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Werfen Ice Caves (Eisriesenwelt)

The world’s largest ice caves wend 19 miles (30 km) under the Tennengebirge Mountains in the Salzach district of the Austrian Alps; they were discovered in 1879 and a mystical subterranean underworld was unveiled to the world. Pick a clear, sunny day as your visit to Eisriesenwelt starts with a spectacular twisting drive up through the scenic Salzach Valley, followed by a 20-minute uphill hike and then a breath-taking cable-car ride over sheer mountainsides. Finally there’s a further 20-minute walk up to the caves, with superb Alpine views across mountains and lush valleys.

Led by professional guides, the cave tour penetrates half a mile (1 km) into the caves, following 700 steps up and 700 down on a prepared pathway with handrails. Once underground, the reward for the strenuous uphill trek is instant. This is a magical world of sparkling ice formations in a series of cathedral-like caverns full of stalagmites and stalactites eerily illuminated by magnesium lamps.

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