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Winter vacation in Carinthia

Car-free winter holiday in Carinthia

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An Snow activity program, spread across the most beautiful corners of the sunniest federal state in Austria, without a car. Is that possible? Jakob took the train to Carinthia in winter for Good Travel and reports on his activities there, car-free travel and the winter wonderland of Carinthia.

Sustainably mobile in winter by train

From Berlin to Carinthia with the ICE. After my Summer trip Via Salzburg it is now even more direct: with the new ICE4 train connection you can be there in no timemrise in Munich already in Klagenfurt. There is even a direct connection to and from Cologne

By train to Carinthia

dreaming and eating vegan bolognese, enjoying the train ride

Comfortable, with space to stroll, with 100% green electricity and the landscape passing by, the mountains behind. “But that went quickly” was the summary quote from my travel companion.

I had pre-cooked a daal and then unfortunately forgot it and the Tupperbox when I switched. A fitting opportunity to test the board restaurant.

I have to admit that it was the first time I looked at the DB menu. However, the selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes really blew me away. Chilli Sin Carne, vegan currywurst or wraps – over 50% of the offering is geared towards green and sustainable production. There are also various organic dishes to choose from. I treated myself to a plate of vegan bolognese.

It takes just under 9 1/2 hours by car from Berlin to Klagenfurt. Not counting refueling, traffic jams and breaks. By train it takes about the same time, including transfer time. Meanwhile, we were able to read, work for a while, stare out the window and, after a nap, chat to guests big and small. For family vacationers: Children up to the age of 14 travel free of charge. You save time, money and stress. And a lot of CO2 (here alone Berlin-Munich route).

CO2 compass

And then we were already in Klagenfurt, staying at the Hotel Sandwirth in the heart of Klagenfurt, our hub for winter adventures.

Nassfeld ski paradise

The Snow highlight of the week: skiing on the Nassfeld. For Ski enthusiasts an Muss, because the Nassfeld, known as the “snow hole”, benefits from a microclimate that promotes snow reliability in the ski area due to frequent Adriatic lows from the beginning of December to mid-April. And if help is needed, it will be with 100% green electricity and reservoirs integrated into the natural cycle. Both for the snowmaking systems, supported by snow groomers that measure the snow density, and for the ski lifts. Off we go!

Skiing with green electricity
Winter sports in the Carinthian mountains

Slow Travel

I haven't been on the slopes for a long time. What used to always be part of the annual family vacation has been pushed back as student and work life has set in. Skiing is also becoming more and more expensive, the costs for ski equipment and ski passes have risen sharply (there are for train travelers cheaper and even free rental offers for children). There are also legitimate criticisms surrounding the topic of sustainability. But the feeling of floating high up in the clouds, with the snowy mountain peak panorama in view, the wind roaring around your ears, the skis scraping in the curve. This is really priceless.

The ski regions have been adapting more and more to the criticism surrounding sustainability for years. Equipment is being modernized, the latest technology helps save resources, and water cycles are being integrated into the rhythm of nature. Nassfeld is right in the middle of it all.

There are also alternative winter experiences that interfere less with nature, come closer to the slow travel concept and are still no less adventurous. More on that in a moment.

We got to Nassfeld thanks to them Woerthersee Plus Card Traveled free of charge with the ÖBB S-Bahn (there are different guest cards depending on the region you are staying in). The S-Bahn goes from Klagenfurt directly to Hermagor, and it picked us up from there too free ski shuttle bus and took us directly to the valley station in Tröpolach - without the hassle of parking. We continued by train the next day.

Go on a ski holiday by train

Snowshoe hiking on the Petzen – Slovenia & Carinthia limitless

It doesn't always have to be skis. Petzen was the first region in Carinthia to offer guided snowshoe hikes. Together with our guide Horst, we climbed through the snowy landscape over deep snow and steep slopes without any problems. Today only the easy tour was on the program - and it made me want more. Walking over unprepared terrain is adventurous and dangerous due to avalanches, especially high up on mountain peaks.

Snowshoeing

Unique in the UNESCO Geopark Karavanken, the home region of the Petzen: the proximity and cross-border regional development with Slovenia. Borders are being rethought here, making the Karavanken Geopark stand out both culturally and through unique natural experiences. Like the crazy one, for example Black Hole Bike Trail in Jamnica.

That was enough adrenaline for now. After the end in the panorama restaurant and the Geopark information station, please do something relaxing.

From the mountain to the bathhouse at Lake Klopein

Perfect for the evening program: sauna on the unique Klopeiner Lake. The bathhouse, which opened about a year ago on the warmest swimming lake in Europe, is a short S-Bahn ride (+ GoMobil for picking up directly from the mountain to the train) from the Petzen. So we were able to go straight from snowshoeing to the sauna with a view of the lake.

Bathhouse at Lake Klopein

Dit was also really incredible. The day came to an end with the lake sunset and we were able to recharge our batteries for the last active day, my personal highlight.

There is something meditative about ski tours when the snow crunches all around you. It fluctuates from sh… that's tiring to wow that's cool. The special thing for me is that when you walk up the mountain for a longer period of time, you get into a kind of flow state and that makes me totally happy.

