Austrian Facts

The most ancient art treasures have their origin in the Hallstatt period (lead figures found in Frög/Rosegg), but there are also many discoveries and excavations from the period of Celtic settlement near the Magdalensberg mountain and in the surroundings of the Roman city of Virunum in the Zollfeld region. You can admire them in the Federal Carinthian Museum of Klagenfurt.

In numerous churches you will find well preserved Roman reliefs and gravestones.
The Romanesque period (10th - 13th century) was extremely significant for the Church. A good example for the typical Roman column basilica is the Cathedral of Gurk with its medieval fresco cycles on the interior walls (you can also find them in Friesach).
The Gothic period had a big influence on church architecture as well. Huge coloured glass windows set new directions. Beside the Gothic mural paintings (operas created by master Thomas from Villach in Thörl-Maglern and Gerlamoos) the famous panel paintings and carvings of the wing altars reached their perfection (in Bad St. Leonhard, Maria Elend and Maria Gail).
During the 16th century the Italian Renaissance started its influence on castles and palaces with beautiful arcades. The Castle Porcia in Spittal/Drau is one of the best known.
After the Reformation and the Turkish invasions during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Baroque period supported all kinds of art in the whole country. The Emperor, the Church and aristocracy competed with each other for splendid castles, churches and monasteries.
Many Roman-Gothic churches have been embellished with Baroque elements. The most famous Carinthian Baroque painter was Joseph Ferdinand Fromiller.
Magnificent decorated house fronts in Bad St. Leonhard, Feldkirchen and Völkermarkt remind us of the Biedermeier period in the 19th century.


Due to its natural conditions, Carinthia is a country full of climatic contrasts. On the one hand there is the harsh climate of the Hohen Tauern mountains and on the other hand the temperate climate with Mediterranean influence of the lake region. In the Alpine valleys which are protected by high mountains the level of precipitation is generally low. The Alpine main crest divides the country into different weather zones.

The village Ferleiten (1147m), for example, situated in the north of the Tauern mountains has 1285mm precipitation during the whole year, Heiligenblut (1378m) in the south only 859mm. In the farthest south of Carinthia, in the Carnican Alps, the precipitation level is as high as in the north-western edge of the alps (2700 mm/year). The areas of low pressure with humid air in the Mediterranean are responsible for the rain.

In summer the Klagenfurter basin belongs to the Austrian regions with constant summer weather. The high mountains hold back the rain clouds as well as the wind. For this reason the lakes in Carinthia get mixed up less and can gain constantly high water temperatures (25 - 28°C). In fall and winter the mountains and peaks have much more sunshine and clear air (good clear view!) than the valleys and basins that are often covered for days by fog banks. Especially in the Klagenfurt basin this phenomena of different temperatures can be noticed: on the mountains it´s warmer than in the valleys (normally the temperature decreases 1°C per 200 m). In the basin the cold air remains because it is to heavy to rise and continues to cool down. Above this cold air zone, which often gains a height of 1000 m, the air gets warmed by the sun. The consequences regarding the temperature are obvious: the average temperature in January is -4, 8°C in Klagenfurt (445 m), in Heiligenblut (1288 m) -3,6°C.


The forest is living space for several kinds of rodents (hazel mouse, dormouse and squirrel) and game, mostly deer and red deer in Alpine woods. Common predators are foxes, badgers and martens. Polecats, ermines and weasels are rare. The most hunted mammals are hares and rabbits, above 1,300m snow hares. In the high mountains (1,300m ¿ 2,700m) there are also marmots.

A typical cloven-hooved animal in the Alpine region is the chamois, the ibex has been naturalized again. Often you can watch buzzards, hawks and sparrow-hawks circle round, but also some golden eagles brooding near the forest line. On their way to the south wild geese, sea eagles, fish eagles and dwarf eagles are passing.

Carinthian waters are full of fish, mainly trout, pikes, perches, tenches, chars and carps. Nearby the waters ring snakes and cube snakes are living. The big (up to 1,80m long) aesculapius snake came from the Mediterranean (like the sand vipers) and prefers warm places. Cross adders are living all over the country. Adders and vipers are quiet poisonous snakes.

The Alpine salamander likes rain and twilight. Green lizards prefer warm rocks and sunny places.
Most of the insects, the most varied animal species, are strictly protected: Alpine beetles, stag beetles, rhinoceros beetles and butterflies as swallow tails, skulls and mourning cloaks.


Almost 78% of Carinthia consist of forests, meadows and alpine pastures. In the mixed deciduous and coniferous woods beech trees predominate. In the water meadows there are mainly willows and alders. Coniferous woods like spruces and larches preponderate in the Alpine region.

