travel Magazine » Natural Ice Palace at Hintertux Glacier, Austria

Natural Ice Palace at Hintertux Glacier, Austria

Glacier Cave • Hintertux Glacier • Water and Ice

of AGE ™ Travel Magazine
Released: Last update on 1,9K Views

The hidden world under the ski slope!

A trip to the Hintertux Glacier in North Tyrol is always an experience. The only year-round ski area in Austria is located at an altitude of up to 3250 meters. But the biggest attraction awaits below the ski slope. The natural ice palace on the Hintertux Glacier is a glacier cave with unique conditions and can be visited by tourists all year round.

A guided tour through this unique crevasse takes you up to 30 meters below the ski slope. In the middle of the glacier. On the way you can expect oversized crystal-clear icicles, a boat trip on an underground glacial lake and a look into the deepest glacier research shaft in the world. 640 meters of icy corridors and glittering halls are open for tourists to visit.

Experience a unique glacier cave

A door in a snowdrift, some boards. The entrance is unassuming. But after just a few steps, the tunnel opens up into a small, illuminated ice rink. A wide staircase leads down and suddenly I find myself in the middle of a multidimensional world of ice. Above me the ceiling rises, below me the room drops into a new level. We follow man-high corridors made of crystalline ice, walk through a hall with a ceiling height of around 20 meters and marvel at the richly decorated ice chapel. Soon I no longer know whether I want to look ahead, behind or up. I would love to sit down and take in all the impressions first. Or go back and start over. But even more wonders await: A deep shaft, winding columns, a glacial lake surrounded by ice and a room in which meter-long icicles reach to the floor and glittering ice sculptures to the ceiling. It's beautiful and almost too much to take in everything the first time. With "stand-up paddling" my inner peace returns. Now we are two. The ice and me.”


AGE™ visited the natural ice palace on the Hintertux Glacier in January. But you can also enjoy this icy pleasure in summer and combine your visit with a skiing or hiking holiday in Tyrol. Your day begins with a ride on the world's highest two-cable gondola and when the weather is nice, a beautiful view of the summit awaits you. There is a heated container from Natursport Tirol right next to the mountain station of the cable car. Here you can sign up. The entrance to the glacier cave is only a few hundred meters further on. Two different tours lead one after the other through the icy underworld and a guide explains interesting facts.

Most of the paths are secured with rubber mats, there are a few wooden stairs or short ladders. Overall, the path is very easy to walk. If you want, you can also crawl through a low ice crevice, affectionately known as the penguin slide. The underground boat trip across the approximately 50-metre-long glacial lake is the special conclusion of the approximately one-hour tour. Anyone who has also booked the photo tour can not only take a look at the anniversary hall, which is richly decorated with icicles, but can even enter it. She is breathtakingly beautiful. In this case, you will receive ice claws for your shoes to ensure you stand securely, because the ground here is still bare ice. Have you booked stand-up paddling? Don't worry, the board is huge and very stable. Paddling through the ice tunnel of the glacial lake is a special feeling. Unfortunately we couldn't try ice swimming, but it sounds exciting.

Alps • Austria • Tyrol • Zillertal 3000 ski area • Hintertux Glacier • Natural Ice Palace • Insights behind the scenesDiashow

Visit to the Natural Ice Palace in Tyrol

No registration is required for the basic tour, which is sometimes also called the VIP tour. It takes place all year round and several times a day. A short trip on the glacial lake in a rubber dinghy is included. For additional activities you need a reservation.

Connoisseurs and photographers linger in the anniversary hall and be inspired by the huge ice formations. Inquisitive people meet the discoverer Roman Erler personally and get to know the natural ice palace on a two-hour scientific tour. Adventurers can try their hand at stand-up paddling and die-hards can even swim in the glacial lake. For ice swimming, however, you need a medical certificate.

AGE™ met the discoverer Roman Erler personally and visited the natural ice palace:
Roman Erler is the discoverer of the natural ice palace. Born in Zillertal, he is a mountain rescuer, husband, family man, a walking encyclopedia of glaciology and puts his heart and soul into it. A man who lets his actions speak for themselves. He not only discovered the natural ice palace, but also made it accessible and the deepest Glacial Research Shaft dug the world. The family business of the Erler family is called Nature sports Tyrol and offers numerous activities to experience the Zillertal Alps up close. As a holidaymaker, in the children's holiday program or at a company event. Under the motto "Life happens today", the Erler family makes almost anything possible.
Around 10 people are now employed for the natural ice palace and around 2022 visitors visited the glacier cave in 40.000. Tourists can walk on two different circuits with a total length of 640 meters. The ceiling height in the natural ice palace is estimated to be up to 20 meters. The longest icicles reach an impressive 10 meters in length. There are numerous beautiful photo opportunities and ice formations. An absolute highlight is the 50 meter long glacial lake, which is around 30 meters below the surface. The extraordinary stability of this glacier cave with a constant temperature of around 0 degrees Celsius and very little glacier movement should be emphasized.

