Dachstein-Krippenstein, one of Austria's most dramatic mountain massifs, is covered in a cap of light blue permafrost. A dramatic glacier glistens high above Lake Hallstatt and draws visitors up into Alpine terrain. Lucky for you, it doesn't take crampons to experience the Dachstein's immaculate beauty.
1) Enjoy a gondola ride up Krippenstein Mountain
If you want stunning views of the Dachstein, your best address is neighboring Krippenstein mountain, a 6,916-foot (2,108 meter) elevation with lots of picture-perfect lookouts over the Dachstein massif. Take the cable cars up from lakeside village Obertraun and marvel as "Hallstättersee" becomes smaller and smaller beneath you. Once you arrive at the top of the second leg, the mystical world of Austria's Alps stretches out towards all sides.
2) Walk out on the Five Fingers viewing platform
Once you're up on the mountain, head straight to one of the Krippenstein's highlights: the lofty Five Fingers viewing platform. It reaches out over the lake and the surrounding Salzkammergut region like a metal hand. Walk down along all five "fingers" for slightly different vantage points. One platform even features an ornate picture frame through which you can admire the museum-worthy setting.
3) Dig deep into the mountain inside Dachstein Giant Ice Cave
For a different type of spectacular view, look inward. Deep beneath the Dachstein's rockface slumbers a world of fables, brilliant colors, and ice. The Dachstein Giant Ice Cave invites you inside the mountain for a tour of its towering stalactites, shimmering ice shapes, and an immersive light ans music experience. Nearby you also find the Mammoth Cave, one of the largest karst caves in the world. Wander the miles and miles of shadowy tunnels on a 50 minute guided tour.
4) Fight vertigo at the World Heritage Spiral
Another unconventional viewing platform waits for you near the second cable car's mountain station. A metal spiral with a generous walkway twists in the air at 6,890 feet (2,100 meters) - perfect for visitors who want to gain an extra bit of elevation. Snake up to the top of the World Heritage Spiral for a photo, then relax on one of the undulating wooden loungers next to the futuristic construction.
5) Get pre-historic inside a panoramic shark
That's right, in pre-historic times the Dachstein massif was covered by primordial ocean. Sharks and other ancient fish used to roam the Dachstein's waters and eventually fossilized. You can still find evidence of this today, not least at the "Dachstein shark" a quirky sculpture perched along Heilbronn Circular Trail. The 26-foot (8 meter) long shark sculpture is large enough to climb inside and tilts precariously over the walking trail. Make your way up to the head: the shark's jaws are open to provide views with a little bit of bite.