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Lake Wörth
Poertschach von Gloriette 04.jpg
in summer
Map at woerthersee.svg
Location west of Klagenfurt
Coordinates 46°38′N 14°09′E / 46.633°N 14.150°E / 46.633; 14.150Coordinates: 46°38′N 14°09′E / 46.633°N 14.150°E / 46.633; 14.150
Primary inflows Reifnitzbach, Pirkerbach
Primary outflows Glanfurt
Catchment area 162.23 km²
Basin countries Austria
Max. length 16.5 km
Max. width 1.7 km
Surface area 19.39 km² (7.5 mi²)
Average depth 42.1 m
Max. depth 85.2 m (280 ft)
Residence time 10.5 years
Surface elevation 439 m
Islands Schlangeninsel, Kapuzinerinsel
Settlements Klagenfurt, Velden, Pörtschach, Krumpendorf, Maria Wörth

Wörthersee (Slovene: Vrbsko jezero, English: Lake Wörth[1][2][3]) is an alpine lake in the southern Austrian state of Carinthia.

General facts[edit]

In summer the lake is popular for swimming and water sports

The lake is elongated, about 20 km long and 1–2 km wide. It stretches from the Carinthian capital Klagenfurt in the east to Velden in the west. It is flanked to the north and south by steep alpine foothills covered with dense forests, beyond which snow-capped alpine peaks are visible. The lake's water is a distinctive blue-green colour and transparent.

In the early nineteenth century the marshy shores were home only to a handful of poor peasants. The construction of the Austrian Southern Railway (Südbahn), in the middle of the nineteenth century quickly turned the Wörthersee into an exclusive summer retreat for Vienna's nobility.

The northern shore is densely built-up. The motorway and railway mainline occupy the narrow space between the steep hills and the shore. Main towns are Krumpendorf, Pörtschach and Velden.

The southern shore is quieter and less developed.

In winter, the region is often covered by snow and approximately every 10 years the lake freezes over, attracting numerous ice skaters.


VW Beetle Turbo Black at Reifnitz 2011

The Mediterranean climate and clean, warm water make the lake 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.


In winter the lake sometimes freezes.

Lake Wörth and its basin in the central Carinthian foothills were largely formed by glaciers during the last ice age. It is Carinthia's largest lake. The lake is divided into three basins by islands and peninsulas. The western basin stretches from Velden to Pörtschach, the central basin from Pörtschach to Maria Wörth and the eastern basin from Maria Wörth to Klagenfurt. The lake's distributary is the Glanfurt, eventually flowing into the Drau river via the Glan and Gurk rivers.

The lake's name originates from its islands (Schlangeninsel and Kapuzinerinsel; the former islands Maria Wörth and Maria Loretto are now peninsulas). Until the 19th century the lake was called "Werdersee", or island lake.

View from the Pyramidenkogel.

Lake Wörth's fauna is dominated by fish typically found in alpine lakes. The most common species are the pike (Esox lucius) and the common whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus).


The A2 Süd Autobahn motorway (European Route E66) from Vienna to Italy passes along the northern side of the lake, as does the B83 Kärntner Straße highway connecting Klagenfurt with Villach and the Südbahn railway line from Vienna to Venice. There is also a cycle path along the northern shore. In summer, passenger boats connect the largest settlements. The number of private speedboats is strictly limited by a quota system to limit the environmental damage and hazard to swimmers.


  1. ^ Likens, Gene E. 1975. Primary Productivity of Inland Aquatic Ecosystems. In: Helmut Lieth & Robert H. Whittaker (eds.), Primary Productivity of the Biosphere, pp. 185–202. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, p. 191.
  2. ^ Steinberg, Michael. 1995. The Symphony: A Listener's Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 324.
  3. ^ Tesch, F. W. 1977. The Eel: Biology and Management of Anguillid Eels. Transl. Jennifer Greenwood. London: Chapman and Hall, p. 195.

External links[edit]