Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

I must say, I was a pretty lucky girl to get to spend my 32nd birthday in Hallstatt. This little Austrian village, tightly nestled between a lake and mountain range, is a place I have wanted to visit ever since I first saw a photo of it. You know the one…

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

When it came time to choosing destinations for our five week honeymoon in Europe, Hallstatt was at the top of my list. When I mentioned visiting Hallstatt to Mike, his response was “Where’s that? I’ve never heard of it.” So, I showed him some photos of it and he was immediately lobbying to spend an entire week there. That’s why I love photography so much- it’s not only a great means of discovering new places, but it can make you fall in love with somewhere you never even knew existed!

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

After three weeks of exploring some of Europe’s bustling cities, we were definitely ready for some down time surrounded by nature.

“I can’t wait to get to Hallstatt and relax by the lake,” Mike would say. Even I, who am a bit of a tornado when I travel, trying to take in as much as possible, was ready for a break from all the sightseeing.

Turns out my desire for a calm, more laid back travel experience would be short lived. As our train got closer and closer to Hallstatt, I couldn’t help but get excited for our arrival. I had my face pressed up against the window as we rattled past large blue lakes, grey rocky mountains and the greenest grass I had seen in a long time.

travelyesplease.com | View from the train on route to Hallstatt, Austria

“This is exactly what I pictured Austria would be like,” I exclaimed over my shoulder to Mike, who was contentedly reading a book.

“Put your book away. You’re missing all the gorgeous scenery!” I blurted out.

So there we were, two excited travellers staring out the window in anticipation of arriving at a place we had admired in photographs for so long.

Arriving in Hallstatt

The train station for Hallstatt is located across the lake, so we had to take a small ferry to reach the town. It’s a great way to arrive because the views you get from the lake are gorgeous!

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

As soon as we set foot in Hallstatt we could sense the unique atmosphere of the town. We quickly walked to our hotel, which overlooked the lake on one side and historic market square on the other, and got ready to explore Hallstatt and its main attractions!

Hallstatt Lake

The first thing we did after checking into our hotel was rent a small electric boat and go out on Hallstatt Lake. It was 25 degrees so we wanted to take advantage of the warm weather. It was nice to just stop the boat, soak up the sun and admire the beautiful views. The peaceful lake surrounded by majestic mountains reminded us of our home province of Alberta.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village | Hallstatt Lake

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village | Hallstatt Lake

We could have stayed on the glistening lake forever, but we wanted to go hiking since it was forecasted to rain the next day (and boy did it ever!)

Hiking in Hallstatt

There are a lot of great hiking options in and around Hallstatt and we were disappointed we couldn’t do more of it because of the heavy rain.

Although we didn’t do any hardcore hiking, we did take the funicular up the mountain and explore the trails above town. This is also where the salt mine is, one of Hallstatt’s main tourist attractions. We didn’t visit the mine because it closed at 3:00 pm, but did get to enjoy the viewing platform.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

The observation deck is shaped like a triangle, the point hanging off over the edge of a cliff. It was nerve-racking to stand at the very end, but the stunning views did a great job of distracting me from my fear of falling.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village | Hallstatt Lake

After marvelling at the views, we took a walk around the area and then hiked our way down the mountain back to town. Parts of the trail were in pretty rough shape and steep in places, so we had to be careful not to slip.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

We walked past a small waterfall and a pipeline used to bring the salt down the mountain. There are a lot of signs along the trail explaining the history of Hallstatt and its salt mining industry.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

I’m glad we chose to walk down instead of taking the funicular because I was able to get some pictures of Hallstatt from above.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

The Town of Hallstatt- History and Our Mixed Impressions

People have lived in Hallstatt for thousands of years. When Rome was just a village, Hallstatt was already a thriving community. The town’s prosperity came from salt mining, which began in the middle of the Bronze Age, continued through Roman times, and was revived in the 14th century.

Hallstatt remains a living community, where history and traditions have been preserved by the locals who love their town.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

Unfortunately, it might have been the locals’ love for their town contributed to us feeling unwelcome at times. I understand wanting to preserve the authenticity of a place as special as Hallstatt, not wanting it to become overrun with tourists. But at the same time, tourism now plays a major role in the local economy and visitors who contribute to that should be treated respectfully.

Instead, we were greeted by grumpy, short tempered hotel staff, and shop keepers and restaurant servers who acted like they didn’t want us there. Not everyone was unfriendly of course, but there were enough encounters to make it stand out. Believe me, I really wish I didn’t have to say this, but it’s part of our story in Hallstatt.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

We had one instance that was really quite shocking. At Cafe Derbl (popular place, right on the main square), we sat for quite a while without being acknowledged. The menus were on a counter right beside our table so Mike took one. When the waiter finally came by he rudely grabbed the menu right out of Mike’s hand! He then asked us what we wanted to drink but would not take our food order. All I wanted was a piece of cake for my birthday! So we walked out after our drinks were done and went to the Heritage Hotel for dinner instead (where the people were friendly and the food was delicious!)

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

What to See in Hallstatt

You can easily explore Hallstatt in less than a day, but you should stay longer (if the weather is good) to fully appreciate its charms and tranquility of the surrounding nature. Here are some places to see in Hallstatt!

Market Square

The heart of Hallstatt is the historic Market Square. Its foundations date back to the 14th century, but most of the colourful houses were built during the 16th century. In the centre of the square is the Holy Trinity Column, erected in 1743.travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Villagetravelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Villagetravelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

Evangelical Parish Church

This church is one of the most recognized landmarks in Hallstatt. It was constructed in the 18th century, taking five years to build.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

Catholic Parish Church

There was evidence of Christian worship here around 1050 but the first church on this site wasn’t built until 1181. The Maria Hilf pilgrimage church was consecrated in 1320. The cemetery here is actually quite beautiful and provides some nice views of Hallstatt!

