The Ultimate Hallstatt, Austria Travel Guide

A landscape photo of Hallstatt village, Hallstatter lake and Dachstein mountains during winter.

Hallstatt is a picture-perfect fairytale village that I randomly came across on Instagram one day. I still remember how it took me a while to believe that this tiny village covered in fresh white snow was a real place that was only a few miles away (I was living in London at that time). It’s amusing how one picture on the internet can entirely mess the order of your bucket list and make you spontaneously book a trip to a place that only existed in romantic fiction novels before.

Cuddled up amidst Austrian alps and a beautiful glistering lake, Hallstatt could easily pass as one of Europe’s best kept secret. Recognised by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site, this quaint Austrian village is home to just over 750 residents. As if all of this wasn’t incredible enough, Hallstatt, meaning “place of salt”, is also a home to the world’s first (known) salt mine. Amazing, isn’t it?

As we got closer and closer to Hallstatt, I felt so glad for falling in love with a picture of a place I never even knew existed. I am not even exaggerating a bit when I tell you that I had my face pressed up against the window as we crossed beautiful blue lakes surrounded by snow-covered Mountains and the cutest houses I had seen in a long time. The excitement of seeing the snow fall over an already white washed landscape was real and made me annoyingly wake up my sleepy friend by yelling “this is the best view ever”, over and over again.

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How to reach Hallstatt?

Even though its tucked away between mountains, Hallstatt can be comfortably visited via train, bus or car. I have heard that parking could be a problem in peak season because the town is incredibly small (less than 1km from end to end) so if you drive here, then try to come early.

OBB train captured at Hallstatt station before making a stop.

I took Austria’s national OBB train from Vienna that dropped me at the Attnang-Puchheim station and from there I had to take a direct regional train to Hallstatt station. You can also find your desired route from any departing point on the OBB route finder. But since Hallstatt village is situated across the lake from the station, you will have to take a ferry (it operates according to train timings) that will take you to the port in Hallstatt and back.

I personally loved the ferry option because getting your first glance at Hallstatt from the lake was a feeling like no other. Somewhere in between of taking in the view of Hallstatt with a cold snowy breeze and pinching ourselves because of how unreal it felt, we also spotted some swans casually swimming by. The ferry (aka Stefanie) cost €5 per person, the tickets of which we easily bought at the ferry station right beside the train one.

picture of Hallstatter Lake surrounded by Dachstein mountains at sunrise.
First look at Hallstatt from the train station

Since, Salzburg is closer to Hallstatt than Vienna, there are some buses that run frequently from there. Our itinerary was Vienna -> Hallstatt -> Salzburg and we opted for the train option from Hallstatt to Salzburg as well. This train route was exactly the same as the Vienna one but only shorter.

CG’s tip: Make sure you have your camera on you because the ferry ride (both ways) is so picturesque that you wouldn’t want to miss out on taking some beautiful photos.

A picture of myself on the ferry with a background view of Hallstatt and the lake.
About to reach Hallstatt via ferry

Best time to visit Hallstatt?

I personally felt that nothing compares to the beauty of seeing Hallstatt covered in a fresh blanket of snow. And while summer may be the popular choice, I enjoyed sharing the town with only a handful of tourists during the end of January.

The best thing about visiting around the end of January was that all the tourists that had come for the Christmas and new year’s break had already gone back. Summer and spring were far out, making it a perfect time to get the actual feel of the place, crowd free.

However, keep in mind that the salt mines and the funicular are actually closed in winter months, so a tour inside there won’t be possible. But, you can still hike to the viewing platform and enjoy the breath-taking views of the Salzkammergut region without a problem.

A picture of gingerbread houses in Hallstatt that are covered with snow.

Day trip or overnight stay?

This is a question that comes to everyone’s mind when planning a trip to Hallstatt. I, for one, always knew that I am going to stay there at least for a night. I wanted to wake up with the sun and explore this Alpine village in twilight. I wanted to wander around the streets and get a feel of the local life before tourists came swamping in. I wanted to do it justice and have my own personal time with it. After all, it isn’t every day that you get to experience a place that is more than 7,000 years old.

And, while some might say that it is possible to see Hallstatt in a few hours, I personally felt that even a night’s stay wasn’t enough. Sure, you could walk the entire town in less than an hour, but there are so many narrow, twisty streets that will shy away from telling you their salty stories in such a short timespan. Many day trippers come around 9am and leave around lunchtime but the magic of exploring this town when it’s no one but you and some swans, is something that I might never have the right adjectives for.

Hallstatt's market square that is full of colourful houses and shopfronts
Marketplatz, the market square of Hallstatt

I would have even loved to have another day in Hallstatt to go visit the Dachstein Krippenstein to explore the giant Ice Caves and get a bird’s eye perspective from the Five Fingers viewing platform. But since we were only there for a night and wanted to explore the town fully, I guess I will just have to come back again one day. 

Where to stay in Hallstatt?

