What to Do in Klagenfurt
When one talks about Austria, the most popular cities which spring to mind are Vienna and Salzburg. However, there is one urban town south of Austria which is also worth taking a look at.
On the banks of the Lake Wörthersee and separated from Slovenia by the glorious Karawanken Mountains in the south, Klagenfurt sits at an elevation of 446 metres above sea level and has a population of just over 90,000 inhabitants. Even though it is the capital of the Carinthian region of Austria, the centre of town is relatively small. With just over 120 sq. km, most of the local sights can be achieved in a day on foot; and as most of the inner town is a pedestrianized zone, discovering it on foot is the best way. It is rarely swamped with tourists and lacks the hustle and bustle commonly associated with most major hubs so one has plenty of room to manoeuvre which makes the experience of discovering this little town all the more pleasant.
Klagenfurt was allegedly founded when a couple of brave men slayed a dragon-like creature called the “Lindwurm” which lived in the swamps of Klagenfurt. In front of the Town Hall (Rathaus) in Neuer Platz, a huge fountain has been erected to commemorate this event.
Worth a visit is the Landhaus. Built in 1594, it houses 665 coats of arms of the Carinthian Provincial Estates, Provincial Governors, members of the Cathedral Chapter and Provincial Administrators.
Heiligengesistkirche (Church of the Holy Ghost) was built in 1355 and renovated in 1582. It has a gothic core but has been renovated in Baroque style. For art lovers, try the Provincial Art Gallery in Burggasse and the Diocesan Museum on Domplatz that houses a comprehensive collection of art from the Romans to the late neoclassical period. For the culturally inclined, the Stadttheater (Municipal Theatre) regularly stages plays and musicals for all generations.
Klagenfurt is at its best by the lake. Lake Wörthersee is the largest and warmest alpine lake in the region, stretching from Klagenfurt in the east to Velden in the west. It’s about 20 Km long and about 2 Km wide and attracts as many as 12,000 visitors during the summer months. For the more actively inclined, hire a bike and take a leisurely ride around the lake. You’ll discover many picturesque spots, peaceful villages and frequent opportunities to take a dip in the lake.
If you like miniature models of buildings from all over the world, have a look around Minimundus which is located near the Lake Wörthersee. It has a collection of over 150 models of buildings with architectural significance around the globe.
For great, traditional local food, reserve yourself a table at the “Gasthaus im Landhaushof” locatednext to the Landhaus. In addition to the much beloved Wiener Schnitzel, other local delights include Tafelspitz (boiled beef) and the Kärntner Käsnudel (dumplings stuffed with cheese).
For a night out, there are a plethora of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs to suit everyone. The Bierhaus “Zum Augustin” on Pffarhofgasse has a good selection of home–brewed beers which go down a treat with an order of their homemade Bierbrot (beer bread).
Another great pub is The Claddagh on Pernhartgasse, left of the Town Hall in Neuer Platz. A delightful, cozy Irish pub owned by an honest Irish paddy who pours a decent pint of Guinness. Most weekends the pub hosts a live band which always draws in a lively crowd.
Klagenfurt is the gateway to the Carinthia region of Austria and it is also close to the Italian, Slovenian and German borders, all being easily accessible by car, train and coach. From the main train station, there’s a bus to Venice four times a day and a return ticket will cost 50 euros. The journey takes about 4 hours. Salzburg is easily reachable in 3 hours by train and beyond that is Munich.
The vicinity around Klagenfurt is a magnet for nature lovers and active individuals. For skiers and snowboarders, Gerlitzen in Villach is the best ski resort in the area. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Klagenfurt to Villach. In the summer months, cyclists, ramblers, hikers, mountain and rock climbers all come out to play.
* This is a guest post by Yuki Muraille. Yuki is based in south Austria and travels extensively to beautiful places like Salzburg, Vienna, Graz and Klagenfurt. You can find out more about Yuki from her blog: www.ymuraille.wordpress.com
Photos belong to the author of this article and may not be used without her permission.