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

Charnel House

Charnel House, or simply Beinhaus (Bone House), is one of Hallstatt’s treasures. It’s among the last of such places in all of Austria and contains a remarkable collection of painted skulls. Since the graveyard is so small, skeletons are unearthed ten years after burial, and moved to the ossuary. The skulls are then decorated with symbols and the person’s date of death. It’s a hauntingly beautiful display worth a look.

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village | Beinhaus

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village | Beinhaus

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village | Beinhaus

Pictures of Hallstatt

I don’t want your last of impression of Hallstatt to be a room full of painted skulls, so here are some more photos of Hallstatt, a lovely Alpine village!

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Villagetravelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

Final Thoughts About Our Trip to Hallstatt

In spite of a few unpleasant encounters with the locals, and some equally unpleasant weather, we enjoyed our trip to Hallstatt. It’s a very small town with a lot of narrow, twisty streets that were fun to wander. There wasn’t a whole lot for us to do here on a rainy day though. There are a few shops and a museum, neither of which are our thing. At least we had one afternoon of nice weather so we could spend some time outside.

Tips for Visiting Hallstatt

  • Hallstatt is easily reached by train from Vienna and Salzburg. The train station is across the lake and ferries are timed to coincide with the trains. Return ferry times are posted at the ferry station and around town.
  • The bus stop is located in the suburb of Lahn, a 10 minute lakeside walk south of the town centre.
  • The funicular to the salt mines operates from mid-April to mid-September 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, and 9:00 am – 4:30 pm mid-September to the end of October. You can board it in the suburb of Lahn.
  • The salt mine opens at 9:30 am with the last tour beginning at 4:30 pm from mid-April to mid-September, and 3:00 pm mid-September to the end of October.
  • The tourist office is at 169 Seestrasse and can advise on hiking routes.
  • We recommend a trip to the nearby Dachstein Ice Cave.

Tours to Hallstatt

Here is a trusted site where you can book tours to Hallstatt from Salzburg or Vienna.

Accommodations in Hallstatt

For your convenience, here is a list of hotels in Hallstatt. Please consider booking your Hallstatt accommodations through the included link. It costs you nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!

travelyesplease.com | Hallstatt, Austria- A Picturesque Lakeside Alpine Village

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  • We all travel together - I’ve always wanted to go to Hallstatt too. Your pictures are beautiful. Too bad touristy towns don’t always have the best hospitality.March 24, 2014 – 1:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - What incredible photos! This looks like a town right out of a fairytale. Will definitely be adding this to my must-see list. Thanks for the tips!March 25, 2014 – 10:16 amReplyCancel

  • Marsha - Fantastic photos! This really seems like a little gem of a town. Although that is too bad some of the locals were rude; will have to keep that in mind when I visit. Love the skulls – so interesting!March 25, 2014 – 12:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Sand In My Suitcase - This little Austrian village looks absolutely charming! And perfect to take the funicular up to the top of the mountain and hike down. Definitely remembering this one…March 26, 2014 – 9:38 amReplyCancel

  • Erin and Jeff - We love Hallstatt. We rarely return to the same place twice, but we’ve actually been to Hallstatt three times! It’s a beautiful place to relax and it really feels like whatever we expected Europe to be when we’re there. . Such a bummer you had some bad experiences there but glad you were still able to make the most of it. It’s a pretty magical little place.March 26, 2014 – 3:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - Three times! Wow…lucky you! I could see ourselves going back there one day. Mike and I love the outdoors, especially the mountains. And you are right, it is a magical little place to relax.March 26, 2014 – 3:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Bridget @ GreenGlobalTravel - Amazing photos! Hallstatt sounds like a great place to visit. Definitely going on my list! Thanks for sharingMarch 30, 2014 – 1:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Toccara Maytrott Best - We’ll be spending a day in Hallstatt this summer! I had fun reading your post about this charming town. I hoping to have nothing but pleasant memories after our visit! :)April 1, 2014 – 2:59 amReplyCancel

  • Frank - Beautiful, I’ve wanted to go to Hallstatt. But what a shame about the miserable people, that always puts a damper on things. Usually a sign of a place getting too popular for its own good.
    Frank (bbqboy)April 12, 2014 – 12:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - I keep trying to convince Tim to go to Hallstatt. It’s only about 4 hours from where we live in Italy. He keeps countering with “But what is there to DO there?” and hiking might just seal the deal for at least an overnight.April 28, 2014 – 2:05 amReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - Between the hiking and caves at Dachstein, there is definitely enough to keep you busy for a weekend (as long as the weather is good!) I didn’t think there would be so much to do there either, but we easily could have stayed another day.April 28, 2014 – 7:22 amReplyCancel

  • Cessy Garcia - The photos are amazing. They make me want to go Hallstatt now and live there for a month or so. Lovely blog. :)June 22, 2014 – 6:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Tasoula Fazoula - I loved your article…Well done!August 12, 2014 – 12:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Karen Gough - Your photos made me want to visit Hallstatt, but then when I read about your unfortunate encounters with some of the locals – well I’m not so sure now. People can make all the difference good or bad. Also the painted skulls – wow. I’m all for appreciating the dead, but that just seems morbid to me. I like it for them though! Thanks for sharing your wonderful blog.October 29, 2014 – 9:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Elliott - Your photos are absolutely breathtaking! Hallstatt is a very beautiful place! Thank you so much for sharing. :)October 30, 2016 – 3:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Martina - Amazing blog post! Your pics are just amazing – I really love Hallstatt too :)December 2, 2017 – 2:47 pmReplyCancel

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