Hallstatt Austria things to do and crowd beating tips in this bucket list destination

The small village of Hallstatt is of unparalleled beauty. This charming small town is nestled in the mountainous Salzkammergut Northern Limestone Alps region of upper Austria. Picture perfect Hallstatt sits prettily on the shores of tranquil Lake Hallstatt (Hallstättersee), surrounded by majestic mountains and lush forests.

Hallstatt Austria things to do and crowd beating tips in this bucket list destination
Hallstatt Austria things to do and crowd beating tips in this bucket list destination with the Austrian Alps/ Dachstein Mountains in the background

Photos of Hallstatt landed it at the top of my travel bucket list, and I can now confirm that this famous Austrian Landmark is 1000% worth visiting!

Get the full lowdown on THE best time to visit Hallstatt here!

Based on its natural beauty, picturesque lakes, forest capped mountains, and storybook villages, the entire Hallstatt-Dachstein / Salzkammergut was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. 

The best things to do in Hallstatt Austria

You might assume that the only thing to do in pretty Hallstatt is take photos. Not so! There are lots of things to do in and around Hallstatt!

How much time should you spend at Hallstatt?

Indeed, the tiny village can easily be toured in a single day but why not linger? You should give it at least two nights and a full day in the area. Only have one day? Simply pick your favorites from this list of top things to do in Hallstatt!!

Map of the best things to do in Hallstatt Austria:

Use this map to plan your Hallstatt itinerary, get your bearings, and quickly locate your favorite things to do in Hallstatt!

Click on the map to be directed to an interactive Google Map.

interactive map of the top things to do in Hallstatt Austria, photo links to an interactive Google Map
interactive map of the top things to do in Hallstatt Austria, photo links to an interactive Google Map

Get those photos!

One of the first things you should do is head to Gosaumühlstraße 67, the classic village viewpoint (Ausichtspunkt (vantagepoint/ viewpoint) and get your classic postcard photos before the crowds set in. Another great place to take photos of Hallstatt is from the lake (more on that later!)

photo taken from Gosaumühlstraße 67,(Ausichtspunkt (vantagepoint/ viewpoint) one of the best places to get the classic views of Hallstatt
photo taken from Gosaumühlstraße 67,(Ausichtspunkt (vantagepoint/ viewpoint) one of the best places to get the classic views of Hallstatt
Angie Kunze in Hallstatt Austria, We're Not in Kansas Anymore
I made it! Hallstatt was on my bucket list and it did not disappoint!
swan on Lake Hallstatt Austria
walk along the lake for different views of Hallstatt

Explore

It was those photos of the picturesque town and surrounding mountains that called you here, so the top “ Hallstatt must see ” is the tiny town itself! These are all free options! (except for the audio guide tour)

  • Explore the town’s narrow streets lined with traditional Alpine architecture and pastel-colored houses adorned with flower boxes.
  • Make your way to the cute little medieval town center (which locals call the Markt or old market square)
  • The main street that runs through the historic old town center is lined with restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops.
  • A lakeside promenade (Seestraße) connects the old town from the new town (Lahn.)
  • If you hike up a few blocks you’ll see storybook lanes and the waterfall raging through town. Dr Morton Weg is one of the most picturesque lanes in town.
  • Take an Audio Guide tour of town.
  • Stop at the World War I / World War II Memorial to pay your respects.

Note: as you explore, please keep in mind that people actually live here. Respect residents’ privacy and do not trespass on private property.

Cute little Market Square Hallstatt Austria
Market Square
cute and colorful Hallstatt Austria
cute and colorful Hallstatt Austria, on of the most beautiful places in Austria!

Shop for Souvenirs

You’ll find small shops lining the main street that runs through the old town. Popular souvenirs include:

  • Salt! Salt has been the lifeblood of this area for 7,000 years! Take some “white gold” home!
  • Air! That’s right they have graciously canned some of Hallstatt’s fresh air for you to take home!
  • Wooden crafts and trinkets. There’s a woodworking school right in town so look for items that were produced there. Some of the quality wooden toys I brought home from Hallstatt were crafted in the Czech Republic.
  • Jewelry! Much of the jewelry sold locally is inspired by bronze age tombs found here.
Canned Air, Hallstatt Austria souvenirs
Canned Air, Hallstatt Austria souvenirs

Guided walking tours

Let a local guide show you around town! The TI offers 1.5-hour guided walking tours (in German and English.) Every Monday and Saturday from May-September. Tours meet at 4:30 p.m. (16:30) at the Tourist Info Center. Free to guests staying at local hotels (€ 10.00 for non-guests) Advance reservation required.

