Visiting Villach, Austria
Hallo friends! Here is a travel guide with information about visiting the Austrian city of Villach in Carinthia. In this post, I will discuss things to do in the city, where to eat and additional information about spending a day or two in Villach.
I have called Villach my home for 9 months now and while the city is not a top tourist destination in Austria, it certainly has its charms. Chances are that if you are in Villach as a tourist, you are probably passing through while traveling to Slovenia or Italy. Villach has been a transportation hub since Roman times and has been host to many a traveler, so welcome!
THINGS TO DO
- Go on a walking tour of the historic city center: the Villach tourism office organizes free walking tours of the Altstadt with information about the history of the city. You can also download the free Villach app and take advantage of the city center’s wifi for a self-paced tour via the app.
- Enjoy the thermal spas at Warmbad: Kärnten Therme thermal spa can easily be reached from downtown by bike or with a short trip on public transport from the city Hauptbahnhof. The naturally occurring hot springs in Villach have been used since Roman times and there are several pools and spa options for a relaxing day.
- Drink a beer (or two) at the Villacher Brauhof: Villach has its own brewery and the Villacher Brauhof is centrally located between the Hauptbahnhof and city center. The house beer is the Villacher Marzen, but I am particularly fond of their Dunkel. On a warm day, I recommend sitting in the outdoor patio area under the trees – perfect!
- Take a hike: Villach is surrounded by beautiful nature trails perfect for an afternoon wander. If a day in the mountains or forest sounds like time well spent to you, check out the Kärnten region Villach app to pick out a trail. The app includes trail head information as well as public transport on how to get there. I highly recommend spending time on the Alpen Adria trail and checking out Naturpark Dobratsch.
- Shop like a local at the Bauernmarkt: there are three farmer’s markets that occur every week in the city center. The Wochenmarkt (weekly farmer’s market) takes place every Wednesday and Saturday in the Markthalle located next to the Drau river. The Biomarkt (organic farmer’s market) occurs every Friday in Hans Gasser Platz. The farmer’s markets run from morning to afternoon and are a great place to get some fresh produce for a picnic and enjoy some regional wine from a local winery.
- Additional Day trips: if you have several days in Villach, I recommend checking out these nearby attractions – the bird show at Landskron Castle, hiking on Naturpark Dobratsch, swimming at the Faakersee, renting a boat at Ossiachersee, or hiking/skiing on Gerlitzen mountain,
Looking for more? The Villach Tourism Office is happy to help. Even though I live here, I still visit if I am looking for something to do or need information on day trips from the city. I know I have mentioned the app several times, but it is actually very helpful for planning your time here.
The tourism office is located next to the Drau bridge on the road that runs between the Hauptbahnhof and the city center (Bahnhofstraße 3, 9500 Villach).
WHERE TO EAT
- Villacher Brauhof: traditional Austrian food and Carinthian specialties, they serve lunch and dinner. I highly recommend their zweibelbrezen (onion pretzel) it is a fantastic snack to accompany a giant beer. The menu is available online, located at Bahnhofstraße 8.
- Moser’s Nudelkuche: if you are visiting Carinthia, you must have the regional dish of käsenudeln. Käsenudeln are giant ravioli filled with farmer’s cheese and herbs. Moser’s Nudelkuche specializes in nudeln and has a wide variety to choose from (such as apple and poppyseed, raspberry, and traditional fleischnudeln). Their restaurant is located a short distance from downtown at Nikolaigasse 33.
- Fleischerei Hartl: this butcher shop has been open since 1926 and is a popular lunch spot with locals. They serve traditional Austrian food (schnitzel, hearty meat soups with dumplings, and roast pork) with great prices. Located next to the Interspar in downtown at Ringmauergasse 10.
- Wochenmarkt: the weekly farmer’s market also has a variety of food stands for a tasty breakfast or lunch. Walk inside the Markthalle and pick something tasty – I recommend a fresh semmel roll with local ham and horseradish from the butcher or a bowl of hot frittatensuppe from one of the bubbling pots at the stalls. Located off of Draulande road by the Drau River.
