Wörthersee is a lake in the southern Austrian state of Carinthia. The popular bathing lake is a main tourist destination in summer.

In the early 19th century the marshy shores were home only to a handful of poor peasants. The opening of the Austrian Southern Railway line (Südbahn) to Klagenfurt in 1863, later extended to Villach along the northern shore, quickly turned the Wörthersee into an exclusive summer retreat for Vienna’s nobility and wealthy bourgeoisie. Especially Velden and Pörtschach developed to main tourist resorts.

Up to today, the Mediterranean climate and the clean, warm waters make Lake Wörth a popular tourist destination in summer. Although the region around the lake has been termed “Austria’s Monte Carlo”, in recent decades tourism around Lake Wörthersee has suffered from tough competition from package holidays to cheaper overseas destinations. As a response a number of local businesses have tried to focus on niches such as high quality tourism, family tourism or golf and horse-riding vacations.

Most tourists visit the Lake in the months of July and August when water temperatures reach 25 °C. A large proportion of visitors return every summer and some own or rent holiday homes along the shore. The vast majority of visitors come from Vienna, northern Germany and the Netherlands. The largest Volkswagen and Audi car show in Europe, the Wörthersee GTi-Treffen (in English, “Wörthersee Meeting” or simply “Wörthersee”), has been held in the lakeside town of Reifnitz (usually in May) every year since 1981.


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