Looking for a trip that promises diversity and a huge selection of local delicacies? Then the Austrian province of Carinthia is perfect for your next holiday!
In this part of the country, you’ll find massive mountains and luscious lakes, all while enjoying weather comparable to that of Italy and Spain ─ at least in the summer! In this article, we list the best destinations to visit in Carinthia, as well as which delicacies you simply must try if you’re to call yourself a true connoisseur of Carinthian cuisine.
Geography of Carinthia
Before we get to the country’s sights, let’s have a quick look at the geography of the area. Carinthia, as Austria’s southernmost province, borders both Slovenia and Italy.
In terms of landscape, Carinthia is quite diverse. Mountain peaks of the Alps, the deeply carved valleys in the north, Lake Wörth in the south, and the rather flat plains of the so-called “Carinthian Basin” around Klagenfurt – this region has it all. Not to mention the river Drava. It not only waters the surrounding meadows and pastures, but also produces 12% of Austria’s electricity through hydroelectric power.
Sights in Carinthia
Like many other places in Austria, Carinthia has numerous medieval castles. While there are many you can visit during your time here, the highlight is Hochosterwitz Castle. Many consider it the most beautiful in Central Europe. Built in 1570, it stands on a 160-meter-high rocky hill. In addition to learning about the Middle Ages, you’ll also enjoy a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside.
After climbing the path to the castle ─ complete with 14 different castle gates ─ a concert or museum visit is a relaxing way to pass the remainder of the day.
Eagle Arena Landskron Castle
For any bird lovers out there, visiting Landskron Castle above Lake Ossiach is a must! Watch the beautiful birds give a 45-minute performance of aerial acrobatics! Over the years, a unique zoo for birds of prey has come to life here. Learn all about eagles, falcons, eagle owls, and other species here!
In addition, the two owners of the zoo are long-time falconers. They’ve made a name for themselves as a “hospital” for injured wild birds of prey. Every year, injured birds, that otherwise would not have survived, are nursed back to health and released again. The nobility of their intentions and the beauty of the creatures makes this zoo a wonderful place to visit.
Klagenfurt, Carinthia’s state capital, lies on the shores of Lake Wörth. Thanks to the lake’s incredible beauty, the city’s significance as the state capital, and the many opportunities this place offers, Klagenfurt is a tourist hotspot. It exudes a certain Renaissance charm. It is, after all, an 800-year-old city, built under the Italian influence. This influence is evident through the numerous restored squares and palaces that retain the style of that time.
The city’s proximity to Lake Wörth makes it a great place for water sports. If you’re a fan of surfing, sailing, water-skiing, or other water activities, Lake Wörth is the right place for you!
Vineyards have a massive foothold here, making the region around Klagenfurt a prime spot for wine tours and tastings. Dining is also a treat, seeing as many of the local restaurants serve an assortment of local wines. If you ask us, a cold glass of white wine on a hot day in Klagenfurt is a wonderful way to cool down. That, or a plunge into the lake!
If you or your travel buddies enjoy reptiles, the capital also features a reptile zoo. See more than 100 different species of snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles up close ─ some in large outdoor enclosures.
Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Carinthia is also known for its incredibly well-travelled panoramic road. The 48-kilometre-long Grossglockner High Alpine Road ─ connecting the provinces of Salzburg and Carinthia ─ offers fantastic panorama views of the Grossglockner Group. You’ll likely catch a glimpse of a cute marmot, a sublime ibex, or even a golden eagle along the way.
For those who prefer to travel on two wheels, you can combine the fun of riding a motorcycle or bicycle with great views thanks to the 36 curves and the altitude difference of 1,800 meters. One million visitors from all over the world seek out this experience every year, so why not join them?
The Cuisine of Carinthia
Carinthian noodles are the most popular and well-known dish of Carinthia’s cuisine. Their name, however, is rather misleading, as they are actually dumplings. What distinguishes this dish is the “artistic” touch used to seal the dumplings. Carinthian noodles are available with a wide variety of fillings such as meat, vegetables, and sweets. The Carinthians have even developed their own word for this closing (“krendeln”), and are scrupulous in making sure that the respective cooks have mastered it before they prepare the dish for visitors.
Many cultures celebrate holidays with certain foods; Carinthia is no exception. If you visit Carinthia at Easter, try the Reindling. This typical Easter pastry is also one of the most popular pastries in general here.
The most popular Reindling consists of a yeast dough filled with raisins, cinnamon and sugar, all glazed with melted butter, more sugar and then baked. This speciality owes its name to the way in which it’s prepared ─ the “Rein”. As with Carinthian noodles, there are several variations of Reindling.
Many credit Italy and Spain for being the origin of bacon and ham, but Carinthia has its own special take on these delicious meats. The air-dried bacon stands out as a delicacy all over the country. This means that the bacon is not hung from the ceiling in some warehouse, but in the open air. This procedure, coupled with the right seasoning, gives the Carinthian bacon its unmistakable smoky, unique flavour. Perfect for enjoying with some bread or as a snack on its own for maximum flavour!
Weddings and other joyous occasions call for Kirchtagssuppe. In English, this translates to “church day soup,” which is prepared with different kinds of meat, eggs, cream, spices and saffron. It owes its nickname “yellow soup” to saffron, which gives the soup its typical yellow colour. We found that the perfect culinary complement to Kirchtagssuppe is a freshly baked piece of bread, from local grain if possible.
The people of Carinthia are known for the joy they find in baking, whether the result be cake, bread, or some other type of pastry. A particular specialty of the area is their Hadn cake. Hadn is characterized by the fact that it is significantly healthier than many other baked goods, such as those made with normal wheat.
This doesn’t mean that it is any less delicious though, seeing as this dessert is a combination of whipped cream, cranberries, and a light, fluffy pastry. The treat is made with buckwheat, making it safe for those who are allergic to gluten, and is a must for all travellers to try while in Carinthia!
Carinthia is a wonderful trip destination if you’re looking for a wide variety of activities and delectable foods to try. Be transported back to the Middle Ages at Hochosterwitz Castle or the Renaissance-style Klagenfurt, or find yourself face to face with impressive and beautiful birds of prey. Carinthia is home to several scenic spots sure to take your breath away. No matter what you choose to fill your days with while on vacation, you won’t go to bed hungry with the wide selection of local dishes. Whether stuffed with Carinthian noodles, Kirchtagssuppe, or Reindling, Carinthia offers plenty of dishes to choose between. So, what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Carinthia now!