Are you looking for the best things to do in Hallstatt, Austria?
Hallstatt, Austria is the 7000 year old, fairytale mountain village on the Hallstättersee. Hallstatt sits in the Salzkammergut mountain region, just east of Salzburg.
There are many things to do in Hallstatt, including relaxing by the lake! Hallstatt is known for its charming 16th Century Alpine cottages, breathtaking views, and a whole host of summer and winter activities.
It’s one of Europe’s most beautiful towns with picture perfect scenery all year round.
Is visiting Hallstatt, Austria worth it?
Absolutely! Hallstatt is home to incredible history including the world’s oldest working salt mine, prehistoric burial sites, and Austria’s prettiest lake.
Another great thing about Hallstatt is that it is a perfect spot on any Central European itinerary. Hallstatt is about 3 hour drive from Vienna, a 3 hour and 20 min drive from Ljubljana, and under a 3 hour drive from Lake Bled!
It’s named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its remarkable past and stunning present. Spend one day, or two enjoying the best things to do in Hallstatt.
#1 Stroll Through Old Town & Market Square
Along the narrow strip between the hillside and the lake are shops, restaurants, and hotels. Wander down side streets and into the neighborhoods. Look for a waterfall cascading between homes and find lakeside cafes for lunch and drinks.
#2 See the Evangelische Pfarrkirche Hallstatt/
The Evangelical Church of Hallstatt
The most prominent feature of the town is the famous steeple that graces every photo of Hallstatt.
The Evangelical Church, was built in 1785 and hosts masses in German and English. Check the schedule, because there are often concerts at the church.
Listening to the local choir who were dressed in traditional costume, is one of my most cherished memories.
#3 Take a Boat Ride on Lake Hallstatt
You’ll find many boat tour options on the lake. I recommend renting the small electric boat for just €17 for 30 minutes.
Look for the boat dock directly across from the supermarket, in front of the bus stop.
#4 Visit the Saltzwelton Salt Mines and SkyWalk
Take the Salzbergbahn Funicular from the Valley Station in Hallstatt to reach the mines and the Skywalk viewing platform.
Allow about 3 hours for the round trip adventure. Tickets are €36 per/adult and €18 per child ages 4 and up.
There are also combination tickets which make it more affordable for families.
The 7000 year old salt mines in Hallstatt are the oldest active salt mines in the world.
The tour takes you through caves, tunnels, slides, and on ancient wooden staircase.
Prehistoric remains have been found on the site where “white gold” salt has been carried out of the mountain for centuries.
#5 Visit the Castle Grubb
On the opposite side of the lake from Hallstatt is the famous Schloss Grub Castle. The castle was built in 1522 and is privately owned.
It’s known for the tragic story of two counts fighting over a woman. They were on the frozen lake when the ice broke, and took their lives. A pillar inside the castle is dedicated to the accident.
#6 Visit St. Michael’s Church Ossuary
Known as the Charnel House, an Ossuary Bone House, the chapel of St. Michael’s Church is an unusual, (not for everyone), spot to visit.
It houses over 600 painted skulls. The practice of painting skulls commemorates the dead in an unusual way.
When burial sites became full, remains would be excavated, and a second funeral was held.
The skulls would be painted with the name of the deceased and decorated with flowers. Its kind of cool, and kind of weird, all at the same time!
#7 Dachstein Krippenstein in Obertraun
As you roam around Hallstatt, you’ll be blown away by its beauty, but to be in the high country, above the lake, is a must see experience in my book.
How to get to the Dachstein Glacier from Hallstatt
Find Bus #543 from Hallstatt to Obertraun leaving frequently from the many bus stops in Hallstatt. The bus stop across from the supermarket is obvious and easy to find.
~ The bus takes you directly to the base of the Dachstein cable car in Obertraun.
~ The cable car climbs up to ice caves, views of the Dachstein Glacier, and the hike to the Five Fingers Viewing Platform.
~ You can buy round trip cable car tickets and add the activities you want.
~ The first stop is for the Giant Ice Cave and the Mammut Cave tours and then the top stop is for the easy hike to the Five Fingers Viewing Area.
~ Have some hot chocolate overlooking the glacier, watch paragliders, see mountain sheep, and soak in the views.
~ Dress for cold and possible rain.
~ The ticket prices range from €25 for children to €50 for adults, depending on the combination of activities you choose.
What’s the difference between a Funicular and a Cable Car?
A cable car is like a funicular, however, cable cars are not permanently attached to the cable and can stop independently, unlike a funicular whose cars are attached to the cable.
Where to stay in Hallstatt?
Hallstatt is a great place to spend one day, but I recommend spending the night so you can fit in more activities.
I recommend you stay in one of the many lakeside hotels. Some that have great reviews are:
Hallstatt Hideaway– This is an adult only villa on the lake with a private beach. Only 5 rooms available.
Heritage Hotel – A beautiful 4 star hotel on the lake with breakfast included.
When is the best time to go to
When is the best time to visit Hallstatt? I recommend June – August to take advantage of all the lake activities.
September – October, is ideal with 70 degree temps and fewer tourists.
Spring is rainy, but the temps are mild and the crowds are low.
If you are a snow bunny, go in the Winter and enjoy the magic. Think of the village of Arendelle in Frozen. If the cold never bothered you anyway, then Hallstatt, covered in a blanket of snow, tucked into the Alps, is a perfect place to visit!
How to get to Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt can easily be reached by train or car from Vienna (3+ hour drive), from Salzburg (1 hour drive), or from Schladming (1.5 hour drive). There are trains on Rail Europe and the prices are not bad, but it will take longer.
When renting a car in Europe, we use a Hertz member account. Expect extra fees for dropping off the car in a different city, or a different country. An international drivers license is not necessary.
Is Hallstatt overrun by tourists?
Hallstatt gets a lot of negative press for being overrun with tourism, but I visited in the peak of the summer season, and did not find the crowds to be challenging at all.
Don’t let a fear of tourists influence your decision to go. It would be a shame to miss Hallstatt if you are traveling to the region.
The tourism industry keeps the people of Hallstatt thriving, but because of 30,000 day visitors, you may want to stay overnight.
That way, you can enjoy the evening and morning without the crowds, and space out activities without as much competition.
More Hallstatt Fun Facts
~ The Beinhaus, or bone house, skull decorating began in 1720 and the last skull was painted as recently as 1995!
~ The Hallstatt period in history refers to the Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age.
~ An exact replica of Hallstatt was built in China in 2012.
~ Hallstatt’s population is just over 900 people, but has an estimated 800,000 visitors each year.
- The Euro is the official currency of Austria.
- Plug types are types C and F. Type C is the one with two round pins and Type F is the plug with two round pins and two earth clips on the side.
- The language of Austria is German. Many people speak English, and other European languages, however.
- Cafes, coffee, pastries, cafes, coffee, pastries.
Now you’re ready to discover the best activities and things to do in Hallstatt
In a nutshell…
Hallstatt offers a blend of natural beauty and cultural charm that’s truly unmatched. The picturesque streets, the outdoor adventures, and the serenity of Lake Hallstatt, make this one of my favorite European gems. Definitely add this village to your Austrian itnierary. You won’t be sorry!