The World’s Largest Ice Caves
Eisriesenwelt (World of ice giants) is a system of caves of 42 km in the Alps, near Salzburg.
In Hochkogel-Westwand, an area of Austria located 40 km south of Salzburg, and at 1,666 meters high, there is an “ice world” to discover. And although only one section is open to the public, it is more than enough to be surprised by incredible beauty and feel a haunting mystery before a system of ice-covered caves that is over 30,000 square meters and 42 km long.
The giant ice world Eisriesenwelt is located on the heights of the alpine massifs of Tennen near the picturesque village of Werfen. The guided tours enter by a huge entrance of 20 m wide and 18m of high to which from the parking – 5 km from Werfen, is reached by a cable car that ascends several meters in only 3 minutes, or half an hour walking by stairs that zigzag down the slopes of the Alps.
If you prefer to enjoy the scenery or do not feel comfortable driving on a mountain route, you can reach the parking lot on a bus from the public bus company of Werfen.
Guided tours are from May 1st to October 26th, from 9 am to 3:30 pm, and are always run by experienced guides who provide scientific and historical explanations. It lasts about an hour and a quarter, and in the first section after entering, of about a kilometer, you see impressive formations of ice of great purity, which is in charge of everything because the place was declared “national monument”.
The visitors have lights similar to the lanterns of the miners, which allow exploring the passages through tunnels and steps between the ice, with long stairs that rise and fall and cross different sectors, such as Diamantenreich (the kingdom of diamonds). In the light of these lamps, stalactites, walls of ice and natural sculptures of crystalline beauty shine with surprising effects.
Every visit to the place should also include a walk through Werfen, crowned by the impressive medieval castle of Hohenwerfen, on top of a steep mountain.
Remember that even though it is summer and in the valley, it is 30 degree, inside the cave the temperature is almost always below 0ºC, so wear a coat. It is also advisable to climb early, because from mid-morning queues are formed, and some days in July or August, especially at noon, the parking lot may fill, and you have to return halfway.