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A sustainable winter trip to Lake “Weissensee” in Carinthia, Austria.

Gourmet Travel, Austria, Travel With Locals, Europe, Travel Blog , 0

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Winter at Lake Weissensee in Carinthia, southern Austria. Many still consider it a “natural insider tip”, to visit this pristine lake with its “largest groomed natural ice surface in Europe”. However, this superlative already suggests that winter is also a popular travel season for the “white lake” at the foothills of the Gailtaler Alps.

If you choose to be smart, you will not come to Lake Weissensee in January (like almost all winter guests) but travel here instead at the end of February / beginning of March. Likewise, you will have the natural spectacle of a huge ice rink amidst picturesque mountain landscapes all to yourself.

"Quietly cosy": A few visitors spread out over the extensive panorama of the largest prepared natural ice surface in Europe - and make it look even more spectacular than it already is with a thickness of just over half a metre.

Quiet & cosy: A few visitors spread out over the extensive panorama of the largest groomed natural ice surface in Europe – a natural wonder to behold.


And where best to relax in an environment like this? That’s right, at the Weissenseerhof Hotel: Austria’s first hotel when it comes to four star luxury and promoting a 100% vegan/vegetarian diet.

The Weissenseerhof is not only committed to environmentally friendly practices regarding nutrition – the photovoltaic system on the roof is proof to their commitment as well. In the SeeSpa (“lake spa”) located directly on the lake shore, the Weissensee itself doubles as a cold dip after the sauna, and the modern, light (wood) furnishings in the rooms serve to underline the philosophy of the “Austrian Eco Label” that the Weissenseerhof has been awarded for quite some years.

The SeeSpa, which has also received many awards, should be high on your list. They also have DaySpa options (how I wish I would live any closer!), and many tasty vegetarian snacks are served here. Weissenseerhof proves: Luxury, sustainability & vegan / vegetarian foodie options can go perfectly together in a pristine surrounding such as this one.

Ankommen am Kärntner Weissensee ...

Arriving at our hotel at Lake Weissensee …


... mit köstlichen Obstsäften wie diesen ...

… we are spoiled to these natural juices made by “Terra Mater” …


... und vegan-vegetarischen Gerichten, so köstlich und raffiniert zubereitet dass es auch "Allesfressern" wie mir an nichts fehlt!

… and dig into the delicious veggie dinner options, which have meat-eaters like me miss … nothing, really!


Im Gegenteil : Hier beim Blick auf das leckere Frühstück ...

Breakfast too is colourful and healthy …


... wird deutlich, welch schönen Hafen für Genuss und Zufriedenheit wir hier gefunden haben (hier beim morgendlichen Wirbelsäulen-Training).

… and we make our way to our morning spine gymnastics (love that good stretch!).


Auch Smovey wird zur alternativen Bewegungsform angeboten ...

Smovey, too, a new fitness tool to set your body in motion, is offered here and I believe you should try …


... und erst der Dpa-Bereich, den wir nahezu für uns haben. Ein Traum - direkt am Weissensee gelegen ...

… and if all of the above activities fail to entice you, well, there is always the spa area waiting for you …


... hier gibt es besagtes köstliches Fingerfood ...

… including yummy veggie snacks …


offenbart der Blick aus den Panorama- (und Sauna!) Fenstern die ganze Schönheit des Kärntner Weissensee ...

… and this wonderful panorama from the sauna (the deck outside is warm enough to sit for a few minutes even in the winter sun) …


... und lassen wir uns von dieser Dame ...

… let this lady spoil you …


... zur neuartigen "Phyto5"-Gesichtsbehandlung hinreißen - ein Frische-Traum für die müde Haut!

… to a new kind of facial treatment called “Phyto5”, plant-based and using ancient knowledge based on the five natural elements.


Überhaupt sind die Behandlungsräume hier wirklich die schönsten und großzügigsten, die ich seit langem in einem Genuss- und Wellnesshotel erleben durfte.

Love the spa rooms at the hotel, some of the most welcoming and spacious I’ve found in a long row of spa hotels really.


As you will notice, Weissenseerhof hotel has really made an impression on us.

