Evening is magical in Hallstatt Austria

The adorable storybook small town of Hallstatt Austria is nestled in the majestic Austrian Alps. The UNESCO World Heritage site sits prettily on the shores of the glittering swan studded Lake Hallstatt (Hallstätter See). It is simply magical!

If you plan your trip just right, visiting Hallstatt can be a joy. Poor planning could result in being denied entry, or not being able to find parking and missing this popular spot all together!

In short, the best time to visit Hallstatt depends on time of year, time of day, and discovering when crowds are likely to be fewer, all covered in this article!

photo taken from Gosaumühlstraße 67,(Ausichtspunkt (vantagepoint/ viewpoint) one of the best places to get the classic views of Hallstatt
Hallstatt, one of the most beautiful places in Austria!

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The best time to visit Hallstatt minus the mob of tourists

This popular spot is a mecca for day trippers and is, unfortunately, suffering from over tourism. Up to 10,000 tourists descend upon the tiny town of Hallstatt each day, but that doesn’t mean that you should miss out on this charming little town and its beautiful scenery.

During busy times you could be turned away due to lack of parking. At times protesting citizens fed up with over tourism block the tunnel into town. Use the travel tips in this article to make sure you don’t miss this bucket list worthy destination!

The best time to visit Hallstatt (time of year)

Hallstatt can be visited year-round. However, certain times of the year have advantages and disadvantages.

Summer

Warmer weather and school holidays in the summer months mean that it’s peak season / high season for tourists. June July August are the most crowded months, and you’ll experience higher prices. These months, in addition to May, also happen to be some of the rainiest months. (source: Climate Data.org)

Winter

Winter months are considered off season. If you don’t mind the cold, winter is a great time to visit. Summer crowds are a thing of the past, you’ll experience snow-capped mountains, more reasonable prices, and lots of opportunities for winter sports. It is particularly pretty in the winter months when a dusting of snow blankets the area but keep in mind that certain things may be closed. Each year during the advent season the 14th century marketplace hosts a romantic Christmas market. Maximum winter temperatures for December, January, and February: -5 °C (24) °F. Average minimum temperatures in winter: -9 °C (16) °F with January being the coldest month. (source: Climate Data.org)

Hallstatt Austria in Winter, winter bucket list Europe
the great thing about Hallstatt in winter, it’s a winter wonderland! (snow NOT guaranteed)

Spring and Fall

Spring and fall are shoulder seasons and, in my opinion, the best time to visit! The weather is mild and it’s generally warm enough for outdoor activities, attractions are open and running, and the town is less crowded. In late September, October, November flowers are still in bloom, trees are leafed out, and grass is a beautiful shade of green! In spring (March, April, May) these things may not have yet awoken from their winter slumber. Check Climate Data. org, to determine average temperatures for the month of your visit.

The best time to visit Hallstatt (day of the week)

Weekdays are generally less crowded than weekends but there are no guarantees. Be aware that several of the town’s sights/attractions are closed on Monday and Tuesday.

The best time to visit Hallstatt (time of day)

The time of day of your visit is extremely important, and it’s a good idea to plan accordingly. A great way to ensure you can be in town in the early morning and evening is to book an overnight stay in town or in one of the surrounding communities! You’ll find a listing of the very best accommodations later in this article.

Morning

Early morning is the perfect time to arrive. You should be able to easily find parking in one of the designated parking lots and if you are efficient, do a lot of sightseeing before the crowds arrive.

The Swans of Hallstatt Austria: they make themselves at home!
The Swans of Hallstatt Austria: (photo taken around 10:30 am mid-September, no crowds!)

Evening

Evenings are magical and an ideal time to visit. The town is romantically lit and blissfully crowd free after the day trippers have left. You’ll practically have the place to yourself! Restaurants will be open late but shops close around 5 or 6 pm.