Alps • Austria • Tyrol • Zillertal 3000 ski area • Hintertux Glacier • Natural Ice Palace • Insights behind the scenesDiashow

Information & experiences about the natural ice palace on the Hintertux Glacier

Map as a route planner for directions to the Natur-Eis-Palast in Austria. Where is the Natural Ice Palace located?
The natural ice palace is located in western Austria in North Tyrol in the Zillertal Alps. It is a glacier cave in the Hintertux Glacier. The glacier rises on the edge of the Tux valley above the Tux-Finkenberg holiday region and the ski resort of Hintertux. The entrance to the Natur-Eis-Palace is located at an altitude of around 3200 meters below the ski slope of Austria's only year-round ski area.
Hintertux is about 5 hours drive from Vienna (Austria) and Venice (Italy), about 2,5 hours drive from Salzburg (Austria) or Munich (Germany) and only about 1 hour from Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol.

Directions to the Natural Ice Palace Cable car towards the ice cave. How do you reach the Natural Ice Palace?
Your adventure begins in the Austrian mountain village of Hintertux. There you can buy the ticket for the gondola lift. With the three modern cable cars "Gletscherbus 1", "Gletscherbus 2" and "Gletscherbus 3" you drive about three times 5 minutes to the highest station. Even getting there is an experience, because you ride the world's highest bicable gondola.
The entrance to the Natural Ice Palace is only a few hundred meters from the “Gletscherbus 3” cable car station. A heated container from "Natursport Tirol" is set up right next to the mountain station. This is where the guided tours through the Natural Ice Palace start.

Visiting the natural ice palace is possible all year round. When is it possible to visit the Natural Ice Palace?
The natural ice palace in the Hintertux Glacier can be visited all year round. Pre-registration is not required for the basic tour. You should reserve additional programs in advance. There are guided tours: 10.30:11.30 a.m., 12.30:13.30 a.m., 14.30:XNUMX p.m., XNUMX:XNUMX p.m. and XNUMX:XNUMX p.m.
Status at the beginning of 2023. You can find the current opening hours here .

Minimum age and conditions of participation for visiting the Natur-Eis-Palast in Austria. Who can take part in the ice cave tour?
The minimum age is given by "Natursport Tirol" as 6 years. You can also visit the natural ice palace with ski boots. In principle, the glacier cave is easily accessible. The paths are almost all laid out with rubber mats. Occasionally there are wooden steps or short ladders. Unfortunately, a visit in a wheelchair is not possible.

Tour Price Costs for entry into the Ice Cave Nature Ice Palace Hintertux Glacier How much does a tour of the Natural Ice Palace cost?
At "Natursport Tirol", the family business of the Erler family, the basic tour through the natural ice palace costs 26 euros per person. Children get a discount. A look into the research shaft and a short boat trip in the ice channel on the underground glacial lake are included.
Please consider that you also need a Gletscherbahn ticket to reach the Natur-Eis-Palast. You can get the ticket to the mountain station on the Hintertux Glacier either in the form of a ski pass (day pass adult approx. €65) or as a panorama ticket for pedestrians (ascent & descent Gefrorene Wand adult approx. €40).
View more information

Nature Ice Palace Hintertux Glacier:

• 26 euros per adult: basic tour including boat trip
• 13 euros per child: basic tour incl. boat trip (up to 11 years)
• + 10 euros per person: additional SUP ride
• + 10 euros per person: additional ice swimming
• + 44 euros per person: additional 1 hour photo tour
• 200 euros per person: scientific tour with Roman Erler

As of early 2023.
You can find current prices for the Natur-Eis-Palast here .
You can find current prices for the Zillertaler Gletscherbahn here .

Duration of the visit and guided tour in the Natural Ice Palace Tirol Time to plan your holiday. How much time should you plan?
The basic tour lasts about an hour. Time includes the short walk to the entrance, the informative guided tour with two circular walks through the glacier cave, and a short boat ride. Those who have reserved can extend their tour. For example, ice swimming, a 15-minute SUP ride, a 1-hour photo tour, or a 2-hour scientific tour with the explorer Roman Erler himself.
The arrival time is added to the viewing time. A 15-minute gondola ride in three stages (+ possible waiting time) takes you up to 3250 meters and then down again.
You decide for yourself whether the natural ice palace is a one-hour break on the slopes or the destination of a successful half-day excursion: gondola rides, ice cave magic, panoramic views and a break in a hut await you.

