As soon as I had planned my trip to Vienna, Austria I knew that a day trip to Hallstatt was an absolute must! Naturally, probably like most people I learned about Hallstatt through Instagram! Every photo that I saw from Hallstatt and the jaw dropping waterfront, fueled my urge to see this magical little town for myself. A fun fact about Hallstatt is that it is a UNESCO world heritage site, and it is still inhabited by people who call this little town their home (only about 850 live there!).
A day trip to Hallstatt from Vienna is not only super easy and relatively fast, but the views are truly unreal! There are two methods for transportation from Vienna to Hallstatt. You can take the train to the closest train station and than take the ferry to Hallstatt, or you can rent a car (what we did) and drive there yourself!
Luckily for us, we went during low season (January) and did not have to fight off the crowds, but unfortunately some attractions were closed for the Winter. The attractions that are generally closed during the winter are the cable car ride up to the Skywalk viewing platform above the town of Hallstatt, all water sports of course, and the salt mines. Even with those attractions closed, Hallstatt is still breathtaking with plenty to see when wandering around this adorable little fishing village. Here are the top 10 reasons why a visit to Austria is not complete without seeing Hallstatt.
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1. Enjoy the Seclusion that Hallstatt Offers
If coming by train, Hallstatt is only accessible via ferry from the nearest train station, which makes it harder to access by most travelers. Since it is a small fishing village situated amidst the Austrian Alps, there are only about 850 people who call Hallstatt home. The accessibility, small town feel, and historic relevance give you a very intimate and fairy tale vibe.
2. The Views are Endless
The views are truly just as beautiful, if not even more beautiful in reality than in a photo! There were a few times when we were walking through Hallstatt that I had to just stop and soak it all in because the views were just jaw dropping. Each new little spot that we hiked or walked up to had an even more gorgeous view of the water front and mountains than the spot before. This led to many stops along the way and many many photos, because how can you not?! Hallstatt is just too photogenic to not snap hundreds of photos!
3. Hallstatt is becoming more and more popular
It is true that Hallstatt is starting to get a lot of recognition from travelers from all over the world. I mean even on Instagram alone, Hallstatt in the recent year has gotten so much exposure. Even with an increase in tourist to this small village, it is still relatively undiscovered compared to other travel destinations. You might have to fight the crowds slightly in the high season, but it is nothing compared to fighting the crowds in other European towns at the same time of year. I think that is why I really enjoyed going in January. I never once had to fight any crowds and never had to wait to take a photo, it was just so relaxing!
4. Adorable Houses and Streets Made for Wandering
I am convinced that the streets of Hallstatt were made for wandering and snapping hundreds of photos. Whoever built this little village, totally knew what they were doing! The adorable little cobble stone streets lined with ornate and colorful fairy tale like homes are any travelers and photographers dream. I mean I wanted to take so many photos just in front of houses because they are that cute! Can you just imagine living in one of those houses and enjoying the views every day? That sounds like the perfect little life to me!
5. Go to the Skywalk View Deck Above Hallstatt
Sadly this attraction was closed while we were in Hallstatt and is only open during the Spring, Summer, and Fall! If you are there in one of those three seasons than I highly recommend doing it (for me). You can hike up to the top yourself or you can take the cable car up to it. The view from the Skywalk looks pretty amazing from all of the photos I have seen.
6. Sit by the Water Front
If you are there in the winter, sitting by the water front with a hot chocolate or coffee is just good for the soul. Sure it was a little chilly, but just enjoying the view and reflection that is caused by the mountains is pretty magical. You can also watch the swans swim by on the lake, only adding to the dreamy vibe of this village.
7. Explore the Town Center
The town center is very small and very easily to explore, but the colorful little houses and fountain in the square will have you convinced that Hallstatt is straight out of a fairy tale. There are several little side streets and alleys from the town center square that are also worth walking through, you never know what you will come across!
8. Visit the Salt Mines
The Salt Mines were also closed for the Winter when we were there, but are open in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Hallstatt actually was named after its immense salt production, and has the World’s oldest salt mine. I definitely feel like it would be a fun experience to take a train ride through these salt mines (maybe next time!)
9. Amazing view of Hallstatt from Hallstatt Catholic Church
The Hallstatt Catholic Church, situated slightly up hill has a second level flat form that has such beautiful views of the little village. There is also a very interesting but beautiful cemetery located next to the church. The cemetery is also built on a hill as the church and over looks the lake of Hallstatt. There are no tombstones, but signs of Christ crafted from wood and steel. As strange as it may be to visit a cemetery, this one is just plain beautiful overlooking one of the prettiest views.
10. Each Season Brings its Own Magic to Hallstatt
The winter brings blankets of white radiant snow that covers the little village and majestic peaks of the Austrian Alps. The Spring brings a season of blooming, from beautiful flowers to greenery growing around this little village. Summer brings a season of everything in bloom, swimming in the lake, and taking a swan paddle boat out in the lake. Fall brings a season of beautifully changing leaves from green to yellow to red, and to orange. You could go to Hallstatt in each of these seasons and see a different magical side.
These are the top 10 reasons why Hallstatt (if not already) should be on your bucket list! Seeing the magic for myself definitely made my trip that much sweeter. If you are in Vienna or Salzburg, add an extra day and go experience the fairy tale of Hallstatt.
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