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Opinions on ice caves, salt mines

Hi there! Planning a trip to Salzburg and surrounding area and noticed there are a lot of similar things to do. So, your opinions are appreciated …
Salt mines - there’s one in Berchtesgaden, one in Hallein and one in Hallstatt.
Ice caves - there’s one in Werfen or one in dachstein.
If we could only do one salt mine and one ice cave, which would you pick?

Posted by
4858 posts

Of all those, I’ve only been to the Hallein Salt Mine, 22 years ago, but it was a great experience. Suiting up in the outfit they provided (required) was novel, the fascinating tour, with crystals clinging to the rock walls, explanation that all salt is sea salt, just that some of it made its way underground a long time ago, and the fun ride down the long wooden bannister made for a very worthwhile visit. We did not buy the souvenir photo snapped by the mine while we went down the wooden rail. We actually rented bicycles in Salzburg, and rode up to the mine, with an enjoyable descent back into town to turn in the bikes. But I don’t have any other salt mine visit to compare it to, and no ice cave in Austria. Is one possibly cheaper than another? Perhaps you get what you pay for. Either way, I’d certainly recommend the Hallein tour.

Posted by
904 posts

We've only been to Hallstatt, but it was very enjoyable. The miner's slides were so fun! Also go to the small but wonderful museum in the town.

Posted by
132 posts

Same, only been to the Hallstatt and couldn’t resist buying the pic going down the slide. Glad I did as it is a fun memory.
PS so I recommend should you also want to visit Hallstatt

Posted by
1593 posts

I‘ve done Hallein 3 times, Hallstatt once. Hallein in 1970 was the best. Hallein these days is fine, just not as great as in 70. I‘ve done Werfen twice. Excellent.

If you don‘t have a car, there probably still is a package deal offered at the Salzburg train station that is train fare to Hallein, bus to the mines, admission to the mine and the bus and train back.

Posted by
2537 posts

stephen--

Just curious... what made it better in 1970?

Posted by
1593 posts

In 1970 you took a lift to the top of the mine and descended by several more slides than at the present time

Posted by
65 posts

We did the salt mine in Berchtesgaden on a Tauck tour, three years ago. Same activities that Cyn had at in Hallstatt. Most enjoyable!

Posted by
1147 posts

I have done Hallstatt and Hallein. I thought Hallein was the better tour. The Hallstatt guide told us the tour was in German and really never gave us any English explanations. The Hallein tour guide first talked in German and then gave us a short English explanation. Also, the Hallein tour included an underground water crossing on a boat/raft. Overall, the Hallstatt tour seemed to suffer from having so many people taking it. (a little jaded so to speak) The Hallein tour was excellent and the people much friendlier and interesting. I have not doe either of the ice caves you mentioned. I have done two others (10 years apart) and I definitely recommend you pick one or the other...two would probably be too much.

Posted by
1750 posts

My wife saw me looking at caves and mines and said, not on your life mister

Posted by
466 posts

I did the Hallstatt salt mine in 2018 and the Berchtesgaden mine in 2000. There is an uphill walk (about 10-15 minutes) up to the Hallstatt mine, after taking a funicular up the mountain. This makes it less accessible for people with mobility issues (or people like me who just don’t like steep, uphill walks!). The B. mine is much more accessible: parking right out front. Both mines have the train ride and fun slides. The B. mine has a short boat ride across a lake inside the mine. The Hallstatt mine has the oldest stairway in Europe in display.

Both are worthwhile, but the uphill walk at the Hallstatt might be a deciding factor.

If you decide on the Hallein mine, there is a fun mountain coaster (sommerrodelbahn) very near by.

My husband did the ice caves in Werfen, but not Dachstein. He enjoyed it very much. There’s a great fortress in Werfen also. You could combine these two for a great day. Try to see the falconry show at the fortress (Hohenwerfen).

Posted by
24 posts

Thanks so much everyone! Exactly the kind of info I’m looking for. We were already planning on the mountain coaster near hallein (and as many of those we can find!) so I’m thinking either hallein or Berchtesgaden for the salt mine - plus that uphill walk doesn’t sound fun to me either!
For the ice caves - in Werfen we were planning on the hike to the som meadow, then either the castle or the ice caves. Do you think we would have time for all 3 in one day? If not, then we will just do the ice cave at dachstein on a different day.
Again, thanks!

Posted by
1136 posts

I second travel4fun's comments on Berchtesgaden, Hallstatt and Werfen. If trying to do three in one day, I'd concentrate on on Berchtesgaden or Hallein, followed by the Werfen caves and Hohenwerfen Castle.

I don't know where else you are visiting on your trip. If close to Bad Wimpfen, a very good saltworks visit can be had at Bad Friedrichshall: https://www.salzwerke.de/de/tourismus/besucherbergwerk-bad-friedrichshall.html

There is an enjoyable alpine coaster ride near Oberammergau: https://www.kolbensattel.de/alpine-coaster

Posted by
77 posts

We did the Hallstatt salt mine and the Werfen ice cave tour on the same 2017 trip.
The salt mine tour was great fun, especially the very old, random tiny tram that you ride out of the mine at the end of the tour. And of course, the longest slide in Europe.
The Werfen ice caves need about 3 hours, as it will require two gondolas and a decent hike to get up there before the tour. Wear some good hiking shoes and bring water, as well as a sweater or light jacket for the tour. The caves were beautiful (no pictures allowed unfortunately) and our tour guide had a great sense of humor. We visited on our way from Hallstatt to Salzburg, as we needed something to fill our late morning to afternoon timeframe before we could check into our Salzburg gasthaus.

Posted by
51 posts

as well as a sweater or light jacket

This might seem to be obvious but my friend and I were headed to Werfen when we realized that neither of us had a light jacket with us. We turned around and I had to purchase a light jacket since I only brought a couple of flannel long sleeve shirts.

Boy, am I glad that I made that decision.