Set in the foothills of the Dachstein Mountains and on the Hallstatt Lake, Austria’s small village of Hallstatt is pretty much a fairytale town. Hallstatt, the oldest still inhabited village in Europe, is located in Austria’s Salzkammergut or Lake Region. With over 7000 years of history, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the world’s very first salt mine.From the charming and colourful old town to the breathtaking lake views, there isn’t a single part of this town that isn’t picture perfect! Ever since I first saw a photo of Hallstatt I’ve wanted to visit, so when my family and I came to Austria this past winter I made sure we got to stop in Hallstatt. In this post I’ll be giving you the ultimate guide to this town, including info on how to get there, how long to stay, and what to see.
How to Get There
Located in Upper Austria’s Lake District, Hallstatt is just a few short hours away from some of Europe’s largest cities. Hallstatt is four hours from Bratislava; three and a half hours from Vienna; three hours from Innsbruck and Ljubljana; two and a half hours from Munich and Graz; and one hour from Salzburg. The easiest mode of transportation for getting to Hallstatt is probably car, though going by train or bus are both good options. When my family and I visited Hallstatt, we came from Salzburg, which was (again) a one hour drive from Salzburg with beautiful scenery on the way!
How Long to Stay
I only got to spend a couple hours in Hallstatt, since my family and I visited on our way from Salzburg to Vienna. I would’ve loved to have been able to stay overnight or at least for a few more hours in the town however, which is why I’d recommend staying at least half a day or more in Hallstatt. If your only chance to visit Hallstatt is by only being there for a couple hours, definitely take up the chance. If you have the option to stay longer though, stay for as long as possible!
What to See
Hallstatt is home to two churches, both of which are somewhat well known. The town’s Evangelical Church is definitely the more recognizable of the two, since it is the focal point of the most iconic shot of Hallstatt (click here to see the shot I’m talking about!). Built in 1863, it sits in the village centre, near the Market Square, and is an icon of the village.
You can’t visit Hallstatt without visiting its lake – the village is pretty much built around it! The Hallstätter See, connecting Hallstatt, Bad Goisen, and Ober Traun, is easily the town’s main attraction. For beautiful, less mainstream photos of Hallstatt, many visitors go on a boat or ferry ride around Lake Hallstatt. Personally I didn’t get the chance to do this, though from what I’ve heard it’s a really fun activity to try out.
The heart of this small village lies in its Market Square, a tiny but exciting square defined by its vibrant buildings, housing shops, restaurants and cafes. This very photogenic and picturesque square is hard to miss, as it seems that all the streets in Hallstatt lead to it. If you don’t come across it just wandering the town’s streets, look for the iconic steeple of Hallstatt’s Evangelical Church and head south from there to find yourself at the square.
Hallstatt’s Old Town is one of the prettiest city centres I’ve ever seen. Every corner you turn in this small neighbourhood is flawless – there wasn’t one scene in the Old Town that I didn’t want to photograph. Spend some time exploring this neighbourhood (it wont take long considering how small it is!), and you’ll come across tons of cute cafes, unique shops, and delicious restaurants.
The town’s second church, its Parish Church, was built in 1505. It is the less famous of the two, since the most famous photos of Hallstatt are taken from an angle in front of the Parish Church, though it is still recognizable. The Parish Church is famous for its Bone House, which is home to 600 painted skulls of former Hallstatt residents.
Hallstatt’s entire legacy is thanks to its salt rich surroundings – without them Hallstatt wouldn’t be nearly as famous as it is today. With salt mines active starting in the 1600s, this town’s mines are the oldest in the world (they’re also home to Europe’s oldest wooden staircase!). They are available to tour, which unfortunately I didn’t get to due to my short stay in Hallstatt. If you do have enough time in the town to visit the salt mines, I would definitely suggest touring them since I’ve heard they’re amazing.
Reachable by a three minute funicular or one hour hike, Hallstatt’s Skywalk is located 360 metres above the ceilings of the Old Town. Protruding out twelve metres, the view from this lookout, nicknamed the “World Heritage View”, is said to be breathtakingly beautiful. Again, I didn’t get to visit the skywalk, though I hope to someday come back to Hallstatt and visit it (along with the salt mines!).
That’s all for my Hallstatt post! Make sure to watch the Hallstatt Travel Diary I uploaded to my Youtube Channel as well (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ojl8FEn-FOk). I hope you enjoyed this post!
Thanks for reading.