Being a town of its size, Hallstatt doesn’t have that many hotel options to choose from. And even though a lot of tourists visit only for a day trip, it is becoming increasingly popular with overnight guests as well. This is why I recommend you to book your accommodation well in advance if you are planning to stay here (which you totally should).

The nearby town of Obertaun that is just across the lake from Hallstatt, is also a great option if you are looking to stay in the area.

A look into Hallstatt village from the ferry that connects train station to the village's old town. Pictured here is a local hotel called Heritage Hotel.
First glance at our accommodation, the Heritage Hotel Hallstatt

I personally stayed for a night at the Heritage Hotel Hallstatt which was perfectly located next to Evangelical Parish Church, Hallstätter lake and the ferry dock. The market square and most of the restaurants were just around the corner too. My favourite part of staying at this property was that we could indulge in freshly made breakfast while watching the swans go about their day in the lake surrounded by the Dachstein mountains. In other words, it truly was a breakfast view goals in my opinion.

The other option that I absolutely loved was Seehotel Grüner Baum. It is located right on the historic Marketplatz and the Hallstätter Lake. And, while we didn’t get to stay there, we did enjoy an amazing dinner at one of its restaurants (more on that below).

I have recently found some incredible options on Airbnb too, in case that is more your thing. You can also see other hotel options on booking.com or hotels.com here.

Where to eat in Hallstatt?

Everywhere I ate in Austria had delicious veggie soups, which turned out to be a complete bliss in the freezing cold weather, might I add. Hallstatt was no different. And even though I was a bit worried about finding decent vegetarian options in such a small town, the restaurant Zum Salzbaron at Seehotel Grüner Baum had great choices.

I remember having a soup that tasted so good that even my seafood loving friend couldn’t resist but order one. And regardless of being known for serving ‘catch of the day’, the veggie pasta options there were quite good too.

Things to know before visiting Hallstatt

  • Hallstatt isn’t a mainstream touristy place that has a list of must see places but rather is an experience in itself. The best thing to do there is to get lost exploring the old town. Sooner or later, you will find yourself surrounded by colourful gingerbread houses, swan families posing for a perfect Instagram shot and the iconic viewpoint known as Aussichtspunkt Hallstatt.
  • There is also another viewpoint on the south side called Badestrand, which is really beautiful and not as well known.
  • If you are a souvenir shopping lover like me, then you may also enjoy buying some locally mined bath salts, traditional soaps and various kind of table salt from there. I am going to run out of my herb mixed salt soon and really wish I got some more.
A landscape picture of Hallstatt from its most famous viewpoint.
The iconic Aussichtspunkt viewpoint

If you have been following me on Instagram, then you may know how Hallstatt is one of my absolute favourite places ever. I have actually been putting off writing about it because I felt like I could never find the right words to explain what it really was like and why you should visit it. Perhaps, simple words cannot describe the beauty of this gem completely. But, in case you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Hope you like Hallstatt too,
Charu xx

Want to keep reading? You may like “The Ultimate Prague, Czech Republic Guide” and “The Ultimate Amalfi Coast Guide“.

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This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. Zsuzsi

    Hallstatt is such a wonderful city, and it’s definitely very beautiful in the winter! Nothing is better than a fairytale village covered in snow! 🌨️❄️

    1. Charu Goyal

      You are absolutely right! Seeing it was such a surreal feeling 💗

  2. Suman

    Hallstatt looks like a dreamland for sure. Seeing it covered in snow must have been so surreal. I want to plan a trip there too now.

    1. Charu Goyal

      It truly is, Suman! I hope that you can go super soon and experience this beauty for yourself 💗

  3. Taylor Deer

    Ah I loved Hallstatt! I did a day trip there when I was staying in Salzburg for the Christmas markets and it was everything I dreamt it would be. Your photos from Hallstatt were absolutely breathtaking!

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thats great Taylor. I think I remember seeing your photos from Hallstatt! It must have been so amazing during Christmas season.

  4. World of Lina

    Such a great post about Hallstatt! I’ve been there so many times since I live not that far away and you really show its most beautiful side 💕

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you Lina! It means so much to me that you liked this post 💗 Also, how amazing that you live close to Hallstatt.

  5. Marisa

    Such a lovely post! I visited Hallstatt a few years ago with my mom and brother and we had such a wonderful time exploring this picture perfect town! We even did the salt mine tour and the ice caves! Hallstatt will always hold a special place in my heart and your photos make me wish I was heading back there soon!

    1. Charu Goyal

      So happy to hear that Marisa. I would love to go back in the summer one day and experience the salt mine and ice caves for myself. Hallstatt truly is a special place, in every way!

  6. Cristina

    Hallstatt looks so beautiful! I really love your tips and pictures, so I’m saving this post for later 🙂

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you so much, Cristina! I hope you can visit this beautiful village super soon 💗

  7. Jen

    I’ve always wanted to travel here, it looks absolutely beautiful. Love your photos! 😁

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you so much, Jen. I really hope that you get to go visit Hallstatt soon. It is such a picturesque village, I am sure you would love it!

