Location: Krimml Map
Entrance Fee: €2.50, children €0.50, Dec- Apr Free
Open: tickets mid- April- late Oct 8am- 6pm
With a total drop of 385 m, the Krimml Waterfalls are the
highest waterfalls in Austria. You are on the outskirts of the town of
Krimml (Salzburger Land) in the Hohe Tauern National Park. They are
formed by the Krimmler Ache, which falls in three stages at the end of
the high Krimmler Achental. The water then flows into the Salzach, along
the Pinzgau in the direction of Salzburg and reaches the confluence with
The extraordinary height of the fall (the upper, middle and lower Aachfall have a height of 145 m, 100 m and 140 m) results from the geological formation of this mountain region: When the central parts of the Alps bulged up about 30 million years ago, caused by the collision of the African with the Eurasian plate, the upper Salzach valley remained. This difference in elevation was exacerbated during the Ice Age by a powerful ice flow that carved the main valleys deep. The fact that the waterfall steps have been preserved at this height is explained by the fact that a zone of particularly hard rock (granite) comes to light here (Tauern window), at the edge of which the waterfalls are located.
Amount of water
The Krimmler Ache is a typical glacier stream. 12% of its catchment area of 110.7 km² is glaciated, which results in a strongly changing water flow during the course of the day and the year. In the months of June and July, around 5.6 m³/s flow, whereas in February it is only around 0.14 m³/s. The largest outflow to date was reached during the flood of August 25, 1987 with a maximum of 166.7 m³/s, which led to massive destruction. The daily maximum of discharge occurs between 9 p.m. and midnight because the meltwater takes 9-12 hours to travel the 18 km from the glacier snout to the falls.
The enormous amount of water combined with the high head naturally means a correspondingly high level of hydropower and thus potentially recoverable electrical energy. As early as 1899, attempts were made for the first time to “hand over the Krimml Waterfalls to the hands of an entrepreneur for factory purposes”. However, it was not realized. The main counter-arguments were, on the one hand, the strongly changing amount of water and, on the other hand, the tourism that was already flourishing. In the years that followed, this should again and again fend off covetousness from the part of the energy industry, until such considerations were finally off the table in 1967 with the award of the European Nature Conservation Diploma by the Council of Europe.
According to a study by the Paracelsus Medical Private University, the water mist should alleviate asthma symptoms due to its content of electrically charged particles. However, experts criticize the validity of the study as insufficient.
As early as the High Middle Ages there was a mule track along the waterfalls and the Achental via the Krimmler Tauern (2,633 m) to South Tyrol. The most important trade goods transported are salt to the south and wine to the north. The Krimmler Tauernhaus, which is still managed today as an important rest stop, was first mentioned in a document in 1389.
In the 16th century, the mule traffic over the Krimmler Tauern was obviously so important that a new route was laid out. The surrounding nature does not interest the travelers of the time. The Krimmler Tauernweg is created accordingly: It only leads to the waterfalls if it is absolutely necessary from the terrain.
It was not until the 18th century that the English, in particular, began to travel voluntarily, often out of scientific interest. In order for travelers to be able to see more of the Krimml Waterfalls without much effort, the caretaker from Mittersill, Ignaz von Kürsinger, had a path built to the upper end of the lower fall around 1835, "and there a little tourist and painter's house" (photographers were still there not common). In 1879, the Pinzgau section of the German and Austrian Alpine Association expanded the Krimmler Tauernweg into a panoramic trail.
Path at the waterfall since the beginning of the 20th century
The Warnsdorf section laid the path in 1901. The construction had become necessary because after the construction of the Pinzgau local railway from Zell am See to Krimml in 1897, the number of visitors had increased drastically (1905: 8,600 visitors). From 1904 the section on the Krimmler Wasserfallweg started collecting a toll for the maintenance costs of the path (1904: 36 Heller, 2004: €1.50, 2006: €1.80, 2008: €2, 2010: €2.50, 2014: €3.00, 2020: €4.00, 2021: €5.00). The path now runs close to the waterfall and winds up in narrow and steep serpentines. Therefore, visitors should be in good physical condition if they want to climb the waterfall all the way up. Very nice views are offered from several vantage points. The path belongs to the Warnsdorf/Krimml section of the Austrian Alpine Club, which takes care of maintenance and safety.
In the 2010s, the Krimml Waterfalls are one of the major tourist attractions in Austria, with an average of 400,000 visitors, which, in addition to the positive effects on the local economy, also brings problems. These include, on the one hand, the traffic load and, on the other hand, the damage caused by footsteps and erosion in the area of the path.
After climbing to the upper edge of the falls along the waterfall path (approx. one hour), there are various options for further hiking along the Krimmler Achental: After two hours, the Krimmler Tauernhaus (1,631 m) can be reached. From there you can either follow the Achental to the Warnsdorfer Hütte (2,336 m, three hours, Warnsdorf/Krimml section) or turn off into the Rainbachtal and after three hours reach the Richterhütte (2,374 m, Bergfreunde/Rheydt section).
The Salzburg bus routes 670 and 671 currently stop at the nearby Krimmler Wasserfalle stop. There is ample visitor parking next to the bus stop. There are plans on the part of the Krimml municipality to extend the Pinzgau local railway, which currently ends in Vorderkrimml, to the aforementioned bus stop.