I will be staying in Berchstgaden and planning to visit Hallstatt as well an ice cave. I know that there is the Dachstein caves near Hallstatt and the Eisriesenwelt cave near Werfen. Of the 2 which is a better experience? IS it freezing cld in the ice caves that I may need to bring winter jackets? How about salt mines. Should I visit those near Berchstgaden or those near Salzburg? Thanks for all advice and experiences
We visited the Dachstein caves in August 2009. It was cold, and I think you will want to dress in layers (long sleeved shirt and fleece) so you can adjust as you hike. We didn't stay in the caves longthe views on the hike were already amazing and uncrowded. We wished we'd allotted more time (we visited Dachstein the same day we took a day trip to Hallstatt from Salzburg). I don't remember the name of the salt mine we visited, but it was close to Salzburg and (as referenced in Rick's book) there is a spot in the mine where you can have one leg in Germany and one in Austria. FWIW, I read the book "Salt" (by Mark Kurlanskyformer New York Times bestseller) to get a deeper understanding of the relevance of Salzburg, Hallstatt, and all the mines in the scheme of world history.
I second the Dachstein ice caves. The ride up the cable car is fantastic. I wanted to go all the way to the 5 fingers platform, but it was closed for another week. It's cold inside, but you keep moving. Layer your clothing and bring a pair of gloves, and you should be fine. I think we were inside for an hour.
We visited, and enjoyed, the salt mines in Berchtesgaden. From what I've heard they are essentially the same experience.
I can't give you a comparison on the salt mines as I have only been to the ones in Berchtesgaden, but I would HIGHLY recommend them! I first went there in 1978 with my family and when we were in Bavaria last year, I wanted to take my family back there since my daughter was the same age I was when I first went. Although things have been significantly upgraded since I went over 30 years ago, the experience was JUST as much fun as I remembered it (right down to donning the miners outfits). You take a small train about a mile into the mountain for the tour (if you don't speak German, it's not a problem - our tour guide spoke SOME English, but also provided us with a hand-held piece that gave us a recorded English version of the tour and then we could ask him questions as we needed). You go on a couple of slides to get from level to level which were a blast and then you do a mini "cruise" across an underground lake. I sent a group here several years ago and they all loved it as well. If you'd like me to send you some pics, feel free to send me a message off-line.