After seeing pictures of Hallstatt on the internet I knew I had to visit this stunning little European town! It’s supposedly one of the oldest still inhabited towns in Europe.
This is the ‘postcard’ image that tends to come up in Google. If you’d like to replicate it or see for yourself, follow the main street to the edge of town where the buildings thin to one side only, then take your photo looking back to your left!
See & Do
Hallstatt is a cute little village that makes the perfect day (or half day) trip from Salzburg. The town is set on a lake with a pretty view to the other side of mountains and another town. Coming from Australia this town was the quintessential Alpine European village – it really does look as stunning in person as what you see in the pictures!
The town is so quaint, clean, and the buildings are well-maintained.
I highly recommend the Skywalk where you go up a cable car to a viewing platform set above the town offering a birds eye view and a stunning view across the lake. The Skywalk took about an hour to get up to, take photos and come back down. Keep in mind there can be a wait for the cable car if it’s busy.
View from the bridge leading to the lookout. Follow the path for the salt mine. Still snow capped mountains in late April!
It’s not my personal taste, but there is a bone museum (Beinhaus) you can visit. If you have the luxury of time, there are salt mines and ice caves nearby.
If you’re not visiting during winter, you can rent a boat and get some amazing shots on the water looking back at the town.
If you’re not bored with all the fancy churches in Europe, there’s ones in town near the main square.
If you have time to explore beyond the town there are hiking trails nearby.
What to wear
Pack a raincoat and / or umbrella for all seasons and rug up for winter – it snows!
Best Time of Year To Visit
I visited in late April which was a great time of year to visit. It wasn’t too cold, the bus tour I took wasn’t at full capacity, there was only a short wait for the cable car up to the viewing platform of the Skywalk and the town wasn’t crowded. It was cold and raining but not freezing cold with snow and packed with tourists.
I don’t think the town has enough to offer to warrant an overnight stay (food and the supermarket in town are expensive as well) but it’s definitely worth a quick visit!
Getting to Hallstat
You can reach Hallstat via a half day organized bus tour (which is what I did) or by taking the train and then the ferry. An organized bus tour is more expensive, however, it’s quicker than the train if you’re pressed for time.
The organized bus tour I took made a stop at this gorgeous lake on the way.
Then we had about 2.5 hours free to roam around the town. If you have more time, definitely go at a more leisurely pace – it felt a bit rushed to do the Skywalk and walk the main part of town in 2.5 hours. I also didn’t have a sit down meal – just grabbed something from the bakery to eat while walking. The town doesn’t have much apart from some food places, a church and touristy shops but it’s nice to walk through and admire the European buildings!
If you take the train, expect a 3 hour journey each way (according to Rome to Rio – my favorite transport planning tool!). While this is a long journey to do in a day, in Austria (and Switzerland for that matter), I found that the saying ‘it’s the journey not the destination’ is definitely true – so much pretty scenery to look at!
Take the train from Salzburg to Attnang-Puchheim then switch for the train to Hallstatt (train heading towards Bad Ischl and Obertraun). The Hallstatt station is on the other side of the lake. A ferry meets the trains and will take you across the lake (and give you lots of good photo opportunities!)
I did this Viator tour (not affiliated, just letting you know what I used). Overall it was expensive for what you got (just a bus too and from Hallstat departing from Salzburg). The skywalk (which was 15 euro) should have been included in the price of the tour. However I was pressed for time, had problems with trains in Vienna (as everything was in German which I don’t understand a word of), so it was just easier to book a half day tour.
There was only just enough time to do the skywalk and wander along the main street of the town – you’d be pushed for time if you did this tour during busy summer period.
If have the luxury of time, go by yourself via the train and then the ferry across to the town – you’d get amazing views from the boat.
The tour bus didn’t stop at a place where the tour guide said they had done a photo stop with previous tour group the week before. It felt it was very rushed to get back which was odd as the tour was half an hour shorter than was advertised so there was plenty of time to make a quick 5 – 10 min photo stop on the way back. I find it frustrating that tour guides forget this is likely the one and only time people will visit a place so we really do want the full time that is advertised when booking. But apart from that, Hallstat it definitely worth a visit!
Travel planning tips
- My all time favorite trip planning tool: Visit a City
- Travel Planning: 50 Things to consider when planning an itinerary
- Why I use a printable travel planner to plan a vacation
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