A cycle ride around Lake Wörthersee

Birgit Stegbauer


A classic amongst bike trips: the ride around Lake Wörthersee. The 39-km long bike trail of the R4 is neither a great challenge to the biker nor does it promise pure enjoyment of nature. However, you will be able to pass the famous landmarks of Lake Wörthersee, meet numerous examples of historic and modern architecture, especially along the north shore of Lake Wörthersee, and take a refreshing bathe in the lake in between.


Lake Wörthersee is Carinthia's largest lake and probably Carinthia's most famous summer tourist attraction. Tourism began in 1864, when the Südbahn ("South Railway") between Vienna and Trieste opened - with stations at Lake Wörthersee. Suddenly a building boom started. Since then it has attracted a predominantly wealthy clientele, who come to make real their dreams of owning a perfect and grand summer home. The villas are often inhabited only during the summer months, a common feature shared by all being the relationship between water and nature. Sometimes the bike trail allows views of the villas.


Of course, you can start your ride along the R4 wherever you like, it's a round-trip. The web-link I chose starts the trail at Velden, at the famous castle Schloss Velden. Schloss Velden is a Renaissance building with four corner towers, erected around the year 1590 by Bartholomäus Khevenhüller. In 1762 the castle burned down almost completely and lay in decay until its re-construction from the original construction plans in 1890 by the architect Wilhelm Hess. Since then the castle has served as a hotel with a sometimes eventful history - continuing right up to the present day. The German TV-series "Ein Schloss am Wörthersee" catapulted Schloss Velden to star-like fame.


First you ride along the southern shore of Lake Wörthersee. Passing Auen and Dellach you'll arrive at the peninsula of Maria Wörth with its two landmark churches. St. Mary's Church was a centre for the mission for the conversion of the pagan from the 9th century onwards. The second, smaller church next to it - the Rosary Church - was erected in around 1150. Both churches caught fire in 1339 and were subsequently reconstructed in the gothic style. The trail continues via Reifnitz and Sekirn to Maiernigg, where composer Gustav Mahler spent many summers.


Once you reach the Klagenfurt shoreline of the lake, you have half of the round-trip behind you. If you want to stop off now, I recommend the idyllic and family friendly private beach Loretto. Loretto is situated on the same peninsula where the counts of Orsini-Rosenberg built a castle in the 18th century over the remains of a burnt down castle dating back to the year 1652. The place was originally an island. Only later, as a result of fillings and silting-ups did it become a peninsula. Shortly after Loretto is another beach resort, Strandbad Klagenfurt, Lake Wörthersee's largest lido.


Now the trail takes you along the northern shore back to Velden. Passing rowing clubs and the Schrotturm you cycle through Krumpendorf to the spa village of Pörtschach. Nowhere at Lake Wörthersee will you find more examples of the so-called Wörthersee-architecture then here at Pörtschach. This style dominated the development of the lake area from 1864 until 1938. It is a regional variant of historicism, a cocktail of different styles, where influences from Art Nouveau mix with elements from Baroque, Art Nouveau and Alpine style. Inseparably linked to the Wörthersee architecture are the buildings created by Franz Baumgartner (1876-1946), an architect who worked in Klagenfurt from 1908. In 1925 he also designed the hydro-electric power plant Forstsee - halfway between Pörtschach and Velden - which is a final point of interest before your return to Velden.


For the R4 cycle track around the Wörthersee click here: fahr-radwege


Travelling by train, the EInfach-Raus-Bicycle-Ticket is the best option. Information here: Öbb


You can ask for a free map 'Wörthersee Architektur Historisch & Modern' (German/English/Italian/Slovenian) at: Wörthersee Tourismus, Villacher Str. 19, 9220 Velden, Tel. 04274 - 38288. Further information available here.


Other recommendations