The Eisriesenwelt in Werfen is not only the largest Ice Cave in Austria but the largest ice cave in the world. Therefore, it’s no wonder the Eisriesenwelt Werfen is one of the 3 most popular day trips from Salzburg. It is located near the town of Werfen about 40 kilometers south of Salzburg. The Cave was discovered by accident in 1879 which was an adventure worth knowing about.
Nowadays, the visit to the Eisriesenwelt Werfen is less dangerous but still more adventurous than most other touristy things. The cave is 42 kilometers deep but we can only explore the first kilometer on our tour of the Werfen Ice Cave.
|€35,- (details below)
|May – October
|8:30 – 15:00
|Day Trip Duration
|Duration from Werfen
|Ice Cave Tour
|0 degrees celsius
When to visit the Eisriesenwelt in Werfen?
Season: The Eisriesenwelt Werfen is a seasonal activity. That’s because the Cave is located at 1700 meters of altitude and in winter there is snow all the way to Cave Entrance. It would be impossible to get there but also the conditions in the cave would not be right in winter.
Time of Day: The Eisriesenwelt Werfen receives about 200.000 visitors a year and that is only in summer. Therefore, you can imagine, that it gets busy, especially if you visit in the months of June, July or August. We talked to the visitors center staff and the guide and they told us, that the best time of the day to avoid the crowds at the world’s largest Ice Cave is in the early morning or for one of the last tours of the day.
Best Weather Conditions: Some think that the Eisriesenwelt Werfen might be a bad weather activity since it’s indoors but that’s a common misconception. The caves are inside but the way to the cave would not only be uncomfortable in bad weather but it would also be a pity to miss the Alpine landscape when it’s covered in clouds.
How to prepare for an Eisriesenwelt Visit?
- Make sure to bring warm clothes! The temperature inside the cave is around 0 degrees even in summer when it’s hot outside. For that reason, even in summer, you need to wear winter clothing to visit the Ice Cave in Werfen.
- Make sure to wear good shoes! You have to climb 700 steps up and another 700 steps down. These steps due to the climate inside the World’s largest Ice Cave are wet and slippery.
- There is no need to bring a camera. Okay, that’s not entirely true. You will most likely want a camera to document your way up to the Cave Entrance which includes two hikes and the most amazing Alpine landscape but inside the Eisriesenwelt Werfen photography is prohibited. That’s partly because of the previous point I made.
When 30 people are distracted by selfies, climbing 1400 slippery steps would be dangerous. Also, they tell you that not taking pictures helps preserve the cave but honestly, it’s nice that everyone spends 70 minutes being in the moment and the caves are too dark for proper photography anyway.
How much is the Ticket to the Eisriesenwelt
The regular ticket for an adult to the Eisriesenwelt Werfen costs €35,- in 2022, if you get your ticket at the visitors center and €32,-, if you pre-book your ticket at the webshop of the Werfen Ice Cave.
In the table below you can see that there are cave-only or cable-car-only tickets.
Those who wish to hike to the entrance of the ice caves can skip the cable car, but they must be experienced alpinists. If you don’t know what you’re doing, the hike can be dangerous.
Buying just the cable car ticket would make no sense because there isn’t much to do on the mountain except to visit the Werfen Ice Caves. If you want only to ride the cable car and not visit an ice cave, if you just want to be on the mountain, there are cable cars that are easier to reach, such as the Untersbergbahn.
|Prices in 2022
|Youth 15-18 years
|Children 5-14 years
|at the visitors center
|at the online shop
|cable car up & down
|cable car one way
How to Get to the Eisriesenwelt
Eisriesenwelt by Public Transport: To reach the Eisriesenwelt Werfen by public transport, always take the train to Werfen first. The most popular starting point for a trip to Werfen is Salzburg. For example, if you want to get to the Ice Cave from Vienna or if you want to reach the Eisriesenwelt from Innsbruck, you still have to change trains in Salzburg. It’s only if you’re coming from a less popular place like Villach or Klagenfurt, or from Slovenia, that you would go directly to Werfen.
