An image seen on Instagram, at one point, got my attention and made me search for the place where the beautiful view was captured. So, I discovered Hallstatt, the most bohemian, picturesque and photogenic village in Austria. A fairytale place, situated between the mountain and the crystal water of Lake Hallstätter, home to less than 1,000 souls. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to get here, to walk the narrow streets and to admire the pastel chalets, stacked at the base of the mountain. Thus, Hallstatt became the next destination on my list of places I wanted to visit in Austria, following Zell am See. I spent almost an entire day here, during which I confirmed and reconfirmed the idea that Hallstatt is at least as spectacular as in the pictures on the internet.
How to get to Hallstatt:
The easiest way is to come by car, considering that there is a road that passes by the village, and Salzburg is only 2 hours away. We came from Zell am See and spent 2 hours on a gorgeous road with many curves, with one mountain ridge higher than the other, beech and coniferous green forests, considering it was May at the time of our trip. Regarding the parking, you have to know that there are 3 available, but it would be better to arrive here early if you want to make sure you’ll have space. Prices: for less than an hour you will pay 3.5 Euros, between 2 to 3 hours, 6.5 Euros, and between 12 and 24 hours you will take out from your pocket 0.5 euros per hour. All information is available here. You can also choose the train, but the station is over the lake, from where you have to take the ferry to get to Hallstatt or the bus, which will park just a few minutes away from the village center.
10 reasons to visit Hallstatt
Listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage
Predictably or not, Hallstatt was included on this list in 1997, making it an even more popular destination. The reasons are as clear as possible: its history dating back for more than 7,000 years, spectacular landscapes, and caves hidden in the mountains. Of course, there are others also.
For the salt mine, the oldest in Europe
And so you will mark off two attractions from a shot: the salt mine and a panorama, from the height, over the village, the lake and its surroundings. Do you want to go higher than that? You can do it! In the village over the lake, Obertrauen, you can climb to the Five Fingers platform, which is said to have the most spectacular view of the Alps. Unfortunately, time did not allow me to get there, but I will leave it for the next time.
Because it’s so beautiful that it has a copy on another continent
Who else to think about that, if not the Chinese? Well, they fell in love so hard with the stunning image of the picturesque village that they wanted to have their own Hallstatt, in their country. Said and done! The Hallstatt clone was inaugurated in 2012. Their passion for this place is strongly supported by the wave of tourists, of this nationality, that you will meet here. Who knows, maybe in the future there will be a copy in Las Vegas, as well. 🙂
For the numerous activities
Kayak, canoe, swan ride, hiking the mountain, boat ride, evening on terraces and much more. The list of activities you can do here is not at all short, a sign that Hallstatt is not a destination to visit only for its beauty, but has much more to offer.
Because soon it will be assaulted by tourists
Of course, it is currently enjoying a lot of visitors, more exactly half a million each year. As things stand now, you still have the chance to find a free parking space, a hotel room and even a chair on a terrace, and the streets can be strolled quite lightly. But I presume that Hallstatt will become exponentially more popular in the near future, so maybe you should hurry up.
For its narrow streets and pastel-colored houses
Hallstatt looks like a painting painted by a very talented artist. It is the kind of easily recognizable place from any point. It is so beautiful that it seems to attain perfection if it would exist. Each street, each pink, light blue or light purple house, each terrace overlooking the lake, the architecture of the evangelical church, the flowers at the windows, and the walls of the ivy-covered houses complete the whole ensemble and give it a special charm.
Because every season has its beauty
I visited it in the spring, but I would like to go there in the middle of winter when the roofs of the houses and the mountain ridges are covered in snow, or in autumn when I can enjoy not only the color of the houses but also that of trees. I’m sure Hallstatt is wonderful in any season!
For a short visit to the charming neighboring village
The original reason I wanted to get to the “neighbor” village, Obertraun, separated from Hallstatt by a lake, was to take some pictures from the other side. When I arrived there, I had the pleasant surprise to explore an almost as beautiful village, with typical chalets, surrounded by towering mountains, and famous for skiing and the gondola that goes up to Five Fingers platform. I recommend you to get here, especially because both the train and the ferry have stations in Obertraun.
For its colorful square market and the waterfall in the background
The Market Square is the central point of the village, in the midst of which there is a gorgeous fountain, built in 1744, and named The Holy Trinity Statue. Here, you can enjoy a coffee, you can admire the colorful homes, and do some souvenirs shopping. This is the place where Christmas and Easter fairs are held each year.
For the Chapel St. Michael, hosting an exhibition of skulls
Being a small village, the cemetery of Hallstatt is also pretty small. Thus, when a tomb was reused to bury a newly deceased local, they were taking the skull of the skeleton already existing in the grave and they were decorating it with distinctive initials and other signs of different meanings. It seems that somebody, in the 12th century, had the shocking idea of making an exhibition of these skulls, an exhibition that has now reached 600 painted objects of this kind. However, only a small proportion of the deceased population in Hallstatt “benefited” from post-mortem exposure. A 360-degree view of the chapel interior can be seen here.