Hallstatt, Austria: How to Plan the Perfect Day Trip

If you’re a fan of picture-perfect little European towns, then I’m sure you’ve stumbled across a photo of this one before. It was actually once dubbed the “most beautiful lake town in the world,” and today, it’s arguably Austria’s most photographed village. Built along the western shore of a mountain lake, the town consists of idyllic half-timbered structures. It’s located in a region rich with history and is part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape. Welcome to Hallstatt, Austria!

Have I convinced you to go? If you’re still hesitant, scroll down and take a look at the photos.

Hallstatt is a popular day trip destination for travellers who are also visiting Salzburg, Vienna, or Munich. However, the drive to Hallstatt from Salzburg takes at least 45 minutes. The drive from Vienna takes 3 hours and 30 minutes, and it takes at least 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach the village from Munich (…I’ll get to the trains later). Therefore, paying a visit to Hallstatt requires some planning.

I visited Hallstatt last July, and at that point, I hadn’t taken my road test yet. Without a license, I knew that in order to get to Hallstatt, I would have to either take the train or the bus. Honestly, I almost didn’t visit Hallstatt because I felt bogged down by all the extra-planning I suddenly had to do on top of the trip planning I had already done. Honestly… I probably wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I hadn’t visited this enchanting Austrian village.

So, in order to make your travel planning as simple as possible and prevent you from skipping a trip to this stunning destination, here’s Snow to Seas’ guide for planning the perfect day trip to Hallstatt, Austria.

Please note that parts of this post will focus on visiting Hallstatt from Salzburg since I travelled to and from Salzburg in order to visit the village.

Planning the Perfect Day Trip to Hallstatt Austria

Getting to Hallstatt

By Car

As mentioned at the start of this post, Hallstatt is accessible by car regardless of which direction you’re coming from.

Hallstatt.net has put together detailed driving instructions, and you can check them out by clicking here. If you arrive by car, you may have to walk 5-10 minutes from the parking area in order to reach Hallstatt’s “downtown” area.

The page linked above also provides an overview of Austria’s mandatory highway tolls. If you are considering driving to Hallstatt, I highly recommend that you check the page out.

By Train (Bus Details Included)

Hallstatt has a train station, so it’s possible to reach the village by rail. However, the station is located on the other side of the Hallstatt Lake, so you have to take a small ferry from the station to reach the village. Nevertheless, arriving by train and taking the ferry gives you the fantastic opportunity to admire Hallstatt from afar and capture some incredible shots of the village including surrounding landscape!

The ferry usually crosses the lake once every hour and costs 2.50 Euros each way. I also recommend waiting for the ferry at it’s departure point (in Hallstatt) 10-15 minutes before it’s set to leave…it’s kind of a small ferry…

If you plan on travelling to Hallstatt from Salzburg, you should know that there is no direct train. The journey takes just over 2 hours and you have to switch trains.

BUDGET TIP: Alternatively, you can take a bus from Salzburg to the Bad Ischl train station and then hop on a train for the remainder of the journey. This route takes a little bit longer than taking 2 trains, but it is significantly cheaper.

To search for train times and fares to Hallstatt (within Austria or even from Munich), you can visit ÖBB’s, the Austrian national railway company’s, website (click here to visit). Keep an eye on the transportation icons for each scheduled journey – some journeys include buses.

What to do in Hallstatt

Walk Around Hallstatt

Hallstatt’s picturesque architecture is one of the major reasons visitors are attracted to the village. When in Hallstatt, go and explore its main streets and side streets.Walking around the downtown area really is an attraction on its own. You’ll be in constant awe of the charming colourful and wooden homes.

Hallstatt

The rooftops of Hallstatt’s city centre.

Downtown Hallstatt

An adorable little shop selling equally adorable little soaps (and loads of salt too).

Hallstatt Lake

Hallstatt seriously makes you feel as if you’ve entered some perfect, little fairytale village.

If you’re on the hunt for some lovely restaurants and cafes, visit Hallstatt’s Market Square.

