Klagenfurt is a colourful lakeside town in southern Austria, close to the border of Slovenia.
Sitting on the eastern edge of Lake Wörthersee, there is plenty to see and do here. Despite being quite touristy, rest assured that you can still very easily get ‘off the beaten track’ and find some beautiful places to explore.
Top activities in Klagenfurt
Lake Wörthersee is surrounded by rolling hills and forest – perfect for hiking off the beaten track.
The hikes I did were focused around the eastern shore of the lake; closest to town and most easily and cheaply accessible for me. If you had a car or bike though, exploring further west would be a great choice.
On the north-eastern shore is a small hill called Zillhöhe – from here you have great views of the lake and some benches for relaxing. The best uninterrupted views though are actually from a small grassy area halfway up the hill (search Google Maps for “Wörthersee Rundwanderweg Stempelpunkt 1”).
The most varied and challenging hiking is to be enjoyed from the south-western side of the lake. There are hundreds of trails, all interweaving one another, some steep, some shallow, some rocky and some flat.
My best advice here would be to download and use the Maps.Me app – one of its main features is showing walking trails in a very simple and easy to read format. Using Maps.Me helped me to navigate the otherwise confusing array of trails and successfully find viewpoints such as the one in the picture below (search Maps.Me for “Friedelhöhe”).
Just a note on Maps.Me: you need to download the map of your area before you can use any of the app’s functions (maybe a good idea to use WiFi at your accommodation for this).
Enjoy the scenery from an alternative viewpoint by getting out on the lake. Choose your vehicle and then explore the lake and canal at your leisure (all prices are for 30 minutes);
➲ Stand-up paddle board – €8 (£7.1/US$9.1)
➲ Rowing boat – €5 (£4.5/US$5.7)
➲ Pedalo – €7 (£6.2/US$8)
➲ Electric boat – €10 (£8.9/US$11.4)
You can hire these boats from the pier next to Sunset Bistro Bar. Rental is available from 10am-8pm during peak season (8th Jul – 3rd Sep).
Swimming in the lake was my favourite thing to do in Klagenfurt; the water is so clean and clear that you can easily see your toes whilst treading water – definitely the best lake I’ve ever swam in! Not only that, but the water is also pretty warm (at least during the summer, in winter it snows and the lake can freeze over!).
For me though, the highlight of swimming in lake Wörthersee is the scenery – the views of lush forested hills and lakeside chalets with a beautiful blue sky is almost unbeatable!
Side note: unfortunately, most places around the lake charge you money to use their facilities and be able to swim. However, there are some places where you can enjoy a secluded swim without paying a dime; head to the south side of the canal, close to the Maria Loretto peninsula. Here is a natural river feeding into the lake – along the banks of this small river (before you reach the houses) is the best place I found for free swimming!
If you do pay though, the place that looked best to me was in fact Strandbad Loretto – read on to find out more details.
Hop aboard an iconic ferry and go for a relaxing cruise around Lake Wörthersee. There are multiple ferry stops, connecting the far west shore to Klagenfurt’s east shore. A one-station journey costs €6 (£5.3/US$6.8) whilst a whole day pass costs €15 (£13/US$17). Combination tickets, weekly passes and season passes are also available.
During the summer months, ferries depart from Klagenfurt (easternmost stop) at 8am, 10am, 12noon, 2pm and 4pm. A round-trip journey [from Klagenfurt] to the western shore and back [to Klagenfurt] takes 3.5 hours.
For more information, visit the official Wörthersee ferry website here.
Chilling by lake front
I didn’t actually pay to use any of the recreational areas surrounding Lake Wörthersee, but the one that looked most appealing to me was Strandbad Loretto. It costs €5.9 (£5.2/US$6.7) for an adult day pass which includes use of the facilities: a large grassy area with both shade and sun; showers; toilets; cafe; restaurant and of course the swimming area.
Prices are cheaper for half-day or evening-only sessions. Children under 6 go free. The nearby Strandbad Klagenfurt costs the same but is busier as it’s located on the east shore of the lake, directly where the bus stops you off.
Being so small, there isn’t a lot to do in Klagenfurt town. Here are the main places worth checking out:
➲ Kreuzberglkirche – hilltop church with great views back over the colourful rooftops of Klagenfurt
➲ Stadttheater – beautiful old theatre in the north of the town
➲ Neuer Platz – large central square with unique ‘Lindwurm’ statue
Apart from that, simply wandering around town and appreciating the architecture is a pleasant activity to enjoy.
➲ Minimundus – a theme park of miniature attractions, with world famous sites on a 1:25 scale. Prices and more: www.minimundus.at
➲ Pyramidenkugel – the world’s tallest wooden observation tower. For more info: www.pyramidenkogel.info
➲ Private boat charters – for the ultimate party or family occasion. Enquire here: www.woertherseeschifffahrtcharters.at
Getting around Klagenfurt
Klagenfurt is a small town so you can walk everywhere you need with ease – especially the old inner city which is just 500 metres from one side to the other. It’s also very flat; perfect for wheelchairs, pushchairs and people with walking aids.
To the lake
Local buses are one of the easiest and cheapest ways of reaching Lake Wörthersee from town. Bus number 10 runs between Klagenfurt town centre and the eastern shore of Lake Wörthersee. Single tickets cost €2.2 (£2/US$2.5). Other buses that go towards the lake (but not as directly as number 10) are:
➲ Number 20 (to Leinsdorf)
➲ Number 81 (to the university)
➲ Numbers 60 & 15 (to Klagenfurt West train station)
At 9pm the number 10 buses finish their schedule. After this time, you can use the number 92 bus to travel between town and lake. The number 92 follows a similar route to number 10 and operates every 30 minutes between 9pm-1am.
Hire bicycles from multiple locations across town to enjoy ultimate freedom. Check out NextBike https://www.nextbike.at/en/klagenfurt/information/ for basic level cruiser bikes. Prices start at €1 (£0.9/US$1.1) for 30 minutes or €13 (£12/US$15) for 24 hours.
Eating in Klagenfurt
It’s safe to say that Klagenfurt has its fair share of delicious eateries. From pizza and ice cream to picturesque coffees, you won’t be left disappointed.
For my recommendations, take a read of my dedicated Eating in Klagenfurt article. Here’s a tasty teaser:
My favourite eatery in Klagenfurt is a fusion restaurant called princS (yep, it’s written like that). Serving a combination of Austrian and Italian cuisine, princS seems to be a very popular spot with the locals. It also has a modern bar and an outdoor seating area. I opted for a takeaway pizza and boyyyy was it delicious!