Whatever the season, Lake Ossiach in Carinthia is a perfect getaway for unforgettable holidays in Austria offering versatile watersports activities and stunning Alpine views.
Enjoying its picturesque location alongside the Ossiacher Tauern mountain range, Lake Ossiach has deservedly become one of the most popular destinations for holidays in Austria. Lake Ossiach offers abundant summer and winter activities, amazing panoramic views from Gerlitzen Mountain, and the authentic cultural experience of visiting Carinthia.
Lake Ossiach: let’s get acquainted
In terms of sheer size, Lake Ossiach is the third-largest in Austria, boasting the length of 11 kilometers and reaching the depth of 52 meters. Its two main beaches, Wooden Pier and Sunning Lawn, are extremely popular among the locals and tourists due to the well-developed infrastructure and a plethora of amenities. The main town in the vicinity is Ossiach, whose name the lake bears. It is situated on the eastside of the lake and is destined to be the local hub of summer tourism. The nearest villages, Treffen, Bodensdorf, Sattendorf, Annenheim, and Steindorf, are quiet and charming. They rely on tourism heavily and contribute to the overall international attractiveness of the region. It is a must to explore them and learn the local lifestyles while spending holidays in Austria.
Apart from seeing the nearest settlements, visitors are highly recommended to climb the nearest peaks as well. It is an incomparable feeling to see the breathtaking panorama of the Ossiacher Tauern from Gerlitzen mountain, which is 1,909 m high. Overlooking the mountain ranges, valleys and the tranquil waters of Lake Ossiach from above, you derive harmony and appeasement like nowhere else. This is where you inevitably leave a part of your heart, forever longing to come back.
Lake Ossiach is a year-round family destination
Families with children rate Lake Ossiach extremely high in the list of their preferences and praise it lavishly for accessibility, versatile accommodation options and the long list of activities suitable for people of all ages. Lake Ossiach and its surrounding landscapes make up an internationally acknowledged bike route, and the closest towns and villages are always open to tourists. In summer, Lake Ossiach is a good venue for water sports. In winter, the area turns into a paradise for skiers and snowboarders.
Adult adventure-seekers can enjoy mountain biking, diving, parachuting and paragliding. The nearest mountains, Gerlitzen Mountain in particular, provide a light breeze and ideal conditions for sailing or surfing. Quiet natures will enjoy playing golf, canoeing, or squash. Children will love summer tobogganing and visiting Adventure Park Gerlitzen, where they can enjoy driving mountain karts or try sliding down the piste on an inflatable tire.
What is more important: while resting on the shores of Lake Ossiach, you forget about the bonds and obligations, you relax and refuel your mind with fresh thoughts and your body with vigor and agility.
Exploring the area around Lake Ossiach
When coming to Lake Ossiach, you definitely need a few days to explore the area and get to know the local tastes and traditions. The best thing to do this is on foot or by bicycle, keeping in mind the beneficial effect moderate exercising in the open air has on your body. Within walking distance are all the nearest villages and towns, and even the lake itself, is 11 kilometers long, makes a good distance to cover from one end, where the Tiebel creek flows in, to another, where the Seebach stream flows out to the Drana river. While walking, you will also come across a few natural reserve areas, protected by the state.
Water sports at Lake Ossiach
In summer, the water temperature reaches 28oC at the surface, which is very comfortable for swimming, rowing, diving, sailing, kayaking, surfing, and other forms of active entertainment. The emerald-green waters look so welcoming that many locals and international tourists spend at least a few days at the lake. Even though many beaches belong to hotels, guesthouses, and private households, you can always access Wooden Pier, St. Andrä Gemeindebad, and Sunning Lawn for free.
Up the mountains, we go
If you visit Annenheim village, the most recommended option is not to stop, but to go to the mountains and reach the Kanzelhöhe subpeak. The mountain can be reached by the local cable car, which was built by the engineers of the Bleichert company in the late 1920s. Visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountain ranges.
Let’s go Gerlitzen!
There is always something to do on Gerlitzen mountain. In winter, it is a famous ski destination. This ski resort may as well be called the best winter attraction at Lake Ossiach, which can brag having over 40 kilometers of top-notch pistes and yet another 15 kilometers of ski routes. The mountain is accessed easily due to as many as 15 lifts and cable cars. From above, Gerlitzen mountain looks like a maze of ski routes and pistes of every level of difficulty, which can be comparable to the best ski resort in the Alpine region. When summer comes and the snow melts, Gerlitzen mountain turns into a paradise for hikers, fans of paragliding, climbers, and adventurers. Gerlitzen mountain is often included in the short-list of Austria’s best sports for parasailing and paragliding.
Jump on board!