The storybook village of Hallstatt Austria, built into the side of a mountain
How romantic is Hallstatt Austria? The storybook village of Hallstatt Austria, old houses built into the side of a mountain

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, one of the most powerful dynasties in European history. Free: Open daily during business hours.

Roman road in Hallstatt Austria
Roman road in Hallstatt Austria

Hallstatt Museum

Hallstatt’s history predates the Roman Empire. Bronze age people lived here in about 1600 BC. Later came Celtic and Roman settlements. The history of Hallstatt is on display at the Hallstatt Museum where you’ll find Stone Age, and countless other artifacts from prehistoric times on the mountain.

(closed Monday & Tuesday) see the official website for current and up to date information on opening times and holiday hours.
prices starting at € 10.00 for adults, discounts for children, families, students, seniors, groups, and guest card holders.

Note: Hallstatt has such a significant prehistoric presence that an entire era has been named after it. Hallstatt culture is the name of a late Bronze age/ early Iron age period. (800-400 BC)

boat ride

The lake is a great place to get spectacular views and great pictures of the most beautiful town in Austria! There are several ways to get out on the water and see Hallstatt Lake from a different perspective.

  • Boat rental: head down to the lake where you can rent electric boats, swan boats, paddle boats, rowboats.
  • Lake excursions: on Hallstatt Lake District with Hallstatt Schifffahrt : For longer tours take round trips to nearby towns of Obertraun or Ssteeg. Round trip excursions are only available in summer. 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”)) with Navia as an expert oarsman rows you across the lake.
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
getting out on the lake is a great option! 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
Swan boats can be rented by the hour down  by the lake in Hallstatt Austria
Swan boats can be rented by the hour down by the lake

Hallstatt Churches

Hallstatt’s historic churches include:

The Protestant Church

The 1863 Protestant church Evangelische Pfarrkirche (Evangelical Parish Church or church of Christ) sits on the banks of the lake just steps from the marketplace. It has the iconic steeple that towers above the town. free and often open.

The iconic Protestant Church towers over the tiny town of Hallstatt Austria
The iconic Protestant Church towers over the tiny town of Hallstatt Austria

The Catholic Church

The Gothic Romanesque Roman Catholic Church Pfarrkirche Mariä Himmelfahrt (Parish church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary) also known as Maria am Berg is where you’ll find the bone chapel (ossuary.) . Direction signs to the 12th century Catholic Parish Church signs may read Kath. Kirche,

The view from the little cemetery is outstanding! I wouldn’t mind spending a few of my years of eternity buried here! The smaller Chapel of St. Michael (Michaelskapelle) is where you’ll find the bone house (discussed next.)
Catholic Parish Church: open daily (bone chapel hours differ)

The beautiful cemetery located in the Catholic churchyard in Hallstatt Austria is both protestant and catholic
grave markers at the cemetery / burial grounds Hallstatt Austria
grave markers at the cemetery / burial grounds

Bone 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. In order to make room for new “tenants” bones were dug up, cleaned, sometimes painted, and artfully arranged in a decorative display. Hours: closed Monday and Tuesday and possibly during bad weather. Extra cost to access the bone church (€ 2.00 for adults, discounts for children.)

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)

Swans

One of the absolute most charming features of Hallstatt are its beloved resident swans. One of my favorite “ free things to do in Hallstatt “ is to take a little time to observe these beautiful creatures as they go about their day. The lake is a stunning backdrop for swan studded photos! (Keep a respectful distance. These are wild animals, this is their home, and you are a visitor!)

The Swans of Hallstatt Austria: they make themselves at  home!
The Swans of Hallstatt Austria: they make themselves at home!
Swan Lake, Hallstatt Austria!
Swan Lake, Hallstatt Austria!

