After a lovely hike around the Styrian Bodensee and a short transit we suddenly found ourselves on top of a gondola towards the Dachstein glacier! Yes, you read correctly, on TOP of the gondola. Rising over 1000 vertical meters, these gondola’s have a small space on the roof available for the lucky (and daring) few. The ride up the Dachstein glacier is a stunning panoramic experience in its own right – and being on top of the gondola just adds more to the fun! Check out the second part of the video (starting at 1min35) below and you understand exactly what I mean.
After a short trip we arrived at an altitude of 2,700meters: the Dachstein glacier. Snow is at the top of the glacier all year round. Imagine the surprise and fun we had ploughing through the snow after our stay in the warm valley and Mediterranean-influenced city of Graz. We visited the glacier end of May and yes, people were still skiing.
The Dachstein is one of the most beautifully scenic mountains in the Alps, so they say. I don’t have that much comparison materials so I just repeat what people told me. But seriously, the scenery is breathtaking. Even with cloudy weather the journey up the glacier is worthwhile as the clouds passing by create a surreal atmosphere (especially around the suspension bridge).
Stairway to Nothingness
For people who are looking for added thrills, the glacier offers the beautiful Suspension Bridge, an Ice Palace and the famous ‘Stairway to Nothingness’. You have to pay an addition Euro 10.- ticket for access to these three attractions. After buying your ticket you follow a route that passes all three experiences and your first challenge will be to cross the Suspension Bridge. The pictures might look way scarier than crossing the bridge actually is, but if you suffer from vertigo I don’t think you are going to like this…
After the bridge your second challenge awaits: The Stairway to Nothingness. 14 narrow steps take you down to a glass platform where remarkable views downwards and across the mountains are guaranteed. Don’t worry, it’s strong enough; feel free to jump if you want to test!
Following the bridge and the stairs, you enter the Ice Palace. You will be guided six meters under the ice to a journey through Europe. Created in 2007, the Ice Palace consist of ice pillars, a crystal dome and multiple detailed carved figures displaying all kinds of European landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Brandenburger Tor.
The above-mentioned attractions are all just a few minutes’ walk from the mountain terminal. Ambitious hikers have various tours to choose from, either starting at the valley terminal or on top of the mountain.
Schladming-Dachstein in Styria
As part of the Propel conference I visited the city of Graz in May 2019. Graz (Vienna’s cooler little sister) is the perfect city-trip destination and a great hub for hiking trips in the mountains. I traveled 2 hours from Graz to Schladming-Dachstein in the very western part of the state of Styria (one of Austria’s 9 states). The popular Schladming-Dachstein area is famous for skiing and hiking and offers amongst others:
• Ca. 1,000 km of marked hiking paths
• 300 mountain lakes, 1,000 springs, 100 waterfalls
• Sommercard for free admission to over 100 experiences
• Sightseeing, snowboarding, alpine and Nordic skiing, mountaineering, hiking, rock climbing, paragliding.
If you plan to stay in the area, consider buying yourself the Schladming-Dachstein Sommercard. The card offers free admission to over 100 experiences and is actually free of charge when you stay as little as one night (exclusively at one of over 1,000 Sommercard hosts). The Dachstein gondola (ticket up and down) is included with a minimum stay of 2 nights where the costs for the Ice palace and the suspension bridge are not included (10 €).
For all my French readers, please have a look at Corinne’s story at Vie Nomade: La région Schladming-Dachstein en Autriche: un Balcon Extraordinaire sur les Alpes. German readers will enjoy the story written by Patrick at GermanBackpacker: Schladming-Dachstein: 3 Highlights für deinen Besuch.
This trip was sponsored by Graz Tourism. Thanks for inviting me to visit Austria to discover the hidden gem called Graz and do some adventurous hiking in Schladming.