In the Hohe Tauern mountains you will find cembra pines at the forest line. The alpine dwarf pines are typical for the calcareous plateaus. The forest line in the Central Alps is about 2000m altitude, in the Calcareous Alps about 1700m, adjoined by the Alpine pasture area (1500m - 2300m). Here you will find the most varied and protected Alpine flora, like Alpine aster and toadflax, arnica, gentian, globe flower, Alpine primula and also cembra pines, Alpine dwarf pines and larches (up to 2400m).

The Alpine heath lands are full of ling, blueberry, cranberry, all kinds of lichens and, especially, Alpine roses that cover the slopes with a deep red in the early summer time. In the rocky region (2,300m ¿ 2,700m) mosses, lichens and some flowering plants grow: Edelweiss, auricle (strictly protected) and glacier buttercup which is the highest Alpine flowering plant in Europe (it still grows at an altitude of about 2000m - 4000m). A real rarity is the blue-flowered wulfenia carinthiaca, a strictly protected relict of the Nassfeld region.


The federal province Carinthia is Austria´s southern-most province. It is the only one that is located in the south of the main alpine mountain range. In the west it borders on East Tirol, in the north on Salzburg Province and on Styria, in the east on Styria and in the south on Slovenia and Italy.

As Carinthia has an expanse of 9,533 km², it is ranked fifth among the Austrian provinces. Approximately 90,000 of the 550,000 citizens of Carinthia live in Klagenfurt, the provincial capital. The province is divided into the following 8 districts: Feldkirchen, Hermagor, Klagenfurt-Land, St. Veit an der Glan, Spittal an der Drau, Villach-Land, Völkermarkt and Wolfsburg. It is also divided into two cities with their own statutes which are Klagenfurt and Villach as well as into 131 municipalities.

The region Carinthia has deeply fissured rock and is surrounded by mountains: in the west and in the north by the Hohen Tauern mountains and by the Gurktal alps, in the south by the Carnic Alps and the Karawanken mountains and in the east by the Pack and the Koralpe Alps. The main river of Carinthia, the Drau river, runs through the region from the west to the east and divides it into Upper and Lower Carinthia. The most important affluents are: Möll, Lieser, Gail, Gurk and Lavant.

In Carinthia there are 1,270 lakes including the mountain lakes. The largest and most important swimming lakes are the Wörther See lake, the Millstätter See lake, the Ossiacher See lake as well as the Weißensee lake, the Faaker See lake, the Keutschacher See lake and the Klopeiner See lake.
The Hohe Tauern national park and the Nockberge national park as well as the numerous nature reserves which were founded in order to maintain the old cultural areas, the beauty of the landscape and the specialities are also worth mentioning.


Carinthia is covered almost everywhere by the Eastern Alps. The Drautal valley divides the crystalline central Alps with rounded tops in the north of the precipitous Southern Limestone Alps.

The Hohen Tauern mountains count to the central alps and are divided into the following groups: Glockner group, Schober group, Hafner group, Kreuzeck group as well as Ankogel group with Reisseck and Hafner group. In the east of the central Alps the Nockberg mountains are located, also called Gurktal alps, with the Wimitzer and Metnitzer mountains. After them the Lavanttal alps with the Seetal alps, the Saualpe alp, the Stubalpe alp, the Packalpe alp and the Koralpe alp are situated.
The southern Kalk alps between the Drautal valley and the Gailtal valley include the Gailtal alps and the North-Karawanken mountains in the East. The Mesozoic rocks consist mostly of carbonate slabs which are composed of the remains of the skeletons of numerous living things (alga, corals, sponges, micro-organisms).

In the south of the Gailtal valley-Drautal valley line Carinthia is part of the southern alps which comprise the Carnican alps and the Southern Karawanken mountains. Bedded in this mountain landscape the Klagenfurt basin is the largest rift basin of the eastern alps. 2 millions years ago the earth´s crust sank at weak zones of the basin. Enormous masses of debris from the Karawanken mountains which were lifting filled them up. The brown coal of the Rosenbacher coal stratum was formed from the buried trees and the wood accumulations without any air supply. Due to the geologically young consequences of the glacial epochs in the quaternary, Carinthia is rich of lakes.

In the time of the ice ages the Drau glacier reached the Northern parts of Völkermarkt where the vast moraine embankments have been conserved. In the valleys which where formed by the glaciers the first lakes took form.


