I know the term “must visit” has been overused in the recent years but a visit to Eisriesenwelt in Werfen, Austria is truly a must. After all, it is the world’s largest ice cave!
Initially we weren’t too happy about the idea of taking out our winter gear in the middle of summer, but we completely forgot about all that once we took in the gorgeous landscape from the top of Hochkogel Mountain and took our first steps into the Ice Cave.
As we passed through the cave’s entrance door with the wind gusting at us, our canteen lights blew out and all we saw was darkness. It was official, our journey up 700 steps, half a mile worth of ice sculptures, and ice cold temperatures was about to begin.
The ice sculptures, figures, and ice walls were mesmerizing. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. It was completely dark in the cave except for the few hand held gas canteens, and magnesium lamps that turned the ice figures to life!
As the tour was coming to end and we began our descend to the outside world, we were seriously starting to feel the cold wrath of the cave. Our fingers and toes were frozen, and we were praying to reach the exit and feel the 80°F heat that awaited us outside.
Nonetheless, Eisriesenwelt was one of the “coolest” (pun intended :D) things we did in Austria thus far, and though we weren’t allowed to take pictures of this epic trip, those ice figures will be etched into our memories forever.
Plan your Trip to the Eisriesenwelt
Distance from Salzburg: 25 mile (40km)
Best time to visit: Before 10am or after 2pm (it’s usually the busiest between 10am-2pm)
Best weather to visit: On a sunny day (hiking 40min in the rain might not be so ideal)
Recommended visit length: Minimum 3-4 hours
Guided tour: 70 minutes once inside the cave
How to Get to the Eisriesenwelt
By Car: Getting to Werfen is a fairly easy 40 minute drive. Just take the Tauern motorway (A10) south and take exit 34-Paß Lueg. Follow the Eisriesenwelt signs from here.
By Public Transportation: A train from Salzburg to Werfen Bahnhof (40-50 mins) leaves about every hour with no transfer needed. From Werfen Bahnhof you have two options, you can either wait for the local Eishöhle bound bus which leaves at 8:18, 10:18, 12:18, 2:18pm or you can walk 5 minutes to the Parkplatz Gries where buses to the visitors center leave about every 25 minutes. Roundtrip bus fare: Adults: € 7, Kids: € 5.
By Private Tour: If you don’t have a car and don’t want to deal with public transportation you can hire a private tour guide from Salzburg to explore the largest ice cave in the world. Click here to learn more about the tour.
Getting to the Ice Cave Entrance
After you leave the visitors center, you will walk 20 minutes to the cable car station, From here it’s a 3 minute cable car ride or a 90 minute hike to the cable car station on the top. Then hike another 20 minutes to the entrance of ice cave. Click here to see a more detailed map.
~40 minutes walk with the cable car
~130 minutes hike without the cable car
Cave Visit and Cable Car Ticket
Regular: € 24.00 | Children (5-14 yrs old): €14.00 | Youth (15-18 yrs old): €18.00
Cave visit Ticket (without cable car)
Regular: € 12.00 | Children (5-14 yrs old): € 7.00 | Youth (15-18 yrs old): € 9.00
*Family and Group rates are also available
Eisriesenwelt is a seasonal attraction, it is open from the 1st of May to the 26th of October and CLOSED from November to April.
Open daily (rain or shine) from May – October
8am – 3pm (May, June, Sept., Oct.)
8am – 4pm (July, Aug.)
What to Bring
- Warm clothes (coat, sweater, scarf and hat)
- Sturdy shoes
Things to Know
- No photography or filming is allowed inside the cave (helps preserves the ice caves)
- Even when the temperature outside is over 80°F, it is still freezing in the ice cave (0°C/32°F)
- The last cable car up to the cave is at 4:20 (July, Aug.) or 3:20 (May, June, Sept., Oct.)
- Last Cave tour is 4:45pm (July, Aug.) or 3:45pm (May, June, Sept., Oct.)
- A trip to Eisriesenwelt requires a great deal of walking and climbing as there are 1400 steps inside the cave (ca. 700 steps up and 700 steps down). Though you do not need to be in amazing shape, you should posses a reasonable level of fitness.
- Cave is not suitable for individuals with limited mobility.
- Cave tour is ~1hr 15 mins, you can choose to either take the English or German tour.
- You can either bring your own food or purchase food at one of the three restaurants located on the Eisriesenwelt grounds.
- Hohenwerfen Fortress
- Golling Waterfalls
- Liechtenstein Gorge (Liechtensteinklamm Waterfall)
If you are in Salzburg, don’t pass up the opportunity to see the world’s largest ice cave. It’s an experience you will never forget!
Warren Long says
Adding this to my bucket list! :-)
However, I am tired of seeing things like “No photography or filming is allowed inside the cave (helps preserves the ice caves)”. I don’t think the reason given is valid. What are you worried about? Heat? Light? Why not just say “No Flash Photography” or “No Lights”? And then those two factors just disappear. Or am I missing the point entirely?
Sheri Doyle says
Thank you for the information and the great tips. Can you recommend any towns close by other than Salzburg?
David Brackman says
Hallein is only 10 miles or so from the ice cave and has one of the best salt mine tours. Also the home of Franz Gruber, composer of Silent Night. About an hour and a half or two to the west of Salzburg is Innsbruck the capital of the Tirolean Alps. We loved Innsbruck.
Shrikant Joshi says
I am planning to visit werfen in September but I read in the other reviews that it is really dark inside and it doesn’t look anywhere near to the picture on web site so I am in double mind whether to visit Dachstein or Werfen
It is pretty dark inside but if they lit up the whole cave all the ice would melt. In our opinion it is worth a visit, especially if you have never been to an ice cave before.