  8. Tia

    It looks so picturesque! I loved in london for 11 years and didnt visit.. how silly!

    1. Charu Goyal

      oh wow, living in London for 11 years must have been amazing! And there is always a reason for another trip 💗

  9. Gigi

    Looking absolutely amazing. Love your photos from Hallstatt

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you so much, Gigi. Hope you are doing well 💗

  10. Valerie

    Wow! These photos are just amazing! I am quite sad actually as I had a trip booked to Hallstatt and had to cancel it due to obvious reasons. Will definitely go once this is all over! It looks stunning!! 🙂

    1. Charu Goyal

      Oh I am so sorry to hear that, Valerie. I hope you get your awaited trip to Hallstatt as soon as possible. It’s definitely worth the wait 💗

  11. Suvarna

    I have always loved this fairytale town and have been wanting to visit for long. This is such a helpful guide.

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you for reading, Suvarna. I am sure you’d love visiting Hallstatt ❣️

  12. Tina

    Wow your photos are amazing! Love this guide, would love to go to Austria next year

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you so much, Tina. I would love to go back to Austria next year as well 💗

  13. Ophelie

    This village looks like coming out of a fairy tale! Even better covered with snow! Thanks for making me discover it!

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you, Ophelie! It is such a fairytale village, you would absolutely love it. And yes, snow definitely makes everything more magical!

  14. Paula

    I love Hallstatt, it is so unique and especially during winter time – your pictures are amazing!

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you Paula. So happy to read that you love Hallstatt as well 😊

  15. Kariss

    I am desperate to go back to Austria but I didn’t know about this place, what a dream!

    1. Charu Goyal

      So glad to introduce you to this magical village, Kariss. It really is one of my favourite destinations of all time. And I hope that you get to go back to Austria soon 💗

  16. roshni

    january looks like such a great time to visit

  17. Kelly

    I too have seen the Insta awesome photos and think Halistat looks so gorgeous. Also love that you were honest and that this is more of an experience than a place filled with must see attractions. Love the idea of getting lost in the Old Town

    1. Charu Goyal

      Getting lost is foreign lands is one of my favourite travel activities to do. It’s amazing what you can find when you explore where your heart wants to go. Also, thank you so much Kelly 💗

  18. Katie

    I was in Hallstatt in December and also stayed at the Heritage Hotel. Such a great location (and breakfast buffet!). I’m really happy I decided to stay overnight here instead of just doing a day trip because you get a lot more time without the major crowds.

    1. Charu Goyal

      Me too! Staying overnight was a decision that I ended up feeling super thankful for. It was surreal to notice the vast difference that is there between the morning/late night vs daytime tourists population. And yes, Heritage Hotel’s location was simply perfect!

  19. Elena

    Ahh, Hallstatt is one of my dream destinations! Your pictures are absolutely stunning; you’ve given me the travel itch more than ever!! And I agree that I’d want to do more than just a day trip. Would love to wake up here!

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you so much, Elena. And trust me, I get lots and lots of travel itch from you too. Waking up in Hallstatt and seeing it covered in fresh white snow is one of my favourite travel memories of all time and I am sure you would love experiencing that too.

  20. Linnea

    Love this guide! I didn’t get a chance to go during my last Austria trip, but I would love to go back during the fall or winter.

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you, Linnea! It was so beautiful to see Hallstatt covered in snow so I can only recommend winter to you.

  21. Claudia

    oh my gosh, this is such a dream place, it is so high on my list. and your photos are so beautiful x

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you, Claudia. I hope you get to see it with your own eyes super soon x

  22. Julien Casanova

    Wow, Hallstatt is stunning! What an incredible place to visit. It looks like the picturesque European town.

    1. Charu Goyal

      It really is, Julien. It became one of my favourite places as soon I stepped in and 2 years later, I still feel the same about it.

  23. Helena

    Charu this is such a gorgeous post! I totally agree that seeing Hallstatt in winter was the most magical for me too although I only went as a day trip from Salzburg so I really hope I can go back one day!

    1. Charu Goyal

      Thank you, Helena! I would love to visit Austria again too. I only had a few hours in Salzburg and feel that my story with it is anything but over.

  24. Francesca

    I want to go to Halstatt so bad! It looks like such a cute and picturesque town! I would definitely stay overnight and visit the ice caves.

    1. Charu Goyal

      That sounds perfect, Francesca. I wish I had more time to visit the ice caves, I would definitely like to go again one day! Hope you can make it there soon too.

  25. Caroline

    This place is so high on my list. Was supposed to go this summer, hope it is still a possibility!

    1. Charu Goyal

      I hope so too, Caroline! But at least you don’t live far away 💗

  26. Emma

    This village looks so beautiful! Austria is high on my bucket list when I return to Europe!

    1. Charu Goyal

      It really is, Emma! I hope you get to return to Europe soon and visit Austria.

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