Chapter Wanderlust: Dachstein Ice Cave and 5 Fingers Lookout

Hello 2018! While 2017 have been totally amazing for me and this blog as well, I have been to countless cities and countries, I am so looking forward to an equally amazing 2018! While I do not have any concrete travel plans at this moment since the main concern for me would be getting a job and university! Some of my travel aim would be Penang, Hanoi, Bali, Taiwan, Japan and New Zealand. If I am more adventurous I might even head to Isle of Skye or to chase the northern lights! Back to Hallstatt now! In the previous posts I mentioned that besides the town of Hallstatt itself, the two main attractions that you have to head to would be the Salt Mine and the other one would be Dachstein Ice Cave and 5 Fingers Lookout. Even though I have plan for a two night stay in Hallstatt, I really wanted to take a step back and enjoy the town, stroll around and experience the whole place. That actually leaves me with only a full day to take an excursion. Between the salt mine and the alps, I choose the later. The ice cave, 5 fingers outlook are all part of the attractions of Dachstein Krippenstein, which is an Austrian alps located near the town of Hallstatt.

It is close to Hallstatt, roughly about a 15 to 20 mins bus ride away. The bus ride is easy since there is only one bus heading there. You can check the schedule at the bus stop. Although I have to say that you can’t really find information online and perhaps you can do so at the tourists office. Due to the time that I arrived and the decision that I made to head out early, the tourists office had not open! Just go with it was the style this time around. Bus 543 would connect both Hallstatt and the Dachstein Krippenstein. You can find the schedule at the bus stop which in Hallstatt is right opposite the supermarket in the lower town. The place where my bed and breakfast is just opposite! I would say that the bus runs about half an hour and on the weekends there are less bus so make sure you don’t miss them.

The bus stop at Dachstein Krippenstein stops right in front of the cable car entrance and here is also the place where you can bus the tickets and get the cable car ride. I took the first bus out on a saturday which was about half past 8. The timing is great since I arrive, got the tickets and the cable car just started its operations. The tickets for the bus can be bought from the bus driver. Have some small change! It cost 2.10 for a single ride or 4.20 for a return. The price cost the same be it a single ride or return. I will suggest getting just a single ride! Since I totally wasted my return ticket which I will share later on.

The bus is comfy and spacious, seemingly in the morning there isn’t much people as well. I met this Australian couple from Perth which I had a nice chat with on the way there. In the end we even become photo buddies and check out the ice caves together! Sometimes it is really nice to meet fellow like minded travel buddies! The bus ride wasn’t too long which I spend most of the time talking to my new friends, they had really cute names too. Jack and Gill! Hi! if somehow you are reading this! The bus stops in a couple of the nearby villages before heading up a steep winding route all the mountain. I think if I do come here another time I would choose to bike up from Hallstatt since the surrounding views are really great and scenic! I got the all inclusive tickets which came at 44.40 Euros but after a discount since I am staying at the hotel it came down to 41.30 Euros. It is still pricey but definitely worth it! I will recommend you to plan which attractions that you will like to visit since there are many different tickets options, they range from 30 Euros to the most expensive all inclusive one at 44.40 Euros.

The first cable car ride takes you to the midstation of the mountain, there is also the main place for all the attractions and the necessity that you can find. There is a restaurant and some stalls here! The views here are really nice, with the cold weather coming many of the trees and leaves are in Autumn colors which are so so beautiful! There are just so gorgeous! Here is also an office where you can book your excursion to the Ice Caves or the Mammut Caves! Even though you have the tickets already, you will have to come here to check the timings! Both of the caves are guided ones so you will have to adhere to the timings! There are also a max size for them so everything is on a first come first serve basis. The staff also advise me to make my way earlier since it will be a “15 Mins” walk to the ice caves.

The ice caves would be the first attraction that I would be visiting. As usual since it is the caves it would be in the mountain. Happily strolling up the mountain me and snapping pictures the path gets seemingly hard and steep. Thankfully I have much time to spare BECAUSE IT IS UPHILL AND A CLIMB, THE PERSON SAY IT IS 15MINS BUT NOT 15MINS UPHILL! HAHAH! A couple of us were joking about this because the ticket person made it sounds so easy! Phew! It was a climb. Make more time to spare because it will definitely take longer than 15mins! But do enjoy the views because they are really impressive, here are a few shameless photos of me!

