The Eisriesenwelt ice cave near Werfen in Austria is one of the more incredible places that I have visited over the years. I have seen a lot of caves and so it takes something pretty spectacular to impress me but this place had the wow factor in spades.
I was actually enjoying a week of adventures sports at the time and hadn’t really intended to do any sightseeing but I was heartily glad that a last minute change of plan sent me in the direction of those caves. The whole visit turned out to be a wonderful adventure!
A Bit of a Hike
In order to visit Eisriesenwelt you must first take a cable car ride up the mountain as the cave is situated a fair way up the face of the peak. The cable car journey is followed by a hike up to the cave entrance which can be a challenge for some visitors. By the time I arrived at the meeting point for the tour I was already thinking that this was a cave visit with a difference. I stood outside eagerly anticipating the arrival of the guide who eventually appeared from behind a large wooden door set into the side of the mountain.
There was quite a sizable group waiting for the tour and the guide handed out a number of lanterns which looked like old miners lamps. Now the whole thing seemed like even more of an adventure as we entered a dark corridor hewn into the rock which led down to the ice cave.
As soon as I entered the first cavern I was transfixed. Huge rivers and waterfalls of ice surrounded me and the whole place was unbelievably beautiful. As we all worked our way through the succeeding caverns the guide periodically switched on illuminations which turned the cave into a fairytale landscape like something befitting the Ice Queen. I had never seen anything like this extraordinary sight before and couldn’t believe that hidden inside that mountain was such a magical and memorable secret.
I could have stayed in those caves all day even if it was a little chilly to say the least. Unfortunately the tour all too soon came to end and I had to walk back down to the cable car and then descend to the car park. All was not lost, however, as Werfen had another attraction worthy of a visit whilst I happened to be in the area.
Schloss Hohenwerfen is a fabulous castle which sits on a hill in the centre of the valley. It was the castle used in the movie “Where Eagles Dare” and proved to be an interesting place to spend some time. The bird of prey displays were excellent, the architecture fascinating and the views across the valley truly beautiful.
Since my visit I have earnestly wished to return to those caves, and the castle, but have not managed it so far. I have also developed a love for miner’s lamps which is a little odd! They remind me of my adventure in the cave and are far more atmospheric than torches!
Article by Sally Stacey