23 Photos Proving that Hallstatt, Austria in Winter is a Fairytale

Austria

Hallstatt, Austria is a fairytale come to life. I’ve been dreaming of visiting this magical village ever since I first saw a picture of it, and I knew instantly that I wanted to visit in winter. I’m a mountains & snow girl, and there’s nothing more snowy and mountainy than a village on a lake in the Austrian Alps. We needed an excuse to share all of the stunning photos we took during our visit to Hallstatt in the winter, so we’ve compiled our favorites into one photo-heavy post – plus all the details you need to plan your own trip to Hallstatt, of course! Get ready for some drool-worthy winter wanderlust fuel. Also, swans.

Psst: Here are two super detailed winter Europe itineraries – and they even include Hallstatt! While you’re planning a winter trip to Europe, check out our other posts about wintry destinations in Europe! (We’re only SLIGHTLY in love with Europe in the winter, as you can see …)

Arriving In Hallstatt, Austria

You know how sometimes you visit a bucket-list destination and it’s not what you imagined? Well, this was like that, in that it was SO MUCH MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN I IMAGINED.

Hallstatt is a LIVING Christmas village, like the kind of fairytale town that Jeremy’s grandmother builds each year, complete with teeny trains and fluffy cotton snow. Except life-sized!

To get to Hallstatt, we took a real-sized train thanks to our Eurail pass, and hopped off at the Hallstatt stop, directly across the lake from the town. Here we found a tiny dock with a tiny ferry – named Stefanie – to shepherd visitors from the train to the village.

This is hands down the most magical, dramatic way to approach a tiny beautiful fairytale mountain town and we highly recommend it.

Hallstatt, Austria reflected in the lake beneath a snowy mountain.
Hallstatt is beautiful from literally every angle. It’s like the town version of Beyonce.

As we clamored onto Stefanie the ferry, snow began to fall in earnest, so that we could barely make out the town of Hallstatt through the snowy mist swirling around the mountains.

And then, we saw it: the spire of the church. The reflection of the lights in the water. The pitched roofs of 800-year old houses, dusted with fresh snow. Mother flipping SWANS playing in the water!!

This was it: my heaven.

The Marketplatz in the center of Hallstatt, Austria in the winter.
The Marketplatz in the center of Hallstatt is peak charming.

I had never seen any place so beautiful in my life, and I couldn’t stop staring. After the ferry docked, I stayed on until everyone left, taking pictures and openly gawking – until they (very nicely) asked me to please leave.

We shouldered our backpacks and crunched our way up the path into town. Each new view was more exciting than the last.

I was giddy. If I wasn’t saddled with a 30-pound backpack, I probably would have skipped through town.

Hallstatt, Austria at twilight during a winter snowstorm. Mountains, fog, snow, … this is my literal heaven!

The Town Of Hallstatt, Austria

To get to the inn where we would spend the next two nights, we headed straight into town on the main road – and promptly stopped in our tracks.

We’d found the Marketplatz, the main square of Hallstatt, Austria.  It was multi-colored, there was a giant Christmas tree, everything was snow-covered and magical, and I died and went to heaven right then and there.

The Marketplatz in Hallstatt, Austria first thing in the morning, under a dusting of fresh snow.
The Marketplatz in Hallstatt, Austria first thing in the morning, under a dusting of fresh snow. What is it about pastels and snow that just go together SO well?!

We had to stop ourselves from ducking into the welcoming shops lining the square, boasting signs like FRESH LEBKUCHEN and PINECONE SCHNAPPS(Don’t worry, we came back later. They were both delicious and yes, they both tasted like Christmas in the mountains).

Pink buildings and a star hanging from a tree in snowy Hallstatt, Austria in the winter.
The colorful buildings near the Hallstatt Museum just off the main square. We saw these beautiful yellow stars all through the town, but couldn’t figure out why!

After just a few minutes of joyfully crunching through fresh new snow in the most beautiful town I’ve ever seen in my life, we arrived at our hotel: the Bräu-Gasthof, which means brewery guesthouse.

YES Y’ALL, we stayed in a 700-year old brewery!

