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Top things to do in Hallstatt – a walking itinerary

Put on your comfy shoes – we’re going to explore Hallstatt! Even if you’re not a morning person, you’ll want to get up early for this town. Besides, you can head to bed early as there’s nothing much happening at night. The mornings, though, are absolutely perfect for photo-ops.

(Speaking of photo-ops, if you want the most fantastic holiday photos, book a 2-hour walking tour with a local photographer.)

Start at either end of the town. If your hotel is near the market square, the north end is nearer. If you’re staying outside town along Malerweg, you can start at the south end. I like starting at the north end because I love taking photos of the town early morning. By 9 AM, the town gets pretty crowded, and you’re better off exploring the other attractions.

This walking guide of Hallstatt starts at the north end – check out the Google map to help you find your way! (Although it’s incredibly difficult to get lost in this town, and not a bad experience at all!)

1. Take a postcard-perfect photo of Hallstatt

Walk to the north, past the ferry station. When the road bends, look back and you’ll see this breathtaking view of Hallstatt.

A postcard-perfect photo of Hallstatt, Austria’s most beautiful town.
A postcard-perfect photo of Hallstatt taken from the north viewpoint.

But Hallstatt is more than just a pretty town. It’s considered the oldest still-inhabited village in Europe, dating back to the Iron Age. In fact, the early Iron Age culture from 800 to 400 BC is known as the Hallstatt culture, an era marked by farming and metal-working, long-range trade with Mediterranean cultures, and the rise of elite classes and social distinction.

Hallstatt – which means “place of salt” – is home to the world’s first salt mine. Thanks to the salt industry, the town quickly progressed and became wealthy. Salt has always been a valuable commodity, especially in prehistoric times when it was primarily used to preserve meat.

In recent decades, though, Hallstatt’s fame derives mostly from its natural beauty. Sandwiched between a lake and mountains (you could even say that it cuddles the lake), this perfect little town easily became a favorite tourist destination as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

2. Walk around the cemetery grounds

Most city tours worldwide include a visit to the cemetery – something I’ve never really appreciated as I’m not a big fan of graves. But the cemetery in Hallstatt is different! It’s actually uplifting (in a weird way) to walk through the cemetery grounds as each grave has its own small flower garden and a view of the lake – a fitting tribute to loved ones.

These graves in the Hallstatt cemetery grounds come with their own flower gardens and a view of the lake.
These graves in the Hallstatt cemetery grounds come with their own flower gardens and a view of the lake.
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3. Walk around the market square and visit the little shops along the lake

By now, you’ll see that you don’t actually have to do anything in Hallstatt. Just walking along the boardwalk, looking up at the pastel houses with their charming flowerboxes, and peeking into the souvenir shops is a great way to spend the day. It’s even better if you do this while the rest of the town is still asleep – so aim to be up and about by 7 AM, at least.

Make your way to the market square and weave in and out of the streets. Remember that Hallstatt is really small (just under 1 KM from end to end), so there’s no need to rush through. Take your time and enjoy!

Hallstatt travel guide - Hallstatt’s market square with its pretty pastel buildings brings the town’s locals and visitors together.
Hallstatt’s market square with its pretty pastel buildings brings the town’s locals and visitors together.

4. Take photos of the lake’s ducks and swans

As if the calm blue lake and mounta in ranges reflecting on it are not enough, Lake Hallstatt has to be inhabited by these gorgeous, photogenic creatures. I think they’re all vying for Instagram fame, as they’ll pretty much pose for you.

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This swan walking along Lake Hallstatt’s boardwalk knows how to make a good shot perfect.
This swan walking along Lake Hallstatt’s boardwalk knows how to make a good shot perfect.

5. Stop for an early lunch at one of the lakeside restaurants

Along Hallstatt’s boardwalk, you’ll find several restaurants serving delicious meals that come with an amazing view. During peak season, though, it may be challenging to get a nice table (or any table), so try to nab a seat before the lunchtime rush hour or make a reservation.

Some restaurants to try: Im Kainz, Seewirt Zauner, and Couisine.

6. Continue your stroll along Lake Hallstatt

Almost every flower-decked house along the lake is photogenic. Just remember that these are residences and private properties, so don’t go climbing up someone’s balcony! Always be respectful and keep your voices down, especially if you’re traveling with a lively group.

You can visit the Tourist Information Center further down the road to learn about upcoming events or get brochures of the different establishments around town.

Hallstatt travel guide - Beautiful houses decked with flower boxes line the boardwalk along Lake Hallstatt, Austria.
Beautiful houses decked with flower boxes line the boardwalk along Lake Hallstatt, Austria.

