Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave



Location: Map

Open: May- Oct

Nearest town:

Werfen- 3 miles (5 km)

Transport: Car or train from Salzburg to Werfen than a bus to the car cable

Official site


Description of Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave

Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave is located 40 km (25 miles) from Salzburg near town of Werfen some 5 km (3 mi) away. It is the largest accessible ice cave in the World with more than 40 km (25 miles) of exposed passageway. The uniqueness of this place is that stalagmites, and stalactites are made of ice that reaches 20 meters in depth in some places. Combined with waterfalls, pools and underground rives Eisriesenwelt offers an experience like no other. Odin’s Room, Hall of Hymir and Frigga’s Veil are some of the names that were given to cave features and take roots from the Nordic mythology. In fact the name of the cave " comes from German and means “World of the Ice Giants”.


Location and description

The cave is located in the Tennengebirge above Wimm near Tenneck in Austria, about 50 km south of Salzburg.

The urn of the researcher Alexander von Mörk, who died in World War I and played a key role, stands above a cave passage inside the cave, which extends 42 kilometers into the mountain. Only the first kilometer is icy and can be visited via a guide.

The entrance portal is 1640 m above sea level. A. After the ice palace, there are no more connected ice plates, that's where the guide part ends. A steep tunnel leads from the Ice Palace to the U-Tunnel. After that comes the Midgards. This passage is the largest in the cave (width between 8 and 30 meters). From there, there are branches in all directions. The end of the cave is the New World at 1595 m.

The ice grows as a result of the chimney effect in the cave, which transports cold air masses up to about 1 km into the cave interior in winter. The rock stores the cold until spring and when it gets warmer outside and the snow starts to melt, water can seep into the cave through cracks and fissures in the rock and freeze to ice.

In summer, the inside of the cave also warms up; 5–10 cm of the ground ice cover melts away again. Everything grows back the following spring. All in all, the ice isn't getting any less - it's getting a little more.



The cave was discovered in 1879 by the Salzburg naturalist Anton Posselt. At that time he succeeded in penetrating about 200 m into the interior of the cave. He couldn't go any further. The ice sheet grew too steep for him; his equipment was too bad. He marked his turning point with a black cross on the rock, the Posselt Cross. Afterwards the cave was again largely forgotten.

In 1913, some researchers, Alexander von Mörk, Erwin Angermayer and Hermann Rihl, succeeded in conquering the steepest part of the ice sheet, the Great Ice Wall. Alexander von Mörk was also the first researcher who dared to pass the Sturmsee, a small passage that was under water at the time. Behind it he discovered a huge hall, which was later named after him. In 1914 Alexander von Mörk had to go into the First World War. There he fell at the age of 27. It was his last wish to be buried in the ice giant world. His wish was granted and he was buried in the Alexander von Mörk Cathedral he discovered in the mid-1920s.

After the end of the First World War, the Salzburg lawyer Friedrich Oedl (1894–1969) pushed research forward from 1919, with the support of his brother Franz Robert Oedl and Leopoldine Fuhrich. He built the first accommodation, the researcher's hut.

The landowners of the Eisriesenwelt are the Austrian Federal Forests. The Salzburg Speleology Association had agreed a provisional lease with them, which in 1928, after the founding of its own Eisriesenwelt-Gesellschaft m.b.H. (whose first managing director was Oedl) was converted into a long-term contract. Erwin Angermayer later became managing director. The income is used for research and development of the cave, the federal forests (as landowners) receive an annual percentage of the entrance fees.


Development and tourism
The first guided tours in the Eisriesenwelt took place in 1920. Today, a cable car takes up to 2,500 guests a day to the vicinity of the cave entrance (Dr. Friedrich Oedl House), with around 150,000 visitors a year. Visitors are given carbide lamps for the tour. The guides illuminate the approximately five ice figures with magnesium light.

Visitors should note that the ascent to the lower cable car station and from the mountain station of the cable car to the cave entrance or with the 1400 steps (700 up and 700 down again) of the cave tour requires a certain level of fitness. The tour lasts about 75 minutes. There is a ban on filming and photography inside the cave, which is justified with feared delays and their effects on the timing of the tours.

Today, the Eisriesenwelt is usually open to visitors between May 1st and October 26th. In the winter months, the cave entrance cannot be reached due to the high alpine location and the risk of avalanches. The temperature in the cave mostly stays below freezing even in summer.