Villach

Nestled in Austria’s mountainous southern region, Villach is the second largest town in the state of Carinthia. With its rich history, stunning landscapes, and a plethora of activities, Villach is an ideal destination for any traveler. Whether you’re looking to explore historical sites, indulge in thermal spas, or embark on outdoor adventures, Villach has something for everyone. This expert guide provides an in-depth look at what to see and do in Villach, the best places to stay, transportation options, and a detailed three-day itinerary.

Top Attractions in Villach

Main Square (Hauptplatz)

Villach’s old town center is a picturesque area straddling the River Drau. The Main Square is an excellent starting point for your Villach adventure. Highlights include the city’s parish church at the southern end and the Trinity Column from 1739. The square is lined with boutique stores, galleries, cafés, and restaurants, making it a perfect spot for shopping and relaxation.

Parish Church of St. Jakob

Just a three-minute stroll from the Hauptplatz, the Parish Church of St. Jakob is a 14th-century Gothic hall church. Climb the tower’s 239 steps for excellent views over the old town. Inside, admire the splendid Baroque altar from 1740 and the large fresco of St. Christopher.

Monkey Mountain (Affenberg Zoo)

Affenberg Zoo is a family-friendly attraction located a short drive from Villach. Home to 164 Japanese macaques, the zoo offers guided tours where visitors can observe these fascinating creatures up close. Other nearby animal attractions include the Rosegg Zoo and Adler Arena Burg Landskron, known for its thrilling birds of prey demonstrations.

Carinthia Relief Model

Located in Schillerpark, the Carinthia Relief Model is a must-see for those interested in topography. This 180-square-meter model is the largest plastic relief model of a landscape in Europe and offers a stunning 3D bird’s-eye view of the Carinthian region.

Villach Alpine Road and the Dobratsch

The Villach Alpine Road is a 17-kilometer toll road that winds its way up to the 2,166-meter Dobratsch. Along the way, enjoy dramatic panoramic views and explore various hiking trails. A highlight for kids is the mountaintop adventure playground with observation towers, tunnels, and slides.

Where to Stay in Villach

  • Luxury: Hotel Warmbaderhof: Located on the outskirts of town in a parkland setting, this luxury thermal spa hotel features multiple thermal pools, a hot tub, sauna, and a pastry café.
  • Mid-Range: Vocco Villach: Situated across a bridge from the old town, this hotel offers river views, contemporary decor, and Nespresso coffee machines in its rooms and suites.
  • Budget: Kramer Hotel: This budget-friendly hotel offers a central location, friendly service, and free parking. It’s perfect for travelers looking for comfort without breaking the bank.

Getting Around Villach

Villach is well-connected by public transport, making it easy to explore the town and surrounding areas. Klagenfurt Airport is just a 30-minute drive away, or an hour by train, providing convenient access for international travelers. The town itself is walkable, with many attractions located within a short distance of each other.

Three-Day Itinerary for Villach

Day 1: Explore the Old Town

  • Morning: Start your day at the Main Square (Hauptplatz). Explore the historic buildings, shops, and cafés.
  • Afternoon: Visit the Parish Church of St. Jakob. Climb the tower for panoramic views of Villach.
  • Evening: Dine at one of the local restaurants in the old town and try traditional Austrian cuisine.

Day 2: Nature and Wildlife

  • Morning: Head to Monkey Mountain (Affenberg Zoo). Enjoy a guided tour and watch the Japanese macaques.
  • Afternoon: Visit the Carinthia Relief Model in Schillerpark. Explore the detailed model of the region.
  • Evening: Relax at the Kärnten Therme spa and enjoy the thermal pools and saunas.

Day 3: Alpine Adventure

  • Morning: Drive along the Villach Alpine Road. Stop at various viewpoints and enjoy the scenery.
  • Afternoon: Hike the trails around Dobratsch. Visit the mountaintop adventure playground with kids.
  • Evening: Return to Villach and enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Travel Tips for Villach

  • Weather: Villach experiences a continental climate with cold winters and warm summers. The best time to visit is during the spring and summer months when the weather is mild and outdoor activities are in full swing.
  • Language: German is the official language, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
  • Currency: The official currency is the Euro (€). Credit cards are accepted in most places, but it’s advisable to carry some cash for smaller establishments.
  • Transport: Villach is well-connected by train and bus. Renting a car is recommended if you plan to explore the surrounding alpine areas.

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