Austria’s fairytale village Hallstatt is nothing short of a story-book village–nestled in the Dachstein mountains on the banks of a lake by the same name. Lush green mountains, pristine lake with graceful swans, pretty little timber houses stacked atop each other–this idyllic postcard-perfect village and its scenic surroundings will take your breath away.
Hallstatt is a village in the Salzkammergut region of Upper Austria.
Hallstatt became famous in the prehistoric age because of its salt productions and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Buses as well as trains run from Salzburg to Hallstatt; journey time is approximately 3hrs. If you are coming from Vienna take the train to Attnang-Puchheim. From Attnang-Puchheim catch the train towards Bad Ischl, then transfer to a train to Hallstatt/Obertraun, or catch a bus as we did (details below).
We took bus #150 from Salzburg to Bad Ischl, approximate journey time of 90 minutes. From Bad Ischl we boarded bus #543 from slot C. Bus numbers 542/543 go towards Hallstatt/Dachstein/Obertraun.
We enjoyed the bus ride—rolling green hills, meadows with happy cows, cute houses, and charming villages.
If arriving by train, you need to take the ferry to Hallstatt. Hallstatt’s passenger ferry is timed with the trains arriving here.
The easiest way to reach Hallstatt is by car. From Salzburg, only one road leads to this small village.
Just after the tunnel leading to Hallstatt, there is a parking area for cars and tour buses. As far as I know, cars are not allowed inside the village.
Hallstatt has few B&Bs and hotels. I would recommend to reserve your stay in advance.
We stayed in Obertraun, another village by Hallstatt lake, almost diagonally opposite to the village of Hallstatt. Obertraun is much smaller than Hallstatt. If you decide to stay in Obertraun you can take the shuttle bus between the two villages (10 minutes). There is also the ferry. Bus and ferry timings are put up at the bus stop and pier respectively.
To see and do
There isn’t much ‘to do’ per se in this compact village. We just walked around Hallstatt, took in the gorgeous scenery, watched the swans, bought some rock salt, sat by the lake, ate our fair share of fresh fish, walked around some more and again spent more time by the lake.
You can walk the length of Hallstatt in 15 minutes.
Or rent bicycles and bike between Hallstatt and other villages by the lake.
- Visit Salzwelten (salt cave) – Take a funicular to explore a salt mine that is more than 200 years old. Click here to know the opening times.
- Hallstatt skywalk – The same funicular trip will take you to the viewing platform, 350 meters above Hallstatt where you can get a panoramic view (operating times are same as that of the salt mine).
We neither visited the salt cave nor did the skywalk; instead, we went to Dachstein ice cave and hiked to the viewing platform called five fingers on Mount Krippenstein. Also, while walking in the nooks and alleys we stumbled upon Hallstatt’s ossuary.
- Visit Dachstein ice cave and 5 fingers. Read about it here.
- Visit Hallstatt’s ossuary/Hallstatt Charnel house/Bone house – Hallstatt’s ‘bone house’ or Beinhaus is located in St. Michael’s chapel, next to the Catholic church. This charnel house has painted and unpainted skulls (and bones). Some skulls have names and date of death.
Because of the limited space in the cemetery, every ten years bones are exhumed and moved into the ossuary, thus making space for new burials.
Did you know?
There is a replica of Hallstatt in China.
Now you know the reason behind the surge of Chinese tourists to Hallstatt (Austria).
Do you know of any picturesque village? Have you been to one? Leave me a comment below…
(We stayed in Obertraun for two nights in October)