Eager to explore SalzburgerLand’s natural wonders? Or are you more inclined to uncover its cultural treasures and eventful history? From ancient salt mines and medieval castles to Austria’s highest peaks and biggest glaciers, here is a list of experiences that you’ll be sure to talk about with your family for a long time to come. Conveniently located mostly on the highway or other main roads, the following locations can be either reached by car or public transportation within 25 minutes to two hours from Salzburg.
The Salt Mines in Hallein (25 min from Salzburg by car):
A visit to the 7000 year-old salt mines is part intriguing adventure, part cultural experience. The tour of the Salzwelten Salzburg starts in the tiny village of Bad Dürrnberg, with a small train ride that takes you deep into the mountain. A fun ride down long, polished, wooden slides leads to where the salt was mined. The environment down here is damp, the air tastes salty, and the tunnel walls are slick with moisture. You wonder about the lives of the miners who used to work here over the millennia, and there are great exhibits along the way to satisfy your curiosity. One of the highlights is a boat ride on a spectacular underground lake, lying deep and silent within this ancient mountain. You end the tour with a new-found appreciation of the tasty condiment and a lasting memory of this mystifying underground world.
Hohenwerfen Castle (about an hour south of Salzburg):
Isolated high above the Salzachtal Valley near Salzburg, Hohenwerfen fortress provided the archbishops and archdukes of Salzburg with protection from enemies with its impenetrable castle walls. These days, the stronghold’s doors are wide-open to visitors of all ages wanting explore the history of this “Castle of Adventure.” A guided tour takes you through the venerable fortress’ chapel, kitchens, battlements, and bell tower. Check out weapons from throughout the ages on display in the armory and arsenal, and inspect the residential rooms of former castle governors. Among the highlights of a visit to Hohenwerfen are the daily demonstrations of falconry put on by the Provincial Falconer.
World of Ice Giants (another 10 min drive away from Hohenwerfen Castle):
High above the village of Werfen, amid the magnificent mountain world of the Tennengebirge, we find the entrance to the world’s biggest ice caves with a length of almost 30 miles. The first stop is the Poselt Hall, with the magnificent Posselt Tower stalagmite. Marvel at the greatest area of ice growth, the Great Ice Embankment, a massive formation rising up to over 75 feet. Stalactites in Hymir’s Castle created the so-called “ice organ.” For an even more stunning effect, the ice formations are sometimes highlighted with magnesium lighting. The caves are open May to October and you will need to be dressed for the cold, even during summer months.
Großglockner High Alpine Road (1 hour 40 min south of Salzburg)
At 12,460 feet, the pyramid-shaped Grossglockner is not only the highest mountain in Austria, it also counts among the highest peaks in the Alps. It is the epitome of an impressive natural experience! Drive up to the base of the mountain, the Kaiser-Franz Josephs Höhe, and you literally feel the size and power of these majestic peaks, the massive glaciers and the elemental force of nature. Start your adventure in Fusch, and wind your way up the 30-mile long road. You’ll find that with each bend, the views become more enticing. Stop at one of the multiple lookout-points to take pictures of this unique world of blossoming alpine meadows, fragrant mountain forests, massive cliffs and glaciers. At 8,200 feet, you will have reached the foot of the Grossglockner, the “Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe”, from where you can explore various hiking routes: Take a 30-minute walk directly to the massive Pasterze glacier on a safe, well-marked trail, or take part in one of the guided tours with a national park ranger.
Krimml Waterfalls (2 hours south west of Salzburg):
The gorgeous scenery of the Hohe Tauern National Park is your backdrop when hiking from the little village of Krimml, in the province of Salzburg, to Central Europe’s tallest waterfalls, the “Krimml Waterfalls.” There, you’ll get a first glimpse of the waters of the Krimmler Ache, a glacial creek, plunging over three tiers to the valley below. Wind your way up to the Middle Falls where you can literally feel the power of the water. If you feel like taking a break, the Schoenangerl restaurant at 4,216 ft. is the perfect place to do so. Of course, you’ll find the finest view at the Bergerblick, the top of the falls. Expect to spend around 1.5 hours to hike to the top.
Immediately adjacent to the falls, find the WasserWunderWelt, an aquatic theme park that explores water in its countless forms.