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Visiting Hallstatt in Austria

Rob is an avid traveller and self-professed 'man of the world'. He is passionate about his home city, Manchester, & travelling the world.

Hallstatt on the western shore of Lake Hallstatt

Hallstatt on the western shore of Lake Hallstatt

Hallstatt, named after the lake upon which is sits, is one of those quintessentially european fairytale villages. With an incredible mountainous backdrop and a lakeside setting, this small town is truly stunning. When approaching from the water one sees the entire village spread out along the shoreline with the church steeple being the architectural landmark.

Hallstatt is surrounded by salt deposits and there is evidence of salt mining in the vicinity dating back to prehistoric times. Evidence of this surface in the mid 19th century when a salt trader named Johann Georg Ramsauer (1795–1874) discovered a prehistoric burial ground in a salt mine that his company was excavating. The bodies were exhumed and in total the remains of more than 1000 prehistoric humans were found.

Where is Hallstatt Located

Hallstatt is located in the state of Upper Austria and is midway between the cities of Salzburg and Graz. It is a relatively tiny town with a very small land area: the entire town hugs just a small linear strip of land along the shore of the Hallstattersee (Lake Hallstatt). The land quickly runs into the steep-sided mountains that surround the town.

Hallstatt Cemetary

Catholic Church and burial ground in Hallstatt

Catholic Church and burial ground in Hallstatt

The population of the town is only around 750 inhabitants: a number that is dwarfed many times over by the number of visitors year round. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of visitors over the past decade. In 2011 the town recorded, on average, around 1000 visitors per day. Fast forward to 2021 and that number is now roughly between 10,000 30,000 visitors per day depending on the season.

The town is famous throughout Europe and has a special place in the hearts of many Chinese people who like to romanticise about the idyllic fairytale-like qualities of the town. In fact, there is a replica version of Hallstatt in China located in the town of Louyang in Boluo County, part of the city of Huizhou, Guangdong.

This has a part to play in the increase in numbers. When the Mayor of Hallstatt discovered the plans to create a Chinese housing developed modelled on Hallstatt, he saw an opportunity to boost tourism. An agreement was signed between the two Hallstatt's and ever since more and more Chinese have been drawn to visit the 'original' Hallstatt.

Many of the Hallstatt locals have become frustrated by the ever-growing numbers of tourists visiting their little town. The church, which is open to visitors, but which is also used for regular church services by locals, even started to deploy bouncers at one point to stop services from being disrupted by wandering groups of tourists.

Hallstatt Skywalk 'World Heritage View'

Skywalk Hallstatt viewing platform above the lake

Skywalk Hallstatt viewing platform above the lake

Located 350 meters above the rooves of the Hallstatt dwellings is the Hallstatt Skywalk, otherwise known as the World Heritage View owing to the fact that this looks down over a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a pleasant walk up from the town, through woodland trails. But rest assured, there is a cafe and restaurant at the top so you can reward yourself with a refreshing beverage and bite to eat. The skywalk may not be for the faint hearted or those suffering with vertigo. Once you step onto the steel platform there is nothing but air between you and the town some 350 meters below.

Hotels in Hallstatt

Hallstatt town square

Hallstatt town square

There are a few hotels and B&Bs located in the centre of Hallstatt and many more, including properties available through airbnb, located in the wider Welterberegion Hallstatt-Dachstein region. Expect to pay a lot of money for accommodation in the town itself and be sure to book well in advance.

Looking down over the World Heritage View

Looking down over the World Heritage View

Hallstatt is a car-free zone during day-time hours: a ban that also applies to those staying in hotels and guesthouses in the town. However, those with a valid booking in the centre are eligible to make use of the shuttle service that connects to the surrounding car parks outside the town. Even if you don't have a booking the car parks are located not far from the town so it's still a relatively short and pleasant walk to the centre.

Another option is to park on the opposite side of the lake. There is a large car park here and a ferry that crosses the lake back and forth every few minutes. This gives visitors the added bonus of enjoying the full vista of the town and makes for an incredible photo opportunity.

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Further reading

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  • Visiting the Evacuated City of Pripyat in the Cherno...
    A photographic guide to the evacuated ghost city of Pripyat in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. This article explains how you can enter this abandoned city and take a look around at the old buildings and see the Chernobyl Power Plant.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Robert Clarke


Robert Clarke (author) from UK on August 31, 2021:

Hi cvanthul, yes I think you're right: it probably does look lovely in winter - I bet it would be nice to visit at Christmas, especially when it snows.

Robert Clarke (author) from UK on August 31, 2021:

Thanks for the comment, Peggy. I'm glad you enjoyed the article and the photos.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 30, 2021:

Your photos are magnificent and your descriptions of this scenic town make me wish to see it in person. Thanks for sharing this information with us. I can fully understand why tourists flock to this area.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 30, 2021:

I’ve visited this place a long time ago and we were trying to remember the name and then, your article reminded us. Thank you.

Cristina Vanthul from Florida on August 29, 2021:

This truly does look like a European fairytale village. I'd love to see how it sparkles in the evening in winter. I bet it's absolutely beautiful!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 27, 2021:

This is such a beautiful place to visit, Robert. I appreciate all the details you ncluded and your pictures are magnificient. Thank you for this information. I would love to visit.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 27, 2021:

I visited Hallstatt many years ago. This informative and well-illustrated article reminds me of how scenic the area is. I was last in Austria around 37 years ago. I am definitely overdue a return visit.

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