The Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut area has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List with the following inscription : "Human activity in the magnificent natural landscape of the Salzkammergut began in prehistoric times, with the salt deposits being exploited as early as the 2nd millennium BC. This resource formed the basis of the area’s prosperity up to the middle of the 20th century, a prosperity that is reflected in the fine architecture of the town of Hallstatt."
Hallstatt was the site of an early Iron Age culture from 800 to 400 BC, which is known as the Hallstatt Era. Hallstatt is considered to be the oldest still-inhabited village in Europe.
In addition to its ancient history, Hallstatt is spectacularly picturesque, due to its location on a narrow rocky west bank of the Hallstätter See with the sheer rising mountains behind it. Considered by some to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, Hallstatt is sometimes called "the pearl of Austria".
During the "off season", few shops and restaurants are open, and in some periods it might even be difficult to find a place to stay. Advance reservations would help ensure acceptable accommodations and avoid a worrisome search for an open hotel.
Since the release of Disney's Frozen films, Hallstatt's 780 residents have been feeling the effects of over-tourism. Although the town has no connection to the film franchise (fans should go to Norway instead), the town has a superficial resemblance to a town in the film. Residents have complained that the one million tourists each year, many of whom merely drive into town, take a few pictures, and leave a few minutes later, are damaging and exploiting the town.
To get there by train is most scenic indeed. From the main line between Salzburg and Vienna (2 or 3 trains per hour), get off at Attnang-Puchheim. Take a connecting train from here towards Bad Ischl and Obertraun (trains are sometimes labelled "Stainach-Irdning"). Get off at the Hallstatt station, which looks more like a halt in the woods, and find yourself on the other side of the lake with a gorgeous view on the town. A regular ferry service will meet each arriving train and take you to the town across the lake (price: €2.40 one way). One of the best views of Hallstatt is from this ferry ride across the lake, especially in the morning when the sun is turning the town orange and yellow. Beware the weather: in winter the lake may freeze, hence no boat. In this case, ask at the station or the train conductor.
When leaving, the boat takes you back to the tiny train station, where you may take the train back to Attnang-Puchheim and transfer to your next destination. The boat meets each train leaving the station, and the schedule is posted at the boat dock, or it also is available at tourist information. The tourist information office can provide further information about train schedules since the train station is likely unmanned (and it is across the lake). Buy your tickets at the vending machine at the station (but only with cash) or in advance – this is a self-service line and you have to get a ticket before boarding. Arriving at Attnang-Puchheim, check the departures screens for your onward journey. But be prepared, the transfer may be fast, as Attnang-Puchheim is not a big station, and the passing trains will not stop for long.
If you are based in Austria and want to visit Hallstatt in only one day, a cheap option is the Einfach Raus Ticket (€32 for up to 5 persons), allowing unlimited train rides throughout Austria for a whole day (from 09:00 to 03:00 the next day). You can only take regional trains (R or REX), but fortunately such trains circulate on most lines in Austria. The train from Attnang-Puchheim to Hallstatt is of course a regional train too.
As of 2020, the town is limiting bus tours and requiring most groups to stay in the town for at least two hours, with the result that both prices and the overall quality of the trip may rise.
Budweis-shuttle, ShuttleCeskyKrumlov and CK shuttle  Czechshuttle.com, offers a door-to-door transportation service from Český Krumlov to Hallstatt and back for €39–81 per person (Dec 2018), depending on the number of passengers. The ride takes about three hours.
By taxi or car
A street passes through a tunnel in the mountain above the town. There is underground parking available here.
- Walk. There is only one road through the town; and automobile traffic is usually not allowed May to October, 10:00 to 17:00, when Hallstatt is essentially car-free. You can easily walk from one end of the town to the other in about a half hour.
- 1 Hallstatt Museum. A small but interesting museum displaying 7000 years of Hallstatt history.
- 2 Ossuary (Beinhaus). "Bone House" in English. Due to the extremely limited space in the cemetery, burials are only temporary. After 10-15 years the grave is opened and the bones are removed and bleached in the sun. Then they are stacked in the Beinhaus. It's not as gruesome as it sounds. Skulls are often decorated with painted flowers and the family name. This practice was stopped in the 1970s with the approval of cremation by the catholic church - you will see that those who remain buried all have recent dates of death.
- See the town. Enjoy the peace and quiet of the town. Have lunch in a cafe next to the lake and feed the swans. Window shop.
- Visit the salt caves. Hallstatt Salt Worlds will take you into the more than 250-year-old salt mines to explore its underground beauty.
- Hallstättersee-Schifffahrt Hemetsberger, ☏ . Take a tour on the Lake of Hallstatt
- Hiking. There are many hiking trails in the mountains behind Hallstatt and throughout the Salzkammergut area. Ask at the Tourist Information office for a good hiking map as it can be easy to get lost in the rapidly changing alpine weather.
- Rock climbing.
- Children. There is a very nice lakeside playground about 500 m south of town with free WC, swimming, sunbathing, and the best views of town you'll see without going on a boat.
- 1 Ice caves. In Dachstein, across the lake from Hallstatt, there are caves with ice waterfalls, lakes and ponds streaming through the limestone. Be sure to bring a jacket or sweater.
Fish from Lake Hallstatt.
The restaurant in Gasthof Zauner has very good local fish on the menu.
The local Fassbier (tap beer) is from Salzburg: Stiegl. This is available throughout Austria, however. A more interesting regional beer to try is "König Ludwig Dunkel Brau" (King Ludwig Dark Brew) which is not as widely available, although you will find it also in Tirol, to the west. Stop by the local grocery store "Konsum" (which is in Lahn) to check out the local selection of beers and wines without paying restaurant prices.
It seems that almost every family runs a bed and breakfast. Find one high on the hill with a good view of the lake and valley. The sight of the lake at dawn is not to be forgotten.
Also try Obertraun, directly opposite Hallstatt on the lake. It is easily reached by ferry or train. The village offers good quality accommodation at cheaper rates, try the Obertrauner Hof in the centre with good access to shops, banks, and a tourist office.
Prices start at €20 with breakfast. Automatic online booking is rare.
- Salzburg, from where you can continue into Germany
- Vienna, from where the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia are accessible.
|Routes through Hallstatt|
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