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Itinerary advice: Looking to fill 1 afternoon/night between Lienz and Graz, ideas?

My family (4 of us including two early teen girls) is finally able to take our pandemic delayed trip to Austria this July. So far we have 5 nights planned in Vienna before we rent a car and head to Lienz as our base in the Alps for a week. It is a fairly long drive from Vienna to Lienz , but is doable in a day (5hrs). But we are thinking of breaking it up and staying somewhere along the way. Thanks to my OP a few years ago we think we will hit the Zotter chocolate factory in Riegersburg, outside Graz and do that for a few hours then hop back in the car. My guess is we leave Zotter around 1300-1400. So we are looking for a place to stop and enjoy some lesser known places or culture. Along the A2 or not too far from it. We can't check on to our place in Lienz till 1500 the following day.

Our thoughts:
Graz: Looks appealing but the timing right after Vienna makes me wonder if we will enjoy it as much in that moment. Plus it leaves a longer drive the next day.
Klagenfurt: Looks pretty, but by the time we get there makes me doubt we really get much out of this stop.
Bled, Slovenia: Out of the way, looks touristy but something different.
Ljublana, Slovenia: Even more out of the way, leaving two drives that are longer. But get to see another capital.
Vienna: Stay another night and maybe go to Bratislava that day we were planning on leaving. This would leave a long drive the next day.
Other: We can skip Zotter and go a different route, but we have already experienced Salzburg multiple times as well as Hallstaat.

If anyone has some ideas or thoughts they would be greatly appreciated!

Posted by
201 posts

My vote goes to Klagenfurt or to be more precise to lake Wörthersee.

It’s a beautiful lake, perfect for swimming in July, an ideal supplement to city experience in Vienna and the mountains of Eastern Tyrol. For a short term stay Klagenfurt is probably better than the other lakeside resorts and has more option in case of a bad weather day.

Before approaching Klagenfurt you might consider a detour to visit of Hochosterwitz Castle. Once you are there you may go for an evening swim at the lake (Strandbad Klagenfurt), a visit of Minimundus or a stroll through the old town.
Next day before heading towards Lienz you may consider a boat trip on Wörthersee, a visit of Pyramidenkogel (viewing tower with giant slide) or castle ruin Landskron (there is a restaurant, the monkey mountain and an eagle show).

Posted by
5450 posts

I’m pretty sure I was the one who recommended Zotter - it is fun and fantastic.

If I understand correctly, you are driving from Vienna to Lienz and want a one night stop in between but will also visit Zotter on the way?

You really don’t have time for Slovenia unless you add several nights. Klagenfurt? Meh.

I suggest that you stay near Zotter and also visit Fortress Riegersburg. Zotter will take 3-4 hours and Riegersburg will take 1-2 hours. Spend your night at the spa town of Loipersdorf, which will be super fun for your kids.

Are you sure you want Lienz as your Alpine base?

Posted by
6 posts

Paul, I saw the Pyramidenkogel when I was researching Klagenfurt. If we stay that will be a stop.

Emily, if you were the one who recommended Zotter, thank you. My children have been looking forward to it for almost three years now. We could also hit it the day before our flight out if we took a different route towards Lienz. Thank you for the additional suggestions of Loipersdorf I will look into it.

We are going to use the Lienz area as our base as we want to do some hikes in Matrei and the Dolomites. Plus it provides easier access to Grossglockner. I don't mind driving an hour +/- most days and we figure we will get the city experience in Vienna. The kids are committed to doing the Alpine coaster in Lienz as well.

Thank you both for the suggestions!!

Posted by
6573 posts

If you're worried about the long drive, there is always the option of taking the train.

Posted by
1326 posts

Wörthersee is nice. I spent a relaxing week there in an apartment on the lake once. From Lienz you can take the lift up to Zettersfeld. Good views when hiking and a few places to stop for a drink or something to eat. From Lienz you can also visit the Roman town/Museum of Aguntum. Also, the Osttirodler Sommerrodelbahn. You mentioned Matrei. I would tell you to drive to the end of the Virgental to Hinterbichl. There is a parking place near the end and hike there on a good day to the Umbaltal Wasserfälle. Good food along the route at Gasthaus Großvenediger. The lesser traveled route.