Evening is magical in Hallstatt Austria
Evening is a magical time in World Heritage List Hallstatt
Hallstatt Austria lamp in the evening
Hallstatt is romantically lit in the evening hours
Hallstatt Austria Market Square at night
Hallstatt Austria Market Square at night (taken around 8:00 pm mid-September

activities best done in the early morning or late evening

You’ll, of course, want to see the sights in the town center and historic core. Get an early start and visit these attractions first thing in the morning, or just before closing to minimize crowds:

Get those classic Hallstatt photos
It was those photos of the picturesque village and surrounding mountains that called you here. To get that classical postcard picture of Hallstatt head to the Ausichtspunkt (vantagepoint/ viewpoint) at Gosaumühlstraße 67, one of the best places for photos of the town. Come back in the evening for sunset photos!

classic view of Hallstatt Austria taken from the viewpoint in morning, the best time to visit Hallstatt?
classic view of Hallstatt Austria taken from the viewpoint in morning, the best time to visit Hallstatt?

Explore the medieval town center
The medieval town center is full of traditional Alpine architecture, pastel-colored houses adorned with flower boxes, and a medieval market square (Markt.) The main street that runs through the historic old town center is lined with popular restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops. The shops usually start opening around 9 am so if you plan to shop, I’d hit them first due to the fact that they are right in the thick of things. (credit cards accepted most places) I was FINALLY able to get photos here without people and delivery trucks in the evening!

Cute little Market Square Hallstatt Austria
Market Square (photo taken around 7:30 p.m. mid-September)

Hallstatt Museum (Welterbemuseum Hallstatt)
Learn about Hallstatt’s history here, which dates to prehistoric times, and see ancient artifacts. (depending on time of year, museum may be closed Monday & Tuesday)

Archaeological excavations
Underneath Dachstein Janu Sports shop you’ll find prehistoric stone age pottery shards, the foundation of a roman bathhouse, and remains of a Middle Ages Habsburg Dynasty residence.

Hallstatt Churches
The Protestant Church (Evangelische Pfarrkirche) has the iconic steeple that towers above the town. The Roman Catholic Church (Pfarrkirche Mariä Himmelfahrt) also known as Maria am Berg is where you’ll find the bone chapel (ossuary.) The view from the little cemetery at this church is outstanding!

The Protestant Church Hallstatt Austria in the evening
The Protestant Church Hallstatt Austria in the evening

The Bone House Chapel
Hallstatt Ossuary is a 12th century bone chapel or charnel house. The tiny Michaeli chapel (St. Michael’s Chapel) contains 1200 human skulls and bones. (Closed Monday and Tuesday and possibly during bad weather.)

skull painting at the bone chapel Michaeli chapel (St. Michael’s Chapel) Hallstatt Austria
skull painting at the bone chapel Michaeli chapel (St. Michael’s Chapel)

hike up above the town
If you hike up a few blocks, you’ll see storybook lanes and the waterfall that cuts through town. Dr Morton Weg is one of the most picturesque lanes in town. This area is generally less crowded, so it is a good choice when things start to get congested in the medieval core.

Note: as you explore, please keep in mind that people live here. Respect residents’ privacy and do not trespass. You’ll likely see a few signs posted noting where you may be about to tread on private property.

The storybook village of Hallstatt Austria, built into the side of a mountain
The storybook village of Hallstatt Austria, built into the side of a mountain

Midday

The bulk of the visitors to Hallstatt are day trippers. Midday and early afternoon are the busiest times (things start to thin out late afternoon.) You’ll find yourself shoulder to shoulder with the day trip crowds that trample the village charm. I recommend getting out of town during midday and checking out some of the activities in the surrounding region. Then come back for the romantically lit evening hours.

Ways to avoid Midday crowds

My favorite strategy for avoiding crowds is to escape the claustrophobia of the town center at midday, the busiest time of the day! There are a lot of things to do nearby, and some very near if you’re looking for an escape!

Make your way to Gosausee
This stunning little lake is surrounded by majestic mountains. There’s a picturesque 1.5-hour trail that surrounds this crystal clear emerald green alpine lake, and plenty of other great things to see and do at the lake. Get full details on things to do at Gosausee in this article. 20 minutes’ drive time, or take the bus that stops right at the lake.

