, Klagenfurt, can be reached approximately 3 hours from Vienna.

  • Vienna distance: 3.5 hours / 300 km
  • Graz distance: 1.5 hours / 150 km
Map: Klagenfurt - Vienna distance
A total of 3 highways pass through Carinthia. The shortest is the A11 section connecting Villach with Slovenia, which is only 21 km long. The A10 connects it to Salzburg, while the A2 divides the province.
Here, you can see the position of the province in comparison to other Austrian regions.
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Did you know? The Slovenian region, KoroŇ°ka, once belonged to Austria, and the two together formed the historic Carinthia. That is why, when walking near the border, it is typical for the settlements to have two names.

Geographic

In Carinthia, you also find the ranges of the Alps. The Hohe Tauern (High Tauern) is the most famous mountain in the region. The Karavankas (Karawanken) ‚Äď shared with Slovenia ‚Äď are also worth mentioning in the south.

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  • Thanks to the ramifications of the mountain ranges, valleys were formed. The M√∂lltal, Drava, Gail, Rosen, and Lavant valleys are the most famous.
  • Among its waters is the largest lake in the province, the W√∂rthersee, which can be found near Klagenfurt. It is also worth knowing that there are more than 1,200 small and large lakes in the countryside, including several artificial stagnant waters formed by dams. Its most defining river is the Drava.

Its best-known sights are the Grossglockner, with the panoramic road going up to it, and the idyllic settlement called Heiligenblut.

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Tip: Those who like to bathe or hike will have a good time here. The number of lakes in which you can swim is around 200!

Capital

The capital town of Carinthia is the previously mentioned Klagenfurt, which has been officially Klagenfurt am Wörthersee since 2008. Lake Wörth (Wörthersee) is the largest lake in the region, right next to the city. The city lies slightly to the east compared to the province's borders. Its population is approx. one hundred thousand people, and its area is 120 km2. It is Austria's 6th most populous city.

Districts

There are eight districts in Carinthia, of which several were named after important cities. They are Klagenfurt, Villach, Wolfsberg, Spittal an der Drau, Feldkirchen, Sankt Veit, Völkermarkt, and Sankt Andra.

National parks

There is only one national park in Carinthia, the Hohe Tauern ‚ÄĒ sharing it with Salzburg and Tyrol. Of course, there also are several nature parks. These are:

  • Dobratsch Nature Park
  • Nockberge Biorezerv√°tum
  • Weissensee Nature Park
  • Natura 2000 Inner P√∂llatal protected area
Carinthia has historically been a crossroads of cultures and trade routes. The Carniola Gate is a natural mountain pass that has served as a gateway between the Mediterranean and Central Europe for centuries.

Hohe Tauern National Park

In Austria's largest national park, you will find everything that can be found in nature. The protected area in the provinces of Carinthia, Tyrol, and Salzburg promises attractions such as the Krimml waterfall or the Franz Josef Höhe viewpoint. If you are attracted to mountain climbing, you are still in the right place, as the Grossglockner or the Ankogel are also here.

Highest peak: Grossglockner (3798 m)

  • The province's highest point is the 3,798-meter-high Grossglockner (Gro√üglockner), which lies right on the border of Tyrol and Carinthia. It is one of the most challenging climbs in Austria, but many tourists visit it - thanks to the panoramic route open in the summer.
  • The mountain belongs to the Eastern Alps but is located in the central part of the Hohe-Tauern mountain group. Its formation began approximately 100 million years ago, parallel with the Alps folding. As a result, the mountain is mainly composed of crystalline schist, greenschist, and greenstone.
By the way, the province has almost 100 mountain peaks with a height exceeding 3,000 meters.

Hiking and cycling

The hiking trails here do not lead to highly famous sights, but there is still plenty to explore. The tourist trail system, which is several thousand kilometres long, will help you with this. The Alpe-Adria route is best known, which runs from the Grossglockner to Slovenia. In Carinthia, it runs on a total of 43 sections and is 750 km long.

One of the most popular sports, besides hiking, is cycling. The province has roughly 1,300 km of marked bicycle paths and twice as many MTB routes. You can rent electric bicycles in almost every city.

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Nassfeld is full of active vacationers, even in summer.

Flag and crest

  • The flag and crest of Carinthia have three colours: yellow, red, and white. The crest was officially handed over in 1930, and the flag's colours were created later.
  • The oldest known crest of Carinthia featured a black panther, derived from the crest of the Sponheim family, the first dukes of Carinthia. The crests have not changed since then. The helmet, coat of arms, and mantle come from ducal coats of arms. Unfortunately, their origin and reason are not known.

Interesting things

  • Carinthia is often called the "Land of Lakes" due to its abundance of pristine lakes, including Lake W√∂rthersee, Lake Ossiachersee, and Lake Millst√§ttersee. These lakes offer excellent opportunities for swimming, water sports, and relaxation.
  • It is one of the few regions in Austria with a significant Slovene-speaking minority. Slovene and German are recognized as official languages in some areas, and there are bilingual road signs, schools, and cultural institutions.
  • Located in Klagenfurt, Carinthia's capital city, Minimundus is a miniature park with over 150 replicas of famous landmarks worldwide, including the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and the Statue of Liberty.
  • The province is surrounded by the picturesque Austrian Alps, making it a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding in the winter months and hiking and mountain biking in the summer.
  • Carinthian cuisine is influenced by its Alpine location. You can enjoy delicious dishes like "Kasnudeln" (cheese-filled pasta), "Reindling" (a type of sweet yeast cake), and "Gailtaler Speck" (smoked bacon) in the region.
  • Hochosterwitz Castle is an impressive medieval castle perched on a steep hill and is often called the "Austrian Gibraltar." It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and is one of Carinthia's most famous landmarks.
  • This charming lakeside town on Lake W√∂rthersee is a popular tourist destination known for its vibrant summer events, including music festivals, boat races, and water sports competitions.
  • Klagenfurt's city emblem is a dragon-like creature called the "Lindwurm." Legend states that the Lindwurm terrorized the area until local heroes defeated it. You can find statues and representations of the Lindwurm throughout the city.

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