Pursuits

There's a Breathtaking Swarovski Museum Hidden In the Mountains of Austria

There’s a crystal-themed park in Austria and we’ve been missing out.
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A hulking giant with large crystal eyes guards the glittering assemblage it hides beneath its verdant walls. It spews out a waterfall into a large lake that greets its visitors who dare (and why should they not?) venture inside its famed premises. Every year, the Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Swarovski Kristallwelten) museum welcomes guests who are met by this other-worldly setting that serves as the entrance.

The iconic museum façade
Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
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The museum was established in 1995 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of crystal producer Swarovski. It is located in Wattens, Austria, where the company was founded, and it first spanned 3.5 hectares of land. It was designed by André Heller, an Austrian multi-hyphenate who was an artist, poet, songwriter, singer, and actor. The sprawling park is marked by its many Chambers of Wonder, with each one boasting of a unique take on how a crystal universe can be like.

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Over the years, the park has undergone numerous renovations and expansions, until it reached its current size of 7.5 hectares. The last overhaul resulted in the addition of the famous “Crystal Cloud,” a glittering sky of 800,000 crystals that hovers above a pool and glistens brightly at night.

The "Crystal Cloud" installation hangs above a glimmering pool
Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
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It’s been more than two decades since the museum first opened its doors to the public, and it’s long been one of Austria’s “must-see” places as mentioned in travel websites and blogs alike. Here, we explore the lineup of fabulous attractions at this world-famous Swarovski museum.

There are artist-curated chambers. 

Art enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that at the heart of the museum is artist collaboration. In fact, most of the unique installations that mark every inch of the museum is an acclaimed artist’s work; however, it is the Chambers of Wonder section that truly highlights the extraordinary works of commissioned artists. The Giant safeguards 17 fantastical chambers inspired by the cabinets of curiosities from yesteryears, which was basically a collection of interesting objects.

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Each chamber holds an artist’s interpretation of a ‘crystal world.’ Notable chambers include Yayoi Kusama’s “Chandelier of Grief,” one of two permanent “Infinity Mirror Rooms” in the world (the other being in Tokyo). The centerpiece is an average golden chandelier that comes to life as it is infinitely reflected in all corners of the room. 

Yayoi Kusama's art chamber, "Chandelier of Grief"
Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
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The Crystal Dome evokes the interior of a crystal—a lifesize crystal, at that. It was inspired by American artist Sir Richard Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome, which is based on the science of geodesy, one that explores the structure of the Earth. It consists of 595 crystal mirrors, and makes for a smashing photoshoot location. (Countless wedding shoots have taken place here.)

The famous Crystal Dome
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Moving along to the Silent Light chamber, a rare piece of art can be found and enjoyed. This is the crystal Christmas tree created by product designer Tord Boontje and the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who created it for the foyer of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2003.

This seemingly nondescript Christmas tree is actually the work of Tord Boontje and Alexander McQueen
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Although the museum mainly features contemporary works of art, there is still a special chamber dedicated to “epoch-making” Swarovski moments in history that can never be forgotten. From brand milestones to celebrated moments on the silver screen, the runway, and even technology, the Timeless chamber celebrates the captivating universal appeal of Swarovski crystals. 

A section of the Timeless chamber features glittering moments in fashion
Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
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There are fantasy gardens straight out of a storybook. 

After perusing through everything the Giant has to offer, the inspired museum-goer can take a walk outdoors among fascinating installations and attractions in the gardens that make for a modern Wonderland. The Art in the Garden section boasts of a plethora of curious masterpieces, such as a large conveyor belt (by Thomas Bayrle), crystalline bars (by Werner Feiersinger), to a simple animal sculpture (by Barry Flanagan). 

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After making like Alice in this fantasyland, children and kids-at-heart can enjoy the open playground, but the play tower is strictly for children above four years of age. (Art fanatic adults, however, will appreciate the building’s architecture, consisting of 160 crystalline facets.)

The Play Tower is a four-level establishment where kids can enjoy many games
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Another main attraction is the nostalgic carousel created by Spanish artist Jaime Hayon, which has been an Instagram favorite. It features a whopping 15 million crystals. To seal the fantastical vibe, there’s a large labyrinth where one can truly get lost. 

The black and white carousel is vintage and modern 
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Travel back in time or visit another universe during their seasonal performances. Summer brings out a vintage-inspired circus while winter reveals a chilling wonderland.

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One of the largest Swarovski retail stores is here. 

After having experienced the modern world of Swarovski, why not bring a piece of it home? Crystal Worlds retail stores are the largest stores of the brand, and aside from Wattens, one can also find it in Innsbruck and Vienna.

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Swarovski Crystal Worlds is the brand's flagship store
Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

The store boasts of the largest, most exclusive selection of Swarovski products, presented in an experiential way—the shop is practically an art and light show in itself. The Wattens Crystal Worlds store, in particular, houses a VIP Lounge for members of the Swarovski Crystal Society.

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One can even browse through special Swarovski collections under luxury fashion houses such as Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, and Roberto Cavalli.

Exquisite food completes the experience.

Art hopping and shopping can work up quite an appetite, which makes the park's very own dining experience perfect. Daniels Kristallwelten is the futuristic restaurant that is situated away from the museum proper, so one can even head straight here for a gourmet experience without paying the admission fee.

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Indulge in a hearty brunch for some family time, or enjoy good music over cocktails at the Music Club while catching up with friends. Whatever the occasion, the cuisine is well worth the visit.

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But before one eats to the stomach's capacity, get a taste of Daniels' selection of delicate pastries—often sprinkled with crystal confetti!

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Ticket prices

For solo visitors or group visits, there are rates and packages that you can refer to below: 

Solo tickets

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  • Adults: EUR 19.00
  • Groups of 10 or more: EUR 17.00
  • Children 6 to 14 years accompanied by an adult: EUR 7.50
  • Children 0 to 5 years accompanied by an adult: Admission is free

Family packages

  • Family Experience: 1 adult + 1 or 2 children (6 to 16 years): EUR 24.50
    • Every additional child: EUR 7.50
  • Family Experience: 2 adults + 1 or 2 children (6 to 16 years): EUR 41.50
    • Every additional child: EUR 7.50

Visiting hours

Swarovski Crystal Worlds is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from September to June. For the months of November to January, the museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. It is also open on holidays, and in case you’ll be visiting during the Christmas season, take note that it closes early on December 24 (until 1 p.m.) and December 31 (until 4 p.m.).

A closer look at the Crystal Dome's interiors
Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
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Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
A colorful crystal-filled room
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Get your tickets here

For more information, check out the official website.

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Nicole Cruz
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