Hallstatt Market SquareHallstatt Market Square

The Market Square

Visit the Waterfront

Hallstatt was built on the shores of Hallstatt Lake (Hallstätter See). The village and lake are surrounded by the Dachstein Salzkammergut Mountains. Visiting the waterfront gives you the chance to admire the village’s geographical location and the village itself.

Hallstatt

Rent a Swan

It would be pretty ridiculous if you would be able to temporarily rent a live swan. So to clarify any misconceptions, when I say, “rent a swan,” I’m actually talking about a swan-shaped pedal boat.

Though to be honest, Hallstatt does feel like a village from another world where magical things can happen, so I wouldn’t be surprised if any of you thought I was talking about a real swan at first. I probably would have.

Anyway, during the spring and summer months (April 1st – September 30th), it is possible to rent pedal boats and motorboats from the Hallstatt waterfront. You can use them to cruise around the lake at your own pace. We chose the swan pedal boat since we didn’t intend on covering a large distance. We also just really wanted the opportunity to take photos of Hallstatt from the water (the ferry had moved too quickly for our liking earlier that day). All in all, there was really nothing more relaxing than slowly drifting around the lake and dipping our feet into cool lake water on a hot summer day.

Hallstatt

Just taking our swan out for a ride…

Hallstatt from the water

Views of Hallstatt from the lake.

Hallstatt.net can provide you with boat rental costs. Click here to check them out!

Visit the Catholic Church of Hallstatt

You can find Hallstatt’s Catholic Church slightly above the main part of town. Even though the church has undergone restoration work, parts of the original structure are estimated to be nearly 900 years old.

Hallstatt

Can you pinpoint Hallstatt’s Catholic Church? Hint: it’s the largest building you see. 

Next to the church, you will find St. Michael’s Chapel, and can you guess what you will find inside? I’ll cut to the chase: inside the chapel you will find a collection of over 600 decoratively painted skulls (alongside even more unpainted ones).

Overall, skull painting is a cultural tradition that comes from the eastern Alps (Hallstatt sits in this region). Due to the steep and rocky land found in these areas, grave sites were limited and many had to be reused. When bones were moved from their original resting place, skull painting would help retain the individual’s identity.

Hallstatt Painted SkullsI skipped out on the macabre that day, so here’s a photo of the painted skulls courtesy of festland (via pixabay, license).

This year (2017), Hallstatt’s “bone house” will be open every day from 10:00 to 18:00 from May 1st to October 30th. Admission is 1.50 Euros. (It had shorter opening hours in March and April, but March is long gone and April is just about over…so hey!).

Alternatively, you can walk around the Hallstatt cemetery found beside the Catholic Church. Even today, a grave can be reused every 10 years.

Hallstatt Cemetery

The Hallstatt Cemetery.

Visit the “Skywalk”

After spending hours walking around and snapping photos of the old town, lounging by the waterfront, renting a swan, and enjoying local beer, we ran out of time and didn’t get the chance to visit the Skywalk. If I were to go back to Hallstatt, visiting the Skywalk would be the first thing I would do (…you know me and my bird’s-eye-views).

The Skywalk is a viewing platform built over 300 metres above Hallstatt. It’s THE place to get exceptional views of the Hallstatt-Dachstein-Salzkammergut region. You can access the platform by taking the funicular from Hallstatt (16 Euros to ascend and descend), or you can take one of the hiking trails from the village below (free).

Hallstatt SkywalkThe Skywalk. photo credit: Honza Soukup via photopin (license)

Hallstatt

A slightly elevated village view from one of the smaller streets behind the village centre – a good place to catch some stunning views if you don’t have time to visit the Skywalk.

Visit the Salt Mine (Salzwelten)

If you’re a fan of history and in the mood for a bit of adventure, you can also take a guided tour of Hallstatt’s Salt Mine. Salt mining in the area began thousands of years ago, and the salt mine is responsible for the village’s prosperity. If this doesn’t sound intriguing enough, mine slides and an underground railway are part of the tour.

SalzweltenInside the Salt mine. photo credit: Cha già José via photopin (license)

Similar to the “Skywalk,” you can access the mine by taking the funicular. For more information about the salt mine, you can visit its official website by clicking here.

If I get the chance to visit Hallstatt again, the salt mine will be my second stop after the “Skywalk.”

