After the deep relaxing days amidst nature in the national park, we set out to explore the vivid lovely town of Hallstatt, the unique Eisriesenwelt caves, and of course the lovely Salzburg city. If you have not read our post about our visit to the Hohe Tauern National Park in Austria, you can find it here.
The famous ice caves- Eisriesenwelt is swarmed with tourists every year but cannot be missed at any cost! I mean it! We are talking about the largest natural ice caves that can be explored by people like you and me, and then the views inside the caves make you gasp each time the guide lights up his magic magnesium stick to show the beauty around. Yes, you can only visit the caves in groups lead by authorized guides, who speak English and German. When you enter into the caves, through the iron gate, a strong gush of wind hits you. You are warned about the back draft by the guides, so don't worry! The caves are dark, cold and gigantic but worth every penny you spend. What you see inside the cave is breathtaking, the ice formations forces you to take a guess. A giant shark or a staggering cathedral, what does it look like after all. Do not forget to carry warm water proof jacket, preferably with a hood. You don’t want the icy water dripping down your neck during the tour. Do check out their website for important information.
Now let’s talk about getting there! It quite an adventure hence a special note. First part is to reach the ticket office and later to the entrance of the caves. To get here by public transport is easier than by car, especially if you are not sure of your driving skills in steep mountain hairpins. If you do plan to drive, reaching before 0900 hrs will be a wise decision. I can explain why I say that. The ticket office opens at 0800 hrs and the entire round trip from ticket office takes around 3 hours. Hence if you reach later, chances are, parking would be very difficult to find and you can expect long queue at the ticket office.
Our favorite part of the entire visit was the hike to the entrance of the caves! It’s filled with extremely beautiful views. You would want to stop every now and then to take pictures. Taking short breaks is also needed because it is a strenuous hike across scree ridden mountain sides on a rather undefined path.
Holding a tiny piece of land between the green Hallstätter Lake and imposing mountains, the little village of Hallstatt is a dream come true. Placid waters with glistening reflection of pastel hued houses complemented by flowery window sills make for a perfect postcard picture. Walking around in the old town gives a great feel of the fairytale village! However, we can highly recommend enjoying excellent panorama views from a boat ride or from the viewing platform that hovers 350m above the roofs of Hallstatt.
Hallstatt is also known for the salt mines in the hills above. You can take a funicular ride up to the spectacular Salzwelten- the oldest salt mines in the world! Sadly, the day we visited Hallstatt, it was a rather gloomy, rainy day. Even in the drizzly weather, there were quite a number of peeps hanging out in the unmissable town. If you want to explore the town of Hallstatt for more than a couple of days, consider staying in the nearby town of Obertaun which is not so popular yet and still has its charm.
The mythical town of Salzburg is filled effortlessly with old world charm. Alstadt’s montage of baroque domes, river Salzach bisecting the city, the staggering clifftop fortress- Festung Hohensalzburg and the mountainous backdrop- all add in for a unique character which no other European city can match. We walked around the charismatic old town, the famous shopping street- Getreidegasse, ate the famous sacher torte in Hotel Sacher across the river Salzach to experience the city at its best. To our surprise, Salzburg had much more to offer. We pushed our way further into the alleys dominated by baroque architecture, where concert music breeze through open windows and outdoor cafes serve the best coffee and cake, wandered through the St. Peter’s cemetery where graves are decorated with their intricate wrought iron work.
Salzburg is renowned for it’s home grown genius Mozart and the sound of music tour, but we ducked the tourist bling-bling and instead walked up to the Museum der Moderne. There are two structures of the museum, MdM Rupertinum which is very close to the old town and the other, MdM Mönchsberg. The views from the Mönchsberg mountain is widely regarded as the best. We walked our way up through the woodland walking trails for 20 minutes or so. On our way, we enjoyed sweeping views over the city in either direction and once we reached the museum terrace the view was absolutely mesmerizing! We can highly recommend this short trek.
To sum it up, there is a lot to do in these three regions. We spent a total of two days here and it was enough to get a taste of Austria’s tradition in Salzburg, the fairytale impression in Hallstatt and the icy adventure in Eisriesenwelt.
Have you experienced any of these places? What was your favorite place in Austria? Do share with us, we would love to know about it.