One of the first things people should do when they come to Lake Ossiach is looking around and find a boat. Taking a boat tour across the lake is the best way to explore the area. Public vessels are available at different locations, so if you hop on a boat, you will very soon reach the neighboring villages and towns to take a glimpse of their attractions. Alternatively, there is a ferry with several docks around the lake. Hiring a private boat for a few hours is yet another option. A boat tour normally lasts about 3 hours.
Freewheel around the lake
Cycling around the lake is one of the most common ways to get acquainted with the waterside towns and villages, not losing touch with nature and still being able to enjoy wonderful panoramas of the lake, the mountains, and the forest. The cycling route extends for about 26 kilometers and will take you to Ossiach Abbey and Landskron Castle, the most outstanding attractions, within a hand’s reach.
Visit the Ossiach Abbey
A trip to Lake Ossiach is difficult to imagine without a quick stop at this Benedictine monastery, which is located along the road between Feldkirchen and Villach. The Abbey faces the lake and gives you a perfect chance to relax, think about life, faith, nature, and eternity. The monastery is no longer active, but it is brought to life annually, when the music festival called Carinthian Summer takes place. This is a great opportunity to listen to the local tunes and motifs and get the spirit of Austria. The festival combines classic and modern music performances that render Austrian music culture in the best possible way. Such is its most impressive part, the Water Music show, a sound installation on the lake involving hundreds of local bands and choirs.
Explore the Landskron Castle
Another attraction on the shores of Lake Ossiach is the ruined Landskron Castle, which offers amazing shows with birds of prey and serves as the center of falconry. Skillful trainers and gorgeous birds will make your day if you plan to attend one of several daily shows in Landskron Castle. Fans of the fauna world may also stop for a quick encounter with Japanese macaques, of which there are 140. Guided tours to their enclosure are available if you wish to get more information about the monkeys, their habits and breeding.
Have fun at the Kletterwald Tree Top Park
Families with kids will admire visiting the Kletterwald Tree Top Park, where the little ones can enjoy climbing or try some basics of parkour. Adventurers of high order will give positive critical acclaim to the best zipline in the area, Flying Fox, which takes you for an adrenaline-filled 90-meter journey.
Tree steps, suspension bridges, slides, climbing walls up to 18 meters high and dozens of high-rope forest stations will help kids and adults have an eventful day. Apart from that, Lake Ossiach is the best site for themed trips, the most famous ones being “Dinner & Crime Thriller” and “Ship & Grill”.
Enjoy a meal overlooking the lake
What can be better than an al fresco dinner at a scenic location? Carinthia has a very distinct gastronomic character, whereas Lake Ossiach serves as a perfect site to bring together the unique taste of the local cuisine and the inexpressible beauty of nature, creating a delightful combination that every tourist will appreciate beyond measure. Recommended are the local delicacies and drinks, such as schnapps. They can be served at waterfront cafes, eateries, and restaurants suited for every individual taste.
Villach: see the best of Carinthia in one town
A few kilometers away from the lake – and you happen to be in Villach, a picturesque town on the Drau river. Despite its size, the town is known for its vibrant life and presents a perfect mix of cultures, benefitting from its proximity to Italy and Slovenia. The highest point in Villach is the 95-meter tower of the Church of St. Jakob, from where you can inspect the historic center and look down on modern architecture and the surrounding panoramic landscapes. Besides, it is advisable to have a mouth-watering lunch in one of the local cafes and visit the local market.
While planning your holidays in Austria, spare a few days for a pitstop at Lake Ossiach. This hidden gem among Austrian lakes will help you relax while having a rest packed with adventures and active pastime.
For a comfortable stay, reserve a room in one of the local hotels, rent an apartment or a room in a guesthouse. Mind that hotel guests can additionally benefit from access to private beaches with all the needed amenities.
As an option, you can address a private hotel or a household, of which there are many. In each of these accommodations, you will be offered excellent service, Austrian hospitality, and useful tips on how to make your encounter with Lake Ossiach unforgettable.
A lot of facilities around Lake Ossiach offer extensive kids programs, themed events, and massive entertainment, ranging from things as simple as table tennis, squash, and beach volleyball to waterskiing, climbing, windsurfing lessons, and fishing masterclasses.
There is a common misconception that Lake Ossiach is less commercialized than the nearby lake Wörthersee and, therefore, underrated by international tourists, who are willing to visit the lakes during their holidays in Austria. This belief is shattered by the growing statistics of visitors to this spectacular destination.
Lake Ossiach benefits from being located off the beaten track. It is a dreamy retreat from the bustle, managing to perfectly preserve its idyllic atmosphere, crystal-clear waters, and the pristine charm of the Gerlitzen mountain range. Outdoor activities offered here are bountiful, and access to them is affordable to every tourist.
Be it winter or summer, Lake Ossiach has a year-round appeal, which makes it an epic place for a few days’ stop.