Planning to spend one day in Hallstatt and wondering what to do? Here are my travel tips and Hallstatt itinerary.
Hallstatt Austria, my friend: You’re about to experience a real-life fairy tale.
The lakeside town of Hallstatt is the most beautiful place in Austria. Whether you’re visiting from Salzburg or Vienna or as part of a road trip, it’s easy and most definitely worth spending a day here.
In this article, I’ll give you all the travel info you need to plan your trip.
Let’s get started.
Introduction to Hallstatt
Hallstatt is unique in more than one way.
It’s a charming little lake village with vibrant houses, yes. But did you know that it’s more than 7,000 years old?
That’s right. There’s even a period in history named after it – the Hallstatt period (800-400 BC).
Hallstatt is home to the oldest salt mine in the world and considered to be one of the oldest still inhabited settlements in Europe. For this reason, UNESCO deemed Hallstatt worth to be preserved in 1997.
Is one day in Hallstatt enough?
Yes. You can see everything in Hallstatt in one day.
But if you’d like to experience the area around Hallstatt, like Dachstein Krippenstein or really just soak the scenery in, consider spending the night here. A benefit of spending more than one day in Hallstatt is that you can venture out early in the morning and evening when the town is quiet and tourists are gone.
Is Hallstatt worth visiting?
Yes, a thousand times yes!
Just know that Hallstatt is no hidden gem. Tourists HAVE already discovered Hallstatt and they flock here during the summer. So, to have a good experience, you need to adjust your expectations and travel smart.
To travel smart, get there as early in the morning as possible! Have an itinerary ready. Visit the salt mines in the afternoon when it’s hot. And try not to visit in the high season (July and August). I visited in May and while there were people there it wasn’t super crowded.
How to get to Hallstatt
Lake Hallstatt, Austria is easy to visit on a day trip from Salzburg. You can also visit Hallstatt from Vienna although it’s further away. If you leave in the morning, you can get there from Salzburg in a few hours by car, bus or train & ferry. At first glance, it might seem complicated, but I promise, it’s very easy.
Salzburg to Hallstatt
Getting to Hallstatt from Salzburg is easy. You can either take the bus all the way (2,15 hours) or go by train and ferry (2,30 hours).
By bus: Take Bus 150 from Salzburg to Bad Ischl. Then change to Bus 542 or 543 towards Gosaumühle/Hallstatt.
By train: Take the train to Attnang-Puchheim. Then change to the train towards Hallstatt train station. At the train station, take the ferry to Hallstatt port. (I took this option and it was super easy).
Vienna to Hallstatt
By train (3,22 hours): Take the train to Attnang-Puchheim. Then change to the train towards Hallstatt train station. At the train station, take the ferry to Hallstatt port.
What to do in Hallstatt
Find the iconic viewpoint
If you’ve seen a picture of Hallstatt, it probably looks like this ↓
It’s the most iconic viewpoint in Hallstatt and it can’t be missed! Go there to take a photo or just admire the stunning view. It’s located on Gosaumühlstrasse, an easy 5-minute walk (290m) from the central square.
The Central Square (Marktplatz)
Your one day in Hallstatt should include a visit to the historical town square. It’s really tiny and so, so cute. Think colourful houses, small cafés and a picturesque architecture with a statue of the Holy Trinity in the centre of the plaza.
This was once a bustling medieval nexus of trade and commerce.
Walk around Hallstatt
Afterwards, I recommend following the small alleyways through town. Simply wander by the host of old buildings marked by balconies and steep roofs. There are lots of unique things to notice, which brings us to….
Austrian swans and owls
Try noticing the many swans and owl figurines all around Hallstatt. I also saw a swan mom with her babies.
Fun fact: The swans (or their great-grand swan parents) were imported here in the 1860s by the Austrian Empress Sisi when she vacated here. She, like her cousin the Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, was obsessed with swans. Remember I introduced you to Ludwig a few weeks ago? He loved swans so much that he named his favourite castle Neuschwanstein (New Swan Stone Castle).
And then there were the owls; on doors, on balconies and on the ground. They are everywhere.
The Bone House
The most fascinating and alternative attraction in Hallstatt is no doubt the charnel house or ‘Bone House’ in St. Michael’s Chapel. And yes, it’s EXACTLY as bizarre as it sounds. The charnel house is filled with bones and human skulls.
As mentioned above, Hallstatt Austria dates back to the early Iron Age (800-400 BC) and is considered the oldest still-inhabited village in Europe. And all these people who have lived here in later times, well, they obviously need a final resting place. They couldn’t all be at the cemetery so the villagers built the bone house.
The bone house has an unusual collection of over 600 artistically painted skulls and even more bones. Most of the skulls were painted in the 18th century, but a few of them are from the 20th century.
Every skull was decorated with inscriptions and paint by the deceased family members. Depending on their relationship, the skulls were painted with names, leafs or initials.
The Evangelical church is a protestant church commissioned in 1785. It’s special because it was built in a catholic region, but Emperor Franz Joseph I allowed Protestants to practice their religion.
The church is located in the city centre and worth a visit.
- Funicular Round Trip: €20
- Regular opening hours: 9am-6pm (27/3-26/9). Other hours for the rest of the year
Once you’ve spent a few hours in the town, it’s time to head up to see Hallstatt from above! Find the funicular to the top to see the oldest salt mine in the world OR walk there. The hike takes about 1 hour.
At the top, there’s a large patio hanging 360 meters above the town and Lake Hallstatt – this is the Hallstatt skywalk. There’s such an impressive mountain scenery from the top that even if you’re not visiting the salt mine, you should go there for the view!
Visit the world’s oldest salt mine
Close by is the salt mine where miners once did their heavy labour. In the mine is a salt lake and the finding place of the Mann in Salz (the man in salt); a well-preserved corpse of a man discovered in 1734 by miners.
I liked the idea of visiting the world’s oldest salt mine, but the tour itself mostly consisted of videos and explanations. It seemed a super fun attraction for kids, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to fellow travelers – unless you’re bringing the whole family or are very interested in salt mine history. For me personally, it was too much of a kids attraction.
Take a boat trip
Your one day in Hallstatt is almost up. But if you have time, I suggest taking a boat trip on Lake Hallstatt (Hallstätter See). I was lucky to see Hallstatt from the lake when I arrived by ferry and it’s really beautiful!
Hallstatt island (bathing island)
Before you leave for the day, go to Hallstatt island to see the town from a different angle. This little island is connected to the mainland by two small bridges.
It’s a 10-minute walk from Hallstatt market square.
When I visited (in May), I was the only one there, expect for a few local fishermen. But this might not be the case if you visit in the high season.
Swimming in Lake Hallstatt
If the weather permits it, you can swim in Lake Hallstatt. The place for it is Hallstatt island where you can enjoy a cool swim, relax or maybe have a picnic. For families, there’s an adjacent playground.
See Hallstatt from above the rooftops!
For a different view of Hallstatt, go above the rooftops! Not a whole lot of people know that you can do this, so you can escape the crowds here!
Look for some stairs and climb them. Once up, there’s a walking path above the rooftops where you can look down on the lake and buildings below.
Many thanks to Hallstatt Tourism Board for welcoming and providing me with an entrance pass to the salt mines in Hallstatt. All opinions are my own.
Spending more than one day in Hallstatt? Ask me anything in the comments!
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