Dachstein Krippenstein: Five Fingers, Two Buses, a Train and the Cable Cars
Let me tell you about my experience visiting Dachstein Krippenstein. The Dachstein mountain range in the Austrian Alps is breathtaking, with Dachstein Krippenstein in the Salzkammergut Lake District as the crown jewel. It’s located near the town of Hallstatt, and in my opinion, it’s one of the best things to do in Hallstatt, even if it’s not precisely in Hallstatt.
NOTICE: Dachstein Krippenstein is located on the northern side of the Dachstein mountain area in Salzkammergut and can be reached in 10-15 minutes from Hallstatt. If you enter Dachstein from the southern side (Ramsau am Dachstein area), the view you’ll encounter is that of the Stairway to Nothingness instead of the 5 fingers.
Everything starts with cable cars. The cable cars that take you to the top of Dachstein Krippenstein are an experience in themselves as you soar over the valleys and hills below. Once you’re at the top, the fun begins. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a scenic outing, Dachstein Krippenstein has something to offer you.
The most famous viewpoint on the mountain is the 5 fingers, and it’s not hard to see why. The highlight of my visit was exploring the Ice Cave and Mammut Cave. The Ice Cave is exactly what it sounds like, a cave filled with ice formations that glitter and shine in the light. The Mammut Cave is equally impressive, with its impressive stalactites and stalagmites. It’s truly a unique and fascinating experience.
But when I visited Dachstein Krippenstein twice in 2020, I found myself quite confused about the different tickets available and what I would find at each of the three cable car stations. It was a bit overwhelming, to say the least. So, let me break it down for you.
How to get to Dachstein Krippenstein?
How you get to the Dachstein Krippenstein visitors center, the valley station of the cable car almost corresponds with how you get to Hallstatt. You either get to Hallstatt from Salzburg via Bad Ischl by train and boat or by bus 542/543. If you arrive by bus 543, you can just stay on the bus to continue to the cable car, and if you arrive by train, stay on the train for one more stop after the Hallstatt train station and change to bus 543 in Obertraun. Either way, you reach the Dachstein Krippenstein valley station by bus 543.
I know this can be confusing, so let me explain in more detail!
By Bus 542/543: From Salzburg, you catch Bus 150, which connects with Bus 542 at Bad Ischl Station. From there, you’ll travel south to the Hallstatt Gosaumühle Bus Stop, where you can transfer to local Postbus 543 for the last kilometers into Hallstatt. If you don’t want to get off in Hallstatt, continue by bus 543 to Dachstein Visitor Center.
By Train: In Bad Ischl, you have two transportation options to get to Hallstatt: take the buses mentioned in the previous section or a combination of train and boat, since the Hallstatt train station is located opposite side of the lake. If you’re heading to Dachstein Krippenstein from Bad Ischl by train, it’s better to get off at Obertraun, one stop after the Hallstatt train station. From Obertraun, you can also take Postbus 543 to get straight to the visitors center.
If you are driving to the Dachstein Krippenstein Valley Station, there is a parking lot at the Visitor Center.
RECOMMENDATION: If you want to make the most of your visit to Dachstein Krippenstein, I recommend staying in Obertraun overnight. Obertraun is located across the lake from Hallstatt. It’s not as pretty as Hallstatt, but it’s also not as expensive as Halsltatt and even closer to Dachstein Krippenstein. The first time I visited Dachstein Krippenstein, I walked from Obertraun for 40 minutes to the Cable Car valley station.
What Ticket should you buy for Dachstein Krippenstein?
Visiting Dachstein Krippenstein was a little confusing, mainly because I didn’t know about buying the correct ticket. In this section, I will share my insights to help you make the most of your visit. With several ticket options available, I will break it down for you so you can make an informed decision.
Ticket 1: Let’s start with the Panorama Ticket. If you’re short on time and only plan to visit the 5-Fingers, this might be the right choice for you. However, this ticket does not include access to any of the caves, and we highly recommend visiting at least one of them. The views from the 5-Fingers are stunning, but the caves are also an incredible experience you won’t want to miss.
Ticket 2: The Dachstein Salzkammergut Ticket is my recommendation for most travelers. This ticket includes the first two cable cars and either the Mammut or the Ice Cave. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the mountain and visit at least one of the caves, which we highly recommend. The 5-Fingers is also a must-see attraction, as the view from there is unique and breathtaking. With this ticket, you’ll have plenty to see and do during your visit.