7. Take another postcard-perfect photo from the south end

Just a few steps past the Tourist Information Center, another bend on the road leads to another gorgeous view of the town. You’ll once again see the beautiful pastel houses you just passed by, and if you’re lucky, a swan or two will join your shot.

Hallstatt travel guide - The view of Hallstatt from the south end of the town.
The view of Hallstatt from the south end of the town.

8. Ride the funicular for amazing views of the lake and surrounding countryside

From the south viewpoint, walk down a road to the left to get to the funicular. You can take a ride up and down the funicular to get to the top of the 1,030-meter tall Salzberg (Salt Mountain). Even if you don’t plan to visit the salt mine, the views from the funicular are well worth the trip.

The breathtaking view of Hallstatt and surroundings from the Salzberg mountain.
The breathtaking view of Hallstatt and surroundings from the Salzberg mountain.

9. See the view from the Skywalk

Once you’re up on Salzberg, check out the “World heritage” views from the Skywalk. It extends over a sheer drop with the Hallstatt old town directly below. If you fancy a cup of tea with a view, stop by the Rudolfsturm restaurant.

10. Learn about Hallstatt’s “salty” past

Now we come to Hallstatt’s star attraction, which I saved for the last. This 7,000-year-old salt mine tells the story of Hallstatt, with fascinating audio-visual presentations that will take you through the prehistoric era to the present. You’ll also get to wear overalls and slide down wooden slides like a legit miner, so it’s a pretty exciting experience.

11. Go for a hike

If you still have energy and a couple of hours of daytime to spare, continue walking towards Malerweg and into the forest to the Waldbachstrub waterfalls. It’s an easy-to-moderate hike along well-marked trails and should take about 1-2 hours.

Take a short and easy hike from Hallstatt to Waldbachstrub waterfalls
Take a short and easy hike from Hallstatt to the Waldbachstrub waterfalls

End the day at one of the lakeside restaurants. If you have one more day in Hallstatt, explore the surrounding areas.

Day trips around Hallstatt

Dachstein

Hallstatt shares its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Dachstein. Together, the Hallstatt-Dachstein landscape is deemed “exceptional as a complex of great scientific interest and immense natural power that has played a vital role in human history reflected in the impact of farmer-miners over millennia, in the way mining has transformed the interior of the mountain and through the artists and writers that conveyed its harmony and beauty.” Obviously, the UNESCO reviewers fell in love with these alpine towns as well.

You’ll find more breathtaking views in Dachstein, including the glass-bottom 5 Fingers viewing deck and the Dachstein Ice Cave. It’s also ideal for skiing in the winter and hiking in summer as the mountains are famous for their large glaciers. You’ll also find a network of caverns and frozen waterfalls – a natural theme park of all amazing landscapes.

Dachstein’s beautiful landscapes – visit this UNESCO World Heritage site as a day trip from Hallstatt. Click through for a travel guide.
While you’re in Hallstatt, make sure to hop over to Dachstein for year-round outdoor adventures and scenic views.

Mondsee

If you love nature and exploring the outdoors, spend a day away from Hallstatt’s crowds and drive to Mondsee.

Mondsee is a year-round destination, with a beautiful town center and plenty of surrounding hiking and biking trails. During the warm months (July and August), Lake Mondsee is ideal for swimming. You can also do various water sports, like water skiing, sailing, or renting a pedal boat to go around the lake.

Go up to the Schafberg lookout by riding the cogwheel steam train and enjoy breathtaking views of the five lakes that surround the area.

Where to eat and drink – best restaurants in and around Hallstatt

Eating in Hallstatt is so much more special as the meals come with a view. Eat outside when the weather is good.

Don’t forget to eat fish, as this is the town’s specialty. For the best fish dishes, eat at Seewirt Zauner – try their grilled whitefish, which they catch fresh from Lake Hallstatt.

For yummy Austrian desserts like apple strudels and other pastries, visit Cafe Bäckerei Konditorei Maislinger. For ice cream fixes, visit Gelateria Giovanni.

If you don’t mind going for a short 10-minute drive out of Hallstatt, Gasthaus Koppenrast is an amazing restaurant away from the tourist crowds.

Planning your trip to Hallstatt

Getting there

Driving to Hallstatt

I highly recommend driving to Hallstatt. You can get a rental car from Vienna and drive 3 hours to Hallstatt, or get your car from Salzburg, and it’s just a one-hour drive from there. Here’s a road trip itinerary from Vienna to Salzburg through Hallstatt.