About 400 BC the Celts come to Carinthia. They interbred with the resident Illyrians and founded the kingdom Noricum with the capital in Magdalensberg about 200 BC. About 15 BC Noricum was annexed by the Roman Empire without any violence. In 45 AD it was transformed into a Roman province. The Romans built Virunum as the center. In the 5th century the Romans were more and more driven out by Teutonic tribes.

In the 6th century Slovenian tribes came in the country and founded the principality Carantania which capital was the Karnburg castle in the Zollfeld area. In the 8th century Carinthia got under the rule of Bavaria and 796 Carinthia got a part of the empire of Charlemagne. 896 Arnulf of Carinthia became the emperor of the Frank empire.

In 976 Carinthia was seperated from Bavaria and got an own dukedom. 1122 - 1269 the Spanheimer from the Rheinpfalz region were the feudal lords of Carinthia. In 1335 Carinthia was connected to Austria. In the 15th and 16th century the country was attacked by the Turks. They raided and destroyed many villages. The new religion which was disseminated by Luther in the 16th century was oppressed during the counter-reformation and Protestant citizens were driven away. 1797 - 1813 the country was occupied by Napoleonic troops. The revolutionary year 1848 also had negative consequences for the mining and the iron industry in Carinthia.

After the First World War the peace treaty of St. Germain (1918) established the connection of the Kanaltal valley, where Austrians and Slovenians lived, to Italy. The South-Eastern part of Carinthia where many different languages are spoken continued to remain to Austria after a plebiscite in the year 1920. In 1938 Carinthia together with Austria became part of the German Reich. After 1945 Carinthia was occupied by the British troops. The international treaty of 1955 guaranteed once again the frontiers of 1920.


The basis of the Carinthian population are the Bavarians, but Slaves and Celto-romans have also left their traces. Before the Bavarians came to Carinthia, Slavic tribes had settled here - many town names still prove this fact.

In the area south of the river Drau a Slovenian minority is found. In the State Treaty of 1955 the Slovenes gained a number of rights, among them bilingual education and bilingual roadsigns. Outside the family Slovenic is rarely heard, yet other features, like traditional costumes, customs and songs keep the culture alive.


Visitor Information

The Austrian hotel classification scheme is a rating based on stars. Accommodations are awarded a rating from 1 to 5 stars, based primarily on facilities, amenities, maintenance and cleanliness.

***** International standard establishments offering superior appointments, furnishings and décor with an extensive range of first class guest services. A number and variety of room styles and/or suites available. Concierge services available as well as a dedicated business center and conference facilities.

**** Exceptionally well appointed establishments with high quality furnishings and offering a high degree of comfort. High standard of presentation and guest services provided.

*** Well appointed establishments offering a comfortable standard of accommodation, with above average furnishings and floor coverings.

** Well maintained establishments offering an average standard of accommodation with average furnishings, bedding and floor coverings

* Establishments offering a basic standard of accommodation. Simply furnished.


Klagenfurt has Austria´s southernmost international airport.
Klagenfurt airport is easily accessible via the A2 Süd autobahn and the Südbahn train.

There are several flights per day to/from Vienna, Frankfurt and Zurich.
Destinations-Management GmbH
A - 9020 Flughafen Klagenfurt

Phone: +43 463 41500-530, Fax. +43 463 41500-533


Mountain rescue emergency call: 140

paragliding - Kaernten

In Austria, pilots must hold a character reference and a student pilot certificate and a medical certificate, which must be obtained from an designated medical examiner.

Age requirements:
16 years for gliders, hang gliders and paragliders; 17 years for airplanes, balloons and parachutes.

Due to the successful harmonization of Austrian and German aviation rules, all licenses and certificates are mutually accepted. The same applies for Switzerland.


Breakdown service (0 - 24 h):

ARBÖ: 123

ÖAMTC: 120

ÖAMTC Carinthia:

Klagenfurt: +43 463 32 5 23-12 or 13
Feldkirchen: +43 4276 5735
Hermagor: +43 4282 2795
St. Veit: +43 4212 2597
Spittal: +43 4762 4020-0
Villach: +43 4242 34200
Völkermarkt: +43 4232 238
Wolfsberg: +43 4252 52790

ARBÖ Carinthia:

Klagenfurt: +43 463 23448
Feldkirchen: +43 4276 7423
Radenthein: +43 4246 2244
St. Veit: +43 4212 5560
Spittal: +43 4762 3000
Villach: +43 4242 32333
Völkermarkt: +43 4232 8240
Wolfsberg: +43 4352 3110


In January 2002, the Austrian Shilling was replaced by the Euro.

The official fixed exchange rate as set by the European Central Bank is ATS 13.7603 for Euro 1.00.
The new currency is the Euro (€).
There are 100 cent to the Euro. Banknotes come in denomination of € 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500. There are coins to the value of 1 and 2 Euro, then 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents.