Ticket 3: I recommend the All-Inclusive Ticket, if you want to make the most of your visit and have the entire day to explore. This ticket includes access to both caves and all three cable cars. You’ll have the chance to experience everything Dachstein Krippenstein offers, but it requires more time and energy. We highly recommend this ticket if you have a full day to explore and are up for the challenge.
In summary, the Dachstein Salzkammergut Ticket is an excellent option for most travelers, as it includes the 5-Fingers, one of the caves, and the first and second cable car. It provides a great balance of attractions without being too overwhelming. But if you have more time and energy, the All-Inclusive Ticket is an excellent option to experience everything Dachstein Krippenstein has to offer.
Things to do on Dachstein Krippenstein
Now that you know how to get to Dachstein Krippenstein and which ticket to buy, let’s get into the weeds of what to do on Dachstein Krippenstein. Let’s break it down by cable car.
During the winter season, only skiing and panorama tickets are available at Dachstein Krippenstein. However, some parts may be closed due to weather conditions, so it’s best to check the website for current information and available activities. Typically, caves are closed in the winter, and snowshoes may be necessary for winter hikes. If you’re interested in exploring on foot, Dachstein Krippenstein now offers a yeti ticket that includes snowshoe rental. The summer season extends from mid-May to November.
1. Cable Car Station: Two Caves
If you’ve got ticket 2 or 3, take the cable car up to the first station and reserve a time slot for the Giant Ice Cave and/or the Mammut Cave. While there’s a restaurant and museum at the first station, there’s little else to do there. However, the second cable car offers stunning views and is definitely worth it.
Keep in mind that you can only reserve tickets for the caves, and then you’ll need to hike to each one, which takes about 20 minutes each way as the caves are located in different areas. But don’t worry; the caves are well worth the hike!
TIP: To make the most of your time, it’s recommended that you quickly stop to reserve your spots for the caves and then continue on the second cable car to the five fingers first. This is because the light is better earlier in the day, which is perfect for photography.
- Ice Cave: With stunning ice formations and frozen waterfalls, the Dachstein Ice Cave is a true wonder of nature. Unlike the more popular ice cave in Werfen, photography is permitted so that you can capture the breathtaking beauty of the frozen landscape. The cave was discovered in 1910. The ice formations in the cave are created by seeping water that freezes in the cold air. Though some melting occurs in the summer, the cycle of slight melting and growth ensures that the ice remains intact. The 50-minute guided tour takes you through passageways. The cave is closed in winter, but from May to October, it’s open for tours.
While the Ice Cave and Mammut Cave are fantastic destinations, I typically recommend the Ice Cave to most travelers because the stunning ice formations are particularly captivating. However, personally, I hold both caves in equally high regard.
- Mammut Cave: Dive deep into an otherworldly adventure at the Mammut Cave! This legendary underground labyrinth stretches over 60 kilometers and drops 1 km below ground, boasting a unique blend of winding tunnels and rugged formations. The Tour takes about an hour, just like the tours of the Ice Cave. Regular tours also run from May to October. As one of the largest karst caves on earth, Mammut Cave will leave you in awe with its incredible formations and countless passageways!
2. Cable Car Station: Five Fingers
Don’t miss the second cable car- that’s where the action is! While the first cable car offers no view but only two caves, the second one is a must-see. And if you’re visiting during the winter, wear proper footwear for a safe and comfortable journey.
- Five Fingers: Experience the adrenaline rush at the 5 Fingers Lookout, one of the most impressive viewing platforms in the Alps. Its breathtaking design extends over a 400-meter drop, so it’s sure to be a highlight of your trip to Dachstein Krippenstein. The 4-meter-long platforms each offer a unique design and perspective of Hallstatt, including a glass section and a Baroque picture frame for the perfect photo-op. The round trip hike from the second cable car station and viewing time takes about an hour to an hour and a half. For an extra adventure, go to the Welterbespirale Lookout.
- World Heritage Spiral: For a panoramic view of the area, a detour to the Welterbespirale Lookout on your way to the 5 Fingers is well worth it. This unique lookout point features a curving, shiny metal surface and an oversized wooden lawn chair – the perfect spot for a rest after the short hike. The lookout is open year-round, but remember that winter may require snowshoes and extra caution around the snow-covered paths. Plus, it’s free with your cable car pass to the second level. Don’t miss the nearby small church and enjoy the 360-degree view at both of these amazing spots!
