Best things to do in Hallstatt, Austria
Best things to do in Hallstatt, Austria

Best things to do in Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt – Austria’s picturesque lakeside village

Hallstatt is the most picturesque tiny salt mine village in Austria. It is nestled between the lake and Alpine mountain range in Dachstein Salzkammergut (a UNESCO World Heritage site).

Who doesn’t know the small village of Hallstatt in the Austrian Alps? You might have seen the gorgeous photos of Hallstatt atleast once in the social media.

Chinese architects like the spectacular view of Hallstatt and they recreated a significantly larger replica of Hallstatt with Evangelical church, Gruener Baum Hotel, Market square, its houses, fountain and Hallstatt  lake in the subtropical Guangdong Province in 2012. Anyway, the original is worth a visit!

The village with dense cluster of houses is very compact with a population of 780 inhabitants. You can cover it in like 4 hours. You can base at Bad Ischl or Wolfgangsee and see the other places in the surrounding area. Or you can plan a day trip from Salzburg, Graz or Vienna.

Things to do and see in Hallstatt

Hallstatt is an all-weather attraction. At Hallstatt, you can enjoy being laid back and mesmerized by the charming natural landscape.

Here is the google map with all the interesting things to see in Hallstatt:

Stroll the Market Square (Hallstätter Marktplatz)

Historic market square of Hallstatt is surrounded by picturesque little cottage houses, cozy cafes, restaurants and of course, souvenirs shops. In the center of the square stands the mighty Holy Trinity statue which experienced one of the Hallstatt’s greatest fire disasters in 1750.

A wealthy salt merchant Johann Ignaz Etzinger endowed the Holy Trinity column in 1744. At the top of the Holy Trinity Column, there is a depiction of the Holy Father and Son, a dove symbolizing the Holy Ghost, an angel figure, statue of Mary and Mother of Christ. You can find all these details  inscribed on the column.

The market square serves as the venue for various events each year – concerts, cultural events, Advent Christmas market.

Evangelical Church of Hallstatt

The neo-gothic Evangelical church is located directly next to the market square. Initially, it was a prayer house erected in 1785 by the Protestant community, made possible with Emperor Joseph II. Later it was developed into a church in 1863. The construction of the church took 5 years and costed 37,000 guilders (around 400,000 euros today).

Catholic Church of Hallstatt

The catholic parish church of Hallstatt nestles the mountain together with the world-famous Ossuary and the contemplative mountain cemetery. It is one of the most beautiful churches in the Salzkammergut. From the market square, turn right up the small alley behind Café Derbl and take the covered steps to the Catholic Church.

In the 80’s, a couple stole four Gothic paintings from the church. The paintings went missing for more than 30 years. All the paintings were rescued in 2017 and brought back to the church.

The rocky grounds of the church became the mountain cemetery. There are no family graves in the cemetery. Dead are buried horizontally and the grave will be re-occupied after ten years.

If you like hiking, you will enjoy the panoramic hiking trial with the enchanting views of Lake Hallstatt. Start from the back of the cemetery “Marienruhe” and end at Valley Station of the Salzberg Funicular which takes around 45 – 60 minutes.

Bone House or Ossuary in Hallstattt

The charnel house or ‘Bone House’ in St. Michael’s Chapel is one of the most interesting places in Hallstatt with an unusual collection of over 600 artistically painted skulls. The chapel dates back to the 12th century and located next to the Evangelical Church of Hallstatt.

Skull painting was carried out in the 19th century and belonged to a cultural area that mainly consisted of the eastern Alpine region. When an existing grave was reused for a new burial in the mountain cemetery, the skull or bones were transferred from the grave to the charnel house or ossuary as part of a second funeral. The identity of the deceased was preserved by decorative paintings and inscriptions on the skulls & bones.

Walk on Morton Weg

To walk on the Dr.-Friedrich-Morton-Weg, leave the Catholic Church and cemetery via Romanesque entrance on the mountain side and then, take the Kirchenweg to Oberer Markt.

Dr. Morton is a botanist with the thirst for exploring. In 1925, he arrived at Hallstatt and turned into paleontologist. He realized that there must be more prehistoric material in the burial ground on the Salzberg (Salt Mountain) than previous excavation reveal. His excavations not only providing that the burial ground is much larger than suspected, also bringing a nearly 2000-year old mining tunnel to light.

Check ‘Rock Salt Bench’ (Kerntragebank)

The rock salt bench is a reminder of the salt carrying women of Hallstatt who would bring the salt directly broken out of the rock twice a day from the salt mountain to the valley in baskets on their backs. Before going up the 500 m high salt mountain, they are supposed to have rested on this bench. And after having made it down again, heavily laden with blocks of salt.

You can find therock salt bench on Dr.-Friedrich-Morton-Weg immediately before the path descends in the direction of Sesstrasse.

Romatic Boat Ride in Lake Hallstatt

The best way to get the panoramic view of the Hallstatt is from the waters of Lake Hallstatt (Hallstätter See). The lake connects the towns of Hallstatt, Obertraun, Bad Goisern, and Gosau in the Dachstein Salzkammergut region.

The Lake covers 13.5 square km area with the depth of 125 m, width of 2.3 km and length of 5.9 km. You can enjoy the activities such as diving, sailing, fishing, boat cruising, surfing and kayaking in the lake.

