How To Visit The Dachstein Ice Caves & 5 Fingers Lookout Near Hallstatt
You’ve probably heard of Hallstatt – the picturesque lakeside village in Austria, but did you know there’s more to do there than skipping around the lake?
While Hallstatt itself seems like a romantic fairytale, there is more to do during your time there such as exploring the nearby Ice Caves. Here’s our review of the Dachstein Ice Caves & the 5 Fingers Lookout near Hallstatt.
How To Visit The Dachstein Ice Caves
How To Get From Hallstatt To The Ice Caves
The easiest way to reach the Ice Cave is by bus, and catching Postbus 543 which you can catch from the main Hallstatt bus stop (Hallstatt Lahn) opposite the Nah and Frisch Supermarket. It takes about 30 minutes to arrive, you buy tickets on boarding and the Ice Cave is the last stop. The buses were very modern with a screen telling you which bus stop you’re approaching. It seems you can buy a single or a return, but there is no discount in buying a return ticket then and there.
You probably won’t be able to find a taxi to take you, if that is your preference, as Hallstatt didn’t seem to have such a service.
How Long Is Needed To Visit The Ice Cave and Lookout
While you don’t need a full day to visit the Dachstein Ice Cave you should allocate atleast 4 hours for the complete visit, and 2 hours more to see the lookout. At the site there are actually three attractions – the Ice Cave being the most well known, but also the aforementioned lookout and the Mammoth Cave.
You can buy different levels of tickets based on the attractions you want to visit, but we had the all inclusive ticket which I would recommend if you have the time.
The two caves take about 45 minutes each for the tour and we were told it’s best to see the Mammoth Cave first if you’re planning to see both.
For the lookout you’ll need to catch a separate cable car which leaves every 15 minutes and take 5 minutes to reach the top. Once at the top it’ll be around a 30 minute walk to reach the 5 Finger Lookout, and you can also see a prehistoric shark statue a little further off.
Seeing The Dachstein Ice Cave
First things first, the Ice Cave is cold. You’ll want some gloves, a jacket and a beanie to keep yourself warm.
To reach the cave you need to catch a cable car from the base of the mountain. At the point where the cable car stops, it a 15 minute walk up the mountain and it is a rather steep and winding path. If you are fit you’ll be fine just take breaks if you get tired. If you aren’t as fit, allow an extra 5 minutes or more to reach the top so you can have extra breaks.
You are given your tour time before walking up so you can allocate your time accordingly.
Inside, there are two main areas within the cave. The outer area of the cave where there is a higher temperature, and an inner area with much more ice and lower temperatures. Your tour guide will explain details for you as you walk through the different areas, I suspect you get a more in depth explanation if you speak in German though (he explains in both German and English).
Further along you’ll be shown sections where bears used to hibernate in cave, you even get to see some (family friendly) remains.
Please understand that flash photography is not permitted, neither are tripods.
How To Visit The 5 Fingers Lookout
Upon picking up our tickets we were asked if we had appropriate shoes as there would be snow at the top.
Before moving to China Steven and I grew up in the perennially sunny Brisbane in Australia, with Steven only seeing snow once before last year in Yangzhou. Needless to say this quickly turned into the highlight of our time here.
You’ll need to hop on the second cable car to make your way up to the 5 fingers look out.
Due to the snow, we didn’t actually make the walk there due to a mix of distraction, not dressing warmly enough and questions such as “will we actually be able to walk there in snow?”
We were able to look less wimpy as some fog approached and we couldn’t see very far anyway, so we decided to hang out near the cable car building. Since we had made it to the top anyway, we decided to do what every twenty something with an Instagram following would do and stage an impromptu snow photo shoot.
That was our review of the Dachstein Ice Caves in Austria. We would recommend adding them to your itinerary if you are visiting Hallstatt or Salzburg.
We were hosted by the Salzkammergut Tourism Board in exchange for an honest review.