Stepping into Hallstatt is like seeing a page from a fairy tale book come to life. Hallstatt, Austria may be a small village, but it has a long list of big offerings. Hailed as one of the most photographed villages in Europe, Hallstatt is truly a sight to behold. You can stroll along its famous lake, visit an ice cave, or learn about salt mines. Does spending an afternoon at the market square tickle your fancy? How about taking photos of stunning mountain views while hiking?
Hallstatt, Austria makes for an excellent stop when traveling in Europe. Though it’s rather a popular destination for a day from Salzburg, you’ll only truly get to experience the wonders Hallstatt has to offer if you’re willing to extend your visit here. If you’re not yet convinced enough, here are the top 10 best things to do in Hallstatt, Austria.
Where Is Hallstatt, Austria?
The small Austrian village of Hallstatt lies in the state of Upper Austria and is part of the Salzkammergut region. What was once a town only accessible by mountain rail or boats now stands as one of today’s popular alpine destinations in Austria. With about 30,000 tourists per day, it’s essential to plan ahead when visiting Hallstatt, Austria.
Hallstatt: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Hallstatt, Austria continues to attract travelers who either seek adventure or relaxation. Its beauty has landed it not only on many people’s bucket lists but also on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list. UNESCO declared Hallstatt as a World Heritage Site for its stunning views of high mountains and narrow valleys. Not only that, but Hallstatt’s unique local traditions also proved valuable in harmonizing human activity with natural scenery. The magical town of Hallstatt is one of Austria’s nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Cruise Or Stroll Along Lake Hallstatt
One of the best ways to take in the sweeping views of the lake and mountains of Hallstatt is through a boat ride. Tourists are treated to breathtaking views as they are taken to different towns. Three small towns are connected by Lake Hallstatt: Obertraun, Bad Goisern, and Hallstatt. You can enjoy a nice swim, a leisurely walk around the towns, or spend on the tourist shops during your visit. The flower-decked houses surrounding the lake are picture-worthy. There are also beautiful swans gathered on the water’s edge, adding more life to the lake.
A boat ride on Lake Hallstatt is an excellent activity when you’re visiting with family. It is definitely among the best places to visit in Austria. Short-term visitors can avail of a popular boat tour offered along the southern shore of the lake, between Obertraun and Hallstatt. Many visitors pair this tour with cycling and hiking on the Eastern Shore Trail. Bring a handy trail camera to take burst shots, videos, and time-lapse.
Visit The Hallstatt Salt Mine
One of the sites you shouldn’t miss when visiting Hallstatt, Austria is the Hallstatt Salt Mine. Being the oldest salt mine in the world, a trip here immerses you in the town’s rich salt mining history. The tour takes you through the mine tunnels surrounded by glistening salt crystals. A visit here also lets you see the oldest wooden staircase in Europe. Boasting 7,000 years of history, the Hallstatt Salt Mine served as a vital mining spot in the region.
The journey through the salt mine cave shares with you an important piece of geological history. Aside from that, it is a unique experience that stirs one’s imagination.
Tip: Before hopping on the miner’s train, you’ll pass through an underground lake. Be prepared for this experience by wearing a comfortable pair of water shoes. Hallstatt Salt Mine is closed from early December to early March during winter. However, other nearby mines are worth exploring too.
Getting here: From the visitor center on Salt Mountain, take the Salt Mine Funicular lift and do a short hike. Alternatively, you can reach the salt mine by hiking on the hillside. This hillside hike takes over an hour. Check the tour prices here.
Shop And Dine At The Market Square
The Market Square in Hallstatt, Austria is the heart of the village and should not be missed. It’s hard not to fall in love with the colorful houses and quaint buildings circling this tourist spot. Aside from that, the place is packed with restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a lovely meal or a coffee break. The small shops brimming with goodies and souvenir items are also very inviting. Market Square is an excellent resting or starting point for your adventures in the Austrian village.
During the summer, the Market Square comes alive with outdoor concerts. Meanwhile, come Christmas, the mood becomes more festive because of the lights and the annual Christmas market. No matter what season you visit, the Market Square is among the best places to visit in Austria.
Tip: Don’t forget to try some tasty Austrian desserts at Cafe Derbl, or grab a heft meal at Gasthof Zauner. The restaurant is known for its sumptuous fresh fish dishes. Other popular lakeside restaurants to try are Braugasthof Lobisser, Seehotel Gruner, and Gasthof Simony.
Visit The Hallstatt Museum
The World Heritage Museum, popularly known as the Hallstatt Museum, opened its doors in 1884. Since then, it has been a venue for both locals and tourists to learn more about the rich history of Hallstatt, Austria. From salt mine equipment and cemetery findings to Roman artifacts, the museum is a treat for history buffs.
Also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Museum takes you from the Stone Age to the present. It’s an excellent place to learn more about Hallstatt, Austria’s history, virtually and visually.
Tip: Book online tickets to the museum for some discounts, especially if you’re visiting as a group.