The Bräu-Gasthof in Hallstatt, Austria, in the winter.
The Bräu-Gasthof is directly on the main street in Hallstatt and is one of the primary destinations for visitors because of a group of trees decorated with hanging stars just out front! Hey, can you see me up there on our little balcony?

We dropped our bags in our room with a sigh of relief and headed right back out to explore Hallstatt in the snow as the sunset. This is the perfect time of day to wander through Hallstatt, as the crowds from visiting tour groups have all gone home already and only a few like us who opted to stay overnight are left.

A quiet street view of Hallstatt, Austria in the snow in winter.
Blissfully empty streets in Hallstatt, Austria. The tour groups fill up the main street around midday, but early morning and late afternoon-evening are the perfect times to explore a quieter Hallstatt, Austria!

Where To Stay In Hallstatt, Austria

As night and snow fell, we made our way back to warm, cozy Bräu-Gasthof for dinner. The Bräu-Gasthof is home to one of the best restaurants in Hallstatt, and we were eager to try some cozy comfort food!

We stomped off the snow from our boots and rubbed our frozen noses, entered the restaurant, and promptly went back in time about 700 years.

The food at our accomodation, the 700-year-old Brau-Gasthof (brewery guesthouse), was some of the best we tried in Austria! Pictured here: goulash with dumplings, clear broth soup, and beer (of course).
The food at our accomodation, the 700-year-old Brau-Gasthof (brewery guesthouse), was some of the best we tried in Austria! Pictured here: goulash with dumplings, clear broth soup, and beer (of course).

I imagine our dinner at the Bräu-Gasthof was much like it would have been centuries ago. We warmed up over a bowl of clear, shimmering broth with a single fried cheese dumpling soaking up all of its brothy goodness, which nourished me down to my freakin’ soul.

Lia in a hat gazing out of the window of the Bräu-Gasthof in Hallstatt, Austria.
Me, bouncing up and down at 6am trying to contain myself while Jeremy wakes up because I can’t WAIT to go play in the snow!

In addition to some of the coziest, most soul-nourishing, delicious meals we ate during our entire trip to Austria, the Bräu-Gasthof was also surprisingly comfortable for a 700-year old inn.

Although one corner of our room contained a large, ancient wood-burning furnace, our room was pleasantly heated the modern way, and not drafty in the slightest despite the blizzard outside our windows.

And speaking of those windows: we had 2. One of them looked out over the lake, and the other led to a little patio that gazed directly out onto the street below. So no matter which way I turned, there was snow, and mountains, and Hallstatt, and heaven.

We highly recommend staying at the Bräu-Gasthof during your trip to Hallstatt. The location is excellent, the food is delicious, the room is comfortable, and the views are to die for! Check pricing for your dates.

If apartment rentals are more your vibe it is a little limiting to find VRBOs here as it is such a small village but it is well worth checking out this apartment. The family who own it live above and have an adorable dog and cats which really is a huge selling point for us, HOLIDAY PETS!!

The balcony of our room at the Brau Gasthof in Hallstatt Austria, which looked out over the lake and the village below.
The balcony of our room at the Bräu-Gasthof in Hallstatt Austria, which looked out over the lake and the village below.

I couldn’t stop staring out the windows in glee, watching the snow pile up outside, pointing frantically and saying things like “JEREMY LOOK” and “DO YOU SEE HOW MUCH SNOW THERE IS JEREMY” and bouncing up and down and pressing my face up against the glass.

Snow turns me into a 6 year old, and I could hardly make myself go to sleep. I was way too excited to wake up to a fresh blanket of white, powdery snow and a new place to discover.

Christmas Decorations in Hallstatt, Austria.
Me, the entire trip: JEREMY LOOK JEREMY CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS LOOK JEREMY LOOK

Those of you who have spent more than 5 seconds browsing the blog probably already know that Jeremy and I are NOT Morning People. We’re not even Mid-Morning People. We’re like, Late Morning/Early Afternoon People, and that’s really only if we can get some coffee in us by 10am.

