There is a special place deep in the Austrian Dachstein Mountains, that has been frozen in time. A cultural and architectural time capsule, Hallstatt, Austria was publicly recognized for its beauty and historical importance in 1997 when it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Throughout history, Hallstatt was known for salt production. It is home to the world’s oldest and longest operating salt mine. The Bronze Age salt mine is still in use today and tours are given daily. Hallstatt is the perfect place to go to dive deep into Bavarian history and heritage. With over 800,000 visitors every year Hallstatt is making tourism part of their 21st-century economy.
Getting to Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt is incredibly easy to get to by rental car. If renting a car is not your forte then you can also access Hallstatt by train, ferry, or bus.
By car, you will find Hallstatt approximately 90 minutes east of Salzburg along the highway to Graz. To reach Hallstatt by train you will connect at Bad Ischl. You will take the train from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt Station where you will get on a ferry and cross the lake. This is a beautiful way to see many of the pristine lakes of the Salzkammergut. If you prefer roadways a public bus is also an option. The bus station sits directly outside of Hallstatt Train Station to return back to Bad Ischl.
There are daily tours available from Salzburg, but I promise, one day is not enough. Book your hotels or Air BnB, as far in advance as possible. Because Hallstatt is fairly isolated, you will pay heavily to stay there in the village. Other accommodations are available in surrounding towns, but only reachable if you rented a car. You can prebook everything from hotels to bus tickets online, and it is highly recommended.
A Slow Stroll Through Hallstatt
There is no wrong way to spend a day here, but one thing that everyone seems to do is stroll through the streets. The architecture is astounding, every turn and alley gives light to something unseen before. A new photo-op; a breathtaking view; a waterfall brimming with glacial water. The magnificent shops and restaurants are worth stopping at. Enjoy apple strudel in the square or creme-stuffed pastries by the lake. Let’s not forget about the picturesque swans paddling along the lake’s edge with the Dachstein Mountains as a backdrop. It really doesn’t get any better than Hallstatt, Austria.
If leisurely strolls are not your thing (though you should make time for it here); there are many other things to do. You can do a food or wine tour. Renting paddle boats and kayaks will put you out on the water and give you a great view of the castle Schloss Grub. The castle itself is privately owned and visitors are not allowed on the inside, though you can access the grounds via the east side of the lake’s hiking trail.
And don’t forget the reason Hallstatt is famous! The active salt mines are a wonderful way to spend a day. You can take an amazing tour deep into the mines. There are even internal slides to get from one level to another! There is also a wonderful local museum with 7,000-year-old artifacts.
Hallstatt and Food
The food in Hallstatt is something out of this world. The amount of restaurants with views is amazing and there truly are no bad views. Marktbiesel Zur Ruth is definitely the place to go for that afternoon coffee . . . and strudel. Snacking is a great way to experience everything the town has to offer and will ensure you have enough room for the next tasty treat you see.
There really is no “bad time” to visit the beautiful Hallstatt, Austria. Lage August has great weather, and the winter months can be fun for hiking in the snow. There are definitely more tourists during the summer months, and accommodations are more scarce during the winter.
The key to traveling anywhere new is to plan in advance and be flexible. Sometimes the greatest adventures and locations are not the easiest to get too. Hallstatt, Austria is one of those places. It will take some strategic planning on your part, but the memories you create make it all worthwhile.
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Photo Credit: Lydia Bradbury