Sleeping in Hallstatt

Spending a night in Hallstatt on a budget, unfortunately, isn’t really a thing. I’m assuming this is why Hallstatt is such a popular day trip destination.

Overall, Hallstatt is a tiny village, so there aren’t too many accommodation options. Hostels are actually nonexistent. If you’re adamant about spending a night in the area (and I can’t blame you – the region is stunning…), then looking into renting a room in a guesthouse will be your most affordable option. Of course, there are quite a few magnificent hotels located in the area too.

If you aren’t keen on spending many hours on the road in one day and you’re on a budget, you can consider staying in one of the towns close to Hallstatt. For example, Obertraun has many affordable accommodation options and is only a 5-minute train or bus ride away.

Hallstatt

Hallstatt: An Alpine Paradise

Hallstatt is a dreamy little town. The crisp mountain air is invigorating, while the small village vibe can make you unwind, relax, and take it easy for a moment or two. Of course, if you have a taste for adventure, Hallstatt is more than ready to cater to that too!

Ultimately, the village’s architectural perfection and mesmerizing geographical location casts a powerful spell. Mesmerized by it’s beauty, you’ll be wanting to go back again and again.

Do you have any tips or tricks for planning the perfect day trip to Hallstatt? Feel free to share them below!

Happy Traveling!

56 Comments

  1. These are such great tips! I’ve always wanted to visit Austria! Will save this for future use!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

  2. Wow, it really is a fairytale! Looks like an amazing little town 🙂

  3. I keep seeing this pop up on my Instagram and it made me really want to visit this place! I would refer back to this article when I finally book a flight there! I was in Austria once but in Innsbruck <3

    • I first saw the village on Instagram too! And then on Pinterest. I was mesmerized by the photos, so when I managed to find some time to go to Austria, I knew had find the time to visit Hallstatt! Innsbruck is also stunning!

  4. Wow that looks beautiful! Hallstatt is now on my list of places to visit! Lots of great information, and the pictures are amazing!

  5. Great tips! This part of Austria looks amazing!

    Shaun
    http://www.thislifeintrips.com

  6. OMG, I HAVE to go here some day! It looks gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing! Looks like you had a great time!

    • Even almost a year after visiting Hallstatt and having photos to prove it, the experience feels so surreal. The place was just so stunning – it’s hard to believe it’s real!

  7. Wow! There’s so much to do in Austria. I had a friend who lived there for a while and I wish I had visited.

  8. Wahou, I never heard about this place and it seems quite a nice place! A lot of things to do and to see there 🙂 The village seems really nice.
    Thank’s for sharing your tips!

  9. Ooo Hallstatt has been on my wish list forever and this might be the post to make me book a trip!

  10. Austrian villages are always so pretty! Sounds like there a lot to do there too.

  11. wow Hallstatt looks so lovely! To be honest I never looked for Austrian towns, I always focused on small German little villages I had no idea you can find such a perl over there as well! Your photos looks so beautiful that I just wanna pack my bags and go there:)

  12. Wow! This place looks incredible! I’m planning on visiting Vienna, but this looks pretty far! Maybe I’ll rent a car to get there. Thanks for the useful transportation tips and time estimates!

  13. Oh WOW! I want to be here now! Thank you for adding another town to my bucket list! haha! This is soooooooo lovely and I love the colors! It looks like it would be impossible to be unhappy in a town as beautiful as this!

  14. Such a pretty place to visit! I’m sure it must get very busy in the summer season, but I love the idea of having to get the ferry across the lake to access it!

  15. Wow. Hallstrat looks so dreamy. I would love to visit the skywalk and salt mines when I’m there

  16. I love seeing villages that remind me of a fairy tale. those are the places id like to take my digital nomading for a long stay. Also love the swan

  17. Beautiful city and views. It reminds of Kotor, Montenegro. Absolutely stunning buildings and views.

  18. I will be honest, Austria has been on my bucket list because of the Sound of music but now I want to visit! Looks amazing, a really beautiful fairy land!

