Hallstatt is so stunning that China constructed a replica in Guangdong, the southeastern province. This idyllic Austrian village from Salzkammergut made a lasting impression.
Hallstatt’s stunning setting on the narrow shores and Hallstatter See with the majestic Eastern Alps rising all around makes it so appealing. The dramatic scene is not without its drawbacks. Access to Hallstatt requires a few bus/train transfers and a ferry ride across Lake Hallstatt Station to get to the centre. It is almost like walking into a postcard, as you can see the wooden terraced houses reflecting in the waters. This is the reason that nobody seems to be complaining about it.
Hallstatt: What to Do and See
Hallstatt has just over 900 residents and covers 59.8km2. However, what Hallstatt lacks in size, it makes up in beautiful architecture, alpine landscapes and old-world charm. This is Austria’s oldest salt-mining town. It is also a World Heritage Site, which UNESCO calls “an outstanding example a natural landscape that is of great beauty and scientific importance and also shows evidence of fundamental human economic activity.”
The best way to enjoy this area is to relax on the cobbled streets with charming houses in various styles and colours.
The Market Square is Hallstatt’s central hub. It is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. It is surrounded by beautiful architecture, small souvenir shops and restaurants, and pretty cafes where you can relax outside and take in the stunning views. There are many cultural events and concerts throughout the year, such as the Corpus Christi procession or the Christmas Market.
You can swim or take a boat ride around the lake to enjoy the beautiful scenery and feed the swans. The surrounding mountains offer many hiking and climbing opportunities for adventure seekers. Culture and history lovers will have plenty of options.
The World Heritage Museum traces the history of this charming mining community (from the Stone Age through the present) via an impressive collection of archaeological finds. While the Salzwelten Hallstatt hosts a subterranean salinity lake, an underground cinema and the oldest wooden staircase in Europe, the Salzwelten Hallstatt is home to the Salzwelten Hallstatt. The Hallstatt Skywalk is also located here. It is the oldest salt mine anywhere in the world.
One of Hallstatt’s most unique attractions is Beinhaus, a 12th-century Michael’s Chapel. It houses more than 1200 skulls, some of which are painted. This tradition started in 1720 when the bones and skulls of long-dead residents were moved from their graves to this location.
The Dachstein Ice caves, located across the lake from Hallstatt and protected by UNESCO, prove that this UNESCO-protected region is just as impressive underground as it is up top. These eerie, centuries-old ice caves can be accessed by cable car or hiking. They are home to spectacular glaciers, giant icebergs and frozen cascades and are worth a day trip from Hallstatt.
Hallstatt: Where to Eat and Drink
Most restaurants in the town are located in Market Place or along the waterfront. They specialize in fresh fish from Lake Hallstatt. Hallstatt has many dining options. There are traditional, time-honoured restaurants that offer heartwarming home-style cooking and lovely cafes that serve delicious Austrian apple strudels.
Many are located in guesthouses. However, many excellent independent restaurants offer local and international cuisines (especially Italian).
One of the most popular places to eat at Hallstatt is Restaurant Zum Salzbaron(Seehotel Gruner Baum), which has an enchanting lakeside terrace. Stewart(Gasthof Zauner) focuses on regional cuisine with a modern twist. The elegant I’m Kainz restaurant in Heritage Hotel Hallstatt welcomes guests with Austrian classics and international gourmet specialties.
Hallstatt: Where to Stay
Hallstatt offers a wide range of accommodation options. Although the prices are higher here than in Obertraun, plenty of accommodation is available, including cozy, family-run bed & breakfasts, charming hotels, and resorts with stunning views overlooking the lake.
There are many wonderful options: The Lakeside Hotel Gruner Baum is located in the historic market. The charmingly traditional Braugasthof and the Rudolfsturm is a converted medieval tower from the 13th century perched high above Hallstatt.