I really like the tour that they runs here. We met at the entrance to the Ice Caves and there were like 10 to 15 people, really close and knit. It felt like you get a private informative tour of the Ice Caves! The tour guide was also nice to accommodate both English and German since there were half half each! It was really nice since there was the Australian couple I met, some from Thailand and also an exchange student from Taiwan. Really great! The duration of the tour is approx 1 hr and you get really tons of information. The temperature inside fluctuates around -2 degrees to 3 degrees in different parts of it. Do take care as it is really slippery inside. Although I have to say the steps and walkway are really well maintained!

Do remember to dress warm. I was freezing inside with only my thin down jacket and a leather jacket. I am sorry that I couldn’t really get good pictures inside since it is really dark. But the ice formations inside are really cool and huge. It is nice to see how they melts in the summer and then gains in size in the winter. It was not an easy tour to do since there are many steps inside as well, but definitely worth it! Climbing in the cold sure isn’t easy. Some of the famed ice formations had names like St. Arthur’s Dome, Ice Palace, Parsifal DomeBig Ice Chapel. 

It is sure magical to see the colors of the ice in different shades of blue with different lightnings and learn about all these natural formation! It might be a sight that we will never see again in the future due to global warming. To sum it up the ices are form by cold air that is being trapped in the caves that freeze up the water. Which means even when the weather outside is warm, ice may still form inside. At the exit of the caves you get a super good and awesome view of the Krippenstein and the famous lake Hallstättersee. I got one of my favourite photo here. Thank you Alice form Taiwan!

The walk back to the mid station had even more impressive views although I have to just look see and walk since it kind of start drizzling. Which is the reason why I skip heading to the Mammoth Cave and head straight up the alps since I was super afraid that the cable car will be discontinued due to weather. After all The 5 Fingers is the main point why I am here. I am so thankful to have Alice to tour around the place together and we sure had a nice time walking around and helping each other with photos.

At the top of the mountain there was a lodge and also a restaurant although it doesn’t seems to be open! I am surprised to see a guy spending his night up there since it was cold and the wind was so strong. The top had really good views over the surrounding.

I spend some time walking around and stopping for photos. The 5 Fingers Viewpoint was a walk and the reference time on the board was definitely unreal. In fact you will take much longer to stop for photos and admire the views. Sometimes the wind really could blow you off. The signs were well posted and there is only one route so you shouldn’t get lost. Check out the pictures on my walk there! Just take the usual precaution, I even saw some elderly doing the hike as well!

The reason why The 5 Fingers Viewpoint got its name is because it was shaped like a hand with 5 fingers that spread out over the alps and you can get a perfect bird eyes view of the whole Hallstatt, the Hallstättersee lake and the inner Salzkammergut region. The 5 different viewpoints are slightly angled and you can get different views. Each of them gives you a thrilling experience as it you are standing right over the lake and mountain! You might shiver and feel that you are going to fall, especially when the wind start gusting! You sure feel suspended in the air! Damn it! I wish I could just sky dive from here! In fact I think The 5 Fingers is the most impressive view point that I have ever been to, it is even better than Mt Titlis! It will give you the adrenaline since it is almost a 400ft drop into the ravine! Don’t fall!

It is really that impressive. I decided to make a trip back to Hallstatt since the weather is getting bad and it start to rain. I am also famished at this point. Which I would like to have lunch back in town since it is going to be cheaper. Do watch your time and cater enough time to make it to the bus stop since you will have to wait for both cable cars. Sadly I missed the return bus back to Hallstatt. Not wanting to wait for another hour, I shared a cab with the Australian couple back to Hallstatt. It was 16 Euros for the short 10 mins ride, thankfully I only paid about 5 Euros plus, so glad to have made friends. This is also the reason why I suggest you do not get the return ticket for the bus! Anw the price is the same, so you can just get it when taking the bus back. If you need a cab, the staff at the ticket counter could call it for you!

Hope you guys enjoy this little day trip of mine! To sum up, you have to come here if you are ever in Hallstatt, you seemingly can’t miss Dachstein Krippenstein! I would say that you can easily spend the whole day here given the amount of attractions and various scenic points. In fact a huge bulk of my time was spend travelling to the various attractions and stopping for photos. In fact I can take easily an hour for the 30mins walk to The 5 Fingers Viewpoint, since everywhere is just so photogenic! You can skip everything except The 5 Fingers! Let me know how you find this place! Do note that the attractions here are seasonal and some places may be closed. I was lucky to be here just the week before they are closed.

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