Carinthian Lake Loop

A 340-kilometre cycle tour to the most beautiful lakes in Austria’s southernmost province

The pure joy of cycling: Travelling light by bike through Austria’s sunny south – past blue and turquoise lakes, embedded in the dreamlike hill and mountain landscape on the border to Italy and Slovenia. Depending on time and fitness, the 340-kilometre, varied route can be divided into as many stages as you like. Ideally you should plan at least one week for the entire tour. This leaves enough time to enjoy the warm bathing lakes, the countryside and interesting things along the way. There are many places to stay along the route for cyclists with varied tastes and budgets. The tour is also ideal for e-bikes.

For those who don’t have their own, modern e-bikes with accessories can be hired at 50 hire stations in Carinthia and, if desired, can be returned to a different hire station. Information on “Kärnten rent e bike” here.

One possible place to start the multi-day tour which is shaped like the figure eight is the town of Villach on the River Drau, which is easy to reach by car or by train and is at the geographical centre of Carinthia. The tour leads predominantly along well-signposted cycle paths and includes beautiful sections of the Ciclovia Alpe Adria cycle path and the Drau cycle path. Thanks to the mild climate on the south side of the Alps, the Carinthian Lake Loop can be travelled on from about April to October.

Carinthian Lake Loop Video

1st stage: Villach – Millstatt

67 kilometres, 690 metres altitude difference

The start and end of the Carinthian Lake Loop is the distinctive red Friedensbrücke bridge, which crosses the River Drau in the east of Villach. On a cycle path leading north, after about only five kilometres, you will reach Lake Ossiacher See. With great views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, you will cycle around Lake Ossiacher See anti-clockwise. In Ossiach it’s worth paying a short visit to the impressive abbey with its baroque church from the eleventh century. After circuiting the lake, there is the first longer, uphill stretch. The road winds up 15 kilometres alongside the Afritzer Bach stream to Lake Afritzersee and Lake Feldsee. Then it is on to Radenthein on the eastern shore of Lake Millstätter See and further on via Dellach to Millstatt.

Things to see and do nearby:
• Slow Trail Bleistätter Moor/Lake Ossiacher See
• Kaslabn show dairy in Radenthein
Erstes Kärnten Badehaus spa at Lake Millstätter See

1st stage - Image gallery

2nd stage: Millstatt – Techendorf

49 kilometres, 732 metres altitude difference

Day two of the Carinthian Lake Loop begins leisurely – but over the course of the day includes the most metres in altitude difference of the week. First you roll along the shores of Lake Millstätter See towards Seeboden, then down to the Drautal valley to Spittal. Here, the route leads onto the well-known Drau cycle path, which follows Carinthia’s largest river. At Neuolsach, the route branches off to the west and leads upwards all the way to Zlan and alongside the idyllic Weißenbach stream to Stockenboi. From there it is only another ten kilometres to the eastern shore of picturesque Lake Weissensee. Here, the road ends – and you continue by boat across the fjord-like lake which lies embedded in the mountains. After a 30-minute boat trip to the Ronacherfels landing pier, there are only five wonderful kilometres to complete along the lakeshore to Techendorf.

Things to see and do nearby:
• Ride with the summer cable car up the Goldeck mountain
Mountain bike trails in the Weissensee Nature Park for beginners and advanced bikers
• Magical moment – Pleasure raft on Lake Weissensee
Boat trip on Lake Weissensee

2nd stage - Image gallery

3rd stage: Techendorf – Lake Pressegger See

30 kilometres, 246 metres altitude difference

After two days with a total of more than 1,400 metres altitude difference, the short third stage nearly feels like a half rest day. If it wasn’t for the 1,074 m high Kreuzbergsattel pass. But, because Lake Weissensee already lies at 930 m altitude, the difference is easily managed. And then, after the ascent, it’s a lovely, long downhill stretch through the Gitschtal valley towards Hermagor. From here, the route leads on flat ground along the Gailtal cycle path to Lake Pressegger See. Make sure to leave enough time for a dip in the warm bathing lake!

