It’s hard not to get romantic and wax lyrical about a place like Hallstatt, a small, quaint town in the northern regions of Austria. The mountains rise up opposite the town which is sat lushly on the other side of the picture-perfect Lake Hallstatt, forming a World Heritage Site as well as a historically rich slice of perfection.
Hallstatt isn’t a breeze to enter but that’s how it likes it; somewhere entirely unique and off the well-beaten track. From a train, you take a boat and ferry across the lake to the charming little grotto waiting for you on the other side, wonderfully picturesque if the sun hits it in the right light.
There are shuttles too and taking a car-ride allows control of the scenery, further reducing travel prices and making Hallstatt ideal for those seeking bargain holidays online.
What To See & Do
Hallstatt requires considerable exploration and this is achieved through simple walking, enjoying the sights and sounds and being at peace with the surroundings. The walking tour usually takes in the hot-spots of the town, from the bone house to the salt mines and it won’t take long: anywhere from two to four hours. The Cultural Heritage Museum offers a little insight into the town’s past which was centred on the Iron Age with the town known as one of the oldest inhabited towns in Europe.
The Bone House may not be everyone’s cup of tea as the idea of human remains displayed proudly seems pretty ominous. Though it’s less of a tradition nowadays, it’s actually a popular pastime and most skulls on display are decorated with family colours and flowers.
The Salt Mines are around 7,000-years-old, making them older than the Roman Empire, giving a little example of Hallstatt’s unique old-age charm. Depending on your time in this little haven, you may only have the chance to visit either the Mines or the Ice Caves so choose wisely. The Mines represent the wealth of Austria, the foundation of their modern economy whilst the Ice Caves are just generally pretty cool with its soaring Mammoth Cave and glittering ice formations.
Eat & Drink
The town sits by the lake so a number of the charming little restaurants not only offer spectacular views out over Hallstatt but also bring in the ‘Catch of the Day’, some great seafood menus as well as local favourites. Gasthof Zauner is known as the original inn in the area and features great locally caught fish. Much of the menu consists of tradition, bringing to the grill meals that the town’s ancestors happily feasted on thousands of years ago.
There are a number of rustic pub/inn hybrids to be enjoyed that will always feature some light evening entertainment, great food as well as an amicable environment for locals and tourists, who are treated like guests. Elsewhere, the town centre, decorated in the style of its elegant past, features a lovely little market place.