I came across Hallstatt a while ago whilst browsing the web and remember being struck by how picturesque the place looked.
Situated 2.5hrs south of Salzburg on the train, I was keen to add this World Heritage Site onto my Austria itinerary.
On arriving to the tiny Hallstatt train station (it has to be said the train journey from Salzburg is both easy, cheap and incredibly scenic) you are met by a small boat ‘Stefanie’ which acts as a ferry between the train station and Hallstatt itself. Boat fare is €2.5 one way.
Worth noting you can drive/get a bus from Salzburg which actually takes the same time as the train (once you factor in having to change trains) which could be an option. I didn’t have a car on this occasion and have a strong dislike for any form of bus transport.
Having got the early train from Salzburg we arrived into Hallstatt around 9am and the views didn’t disappointed. As it was slightly overcast initially there were low level clouds hovering above the lake which cleared as the sun started to rise over the surrounding mountains.
The beauty of this area is accentuated by the Lake itself. The serenity of the water acts like a mirror which casts a different perspective as the day progresses.
As Hallstatt is essentially a small village, the accommodation and food choices are limited. We stayed at the Heritage Hotel which was nice enough but quite dated.
Similarly with food, we checked out Seehotel Gruner Baum one of the 2/3 restuarants in the village (all of which were busy – demand over supply). Wiener Schnitzel was decent, but the braised beef was pretty average. The outdoor seating area is right on the lake which makes it popular.
As a recommendation, I think staying over the river from Hallstatt, in Obertraun may be worthwhile. Hallstatt is beautiful but for less people (and presumably greater value for money), staying over the river could be a better option. I think if I had a car I would have done this, and there are some great spots to be enjoyed if you drive 30 mins out from either place.
The train to Vienna from Hallstatt takes approx 3.5 hours (with 1 change).
Top Things To Do & See in Hallstatt
- Salz Welten (Salt Mine) – a history of salt. You take a mini tram car up to the top of the mountain (and in doing so get great views over the lake) to view the 7000 year old Salt Mine.
The tour itself is pretty cool – you walk down a series of tunnels and the tour guide does their best to entertain. I found it fairly informative but there were quite a few ‘presentations’ at different points which got a bit monotonous after a while.
You do get to take two ‘slides’ down the mine – the last of which is about 65m long and you hit speeds of 30mph+ which is good fun. You also take a small train out of the mine in what can only be described as the narrowest tunnel in existent – I had to keep my head ducked down at all times to ensure it remained attached to my body.
Cost wise – at c. €30 its probably justifiable depending on your own proclivities to all things sodium related.
- World Heritage View – situated near to the Salt Mine is a viewing platform which extends over the edge of the mountain towards the lake. Stunning views and worth the walk to do it.
- Boat Trip – I didn’t catch the name of the place that rents the boats but for about €20 you can hire a small electric boat for an hour. There is no better way to experience the Lake than to be on it. You literally have the freedom to go explore which is the best way to spend an hour or so.
Check out this short video I put together below.