Untouched nature, action-packed snow trends and sheer relaxation – Carinthia offers numerous alternatives to the Alpine skiing winter on the sunny southern side of the Alps.
Enjoying winter with all the senses: Those who are non-skiers or who prefer to spend the coldest season away from the hustle and bustle of the slopes will find a wide range of activities in Carinthia far removed from Alpine sports. What’s on offer ranges from snowshoe hikes through the untouched nature, via relaxing hours at the thermal spa through to a sociable stroll through the festively decorated Carinthian towns and cities.
Holidaymakers can discover the quiet side of the Alpine winter landscape on tours or snowshoe hikes. Professional guides will lead you on routes ranging from easy to challenging, for example in the Hohe Tauern National Park, or in Europe’s most unspoiled valley, the Lesach Valley. Time out in nature is also on offer in the Drau Valley Outdoor Park, where seekers of recuperation will find peace and quiet for themselves on solitary ski tours. While for guests who want to explore the white landscape on horseback, riding stables will organise outings on Haflinger horses.
Taking time out
If you want to warm up and unwind after your exertions in the snow, in Carinthia you have a choice of several thermal spas plus numerous wellness offerings in hotels. These for example offer traditional treatments using typically regional products, such as a pine-scented “Brechlbad” bath, valerian massages or hay baths. The Römerbad Thermal Spa in Bad Kleinkirchheim is known far beyond the border, and guarantees perfect well-being in a Roman ambience on three floors covering an area of over 4,000 square metres. One of the highest thermal spas in Austria and two healing tunnels can be found in Bad Bleiberg. A special highlight in addition is the floating sauna on Lake Pressegger See, where guests can cool off by jumping straight into the cold water. At the Hotel Hochschober on the Turracher Höhe guests can discover balance for body and mind with a heated lake bath, Oriental hammam and the authentic Chinese pagoda right in the heart of the Alps. The Hotel Koller at Lake Millstätter See also invites you to unwind by bathing in the heated lake bath, set against the wintry backdrop.
Looking for adventure
A racy sledging party will reawaken memories of childhood. Hence many holiday spots offer tobogganing tracks, which in many places are illuminated at night. So-called toboggan taxis save the tedious effort of climbing up and bring tobogganers quickly to the top of the hill. There’s also a fast pace at the NTC Fun Sports Park on the Nassfeld, where those who are curious can try out different fun sports such as snow cycling, snow biking or snow scooters. Those who are really daring can push themselves to their limits by ice climbing. Equipped with an ice pick and crampons and led by a professional guide, they can take a tour along frozen waterfalls and gullies. As well as numerous natural climbing regions, such as in the Malta Valley, there are also special ice climbing centres on offer in Carinthia, where beginners can discover this extreme sport for themselves during taster lessons or training weeks.
Gliding over the ice
With more than 200 lakes, Carinthia is a real paradise for ice skaters, players of ice stock sport and ice golfers. A special attraction here is Lake Weissensee, whose six and a half square kilometres make it the largest area of natural ice in Europe. Here every year the “Alternative Dutch 11 Towns Tour” takes place, when more than 5,000 Dutch people come to Carinthia to discover who is the world’s best marathon speed skater. The international ice golf tournament is also legendary, where the frozen lake serves as a golf course and the greens are referred to as “whites”. Fun on the ice is also promised by numerous other activities such as ice sailing, surfing, tennis, hockey and mountain biking on the ice.
Explore the towns
A small detour into some of the towns is well worthwhile especially in the run-up to Christmas, when Klagenfurt, Villach, Velden and Spittal attract you to their traditional Advent markets. Also worth a visit is the new Pörtschach Silent Advent with the Advent village at the lake, or Austria’s highest Advent market in the Petzen ski resort. Many other towns invite you to sociable strolls and shopping. Culture vultures will find a varied theatre and concert programme awaiting them in Carinthia, while those who fancy a game of chance can try their luck in the casino in Velden.