But in Hallstatt? In Hallstatt, I was totally a Morning Person.

How could anyone sleep when there is SNOW FALLING and EXPLORING to be done?!
How could anyone sleep when there is SNOW FALLING and EXPLORING to be done?!

I swear I woke up like 83 times throughout the night so I could glance out the window to confirm that 1) it was still snowing and 2) it wasn’t time to wake up yet.

And then, FINALLY, at 6am (!!!) I could no longer contain myself. The first light of dawn was poking its head around an Alp as if to say “hey, y’all, come on out!”

I bolted out of bed like a kid on Christmas Morning (as opposed to the week before in Vienna, when it was actually Christmas Morning, and I slept in until noon. But I’m blaming that one on jet lag.) 

Snowy houses freshly covered in snow on a quiet morning in Hallstatt, Austria in winter!
Snowy houses freshly covered in snow on a quiet morning in Hallstatt, Austria in winter!

Sure enough, the town was covered in fresh, glorious, undisturbed snow. No crowds in sight. Just us, some swans, and a whole Austrian village to explore.

I dragged Jeremy out of bed and threw on as many layers as I could reach.

Within 5 minutes flat I was outside, breathing in the chilly mountain air and thinking to myself “this is it, I’m starting my life as a Morning Person TODAY.”

(Spoilers: the minute we left Hallstatt I returned to my natural state as highly nocturnal and completely unable to wake up before 9am.)

Looking out over the snowy roofs of Hallstatt, Austria.
Just gazing out over the snowy rooftops of Hallstatt, Austria, pinching myself that I’m really here.

Exploring Hallstatt, Austria In A Day

One of the biggest questions on our mind when we were planning our trip was “how much time should we spend in Hallstatt?”

We opted for 1 full day of exploring, and 2 nights of sleeping in town. If we were to do it again, we’d give ourselves 2 full days. Still, it’s possible to see the village itself in a day.

Even though we had a full day to explore, we got started early. We took a morning walk at 6am (seriously, who ARE we?!) through the newly snow-dusted streets, fresh powder crunching under our feet in the calm, peaceful, and blissfully empty town.

There were just a few other visitors out walking around and snapping photos – it seemed like they were all actual Morning People, not just Hallstatt Morning People, damn them – but other than that, we had the town all to ourselves.

We took a lap around the Marketplatz and said good morning to some swans (and then named them Sven Swan, Svlad Swan, and Stephen Swan) before heading back to the Bräu-Gasthof to enjoy an incredibly filling breakfast. Because there are no breakfasts in the world better than Austrian breakfasts. Fact.

A winter morning in Hallstatt, Austria. Just us, the snow, and Sven, Svlad, and Stephen Swan.
A winter morning in Hallstatt, Austria. Just us, the snow, and Sven, Svlad, and Stephen Swan.

Although Hallstatt is small, it is popular, and the tour buses full of visitors began arriving around 9am, just as we were finishing breakfast. I’m so grateful to my internal clock for adjusting itself this one time so I could explore the town early in the morning, and I advise any visitors to Hallstatt to do the same: wake up early! You’ll be glad you did.

But if you’re visiting Hallstatt on a day trip, here’s one more tip to avoid the crowds: start climbing!

Walking through Hallstatt, you’ll come across several little staircases that lead up the mountain that this little village is built into. Climb up them, and you’ll soon find yourself above the crowds and exploring some cozy, quiet, blissfully empty little paths.

Exploring the old houses in Hallstatt, Austria in the winter, one of the best day trips from Vienna.
Here’s a tip to avoid the crowds in Hallstatt, Austria: if you see a staircase, climb it! You’ll soon lose the crowds down below and be rewarded for your efforts with stunning views of the town.

Hallstatt is full of tiny paths and little corners to explore, and the crowds tend to stay down near the main road. That’s a mistake! We spent much of our day climbing up as far as we could go and exploring the quieter side of Hallstatt.  Just don’t, ya know, trespass. Stairs are publicly available for you to enjoy – people’s homes are off limit.

