I’ve seen all these articles about the “Top 10 hidden villages of Europe” or the “places you need to see before you die” articles. Hallstatt, more times than not, was always in those lists. I made it a point to plan our trip around making it to Hallstatt, I wasn’t going to miss out on this place. In my opinion it’s worth every ounce of effort to get there. Plus, I love off the beaten path locations.
Our first stop in Austria was Salzburg. ( that will be a different write up on a new day) From Salzburg we got a one way train ticket to Hallstatt knowing we would purchase our one way ticket back to Salzburg the day we needed to leave Hallstatt. The trains to Hallstatt run everyday so no need to worry. The ferry boat is in sync with the train so there is always a ferry waiting for the passengers getting off the train to take them across the lake to Hallstatt. I think that was my favorite part, riding the ferry across the silent river with nothing but the chugging engine of the ferry boat. Slowly watching the small village come into focus as we glide right up to the small dock. We were in Austria in late October, it was cold and a little drizzly but that made for great foggy mornings which were stunning on the lake and in the alps. A little chilly but nothing that was uncomfortable for us.
Once you step off the ferry and walk into the city center it’s like a dream… almost like you’re in a fairy tale village or a Disney theme park. Every window has a multiple window boxes full of overflowing flowers, the cobblestone roads, the ringing church bell. I fell in love with the village and told my husband I wasn’t leaving and he needed to go home, gather our things and the dogs and meet me back here. I was serious! I had it all planned in my head. I’d open up a shop and sell whatever it took to make it, I didn’t care. I loved this place.
I’m not big on tours, I like wandering around and finding my own hidden places or local bars and restaurants, hidden gardens and little chapels. But, I read that the salt mine tour was a must since it is, after all, the heart and soul of Hallstatt. It was worth it, our guide was awesome and the miners slides, yes slides … they were so fun. To get from one level to the other you had to slide down wooden slides, it was pretty cool. Then to get out of the mine you rode a long wooden, skinny train. You rode it like a horse and had to keep your head directly in front of you or you’d knock yourself out on the walls of the mine…. it was a tight fit and dark. The hike from the funicular ride to the salt mine was a beautiful hike. It’s not long and it’s easy plus the scenery will keep your attention if the goats don’t first.
On our last full day in Hallstatt we took the ferry boat back to the train station and took the train to Obertraun. It was a 2min ride, if that. I wasn’t sure where the entrance to the lift was but I knew the vicinity and we could see the lifts going up the mountain pass so we walked that direction. NOW I know you can take the bus 542/543 from the main station in Hallstatt but this was more fun for us. ( I laugh now) We hiked all the way to the Dachstein Visitor Center where we bought a ticket to ride 3 lifts to Five Fingers trail. One lift takes you to the ice caves, which I was sad we couldn’t do and Mammoth cave. By the time we got there we were on a time crunch to hike out to Five Fingers and not miss the last lift out… leaving us stranded in the snowy alps all night. The view from Five Fingers overlook was breath taking. You could see for miles and nothing but snowy mountain peaks. The only green you could see was Hallstatt and Obertraun down below tucked around the lake. Once we took everything in and popped a local beer to celebrate, we rode the three lifts back down to the visitors center. Those lifts have great views as well, but watch out it’s steep and they rock when going over a few intersections. It was fun having your breath taken away for a second.
Once down we hiked back to the Hallstatt train station instead of jumping on the 2min train to get back. We wanted to see what Obertraun was like and she was just as beautiful as Hallstatt. We ran across a Texas style saloon, which put big Texas smiles on our faces. *image below* People were so nice here, as we strolled through the village, locals were outside doing yard work or taking walks like us. Every single person said “guten Abend” ( good evening) and gave us a wave. I felt at home and really wanted to stay. But, it was our last night in Hallstatt. After hitting up a local restaurant for some local beer, which was my favorite beer of the entire trip, and some local food we took one last roam around town and headed to our B+B. Let me just tell you that the local beer in Hallstatt was my favorite and I don’t even like beer. It’s called Das Bier and try it if you ever run across it. We couldn’t find it any place but Hallstatt.
One thing we couldn’t do was go inside the “Bone House Chapel” outside the Catholic church up on the hill. Although we did wander the graveyard and the outside of the church the Bone House was closed, we got there too late and our train was leaving the next morning before the bone house opened.
Our B+B was Herta Haus and Herta was an amazing host. We had fresh breakfast outside our door every morning by 8am and her cat always greeted us outside our window during breakfast time. The house was located close to the entrance to the Salt Mine, it was a very short walk through town and by some local restaurants and past the bus station. I loved taking this walk at the end of the day each day. We walked by locals sitting outside having dinner and going on walks. Everyone in this area took walks in the evening which I loved. I would recommend this B+B if you don’t want a hotel, it was perfect. All the rooms are on the first floor with a private bath for each room. Herta and her family live on the top two floors. We met her daughter when we checked in and they were both very friendly.
This adventure left me wanting to come back to Hallstatt even more. I would love to visit in the summer so we could take in the summer activities on the lake and more hiking. Going this time of year cut back on the amount of tourists, although there still were a lot I’ve heard in the peak season, summer time, the tourists are out of control. This is why I love to travel during autumn. The crisp air and the fall colors in the trees, you can’t beat it.
A few photos from our adventure in Hallstatt are below. If you are interested in making a trip to Hallstatt, please feel free to ask me any questions. I loved this town so much and would love to help anyone make it out there.