Fall In Love With Kalvarienberg Church
There are only a few churches in Hallstatt, but there is one that is easy to fall in love with. Built-in 1711, Kalvarienberg Church boasts baroque architecture that takes you back in time. The church sits amid the lush and sweeping views of the Gosau Valley. The amazing view adds to the serenity and happiness that one feels when visiting the church.
Perhaps what makes the church more romantic is the story behind it. Kalvarienberg Church was donated to the town of Hallstatt by a childless married couple. The couple donated the church to give the people a place to pray and reflect. It also served as the couple’s final resting place.
Only a 30-minute walk from the Gosau Tourist Information office, the Kalvarienberg Church offers beauty from all possible angles.
Another church worth a visit is the Church of Christ. Standing tall and straight near the lake, the church has become one of the popular landmarks in Hallstatt. This is the church mostly seen in Hallstatt Lake postcards. With its ideal location, it has become one of the famous landmarks in the village.
Tip: The best time to visit the Kalvarienberg Church is during late summer. During this time, the stretch of the Gosau Valley becomes lusher. The pleasant weather also makes the walk to the church a lot more enjoyable.
Take In The Alpine View From The Skywalk
Imagine viewing the alps at an altitude of about 2,700 meters while surrounded by panoramic mountain views. This is what you get to experience at the Skywalk. Sitting on the Upper Austrian ski resort, the Skywalk is among the exciting things to experience in Hallstatt, Austria. The long platform allows visitors to view the sweeping alpine mountains and overlooking the blue lake thousands of feet above the ground. Though the skywalk viewpoint may be crowded, it’s completely safe even if you might bump into one another at peak hours. In fact, families with children are welcome here.
Aside from magnificent views, the Skywalk offers cable rides and other snow activities. If you get hungry, they also have a restaurant that offers stunning views of the surroundings. On a clear day, it’s possible to view Slovenia and Czech Republic from the Skywalk.
All these and more make the Skywalk among the most thrilling places to visit in Austria. Book your ticket here before it to secure your visit here in advance.
Hike Your Way Around Hallstatt, Austria
The small Austrian village of Hallstatt is renowned for its tall mountains and scenic views. What better way to enjoy the amazing outdoors than by hiking. Hiking is among the best things to do in Hallstatt, and for many good reasons. The clear lake waters, towering mountains, and rolling meadows all allow amazing hiking opportunities in Hallstatt.
The best starting point is from the shores of Lake Hallstatt to the Salt Brine Trail. This takes you 1,200 feet above the town. The Salt Brine Trail is lined with trees and lets you go past a waterfall, giving you one of the best views in town. Another excellent place to hike in Hallstatt, Austria is on the Dachstein Mountain. There are about 786 walking routes around the Dachstein Mountains, giving plenty of options for hiking buffs. Whichever way you take, you are guaranteed with stunning views of the Alpine ranges.
Another must-visit spot when hiking in Hallstatt, Austria is the mighty Ewige Wand Trail. This popular trail is carved out of the cliff sides in Bad Goisern. Hiking along the Ewige Wand (which means “eternal wall”) gives you panoramic views and fresh air. Aside from hiking, biking and climbing are also famous on the Ewige Wand Trail. This sought-after trail is safe for families with children.
Estimated time to hike according to the trails:
- Brine Trail: Easy, Loop – 10 hours, Hike from Hallstatt to Bad Goisern – 3 hours.
Fairly easy to walk and best to visit during the summer and spring. Autumn and early winter is still nice but the path might be a little slippery.
- Panoramic High Trail: Easy, Loop – 1 hour
The trails are paved and it’s perfect for beginners and children. The trail is surrounding the panoramic view of Lake Hallstatt.
- Glacier Garden Trail: Medium, Loop – 3 hours
Discover the relic from the last Ice Age. The climb can be fairly steep but the view looking down to the fascinating formation from the glacier-water erosion is absolutely rewarding. This trail is perfect for Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter.
- The trail to Simony Hut: Difficult, Hiking time – 6 hours
You’ll need to do rain check, and gear up to conquer this hike. Hikers can start hiking from Hallstatt Echerntal via a cable car and the hike includes traversing the steep and rocky glaciers. This trail is not suitable for kids under 12 years old. We do not recommend this trail if it’s a rainy day.
Get Active With Snow Sports
Winter in Hallstatt is a magical time when the small village comes alive with snow sports and events. The Dachstein Salzkammergut region offers wide and stunning skiing and snowboarding areas. With towering snowy mountains surrounding the area, Hallstatt is the perfect place to engage in winter sports. You can book a stay in one of the breathtaking villas on top of the mountains for the best experience.
Meanwhile, if you’re not down for skiing, there are other ways to enjoy the snow in Hallstatt, Austria. For nature lovers, winter trekking is a popular activity in the Austrian village. There are plenty of fantastic winter hiking trails to choose from. You can also easily book winter trekking tours, where a local guide can take you to the most scenic spots.
