Published: May 29th 2012May 29th 2012
That is supposedly the direct translation of Eisriesenwelt in the town of Werfen where I visited from Salzburg a few days ago. It contains the largest ice cave in the world. Also in Werfen is Berg Hohenwerfen, a medieval castle which, aside from the incredible setting in a narrow valley, puts on a very cool trained raptor show. Another easy day trip from Salzburg was to Untersberg although hiking to the top was by no means easy. That could have been the steepest hike I've ever done. And Salzburg itself was beautiful of course. I left Salzburg yesterday morning for the 1½ hour train ride to Bad Gastein where the weather has been cloudy with showers which is actually nice because I am beat from Sunday's hike. There are 2 peaks on either side of town that I would like to summit - Stubnerkogel and Graukogel, 2246 and 2492 meters, respectively. Bad Gastein sits at 1000 meters so each hike should take less than half a day. As a bonus, the place I am staying (Euro Youth Hotel & Krone) upgraded me from the dorm to a single room, most importantly with private bathroom. Cha-ching! Heading to Innsbruck on Thursday then
Munich Sunday night. Salzburg Accommodation and Food
I stayed 4 nights at JUFA, the Youth and Family Guesthouse, booked on hostels.com for and average cost of 20.50€/night (Fri/Sat 1€ more) in an 8 person dorm which included a massive breakfast buffet commencing at 6:30 am in order to get an early start on the day. Making ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch from the breakfast spread is definitely frowned upon but no one was the wiser. Dinner is simple, delicious, and all you can eat for 9.30€ but not served Friday night when you can get a kebab at the end of the street for 3.20€. The place is huge, woefully understaffed, and often filled with hundreds of rampaging junior high schoolers. Complimentary WiFi and a few free internet terminals. I don't have much to say about eating in Salzburg because I ate at the hostel at every opportunity as a matter of expediency and economy. However, suffice it to say that Salzburg is more expensive than Vienna. Transport
Departed Vienna West Bahnhof for Salzburg at 12:21 pm, 7 minutes later than scheduled for which the conductor was profusely apologetic even though we still arrived on time at
2:59 pm. Fare was 19€ but I had to book a week or so in advance to get that price. Kind of regretted it as I wanted to stay in Vienna at least one more day. There is an alternate Vienna to Salzburg train competing with ÖBB, the national railway. It is called Westbahn, ticketless and booked exclusively online for ~24€ on any and all of several trains per day. Great for last minute purchases. Getting around Salzburg and environs is easy on Stadtbus. A single ride in the city zone costs 1.90€ if bought from a ticket machine (2.10€ from the driver) or 24 hour passes can be bought from Tabak shops or machines for 4.20€ (5€ from drivers). Leaving Salzburg for Bad Gastein, I actually bought a ticket to a farther destination because the cheapest tickets are not available for journeys of less than 100 km. Cost 9€ from Salzburg to Spittal-Millstätte. In hindsight, what I should have done was stayed in Werfen for one night on the way to Bad Gastein which would have afforded me the opportunity to hike to the ice caves while saving me the tidy sum of ~26€ in Salzburg return train, cable
Marker Used by Alexander von Mörk
First to explore the cave back in 1912. Black cross was his marker.
car, and shuttle bus tickets. Eisriesenwelt
Can be done as a day trip from Salzburg and combined with the castle in Werfen. Highly recommed doing it on your own. A tour from Salzburg will definitely preclude minor logistical hassles but only allows either the ice caves or the castle. To do on your own take the S3 train departing Salzburg at 7:19 am making the 6:30 am breakfast gorge very key. There is also a faster train but departing at 7:10 am but curtailing breakfast. Tickets to Werfen cost 7.70€ one way (Austrian trains are insanely
expensive, maybe slightly cheaper buying a round trip ticket but I did not have time to check). I arrived in Werfen at 8:12 am where there was a bus waiting to whisk me and 4 others up to the ice cave ticket office for 6.10€ round trip. If you miss the bus from the train station there is a park & ride lot a few minutes walk back along the river from where the bus leaves more frequently. Cave entrance with guided tour is 9€ and the cable car is 5.50€ each way. Can hike from the office to the caves and vice
versa and also from Werfen all the way to the caves (2 hours up according to an Aussie hiker that I met). About 30 minutes of hiking is necessary to and from the cable car regardless. Fine views. The cave tour is very cold, freezing or less. The cave is open to the air all winter which obviously makes the cave extremely cold. In spring, the cave is sealed and as the snow above melts the water percolates through cracks in the cave dripping down into stalactites and stalagmites. Really amazing place but unfortunatley no pictures are allowed unless you are in the very first group (9 am at the cave entrance, impossible with tour from Salzburg) and your guide is not too strict. After the 9 am tour, there are 2 buses departing at 11:30 am and 12:30 pm (later buses probably miss the castle raptor show) for the return trip to Werfen and the driver will stop at the trail for the castle from where it is a short hike up to the entrance. Ice caves must be done first in order to do both in the same day and catch the second raptor show at 3:15 pm.
Ascending the Ice Wall
45° staircase makes it easier.
Brew up a nice 1€ espresso from the coffee machine in the office and sip it on the deck basking in the intense sunshine while waiting for the bus. Don't remember beer being available. Berg Hohenwerfen (Castle Above Werfen)
10.50€ entry fee which includes a 1 hour guided tour (catch the 2 pm tour after the ice caves) with English audio guide. First raptor show is at 11 am. Lots of displays about raptors and weapons. Tour climbs the original and functioning bell tower. Much of the castle was sadly destroyed in a fire in the 1930s but the bell tower and its 400 year old wood supports were saved. Since then there has been a warden living on the premises all year. Good work if you can get it and certainly not too shabby...
Many trains return to Salzburg well into the evening after the late raptor show. Can save ~1€ by purchasing a combo train/Salzburg city bus ticket for 8.70€ at the Werfen train station. I took the S3 back and arrived in Salzburg at 5:39 pm. Long day and not cheap. I spent 55.10€ for the 2 train rides, buses (including the city bus to/from
Salzburg train station), cable car round trip, and entry fees which accounted for only 19.50€ of the total making the Werfen sleeping/hike to the caves option very appealing although I'm not sure of the accommodation situation there. Tour from Salzburg costs the same and there is no chance of combining both sites. Untersberg
Very close to Salzburg and situated at the northern edge of the Austrian Alps. There are a couple of trails accessed via bus #21 which departs from the Hanuschplatz Zentrum stop in Salzburg. Get off at Glanegg or if you are lucky and the bus is not crowded the driver may make a stop at the trailhead parking lot. The 2 trails are Dopplersteig and Reitsteig, the latter purportedly less steep. I set out on Dopplersteig at ~8:30 am and was on the summit ~12 pm after a long lunch break at Zeppezauerhaus alpine hut. The summit in Austria, Salzburger Hochthron, is at 1853 meters and a slightly higher summit is in Germany. I cruised down and was at the Glanegg bus stop at 1:50 pm, 15 minutes before the next bus back to Salzburg arrived right on time. The Glanegg stop is just outside the
Salzburg city bus zone so the ride back to town costs 1€ extra (even with a 24 hour pass) but you can walk a few minutes north to the next stop which is within the city limits.
There are more photos below