Hallstatt, Austria, is a postcard-perfect town. It's a charming town, found at the base of a salt mountain and the edge of a lake. This means that it has some truly incredible views!
Hallstatt is beautiful, but it's also ancient - it's considered to be the oldest European village that is still inhabited, dating back to the Iron Age. In fact, the culture of the Iron Age from 800 to 400 BC is known as the Hallstatt culture! It boasts status as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Whether you plan a day trip to this small storybook town or have a week to slow down and enjoy it, we'll tell you everything you need to know to plan a delightful trip to this perfect setting.
Best Time To Visit
Hallstatt used to be quiet and off the radar, but it's recently become quite popular. Because the town is so small, it doesn't take many visitors for it to seem crowded!
During the peak seasons of summer and winter, Hallstatt feels more like a tourist trap than a quaint village. It's also best to avoid summer because the temperatures can get very hot in July and August, and most of the buildings don't have air conditioning.
Winter time is magical. But you might also want to avoid winter if you want to avoid the crowd. Otherwise, Hallstatt, Austria, is absolutely stunning under a blanket of snow, and many visitors make a point to explore Hallstatt during these winter months, particularly around Christmas.
The best months for visiting Hallstatt, Austria area are March, April, May, October, and November. It will have nice weather and without the crowd.
Market Square and the surrounding "old town" look like one of the charming towns in a picture book. The old townhouses are family-owned restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious lunch, souvenir shops, and artisan storefronts. Be sure to check out local salt stores.
The stunning views and natural beauty of Hallstatt and the surrounding Lake District are perhaps the main reason people visit this tiny town. To enjoy the unique, panoramic views of this region, head to the Skywalk. This viewing platform sits 350 meters over the top of Hallstatt, at the very top of the salt mountain. You can take a funicular ride to the top or go on a hearty uphill hike.
Hallstatt Salt Mine
"Hallstatt" literally translates into "place of salt," and it is home to the world's first salt mine and some of the oldest salt mines. These salt mines quickly grew the village and the local economy. You can still tour this salt mine today! You'll be given a jumpsuit and wooden slides to get to the different levels within the mine, just as the actual old miners would have. Tours last just a little over an hour and start up near the Skywalk.
Also called the Charnel House and the Bone House, this location offers jaw-dropping views of another sort. Situated inside the Catholic Church of Hallstatt (which itself boasts priceless Gothic artwork), this small ossuary holds over two thousand skulls and other bones. You see, Hallstatt was a small village with a small burial ground. As the ground filled, bodies were exhumed to make room for others. These human bones were stacked with care in the ossuary, and the beautifully painted skulls reached up to the ceiling.
While it may cause you to raise your eyebrows, seeing "visit a cemetery" on a travel guide, trust us - the cemetery in Hallstatt is different. All of the graves feature their own flower boxes and often have beautifully carved markers, shrines, and crucifixes. In addition to the cemetery's beauty, the grounds sports a stunning view of Lake Hallstatt.
Dachstein Ice Cave
Atop a nearby peak of the Alps is an incredible ice cave, carved out through prehistoric times. Multiple tours of various lengths work their way through this cave, where you'll learn about the history and geology of this region. You can reach this ice cave using a cable car.
Things To Do
Dining With a View
Many restaurants in Hallstatt feature a stunning view of the lake. Whether it is from above the lake or on the lake, take advantage of these locations and enjoy some incredible food, local wine, and fabulous desserts.
Enjoy The Lake
The glistening Lake Hallstatt is good for more than just pictures and amazing views! You can rent row boats, a small motorboat, a swan-shaped paddleboat, or a pedal boat. This is a great activity for the evenings when the crowd has calmed down somewhat, and you'd like to relax before turning in for the night.
Go Up To Dachstein Krippenstein
As you get further into the day, you will likely want to escape the crowds. Thankfully, Hallstatt is close to the Alps and all of the outdoor adventures they entail! You can ride the gondola to the top of Dachstein Krippenstein, a nearby peak, and you can also hike up there and enjoy a full day of hikes up at the top. There's a particularly family-friendly trail called the Heilbronner Circular Trail. For spectacular views that beat out the Skywalk, go to the 5 Fingers platform! Depending on the weather, you can also go paragliding, skiing, snowshoeing, or exploring ice caves in the winter.
Go On A Walking Tour
Hallstatt is a remarkably small town, and it's only 1 kilometer from end to end, and you can walk across the whole village in 15 minutes. Many guided walking tours are available, most of which start at the north end of the town. You can even book a two-hour-long tour with a local photographer, who will point out the most breathtaking views and take lovely pictures of you and your group along the way.
Where To Stay
You absolutely should stay at least one night in Hallstatt. There are some lovely properties with rooms for rent, and if you visit the Lake Hallstatt region during the off-season, it's nice to spend a night in the old town Hallstatt and have everything just a short walk away.
However, once the crowds pick up, you're unlikely to find a vacancy in Hallstatt itself. Thankfully, there are two towns nearby that also offer accommodations!
This town is only three miles away from Hallstatt, Austria. If you're using public transportation, it's actually easier to get here than it is to get to Hallstatt! This makes it a great hub if you spend a few days in the area.
Located a bit further away, Bad Goisern has the benefit of being the final stop if traveling to Hallstatt, Austria, via train. The hotels here are great, although the views from the rooms aren't quite as spectacular.
Where Is Hallstatt Located?
Hallstatt is a picturesque lakeside town found in the middle of the Austrian district of Salzkammergut. It's nestled at the base of the Alps, at the edge of Lake Hallstatt.
How To Get To Hallstatt
Salzburg is the closest city to Hallstatt. Starting at Salzburg, you can get into Hallstatt by car, train, or bus. Note that you can also get to Hallstatt from Vienna, but it's at least a three-and-a-half hour journey one way.
Travel By Car
If you make a point to leave Salzburg early enough, driving to Hallstatt is the easiest way to get there, and it's a little nice road trip. The drive lasts about an hour and a half. There are three public parking areas in and near Hallstatt, and each of them has an electronic display, letting you know at a glance how many parking spots are available.
Travel By Train
The train station closest to Hallstatt is on the other side of the lake. The ride from the Salzburg Bahnoff to Attnang-Puchneim to Steeg-Gosau takes a little over two hours, and then you'll need to take a ferry to cross the lake.
Travel By Bus
If you don't want to drive to Hallstatt yourself, and you'd rather not fiddle with train switches and a ferry, then taking a bus is your best option. Bus numbers 150, 542, and 543 will get you there.
Hallstatt town is very small and compact, and you can tour the entire town on foot without needing a car or using public transportation.
You can enjoy all the highlights Hallstatt has to offer on an e-bike. This way, no path is too far and no hill too high – because you will be sitting on the seat of an electric bike!
Things To Know Before You Come
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Everything you do in Hallstatt will be done by walking. It's not a large town, and the village was founded before cars were even an idea - so it's very well situated for pedestrians. Still, leave your beachside sandals at home and bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
Get An Early Start
You'll enjoy your strolls through Market Square and side streets if you get an early start. If you're still in bed by 7 am, trust us - there's a peaceful, old-world feeling you are missing out. And because there is not much happening in Hallstatt at night, there is no excuse not to experience this serenity.
Don't Move Your Car
If you travel to Hallstatt, Austria, by car, you'll need to get there early if you're going to stand a chance of snagging one of the few parking spaces. Then, once you have your space, don't move your car! Everything in town can be reached by walking, and there are tour buses that run from Hallstatt to other nearby places of interest.