Werfen – Castle, Caves and the Sound of Music – Something for Everyone

Only 45 minutes by car and less than an hour by public transport, Werfen im Pongau is a great destination if you want to get out of the city but not travel too far. Add to this three great attractions, to suit all tastes, and it might just be one of the best day trip destinations around.

Spoiled for choice, you have the Hohenwerfen Fortress, the Werfen Ice Caves and the Sound of Music Trail, a short hike which takes you to the location of where Maria taught the children to sing ‘Do Re Mi’.

You will find details on how to reach Werfen and the main sights in the ‘Getting to Werfen’ section of this page below.

Hohenwerfen Fortress

If you’re a fan of ‘Where Eagles Dare’ starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton, then you will immediately recognise Hohenwerfen Fortress as the impenetrable Nazi fortress ‘Schloss Adler’.

Over 900 years old, the fortifications were built around the same time as those of Hohensalzburg Fortress and are some of the best preserved medieval defences in Europe. Entrance will get you a complete tour of the castle including the armory, the bell tower and several exhibitions. If you’re lucky you could be there for one of the many events staged throughout the year. You can check out the event calendar here.

Hohenwerfen is also home to a falconry which dates back to the time of the archbishop princes of Salzburg. The castle has a Museum of Falconry and several daily demonstrations.

 

New in 2017 is the exhibition about Leonardo DaVince which takes visitors on a journey through the life and times of the Italian artist.

The castle is open from 1st April to 12th November 2017.

April, Oct, Nov 9:30 am – 4:00 pm (*Closed on Mondays)
May to September 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
17th July – 18th of  August 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

Guided Tours are available as follows:

April, Oct, Nov 10:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00 pm
May to September 10:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm,
5:00pm
17th July – 18 of August 10:00am  – 6:00pm

Falconry Performances are as follows:

1st April – 5th of November 11:15 am & 3:15pm
17th July – 18th August 11:15 am, 2:15pm & 4:30pm

Entrance Prices:

furnicular  footpath
Adults € 15.50 € 12.00
Groups, students € 13.50 € 10.50
Children (6 – 15 years) € 8.50 € 6.50
Family € 36.50 € 28.50

You can get a discount on these prices by booking online here.

Note that Salzburg Card holders get a 20% discount at the fortress.

Using the footpath takes you up a vertical 150m in about 15 to 20 minutes. For those who don’t want to take the steep route, the furnicular leaves from the car park.

Click here for the Hohenwerfen Fortress website.

Eisriesenwelt Werfen

Billed as the largest Ice Caves in the World, the experience is well worth the rather significant effort you will need to put in.

So to get the bad news and the basics out of the way first, it’s about a 20 minute hike from the ticket office to the cable car and then about another 20 minutes from the cable car to the caves. Then inside the caves themselves you’ll find a lot of up and down as well. Because of this it’s not recommended for young children and there are no facilities for buggies or wheelchairs. Note as well that it will be cold (below freezing), so don’t forget your hat and gloves. The tour itself lasts about 75 minutes and you should really leave about 3 hours for your total visit. The tour moves at a reasonable pace, and to ensure a smooth operation they don’t allow photographs inside the caves. And finally, note that at peak times there can be a wait of up to an hour for a tour.

This is not meant to put you off going – it’s just to make sure you know what awaits you. It really is worth the effort and once you’re happy that this is well within your grasp, the combination of the fabulous views on the way to the caves and the beauty of the caves themselves really makes it all worthwhile. The cave system itself contains over 40km of caves and started to form about 100 million years ago. But you’ll learn a lot more about that when you get there.

The ticket office is open daily from May 1st to October 26th 2017. 

May, June, Sept, Oct (low season) 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
July, August (high season) 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Note that the caves themselves are open for longer.

The cable car starts running at 8.30am and runs at least every half hour or as required. Cave tours start at the entrance to the caves (20 minute walk from the cable car) and are scheduled for every full and half hour. During peak season and as required however, they can be as frequent as every 6 minutes.

The last cable car ride up to the caves is at 3.20pm in the low season and at 4.20pm in the high season. The last cable car ride back down is at 5pm in the low season and 6pm in the high season.

It is possible to visit the caves without taking the cable car. It takes about 90 minutes to walk on a trail, but you are well rewarded with beautiful alpine views.

Prices

Caves and Cable Car Caves without Cable Car
Adult € 24 € 12
Youth € 18 € 9
Children € 14 € 7
Reduced € 22 € 11

Children are aged between 5 and 14 while youth are between 15 and 18. Reduced prices are available to Alpine and Caving Association members as well as Seniors, Students and those accompanying disabled people. You’ll need ID for reduced prices.

Family Prices

Caves and Cable Car
1 Adult + 1 Child € 34
1 Adult + 2 Children € 45
1 Adult + 3+ Children € 56
2 Adult + 1 Child € 55
2 Adult + 2 Children € 66
2 Adult + 3+ Children € 77

Click here for the Eisriesenwelt website.

The Sound of Music Trail

This is a short trail which starts at the tourist office in the middle of the village. The walk is only about 1.5km long and should take no more than about 45 minutes. While relatively easy, it does have a few steep sections. Along the way there are some places to sit, relax and enjoy the view, as well as some ‘games’ to keep you entertained. Follow the distinctive signs.

The walk brings you to the meadow where Maria taught the children to sing ‘Do Re Mi’ and the views today are as amazing as they were in the movie. There’s a small fenced in ‘exhibition’ at the meadow to mark the spot and along with the usual fabulous alpine views, there’s a great view across to the Fortress.

You should leave about 2 hours to get up the trail, pretend to be Julie Andrews, take in the view and relax a little.

Click here for the Sound of Music Trail website.

Getting to Werfen

By Car: Take the A10 from Salzburg for Villach and Italy. (You can get onto the A10 by taking the A1 towards Innsbruck and Munich which then merges onto the A10). Drive for about 42 kms and take the exit for Werfen. After that you’ll find that Werfen as well as both the Fortress and the Caves are well signposted from here. The Sound of Music Trail can be found by heading for the Tourist Office in the centre of the village.

By Train: You can take an S-Bahn S3 from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof to Werfen, running every hour and taking about 54 minutes. The train is currently running at 21 minutes past the hour starting at 6:21. The return journey is the same and trains are every hour at 47 minutes past the hour, running until 22:47. There are shorter journeys by regional train, so check with the Information Desk at the train station for more details. The standard fare for the S-Bahn is €8.70 one way.

Getting to Hohenwerfen Fortress

From the train station, Hohenwerfen Fortress is about a 30 minute walk.

Getting to Eisriesenwelt Werfen

You can take a bus from the train station to Eisriesenwelt car park and back. The fare is EUR 7.00 per adult and EUR 5.00 per child (5 to 15 years old). A single journey is EUR 4.00. The walk (to the car park) would be about 1 hour 45 minutes.

The bus to the Eisriesenwelt leaves at 8:18am, 10:18am, 12:18pm and 2:18pm.

The bus from Eisriesenwelt to the train station runs at 8:32am, 10:32am, 12:32pm, 2:32pm and 4:32pm.

Getting to the Sound of Music Trail

You can walk from the train station to the Tourist Office in about 10 minutes.

 

Useful Links

Hohenwerfen Fortress

Eisriesenwelt Werfen

Sound of Music Trail

Werfen Tourist Office

As always, if you notice anything missing, out of date or incorrect, please let me know.

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