Hallstatt Salt mine (Salzwelten Hallstatt)

Hallstatt means “salt settlement.” Take a trip inside the stone mountain to visit the ancient salt mines. The mines date back over 7,000 years, making it the world’s oldest salt mine (active) and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hallstatt. The 90-minute guided Hallstatt Salt mine tour offers a lightshow on an underground lake and has 3,000-year-old stairs. Amazing!

Ride the miners’ train out through narrow tunnels. Dress warm, the mine stays cold year-round. (6°C / 43°F) Total time required 3 hours.(including tour and getting up and back down the mountain on the funicular)
Prices start at € 40.00 adults, discounts available for children) Price includes the Salzbergbahn. NOTE: due to regulations, children under 4 are not permitted to enter the mine.

2 options to get to the oldest salt mine in the world from Hallstatt:

  • 1-Take the Salzbergbahn cable car up from the cable car station in town (it is then another 15 minutes uphill to the mine.)
  • 2-Hike up via the hiking trail for about 1 hour.

Consider taking the funicular up and then hiking back down for great views on a steep trail with switchbacks.

Salzbergbahn Funicular Hallstatt Austria
Salzbergbahn Funicular Hallstatt Austria

Head above town for Hallstatt Skywalk, ancient bones, and a cafe with a view!

Even if you aren’t interested in the salt mine tour there are some other worthwhile sites above town. Ride the Salzbergbahn funicular up for grand views and these attractions:

  • The Skywalk: The skywalk is a viewing platform that juts out of the mountain high above the village of Hallstatt. Head to the skywalk viewpoint for a bird’s eye view of the UNESCO World Heritage historic Hallstatt town below and the Dachstein Salzkammergut hiking region. free
  • ancient remains: Stop at the Schaugrab Archaeological museum to see 25,000-year-old human bones!
  • The Cafe with million dollar Views: Rudolphsturm Cafe has affordable food and million-dollar views.

Funicular prices: Prices starting at € 20.00 for adults for ascent and descent (discounts for children)

The Skywalk high above the town of Hallstatt
The Skywalk high above the town of Hallstatt: (best high-altitude vantage is the skywalk at the Rudolfsturm

hiking

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.

Free things to do in Hallstatt

On a budget and looking for free things to do in Hallstatt? These are all free!

  • Guided walking tours (free for overnight guests.)
  • Hiking and walking the paths along the lake
  • Hallstatt churches
  • Dachstein Janu Sports shop ancient ruins and artifacts
  • Everything under the “explore Hallstatt” heading in this article

Crowd Beating Tips

Dear darling Instagram’able Hallstatt…so beautiful and so CROWDED! If Hallstatt has a flaw, it’s the hordes of crowds that descend upon the tiny town.

Prior to COVID this ridiculously popular tourist destination was trampled by up to 10,000 tourists a day and sadly those numbers seem to be recovering. Over tourism is once more becoming a problem.

I’m not a big fan of crowds, I actually despise them. If you are looking to avoid the worst of the crowds in Hallstatt Österreich follow these tips for the best experience sans crowds!

3 ways to beat the crowds when you visit Hallstatt

Tip #1: an overnight stay

The bulk of the visitors to Hallstatt are day trippers. Midday and late afternoon are the busiest times. If you stay overnight, you can experience early mornings and late evenings without crowds. PLUS, overnight guests contribute more to the local economy.

Evening is magical in Hallstatt Austria
Evening is a magical time in Hallstatt

Tip #2 make a midday escape to area attractions

Midday is a great time to check out some of the activities in the surrounding area. Stay somewhere nearby (like the fabulous Bad Goisern option discussed later) Arrive early to beat the crowds, make a quick exit when things start to get congested in the old town core, then come back to Hallstatt as the evening and after dark peacefulness descends on the town.
Here are some of the recommended nearby activities:

  • Gosausee was my choice for a midday escape and is my top tip for the best thing to do nearby! This stunning little lake is surrounded by majestic mountains and was the perfect activity to escape the crowds! There’s a picturesque 1.5-hour trail that surrounds this crystal clear emerald green alpine lake. You can get full details on how to plan the perfect Gosausee trip!
  • Dachstein Giant Ice Cave, (Dachstein Krippenstein) located on Dachstein Mountain) subterranean glaciers with stalactites and light & sound shows. Mammoth Cave (Mammut Cave) is one of the largest karst caves in the world. 23-minute drive from the P2 or check your public transportation options at Rome2Rio.
Gosausee Lake Austria mountain reflection, prettiest place on earth! Gosausee Dachstein
Photo: Gosausee Dachstein mountain refection on the lake

Tip #3 Go up the mountain, out on the lake, OR across the lake

If you don’t have a car and can’t get to any of the recommended area attractions try one of these instead.

