Villach (Beljak in Slovenian, Villaco in Italian) is a city in Austria near the border to Italy and Slovenia. It is an important spot on the direct connection between Germany and Slovenia respectively Croatia. Every year numerous people that go for holidays to the Croatian coast pass here.
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In Villach there is a big motorway intersection (Knoten Villach in German). You can go to Italy via the, to Slovenia via the , north towards Salzburg via the and east towards Vienna via the .
To the south there is a motorway going through the Karawanken Tunnel over to Jesenice (Aßling in German) in Slovenia. Apart from that there is also the old road over the pass.
One possibility is catching a ride towards Salzburg to the next petrol station in Feistritz. Plenty of cars stopping there in both directions (north and south).
But the best is to go from the city centre almost directly to the east along Faakersee-Bundesstrasse (Ludwig Walter Strasse, then Maria Gailer Strasse) over the river and before the fork to the Süd-Autobahn there is a bus station where you can hitchhike and cars can stop and pick you up. You can already start hitchhiking at the bus stop across from the McDonald's on your way, it is between a gas station and the McDonald's and just after a traffic light so cars go slow.
From the central train Station walk the Vassacher Straße North until you hit Drautal Straße. Behind the Bridge is a tiny Spot on the left side between two streets. The 100 going North eventually Hits the A10, it is possible to get a ride to that point or further.
The Meeting Point between 100 an A10 after that Spot to the north is a rather small roundabout. It is difficult to walk to that point. If somebody drives you there you can place yourself right before the entering Street to the A10. If people want to stop for you they will have to stop right in the roundabout - it will feel very unlikely to get a ride from that spot (but it is possible). If you don't enter the A10 the police won't bother you there - but might stop and question you.
There is the Klagenfurt. There are a lot of rides going in all directions from there.motorway going east towards Graz, Vienna and Hungary. Try to find a ride which takes you to the service station between Villach and
Behind the bus stop Villach Neulandskron there's an A1 gas station and you can stand with your sign in front of it. Using a sign with "Klagenfurt" (or "KL") will let people know which way you want to go on the Autobahn, however we caught a ride in less 10 minutes and it took us all the way to Graz.
We were also recommended a spot at the Vassacher See bus stop. We abandoned it because it is very cold and wet there in the early morning but it seems to be a decent option and there's a camping site nearby.
There is themotorway going southwest towards Udine, Venice and Italy in general. Just before the border there is a big service station.
The OMV gas station near a McDonald's on Maria-Gailer-Straße has traffic to Vienna, Germany and Italy. It took a while but eventually we caught a ride to Venice from there and it seems like there could be some good spots to spend the nigh in the area as well.
Other option is to go to bus station Federaun Brücke and in direction to Villach you can stop cars heading to A2 highway. We used sign A2 with Italy flag and after 45 minutes we caught a car to Udine.
If you are hitching south, from Salzburg to Slovenia for example, and get a ride to Villach, you can try your luck at the blackhole called Rasthof Feistritz and wait something like the usual 3+ hours for a ride, or you could go an extra 5kms to the new Parkplatz/toilet just down the road which recently opened (2018). There is obviously less traffic there, but in one hitchhikers experience/opinion there is way more of a chance to get a ride!
In August 2016, on the way to Italy we caught a ride directly to Venice in Villach. It took us 2-3 hours but admittedly we didn't spend the whole time asking around so it's possible it could've been quicker if we had tried harder. Then on our way back we got rescued after maybe half an hour from a dark, closed gas station and brought to a better spot and then in the early morning we only waited a few minutes before getting a ride to Graz.
During the Abgefahren hitchhiking race 2010 some teams had major problems getting away from Villach to Slovenia and from Rasthof Feistritz in particular. Also, the on-ramp Faakersee didn't work well for them. The Villach experience was so traumatizing for some of the teams that they made the new figure of speech "to have a Villach" (German "einen Villach haben") - if you had a very unlucky or bad day - and now trying to establish this phrase among the hitchhikers jargon.
This was also confirmed on the 2009 University of Sheffield's 1500 mile hitch 'Bummit to Zadar'. Of the three hundred hitch-hikers an unprecedented (for Bummit) sixty two people descended on the bottle neck in Villach during one single night. The ever worsening weather of the mountainous region caused all of the participants to take shelter in the central train station and try and 'blag' a train. The four am train the next day was not happy to receive such an amount of people after 12 hours of being stuck in a wet train station and not wanting to pay. The thought of being stuck in Villach often conjures up the idea of being stuck in the 'worst place humanly possible for a hitch-hiker, with only routes in and almost none going out' (Bummit 2010/2011).
During the Bummit's of 2010 and 2011 there has been much conversation of having a 'Villach' or 'Villach moment' which absolutely echoes the Abgefahren hitch-hike the year after.
Other useful information
There is free Wi-Fi available at the main railway station, as well as in the shopping mall Atrium. There is also free Wi-Fi in the city center.