The quaint European village Hallstatt truly is a picturesque sight that has tempted wanderers to its shores for many years. The stunning views make almost every travel influencer swoon with delight. Do you need a better reason to visit Hallstatt beyond the breathtaking and unbelievably Instagrammable scenery? Then read on, as we have dug deep into its rich history and culture to pull out the very best bits the Austrian village has to offer.
Visitors arriving by boat are gliding into a pretty postcard: Lofty mountains roar up towards the sky, surrounding the pastel-colored houses and the shimmering lake. Hallstatt is a sight for sore eyes. Only a small stretch of land nestles cozily between the shore and the mountains, and the boats sail languishingly back and forward between the village and the train station.
The annual Corpus Christi procession takes place in boats for the most part, since there isn’t much space on land. As you might image, the small village may feel a bit too crowded during the hot, busy summer months. However, if you are determined to explore the fairytale town during high season, we have a trick up our sleeve. Our recommendations will let you plan your perfect day in Hallstatt with ease.
What to do in Hallstatt
It is recommended to explore the city streets in the morning or in the evening to avoid the rush of eager tourist groups, rolling down the sloping mountains on big tourist buses. It is truly worth taking your time to wander the cobbled streets and admire the timber-houses, even though you can easily walk through the town center in 15 minutes. Market Square is an excellent starting point for your excursions. It’s the towns heart and meeting point, dotted with restaurants, cafes, and small souvenir shops.
There are several things to do in Hallstatt that’ll quench your thirst for culture, history, and exquisite food. The most popular attractions in Hallstatt are busiest during midday, and therefore it may be wise to start with the Old Town and the Salt Mine in the morning. Afterward, we recommend eating a hearty lunch just as the crowds set in, and then head out to Dachstein for a few peaceful hours.
The village is usually calmer again after 4 PM, as all those who are on a day trip to Hallstatt often return home now. If you are after a bit of romance, why not hire a boat and steal a kiss on the water as the sun sets beyond the sublime mountains? We recommend finishing up the perfect day on one of the oh-so-tempting restaurants. The UNESCO World Heritage village isn’t just for all those who love culture and breathtaking scenery; foodies and gourmets will also feel at home here.
If you like seafood, then indulging in a delicious fish-dish is a must. Due to the superb water quality in the lakes and the number of different fish species caught here, many restaurants specialize in seafood. Besides, the desserts in the region are nothing short of fabulous,
ranging from cream cakes and strudel to mouthwatering ice-creams. If we may issue a word of warning; if you are counting calories, you will have a challenge ahead of you.
Top attractions in Hallstatt
Despite its size, there are so many hidden gems that you won’t be left wondering what to do in Hallstatt. You can easily spend at least one night in town to make sure you can take your sweet time enjoying the attractions. To truly discover the highlights of Austria, it’s recommended to combine your trip to Hallstatt with a visit to Salzburg and Vienna too. There are many places to stay in Hallstatt, from budget-friendly, cozy bed and breakfasts to fancy, historic hotels with a romantic view over the lake.
You have several choices to choose from when you are figuring out how to visit Hallstatt. The easiest option for many is by car or by booking an organized bus tour. You may also take the train to Hallstatt. A ferry will take you across Lake Hallstatt from the train station and over to the village. Alternatively, shuttle buses are cheap and go quite often during the summer months. Many choose to rent a car during their stay; however, keep in mind that parking may be hard to come by during the daytime in the summer months. It is worth checking if your hotel includes guest parking.
Hallstatt’s History And Culture
Hallstatt has more to offer than a pretty view; it has a long and rich history as a center for salt mining. The Hallstatt Culture now refers to the historical period of late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in central and western Europe. Centuries past, the Iron Age settlers, and Celts worked at the ancient mines in the now fairytale-like village. Nearly 2000 graves were discovered in the town, dating back to c. 1100/1000 to c. 800/700 BC, as well as c. 800/700 to 450 BC.
The salt mine Salzwelten Hallstatt (Hallstatt Salt Mine) consists of 65 kilometers of tunnels, covering over 22 kilometers of walkable areas to explore. The mine has plenty of intriguing exhibitions that the whole family is bound to appreciate, from an underground cinema to Europe’s oldest staircase. Further examinations of the woodwork reveal that the staircase stems back to 1343 or 1344 BC. You can visit the world-famous construction in the “Staircase Room,” about an impressive 400 meters below the ground.
If you want to stay underground a little while longer, then the eerie, old Dachstein Ice Caves is worth a visit with its frozen cascades, glaciers, and icebergs. It is the perfect day trip from Hallstatt for anyone who wants an unforgettable adventure with light shows, rope bridges, and cave bears.
Marvel At A World Heritage View
Let’s switch gears and go from down beneath earth to high up in the sky. Just nearby the salt mine, there’s a cable car that will take you up to the village’s rooftop. If you need a bit of extra excitement – and to be fair, who doesn’t – then a trip to the “Skywalk” is highly recommended. The Skywalk in Hallstatt lies about 360meters above sea level, and you can
walk 12 meters out onto the platform to truly take in the breathtaking scenery. It earned itself the status of being a “World Heritage View” in 2013, and today it attracts visitors from all over the world.
Hallstatt Ossuary – Admire The Painted Skulls
If you want to explore a mystic and unique piece of history, then the Bone House is a must-see sight in Hallstatt. The ossuary is a small, cave-like room in the 12th century St. Michael’s Chapel, containing over 600 painted skulls. The skulls are perfectly adorned and decorated with roses, crosses, wreaths, and the name of the deceased. The cemetery is just as small as you might expect of a town this size. Therefore, the old bones are piled carefully up in the charnel house to make room for new ones.
The majority of the skulls were painted in the late 18th century, although there are a few that got decorated in the 20th century. The tradition of painting skulls was at its peak in the eastern Alpine region during the 19th century. The different styles of the painting represent different areas. Wreaths are the oldest and crosses are newer styles, whereas ivy branches represent the painting style from the 19th century.
Ready For Your Perfect Day In Hallstatt?
Whatever floats your boat, you should have plenty of options for your next trip to Hallstatt. Adventures high in the sky and down below earth awaits you, complemented with quaint architecture, delicious food, and wild, beautiful nature.