When it comes to waterfalls, it seems that size really matters. The Rhine Falls may claim the crown in terms of water volume but when it comes to the measurement of the total vertical drop, Austria’s Krimml Waterfalls (Krimmler Wasserfalle) indisputably rank as Europe’s largest.
Located in the High Tauern National Park near the village of Krimml, in the Salzburg district, this is a tiered waterfall with three distinct drops. The falls occur on the Krimmler Ache river which is sometimes referred to as a glacial stream as it is fed by waters from a melting glacier but the rate of flow varies greatly throughout the year as it channels the waters of the melting alpine snows. The Krimml Waterfalls are therefore at their most spectacular during the spring and early summer. After passing through the falls, the waters of the river then join the rivers Salzach, Inn and Danube eventually discharging into the Black Sea.
The beauty of these spectacular falls has long been recognised and the paths allowing access to visitors date back to the 19th century. The paths and viewing points are well maintained allowing for safe and relatively simple access for those with good standards of fitness and mobility.
Despite the straightforward nature of the hike, it should not be underestimated. The Krimml waterfalls have a total drop of 380 metres and the top of the falls is 1,470 metres above sea level. A considerable climb is involved at a relatively high altitude. The journey to the top of the falls is generally said to take around 90 minutes but stopping along the way to enjoy refreshments or sightseeing, as most people do, can double this time. The upper and lower drops are each of 140 metres with the central drop being of 100 metres. All are spectacular, immensely powerful and noisy.
How to get to The Krimml Waterfalls
Getting to the falls should present few problems and many visitors arrive by car. The road trip from Salzburg takes around two hours and from Innsbruck around an hour and a half. Travel by rail is another option and from Salzburg the trip is done in two legs, Salzburg to Zell am See and then on to Krimml. The station at Krimml is around two and a half miles from the entrance to the falls and this can be completed on foot or by taxi.
Krimml Waterfalls Walk
The only way to really get close-up and personal with this wonder of nature is on foot and the hike is generally classified as being easy but is not suitable for very young children, the elderly or infirm. Those with mobility problems are best advised to simply enjoy the lower falls. Parking area 2 is also recommended as it is the closest to the entrance. There is a charge for parking which is currently €8.00 per car.
Krimml Waterfalls Opening Hours
The Krimml Waterfalls are open every day between mid-April and late October. It seems that the first and last days of the season are kept rather vague presumably as the weather is likely to determine when the pathways are considered to be unsafe so if planning a visit in April or October it would seem prudent to check that the site is open before making a long journey. In practice, the falls are generally accessible throughout the year even though they may officially be regarded as being closed and anyone visiting during the closed season may wish to check that they are permitted to enter the site and if so this would be entirely at their own risk. The normal summer operating hours are between 11.00 am and 4.00 pm and a very limited winter opening may be available between 8.00 am and 12.00 am on Thursdays only but again this should be checked first as weather conditions may result in closure. Close to the entrance to the falls can be found a water-inspired theme park called Wasserwelten Krimml (previously known as WasserWunderWelt) which should provide plenty of fun especially for younger visitors. This is open between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm throughout the summer season.
Krimml Waterfalls in Winter
Generally speaking, the falls are not at their best during the winter as the flow is greatly diminished and access to the site is very limited. At times the pathways may be considered dangerous so any winter visit requires careful planning. All of these problems however may be regarded as being insignificant if the chance arises to see waterfalls frozen. This is a rare occurrence but when it does happen the once roaring torrent of water becomes transformed into a silent ice-sculpture of cathedral-like splendour.
Krimml Waterfalls Prices/Entrance Fees
Entry to the falls requires payment of an entrance fee which is currently a very reasonable €2.55 per person (adult) with access for children costing just €0.50. There is also a parking charge of €8.00 per car. Visitors to the WasserWelten Krimml may wish to consider buying a combination ticket which includes parking, access to the falls and of course entry to WasserWelten Krimml. There are various ticket options to consider.
Krimml Waterfalls Weather
The weather in this region should hold no surprises. Winter snows are guaranteed and this is a popular area for skiing and other winter sports. Summers are generally pleasantly warm with plenty of sunshine but the waters of the rivers and waterfalls remain icy-cold. There is always the chance of inclement weather so visitors should always be prepared with warm waterproof clothing.
I have been to Krimml falls 4 times 3 times in the summer and the first in April 1976 which was by far
the best time to see them as it was a clear day with little wind there was a rainbow in the spray and it looked as if there was twice as much water flowing down as when I went in August of that year and the same on the other times which were in August and September.