Of all the scenic views, lakes and villages that comprise Austria’s Salzkammergut region, the village of Hallstatt is probably the most beautiful and quaint. With a history going back almost 7,000 years, it is also a treasure trove for archaeologists and is internationally recognized as a cultural world heritage site.
Most visitors like to come during the warmer months, but in fall the landscape takes on a decidedly mystical quality, making the region around Hallstatt perfect for hiking tours and providing more great photo opportunities. In winter, Hallstatt is also a good base for the nearby ski-resort Krippenstein.
Take a ride out onto Lake Hallstatt with one of the local wooden Plaette (rowboats) and look back on the village to capture one of the most photographed vistas in Austria. Nestled between the shore and the steep Dachstein Massiv mountains in the background, there is so little building space that some houses are accessible only via the lake and the buidlings are neatly stacked one atop of the other. The colorful facades greet visitors arriving by ferry from the train station on the opposite lake shore.
Locals in Hallstatt still cherish old Austrian traditions, such as the annual Corpus Christi procession on Lake Hallstatt. At “Dirndl to Go,” you can try on or rent a variety of popular traditional Austrian costumes (Dirndl).
Apart from sights such as the 15h-century Pfarrkirche (Parish Church) and the adjacent “Beinhaus,” Hallstatt is most famous for the “Salzwelten” (salt deposits), located about 1,640 feet (500 meter) above the town itself. These rich deposits probably drew the first settlers here in the Stone Age. The mining shafts from the Bronze Age are said to be among the oldest in the world. At the Salzwelten, explore the old mining tunnels and gain insights into mining techniques used throughout the ages.
The discovery of a nearby cemetery yielded so many finds for the period from 800-600 BC, that the Celtic culture of the era was named the Hallstatt Civilization. Finds from the site can be seen at the World Heritage Museum.
Hallstatt is located in Austria’s Salzkammergut (Lake District) and is about an hour’s drive to the east of Salzburg.