Another benefit? Continuously climbing tiny staircases helped us stay warm. Just don’t forget to pack some snow-proof shoes – our sherpa-lined waterproof leather boots from Vivobarefoot kept our feet warm and dry (these are mine & these are Jeremy’s).

Frozen waterfalls in Hallstatt, Austria.
Of course there’s a frozen waterfall. Every good fairytale mountain town has a frozen waterfall. That’s just like, the rule.

Things To Do In Hallstatt In The Winter

Before our visit, we were wondering if there’s actually enough to do in Hallstatt to keep us occupied for an entire day. Hallstatt is a sleepy village – there is no nightlife to be had, few “activities” are possible in the winter, whereas in the summertime, there are tons of outdoorsy opportunities like hiking in Hallstatt or boating in Lake Hallstatt, plus you can even tour the salt mine.

However, exploring and wandering on foot and taking photos and eating and naming swans is actually plenty to keep us occupied.

Sure, “just walk around and look at stuff” may sound like a snooze, but actually, it’s one of our favorite ways to travel! We could have spent several happy days simply soaking in the views and breathing the fresh mountain air and making snow angels.

That said, if would have had 2 days in Hallstatt, we would have spent one of them at Dachstein Krippenstein, skiing or snowboarding or snow-shoeing or exploring the giant Ice Cave (!!!!!!). But sadly, we only had 1 day to spend exploring the town on foot. Obviously, we’ll have to come back.

Hallstatt, Austria is built right into the side of a mountain and is criss-crossed with little staircases and walking-only paths. The higher you climb up the icy stairs, the emptier the streets are and the better the views!
Hallstatt, Austria is built right into the side of a mountain and is criss-crossed with little staircases and walking-only paths. The higher you climb up the icy stairs, the emptier the streets are and the better the views!

The History Of Hallstatt, Austria

After hours of exploring the town on foot, we headed back down to the main square to warm up in the Hallstatt Museum and learn about the history of Hallstatt, because we’re nerds and we enjoy context.

The history of Hallstatt dates wayyyyy back to before the current town was built. Excavations and archeological sites place the first settlers near Hallstatt as early as 7,000 years ago.

These prehistoric settlers did something truly amazing: they founded the world’s first salt mine(Well, scientifically speaking, it’s the world’s first *known* salt mine, but still, DAYYUUMMMM!) 

Gazing out over Hallstatt, Austria next to a Christmas Tree.
Trying to imagine what this view must looked like 700 years ago … or 7,000 years ago.

These lucky settlers had deliciously seasoned food and some of the best views in the world, so they stayed. And stayed.

And for century after century, the residents of this salt-rich little valley lived a comfortable life, shielded from whatever else was going on in the world, content to mine their salt and then sell it at exorbitant prices to the rest of the world.

The villagers of Hallstatt enjoyed a life of luxury, no matter who they were or who they were governed by: Celtics, Romans, Austrians, and so on.

There was, however, the occasional fire, wiping out the existing village and requiring a newly constructed one. That explains why the Hallstatt of today is so “young” compared to the age that the area has been inhabited (of course, as residents of USA, a tiny baby country with tiny baby buildings, 700+ years is still a mind-bogglingly long period of time).

Lia and Jeremy from Practical Wanderlust in Hallstatt, Austria in the winter.
Just lookin’ adorable and being mushy in a snowy mountain town, living my dream life.

After the museum, we continued exploring Hallstatt on foot, tasting some samples of local zirbenschnaps, which is Schnapps made out of pinecones. It tastes like mountain air and Christmas and evergreen forests.

We browsed some gift shops, purchasing a few hand-made wooden Christmas ornaments and some locally mined bath salts.

And of course, we threw snowballs at each other. #marriage

Riding the comfortable train from Vienna to Hallstatt was super easy thanks to our Eurail pass!
Riding the comfortable train from Vienna to Hallstatt was super easy thanks to our Eurail pass! The train passes through gorgeous Austrian countryside, which gets progressively snowier as you leave Vienna behind on your way into Hallstatt.

How To Get To Hallstatt

Getting from Vienna to Hallstatt was incredibly easy, especially with our Eurail pass, you can also book trains via Omio for advance deals. Here are instructions for getting to Hallstatt from Vienna or Salzburg.

