September 2012
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The Eisriesenwelt is a natural limestone ice cave located in Werfen, Austria.

The Eisriesenwelt, which means “World of the Ice Giants”, is a natural limestone ice cave that is located in Werfen, Austria.

Overview of The Eisriesenwelt

• This is about 40 km south of Salzburg.
• The cave is inside the Hochkogel Mountain in the Tennengebirge section of the Alps.
• It is the largest ice cave in the world.
• It extends more than 42km.
• It is visited by about 200,000 tourists every year.
• The Tennengebirge Mountains were formed during the late Tertiary period.
• This was during the Würm glaciation period of the Pleistocene.
• The mountain range is one of the massifs in the Austrian Alps.
• It is the largest karst plateau in the Salzburger Alps.
• Eisriesenwelt is located at the rim of this plateau.
• The cave has a length of 42 km but only the first kilometer area the tourists are allowed to visit and is covered in ice.
• The rest of the cave is formed of limestone.
• Eisriesenwelt was formed by the Salzach river.
• This was when it was eroded into passageways into the mountain.
• The ice formations in the cave were formed by thawing snow which drained into the cave and froze during winter.
• The entrance to the caves is open year-round.
• Chilly winter winds blow into the cave and freeze the snow inside.
• In summer, a cold wind from inside the cave blows toward the entrance and prevents the formations from melting.
• The first official discovery of Eisriesenwelt was by Anton Posselt.
• He was a natural scientist from Salzburg, in 1879.
• He only explored the first two hundred meters of the cave.
• Before his discovery, the cave was known only to locals.
• It was believed that it was an entrance to hell and refused to explore it.
• In 1880, Posselt published his findings in a mountaineering magazine.
• Alexander von Mörk, a speleologist from Salzburg, was one of the few people who remembered Posselt’s discovery.
• He led several expeditions into the caves beginning in 1912.
• This were soon followed by other explorers.
• Von Mork was killed in World War I in 1914, and an urn containing his ashes is inside a niche in the cave.
• In 1920, a cabin for the explorers, Forscherhütte, was built.
• The first routes up the mountain were established.
• Tourists began to arrive attracted by the cave’s sudden popularity.
• Later another cabin, the Dr. Oedl House, and paths from Werfen and Tänneck were constructed.
• In 1955 a cable car was built.
• This shortens the 90-minute climb to 3 minutes.
• Today the Eisriesenwelt cave is owned by the National Austrian Forest Commission.
• It has leased it to the Salzburg Association of Cave Exploration since 1928.
• The Forest Commission still receives a percentage of the entrance fees.

Visitor’s Information

• The cave is open from May 1st to October 26th every year.
• Its operating hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in July and August and from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in May/June and September/October.
• Temperatures inside the cave are usually below freezing.
• Warm clothing is recommended.
• Photography is not permitted once visitors are inside the cave.
• The tour begins at the entrance to the cave, and continues inwards to Posselt Hall.
• This is a large room with a stalagmite called Posselt Tower in the center.
• Past the Posselt Tower, one encounters an ashen cross on the wall of the cave.
• This marks the farthest point of exploration of Anton Posselt.
• From there one can see the Great Ice Embankment.
• This is a massive formation.
• It rises to a height of 25 metres and represents the area of greatest ice growth.
• Next is Hymir’s Castle.
• This castle was named after a giant in Norse mythology.
• Here stalactites create a formation called Frigga’s Veil, or the Ice Organ.
• Next on the tour is the Alexander von Mörk Cathedral.
• This is one of the largest rooms in the cave and the final resting place of von Mörk’s ashes.
• The final stop on the tour is the Ice Palace.
• This is a kilometre into the cave and 400 metres underground.
• From here, visitors must turn around and walk back through the caves to reach the entrance.
• The round-trip tour through the cave takes around one hour and 15 minutes.
• The Eisriesenwelt is open to tourists from May 1 until late October.

Guided Tour

• The guided 75-minute tours start at 9 a.m., with the last tour departing at 3:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. in July and August).
• When you enter the caves, the guide will hand you an open-flame carbide lamp.
• Several times during the tour, the guide will disappear behind an ice sculpture or formation and set off a magnesium flare.
• The effect of the intense bluish-white light is stunning.
• This throws every detail of the ice into sharp relief.
A few points worth noting are:
• During the tour, you’ll climb a total distance of 134m (440 ft).
• The caves are chilly, with temperatures averaging 0° C (32° F) or below.

Cost of the Guided Tour
• A combined cablecar/cave ticket is priced at €16 for adults, €14.50 for members of mountaineering or caving clubs, and €8 for children of 14 and under.
• You can save money by hiking up and down the mountain or taking the cablecar in just one direction.

Other places to see in Austria

1. Lake Constance
• This is a big lake situated in Vorarlberg.
• This lake is shared with Switzerland and Germany.

2. Kaprun
This is a part of the Europa Sport Region.

3. Pinswang
• This is one of the most ancient settlements of the North Tyrolean Ausserfern.
• This is on the border with Bavaria.
• It takes a short walk or drive to the famous King Ludwig’s castles.

4. Salzkammergut
St. Anton
• This is a popular ski resort in Austria.
• This resort is on the Vorarlberg-Tyrolean border.

5. Thermenland
• This is one of Austria’s warmest lakes.

6. Zell am See
• This is one of the most important alpine tourist towns in Austria.

7. High Mountain National Park
• This is in the Zimmertal Alps.
• It peaks up to 3476m, narrow gorges and steep cliffs.

8. National Park Thayatal
• This park combines beautiful valley landscapes with a variety of castles and ruined fortresses.

9. Grossglockner
• The country’s highest peak is called Grossglockner.
• It is located on the border between Carinthia and the East Tyrol.
• Grossglockner High Alpine Road, with its gorgeous panorama’s is highly recommended to get a great view.

