Looking at the pictures of Hallstatt in Austria you might think it’s a village straight out of a fairy tale. Located on the shore of a lake and surrounded by mountains Hallstatt is beautiful at any time of the year – covered in snow, painted by autumn colors or warmed up by sunlight and green colors in summer.
You can go for a walk around the village and take a funicular to a lookout with stunning views. Visit the oldest salt mine in the world or take a boat tour on the lake. We visited this little town in summer as a side trip from Salzburg. In this post we would like to share how to visit Hallstatt – a fairy tale village in Austria – in one day.
How to get to Hallstatt
Hallstatt is located in Austria’s mountainous region between two big Austrian cities Salzburg and Gratz. It’s a 1-1.5hr drive from Salzburg and 2-2.5hr drive from Gratz, making Hallstatt a perfect one day trip from either of these two cities.
During our visit we have stayed in Salzburg and simply rented a car to make few trips from there. See my other post on 5 Best one-day trips from Salzburg
Alternatively, if you don’t want to drive by any reason you can take a train to either Hallstatt Bahnhof or Obertraun Dachsteinhöhlen Bahnhof stations. From the station take a ferry to Hallstatt town center.
If you’re travelling by car keep in mind that Hallstatt is a small village and there are not that many car parks within the town. I’d advise to arrive early if you want to avoid parking your car outside of Hallstatt town. We have parked at Hallstatt Parking P2 (Kohlstattweg, 4830 Hallstatt, Austria). But you can just follow the signs for the parking direction, that you will see after entering the town.
Hallstatt Salzwelten (salt mine)
Historically Hallstatt was known for its salt mines. Salt production in Hallstatt’s Salzwelten dates back to the prehistoric times making it the oldest salt mine in the world.
You can take a tour of Salzwelten if you are visiting outside of winter times (the mine is closed for winter).
To get to the salt mine you need to take Salzbergbahn funicular (Salt Mine Railway funicular). Entrance to the funicular is next to the car park (if you parked at Parking P2). Round trip on the funicular is included into the salt mine ticket.
Check the prices and opening times at the Salzwelten website.
Salzbergbahn funicular and Skywalk Lookout
We didn’t go to the salt mine but wanted to take a funicular to Skywalk Lookout high above the village.
You can buy ‘funicular only’ tickets (no need to buy Salzwelten tour) down at the Salt Mine visitor center from where the funicular starts its ascending to the top.
It takes under 5 minutes for the funicular to reach the top. Follow the signs to go to the Skywalk viewing platform to admire unforgettable views of Hallstatt lying down below, the lake and the mountains before you.
Allow about 30-60 minutes for the round trip on the funicular and spending time at the Skywalk Lookout taking in the views.
Walk along Hallstatt Lake
After admiring Hallstatt and its surroundings from the high above take a closer look at the village. Head towards the Hallstatt Lake and take a walk along the main street of the town.
You will notice that residential houses of Hallstatt are stacked on top of each other on the mountain slopes. There was never much land between the mountain and the lake, so residents had to use the land wisely. Until the 19th century it was not even possible to reach the town by road.
Enjoy views of the lake and have an ice cream if you’re travelling at a warm season. Stop at one of the souvenir shops along the way or have a meal at a waterfront cafe.
Strolling down the Seestrasse we reached the central square of Hallstatt – Marktplatz. It’s a small but lovely place in the center of the town surrounded by charming neat houses with blooming flowers on their balconies in summer.
It was a hot summer day, so we took a short break in a shade at Marktplatz. The square has Holy Trinity fountain in the middle, few seat benches and the traditional Austrian houses to rest your eyes on.
There is a city museum just before the Marktplatz at Seestrasse 56. You can visit it to learn about the history of Hallstatt town and its surrounding area.
Across the Seestrasse from the museum is Janu sports shop. The shop is a place of interest because there is a small archaeological area beneath the shop. The archaeological remains have been discovered during construction works under the shop and now are on display at the shop undergrounds (the access is free).
Continue walking from the Marktplatz up to the classic village viewpoint – where you can take pictures like the one at the top of my post.
Please be a mindful tourist and don’t trespass private property – we saw quite a few tourists going on private porches, staircases and piers just to take a better picture.
On the way back from the photo viewpoint have a stop at a bit spooky but fascinating place – Beinhaus (Bone House) at the Hallstatt’s historic cemetery. Beinhaus is a relatively small room with big collection of human bones and painted skulls.
As I mentioned before, Hallstatt historically had a shortage of land space and therefore there were limited places for burial at the town’s cemetery. When the cemetery was running out of space the remains were dug out, bones and skulls cleaned and moved to the ossuary (Beinhaus) for storage. Thereby freeing up the space for new burials.
If you are hesitant of entering Beinhaus you can still get up to the cemetery. If not for historical sightseeing but at least for a nice view of the town and the lake.
5 Fingers Lookout
We have finished in the afternoon and instead of going back to Salzburg we went to a lookout high in the Alps – 5 Fingers Lookout.
Though the lookout is not in Hallstatt village, it’s only a 20 minutes drive from there. It has spectacular views of Hallstatt Lake and the mountains around.
5 Fingers Lookout (the name comes from the 5 viewing platforms) is located high in the mountains at about 400m above the ground. You can take a cable car from Obertraun that takes you up high to the Alps, and then a short walk to the viewing platform itself.
See ‘Trip 2’ section of my 5 Best one-day trips from Salzburg post to read more about 5 Fingers Lookout.