Gosausee Lake, the prettiest lake in Austria!
Gosausee Lake Dachstein mountains view

Explore some of the area’s best caves
Dachstein Ice Caves, (Dachstein Krippenstein): This cave is located on Dachstein Mountain and is complete with subterranean glaciers, stalactites, and light & sound shows. 30 minutes by car, bus, cable car option available. Mammoth Cave (Mammut Cave): is one of the largest karst caves in the world. 23-minute drive, 1 hour bus, or take a cable car bus combo! see Rome to Rio.

walk along the lake for different views of Hallstatt
The further you get from the crowded city center the more the crowds thin out. A lakeside promenade (Seestraße) connects the old town from the new town (Lahn.) Stop at the World War I / World War II Memorial along the way to pay your respects.

take a boat ride on the lake
The lake is a great place to get spectacular views and get great pictures of the town from a different perspective.

  • Boat rental: Rent a paddle boat, electric boat, rowboat, or swan boat. Boats can be rented by the hour, just make your way down to the lake and look for signs advertising prices.
  • Lake excursions on Hallstatt Lake District: Hallstatt Schifffahrt offers boat tours of the lake, including longer round trip tours to nearby towns of Obertraun or Ssteeg. Round trip excursions are only available May-September.
  • Let an expert row you across the lake: Ride in a historic barge type boat, commonly referred to as a Zille (Plätte or Fuhre (“Fua”) as an expert oarsman rows you across the lake.

We rented an electric boat. What we got? relaxation, stunning scenery, and a whole lot of peace and quiet!

We rented an electric boat to get out onto Lake Hallstatt for peace and quite and to get a unique vantage of town for photos
we were the only small boat on the lake! photo taken in mid-September

make your way up the mountain
Head above town to get away from the congested old town core. It’s much less crowded up there and there are some fun things to see and do! Here’s what you’ll find at the top:

  • the Hallstatt Skywalk: This viewing platform juts out of the mountain high above the village of Hallstatt. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the town below and a stunning view of the mountains on a clear day.
  • a cafe with some of the town’s best views: Experience high altitude dining at the outdoor seating area at Rudolphsturm Cafe. It’s one of the best spots in town for million-dollar views! You’ll get a good reasonably priced meal with an amazing view!
  • ancient archaeological remains: The Schaugrab Archaeological Museum houses 25,000-year-old human remains.
  • Hallstatt Salt mine (Salzwelten Hallstatt): On the guided tour you’ll take a trip inside the stone mountain to visit the ancient salt mines. Salt mining and salt production has been a thing here for 7,000 years, making it the world’s oldest salt mine (active.) The 90-minute Hallstatt Salt mine tour offers a lightshow on an underground lake, a 3,000-year-old stairway, and a train ride through the narrow tunnels. (cost of Salzbergbahn funicular included in the ticket price)
Dachstein Ice Cave Austria Landmarks
Dachstein Ice Cave
The Skywalk high above the town of Hallstatt
The Skywalk high above the town of Hallstatt, World Heritage View

How to reach these mountain top attractions:

  • option 1: Take the Salzbergbahn funicular up from the funicular station, just a short walk from the parking area in town (it is then another 15 minutes uphill to the mine.)
  • option 2: Hike up via the hiking trail for about 1 hour.
  • funicular / hike combo: Consider taking the funicular up and then hiking back down for breathtaking views on a steep trail with switchbacks.
Salzbergbahn Funicular Hallstatt Austria
Salzbergbahn Funicular Hallstatt Austria

Explore the area trails
There are many wonderful hiking trails in this area and Hallstatt is the starting point for many of them. For a complete list of options, including the Waldbachstrub waterfalls, see the Komoot website.

  • Take a boat ride across the lake for a scenic walk: The Eastern Shore hiking trail is located on the opposite side of the lake and runs the length of Hallstatt Lake.
  • Take the Stephanie boat across (to the train station) where there’s the Hangbruck bridge, a cliff hugging walkway that is suspended above the water.
  • head south: Walk along the lakeside path south towards Obertraun.

For a complete list of the top things to see and do: Top things to do in Hallstatt

Book an overnight stay in Hallstatt

If you stay overnight, you can experience early mornings and peaceful evenings crowd free. Even though overcrowding is a major problem, the tourism industry contributes greatly to the local economy and overnight guests contribute more to the community in this sense.

(prices based on double occupancy)

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accommodations with lake views

These options are in the pedestrian center of Hallstatt and have panoramic lake views:

Seehotel Grüner Baum
This too cute for words little lake Chalet is over 300 years old and has hosted famous people like Empress Sisi and Agatha Christie. Prices starting at $369 per night, guest rating: 8.8

Book Seehotel Grüner Baum now!

