Hallstatt, a charming town in Austria’s Gmunden, is famous for the village that occupied the entire strip between the steep hillsides and Lake Hallstatt (Hallstätter See).
It may have been listed as an area of overtourism, but it’s also one of UNESCO’s 12 World Heritage Sites in Austria. Thus, this reason alone makes it worth visiting and exploring. Hallstatt is so picturesque that architects in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong made a replica. The $940 million town clone opened its doors to visitors in June of 2012.
We’ve never been to the Guangdong version but we did explore the original town. While it is doable to explore in a day, we encourage a longer stay, for you to be able to see every nook and cranny, and to go slowly. Fast tourism has, at some points disrupted the normal routine of local people and the experience for those who enjoy immersing themselves in the local scene. There are less than 800 people living in the town, but more than 10,000 tourists a day visit the town ever since its inclusion on UNESCO’s list.
Hallstatt Travel Tips
There are parking areas you can pay for the day, but those gets easily full so make sure that you arrive early. Reason that we recommend staying longer and finding accommodation in nearby areas like Salzburg to enjoy the town better.
How To Get To Hallstatt
Hallstatt is a 3-hour, 10-minute drive away from Vienna and about an hour and 20 minutes from Salzburg. Take the 158 road east out of Salzburg heading towards Bad Ischl. Then take road 145 to Bad Goisern and switch to the 166 and L547 to arrive at the village.
By Train or Bus
From Vienna you can take an Austrian National ÖBB train direct to Attnang-Puchheim where you then transfer to the local REX train going to Hallstatt. It takes around 1 hour and 44 minutes from Vienna’s Hauptbahnhof to Attnang-Puchheim and another 1 hour and 20 minutes from there to the Hallstatt train station.
The Attnang-Puchheim train station is 50 minutes from Salzburg’s main train station, so consider spending the day here if you want to get more out of your visit.
You can either get off at the Steeg-Gosau station in Bad Goisern and then take bus 170 to Hallstatt. Or you can get off at Hallstatt station and take the ferry that will take you to the town, as the train station is on the east side of the lake.
From Salzburg, you can also take bus 150 to Bad Ischl, and then train from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt railway station, and again ferry across the lake to the village.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Hallstatt
Depending on your preference, any season would be perfect to visit Hallstatt. April, May, and June would have a little rain to it…but it’s also springtime, the flowers would be beautifully blooming, the skies a perfect blue, and the trees in lush green. July and August would be a little warm, and your skin can enjoy a little sun-kissing.
September and October would be Autumn with manageable winds, so if you’d like fog and golden foliage in your photos, this is the best time to visit. Most establishments close off by the third week of October so plan your stay well. December until March would be winter, if you enjoy skiing, being out in the snow, there would still be activities for you to enjoy, and your photos would always have a perfect-wintry feeling.
Where To Stay When In Hallstatt
If you want to see Hallstatt’s famous postcard view, we recommend to stay at Haus Cian and other apartment houses at Gosaumühlstraße. This is the street where photo no.3 in this post was taken. Haus Cian is cited at Gosaumühlstraße 68, opposite this address is the spot where the postcard shot would be perfectly taken.
A week’s stay at Haus Cian costs 860€ for 2 persons, which is the minimum that a person should book. From October to May, the minimum number of days for the holiday apartment is reduced to 3.
Best Things To Do In Hallstatt
Ride a Boat
Aside from the ferry that takes up people to the village proper, there are boat rentals and boat tours offered around the lake. It is mostly recommended in summer to cool down a bit, and also, being in the lake is the perfect spot to view the scenic village from. There are electric boats, pedal boats (some adorably designed as swans), and rowing boat you can choose from. You can also tour riding a Zille (or Plätte or a Fuhre (“Fua”) – the historical boats that were once used in Lake Hallstatt and river Traun to transport people and goods.
Wait for the Blue Hour
Many photo contests were won by Hallstatt’s picturesque lakeside on the blue hour. It’s simply mesmerizing. From the Gosaumühlstraße, one can wait as the sun almost sets and see the reflections the mountains and clouds make over the lake. It’s also a romantic setup if you manage to sit by the docks at this hour.
Visit the World’s Oldest Salt Mine
Salzwelten (salt world) Hallstatt is high above the town on the 1,030-meter-tall Salzburg, and is 7,000 years old (the oldest salt mine in the world). It’s accessible by cable car or a five-minute journey aboard the funicular railway or a 1-hour hike up.
The visit to the salt mine in Hallstatt takes about 90 minutes. It’s a 2 km walk into the mine where you explore the tunnels and learn about the history of Hallstatt mining. You will slide down 2 long miner slides and see a subterranean salt lake too. You will then hop on a mine train that will bring you back outside the tunnel. It could get cold inside the mines so make sure that you at least have a long-sleeved jacket to layer on.
View The Lake from the Skywalk (World Heritage View Point)
While up on the salt mine area, glide along the Skywalk and see Lake Hallstatt from above. On the platform, you will experience Hallstatt from a bird’s eye view – on the the “World Heritage View Point” 360 meters up above the ground. By the platform is Rudolfsturm Restaurant, where you can grab a seat outside and have some lunch or drinks while admiring the spectacular view (see first photo).
Explore the Mountains
Going to the and from the salt mine, you will pass by installations that seem amusing. Explore. And just enjoy the nature around you, the view from up there – pure calm and tranquility of clear, blue waters and lush foliage.
Walk Around the Old Town
There is nothing more nostalgic than walking around the lake side to see the village’s age-old architecture, the quaint shops that keeps its character, and the colorful abodes lining up the streets (what others define as gingerbread houses). In spring throughout the early days of autumn, the houses would have flowers draping over their balconies and hanging by the windows, just some lovely additions to your picture-perfect shots.
You’d find the Market square where you can sit and watch people pass by. You can of course have your café while sitting here.
Enjoy the Sunrise
Nothing beats morning coffee when you sit by the like, watching a beautiful sunrise with a loved one! This is the reason why we recommend staying overnight, to watch both a sunrise and a sunset in a perfect setting.
Observe By the Lake Promenade – Swans and Ducks
Water – whenever we’re near it gives us a calm and soothing feeling. Be it just hearing water slowly hitting the shore, looking at some waves from nearby, and even when in a boat. Hallstatt is the perfect spot to meditate and take things slow. A great place to go to when things get rough.
If exploring a little on the mountain is not enough for the athletic you, hike up to the viewing platform. As mentioned it takes an hour up, and you can replenish with fresh meat cooked the Austrian way at the restaurant atop.
A little distance away from the village, you’ll find Dachstein Krippenstein.
See Stalactites and Stalagmites at The Ice Cave
If it gets too warm in the summer while you’re visiting Hallstatt, you can cool off at the ice cave also located at Dachstein.
When you happen to be in Hallstatt in winter, do not skip going for a ski.
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