EuroCheques are no longer accepted in Austria. All major travelers cheques are equally widely accepted.

ATMs are accessible 24-hours a day. ATMs are linked up internationally and have English instructions. Daily withdrawal limit: Euro 400.


Austria is a member of the European Union.

Under the Single Market arrangements, if you are travelling to Austria directly from another EU country, you do not need to go through a Red or Green channel.
Duty free allowances on goods bought within the EU ceased on 1 July 1999.
You can buy as much as you want to bring back from Austria provided you can prove that it is for personal, rather than commercial use. Acceptable amounts for personal consumption:
Tobacco products: 800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos, 200 cigars, 1kg of smoking tobacco Alcoholic drinks: 10 liters of spirits, 20 liters of fortified wine, 90 liters of wine and 110 liters of beer.
NB: Passengers under 17 are not entitled to bring in alcoholic drinks or tobacco goods.
Value Added Tax is charged on most goods bought in shops in Austria and obtaining relief from VAT can save you money.

NB: Not all shops operate the Retail Export Scheme, and those that do often set a minimum purchase level.

The appropriate form (U34) is completed in full at the time of purchase. You must present the form to Customs at the final point of departure from the EU and have your goods available for inspection.

NB: Visitors leaving Austria for a final destination within the EU are not eligible to receive VAT refunds under the scheme.


The traditional Carinthian cuisine is plane and hearty and is deeply rooted with the country´s history. In the old days, farmers were kept in bondage and had to hand over all meat to the feudal lords. For their own consumption there were left the innards, some dairy products and fruit.

"Maischl": a stuffing made from innards, brain and barley

"Kärntner Kasnudel": pasta pouches stuffed with potatoes, curd seasoned with fresh mint

"Ritschert": stew from pearl barley, beans, cured ham, parsley

"Frigga" is made from cured ham, cheese, polenta and cooked slowly in a heavy cast-iron pan

"Reindling": a kind of yeast cake made with melted butter, raisins, cinnamon and nuts


When entering Austria, dogs and cats need a veterinarian health certificate and proof of effective rabies vaccination. The vaccination certificate has to be issued at least 30 days before entry into Austria and may not be older than 1 year.

Many animal and plants species are endangered. Please see addendum A - D of the EC´s paper on the protection of endangered species. Rules and regulations on the import of endangered plants and animals vary greatly from country to country.


Carinthia´s official language is German.

3.1 % of Carinthia´s population are of Slovenian origin and have their own culture and language.


Hospital Treatment

Out-patient treatment can be obtained in hospital casualty wards. For in-patient treatment, a doctor will normally refer you to a public hospital, where you must present an admission voucher provided by the doctor. In an emergency, give your passport to the hospital administration which will then confirm with the Insurance Office that the costs of standard class treatment will be met. A small daily charge will be made for each of the first 28 days in hospital.
If you are treated privately, whether at your own request or because of an emergency, you may be entitled to a refund from the Regional Health Insurance Office of special amounts which vary from hospital to hospital.

For EEA nationals, an E111 is required. If you consult a private doctor, you may receive a refund for part of the costs but not for the private fee.


Mon - Fri from 8am - noon and 2pm - 6pm, Sat from 8am - noon. A notice is put up at every pharmacy about night, weekend and holiday shifts.


Speed limits for cars and motorcycles:
Country roads: 100 km/h
Autobahn: 130 km/h
Towns: 50 km/h

Speed limits for cars towing a caravan or trailer (up to 750 kg) and trucks up to a total weight of 3,5t):
Towns: 50 km/h
Autobahn and country roads: 100 km/h

Speed limits for coaches:
Towns: 50 km/h
Country roads: 80 km/h
Autobahn: 100 km/h (90 km/h from 10pm and 5am on autobahns with a ban on night time driving).

Drunk driving:
The legal limit for blood alcohol is 0.05 BAC. Fines for violating this limit range from EURO 218 - 3634 and result in the suspension of the drivers license.

Mountain roads are often single-lane, full of bends and require good driving skills. In winter, some minor mountain passes are blocked by snow. Open throughout the year are: Brennerpass, Fernpass, Reschenpass, Arlbergpass. Carrying snow chains in winter is highly recommended and may be compulsory in some areas.