Hallstatt, Austria is home to many ski centers, so renting equipment is also easy. You can ski, snowboard, sled, or trek with your friends or family. There are even horse-drawn sleigh rides in the Salzkammergut.
As the temperatures fall during winter, the lake turns to ice. But who says there’s no way to enjoy it? Skating on the frozen lakes around the Salzkammergut Region rinks is popular in Hallstatt during winter. There are free city buses in the city that will take you to nearby ski centers. Wintertime in Hallstatt can get very cold. Make sure to bring your essentials and bundle up.
Attend An Austrian Festival
They say one of the best ways to know and enjoy a place is to attend its festivals. Hallstatt does not hold large-scale festivals like Vienna and Salzburg do. However, this Austrian village is still passionate about it.
One of the biggest festivals in Hallstatt happens during summer. Austrians have celebrated the Corpus Christi Boat Procession on Lake Hallstatt since 1623. The traditional and religious procession consists of many “Fuhre” or “Plätte,” which are boats decorated with flowers and garlands. The procession starts as early as 6 a.m., where participants start marching from the edge of the village. The procession ends with a mass celebrated at the local church.
Aside from that, there are many live performances and dancing in the Old Town Square to enjoy. You can sit in nearby cafes and restaurants, and even enjoy the famous Austrian Schnapps at the local bars. For the adventurous, you can also go for boat tours after dark.
Meanwhile, if you visit during Christmas, the Austrian village holds winter festivals perfect for the season. Krampus Run is a unique festival that you simply shouldn’t miss. Showcasing Medieval roots, Krampus Run is very much like our modern Nightmare Before Christmas scenario. During the festival, locals dress up in scary masks and costumes and roam the streets with Saint Nicolas to scare away naughty children.
As the Austrian village is sprinkled with extra charm during Christmas, there’s no reason not to enjoy the Christmas Market. This is the highlight during the Advent season, and it’s hard to deny why. Organized by the locals of Hallstatt and Obertraun, the Christmas Market offers traditional crafts, food, and music groups.
Experience Some Austrian Lakeside Dining
Lakeside dining in Hallstatt, Austria lets you enjoy European cuisine with breathtaking views. That alone is hard to resist! Seehotel Grüner Baum is only one of the many restaurants that offer the best local dishes in Hallstatt.
Since the restaurants are close to Lake Hallstatt, most of them offer sumptuous freshwater dishes from their catch. Whether it’s grilled trout or roasted filet of white fish, any local dish becomes more enjoyable when enjoyed by the lake. After a hefty meal, treat yourself to some of Austria’s delicious sweets. Sample the local pies, cakes, and of course, the Austrian apricot jams.
Among the many things to do in Hallstatt, lakeside dining should be high on your list!
How Do I Get To Hallstatt, Austria?
If you’re visiting Europe, swinging by Hallstatt, Austria is easiest via train. From Vienna to Hallstatt, take the Austrian National OBB train going to Attnang-Puchheim. From there, get on the local REX train going to Hallstatt. It takes about 135 minutes to reach Hallstatt from Vienna, and 50 minutes from Salzburg to Hallstatt.
Best Time To Visit Hallstatt
Before booking your trip, it’s good to know the best Hallstatt weather to suit your planned activities. Hallstatt is blanketed with fresh snow during the winter, making it perfect for snow sports. This is from December to February, where the lowest temperature reaches -2°C in January.
Meanwhile, if you prefer visiting in the warmer months, visit from June to August. The temperature rises during these months yet remain comfortable to enjoy the outdoors.
For the best Hallstatt weather, visit from June to September. These months offer pleasant weather and little rain. If you want to avoid the crowd, the months of March, April, May, October, and November are ideal months to visit.
How Long To Spend In Hallstatt
For a small town such as Hallstatt, one or two nights are enough to enjoy it. However, if you intend to engage in plenty of activities, 3 to 4 nights will suffice. Most travelers combine Hallstatt with Salzburg and Vienna to maximize their trip.
Best Places To Stay In Hallstatt
If you’re planning to explore Hallstatt, Austria soon, here are some of the best hotels to stay in there.
- Seehotel Grüner Baum: This is by far the best lakeside hotel option in Hallstatt. Seehotel Grüner Baum continues to impress guests with its historic ambiance, stunning views, and world-class cuisine.
- Gasthof Pension Hirlatz: For those who prefer a quieter place to stay in Hallstatt, Gasthof Pension Hirlatz is an excellent choice. It’s perfect for couples and families, and for guests who want to visit neighboring areas.
- Seewirt Zauner: Another family-friendly hotel is Seewirt Zauner. It offers comfortable rooms complete with hotel amenities and a wide range of facilities. There are also bikes for rent and free WiFi access.
Time To Visit The Picture-Perfect Austrian Village!
Hallstatt, Austria is a charming town tucked between a mountain and a lake. Though it is a small village, colorful houses, lush greenery, and towering mountains line its landscape. They say if there’s only one place you can visit in Austria, you have to pick Hallstatt. With enough planning, a day or two in Hallstatt is enough for you to bask in its charm.