How To Get From Vienna To Hallstatt

  • Getting from Vienna to Hallstatt by train:  In Vienna, head to either Hauptbahnhof or Westbahnhof station. Take an Austria National OBB train to Attnang-Puchheim, which takes around 2 hours. Once you reach Attnang-Puchheim station, you’ll need to transfer to a regional train heading directly to Hallstatt.  Your regional train will take you through scenic Austrian countryside for about 85 minutes before depositing you at tiny Hallstatt Markt station across the lake from Hallstatt. Walk down the path and take the ferry into town. Because Vienna and Hallstatt are so close, make sure take advantage of Vienna in wintertime with this ultimate Vienna Christmas guide!

How To Get From Salzburg To Hallstatt

  • Getting from Salzburg to Hallstatt by train: This trip is much the same as the journey from Vienna, but shorter.  From Salzburg, take an Austria National OBB train to Attnang-Puchheim, which takes around an hour. Once you reach Attnang-Puchheim station, you’ll need to transfer to a regional train heading directly to Hallstatt.  Your regional train will take you through scenic Austrian countryside for about 85 minutes before depositing you at tiny Hallstatt Markt station across the lake from Hallstatt. Walk down the path and take the ferry into town!
  • Getting from Salzburg to Hallstatt by bus & train: We hear this route is actually more scenic than the train route, although we haven’t personally tried it. In Salzburg, head to the bus terminal – it’s just outside of the doors of the main train station in Südtiroler Platz. Take bus #150 heading to Bad Ischl. In Bad Ischl, hop off the bus, head inside the train staton (the bus terminal is just outside of it) and take a regional train the rest of the way to Hallstatt.
  • Your regional train will take you through scenic Austrian countryside for about 85 minutes before depositing you at tiny Hallstatt Markt station across the lake from Hallstatt. Walk down the path and take the ferry into town!

If you still have questions about getting to Hallstatt, there’s an excellent FAQ guide right here.

Lia in Hallstatt, Austria in the winter, next to a small Christmas tree and in front of the lake and mountains.
Travel Makeup Tip: wear bright red lipstick in the winter. It will instantly make you look insanely polished, and pop really well against the snow in photos. Boom, lazy makeup done.

What To Pack For Hallstatt In The Winter

Hallstatt in the winter is very cold. Cuz, you know, it’s covered in snow and tucked away in the Austrian Alps. You’ll want to layer up every day. Luckily, winter layering is the perfect vehicle for adorable accessories like scarves and hats! Here are our recommendations for clothing that’s both functional AND super cute to wear in Hallstatt in the winter. Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe for a FREE winter packing guide for Europe using the form below!  If you’re looking for more details, we’ve got a full Europe in winter packing list guide.

