Lake Wörthersee between Klagenfurt and Villach is the warmest Alpine lake in Austria. In addition to bathing fun and water sports, Lake Wörthersee offers visitors a unique flair of relaxation, culture and nightlife with its noble lakeside villas and idyllic villages.
Lake Wörthersee is located in the Klagenfurt Basin in the Austrian province of Carinthia and is one of our top 10 sights in Austria. With an east-west extension of over 16 kilometres and an area of almost 20 square kilometres, it is the largest lake in Carinthia and, despite its great depth of up to 85 metres, also the warmest Alpine lake in Austria.
Its water temperature usually reaches 20°C as early as June and continues to rise to up to 25°C over the summer, making it one of Austria's most popular bathing lakes. A closed ice cover forms rather rarely and only in extremely cold winters - then it is gladly occupied by ice skaters.
Legend of the creation of Lake Wörthersee
According to legend, many centuries ago, where the Wörtersee is today, there was a town with magnificent houses and extremely wealthy inhabitants who enjoyed their high-spirited life in abundance.
One day, before the Easter Vigil, they celebrated a roaring party and danced and made noise through the night. Twice an old man appeared with a barrel under his arm to warn them to turn back and repent, otherwise he would have to open his barrel and great misfortune would befall them.
But they would not listen and continued to drink and bawl. Until, at the stroke of midnight, the sky darkened, rain poured down and they found the barrel open - from it poured an incessant stream of water that engulfed the town and drowned the ungrateful inhabitants.
The palaces are said to still stand in the unfathomable depths of the lake, and on some mystical summer evenings you can hear the ringing and laughter of revelers from the bottom of the lake.
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Islands in Lake Wörthersee
Four islands lie in Lake Wörthersee, the Flower Island (formerly Snake Island), Capuchin Island, Maria Loretto and Maria Wörth. The latter two have since been connected to the mainland by sinking water levels and are now only peninsulas. On Maria Wörth is the famous pilgrimage church with relics from Rome, on Maria Loretto the almost square Maria Loretto Castle can be visited.
With the expansion of the southern railway in the mid-19th century, more and more visitors came to Lake Wörthersee, especially from Vienna, in search of a summer retreat, which gave the area an enormous boost.
Activities on Lake Wörthersee
There are numerous bathingfacilities around Lake Wörthersee. Some examples are the lido in Klagenfurt, the lido on the island of Maria Loretto, and various bathing facilities directly on the lake in the towns of Velden and Pörtschach.
In addition to bathing and swimming fun, water sports are of course not neglected. Sailing, water skiing, rowing, wakeboarding and parasailing are among the most popular activities on the surface of Lake Wörthersee. For the less active, a boat trip on Lake Wörthersee is recommended. This can be done by pedal boat or yacht.
Meeting place for high society
The lakeside promenade of Lake Wörthersee is also something to behold. The climatic health resort of Pörtschach, posh Velden, the setting for the TV series "Ein Schloss am Wörthersee" (A Castle on Lake Wörthersee) and historic Klagenfurt, the capital of Carinthia, have been among the in-destinations in Austria for years. Accordingly, the accommodations and localities are of high quality (and high price), especially directly on the lake.
The presence of the upper class is also emphasised by the large number of lakeside villas. Especially at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Viennese architects built villas and associated boathouses, which are also known as "Wörthersee architecture" from this period.
Events at Lake Wörthersee
But visitors get a lot for their money. In addition to the nightlife around the lake, there is also the "Klangwelle Wörthersee" (Lake Wörthersee sound wave) three times a week, where the lake is set in an atmospheric scene with light and music (rock, pop and classical).
Other events around Lake Wörthersee include the annual Golf GTI meeting in Reifnitz, the beach volleyball Grand Slam tournament in Klagenfurt, the Fête Blanche in Velden and various concerts and musicals on the Klagenfurt lake stage.
Official site of the Wörthersee with detailed information about activities and sightseeing
Boat trip on Lake Wörthersee
The Wörthersee meeting for VW Golf friends