Seehotel Grüner Baum Hallstatt Austria
Seehotel Grüner Baum

Seewirt Zauner
Overnight in one of those ridiculously cute alpine cottages, located just off the market square. This immaculate little place has a distinctly Austrian feel! Prices starting at: $256 per night, Guest rating: 8.8

book Seewirt Zauner now!

Seewirt Zauner Hallstatt Austria
Seewirt Zauner

Heritage Hotel Hallstatt
Consisting of 3 buildings, one of which is more than 400-years-old. Prices start at $321 per night. Guest rating: 8.5

book Heritage Hotel Hallstatt now!

my favorite area hotel

Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt
Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt, located in Bad Goisern is the best option outside of staying in town in my opinion! it is simply gorgeous! Room interiors are fashioned in gorgeous rustic wood. The hotel itself is nestled against a mountain backdrop and a babbling brook. Our room had a large picture window with a view of both. The train station is just a short walk away, with train service to Hallstatt (15 minutes, direct trains, leave your car parked at the hotel!) Distance from Hallstatt: 8 km, Prices starting at $238 per night, guest rating: 9.4

book Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt now!

Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt Bad Goisern Austria
Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt Bad Goisern

parking for overnight guests:

If you are overnighting in the village center and have booked a hotel, follow signs to P1 Parking. A shuttle bus service will take you and your luggage from “P1″ to your accommodation.

Getting to Hallstatt

Closest city and distance from Hallstatt:

  • Salzburg (73 km)
  • Bad Ischl (21 km, direct trains)
  • Vienna (288 km)
  • Innsbruck (244 km)
  • Graz (177 km)
  • Munich Germany (207 km)

Closest airport

Salzburg W.A. Mozart (SZG)

by car

Google maps (or any navigation system) should take you right there. Head for one of the parking lots in the car-friendly Lahn, the newer part of town. From there you’ll walk to the old part of town where most of the attractions are located. DO NOT TRY TO DRIVE INTO THE OLD TOWN. A SPECIAL PERMIT IS REQUIRED.

parking
As you approach electronic signs direct you to open lots. I had no trouble finding spots in the morning and evening both in the month of September.

There are 4 Parking lots:

  • P1 and P2 are the closest to the town center.
  • P3 and P4 are further away but entail a lakeside pedestrian and bike path. (P3 is a 25-minute walk (2.1 km) P4 is a 38-minute walk (3.1 km))

parking fees
Rates start at €4 for the first hour (15 minutes and under is free.) For current prices see the Hallstatt website. Pay at the ticket machine before leaving. DO NOT LOSE YOUR TICKET! Lost ticket fee: €30

Train / boat combination

Hallstatt train station is across the lake from town. From there you will need to then take the ship Stefanie ferry boat / Lake Hallstatt Shipping across the lake to reach town. The ship departs from the center near the Evangelical Church. If you’re coming from Salzburg, Vienna, Munich or beyond, most routes require you to change trains in Attnang-Puchheim. Check Rome2Rio for train schedules.

bus
The best place to check bus routes is on Rome2Rio.

Frequently Asked Questions

here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about Hallstatt Austria:

How many days do I need to visit Hallstatt?

The town is very small and technically, it can be done in one day (just a few hours really.) You could arrive in the early morning and easily find parking, tour the town, flee the midday crowds in favor of one of the activities listed in this article, and then come back in the evening to blissfully empty streets, but why not linger? Give your Hallstatt itinerary at least two nights and a full day in the area for a more laid-back relaxing experience.

Is Hallstatt worth it?

I can confirm that this famous Austrian Landmark is 1000% worth it! People flock to this picture-perfect little town for good reason! The hordes of crowds that descend on storybook perfect Hallstatt can’t completely diminish its charm. Simply follow the crow beating tips in this article for the perfect visit!

Why is Hallstatt so crowded?

Aside from its obvious charms, Hallstatt is purported to be the inspiration for the fictional Nordic town of Arendelle in the Disney movie Frozen. Disney fans have been descending on the little town in masses. Additionally, it is very popular with Chinese tourists. In fact, there is a life size version of Hallstatt in China!

Austria Itineraries that include Hallstatt

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