  • Warm Walking Boots: Do not skimp on your shoes for your winter trip to Hallstatt!  We recommend boots that can withstand ice or snow, are totally waterproof, and are comfortable enough to walk in for HOURS, especially on uneven cobblestone or icy 700-year-old wooden steps. We’re OBSESSED with our winter boots (and yes, we both have the same ones. Because we’re gross like that). They’re cute, they’re insanely comfortable, they’re waterproof leather and lined with shearling to keep your toes toasty warm, and they’re extremely lightweight and foldable so you can stuff them in your bag when you travel. Oh, and they have thin and flexible soles that let your feet function as if you were walking around in freezing cold Hallstatt completely barefoot!  Note: you might find yourself in need of some calf strengthening before your trip if you’re not used to barefoot-style soles. We can’t recommend these boots enough. They’re made to last and they’re worth every cent – we wear them damn near every day when it’s cold out. We even went snow-shoeing in them once. They are tried & true! Here are my boots and Jeremy’s boots. You can read more about them in our round-up of our favorite travel shoes for women or for men.
  • Wool Socks: Run-of-the-mill acrylic or cotton socks won’t keep your feet warm while you’re exploring Hallstatt.Make sure you get socks that are primarily made of soft, heat-regulating wool, like these or these.
  • Travel Jeans: Jeremy and I each have a pair of black travel jeans from Aviator USA.  Unlike regular jeans, travel jeans are designed specifically to solve travel-related woes. One of my personal woes is the lack of pockets on women’s jeans. But thankfully, our travel jeans have 6 POCKETS – and they’re all luxuriously large and roomy, too! They’re super stretchy and buttery soft, dry quickly in the rain or when wet, and keep our legs warm when it’s cold out. They’re cozy enough to wear on a plane, stretchy enough to accommodate that 5 extra pounds of holiday weight I always seem to bring back home with me, and they’re super cute! We’re both obsessed. You can get a pair of men’s or women’s black jeans (my personal favorites) on the Aviator USA website.
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  • Wool Undershirt: Laying is crucial when it’s this cold. My favorite way to make sure I stay warm all day is to put a warm layer of wool on before everything else. This is the wool cami I wear, and this is the wool t-shirt Jeremy wears.
  • Wool Leggings: These super comfy 100% wool leggings function just like long underwear. Except they’re made of soft, super-luxurious wool instead of cheap polyester, and make your legs feel like they’re being hugged by an extremely soft sheep. I wore a pair of these under my pants every single day and they kept me toasty warm (without being too hot)! Jeremy has this pair, too. Bonus: they also double as the world’s coziest lounge leggings or even sleepwear!
  • Warm Leggings (with pockets!): Although we bring our wool leggings to layer under our pants, I also bring a pair of regular leggings – you know, for when it’s a balmy 40 degrees in the sun. I love these pants because they actually look like pants, not leggings – and they have ZIPPERED POCKETS!!!! Not those stupid pockets that can fit like, a chapstick and 3 dimes – you can actually zip a phone in there. BLESS.
  • Flannel Shirt: I’m in LOVE with the MerinoLux flannel button-downs from Royal Robbins. They’re stretchy, they’re cozy, they’re blended with merino wool  (yassss) and most importantly, they’re warm AF. But not so warm that you’ll get all sweaty running around Europe and exploring, because they’re also super breathable. They’re also wrinkle resistant, odor resistant, and moisture wicking, and have a hidden zip pocket – so basically everything you could ever ask for in a flannel shirt. I’ve been searching for the perfect flannel for YEARS (you know, one that didn’t give me button-down boob gap and allowed me to actually cross my arms) and this is The One. I love it! Here’s mine and Jeremy’s.
  • Day Bag: I carried this day bag with me every single day packed with my packable down jacket, an extra pair of gloves, and anything else I needed for the day – a notebook, a water bottle, an endless supply of snacks, whatever. Jeremy carried our camera gear in this bag along with his packable down jacket and scarf.
  • Warm Hat: A warm hat is an absolute necessity in chilly Hallstatt in the winter. It also doubles as a super cute accessory! You want a hat that will stay on your head even in blustery gusts of wind, so stay away from those wool felt ~travel girl types of hats and stick with reliable beanies. Personally I’m a fan of the ones with poofs on top, like this or this. Jeremy is more of a purist, and likes to wear beanies like this or this.
  • Warm Coat: Like good warm shoes, a warm winter coat is absolutely necessary for chilly Hallstatt in December & January. I brought 2 coats with me to Europe: a beautiful camel-colored A-line wool coat like this one that kept me incredibly warm and looked amazing in all of my pictures, and a travel-friendly packable down jacket that I kept stuffed in my daypack in case I needed an extra layer! Jeremy wore a peacoat like this one.
  • Scarves: I LOVE a chunky scarf. They’re my favorite accessory! And you will absolutely need a good scarf in Europe. I love this super soft scarf from Royal Robbins, which is blended with wool and turns into a cute shawl or infinity scarf with a few well-placed buttons. I’m also a big fan of scarves that are big enough to double as blankets, like this one or this one.
  • Gloves: Don’t go outside in Hallstatt without gloves on! You will regret it. You will regret it. I love these wool gloves that work with touchscreens, because let’s face it, I have a hard enough time using my phone without wearing gloves.

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