Don’t just dream about straying off the beaten path. Make your dreams a reality in a snowy landscape glittering in the mountain sun with crunchy powder under your feet on the wintry south side of the Alps.
Glittering Worlds of Frost
Frosty fun awaits on Lake Weissensee, Austria's largest natural frozen ice surface at 6.5 km2, where the deep-snow winter fun is straight out of a fairy tale. Skating enthusiasts can enjoy the chilly paradise, while beginners can take their first few laps with help from the Natureislaufschule (beginners training) ensuring a safe and leisurely introduction to the sport. The rink is cared for by a team of “Ice Monitors,” which is beneficial for participants in annual Dutch “11 City Tour” event, which attracts 5,000 active Dutch speed skaters to Lake Weissensee every year. Courageous visitors might choose to explore Lake Weissensee from a completely new perspective, with ice diving revealing a crystal clear underwater world with visibility ranging up to 20 meters. Warm up in the igloo on shore where hot drinks and culinary delicacies await you. Lake Turracher See promises skating entertainment and excitement at 1,763 meters above sea level. This year, the lake will host the Ice Polo Trophy for the fourth time, where horse and rider gallop together across the frozen lake, cheered on by DJs and bells.
Novelty on Snowshoes
Satisfaction here is all encompassing. Worries will fade away just as the sun fades behind the mountains. On snowshoes, you’ll make your way step-by-step across the deep snow through Rosental or over the Dobratsch. At the frosty Hohe Tauern National Park, experienced rangers know all the best routes and take guests on tours to track the “Big 5”: the ibex mountain goat, bearded vulture, golden eagle, grouse and chamois. The lunch packages are a real treat, and then head back on a wintry sleigh ride! At Klippitztörl in the Lavanttal region, you’re sure to see everything worthwhile, as they provide a controlled compass system for snowshoe hikers. In addition, you’ll find something for everyone: “Schnuppertouren” tours for beginners, Panoramic Routes for recreational snowshoe-ers and challenging winter routes for enthusiasts. Around Lake Millstätter See you’ll also find picturesque snow scenes waiting to be explored, such as on the Millstätter Alm, or the Mirnock, where you’ll also find cosy seating for alone time. While the clinging of champagne glasses resonates through the starry night, candles are being lit on the tables in the mountain taverns. Bad Kleinkirchheim rewards snowshoe-ers after a three-hour guided hike on the Klammerhütte (at the Feldpannalm) with a hearty grouse ragout from celebrated chef Marco Krainer. For dessert, you’ll get a typical regional specialty of butter from Klaus Kohlweiss dairy infused with poppy seeds, honey and rum and served with Reindling.
Cross-Country Skiing at its Best
Cross-country skiing is a sport ideal for Carinthia. Bad Kleinkirchheim has 42 kilometres of magnificently groomed cross-country skiing trails, while Feld am See attracts visitors with stunning views along the Brennsee. Beginners and experts alike love Lavanttal’s 100 kilometres of gentle sloping cross-country trails, and Katschberg’s 18-Kilometer-Hohenloipe with its unforgettable panoramic views. Villach’s Alpine Arena has 3 kilometres of fully illuminated trails of varying levels of difficulty, and St. Jakob’s Cross Country Training Centre (Langlaufleistungszentrum) is in Rosental. The cross-country ski centres on Weissensee and Pirkdorfersee are where the professionals feel at home.
Ice climbers will enjoy the frozen, light blue glittering playgrounds in Lieser and Maltatal. In Maltatal you’ll find first-class routes like that along the Fallbach, Carinthia’s highest waterfall at 200 meters. Hohe Tauern National Park offers variety for visitors, such as walkable ice canyons, an illuminated climbing tower in Lainach, the ice climbing park in Heiligenblut and climbing opportunities in the Tauern Alpine Outdoor Programs under the guidance of expert mountain and ski guides. Adventurous trendsetters love the Funpark “NTC Blue Day” on Tressdorfer Alm at Nassfeld in Hermagor, where all kinds of equipment can be tried and tested on a whim.
Freedom Above the Clouds
Anyone interested in a ski tour on the Dobratsch, Villach’s lift-free landmark mountain, can leave their problems in the valley. After a challenging ascent, you can refill your tank at the Gipfelhaus (the restaurant at the summit), which offers not only an incredible view of Carinthia but also delicious Carinthian cuisine. For those who just want to hear the rush of the wind in their ears, a paragliding trip in the Gerlitzen Alps is a perfect choice, offering views of snow-covered forests and glittering mountain peaks just on the Austrian borders with Slovenia and Italy. On a Llama Trekking Tour, you’ll travel through the snow of the Gailtaler and Karnischen Alps with the packhorse of the mountains on two-hour, day-long or overnight journeys in harmony with nature.
You’ll also find the more adventurous free-riders enjoying ideal conditions in Carinthia, as in Heiligenblut, where daring visitors who make the 1,300 metre ascent will be met with the facade of Großglockner mountain. Explorers can make new paths all their own on the Ankogel group of mountains, and you’ll find the equipment you could possibly need, including helmet-cameras, in the local mountain village of Mallnitz. A highlight of the guided tour is the descent to Böckstein, which takes you through the Tauernschleuse.