  19. Ania, this is gorgeous! Did you only stay for one day? Perhaps it was more than enough. Thank you fro sharing 🙂

    • I did stay for just the day (maybe 6 hours in total). So, if you plan on arriving earlier than 11:00 am and leave later than 17:00 (which is possible), you should be able to fit in the Skywalk and the Salt Mine.

  20. I can’t wait to see Hallstatt! My boyfriend is Austrian and we missed it on our most recent trip to Austria. The mountains are absolutely stunning though and I do love how in all these little towns the church is always the highest point. Makes for beautiful scenery and I guess helps as a guide for walking around!

    Best,
    Rebecca

  21. Hmm, I am now thinking about visiting this city when I will be in Munich next time (around one month from now). Your pictures are just lovely and the place looks perfect for a day trip. Thank you for sharing also the useful information about getting there from different locations!

  22. I had vaguely heard of Hallstatt before but never really knew much about it, and now I desperately want to go! I want to rent a magical swan and float across the lake, to see all those hand-painted skulls and to capture that amazing view from the Sky Walk. Everything looks so beautiful, and I love your photos 🙂

  23. So lovely. I can imagine myself staying there for a long time even if there is nothing to do. Such a relaxing views.

  24. Thank you for the recommendations, will definitely keep your article in my bookmarks for my next visit! Hallstatt’s Market Square is just the cutest omg, so picturesque!! 🙂

  25. Love this! I am DYING to go to Austria (might just have to make a couple week long trip eventually). There are so many beautiful places to go in this country!!

  26. I learned about Hallstatt at uni back when I studied archaeology. This city has a very very important history. Impartant archaeological site. Would love to visit. I looks very beautiful too!

    • That’s really amazing to hear that you studied the town in uni! I know my post just skims the surface, but I wanted to hold off on repeating too much info from guides and tours (info already found elsewhere).

  27. I love Austria! It’s been a long time I’d love to viskt another place than Vienna or Salzburg, and this place looks like a nice trip. Thanks for sharing, I am pinning it for later 😉

  28. Austria is so picturesque!! I’ve visited a few years ago, but didn’t make it to this city. This post made me want to go back sooner than later 🙂

  29. What a beautiful place! The skull painting is interesting. I wonder is that is someone’s job to dig our the grave and paint them!!

  30. Anna Hammerschmidt

    Hallstatt looks absolutely amazing! It is so charming there. The swan looks like a great way to experience the town!

  31. Loved this guide! I spent six months in Austria and never made it here!!! It’s one of my saddest regrets about my time there – hoping to go back one day soon and make it happen finally!

  32. I love Austria’s lake villages. I have been to Attersee a few years ago and it was equally beautiful. Pedaling on a swan is such a great activity. We rented a swan in Prague and was so much fun.

  33. so beautiful! I’ve only visited Austria in the winter for skiing but it looks equally great to visit in summer too!

  34. Hallstatt is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited! I’d love to go back and spend more time there. We got to visit the salt mine and swim in the lake, but didn’t get a chance to really soak in the surroundings.

    • It’s commonly known as a day trip destination, but it really does seem that if you’re someone who loves everything, a day in Hallstatt is simply not enough.

  35. Ahh I’ve wanted to visit Hallstatt since FOREVER! It’s actually way closer to Munich than I thought. I always got bogged down by the logistics though and never ended up making the trip. Thanks for breaking all the info down so clearly… it’s so nice to hear it’s one of those postcard villages that actually lives up to the hype 😉 Definitely wanna go sometime soon!

  36. That looks adorable! It reminds me very much of Saltzburg, which I loved visiting as a day trip from Vienna.

  37. I will surely rent a swan when I visit Hallstatt, to enjoy the lake 😀 I was in Austria, many times already, but not in this beautiful town yet 🙂

  38. This made me so excited. Planning to visit Hallstatt this summer. Thanks for the tips and guides. 🙂

  39. Rent a swan?! Yes please. This guide is awesome! I have always wanted to visit Hallstatt so I’m so excited to save this for later!

  40. I’ve never visited Hallstatt or thought about going there but I’ll have to now with all these amazing photos!

  41. Austria is a spectacular country and your guide is simply excellent, Anya! Keep up the great work.

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I know the blog has been quiet for a few weeks, but I promise that loads of new guides are coming your way soon!

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