On one day of our May 17-day “Road Trip: Austria-Italy-Lichtenstein-Germany” trip, we stopped in Hallstatt. It is Austria’s oldest village and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more amazing village. It feels like I’ve been to Hogsmeade or Disney’s whimsical village..
I have been dreaming of going to Hallstatt since I was about fourteen years old. That’s when I saw the place in a magazine. (Don’t be surprised, I had already dreamed of traveling and moving to Germany since I was young). A trip to Hallstatt was one of the highlights of our Austria-Italy-Liechtenstein-Germany Road Trip in May (Although Poland and the Czech Republic are actually worth mentioning).
It was a 17-day trip, and we did a lot of work. And as I wrote above, one of our stops was Hallstatt, Austria’s oldest village and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more amazing village. It felt like I had visited Hogsmeade or Disney’s whimsical village. And this place finally put me in mind of living on a mountain lake. What could be more beautiful?
P.s. Hallstatt or Hallstatt, take your pick. I will use Hallstatt everywhere, I like it better).
Archaeological evidence suggests that the area has been inhabited since the Iron Age in Europe, as early as 800-450 BC. Although reliable data on the history of Hallstatt has hardly been preserved due to its remoteness from communication routes. What is known is that since 1595 dissolved salt has been transported by the world’s oldest pipeline to Ebense, 40 kilometers from Hallstatt. Today, the town is a well-preserved 16th-century Alpine village on the western shore of the sparkling lake of the same name.
As you’ll notice, the photos were taken on different days. We didn’t live in Hallstatt, but we did come here twice. We lived 50 km away in a small town in Golling (Golling an der Salzach), near which is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Austria Gollinger Wasserfall, but more about that later in another article.
Hallstatt, as well as the entire Salzkammergut region, is an area of mountains and lakes, among which one can endlessly search for the most beautiful things. The architecture of the towns in this area is as beautiful as the nature itself. Hallstatt, on the other hand, is characterized by an incredibly fortunate location . The green mountains in the background and the surprisingly comfortable curve did the trick…
I don’t know practically any place in Europe that doesn’t have Asian tourists. Hallstatt is no exception. The only thing that makes it feel like a fairy tale is the rain that drives everyone off the streets…
When the weather is sunny and warm, Hallstatt is mobbed by Chinese tourists. And that’s the only thing that overshadows a stroll through this amazing town. Therefore, if you want to enjoy this place, I advise you to arrive at 6-8 in the morning, because after 9-10, it will not be crowded…..
Another distinctive feature of Hallstatt is the oldest “Hallstatt Salt Mines” in Europe and a convenient observation deck on the mountain above the town. We didn’t get there or thereabouts. By the way, the observation deck can be reached by cable car.
WHAT TO BRING BACK FROM HALLSTATT?
I highly recommend you check out the many stores and choose something for yourself and friends. Stone salt (tiles); salt aroma lamps; salt as spices and different spices with salt; souvenirs made of salt; creams; shower gels with salt; ointments, soaps, etc.). Salt is not just a hallmark of Hallstatt, but also an important strategic commodity))) We really liked the selection in the building where the funicular rises from! And one store in the center of town (I can’t remember the address, but I think it’s the biggest).
WHAT TO SEE IN HALLSTATT ?
- The observation deck with the most recognizable view of the city in the Römisches district is within walking distance of the city center;
- Market Square (Hallstätter Marktplatz) is the town’s central square with numerous cafes, restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops. All major events take place here: fairs, concerts and other folk festivities;
- The Catholic Church of Hallstatt (Katholische Pfarrkirche Hallstatt), built in the 12th century. It was completely restored and renovated in 2002;
- St. Michael’s Chapel (Michaelskapelle), a two-story chapel built in the 12th century, with the Beinhaus on the first floor. The Bein-Haus is an ossuary that houses more than 1,200 skulls, half of which are inscribed with flower designs and the date of death. All the skulls are arranged in a strict sequence: the closest relatives are stored with each other. All the skulls are of former residents, since the town is very small and there was no room to expand the cemetery (and in the past cremation was forbidden), every 10-15 years the graves were opened and the skulls with bones were transferred to the ossuary. This tradition started in 1720, and the last remains were transferred in 1995. Entrance to the ossuary is paid – 1,50 €. To be honest, we didn’t go, in my opinion it’s a bit creepy…;
- Salt Mine (Salzwelten). A trip to the mine is not only an immersion into the underground world, but also a very exciting excursion. You will be introduced to the history of salt mining, you will walk through the caves, see videos and a laser show, and take a ride on wooden chutes that miners used to use for transportation;
- Hallstatt Sky Walk – “The World Heritage View”;
- Hallstatt Museum (Welterbemuseum Hallstatt). Tells the story of the town and the salt mines, taking you back 7000 years. The cost of visiting the museum is 8 €;
- And of course souvenir stores with salt.
HOTELS IN HALLSTATT!
Seehotel Grüner Baum is a cozy 4* hotel located right on the market square. It has rooms with panoramic views of the lake and the heart of the town. Empress Sisi, Austrian writer Adalbert Stifter, Agatha Christie and many other prominent persons stayed in this hotel. The hotel has a restaurant Zum Salzbaron.
Heritage Hotel Hallstatt is another wonderful 4* hotel in the old part of the city. The hotel occupies 3 restored historical buildings. There is a sun terrace on the lake side, a cafe with a winter garden next to the Hallstatt boat harbor, as well as the Im Kainz restaurant serving traditional Austrian dishes and vintage wines.
There are so many pictures. But I couldn’t help but show you most of them…
And here is the observation deck, which offers an incredible view of Hallstatt.
We’ve seen Hallstatt overcast and sunny… Now I want to see winter Hallstatt and autumn Hallstatt with golden leaves…
It’s a fairy tale.
Those emerald mountains, the crystal-clear Alpine lake and the wooden houses hanging from the shores… Everyone should see Hallstatt. It’s really one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever seen…
You can come to Hallstatt either by bus or by car. And if everything is clear with the bus, the parking lots are very complicated. We were lucky and we were not at the height of the season (we were in the middle of May) and there were almost always parking places, although few and in the most remote areas!
Going through the tunnel under Hallstatt – go straight ahead, through the bus station, for about 400 meters until you see the huge parking lots. The cost of all the parking lots, about 9 € per (3-6 hours).
Thanks as always for reading!