Bucket List: Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt, Austria has been on my bucket list of places to go for quite some time - and the fall is one of the most brilliant times to go. With the advent of VoyEdge RX’s first Oktoberfest trip coming up (that includes a stop in Hallstatt), I figured the time would be perfect to detail this charming town and share a bit of inside info about it as well.
It’s not an easy town to get to, but obviously provides some stunning views, so, let’s get down to it!
Hallstatt is a village on Lake Hallstatt's western shore in Austria's mountainous Salzkammergut region. Its 16th-century Alpine houses and alleyways are home to cafes and shops. A funicular railway connects to Salzwelten, an ancient salt mine with a subterranean salt lake, and to Skywalk Hallstatt viewing platform. A trail leads to the Echern Valley glacier garden with glacial potholes and Waldbachstrub Waterfall and also offers some truly admiring viewpoints from all around the town.
Situated at an altitude of 1,677 feet, the population of this town (as of 2014) was only at 779 people total. Obviously, the town gets a hell of a lot more tourists than it does have denizens, making it a premiere destination in all of Austria and central Europe. Also for context, the entirety of Lake Hallstatt is a UNESCO World Heritage Region, making it a protected region in the middle of Europe from over development.
What You Need To Know
Hallstatt is kind of a crazy place….with the entire region having been explored as early as the 2nd millenium BC (2,000 BC) the area is considered to be the oldest still-inhabitated village in all of Europe, due to the unique formations of nearby salt mines. Hallstatt was also known to be the site of an early Iron Age culture from 800 to 400 BC, which has since been dubbed the, ‘Hallstatt Era'.
Also in addition to its ancient history, Hallstatt is incredible picturesque, due to its location on a narrow rock formation on the Hallstätersee with sharp rising mountains in the background. Considered by many people to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, Hallstatt is often called, ‘The Pearl of Austria.’
Quick note: during the offseason (November through March) very few shops are open in Hallstatt, and in some cases it can be difficult to find a place to stay. Since the town is only home to about 1,000 people - reservations, accommodations and more must be made entirely in advance (six months or more out).
Once you are in Hallstatt, the town is easily walkable and automobile traffic is actually not allowed in the town from May through October, so you best plan on walking! Cars are actually allowed before 10 am and after 5 pm….either way, it only takes about 30-minutes to walk through the town and from one side to the other.
The craziest fun fact I found on Wikipedia is from the Beinhaus (or Bonehouse) and reads: Beinhaus. "Bone House" in English. Due to the extremely limited space in the cemetery, burials are only temporary. After 10-15 years the grave is opened and the bones are removed and bleached in the sun. Then they are stacked in the Beinhaus. It's not as gruesome as it sounds. Skulls are often decorated with painted flowers and the family name. This practice was stopped in the 70's with the approval of cremation by the catholic church - you will see that those who remain buried all have recent dates of death.
When To Go
It’s difficult to say there is a bad time to visit Hallstatt, but there really isn’t. Besides not being ‘As open’ in the winter as it is in the summer, Hallstatt looks entirely picturesque year-round. Between the breath-taking Alpine views and charming lakeside houses, inns, and restaurants, how you you not want to be here ever?
I mean, the whole town looks like something out of a fairy-tale, the weather in the summer looks to constantly be in-between a cool 60 F and 85 F and the off the beaten-path way you need to get there makes it not as touristy as one might think!
All in all, the best times to go are probably between May and September, when a lot of the shopkeepers open their businesses back up for the incoming tourist seasons. If you were to go, it should be around those times, as the trains and buses obviously run more frequently as well, despite there being more competition for them.
For more information all things Hallstatt, head to the tourism website here.
What To Do There
Visit the salt caves. Hallstatt Salt Worlds will take you into the more than 250 year old salt mines to explore its underground beauty.
Do an outing by boat. Take a tour on the Lake of Hallstatt with Hallstättersee-Schifffahrt Hemetsberger. Tel 6134/8228
Hiking. There are many hiking trails in the mountains behind Hallstatt and throughout the Salzkammergut area. Ask at the Tourist Information office for a good hiking map as it can be easy to get lost in the rapidly changing alpine weather.
Rock climbing. Via Ferrata, anyone? Rugged rock faces, ridges and turrets - the magical fascination can be felt immediately. Whether you are a newcomer, an experienced mountaineer or a passionate climber – you will find in the UNESCO World Heritage region of Hallstatt Dachstein Salzkammergut a paradise at the edge of the sky, surrounded by breathtaking mountain views and at the foot of Mount Dachstein. The mountains rise up to almost 3.000 meters, rugged with deep gorges, with high Alpine pastures embedded in the mountains and rocky summits surmounting everything. Breathtakingly beautiful. Everything you could hope for.
Children. There is a very nice lakeside playground about 500m south of town with free WC, swimming, sunbathing, and the best views of town you'll see without going on a boat.
