The second largest city of Carinthia, this city located on the Drau River has been a historically important junction between the Alps and southern Austria. Although it’s not a very picturesque city, Villach is a lively and liveable city with a carnival broadcast on public television every year. It also has roots in the Roman times, when it was called Santicum. Its location also makes it the perfect base from which to explore the spectacular Alpe-Adria area and many top-rated ski resorts in the area.
Things to do
If you want to learn more about the history of Villach, make sure to visit Museum der Stadt Villach (Museum of the City of Villach). This museum covers local history, medieval art, and archaeology, and occasionally hosts special exhibitions.
Relief Von Kärnten is a huge relief model of Carinthia. It’s set in the Schillerpark, south of the Old Town. Exploring the entire region just through the model is sure to make you want to explore it full-size as well.
Car enthusiasts will appreciate the Villach Automobile Museum. Located 3 km outside town, the museum focuses on icons of everyday motoring, such as BMW Isetta, Fiat Topolino, and more than 200 others. You can take the bus 5179 from the train station to Zauchen (Bundestrasse stop) if you want to visit it.
Villach houses several fine old churches, but the most impressive one is the Holy Cross Church. This coral pink building was constructed in the 18th century and is popular among photography enthusiasts. The church’s attractive interior includes stunning frescoes in the vaults, which were added in the 1960s.
The Parish Church of St Jakob is a three-aisled Gothic church. The splendid baroque canopied altar highlights the interior with its large Gothic crucifix along with the huge Baroque fresco of St Christopher. Some of the oldest artefacts you can find there are a stone pulpit from 1555 and Gothic choir stalls and font from 1464. Climb the church tower to see the enchanting view of the town.
The Parish Church of St Martin with its Baroque high altar with a Late Gothic Madonna and the Parish Church of St Kreuz with its unusual three-story façade are also worth mentioning and seeing.
Castles and ZOOs
Situated between the Ossiacher See and Villach, the castle ruins of Burg Landskron house the impressive 40-minute spectacle with falcons, Adler Flugschau. You can also find the Affenberg ZOO here – this fun family attraction can be enjoyed as part of an informative guided tour. Learn about monkeys kept here and the care they need and interact with them.
Pay a visit to the Rosegg ZOO and take a look at its numerous collections of exotic and domestic creatures before enjoying fun activities such as the labyrinth and the adventure playground.
Another castle worth exploring is the 12th-century Finkelstein Castle which overlooks the nearby Lake Faak. Now almost entirely in ruins, this old fortress serves as a spectacular backdrop for the Burgarena, the beautiful amphitheatre used for concerts and theatrical performances.
Lake Faak is just 7 km southeast of Villach at the foot of Mittagskogel. It’s notable for its crystal-clear turquoise waters which drain into the River Gail. Motor boats aren’t allowed on the lake, which makes it perfect kayaking, canoeing, fishing, sailing, and windsurfing. Take up some of the popular activities around the lake such as horseback riding, climbing, cycling, and walking, or sunbathe on the shore during the summer.
Another beautiful stretch of water worth visiting is the Lake Ossiach. Just 10 km northeast of Villach, this lake is surrounded by wooded hillsides and mountainous peaks and has long been a popular holiday spot. Go rowing, water skiing, sailing, and windsurfing on the lake, or explore the local area on foot or while cycling. Pay a visit to numerous quaint villages and enjoy some good food while there.
If you want to discover what kinds of birds live near Villach, make sure to go birdwatching in lead meadow Moor. You will pass an observation tower on this short trip, so make sure to climb it and observe your surroundings. With a little luck, you might also catch a glimpse of the rare kingfishers.
Top places to eat
If you want to try something local, you can go to Romantik Restaurant Post – the restaurant serves well-prepared regional specialties in a cosy and intimate atmosphere. If you want something more international, make sure to go to Stern. Its specialty is steak which you get by filling out a menu sheet.
Top places to sleep
Villach offers an assortment of different accommodation – all you need is to know how you want to spend your nights in this city.
The centre of Villach is a 10-minute walk from the Jugend- und Familiengästehaus, which offers simply furnished rooms. Breakfast and half-board are available, and at a surcharge, a sauna can be used.More on Hostel
B & B
Pension Popotnik is situated in the village centre of Maria Gail, 3 km from the village centre of Villach, a 15-minute drive from the Gerlitz Ski Area and a 5-minute drive from Lake Faaker. Wi-Fi and private parking are available free of charge.More on B&B
Hotel Goldenes Lamm is located directly on the main square in the centre of Villach. It offers free parking and free Wi-Fi access in the entire building.More on Hotel
Villach is just a 30-minute drive (or an hour by rail) from the Klagenfurt Airport. Since it’s quite a small town, you can easily get around on foot or rent a bike. Taxis can be found near the railway station and in the centre of the city. You can also travel around by bus. A single trip will cost you 2.10€, but you can also get a day pass which is 4.80€, or a weekly pass which is 14.50€.