– Helmut, our touring ski guide

Ski touring
Enjoy the view on the ski tour

Touring skis – the sustainable ones Ski alternative

My personal highlight: ski tours on the Innerkrems. I was now able to test out for myself what my dad discovered for himself a long time ago. Arrival again by train and with the train station shuttle directly from the train station to Innerkrems, with which you can cover the last stretch to the mountain at a reduced price. Our ski equipment was conveniently rented from Sport Schiffer and off we went! You get much closer to nature on touring skis. There are no crowds, the cost of the ski pass is eliminated or greatly reduced if you choose a prepared tour in the ski area. A wonderful full-body workout and the feeling of skiing down the mountain you previously climbed is unique. At the same time, I gained respect for mountain sports on the tour.

Also because, as with snowshoeing, we were told about personal experiences of being buried. When ski touring you have to find out more about the weather and be more attentive. Equipment such as a snow shovel, probe and an avalanche search device are essential. And even then you are never completely out of danger. We felt the power and scale of the mountains when we arrived at our mountain peak.

On the top

After we do that 3After sufficiently marveling at the 60 degree mountain panorama, the touring skis were converted into downhill skis. Full of joy, a rare sight stretched out before us: a deserted and untouched ski slope. We created new tracks in the snow, sometimes tumbling, but mostly like that emotional on the mountain, down towards the valley, down the meters in altitude we had previously fought for. You have to do it yourself . experience

untouched ski slope

I've become jealous of Austria these days!
– William, Good Travel travel companion

By train through Carinthia

Quality tourism instead of Mass Tourism

The pride and enthusiasm for Carinthia is great. Understandable. With a unique mountain and lake landscape, proximity to Italy, Slovenia and the sea, there is something for everyone here.

The Tyroleans are now also coming to Carinthia because they are tired of the crowds. Carinthia is less geared towards the masses. One "hidden pearl" in Austria.

During the course of the trip, the conversations with the locals were particularly exciting, from Kärnten Werbe, to regional managers and also Carinthians who came with us or who we were able to win as conversation partners.

Carinthia

With the increasing number of visitors, Carinthia is also moving more and more towards sustainable mobility. There is a growing and partly free mobility offer. There's a problem here and there. And yet locals also use public transport, such as Sabine, our guide Klagenfurt, who has now switched to the bus because it is much more comfortable, faster and cheaper. Matthäus also uses the S-Bahn, actually always, even for ski trips.

Skiing by train – Matthäus from Carinthia reports

Matthäus lives in the Hohe Tauern National Park, in the Mallnitz region, runs a marketing agency and, even during his student days, lived the credo of combining his active lifestyle with the train.

When I go skiing I take the train. My favorite place is the Gerlitzen, where I take the train via Villach directly to the slopes. I'm maybe a few minutes faster by car (probably not due to the search for parking and traffic jams in the end). But I have a great window of time to work on the train, which gives me a lot more.

In his circle of friends, Matthäus is ridiculed for his lifestyle, often as “Eco-dude who arrives by train" designated. Public transport is better accepted in other federal states and is more anchored in society. Matthäus sees this trend also spilling over into Carinthia and is primarily focusing on the railways. Mainly due to the rising fuel prices and the cheaper train services, which are even more attractive for tourists due to the free use of guest cards. But also because you have to make car-free travel as easy as possible.

Carinthia is perfect for train traffic. You can reach almost the entire country by public transport if you make better use of the existing infrastructure and make better use of it and create connections where there are still problems. This has improved greatly in recent years.

End in the organic hotel “the daberer” – a Good Travel accommodation

At the end of the Carinthia trip we have this Good Travel accommodation “der daberer” visited. A family-run place of relaxation and enjoyment for over 100 years, in the first slow food travel region in the world.

The food was incredibly tasty, regional and carefully prepared from morning to evening. The natural smell of wood in the room is just as sweet to me as the spa area. For example the forest pond sauna. Or the natural pond, which really left us speechless.

There was also a hike, straight from the front door through the forest, with lunch prepared by the “daberer” kitchen team in our luggage, up to the Jaukenalm.

One last time hiking on clouds between the mountains of Carinthia.

The Darberer
Breakfast in the darberer
Snow hiking

Conclusion: Car-free to and in Carinthia

Goes? Goes. Deutsche Bahn and OEBB are making Carinthia car-free. The bright red of the OEBB seats burned into my head over the week. No matter whether to Nassfeld, to the Petzen, to the Innerkrems or to many other excursion destinations in Carinthia. You can take the train – comfortable, fast and free.

Traveling with the ÖBB

For the last mile up to the mountain there is a growing range of local transport options, including buses Train station shuttle or over GoMobil.

Even with the Deutsche Bahn it went quickly and without hiccups, both there and back. On the way back we used the time to integrate our experiences, write and marvel at the mountain landscape one last time.

Last year, the offer to travel by train from Germany to Carinthia was made even more attractive. There are now more connections and local offers offering a car-free journey to the most beautiful winter regions in Carinthia make it more convenient, faster and cheaper. Gladly also in Summer.

Finally: If you don't try, nothing will change. All those involved in Carinthia and in car-free mobility know that there is a need for improvement - but we have to provide impetus, together, for the future. Carinthia relies on green - without having to sacrifice adventure and flexibility.

What are you waiting for?

Snow paradise Carinthia

Photos: Jakob Wolski 

Jakob works as a freelance author and cooperation strategist for Good Travel. Moved by his studies in anthropology, Jakob is particularly interested in the social and cultural aspects of sustainable travel and would like to encourage destinations and companies to rethink sustainable tourism in the long term. When Jakob is not working for Good Travel, he is on theater stages or working on social interaction games.