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A Recipe for a Family Cycling Trip to Austria

By Adam Marsal and Richard Gasperotti

Carinthia is the southernmost part of Austria offering many bike trails as well as beautiful lakes that are tempting you to jump in and enjoy an after-ride swim. In this article, I’d like to introduce you to a plan that made happy not only a professional biker like me but also my wife and daughter. The essential idea was to add more activities to the program besides cycling. Let me show you in the following paragraphs.

Animals and the agricultural way of life

While exploring Carinthia, we visited two different resorts oriented towards cycling families. The first place was Bad Kleinkirchheim where we found accommodation at a family-owned farm Hinteregger. The homestead, founded in 1470, is still an accessible opportunity for anyone interested in an agricultural way of life including personal experience with milking cows, collecting eggs or driving cattle to pasture as early as 6 AM. If you want to try something traditional alongside biking, Carinthia is a great place to visit. My 7-year-old daughter Eleonora was amazed. I’ve never seen her as excited to wake up by sunrise like on our farm vacation.

Staying in the hotel entitled us to use lifts, boats and many other attractions for free, which made us eventually get rid of farming duties and change to cycling kits. Let’s go biking!

Family cycling trip
As a professional biker and a family man at the same time, I frequently face the dilemma of what kind of vacation I should arrange for everybody to enjoy.

Skill centres, pump tracks and bobsleighs

Warming up at the wooden pump track and a skill centre right at the cable car station area was the next great thing to do before hitting trails. My daughter already knows what to do in tricky situations although there’s never enough training, and a few circles on the pump track reminded her how to correctly distribute her weight over the bike.

After we embarked on a quick ride down the summer bobsleigh, Adrian Krainer, a mountain guide, showed up to take us to the mountains. Adrian is in charge of the local sports school both for summer and winter activities. He’s not only a great biker but also a snowboarder.

During the time we spent in a gondola taking us up the hill, he explained to us how difficult it was for his father to push through with the idea of building bike trails in the mountains. Since mountain biking has started filling the local treasury public opinion changed remarkably and investments have started flowing steadily into the growing MTB infrastructure.

MTB in Austria
We found a place that satisfied both my family and me as a professional biker.

One of the longest flow trails in Europe

Talking about flow, we were about to hit one of the longest flow trails in Europe that were built in 2020, offering an incredible total length of 15 kilometres. Flow trails are dedicated to any skill level, satisfying beginners among kids as well as advanced riders. Because of the length, even kids have enough time to learn to use the brakes correctly and become accustomed to working with body balance in banked turns. Local flow trails proved to meet our expectations regarding the fun level and safety.

Moreover, you can also take trails from the Nockbike network starting at the upper gondola station. There are around 700 kilometres of signposted tours divided into 14 mountain bike tours for all levels of ability, 7 single-trail descents, and various road-bike tours.

Kids welcome on board

Riders preferring flat cycle paths will be amazed by a trip around Millstätter lake. With a bit of luck, a boat captain allowed our bikes on board for the return ride, which was the perfect trick to add more attractiveness for the youngest companions.

Cycling with kids
The area offered many child-friendly trails.

Advanced riders, on the other hand, can enjoy the technically demanding T25 – Sternen trail that leads across thousands of bumpy roots to Döbriach am Millstättersee. After emptying the battery on my e-bike, we loaded our goods into the van and moved in the direction of our second destination, Nassfeld, the largest ski resort in Carinthia.

Flow trail and fun parks in Nassfeld

A two-hour drive brought us to the bottom station of the Millennium Express from where we took a ride to the start of the Mex Line 1 flow trail. Once again, the flow trail offered us a long ride with a never-ending amount of banked turns. The downside of the trail is its gravel surface, which made the route slippery at some points and thus dangerous even for experienced riders.

What we liked, on the contrary, was the tarmac pump track located at the end of the trail, and the best experience of the day were the four hours spent in the Nassfeld Outdoor Park with climbing facilities, a Flying Fox rope centre, and a rock labyrinth. We could only hardly leave the spot. Even in Nasffeld, it proved to be a great idea to combine cycling and other enjoyments to satisfy the whole family. Optionally, the Aqua Trail Berg Wasser fun park, located at 1,900 metres of elevation, was another choice offering lots of water fun and jumping on trampolines.

Family cycling
A perfect place, in my opinion, should offer a splendid bike park to meet my cycling passion and, on top of that, a family-oriented attraction to satisfy my wife and daughter.

The next day, we followed a guide, Gerald, from the local tourist office to the Weissensee trail dedicated to families. After a demanding ride, we ended up in a restaurant to taste the local cuisine, including the indispensable Germknödel: a fluffy yeast dough dumpling filled with spiced plum jam and served either with melted butter and a poppy seed mush and sugar or vanilla sauce on top.

Our trip to Carinthia could not have been better. In my recounting, I tried to emphasise the non-cycling activities that kept our cycling holiday well balanced even for our daughter. I hope that this might inspire other families to go on happy rides for the rest of the summer.