How to get from Vienna to Hallstatt

From Vienna, you can catch a train that goes to Hallstatt via Attnang-Puchheim. Get your train tickets from the main train station (Wien-Hauptbahnhof) or the west train station (Wien-Westbahnhof). The fastest train would take about 3.5 hours.

Once at Hallstatt station (which is actually in Obertraun, across the lake from Hallstatt), you have to ride a ferry (Stefanie) into Hallstatt’s old town. You can get your tickets from the ferry station that’s just beside the train station.

How to get from Salzburg to Hallstatt

From Salzburg, there are two ways to get to Hallstatt.

By bus: Go to the bus terminal outside Salzburg’s main train station (Salzburg-Hauptbahnhof) and look for Bus #150 to Bad Ischl. Once in Bad Ischl, ride a train to Hallstatt, then the ferry to the old town.

By train: From the Salzburg-Hauptbahnhof, ride a train to Attnang-Puchheim, then switch to a train to Hallstatt. Once in Hallstatt station, ride the ferry to the old town.

Join a day tour – If you’re short on time, join a day tour from Vienna or Salzburg. You’ll still get to enjoy the town on a day trip.

Best areas to stay in Hallstatt

Hallstatt is a wildly popular tourist destination, so if you plan to stay at least a night, make sure to reserve your hotels in advance. If you’re booking closer to your stay and find that most Hallstatt hotels are already fully booked, you can also look at accommodations in Obertraun, which is directly opposite Hallstatt across the lake. It’s a much more relaxed destination with the same amazing views and ambiance of the mountains and the lake.

Hallstatt hotels and holidays rentals

Top Pick: For the best experience in Hallstatt, stay at a hotel right by the lake. The best hotel among the lakeside options is Seehotel Grüner Baum. It offers panoramic views of Lake Hallstatt, a historic ambiance, spacious rooms, and excellent staff. If you’re driving, don’t worry that it’s right in the middle of car-free Hallstatt – you can park at the P1 parking area outside town and ride the free shuttle to the hotel.

Other highly-rated hotels in Hallstatt include: Heritage Hotel Hallstatt, Gasthof Pension Hirlatz, and Gasthof Bergfried.

For small groups (3-4 adults), check out W & S Executive Apartments. Note that this and the Gasthof Pension Hirlatz are a few minutes’ scenic walk outside the old town.

You can also look for real-time hotel deals in Hallstatt here.

Obertraun hotels and holidays rentals

Travelers’ Pick: Seehotel am Hallstätter See is the best lakeside hotel on the Obertraun side of Lake Hallstatt. You’ll be treated to the same gorgeous mountain and lake views at an excellent price.

W & S Executive Apartments also has suites in Obertraun, so for big groups who are really into skiing or hiking, check this out.

Beyond Hallstatt – where to go next

If you love fairytale towns and beautiful natural landscapes, here are more destinations to add to your European itinerary.

  • Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake towns are indeed the perfect setting for beautiful holidays, and Lake Bled is Slovenia’s most gorgeous one. With plenty of amazing natural landscapes to explore, a slew of restaurants serving delicious Slovenian and international cuisine, and a long list of outdoor adventures and experiences to check out, a holiday in Lake Bled is sure to be sweet and satisfying.

  • Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is by no means a small town, but despite being one of Europe’s most popular destinations, the city has managed to remain charming and rustic. Make sure to spend at least two days exploring Salzburg and the rest of the Lake District.

  • Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Lying between Prague and Salzburg, Cesky Krumlov is a magnificently restored medieval castle town built on the meanders of the Vltava River. If you want to drive from Vienna to Prague (or vice versa), follow this loop: Vienna – Hallstatt – Salzburg – Cesky Krumlov – Prague. Make sure to stop by the little towns along the way!

  • Jungfrau, Switzerland

This beautiful region filled with majestic mountain ranges and snow-capped peaks is exactly the stuff of dreamy Swiss holidays. Head to Jungfraujoch and Grindelwald for breathtaking views. Or, if you want to enjoy that traditional Swiss countryside ambiance, head to Lauterbrunnen and Mürren for easy hiking trails, stunning alpine views, and warm and welcoming chalets.

  • Giethoorn, Netherlands

If you’re heading to Amsterdam, take a fun side trip to Giethoorn, a beautiful village with lots of picturesque canals, flower-decked houses, and scenes that look straight out of a painting.

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I hope this helps you plan your trip to Hallstatt. If you’re heading there soon, I cannot be any more envious! Hallstatt is seriously one of my most favorite places in Europe.

If you have any questions about your trip or need custom recommendations, send me a message and I’ll be happy to help you out. Thanks for reading, and happy travels to Austria!

Source: https://littleholidays.net/

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By Lala