10. Villgratental
• At the feet of mountain peaks you’ll find luscious valleys.
• This includes Villgratental.

11. River Danube
• The river Danube created some beautiful valley landscapes.
• Here you’ll now find famous vineyards.
• Wachau and Dunkelsteinerwald in Lower Austra are fine (and protected) examples.
• The valley landscapes and hillsides are dotted with countless picturesque villages.

12. Historical places

• Austria boasts a wealth of majestic architecture and historic structures.
• It was long a centre of power in the Holy Roman Empire.
• Here you will find palaces and magnificent city architecture.
• Addition to these you will find grand cathedrals, monasteries and churches.

• This is the country’s capital and most popular destination.
• It is packed with Medieval and Baroque structures.
• Schonbrunn Palace with its 1441 rooms is the absolute highlight.
• Tiergarten Schönbrunn, is the oldest zoo in the world.
• The 12th century St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the most prominent religious building.
• Salzburg combines delightful Alpine surroundings with a beautifully preserved historic center.
• Innsbruck, at the heart of Tyrol is a historical place. The Mariazell Basilica in Mariazell is one of the country’s most visited attractions and an important pilgrimage destination.

Murauer Bier
• The Murauer Brewery has a permament brewing museum.
• Turn up on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
• The tour includes the museum, brew house, a video presentation and a free Murauer beer or lemonade in any of their bars in the town.
• Price: 3€

Judenburg Sternenturm
• There is a (locally) famous planetarium.
• The town also has a town tower.
• It offers views of the entire area.

Burg Riegersberg
• This wonderfully preserved medieval castle is privately owned by the ruling family of Liechtenstein.
• Entry is cheap.
• The castle can be reached by walking up the original access path that winds its way through the castle’s defensive gates.
• There is a cable car which ascends the other side of the hill.

Zotter Chocolate
• Also near, Riegersberg is the Zotter chocolate factory.
• They make all their chocolate in an ethical and organic manner.
• The tour of the factory allows you to taste all of their varieties of chocolate (around 150).

Things to do there:

– Skiing and Snowboarding
– Cycle Touring
– Music
– Movies

• Most trails and mountain huts are maintained by the Austrian Alpine Club.
• Some are run by other equivalent organizations, such as the German, Dutch and Italian Alpine Clubs.
• Mountain huts are meant to be shelters, not hotels.
• During the high season (August), it’s a good idea to book in advance.
• Prices for the night are usually around 10-20€ (half for Alpine Club members).
• Meals and drinks are quite expensive.

Best time to visit / climate

– Austria has a temperate continental climate.
– Summers last from early June to mid-September.
– It can be hot in some years and rainy in others.
– Winters are cold in the lowlands and very harsh in the Alpine region.
– In alpine region the temperatures often drop below -10° C (14° F).
– Winters last from December to March.
– In the Alpine region large temperature fluctuations occur all year round and nights are chilly even in high summer.
– The area around Vienna often experiences strong easterly winds.
– The high season is August.

Location on Google Maps

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How to get to The Eisriesenwelt?

1. By Car
• On the A10 motorway, drive about 40 km (25 mi) south from Salzburg to Werfen, then follow the signs for Eisriesenwelt.
• The parking lot is about 5 km (3 mi) northeast of the town.

2. By Train
• Buy a ticket for Werfen. From the Werfen train station, you can catch a bus or van to the Eisriesenwelt parking lot.
• Once you’ve reached the parking lot, you’ll walk about 15 minutes to the Wimmer Hütte, where you’ll find the lower station of an aerial cable railway.
• A 15-passenger gondola will whisk you up the mountain face to the Dr.-Oedl Haus, a pleasantly old-fashioned Gasthaus where you can get a drink, a snack, a meal, or a simple room for the night.
• From the Dr-Oedl Haus, it’s another 15-minute walk to the cave entrance.
• Although the cave tour itself lasts only 75 minutes, you should allow three to five hours for the complete trip from Werfen.

How to get to Austria?

1. By plane
• There are 6 airports in Austria with scheduled flights.
• The most important international airport is Vienna.
• This has connection to all major airports of the world.
• Other international airports include Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz, and Salzburg.
• They provide domestic flights as well as connections to some European countries.
• Those airports are particularly popular with cheap airlines such as Ryanair.
• For traveling to the western states it is recommended to use the very close Munich airport.
• The most common airports to visit Vorarlberg are Altenrhein (Austrian), Friedrichshafen (Ryanair, Intersky) and Zurich (Swiss).
• If visiting Austria for winter sports, choose airport considering cost and duration for the whole trip (plane+transfer).

2. By Bus
Eurolines Austria has bus schedules from Austria to all major European countries and back.

3. By Car
From Germany
– Motorway A8 from Munich to Salzburg.
– Motorway A93 from Rosenheim via Kufstein to Innsbruck, Tyrol.
– E43 (A96) from Leutkirch via Wangen to Bregenz, Vorarlberg.
– E56 from Regensburg via Passau to Linz, Upper Austria.
From Italy
– Motorway A23 to Villach, Carinthia.
– E54 via Brenner to Innsbruck, Tyrol.
From Slovenia
– E652 to Villach,Carinthia.
– E57 via Spielfeld to Graz, Styria.

4. By Train
• The OBB (Austrian Railways) operate high-speed ICE and RailJet trains from cities like Zurich,Munich,Frankfurt, Passau, and Budapest.
• Eurocity trains are the next fastest trains.
• Regional trains called EURegio and simplyRegionalzug are also avialible from all 8 of Austria’s neighbors.

Austria & the Alps 2000 – 2007 DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Austria Frommer’s Austria

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