1 January: New Year´s Day
6 January: Epiphany
March/April: Easter Monday
1 May: Labor Day
May/June: Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Corpus Christi
15 August: Assumption
26 October: National Day
1 November: All Saints´ Day
8 December: Immaculate Conception
25 December: Christmas Day
26 December: St. Stephen´s Day

School holidays:
Christmas (2 weeks)
February (1 week vacation)
19 March (Josefitag-regional holiday)
Easter:1 week)
July/August/beginning of September: 8 weeks
2 November: All Souls´ Day


Mountain rescue: 140

Ambulance/emergency helicopter: 144

Fire brigade: 122

Police: 133

ARBÖ: 123

ÖAMTC: 120


Local crafts such as pottery (Griffner or Hüttenberger Keramik), woodcarvings, painted glassware, embroideries and national costumes are popular souvenirs.

Other souvenirs include honey products (honey, schnapps, spirits (Jesche-Winklern distillery), propolis from Kirschentheuer), herbal products (bath oils, herbal bags, etc.).


Post office hours:
8am - noon + 2pm - 6pm; a few main post offices in big cities are open 24 hours.

Letter postage up to 2kg:
Within Austria: Euro 0.51 - 3.27
Europe: priority: Euro 0.51 - 18.17; non-priority: 0.73 - 10.17
Worldwide: priority: Euro 1.09 - 32.70; non-priority: 1.02 - 18.17
Postcards: 0.51

Parcels up to 31.5kg:
Within Austria: Euro 3.56 - 12.72
Worldwide: basic price is Euro 10.90 per kg.
Surcharges per kg vary according to zones and range from Euro 0.73 - 6.54.

Phone calls within Austria are graduated and cheapest between 8pm - 6am and on weekends. Public pay phones accept coins of 10, 20 and 50 Cent, 1 and 2 Euro.

Euro 3.60 and Euro 6.90 phone cards are available at post office.

International access number from Austria to: Netherlands: 0031, Italy: 0039, Switzerland: 0041, France: 0033, Great Britain: 0044

International access number for Austria from Germany, Italy, Switzerland etc.: 0043
To direct-dial abroad, first phone the overseas access code (00), then the appropriate country code, then the relevant area code minus the initial zero, and finally the subscriber number.

Directory of phone numbers:
Austria and Germany: 11811
Foreign countries (minus Germany): 11812


A general charge for using Austrian motorways was introduced in 1997.

Toll discs are available at: ADAC, ARBÖ, ÖAMTC, tobacconists, gas stations
Toll information


Most of Carinthia´s traditions and customs are deeply rooted in the country´s history. Many myths and customs date back to heathen times and blended with Christian traditions later on.

Most striking are the many wayside shrines which the walker will come across at every turn. Supposedly there are 1,500 of them.

Some of the most popular traditions include the following:
"Kufenstechen": every Whit Monday in Feistritz a barrel is attached to a head-high pole. Men on horses have to ride past and try to shatter it with a mace.
"Kranzlreiten": traditional horseriding competition in Weitensfeld. On Whit Monday three courageous men race each other on the town square. The winner is rewarded with a kiss from the wooden virgin.
"Reiftanz" takes place in Hüttenberg on Trinity Sunday and symbolizes the 2,000 year old history of Noric Iron.
"Vierbergelauf": the pilgrimage across four mountains on "Dreinagel" day (14 days after Easter) is one of Carinthia´s most important traditions. The pilgrimage takes 17 hours and covers a distance of 50km across four holy mountains: Magdalensberg, Ulrichsberg, Veitsberg and Lorenziberg.


End of May to mid September is best time for swimming, whereas September and October are best for hiking. Winter sports enthusiasts will find the best skiing conditions from end of December to end of March.

Carinthia gets the most sunshine of all Austria. More than 200 warm lakes as well a mild climate give Carinthia a Mediterranean feel.


No health immunizations are required for entry to Austria, unless you are coming from an infected area.

Ticks might be a problem in forested areas. They are usually found below 1,200m in undergrowth at the forest edge or beside walking tracks. A small proportion are carriers of bacterial and viral encephalitis. If you plan to spend a lot of time in forested areas, you might consider an encephalitis immunization.


Motorboating on Carinthian lakes:
The federal law on motorboating
was tightened in Carinthia:

All Carinthian boating licenses have been given away. New boating licenses are only available if already existing ones were returned. This has to be settled among boat owners themselves and is not regulated by law. For detailed information please contact Mr. Kofler of the Carinthian government.
Phone: +43 463/536-0

5 HP inflatables/rubber dinghies
Admitted on the river Drau. Please register with the Carinthian government at +43 463/536-0

Sailing & windsurfing
Millstätter See, Weissensee, Faaker See, Wörthersee, Ossiacher See and all other major lakes

Rafting & canoeing
Möll, Gail, Lieser, Gurk, Drau