  • Head up: Head above town to get away from the congested old town core. Discussed earlier: the funicular, the hike down, they skywalk, high altitude dining, ancient archaeological remains.
  • 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.
  • Boat ride: get out on the lake where it’s less CROWDED!
  • hiking: explore one of the many scenic trails in the area
  • head south: Walk along the lakeside path south towards Obertraun.

Additional tips for avoiding crowds:

In addition to visiting early or late the general rule of thumb for avoiding the worst crowds at popular tourist attractions are:

  • Weekdays are often less crowded than weekends.
  • Travel in the shoulder or off season: Summer months are peak season / high season, spring and fall are considered shoulder seasons, and winter months are off season in this area.

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 Frozen movies. 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!

Hallstatt Restaurants

Wondering where to eat in Hallstatt?
Hours are unreliable so don’t wait to eat, you may miss out. Restaurants on the tourist track generally aren’t the best restaurants. Food can be subpar and prices are high. The saving grace here is the view! Stop in at one of the restaurants with a view of the lake like Gasthof Simony’s Restaurant am see where we ate or BRAUGASTHOF am Hallstätter See. Be aware that you may need to show up early or be willing to wait to get a table by the water. For quick eats there’s a doner kebab place next to the ferry dock, and food stands along the water near the entrance to the old town.

Austrian dishes you should try:

  • Eiernockerl: the Austrian version of Spätzle with cheese and fried onions
  • Speckknodel: dumplings with ham and bacon mixed in, served with broth
  • Mozart cake: modeled after the famed Mozart Ball, thin layers of almond paste made from sweet almond milk, and topped with chocolate,
  • Salzburger Nockerl: souffle resembling mountain peaks with a snowy dusting of sugar sometimes topped with raspberry sauce.

Getting to Hallstatt

Hallstatt is an easy day trip from many of the surrounding towns.

Distance from:
Salzburg (73 km)
Vienna (288 km)
Innsbruck (244 km)
Graz (177 km)
Munich Germany (207 km)

Address: (P2 Parking) Kohlstattweg, 4830 Hallstatt, Austria
GPS coordinates: (P2) 47.55533409167406, 13.64516353585011

Closest airport
Salzburg W.A. Mozart (SZG)

What is the best way to get to Hallstatt Austria? Either by Car, by bus, organized tour, or by train/ferry combination. Let’s discuss them in further detail.

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 WHERE A SPECIAL PERMIT IS REQUIRED.

As you approach electronic signs direct you to open lots.

If you are coming from the direction of Gosau / Bad Goisern on Landstraße 547, coming out of the tunnel in Hallstatt, please do not turn off the main road! This causes risky turning maneuvers and unnecessary traffic jams. Drive straight after the tunnel. Do not turn left into the city center.

parking

There are 4 Parking lots: P1/P2/P3/P4

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)

Pro tip: Lot P2 lot is a short walk from sights and the closest lot to the old town where most attractions are located.

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

parking for overnight guests:

If you are overnighting in the village center and have booked a hotel, follow signs to P1 Parking. A shuttle service will take you and your luggage from “P1″ to your accommodation and back again on departure. For complete details on hotel guest parking including current parking fees and a timetable for the shuttle bus.

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. Check Rome2Rio for train schedules.

bus

The best place to check bus routes is on Rome2Rio.

Hallstatt Tours

If you’d rather now plan your own trip full day and half day tours are available from Get Your guide from cities like Salzburg and Vienna. Save yourself the hassle and book a group tour or private tour now!

Where to stay

Fortunately there are several great accommodations in Hallstatt with Lake views. Here are a few options:

(prices based on double occupancy)

These options are located 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 it now on booking.com!

Seehotel Grüner Baum Hallstatt Austria
Seehotel Grüner Baum

Seewirt Zauner

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

book it now on booking.com!

Seewirt Zauner Hallstatt Austria
Seewirt Zauner

Heritage Hotel Hallstatt

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

book it now on booking.com!