Eat/Drink The town of Hallstatt actually has a few beers only local to Hallstatt. The Konig Ludwig Dunkel Brau is one of them, and it can be difficult to find in Hallstatt, but is worth it if you come across it! In terms of what to eat, local fish from the lake itself is widely known as being the best of delicacies in the region. Cheap and affordable, the fresh fish should not be overlooked!
Skywalk Observatory. A must for anyone visiting Hallstatt.
Dachstein Ice Cave. Also an option for people looking to do something a bit different in Hallstatt.
Ice Caves, Mammoth Cave and 5 fingers lookout. In Dachstein, across the lake from Hallstatt, there are caves with ice waterfalls, lakes and ponds streaming through the limestone. Be sure to bring a jacket or sweater. From from 1st June until 30th September 2012, travelers can buy a UNESCO World Heritage ticket which costs 31 Euro and can be used for the ice cave and a boat trip across the Lake Hallstatt. Once you're up the mountain, do not miss the 5 fingers lookout offering a unique view of Hallstatt and its surroundings with an extra bonus of adrenaline rush once you step on the glass-bottom platform and see the
Looking for more info on where to go and what to do in Hallstatt? Read this.
How To Get There
From the main line between Salzburg and Vienna, get off at Attnang-Puchheim. Take a train from here towards Bad Ischl and Obertraun. The Hallstatt station is south of Bad Ischl and one stop north of Obertraun; it is on the east bank of the Hallstättersee (Hallstatt Lake) and consist of just a boat dock next to the tracks. A regular ferry service will meet each arriving train and take you to the town across the lake. One of the best views of Hallstatt is from this ferry ride across the lake, especially in the morning when the sun is shining on the town.
When leaving, the boat takes you back to the tiny train station, where you may take the train back to Attnang-Puchheim and transfer to your next destination. The boat meets each train leaving the station, and the schedule is posted at the boat dock, or it also is available at tourist information. The tourist information office can provide further information about train schedules since the train station itself is likely unmanned (and it is across the lake). As of 2017 you cannot buy the ticket on the train anymore, you must buy it at the station using the ticket machine (accepts cash and major cards). Once on the train, ask the conductor if he/she knows the platform number of your desired transfer (don't worry, all train employees speak English), or check the departures screens when you get to Attnang-Puchheim. But be prepared, the transfer may be fast, as Attnang-Puchheim is not a big station, and the passing trains will not stop for long.
Shuttle Cesky Krumlov (Door-to-door shuttle from/to Hallstatt), ☎ 00420 607 963 868 (firstname.lastname@example.org), offers door-to-door transportation between Hallstatt and Salzburg, Linz and Český Krumlov.
Budweis-shuttle (Cheapest transfer between Hallstatt and Cesky Krumlov), (email@example.com),. shuttle bus transfer between Hallstatt and Cesky Krumlov for 1100 CZK (43 EUR) per person.
Bean Shuttle (Cheapest shuttle between Hallstatt and Cesky Krumlov). offers direct shuttle bus between Hallstatt and Cesky Krumlov for 800 CZK (30 EUR) per person and between Hallstatt and Ceske Budejovice for 900 CZK (39 EUR). €30.
CK shuttle and Budweis-shuttle offer a door-to-door transportation service from Český Krumlov to Hallstatt and back for 950 CZK (36 EUR) pro person. The ride takes about three hours.
Czechshuttle.com (Shuttle bus from / to Cesky Krumlov). 2.5 hours. offers door - to - door Shuttle bus to Hallstatt) from Cesky Krumlov and back.Price from 32EURO per person.) Private transportation available by CAR or VAN €.
By taxi, or car
A street passes through a tunnel in the mountain above the town. There is underground parking available here.
White Alligator Tours offers Small-Group Guided Day Trips from Vienna to Hallstatt by minivan. The full-day tour includes other areas of the Lake Region also and costs 139 EUR per person.
Need more info on getting to Hallstatt? Read this.
If you’re looking for more pro tips on Hallstatt, read this POV blog.
Why It Should Be On Your Bucket List
You only need a few hours in Hallstatt, as you can walk through the whole town in the span of about 15 minutes. Getting there, however, is the tough part. And whether you are driving, taking the train, or hopping a bus, tourism and overcrowding can feel more like you are at Disney World, rather than a quaint Austrian Alpine town. Alas, it is still a bucket-list place, and if you are fortunate enough to visit here in the offseason (or our suggestion of September or May), then hopefully you’ll be able to roam about town and get a seat at any restaurant or pub as you wish.
That being said, is there anything than resting up and breathing in the fresh alpine air in a mountain town like this? Better add it to your bucket list and prepare to take a few handstand pics here….
Have you been?
What what your favorite thing about it?
Comment down below and let us know if Hallstatt lands on your bucket list, too. One thing is for sure, the 350 meter tall Skywalk looks to be a prime viewing opportunity and we think you should check it out.
Send me what else is on your bucket list and we’ll get it on the blog!
~ Cam // firstname.lastname@example.org