Things to see and do nearby:
• The regional cuisine and programmes in the first Slow Food Travel Region in the world, e.g. at Lerchenhof Castle or at Bärenwirt in Hermagor
• Action, fun and relaxation directly at the lakeside: Kärntner Erlebnispark adventure park at Lake Pressegger See

3rd stage - Image gallery

4th stage: Lake Pressegger See – Egg am Faaker See

49 kilometres, 295 metres altitude difference

The most uphill stretches of the Carinthian Lake Loop are behind you. Today is a leisurely tour along the Gailtal cycle path on the borders to Italy and Slovenia back towards the east. The crystal clear water of the River Gail murmurs along next to the cycle path, and the views of the striking Dobratsch mountain with its radio tower at the summit are breathtaking. The destination of the day is the turquoise, glistening Lake Faaker See. Initially, the route leads to the southern end with views of the island and its nostalgic hotel, then continues along the eastern shore to Egg am Faaker See.

Things to see and do nearby:
• The citrus garden with around 280 different citrus plants in Faak am See (combination of botanical garden and organic farm)
• Indian Spirit canoe tour through the reeds of Lake Faaker See

4th stage - Image gallery

5th stage: Egg am Faaker See – Sankt Kanzian am Klopeiner See

58 kilometres, 369 metres altitude difference

From the north end of Lake Faaker See, with its spectacular views of the Karawanken mountains and the pyramidal rock cone of the Mittagskogel mountain, the route continues back to the Drautal valley and on to Velden am Wörthersee. On the cycle path on the northern shore of the largest and most well-known lake in Carinthia you pass the lakeside resort of Pörtschach with its pretty villas, palaces and stylish lakeside houses. From the lake promenade in Klagenfurt you cross the provincial capital with its impressive old town. In the afternoon, you will reach the lively village of Sankt Kanzian at Lake Klopeiner See, which is deemed the warmest bathing lake in Europe.

Things to see and do nearby:
• A drink with views of the lake at one of the cafés along the Velden promenade
• Culinary excursion to the Benediktinermarkt marketplace in Klagenfurt
Walderlebniswelt Klopeiner See forest adventure park in St. Kanzian with 75 attractions and high rope course
• Free lake access for a dip in the refreshing water

5th stage - Image gallery

6th stage: Sankt Kanzian am Klopeiner See – Velden am Wörthersee

69 kilometres, 493 metres altitude difference

After a lovely circuit around Lake Klopeiner See, today’s stage has the River Drau in its sights. The route leads predominantly along the famous Drau cycle path, which is one of four cycle routes that was awarded the title ‘ADFC 5-star quality cycle route’ in 2016. Here you can enjoy the relaxed ride along the riverbank – past rocks, castles and reservoirs. In the Rosental hiking region, you will pass through the gunsmith town of Ferlach. In one of the many Drau loops lies the elegant Rosegg Castle with its impressive garden, maze and animal park. From here, it is just a few kilometres to stylish Velden am Wörthersee.

Things to see and do nearby:
• Tscheppaschlucht gorge near Ferlach – a very special natural gem
• Expi – Science Centre full of (physical) experiments in Gotschuchen/St. Margarethen im Rosental
• Lake Wörthersee boat trip and/or excursion to the Pyramidenkogel viewing tower

6th stage - Image gallery

7th stage: Velden am Wörthersee – Villach

18 kilometres, 113 metres altitude difference

Today we say goodbye to the Carinthian lakes. From the lake promenade in Velden, the route leads back to the Drau cycle path, which winds a few more kilometres towards Villach along the northern bank of the river. The Carinthian Lake Loop is completed after 340 kilometres as well as many unforgettable impressions, as it comes to an end at the striking red Friedensbrücke bridge in the east of Villach.

7th stage - Image gallery

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