Hallstatt Austria is a picture-perfect village at a lake, hidden between dramatic mountains.
I'm going to show you why you need to plan your next trip to Europe's most beautiful village!
Where is Hallstatt Austria?
Hallstatt in a quaint village, tightly nestled between the Salzkammergut mountains and the Hallstätter lake in the Austrian Alps in central Europe.
To be more precise, Hallstatt is located in the Upper Austria region (aka Oberösterreich) but at the corner, touching the Salzburg region (where Mozart was born) and Styria region (aka Steiermark, where Arnold comes from).
Why is it famous?
Hallstatt is famous around the world because it's considered to be one of the prettiest villages in Europe.
Just look at it!
Mountains, lake, the architecture of the village buildings, the place has its own charm!
Besides being crowned a breathtaking beauty, Hallstatt has an enormous historical importance.
The Hallstatt village and Dachstein Salzkammergut, the regional surrounding, are protected with the UNESCO World Heritage site tag.
Hallstatt was around when the Celts turned the area into a thriving bronze age salt trading village, making it one of the oldest ancient documented spots in Europe.
Btw, towns with similar names exist in Europe including Hallstadt in Germany, Hallein in the Austrian Salzburg region and Hall in the Austrian Tirol region.
So don't get confused please!
Things to do
Hallstatt Salt Mines
The Hallstatt salt mines are known to be the oldest salt mines in the world and are the prime attraction.
The entry point to the salt mines is on the upper parts of the village.
To get there, you can take the funicular with a combo roundtrip + salt mine tour ticket, which is approximately priced at 34 € for adults.
OR you walk about and pay less for just the roundtrip.
At the entrance, you will get your white miner clothes. Take along a light jacket because caves can get cool.
Tours are usually in German however you can get an English or another language tour guide too.
Just ask at the ticket counter or call them.
The tour itself lasts 90 minutes and you will learn about the history of the place and how salt used to be the currency of the world in ancient times.
At the crowning end, you get to slide down a long slide which was used by the miners at some point.
The salt mines are great with kids but maybe not so accessible for people who are not that mobile.
And by the way with the salt mine ticket, you get an access to the viewpoint.
Don't miss it!
The lake is, of course, the soul of the village!
The main activity on the lake is to take a ride on the ferry which crosses the lake and leaves about every 30 minutes (if I remember correctly).
This is something for you if you are looking for a slow peaceful ride and I totally recommend it if you want to enjoy the village view from the lake perspective.
However, be aware that the ferry ride is popular!
So take it during the early morning hours.
During the hot summer days, I suggest you go for a swim.
The water is clear and fresh.
The tourism department has set up some bathing islands near the village.
Ask the information desk for the direction.
You can also take a walk around the lake or rent cycles to enjoy a day with the family while discovering the surroundings.
Other intriguing points of interests:
The Catholic Church with skulls - Set on top of the village, the church with a small cemetery is quite a special sight.
The religious house dates back to the 16 century and the carved wooden altar is rather special.
The main attraction are the skulls of over 600 people.
The local people's bones of the last centuries were decorated and placed on top of each other in the ossuary because of the lack of burial space.
Whole generations can be found in this spot which is unique in the world.
Also, I totally recommend that you check out the Museum if you want to know more about the different ages of the town.
The museum has a collection of items that showcase 7000 years of history of Hallstatt from the Neolithic age, to the mid bronze age, the Roman times and the medieval era.
Besides, the entry is only 10€, so totally worthwhile in my book!
Best time to visit
Hallstatt can be visited all year round, however, it depends when YOU want to come and visit this beautiful village in the Alps!
You need to know that Hallstatt is known worldwide and it's quite popular among American, Asian and Middle Eastern Tourists.
A staggering half a million people visit Hallstatt Austria every year!
So, if you want to avoid the crowds and experience Hallstatt during the not so busy times in the year then visit in autumn (mid-October to mid-December) or in spring (March to May).
But be aware that some sights will be closed during the lesser busier times such as the museum and possibly the salt mines.
Hallstadt in Summer is great when you want to...
- experience the surrounding Alps hiking
- take a boat ride on the serene Hallstadt lake
- discover the Salzkammergut cycling
- uncover the Hallstatt salt mines (also open in spring and autumn, but closed in winter)
- go swimming in the Hallstätter lake
The weather in summer can get hot with the average at about 26 Celsius and switches between sunny cloudless skies and rainy days.
Keep an eye on your weather app, because summer thunderstorms usually darken the skies at around 3-6 pm.
Hallstadt in Winter is great when you want to...
- have an unforgettable authentic Christmas memory with your family
- go skiing in the nearby resorts
- experience a night snow boot walk or a guided torch walk with the family
- have a cup of Glühwein while taking in the typical Austrian landscape and atmosphere
The weather in winter is cold and freezing so pack along proper down jackets, boots, and your full winter clothing kit.
It usually starts to snow by November/December.
Temperatures are set between +5 and -10 Celsius on an average in the prime winter months.
How to get there?
The closest Airports to Hallstatt are Salzburg and Vienna.
- By Train or Bus (or combined) takes about 2:30 h and costs about 14€ - only slow regional connections possible with stops
- By Car, most conveniently, if you rent a car or a taxi. Roads are regional mountain roads with turns and twists. The fasted road is the one via Bad Ischl, or you can take the one via Hallein the other famous Salz mine town.
- By Train, the journey can take about 3-4 hours if you travel in the day with 1-2 stops. The connections are usually better from Vienna to Hallstatt then say from Salzburg to Hallstatt. Price depends on what train connection you pick.
- With a rented car via the A1 highway (get a toll sticker!) and the S1 from Vienna to Hallstatt. A taxi would be super expensive! A car drive takes about 3 ½ hours.
The car Parking in Hallstatt is just before you get to the village.
In fact, the village is hidden behind the mountain walls at first.
The parking spots are clearly indicated so you can't miss them.
You can't take the car into the village, only locals get to do that, simply because it would be a crazy idea with all those tourists and because the village is protected by the UNESCO World heritage tag.
You can buy a regular hourly ticket or an overnight ticket if you have booked a room in the village.
Everything is clearly explained in various languages at the parking ticket machine.
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