- Dachstein Shark: Take a hike on the Heilbronn Circular Trail and visit the Dachstein Shark sculpture if you have extra time and long for a hike. The Dachstein Shark is not a must, but I like it. The sculpture is a playful reminder that the area was once the floor of the Tethys primordial ocean. Even cooler is that you can climb inside the sculpture and see the seabed from behind the shark’s jaws. It’s a lot of fun, especially for kids! Plan for 30 minutes from the second cable car station, plus another 60 minutes to the Heilbronn Cross, if you would like to follow the trail even past the shark.
- Krippenstein Lodge: The Krippenstein Lodge is located just a five-minute walk from the second cable car station and is considered one of the best places for food on Dachstein Krippenstein. It’s also a great place to stay, especially if you want a truly special experience. While most visitors come to Dachstein Krippenstein on a day trip, staying at the lodge is well worth considering. If you can afford it and book well in advance, the panoramic suite with 180-degree view windows overlooking the mountains and a private sauna is hard to beat. And don’t miss the unforgettable sunset view from the Welterbespirale tower.
3. Cable Car Station: Vintage & Hiking
There are two reasons to ride the third cable car when visiting Dachstein Krippenstein. First up, the cable car is a vintage beauty and a must-see for anyone who appreciates the charm of an old-school ride.
But the real reason to ride the third cable car is the stunning scenery you’ll witness along the way. The ride is flat and even slightly downhill, with the third station located lower than the second. And if you’re a hiking enthusiast like me, you’ll be happy to know that the third cable car station is the starting point for some of the best hikes in the region.
- Gjaidalm: When you arrive at the third station of the Dachstein cable car, you’ll be pleased to find a range of amenities to enjoy, including lodges, restaurants, and hiking routes. One of the best places to stay in the area is the Gjaidalm Lodge, located just a 5-minute walk from the third cable car station. It offers an authentic Alpine experience with cows, goats, sheep, and horses roaming around the lodge in the summer months. The hospitality at Gjaidalm Lodge is second to none, and from there you’ll have access to some of the best hiking in the region.
- Wiesberghaus Lodge: Another great option for hikers is the Wiesberghaus Lodge. While Gjaidalm Lodge is a great place to stay on the third level of Dachstein, Wiesberghaus is an excellent alternative. It’s also an ideal place to stop for some food on your way up to the Dachstein Glacier or Simonyhutte Lodge. The hike to Wiesberghaus Lodge takes about 2 hours from the third-level cable car station.
- Simonyhütte: If you’re up for a longer hike, Simonyhutte Lodge is worth the effort. It’s the most remote of the Alpine huts, offering unparalleled views of the Dachstein glacier. It’s a rustic 42-bed lodge that provides food and wifi, but it’s wise to book well in advance, as this spot is popular. The hike to Simonyhutte Lodge is more challenging, taking about 4 hours from the third-level cable car station or 90 minutes from Wiesberghaus Lodge.
Where to eat & sleep on Dachstein Krippenstein?
Upon arrival at the first cable car station, you will find yourself at the Schönbergalm Lodge, which offers a restaurant for a quick bite to eat. Although the food may not be extraordinary, it provides a decent option for a meal before or after exploring the caves.
Similarly, the second cable car station also has a restaurant with nothing exceptional to offer. However, suppose you walk straight ahead for about 3-5 minutes from the second cable car station. In that case, you will come across the Dachstein Lodge. This lodge stands out from the rest as it serves excellent food, making it a must-visit.
If you take the third cable car, it will take you roughly five minutes to walk from the third cable car station to the Gjaidalm, an alpine hut that provides food and shelter. Additionally, if you hike further, you will find the Wiesberghaus and the Simonyhütte, which also offer food and shelter.
While most travelers visit Dachstein Krippenstein as a day trip and an activity while visiting Hallstatt, staying on top of the mountain is an excellent idea if you have the time, money, and desire to experience Dachstein Krippenstein more intimately. My personal favorite place to stay on Dachstein Krippenstein is the Dachstein Lodge, as it provides an unmatched experience. However, if you prefer hiking and a more traditional, authentic Austrian Alpine experience, any of the three lodges you can hike from the third cable car station are excellent choices.