At the end of Dr.-Friedrich-Morton-Weg and turn left on to the Sesstrasse to the ‘Lake Promenade’.

In summer, you can rent a pedal boat, electric boat, or a rowboat to cruise the lake on your own. Find the boat rental place at Seestraße (Lake Promenade) – on the way to the village center market square and close to the ‘Markt (Zentrum)’ boat landing area.

In winter, the only shipping line which navigates on lake is from Hallstatt-Markt to the railway station.

Enjoy the spots with best view

At Gosaumühlstraße 67 , you will find the classic village post card view point for your pictures.

At Dr.-Friedrich Morton Weg 162, you can find a spot to enjoy the panoramic view of the lake, Castle Grub (Scholss Grub) on the other side of the alpine landscape of the Salzkammergut.

You will find a bench  in the cemetery behind Catholic Church on the lake side of grave digger’s house. From the bench, you can enjoy the magnificent view of the Hallstatt Lake.

The benches on the small patch of green between Evangelical Church and Hallstatt Lake has a scenic view of the lake and mountains.

Visit the Oldest Salt Mine (Salzwelten)

On a rainy day or bright sunny day, you can take a fantastic guided tour to the pre-historic salt mine, the Salzwelten (salt mine) in Hallstatt. Deep in the mountain, you will be following the footsteps of hundreds of years of salt mining – a miner’s slide, a subterranean salt lake and an exciting trip with the mining railroad.

The guided tour to the salt mine starts near ‘Welterbeblick’ (viewing platform) and the tour lasts about 90 minutes. You will need around 3 hours for the tour including the up and down with funicular/cable car to the Salzberg (Salt mountain).

The cable car and entrance to the salt mine guided tour costs €36 per adult and €18 per child including funicular ride. You can also buy family tickets. Find additional information at the Salzwelten official website.

Hallstatt Skywalk (Welterbeblick)

The World Heritage Skywalk hangs freely in almost 360 meters above sea level. It offers a unique breathtaking panoramic views of the Hallstatt Dachstein Salzkammergut.

You can find the pointy-shaped steel structure directly below the 800-year old “Rudolfsturm” (Rudolf’s Tower). From the Skywalk lookout platform, you will be enjoying the breathtakingly beautiful “World Heritage View” of Hallstatt and the World Heritage region.

Thanks the cable car on the Salzberg (Salzbergbahn funicular), elevator and panoramic bridge, the platform is easily accessible also for families and seniors. The roundtrip on cable car costs €20 for adult and €10 for child. 

How to get to Hallstatt

Driving to Hallstatt gives you the most flexibility to explore the neighboring towns, mountains and waterfalls in the Salzkammergut region. You can also reach Hallstatt by train and bus, however the direct routes are limited.

Getting by Car

You can reach Hallsttat by a 2-hour drive from Graz or slightly over an hour drive from Salzburg or about 3 hour drive from Vienna. Access to the Hallstatt center by car is not possible. You need to park your vehicle in one of the parking lots and walk to the center.

Salzburg to Hallstatt: There are two driving routes to travel from Salzburg to Hallstatt, breathtaking views are guaranteed whichever routes you take.

  1. Route A10 and B166: Salzburg – Hallein – Golling – Abtenau – Gschütt Pass – Gosau – Hallstatt
  2. Route B158 and B145: Salzburg – Fuschl – Strobl – Bad Ischl – Bad Goisern – Hallstatt

Vienna to Hallstatt: The driving route A1 and B145 from Vienna via Melk, Gmunden, and Bad Ischl takes around 3 hours 30 minutes to reach Hallstatt.

Parking in Hallstatt

Hallstatt has 3 public car parking lots (P1, P2 and P4) within walking distance from the old town. As you enter the village, the electronic sign-posts clearly show the number of parking spots available.

Parking P1 is located nearby the Hallstatt petrol station with facility to charge electric cars. If you plan to stay in Hallstatt, you can drive to P1 directly and take a free shuttle to your hotel. Address: Salinenplatz. 4, 4830 Hallstatt, Austria.

Parking P2 are located near the Cable Car entrance to the Salt mine. Address: Kohlstattweg, 4830 Hallstatt, Austria.

Parking P4 is located a bit away from the city. Address: Aufsatzweg 460/2, 4830 Hallstatt, Austria.

Get your parking ticket from the ticket machine and pay at the time of exit by cash or card. Find additional information about the parking garage and the prices here.

Try to get there before 10:00 AM for free parking spots in P1/P2 which is close to the old town.

Getting by Train

If you’re planning the day trip to Hallstatt via train from Salzburg or Vienna, do check the last ferry and bus or train timings. Hallstatt train station is on the other side of the lake from the town. So, taking a ferry is unavoidable while coming by train.

You can take the Railjet ÖBB train from Vienna train station (Wien Hauptbahnhof or Wien Meidling Bahnhof) or from Salzburg main train station (Salzburg Hauptbahnhof) to Attnang-Puchheim bahnhof. From here, you change for the regional train to Hallstatt train station (Hallstatt Bahnhof). Then, take a ferry Stefanie from the train station to Hallstatt Markt.

You can look up for the train and book the tickets at the ÖBB website.

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