- Konditorei Rainer: my favorite place to get torten (cake) in Villach and they also serve traditional Austrian food for lunch. Be sure to get a slice of cake from the counter with your meal. Located next to St. Jakob church in downtown at Oberer Kirchenpl. 5.
- Romantik Hotel Post or Hotel Goldenes Lamm: both of these hotels are located right in the city center and have nice outdoor seating April – October. Traditional Austrian food and Italian specialties, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Both are located right in the center of the Altstadt.
- Stern: if you are like, Nah, I’m not interested in Austrian food, I kind of just want something good, then Stern is the place for you. By far the hippest restaurant in Villach, they have had a lot of success and have three locations in the city. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have great beverage options. Their menu is online and they are located in Hans Gasser Platz, Kaiser Josef Plats, and the Atrio shopping mall.
CAFES, BARS, AND QUICK BITES
- Kaffee Kleinfein: my favorite spot in Villach for a cappuccino. The owner is very kind and his sweet golden retriever is always hanging around the cafe. The cafe is located in a small courtyard that is partially hidden from the road but has a nice outdoor patio and excellent ambiance. Serves hot drinks, beer, and breakfast. Located at Lederergasse 17c.
- Drau Cafe: this small stall is located right on the Drau river and serves hot drinks, beer, wine, and schnapps. Once it gets cold, they provide blankets for you to bundle up while enjoying your beverage outside on their benches and lounge chairs. It is right on the river and a perfect place for a lazy afternoon. Located on the Drau promenade around the corner from the Villach Tourism Office.
- Kaffeehaus Herr Vincent: an excellent coffee shop near the city center with hip decor and lots of beverage options. Their hot drink menu is fantastic and they make a mean gin fizz. They also host live music from time to time, so check their Facebook for events. Located by the Rathaus and Park Cafe at Seenußhof 2.
- Bratwurst König: bratwurst stand perfect for a cheap lunch or snack, serves curry wurst, bosna, and bratwurst. Located next to the Drau river at the start of downtown at 3- Draulände 5
- Nightlife: if you are looking to hit up some bars during your stay, I recommend walking around Ledergasse or Kaiser Josef Platz to find a location for the evening. There are lots of small bars in these areas to choose from.
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
- Fasching in February: Villach celebrates the Austrian holiday of Fasching with an annual parade and party. The city gets into carnival mode with costumes, live DJs, and beer stalls downtown. Dates and information can be found on the Villacher Fasching website.
- Kirchtag in August: a week long Austrian folk festival at the beginning of August. Villach proudly boasts that Kirchtag is the largest traditional folk festival in Austria with more than 400,000 visitors over the course of the week. The celebration culminates with the parade and fireworks on the first Saturday of August. Additional information can be found on the Villacher Kirchtag website.
- Harley Davidson European Bike Week in September: every year on the first week of September the city plays hosts to hundreds of motorcyclists. Technically, most of the events take place at nearby Faakersee, but the city comes alive with the sound of motorcycle engines revving throughout the week. The largest parade of Harley-Davidson motorcycles in Europe takes place on Saturday with a massive ride through the Villach Altstadt. More information at European Bike Week.
- Perchtenlauf in November/December: Perchten are wild Pagan spirits that resemble terrifying demons in shaggy furs. Every year there are several processions (Perchtenlauf) in the Carinthian region where the Perchten parade through the streets and frighten onlookers. Beware that Perchten are meant to scare you and typically carry sticks that they hit people with (no joke). Check the Carinthian website for current dates.
- Villacher Advent in November/December: beginning at the end of November there is a Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt) that happens every weekend through December. Hot drinks, sweet treats, and handmade goods are for sale. Up to date information on the Villacher Advent website.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Most shops and stores are closed on Sunday
- Free Wifi in the city center
- Bike rental is available during the summer months. There are lots of beautiful bike trails close to town, so take advantage!
- During the summer there is a Drau River cruise that picks up from the city center.
- During the winter there is a small ice rink set up in front of the Rathaus in downtown.
Well there you have it, lots of information about visiting Villach, Austria. If you have any questions, please contact me – I would be happy to provide some advice from a local!
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