Visit Hallstatt: Serenity By The Lake
We recently published an article on Austria and the many beautiful towns. cities and resorts that it has to offer but there was one town, one section that readers adored more than any other, and that was the town of Hallstatt.
It’s easy to see why this town is so popular and why it captures the imagination of city and country dwellers alike. It is simply stunning, with views that you are unlikely to find anywhere else in the world. From Hallstatt Lake to the mountains that tower over this quaint little town, this is a piece of perfect natural beauty and one that remains unspoiled from the chaos of modern life. Hallstatt doesn’t even allow automobiles on it street for half of the year and the best way to get in and out of this town is via boat!
This article will study this great town in more detail, but we still firmly believe that the country of Austria on the whole is one of the most beautiful countries that you will find anywhere, so if you want to read what we wrote about it then check out our other article here.
Firstly you’ll want to know how to get to Hallstatt and where to stay whilst you’re there. If you live in Austria or any of the countries that surround it then you’re in luck. There is some traveling involved but the price is relatively cheap (although it does depend on the season) and you can get there in just a few hours, depending on where you depart from. There are train routes from cities such as Vienna and Salzburg, simply get off at the Attnang-Puchheim and then take a train towards Obertraun.
There is a regular ferry service to Hallstatt from the train station, so you won’t need to wait long before this comes along to pick you up. One of the best ways to see Hallstatt is from the lake as you sail across it, so make sure you arrive at a good time so that you can enjoy the town in full light as you approach.
There are also a number of bus routes into Hallstatt, although you’ll need to live closer for this to be an option. Some of these leave from Salzburg and they are considerably cheaper than the train rides.
If you live further afield then a package deal would be your best option. This will give you your flights and your travel (of which there will be a lot) along with your hotel. You can find discounts on Expedia here. If you live in the US or Canada; whereas if you live in the UK then your best bet is to book a cheap flight with CheapFlights.co.uk and then book your hotel separately, this will cost the same as any package holiday from the UK and also gives you much more variety. Once you land you simply hop on a train and then a ferry to get into Hallstatt itself, taking the route mentioned above for those traveling within Austria and it’s neighboring countries.
If you check out this TripAdvisor link then you can take a look at the many fine hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area. This is a small town so be sure to book in advance, especially if you’re going during the holiday season because these places sell out quickly. You’re unlikely to find a towering hotel here, but the B&Bs are very accommodating and you will get the bare essentials there as well, including Wi-Fi and television, complete with views that will take your breath away.
As for the time of year, take into account that it can get very cold during the winter months, and the town can be somewhat inaccessible due to the snow, but it is also very pretty during this time. It is somewhat mild in spring and the tourists tend not to flood in during this time, so that might be ideal if you want a bit of peace, but the best times to see Hallstatt are in the height of summer and in the depths of winter, two contrasting seasons that show this town at its best. For those visiting from hotter climates the summer would be best, but for those who are used to the cold then you’ll probably thrive during the winter months, and you can also take advantage of the fact that there are few tourists around.
What to See and do in Hallstatt
Hallstatt doesn’t have expansive museums, great shopping streets or lively entertainment venues, and if that’s the sort of thing that you’re into then you’re unlikely to enjoy this little town much. Hallstatt does have the bare essential of small town life though, all of which you can find during a casual stroll through the Central Square Markplatz. This charming and serene little street is adorable, and epitomizes everything that Hallstatt is about, with great views, fresh mountain air and a general pleasantness. The shops can be a little overpriced as they can get away with charging a little more thanks to the influx of tourists and the fact that locals can hardly hop in their car and drive to their local supermarket, but it’s all to be expected. There are some great shops and restaurants to visit and the area itself is simply stunning, which makes stopping for a coffee or something a little stronger an experience that you won’t forget in a hurry.
If you want to take in a little culture then head for the Museum Hallstatt, which was awarded with a Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor and is the only museum in town. It is just a small building but there are many exhibits and a great number of things to see and discover. If you visit in the summer or the spring then this is probably best left for a rainy or overcast day, simply due to the fact that when you’re in such a great part of the world enjoying unrivaled natural beauty, you don’t want to spend your time stuck indoors. That’s not to say that it isn’t worth your time, because this is a great little museum. The Hallstatt Ossuary is also a great place to visit, with a more religious, spiritual and sometimes morbid twist. There are painted skulls, bones and scores of graves, and although it’s not a big place, it certainly crams a lot of death into one spot. For religion that is a little more standard and familiar, there is also the Parish of the Assumption, although there isn’t much for you to see here.
One of the best places to visit is the Hallstatt and Altasee Salt Mine. This is difficult to reach and with a cable car ride and a short hike, it is unlikely to be for everyone, but the scenery is well worth it and the destination is also pretty special. This is not an active mine and has been converted into a museum of sorts, with mannequins acting out the role of workers, tour guides telling you all you need to know and areas where you can feel what it was like to be working in the salt mines many years ago.
To return to nature than head for the Hallstatt Viewing platform which promises the best views in town, although in our opinion the best views are from the lake itself. This is still great spot though and one where you can drink in all of the stunning natural beauty that Hallstatt has to offer.
Best Restaurants in Hallstatt
After a long day of sightseeing, hiking or drinking coffee and admiring the view, you’ll have an appetite to sate, and whilst Hallstatt is small, it has more than a few great restaurants for you to dine in. One of the best restaurants, and the one often ranked the highest is Gasthof Zauner, which serves up local cuisine and caters for families, groups and evening diners. This is Austrian food at its best, with mixed grills, fresh fish, vegetable dishes and sweet desserts. Restaurant im Seehotel Gruner Baum is another hotspot serving local fare, and this is also a hotel and a bar. They also have some Italian dishes on the menu.
For something a little more universal, check out Pizzeria Bella Milano, which serves up the Italian and worldwide favorite. This is not 5-star dining, and the food is far from the best you will eat when you’re in Hallstatt, but it’s probably the best pizza you can find in town and the prices are also reasonable. They don’t accept cards so make sure you take some cash with you, and don’t go there expecting some pasta or other dishes, this is all about the pizza. Cafe Derbl also sells pizzas and other dishes, whilst if it’s burgers that you want then Maik S Heisse Hutte promises to make you the best burgers in town.
Checklist for Hallstatt
Before you head home, make sure you have done all there is to do and seen all there is to see in this wonderful little town. Take a look at our checklist below if you’re looking for inspiration.
1. Enjoy the Sights: You can see Hallstatt from the mountains, from the market square, from the lake and more. This is a stunning location and one that can be enjoyed from everywhere, so make sure you find the spot that you like the most and then relax, unwind and enjoy.
2. Hike: Hallstatt is a great location for hikers and climbers. You can head for the mountains if you want to go the difficult route, or you can simply opt for the trek to the Salt Mines, which is an arduous journey in itself, and one that comes with great reward.
3. See More: Austria is a beautiful country and Hallstatt is a stone’s throw away from cities such as Salzburg, which offer a little more in the way of entertainment and serve up similar amounts of scenic beauty. Vienna is also not too far away.
4. Enjoy the Lake: Rarely will you see such a serene lake, and this needs to be enjoyed. Grab a seat overlooking it, pull up a chair by a restaurant window with a lake view or take a boat ride.
5. Shop: There isn’t a great amount of things to buy, but the shopping streets are quaint and charming and you can pick up some mementoes to remind you of your trip.
6. Museums: As well as the Salt Mine (if you are physically able), you should also visit the Museum Hallstatt and the Ossuary. These are as small and simple as the town itself, but they are worth a visit.