Gastronomy Catering and toilets during the Natur-Eis-Palast ice cave tour. Is there food and toilets?
At the Natur-Eis-Palast itself and at the terminus of "Gletscherbus 3" there are no more restaurants or toilets. Before or after your visit to the Natural Ice Palace, you can strengthen yourself in one of the mountain huts.
You will find the Sommerbergalm at the top station of “Gletscherbus 1” and the Tuxer Fernerhaus at the top station of “Gletscherbus 2”. Of course, toilets are also available there.
World record ice swimming in the natural ice palace of the Hintertux Glacier and other world records.What world records does the Natural Ice Palace hold?
1) The coldest fresh water
The water of the glacial lake is supercooled. It has a temperature below zero degrees Celsius and is still liquid. This is possible because the water does not contain any ions. It's distilled. At -0,2 °C to -0,6 °C, the water in the Natural Ice Palace is among the coldest freshwater in the world.
2) The deepest glacier research shaft
The research shaft in the Hintertux Glacier is 52 meters deep. Roman Erler, the discoverer of the natural ice palace, dug it himself and created the deepest research shaft ever driven into a glacier. Here you will find more information and a photo of the research shaft.
3) World record in freediving
On December 13.12.2019, 23, the Austrian Christian Redl dived down the ice shaft of the Natur-Eis-Palast. Without oxygen, with just one breath, 0,6 meters deep, in ice water at minus 3200 °C and at XNUMX meters above sea level.
4) World record in ice swimming
On December 01.12.2022st, 1609, the Pole Krzysztof Gajewski set a remarkable world record in ice swimming. Without neoprene he wanted to swim the ice mile (3200 meters) at 0 meters above sea level and at a water temperature below 32°C. He set the record after 43 minutes and kept swimming. In total, he swam for 2 minutes and covered a distance of XNUMX kilometers. Here it goes to the record video.

Information on the discovery of the Natur-Eis-Palast by Roman Erler.How was the Natural Ice Palace discovered?
In 2007, Roman Erler discovered the Natur-Eis-Palast by accident. In the light of his flashlight, an inconspicuous gap in the ice wall reveals a generous hollow space. When he then opens the crevasse, Roman Erler finds a fascinating cave system in the ice. Too imprecise? Here you will find the story about the discovery of the natural ice palace in more detail.

Information on tourism and research in the natural ice palace on the Hintertux Glacier.Since when can the Natural Ice Palace be visited?
At the end of 2008, a small area was opened to visitors for the first time. A lot has happened since then. Paths were created, the glacial lake made usable and a research shaft dug. 640 meters of the cave are now open to visitors. Since 2017, the 10th anniversary, another ice rink richly decorated with icicles has been open to the public.
Behind it are two more rooms, but these are not yet public. "We have a research assignment and an educational assignment," says Roman Erler. There are also areas in the Natural Ice Palace that are currently only for research.

Information on the special features of the natural ice palace in the Hintertux Glacier in Austria.Why is the Natural Ice Palace so special?
The Hintertux Glacier is a so-called cold glacier. The ice temperature at the bottom of the glacier is well below zero degrees Celsius and thus well below the pressure melting point. So there is no more liquid water in the ice here. Since the glacier is watertight from below, an underground glacial lake was able to form in the natural ice palace. The water does not drain down.
As a result, there is no film of water on the bottom of a cold glacier either. So it does not slide over a film of water, as is usual with temperate glaciers, for example. Instead, this type of glacier is frozen to the ground. Nevertheless, the glacier is not static. But it moves extremely slowly and only in the upper area.
In the natural ice palace you can see how the ice reacts to the pressure from above. Deformations occur and curved ice pillars are formed. Because the glacial movement is so low, it is safe to visit the crevasse at a depth of up to 30 meters.
Cold glaciers are mainly found in the polar regions of our planet and occasionally at higher altitudes. The Hintertux Glacier therefore offers special conditions paired with the unbelievable luck of an easily accessible glacier cave including a glacial lake.

Information on research in the natural ice palace on the Hintertux Glacier.How fast does the Hintertux Glacier move?
Roman Erler has started a long-term experiment on this. He fixed a pendulum plumb bob at the entrance to the research shaft. At the bottom (ie 52 meters down) there is a mark at the exact spot where the plumb line touches the ground. One day the movement of the upper layers against the lower layers will become visible and measurable with the pendulum plummet.

Exciting background information

Information and knowledge about ice caves and glacier caves. Ice cave or glacier cave?
Ice caves are caves where ice can be found all year round. In a narrower sense, ice caves are caves made of rock that are covered with ice or, for example, decorated with icicles all year round. In a broader sense, and especially colloquially, caves in glacial ice are also sometimes referred to as ice caves.
The natural ice palace in North Tyrol is a glacier cave. It is a naturally formed cavity in the glacier. The walls, the vaulted ceiling and the ground consist of pure ice. Rock is only available at the base of the glacier. When you enter the natural ice palace, you are standing in the middle of a glacier.