Once you reach Werfen you take a shuttle bus to the visitors center (Besucherzentrum Eisriesenwelt) where you buy your tickets for both, the Eisriesenwelt cable car and the Ice Cave entrance. From the visitors center, you walk 10-20 minutes to the cable car, take the cable car and hike another 10-20 minutes to the entrance of the Eisriesenwelt where your tour guide awaits you.
Read this article for detailed instructions on how to get to the Eisriesenwelt from Salzburg by public transport.
Eisriesenwelt by Car: If you have a car at your disposal, the Eisriesenwelt is a convenient 40-minute drive from Salzburg. The A10 takes you to Werfen, and in Werfen, you will see signs for Eisriesenwelt. It is not worth renting a car if you do not have one. From Salzburg, you can also only drive to the visitors center, so the hike, cable car, and the other hike are still on the schedule.
Private Tour to the Eisriesenwelt: There used to be public tours to the Eisriesenwelt by Panorama tours, the largest tour operator in Salzburg, but considering the already high entrance fee to the Ice Cave, it turned out to not be profitable and was discontinued.
However, private tours to the Eisriesenwelt are available. It’s not required since, same as when traveling by car, you still have to hike twice, take the cable and join the same guided tour inside the ice cave but if you are a group of people, don’t have a car, and/or prefer not to deal with public transportation, you might want to consider a private guide from Salzburg to explore the world’s largest ice cave. For more information on private tours to the Ice Caves, click here.
The Tour of the World’s largest Ice Cave
When visiting the largest Ice Cave in the World, you need to join a guided tour once you reach the Cave entrance. That’s the same tour for everyone no matter if you travel to Werfen on your own or if you join a private tour. The guide is always provided by the people who run the Ice Giant World. From my experience, the guides are humorous, passionate, and well-informed.
At the entrance to the cave, every other person gets a petroleum lamp. That’s actually the only light in the cave except for certain spots where you stop and the guide tells stories or points out certain shapes in the ice. For that purpose, the guide lights phosphor luminaires.
The History of the largest Ice Cave in the World
The history of the Werfen Ice Cave dates back to the year 1879. That’s when Anton Posselt made it 200 meters into the cave. The Ice was too steep and Posselt didn’t have the right gear. In 1913 another explorer, Alexander Mörk, climbed the wall that stopped Posselt decades earlier. That’s when it turned out, that the Werfen Ice Cave is 42 kilometers deep and, therefore, the largest Ice Cave in the world.
The first guided tour of the Ice Cave only happened in 1920 but what we explore nowadays in 70 minutes, took 8 hours back then since visitors still had to climb the same Ice Wall Mörk climbed in 1913 for the first time. Alexander von Mörk by the way was buried inside the Cave after his death.
What else is there to do in Werfen?
The main attraction in Werfen is without a doubt the world’s largest Ice Cave. But while the Eisriesenwelt Werfen will be the main purpose of a Werfen visit, there are a couple of more things to do in Werfen:
- Hohenwerfen Fortress: The Hohenwerfen is a medieval fortress built at the same time as the Hohensalzburg Fortress (11th century) by the archbishop of Salzburg. The Hohenwerfen fortress looks great in the middle of the valley. It can be seen everywhere in Werfen and even from the path to the ice cave but a visit is not a must. You might find this article on the Free Walking Tour Salzburg’s Blog helpful when deciding whether or not to visit Hohenwerfen fortress during your day trip to the Eisriesenwelt.
- Sound of Music Meadow: The Sound of Music meadow in Werfen is really a tourism marketing gig. The Sound of Music meadow is the meadow shown in the movie’s opening scene as well as the picnic scene when Maria teaches the kids the Do-Re-Mi song but was not a thing before 2015. In 2015, for the 50th anniversary of the movie, Werfen came up with the idea to market the meadow as an attraction and it worked.
From Werfen, it takes about an hour to hike to the meadow. On the way there you find information and games and the view from the meadow is worth the hike if you have time to spend before or after the Werfen Ice Cave and decide against visiting the Hohenwerfen fortress.
If you are traveling by car, there would be spots worth stopping by on the way from Salzburg. There is for example the Salt mine in Hallein, the gorgeous Bluntautal valley in Golling, or the Golling waterfall.