Carinthia is possibly the most autonomous state in Austria (with the possible exception of Tyrol). Older than
Austria itself, it has always been fairly isolated from its surroundings by its geography. Carinthians are rooted and proud, but also have a reputation for being more warm-hearted than the rest of Austrians.
There are several explanation where the name Carinthia comes from. One explanation says it is derived from the Celtic word Carant which means friend. Another explanation claims that the name comes from the Celtic word karanto which means stone.
Carinthia is quite a mountainous area, sandwiched by the Alps in the north and the Karawanken in the south. It shares a border with both Italy and Slovenia.
Driving by car is definitely the easiest way to get around. Be prepared that apart from the main routes mountain roads can be especially tricky for those who are not used to driving on them. This is especially true in winter.
Kärnten is known for its ski resorts as well for its scenic lakes and mountains (hiking, climbing). If you are traveling in summer try out one of these lakes:
Wörthersee - Austria's biggest lake, a popular resort for German tourists and the location for various German and Austrian film and TV-series productions. Prices tend to be higher than elsewhere in Carinthia due to its importance to tourism.
Carinthian cuisine is closely related to Italian cuisine and therefore known for all types of noodles. Specialities are
Kletzennudel - sweet noodles filled with dried pears
Kasnudel - Noodles filled with a mixture of potatoes, curd cheese and fresh herbs (such as black spearmint) and served with hot butter. The exact recipe varys throughout Carinthia as every cook has his own special secret for preparing these noodles.
Glundner Kas - cooked cheese made of caraway, butter and mature curd cheese.
Reindling - a type of cake made of yeast dough filled with raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Baked mainly during the Easter holidays.
The Soca / Isonzo valley in Slovenia is about an hour's drive from Klagefurt and Villach over the Predil mountain pass. Its deep limestone gorges offer a spectacular scenery and its emerald-coloured rivers are famed for some of the best kayaking and white whater rafting in Europe. Since the Soca valley is actually easier to reach from Villach and Klagenfurt than Ljubliana (Slovenia's capital) it's well worth a day trip if you're hanging around Carinthia for longer. Head for the town Bovec, the touristic centre of the Soca valley.
If you are in Villach take a trip to Tarvis in Italy (it is about 30min by car) which is a popular place to eat and shop for Carinthians.
East Tyrol, the province neighbouring Carinthia to the West, is an alpinist's paradise. The capital Lienz can be conveniently be reached by train or car.