Bad Goisern

Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt

We actually stayed at a very special property in Bad Goisern. Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt is nestled against a mountain backdrop on the far northern shores of Lake Hallstatt, just where the lake and the river join. It is a truly lovely spot. The interior has gorgeous rustic wood detail. Our room had a large picture window overlooking the stream below. We had a delicious dinner in the restaurant, and breakfast was just as good. The train station is just a short walk away, with train service to Hallstatt. Distance from Hallstatt: 8 km, Prices starting at $238 per night, guest rating: 9.4

book it now on booking.com!

Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt Bad Goisern Austria
Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt Bad Goisern
I don’t normally take the time to post video of our accommodations, but this is the view outside our window at Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt

Save money with the Salzkammergut Card

The Salzkammergut Adventure Card: Overnight guests to the Salzkammergut region will receive a free discount card to use during their stay in the area when staying for 3 or more nights. If you don’t meet those requirements you can purchase a card at one of the area Tourist Offices (or ask at your accommodations) for €4.90. Up to 25% discount on over 120 popular attractions, sights and leisure activities in the Salzkammergut.

Webcam and panorama tour

Can’t get to Hallstatt just yet? Check these out!

360 panorama

360-degree panorama tour complete with sound effects! nearby mountain views!

webcam

Get a live view with the Hallstatt Webcam!

When to visit Hallstatt

What is the best time to visit Hallstatt? You may find this information helpful:

Day of the week:
Be aware that several of the sights/attractions are closed on Monday and Tuesday so plan accordingly.

Time of the year
Summer months are the busiest time to visit. We visited Hallstatt in September (shoulder season) and it was PERFECT! The weather was nice, less crowded, and everything was still open, up and running!

Is Hallstatt in Austria a good place to visit in the winter time?
Hallstatt can be visited year-round. 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 in the winter months.
Christmas Market: Each year during the advent season the 14th century marketplace hosts a romantic Christmas market.

FAQ

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

Is Hallstatt worth it?

Yes, it certainly is! There is a good reason why people flock to this picture-perfect little town. It is truly a storybook image come to life. The hordes of crowds that descend on Hallstatt can’t completely diminish its charm. To find out how to avoid crowds when you visit Hallstatt village, follow the crowd beating tips in this article.

Is Hallstatt Village in Austria as beautiful as photos make it out to be?

Indeed it is! There’s no need for photoshop! Idyllic little Hallstatt is backed by the imposing Dachstein Massif Mountain range with a glittering lake on one side and towering rugged rock on the other. It is magnificent!

What language is spoken in Hallstatt Austria?

German is the official language of Austria! Want to learn a bit of German? Here are my best tips for learning a language for travel! I’ve got tips on free (and fun!) ways of learning like Duolingo and highly effective ways become proficient like Pimsleur and Lingopie.

Where can I store my luggage?

Just passing through and need somewhere to store your luggage?
You can store your luggage at the cable car valley station in town or at the Tourist office in the center of town, during opening hours.

Where is the nearest public toilet?

There are toilets in the center of the old town (near the entrance to the waterfall) and another located at the beginning of the old town, right next to the barrier.

free Austria itineraries

We visited Hallstatt as part of a 2 week trip to Austria, southern Germany and Slovenia, get my itinerary for free!

or check out this 7 day Austria Road trip that includes: Salzburg, Hallstatt, Gosausee, Hohenwerfen Castle, Dachstein Caves, and more!

Planning your own ” Europe Hallstatt Itinerary? ” I planned my epic trip to Hallstatt with the help of Rick Steves Austria travel Guide. Here’s why they are the best Europe Travel Guides on the market!

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Angie!

    We are going to be in Hallstatt October 3 – 6 and your article was extremely informative!

    Question on the Salzkammergut card – how do you actually get it? I followed your link but the information on the website was kind of vague. We’re looking for discount/combo tix for the ice cave, salt mine and funicular car.

    We also plan to rent an electric boat – any specific tips there? We’re staying at Seehotel Grüner Baum, then heading to Salzburg – very excited!

    Thank you!

    1. How exciting! Check the Tourist Information office or ask your hotel about the discount card. No specific tips on the boat but it’s a great way to see Hallstatt from the water. Salzburg is so amazing! Enjoy your trip!

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