The lovely village on the shores of Lake Hallstatt (Hallstätter See) has thrived from salt production since prehistoric times. Today there are more tourists than salt miners.
The village occupies a strip of land at the water’s edge, and the houses hang on the steep rock face. Hallstatt is small, and exploring even the back alleys will not require more than a couple of hours including a cake and cup of coffee. Nonetheless, take your time and enjoy the place.
Hall is an old word for salt, consequently giving name to the village. Furthermore, salt is the reason for the 7000 years interest in the place. The oldest buildings in the village, such as the church Maria am Berg originates from the 15th century. Many other buildings from the centuries thereafter. Since it has a UNESCO World Heritage status the village has been very well preserved. It’s an indeed a lovely place to leisurely roam for a couple of hours. However, you are not giving Hallstatt all the attention it deserves, if you only explore it from land.
Cruise the lake
I do strongly recommend that you hire an electric boat and cruise the like for an hour or so. The reward is not only that you get away from the tourist crowds, but also you get a completely new viewpoint. From the lake, you can really appreciate the traditional houses and how they almost tack on top of each other. If you aren’t comfortable boating yourself, you can always take the small ferry that makes its regular rounds on the lake. Until the road was built in 1890, the only way to reach Hallstatt was by boat or a narrow and treacherous path along the shore. Nonetheless, roaming around the picturesque village is just half of the Hallstatt experience. A visit to the salt mine is obligatory.
Click on the images to enlarge >>
Inside the salt mine
A mountain railway (funicular) takes you up to the salt mines and viewing platforms in a few minutes. When you have soaked in the stunning views, it’s time to go underground. Salzwelten, gives you a great insight to all aspects of salt mining. At 400 metres depth, there is a cinema show casing many of the discoveries made in the mine, among other an ancient wooden stair case and other impressive archaeology. The expositions are very interesting, but even more is the slide down into the mine and returning up with the salt mine train.
Book you tickets online
Hallstatt from above
Either before or after your visit to the salt mine you just must get out on the skywalk. I never get tired of the spectacular views everywhere in Austria. Skywalk’s have become very popular in the Alps, and of course they have also constructed a viewing platform above Hallstatt. The views of the village, the lake and the surrounding mountains are simply stunning. If you are staying a day or two in the area, the new part of the village has some useful services, in addition to accommodation and restaurants.
The old and new settlement of Hallstatt are about 300 metres apart. In the new part of Hallstatt, you find the Salzbergbahn funicular station, a Tourist Information Centre, the bus station and a large car park. If you need a supermarket you find this here as well. On hot summer day, you can take a swim and chill out in the public park by the water. It has a lovely little island perfect for sun-bathing.
There is not much you can use a World War II air defence tower for. Nonetheless, in Vienna they have managed to make something sensible out of at least one of the six crude concrete towers that the German army left behind. “The house of the sea”, as it is called in English (Haus des […]
I arrived in Bad Waltersdorf a sunny and warm day in late June. Even though it was really too hot for a hike with 32 °C (90 °F), the local tourist office suggested a route which partly took me through small forests. And I did not regret taking up the tip, as the so-called Roman […]
If you are travelling on the A9 motorway from the south in the direction of Voralpenkreuz (A1) in the vincinity of Rottenmann, you cannot miss the castle at the top of the cliff. The red and white painted window shutters, defence walls and towers had fit well as a movie backdrop in a Hollywood movie. […]
The highest mountain of Lower Austria, Schneeberg (Snow Mountain), with its 2,076-metre (6.811 ft) high summit Klosterwappen, offers family friendly hiking and stunning views. Only about 80 kms (50 mi) from Vienna it’s a popular hiking destination for the Viennese, as well as for travellers. Hence, I boarded the yellow and green salamander train and headed up to Schneeberg. Arriving […]