It started to rain a day after I arrived in Villach, a small town in Austria near the Italian border. Having just arrived from a very muggy Udine, I was more than happy to spend some wet moments in the brisk chill. As many of you know, the music you choose on a trip can stay with you forever. On this stop, I opted for Radiohead’s most recent album, A Moon Shaped Pool. Listen to “Glass Eyes” and note the travel-centric lyrics as you look at the photos below to experience Villach as I did.
Villach is an easy town to explore. The point is to relax and enjoy every centimeter of it. The heart of the city is the Hauptplatz (main square). Start here and make your way down the Bahnhofstrasse (principal street), across the Villach Draubrücke (Villach Bridge) over the Drava River, and on towards the Hauptbahnhof (central train station). This path will also take you from one of the town’s main churches to the other, from the Pfarrkirche St. Jakob (Parish Church St. Jakob) to the St. Nikolai Kirche (St. Nikolai Church). Another notable church, the Heiligenkreuz Kirche, sits to the east at the entrance to another bridge.
St. Jakob also offers a panoramic view of Villach from above. Ascend the Stadtpfarrturm, the tower directly across from the main entrance to the church, for a nominal fee. Be sure to time your visit for the best lighting and in accordance to the posted opening hours.
After getting a sense of the city visually, head to the Museum Der Stadt Villach (Museum of the City of Villach) to learn the history of the town. While displays are all in German, they provide a translated guidebook for the special exhibition.
One of the top attractions of Villach is the city itself. From the main square to the riverwalk, there’s beautiful nature, bridges and numerous statues to discover. If you want to witness more alpine wonder, head out of town to Villacher Alpenstrasse, a national park located approximately 13.5 kilometers (18 minutes by car) to the west. I didn’t have much time in Villach, so I wasn’t able to explore outside the city confines, but please let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever made the trip.
Of course, Austria is known for having great food. My standout favorites in terms of cuisine are likely dull picks for anyone familiar with German-Austrian culture: wienerschnitzel and apple strudel, of course, the Sachertorte, and brezel (“pretzel” for us Americans—I have a strange addiction to these). Last, but never least, there’s plenty of bier, bier, bier.
A great place to try typical Austrian dishes with the local beer is at the town’s brewery, Villacher Brauhof. For coffee and tea, I highly, highly, highly recommend the wonderful café Kaffeehaus Herr Vincent. Not only is the interior charming, but the service is very friendly and homey. For more local food options, wander around the main square and see what you can find (just ignore the McDonald’s).
Other attractions located outside the heart of the city, which I also did not get a chance to visit, include Landskron Castle (13 minutes by car or 36 minutes by public transit) and the Villacher Fahrzeugmuseum (Villach Automotive Museum; 10 minutes away by car/bus).
Finally, Villach is known for its thermal spas (such as the Kärnten Therme Spa), so check those out if you’re looking to relax.
Hover over photos (desktop) or tap and hold (mobile) to see photo descriptions… Hear the sounds of the Circus Berlin on my SoundCloud page.