There’s definitely something other-worldly about an ice cave – the icicles, the chill in the air and the feeling that everything is frozen in time.
There are ice caves all over the world, but here are a few you might not have heard of. It’s time to put on the woolly hat and get exploring.
The largest Alpine glacier
Where: Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland
What: The biggest Alpine glacier
Must-visit rating: 7 – One for the professionals
This has a length of about 23km and covers more than 120 square kilometres. This photograph shows professional cavers exploring a glacier shaft that reached more 30m deep.
The largest man-made ice cave
Where: Langjökull, Iceland
What: A man-made ice cave
Must-visit rating: 8 – It’s not so adventurous but Iceland is pretty cool
This cave is located high on Europe’s second-largest glacier, Langjökull, and allows visitors to explore a glacier from the inside. There are winding tunnels carved out of sheer ice and chilly chambers to explore. It even has a chamber appropriate for weddings, if that’s your thing.
The highest Alpine show cave
Where: Eiskogelhöhle, Austria
What: A high show cave
Must-visit rating: 8 – Why not?
The biggest ice cave in the world is in Austria, the Eisreisenwelt. The Eiskogelhöhle is close by but a little less known. It is said to be the highest Alpine show cave. It sits at 2,100m above sea level and inside the Eiskogel mountain. There's a good walk up to the cave and can take up to 12 hours there and back.
Where: Furka Pass, Switzerland
What: A mountain pass
Must-visit rating: 7 – Pretend you're in the movies
This icy tunnel is part of the Furka Pass, which has an elevation of 2,429m and connects parts of Switzerland. If you think it looks like something from the movies, you’re right. It was a location in James Bond film Goldfinger.
The heritage site
What: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Must-visit rating: 6 – Nice ice, but there's a walkway
The Dobšinská Ice Cave may not be the biggest or the longest, but it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and has been since 2000. The majority of the cave is covered in ice, and that’s what makes it so important. It was also the first cave in Europe to be lit electronically.
The cave to climb
What: A booming ice chasm
Must-visit rating: 10 – If you can ice-climb
This is one of the more dangerous caves to explore – crampons are a must, as is knowledge of ice climbing. There’s a vast ice sheet in the cave, but one slip could send climbers plummeting down to the bottom. There’s also a big echo in the cave, making communication quite difficult!
The cave to see icicles
Where: Lake Superior, Wisconsin, USA
What: A series of beautifully unique sights
Must-visit rating: 8 – Pretty spectacular
In the summer the Apostle Island ice caves are impressive sea caves, but in winter they turn in to incredible icy wonders. The beauty of the caves is that what varies with the seasons, and even each year. The lake freezes, allowing access to the caves and the needle-sharp icicles.