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Krimml: The largest waterfall in Austria… or even Europe?

Krimml, a small village in the Pinzgau valley is our next destination – but we are doing a weird circle tour thing, more on that later. Krimml is home to the highest waterfall in Austria and according to some other website the highest in Europe but we very much doubt that. It seems every waterfall we visit has the label of the biggest and best in the world based on some weird metric that is ever so slightly different to the previous.

So, our general direction is west, towards Innsbruck and ultimately Switzerland. Krimml is our next immediate destination and is also west so that fits. We will go to Krimml and then go to Innsbruck. Only we can’t because there is no campsite near Krimml which is a bit of a bummer. However, there is a very cute narrow gauge railway running through this valley, from Zell am See (the stop before Kaprun – where we are now) all the way to Krimml.

We can take a day trip to Krimml, come back to Kaprun this evening and then tomorrow go west to Innsbruck, the same way we will today, towards Krimml. Slightly annoying, but we get to ride on a cute train so whatever. It actually works out in our favour as you will find out in the next post!

Map showing our complicated journey from Kaprun to Innsbruck via Krimml

While in Kaprun we visited the high mountain reservoirs – check out our account and pictures.

Pinzgauerbahn

There’s a train going every hour, we settle for the 9AM one but it’s an hour walk from our current location in Kaprun, the station is actually in Fürth. We get up around 7AM and head to the local supermarket Billa, to get food and snacks (hummus) and walk towards the train station.

Last night we didn’t get much sleep, it was super cold! Maybe sleeping next to the river wasn’t the best idea: we still didn’t learn. Coming directly from the snowy mountains, the freezing cold water was like a vacuum that sucked any and all of the warmth that was left, sending it raging off in to the distance.

We wait ages for the train and it doesn’t turn up. We assume it must not be running, it is low season after all. Even though the timetable says it should be running. Some other Austrians turn up so we wait it out a bit, and in the end it does come. You have to press a button at the station though before it arrives, otherwise the train won’t stop at this destination!

We board the train and secretly hope that the train conductor won’t come to charge us, but of course they do. However, all is not bad; the conductor informs us that because it is Saturday, the ticket will also be valid on Sunday as well – a sort of weekend deal. This is great because we have to come back this way tomorrow, and now we can just ride the train until the end station without paying anything extra! This cuts out however many hours it might take us to hitch. Awesome!

We love trains (unless we’re forced to take them) but this train journey is particularly spectacular. The views are incredible and we have the whole carriage to ourselves. Cute villages in the lush green valley surrounded by massive mountains. Our faces are pressed up against the cold window glass for the majority of the journey. We feel like props in a Wes Anderson movie! Aydin took one of our favourite photos of the trip here.

The view from the pinzgauerbahn - snowy mountains a cute village

If you love cute trains like we do, check out the Schafbergbahn mountain train while you’re here!

Train to Krimml doesn’t go to Krimml

Arriving at Krimml train station we see another train being charged up ready for the return journey. Unbeknownst to us Krimml train station is not really in Krimml. There is another bus you can take to the waterfall but we decide to walk, in protest and because we really can’t afford it. It’s around an hour and through the forest so it should be nice.

Pinzgauerbahn waiting at the Krimml train station

When we finally get to where the waterfalls start we take a different route to everyone else. This is because I have insider knowledge, I have been here before. It costs to enter the waterfalls and what you get for your money is less than you’d expect, a large boring trail up to the waterfall. Not that it’s a bad thing, it allows for a wider range of people with different levels of ability to visit the waterfalls but that’s not the experience we want.

Alternative trail

On the left side of the waterfall is another trail that costs nothing and is much more interesting. Not upgraded like the other, it requires sure footedness, rock clambering and a lot more stamina to climb. Arguably the views are better as well.

After climbing for around 40 minutes we spot a massive rock that juts over the side of the waterfall. It looks like an incredible spot to chill. We both clamber down from the path and carefully balance over a thin section of path trying to avoid tumbling into the water below until we emerge from the forest on to the huge rock which will become our sun bed. Waterfall to the left of us, mountains to the right. The perfect resting spot. I think at one point we might have even dosed off. The sun was blazing the whole time. It was magnificent.

There was a pub on the other side of the waterfall and there were people continually pointing at us, naturally wondering how the hell we’d gotten there. Too bad, our secret!

Krimml river gushing through the mountains
Looking over the top of Krimml waterfalls to the valley below

After exploring a bit more we hike back down to the bottom and I force Caroline to stand near the lower waterfall to get soaked while I take a picture of her. Sorry not sorry!

Caroline standing in front of Krimml waterfall getting very wet

Back to whence we came

Walking back through the forest to the train station we spot lots of cute little mushrooms. I try using my new macro extension tube for my camera to get some close up shots which turn out okay but it seems a tripod is needed because of the low light.

We are really knackered now. We’ve done a lot of hiking in the last days so this last hour through the forest is quite tough. When we finally get to the train we slump in our seats and enjoy the ride back to Kaprun, for we still have one more hour of walking and a lovely cold tent waiting for us!

As we arrived back in Kaprun from Krimml, the sunset created some beautiful pastel skies above the towering Kitzsteinhorn. We’re pretty envious of the people living in these houses with this view!

Pink fluffy sunset over Kitzsteinhorn with wooden houses in the foreground

Back to the tent to freeze… or we might try and find a pub to work on some blog posts – although unfortunately Kaprun is not very happening in this season…

FACTS FACTS FACTS

How to get there

The Pinzgauer Lokalbahn goes from Zell am See to Krimml train station and has many stops along the way. The ride is super scenic and beautiful! Here’s the timetable for the Pinzgauer train. Once you get to Krimml station, you can catch a bus to the waterfalls (just follow everyone else) or walk through the forest along a signposted path for about an hour.

A single ride from Zell am See to Krimml station is about 10 euros. One the weekends you can get a real bargain though, a weekend ticket for 21 euros. Up to three people can ride with the weekend ticket, and it’s valid for the whole weekend meaning you can ride between Zell am See and Krimml as often as you like! On national holidays, you can get it for 17 euros. If you’re a spa fan, you also get one free hour at Tauern Spa Kaprun with your train ticket. Krimml also makes for a good day trip from Salzburg.

Accommodation

Since the train ride is so pretty, we recommend staying in Zell am See or Kaprun – Ideally in accommodation listed here because you will get a free Kaprun Summercard with it. If you prefer a tent, there are campgrounds in Lahn, close to Krimml.

Booking.com

Hike

Here’s some information in English about the hike along the waterfalls themselves.

The walk from the train station to the waterfalls is really pretty! When you exit the station, turn left and walk along the road until the bend. There you cross the bridge, turn right and follow the river. The trail is signposted and takes about an hour.

Pro Tip

Entrance to the waterfalls is free with the summercard. You can choose a different path on the other side of the waterfalls if you prefer a more adventurous route.

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Comments

1 Comment
  1. posted by
    Cecelia
    Apr 22, 2019 Reply

    Hi there! Such a wonderful short article, thank you!

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