Hallstatt, one of the most beautiful places in Austria, is growing in popularity for its fairy-tale-like village, dramatic landscapes, and numerous attractions.
The quaint village, situated on Lake Hallstatt’s western shore in the mountainous region of Salzkammergut, is home to fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, an ancient salt mine, and unparalleled views of the Austrian Alps.
Hallstatt invites visitors to get lost in its colorful streets, offering seclusion and serenity that you won’t find in overcrowded hot spots in Europe.
Here are 10 reasons to make time for Hallstatt on your next European vacation.
1. It’s Accessible
Getting To Hallstatt From Salzburg
Two buses run from Salzburg to Hallstatt: Bus 150 and Bus 542. Each trip takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Every day, several trains run from the Salzburg Main Station to Hallstatt, the first departing at 5:12 a.m. The trip takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes. If you take the train from Salzburg to Hallstatt, you will be dropped off across the lake and will need to take a short ferry ride to reach the town center. A one-way trip costs 2 euros and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. For train times, visit the ÖBB website.
Getting To Hallstatt From Vienna
While a day trip from Vienna to Hallstatt would be difficult to accomplish, the train ride only takes about 4 hours. It does, however, require a transfer at the Attnang-Puchheim Station.
Another option for getting to Hallstatt from Vienna is renting a car. The drive from Vienna to Hallstatt takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes and passes through some stunning parts of Austria.
2. It Offers Some Of The Best Scenery In Austria
Hallstatt is one of the most scenic towns in Austria, and if you research Austria online, you’ll probably stumble across numerous photos of Hallstatt.
Hallstatt is a fairy-tale-like town sprinkled with pastel-colored houses and winding cobblestone streets and surrounded by the striking Northern Limestone Alps. The natural beauty and picturesque and enchanting views attract visitors to the tiny town year after year.
3. It’s A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The region of Salzkammergut has been around since prehistoric times, and the area’s salt mines were in use as early as the second millennium B.C. Salzkammergut, which includes Hallstatt, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.
According to UNESCO, the salt mine “formed the basis of the area’s prosperity up to the middle of the 20th century, a prosperity that is reflected in the fine architecture of the town of Hallstatt.”
The dramatic landscapes of Salzkammergut and Hallstatt can’t be missed; even UNESCO says so!
4. It's Home To Some Of The World's Oldest Salt Mines
In Hallstatt, you can gaze upon some of the oldest salt mines in the world. Hallstatt’s salt mines date back more than 7,000 years, and today visitors to the area can learn all about Bronze Age mining.
Hallstatt’s salt mines are also home to the oldest staircase in Europe. Discovered in 2002, the staircase has been the subject of scientific research for many years.
Adventure seekers can book an extended expedition of the salt mines, venturing to areas that others don’t normally get to see.
5. There’s Something To Do There In Every Season
Each season brings something different to Hallstatt, making the town a magical place to visit at any time of year.
Winter brings stunning views of snow-capped mountains, while fall offers changing colors and crisp yet comfortable temperatures. In the spring, the town comes to life and the region’s local flora is in full bloom, and summer offers warm temperatures ideal for swimming and boating.
6. Its Winding Streets And Colorful Houses Are The Definition Of Charming
Gazing upon Hallstatt is like looking at a work of art. It’s hard to turn away from the breathtaking views of the Austrian Alps, but if you take the time to wander through the town’s winding cobblestone streets, you’ll see that each little nook and cranny holds more charm and beauty than the last.
Hallstatt is full of pastel-colored houses and picturesque streets ideal for getting lost in. You can wander through the small village for hours on end, taking in the sounds and smells of the shops and bakeries and watching life unfold in this tiny Austrian village.
7. The Cafés Are Delightful
Hallstatt’s adorable cafés are ideal for a midday snack, a quick coffee break, or a rest during a long day of sightseeing.
Seecafé Frundsberg offers stunning indoor and outdoor views of Lake Hallstatt as well as a vast selection of coffee and simple, fresh food.
Another excellent lakeside café, Bacht’s Polreich, offers an assortment of pasta dishes, fresh seafood, desserts, and the famous Austrian Glühwein mulled wine. Visitors can sit on the waterfront, kick back, and enjoy stunning views of Lake Hallstatt at this quaint and relaxing café.
8. Its Feathered Residents Are Adorable
Some of the town’s most beloved residents are the swans who have made their home in and around Lake Hallstatt.
The celebrated birds were imported in the late 19th century by Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her husband, Emperor Franz Josef I, who once owned a summer resort in Hallstatt.
9. It Makes A Great Base For Exploring The Area
Situated as it is in central Austria, Hallstatt makes a great base for exploring the area. It’s conveniently located near the popular tourist destination of Salzburg, and it is within driving distance of major European cities like Munich and Vienna.
Saint Gilgen is a traditional Austrian village that you can visit when taking the 150 Bus from Hallstatt to Salzburg. The area isn’t well known to tourists, and visitors can take a peaceful stroll through the town or enjoy views of Lake Wolfgang.
Munich, one of Germany’s most popular tourist destinations, is only a 3-hour train ride from Hallstatt. The capital of Bavaria is known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration and its popular Glockenspiel show that tells stories from the 16th century.
10. It’s Not Yet Entirely On The Tourist Radar
Hallstatt currently welcomes around one million visitors annually and is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination. While tourism is incredibly beneficial for the local economy, more visitors could result in a loss of authenticity and tranquility in this charming and traditional Austrian village.
If you want to see Hallstatt before it’s fully on the tourist radar, we suggest booking a trip to this dreamlike Austrian town sooner rather than later.