We are always thrilled when visiting Carinthia in Austria, as it never seems to disappoint us. No matter if we visit Carinthia in Austria in the summer or in the winter, there are always plenty of things to do and see.
But I guess nothing can be more Austrian than visiting some of their traditional Christmas markets in the festive month of December. If someone enjoys Christmas markets because of its mulled wine, we mostly like them because they represent time for us and our family.
The Christmas markets we visited this year, might not be often on tourists radars as they are smaller than the most popular ones, but you can easily join them with some winter fun and outdoor activities like skiing, tobogganing, hiking…
Christmas market in Millstatt
The small town along the Milstaettersee (Lake) might not be typical stop during the winter. Due to its hiking spots, cycling paths and water activities, it attracts most of its visitors over the warmer months. Nevertheless, visiting the Millstaettersee during winter will show you a completely different image of the place. Everything is slower, more relaxed and quiet. Christmas market in Millstatt is not really the right reason to stop there, as it is only a one-day event. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed it.
The Millstatt Christmas market is small, but I think we were the only foreign visitors there. That is why, everything was totally local and without any commercialization.
The best thing about the Millstatt Christmas market was actually its location. It was set in the old and historically reach monastery from 11th century, what made the whole ambience even more special.
You can get more information about Millstaettersee here.
Christmas market in Bad Kleinkircheim
If you are fan off women skiing or if you enjoy skiing yourself, you might have heard for this Austrian town of Bad Kleinkircheim. FIS women world cup is being one of the most recognizable events, which we also visited in January 2015.
This year we visited Bad Kleinkircheim solely because of its Christmas market. The Christmas market is not really big one so it is best to combine it with some other activities like skiing or maybe some relaxation in its thermal spas. Did you know Bad Kleinkircheim has a natural spring of thermal water? That is why there are full of spas to choose from.
Visiting Bad Kleinkirchem with our baby boy, who does not ski yet, we have decided to join the Christmas market with spending few hours in the newly opened family thermal spa St. Kathrein. Ren really enjoyed the water. He put a shine on the special kid’s pool area where some water toys were provided. Simon and I liked the fact there were few baby beds available throughout the pool area, where we and other parents could put our tired kids asleep for an hour or two.
St. Katherin thermal spas are also appropriate for adults without kids. There’s a special wellness pool available and as well an area with saunas, massages and relaxation. After all, spending some quality time and treating yourself with swimming in warm natural thermal water is perfect on a cold winter day.
Even though the Christmas market in Bad Kleinkircheim is small it does feel very intimate, pleasant and »warm«. There’s also a lot of activities you can take part in – check them out here.
The Christmas market in Bad Kleinkircheim is set every Friday and Saturday from 2nd December to 23rd December 2017 after 3pm.
Christmas market in Katschberg – Advent Trail
We did not really visit Katschberg for its traditional Christmas market, but for its Advent trail (Advent Weg). The Advent trail is relatively new concept, as it was first opened in 2016.
Simon and Ren both had extreme cold, so I visited the Katschberg by myself. It was -10°C outside and windy, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Reaching the Katschberg Advent Trail might be a challenge if you decide to reach it by foot. Going there and back, including the trail it selves, you will need to overcome almost 9 kilometers. The path is set in a forest and is well marked, so you cannot really get lost. In fact, the complete trail is lightened by lanterns, what makes everything even more romantic. If you’re not really keen on hiking, we have good news for you. The Advent trail can also be reached comfortably – first by a shuttle bus and later on by horse-drawn carriage.
Due to the extreme cold, I decided to visit the Advent Trail during the day, but seeing all the photos from the evening walks, I must say I am a bit sorry, I did not grin and bear it.
So far both Christmas markets we visited (Millstatt and Bad Kleinkircheim) were not commercialized, but this one really was the most authentic from them all. Forget about the mulled wine and bananas covered in chocolate – you will get the real thing here.
The Advent Trail includes 7 wooden cottages and each has its own happening inside – from singing Christmas songs to telling stories, making your own teddy bear, which is perfect for all the little visitors, who decide to do the Advent Trail together with their parents. One cottage also includes live sheep, goats and a donkey.
Each cottage has an outdoor station with hot tea and punch. It is completely free of charge if you buy a cute little thermos, which makes it a great souvenir to take home.
Practical information for the Katschberg Advent Trail
The Katschberg Advent Trail is open every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 29th November to 23rd December 2017 from 2pm to 8.30 pm. It is also opened on Christmas day, 25th December from 2pm to 8.30 pm.
If you start and end your way from Katschberg you’ll need to overcome around 9 kilometers of distance. You can do everything on foot or you can first take the shuttle bus ride (1 kilometer and costs 2,50 EUR/adults or 1,50EUR/children – one way). The shuttle bus will take you to the Alpengasthof Bacher, where you can start your horse-drawn carriage ride (the distance 2,4 km). The price for one way is 11 EUR and for a return ticket is 22 EUR. The horse-drawn carriage will take you all the way to Pritzhütte, where the Katschberg Advent Trail finally starts – it is 2 kilometers long.
If you’ll be going there with kids, we would recommend you to take sledges with you to make the complete walk more fun and also easier for them.
As mentioned above, there are stations, where you can get free hot tea or punch if you buy yourself a thermos for 8 EUR.
The Advent Trail also offers restaurant and a toilet, what is almost a necessity – you will need around 3-4 hours to walk the whole distance. Make sure to also pack a snack and wear warm winter clothes and shoes.
You can get more information about the Katschberg Advent Trail here.
We have explored Christmas markets for 3 days and that is why we had one accommodation in Bad Kleinkircheim and the other in Katschberg. Both hotels were amazing and built in the typical wooden Austrian style – Hotel Prägant in Bad Kleinkircheim and Hotel Lärchenhof in Katschberg.
Both hotels offers free Wi-Fi, free parking and free use of their swimming pool and saunas. We treated ourselves with rich breakfast and top notch culinary for dinner in both hotels.
Simon and I first wanted to visit some larger Christmas markets, but traveling there with Ren, we decided smaller and more locally oriented Christmas markets would be a better choice. After all, Christmas holidays are for taking time for family and friends and nothing makes you closer than an intimate vibe, where you feel like at home.
Check-out which Christmas markets in Carinthia, Austria are worth visiting as well here.
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