Information about the Tuxer Ferner. What is the true name of the Hintertux Glacier?
The correct name is Tuxer Ferner. This is the true name of the glacier that houses the Natural Ice Palace.
However, due to its location above Hintertux, the name Hintertux Glacier finally caught on. In the meantime, the Hintertux Glacier is widely known as Austria's only year-round ski area and the name Tuxer Ferner has moved more and more into the background.

Sights near the ice cave Natur-Eispalast Hintertux. Which sights are nearby?
In highest bicable gondola in the world takes you to the mountain station on the Hintertux Glacier. Your first experience of the day, already on the way to the Natural Ice Palace. Austria Year-round skiing area Hintertux Glacier offers winter sports enthusiasts good slopes even in midsummer. Younger guests look forward to Luis Gletscherflohpark, den highest adventure playground in Europe.
Near the mountain station of the “Gletscherbus 2” cable car, at an altitude of approx. 2500 meters, there is another natural beauty: The Natural Monument Spannagel Cave. This marble cave is the largest rock cave in the Central Alps. 
In winter, the Hintertux Glacier, together with the neighboring ski areas of Mayrhofen, Finkenberg and Tux, forms the Ski and Glacier World Zillertal 3000. Beautiful ones are waiting in summer Hikes with a mountain panorama on the visitors. There are around 1400 km of hiking trails in the Zillertal. The Tux-Finkenberg holiday region offers many other excursion options: old farmhouses, mountain cheese dairies, show dairies, waterfalls, the Tux mill and Teufelsbrücke. Variety is guaranteed.

throw one Behind the scenes or enjoy the picture gallery Ice magic in the natural ice palace in Tyrol
Fancy more ice cream? In Iceland she is waiting Katla Dragon Glass ice cave to you of you.
Or explore the Cold South with the AGE™ Antarctic Travel Guide with South Georgia.

Alps • Austria • Tyrol • Zillertal 3000 ski area • Hintertux Glacier • Natural Ice Palace • Insights behind the scenesDiashow

This editorial contribution received external support
Disclosure: AGE™ services were discounted or granted free of charge as part of the report – from: Natursport Tirol, Gletscherbahn Zillertal and Tourismusverband Finkenberg; The press code applies: Research and reporting must not be influenced, hindered or even prevented by accepting gifts, invitations or discounts. Publishers and journalists insist that information be given regardless of accepting a gift or invitation. When journalists report on press trips to which they have been invited, they indicate this funding.
The content of the article has been carefully researched and is based on personal experience. However, if information is misleading or incorrect, we assume no liability. If our experience does not match your personal experience, we assume no liability. Since nature is unpredictable, a similar experience cannot be guaranteed on a subsequent trip. Furthermore, circumstances can change. AGE™ does not guarantee topicality or completeness.
Texts and photos are protected by copyright. The copyright of this article in words and images is entirely owned by AGE ™. All rights are reserved. Content for print / online media can be licensed on request.
Source reference for text research
Information on site, interview with Roman Erler (the discoverer of the Natur-Eis-Palast) as well as personal experiences when visiting the Natur-Eis-Palast in January 2023. We would like to thank Mr. Erler for his time and for the exciting and instructive conversation .

Deutscher Wetterdienst (March 12.03.2021, 20.01.2023), not all glaciers are the same. [online] Retrieved on XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX, from URL:

Natursport Tirol Natureispalast GmbH (n.d.) Homepage of the family business of the Erler family. [online] Retrieved 03.01.2023-XNUMX-XNUMX, from URL:

ProMedia Kommunikation GmbH & Zillertal Tourismus (November 19.11.2019, 02.02.2023), World record in the Zillertal: Freedivers conquer the ice chute on the Hintertux Glacier. [online] Retrieved on XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX, from URL:

Szczyrba, Mariola (02.12.2022/21.02.2023/XNUMX), Extreme performance! Krzysztof Gajewski from Wroclaw has broken the Guinness World Record for the longest swim in a glacier. [online] Retrieved on XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX, from URL:

More AGE ™ reports

This website uses cookies: You can of course delete these cookies and deactivate the function at any time. We use cookies in order to be able to present the contents of the homepage to you in the best possible way and to be able to offer functions for social media as well as to be able to analyze the access to our website. In principle, information about your use of our website can be passed on to our partners for social media and analysis. Our partners can combine this information with other data that you have provided to them or that they have collected as part of your use of the services. Agree More information