Klagenfurt, the capital of the Carinthia region in southern Austria, could not boast a better location. Lying along the shores of Lake Worthesee, it is only a few kilometres away from the Italian and Slovenian borders and this fortunate position has led to the development of a lively international tourism industry.
It is a perfect town for a weekend away from the stresses of everyday life, with a pretty town centre that, while not boasting any famous attractions, will keep you busy for a day or two.
The theme parks in the area and the opportunity to spend hours relaxing and playing on the beach make it an ideal destination for a family holiday, while couples will appreciate the more romantic views of the lake that has captivated many intellectuals and artists over the centuries, including the composer Johannes Brahms.
We said that Klagenfurt is perfect for a weekend, but no one is stopping you from staying longer!
The historic centre of Klagenfurt is very pretty and you can easily get around on foot. Start your exploration at Neuer Platz, the main square, the nerve centre of the city where you will find Klagenfurt’s frightening symbol: the Lindwurm.
Fortunately, this menacing-looking two-legged dragon, ready to fight Hercules in front of him, is harmless: you can take a closer look without fear! This unusual statue is part of a 16th century fountain sculpture complex celebrating a popular town legend.
The Legend of the Klagenfurt Dragon
The original core of Klagenfurt stood on marshy ground where, according to legend, a dragon lived and terrorised the local farmers. Tired of the terror in their land, three boys decided to confront the dragon using a lamb as bait. They succeeded in killing it and received as a gift a castle of which only a tower remains today… in the town’s coat of arms.
After strolling through the Neuer Platz and photographing the dragon statue, visit Landhaus, the seat of the regional parliament: this elegant 16th century palace is still the centre of power in Carinthia today.
Cover your eyes before entering the Hall of Coats of Arms or you might be blinded by the glitter of the golden decorations! There are 665 coats of arms and coats of arms on the walls of the hall, all belonging to dynasties that have made history in the region; the trompe l’oeil frescoes created by Austrian artist Josef Ferdinand Fromiller are also stunning.
After leaving the Landhaus, have a coffee in one of the many cafés with outdoor tables on Alter Platz, the old square, after which you can continue your day with a spot of shopping in the shops in the centre or, depending on the day, in one of the lively city markets.
If you want a panoramic view of the city, climb to the top of the tower of a church whose name is not exactly easy to remember: Stadhauptpfarrkirche St Egyd. Think before you buy your ticket: you will have to climb 225 steep steps.
Here is Klagenfurt’s main attraction: it is the Woerthesee lake, a blue lake surrounded by greenery, just a few kilometres from the city centre. If you don’t have a car, you can reach it by bus or by bicycle along a cycle path beside the Lendl Canal.
In the past, the lake was a source of inspiration for poets and musicians, today it is taken by storm by Austrian families looking for a place in the sun. Its waters are calm and quite warm, which makes it pleasantly swimmable, much to the delight of those who enjoy swimming or boating.
The lake area is equipped with all amenities: you will find bathing establishments that rent deckchairs and umbrellas, jetties, bars and restaurants. The most crowded beach, but also the one with the most facilities, is Strandbad.
In the programme of your weekend or holiday, set aside some time to visit a truly unique museum that finds its rightful place in a country like Austria, a mecca for fans of electronic music.
Founded in 1987, the Eboardmuseum in Klagenfurt exhibits Europe’s largest collection of keyboard musical instruments, comprising more than 1,700 pieces that can be admired, touched, smelled and above all played! The collection, which includes historical pieces such as a Hammond organ from 1934 as well as modern-day instruments, will delight enthusiasts but is also interesting for the merely curious.
Another Klagenfurt museum worth a visit is the Landesmuseum Rudolfinum, dedicated to local history and culture. The highlight of the collection is the medieval Lindwurmschädel, which was used as a model for the city’s iconic dragon head.
Klagenfurt’s tourist fortunes are also linked to its family-friendly attractions: a large green area known as Europapark stretches along the shores of Lake Worthesee and includes theme parks and activities for children.
The most visited attraction is Minimundus, a larger-scale version of the classic theme park with famous miniature attractions, which will take you around the world in one day! You can walk alongside 156 of the world’s most famous buildings perfectly reproduced with 1:25 scale models in lava basalt, marble, sandstone and other original materials.If your son is a Jurassic Park fanatic, take him to Happ’s Reptilienzoo: he won’t find dinosaurs in this reptile house, but he can console himself with over 1000 live reptiles including crocodiles, snakes and other species.
The hotel offer in Klagenfurt is very good, so you can choose from a variety of hotels and guesthouses or if you prefer flats and holiday homes. There is no shortage of campsites in the area if you want a more nature-based holiday.
The city of Klagenfurt is served by an international airport, but in reality only has very few connections to London and Brussels. Alternatively, you can take a flight to Vienna and from there a domestic flight or train to Klagenfurt.
By car you have to allow about 1.5 hours from Graz, 2 hours 40 minutes from Salzburg and 3.5 hours from Vienna.
What's the weather at Klagenfurt? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Klagenfurt for the next few days.