Caribbean feeling in Austria

Azure bays, untouched nature and the feeling of freedom: Lake Weissensee.

2 September 2020

Lake Weissensee, nestled in Upper Carinthia between the Drau and Gail valleys, is not found by chance. Of all the Carinthian lakes, it is the least known because it is the most remote. However, anyone who has made it here once will visit it again and again. And that, although at first glance it does not look very spectacular. On the contrary. It meanders leisurely along - if you travel from the west side of the lake via Greifenburg to the 930 metres in altitude - and looks above all like a sweet bathing pond: Reeds on both sides and lush green meadows behind, few hotels on one side, none on the other. Then a bridge (one of the few lake bridges worldwide!) spans over the lake and suddenly one feels transported into a fjord landscape. On the left and on the right there are mountains that drop steeply into the water and form wildly romantic bays, which have a colour that is otherwise only known from the Caribbean: light turquoise water, soft and clear, invites you to splash around. The end of the lake can only be guessed at, as it stretches over a total length of eleven kilometres.

Lake Weissensee. Lake Weissensee.

Admittedly, not much more than splashing around is possible here, even at first glance, because the lake is predominantly a nature reserve, there are just two (!) motorboat licenses on 650 hectares, the rest of the motorization consists of rowboats and e-boats that chug along as leisurely as the water ripples.

Two excursion boats complete the fleet, but you can safely ignore them unless you want to hike. In that case, it is advisable to take the boat to the Paterzipf and then make the leisurely one-and-a-half-hour ascent to the Hermagorer Bodenalm. To eat a "Frigga" there. The regional speciality consists of egg, bacon, potatoes and homemade mountain cheese. A mishmash deluxe.

For those who prefer something a little less hearty, return to the Trout the premier address on the lake. Or to the Dandelion, an inn in Neusach, where ambitious cooking is done and which also has an offshoot directly at the lake. At DomenigThe menu is small and there's not much space. But you sit directly on the lake, the wine list is excellent and who wants, can borrow one of the rare electric boats here. Provisions are also gladly provided, even a motorized raft is available. But you should book plenty in advance, because even if the tourism here is manageable, the good places are rare, many locals mingle with the nature-loving public, for whom it is often enough to stare at the lake and watch grebes and ducks doing their day's work.

Because those who come here recharge their batteries in peace and quiet. Deceleration is the benchmark at Lake Weissensee, which is unparalleled. The least built-up lake in Carinthia is not a luxury destination, because luxury is defined differently here. Fancy beach bars are missing, but there is the Hotel Enzianwhich seems to have fallen out of time, with its retro ambience and a resolute boss who proudly tells how it was back then when James Bond's "Touch of Death" was filmed here and the film crew stayed with her. Or the hotel Beach Hotel Weissensee (formerly Weissenseer Hof), which cooks pure vegetarian food and runs under the aegis of the famous Viennese restaurant Tian. Fermented food, an international trend, is served here as a matter of course.

James Bond filming location at Lake Weissensee. James Bond filming location at Lake Weissensee.

The best addresses


Seehotel Enzian / Neusach, Lake Weissensee

The oldest hotel on the lake convinces with tradition and innovation
You can only love this hotel: Originally built as a dependence for an upper middle-class family from the Viennese environment in the 1920s, the summer retreat quickly became a year-round stay combined with a hotel business that is now run by the third generation. Originally, people came for the good air, the so-called "champagne climate", but soon discovered that - according to the hotel's founder - "you bathe in the lake like in champagne". This upper-class laissez-faire combined with a penchant for the dramatic has been preserved to this day. Beautiful antiques and photographs from days long past (regular guests included Queen Astrid of Sweden, Bruno Kreisky and Paula Wessely, to whom an original room was dedicated) are joined by a tennis court, where tournaments have been held, and a modern reconstruction on the beach by star architect Günther Domenig, who won several prizes. Tradition meets modernity here, or in the words of hotel manager Ms. Cieslar, "We're a mix of creaky stairs and modern architecture."

In addition, there is a friendly approach to the guests. Of course, we keep quiet about current celebrity family friends, but the one or other actor, cabaret artist and artist spends his summer holiday here, in its very original meaning. Because this is also unique here: the main house still looks like it did 50 years ago (without, of course, sacrificing modern comforts), the lakeside opposite has not changed in the last 100 years.

Tip: If you want to use the Hotel Enzian would like to visit, can do this in this season until the end (!) October. Even if the lake has already cooled down, there is nothing to stop you from taking a dip in the water thanks to the lakeside sauna. The award "Best of the Best" in the category "Small Hotels 2020" was just awarded to the Seehotel Enzian on Tripadvisor - absolutely right!

Seehotel Enzian. Seehotel Enzian.

Gourmet Hotel & Restaurant Die Forelle / Techendorf, Lake Weissensee

Lucullan new territory and still at home
Nature lovers can not only feast their eyes on the lake - the highest pleasures are also offered by the award-winning gourmet cuisine of the Connoisseur Hotels The Trout an. Hannes Müller has earned himself a special place in the ranks of the ingenious maitres de cuisine of our time. His approach is as genuine as his products, as traditional as it is forward-looking. Among other things, coltsfoot, yarrow and rowan find their way onto the menu, while entire courses are served that never came into contact with electricity.

Hannes Müller cooks whatever is available at the moment. Above all from his own garden, from the rowan berry tree on the terrace bank or whatever regional suppliers have up their sleeves. Even the soy sauce, which is used sparingly to accompany the sturgeon with roasted onion and bergamot, comes from as far away as Lake Traun. The wine list also insists on home advantage: only local wines are served (apart from the obligatory champagne brands), and only the best of the best. A superlative, which also applies to the service. Here, laissez-faire - deep relaxed cosiness - meets etiquette and best craftsmanship. All in all, a concept that is as coherent as it is unique. Like the lake. Müller has his own opinion on the lake and its current hype: "What we slept through in the last decades is now to our advantage." Sometimes you have to give it time, which is why a longer stay is recommended.

Inn The Trout. Inn The Trout.

Picture credits: PR Girasole, Seehotel Enzian

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