But it would not be the Weissensee if we did not also venture out to meet some of its famous local people, and learn about their natural surroundings from an interesting insider’s point of view. One such “storyteller” is craftsman Michael Winkler, of Bootsbau Domenig, who runs one of the last highly specialized wooden boat building companies. He produces keelboats, pointed flatboats, paddleboats and many more, spilling out technical names and details of boating on Lake Weissensee as we would hashtags. The hour spent in his workshop passes in no time at all.

Zur Begrüßung ...

Meet & greet at Michael’s “favourite place” (Lieblingsplatz) …


of the people with special passion at the Carinthian Weissensee Nature Park chairman Franz Schier (here in the background) introduces us to the charismatic boat builder Michael Winkler, who not only makes boats out of wood but also belts out of the popular natural material ...!

… we follow Weissensee Nature Park chairman Franz Schier (in the background) to the charismatic boat builder Michael Winkler, who not only makes boats out of wood but also belts, at times …!


Toll, die Liebe zum Detail beim original Holzbootsbau ...

Love watching all the love and passion that goes into building custom-made wooden boats here …


... danke für den schönen Besuch bei Dir, lieber Michael! Ein schönes Zeichen für Nachhaltigkeit in der Region: Hier geht's zur Webseite des Betriebes Domenig.

… thank you for the inspiring visit, dear Michael! A true recurring cycle, turning local wooden planks into beautiful boats like these!


Nach so viel Input brauchen wir erst mal eine Stärkung : Kuchengenuss auf der Winterterrasse des Restaurant - Café "das loewenzahn" (sehr empfehlenswert!) ...

After so much input, we head on over to nearby restaurant & café “das loewenzahn” (truly worth your while, if but for its cakes!) …


... hin gelangt Ihr übrigens - und warum nicht? - auch mit der Pferdekutsche!

… and why not take a horse-drawn carriage to reach the far end of Lake Weissensee?


The topic of sustainability (social - economic - environmental) moves: Here with a group gathered after a lively, talkative afternoon (from left to right: blogger & author Anita Arneitz, chairman of the nature park Franz Schier, myself, blogger & coach Christina Leutner as well as Christoph Puntigam, responsible for tourism at Lake Weissensee in Carinthia).

The discussion about sustainability (social – economic – environmental) moves us all: Our group of lively participants from left to right: blogger & author Anita Arneitz, chairman of the nature park Franz Schier, myself, blogger & coach Christina Leutner as well as Christoph Puntigam, responsible for tourism development at Lake Weissensee in Carinthia.


How to turn sustainability into practice? The example of Lake Weissensee.

Franz Schier tells us that Lake Weissensee has already received special nature protection status as “Nature Park” in 2006, and is also a European protected area, known under the label “Natura 2000“. Since 2010, nature park buses have been running every half hour to encourage day visitors and long-term holiday-makers to leave their cars behind. Shuttles from nearby train stations and issues such as wheel chair accessibility have long been addressed and implemented here.

Nature-based tourism is simply what draws our visitors to come here” emphasises his colleague Christoph Puntigam, who describes Lake Weissensee as the “living room of nature”. There are also E5 communities here. This rather technical term refers to energy-efficient public buildings with photovoltaic systems, new glass fibre cabling, wood chip heating in private houses, a relatively high density of passive houses, and the likely construction of further small power plants along the surrounding steep slopes and its small river courses down into the lake.

“Although we have already achieved all five ‘E’s’ for energy efficiency”, Franz smiles at us with satisfaction, “the way into the future will only lead to further, joint citizens’ decisions in order to anchor sustainability in the minds of locals and guests alike.”

Auch das ein "nachhaltig-einzigartiges" Zeichen: Eine Fotoausstellung mitten auf dem Eis am Kärntner Weissensee!

Sustainability reloaded: A photo exhibition located right upon the ice of Lake Weissensee during winter!


Und während sich die einen noch beim typischen Eisstockschießen vergnügen ...

And while some still try their luck at curling …


... steht die nächste Generation schon in den Startlöchern: Lieber Kärntner Weissensee, Du siehst uns "nachhaltig wieder"!

… the next generation is ready to come back soon: Lake Weissensee, we will encourage also future, sustainable travel here!


Check out more of my pictures from Lake Weissensee here, also InstaStories if you like watching them:


My fellow travel writers Christina and Anita, who have joined me on this trip, have written the following blog posts:


Disclaimer: We have been invited by the Austrian Eco Label and Weissenseerhof Hotel to travel to Lake Weissensee in Carinthia. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

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