Have you ever dreamed about being in a true winter wonderland? A fairy tale village, set between the mountains, with tiny and colorful houses all covered in fluffy snow? You may be a summer person, but you will fall in love instantly when you’ll see this pretty little piece of heaven in the heart of Austria, because paradise doesn’t have to be tropical all the time.
Hallstatt – Austria’s oldest and probably most photographed village – is any traveler’s wish. This cute place, tucked between the Dachstein mountains and the Hallstatter lake comes with so many valuable treasures: an unforgettable view, the world’s oldest salt mines and a spectacular atmosphere that will relax the mind in a second.
Good to know:
I think the easiest and fastest way to get to Hallstatt is from Salzburg. So, if you come to Austria by plane and arrive in Vienna, you should plan a few days in the former imperial capital as well, because from Vienna to Salzburg is a 3 1/2 hours drive. Also, Salzburg is an enchanting jewel that you must explore while in Austria. I will present below how to get to this wonderland village.
By car – We used this option, because we came by car from Bucharest, Romania. We spend 2 nights in Vienna, then 2 nights in Salzburg and then again 2 nights in Vienna. We visited Hallstatt on our last day in Salzburg and the trip lasted approx. 1 1/2 hours in poor, but pretty weather conditions (it was snowing massively all the way). It’s very easy to go by car especially if you install Waze. Keep your eyes open throughout your journey because the scenery is unique and nature is at its best!
By bus – You can also take the bus 150 from Salzbury to Bad Ischl, then a bus to Hallstatt railway station and the ferry across the lake.
By train – from Salzburg to Attnang Puchheim, then from Attnang Puchheim take another train to Hallstatt. After that, you have to use the ferry and across the lake to the village. That’s a great opportunity for spectacular photos, but only if you are lucky and the weather is beautiful.
There are plenty of tourist attractions in this village and in its surroundings, despite his dimensions. You can go on a boat ride on the lake, take the funicular up to see the wonderful panorama, walk around the narrow streets, book a tour of the salt mines, have a candle light dinner at a traditional restaurant, discover the beautiful history and culture of Hallstatt by visiting its museum, the chapel and the bone house or go on a day trip to explore the Dachstein ice caves. During the winter you can also choose to participate in a leisurely evening stroll to enjoy the romance of the world famous lakeside village. For the brave ones, there is also the ice swimming event in Overtraum (no words needed) or the hikes into the great silence on the plateau “on the stone” (the 2000 m high Krippenstein in Obertraun on Lake Hallstatt).
Although useful information is important, I would also like to share my personal experience with this place. If you look for photos of Hallstatt on Pinterest, for example, you will find many incredibly beautiful pictures (paintings almost) of this tiny village and you will probably thing that it’s all photoshop and you will be disappointed in reality. Well…this place is an Instagram/Pinterest/Snapchat picture perfect location. The colors, the cottages, the mountains, even the fog…they are all there, waiting for visitors to post a fresh photo on the social media with the popular #nofilter.
I had Hallstatt on my list for quite a while, so when we decided to go to Vienna for a week, we changed the plans a bit and included Salzburg and this bucket list destination on our itinerary. The only regret is that we didn’t plan a 2 week vacation…
I am sure that Hallstatt is charming regardless the season, but seeing this one of a kind place during winter and even more, during a wonderful winter day when snow was falling almost magical, was a dream come true. We were so lucky to have such a beautiful weather because it made our experience even more memorable. We arrived there in the early morning and got to feel its unique vibes. The streets were empty and the snow was untouched, the cafes were closed and the fog was starting to lift. The elegant swans and crazy ducks were the only ones to greet us, but we were happy to be there and enjoy the beauty around us in peace.
Once you get to Hallstatt, first you stroll alongside the lake street while admiring the lovely winter decorations from every door and search for the perfect spot for a cool view (and photo of course). You must look carefully in order to find some hidden paths and narrow stairs that lead the visitors to some gorgeous panoramic points. Take a few minutes and relax by the lake, feeding the ducks and admiring the village that goes up on the mountain or the still water in front of it.
Hallstatt is very small, but this way you get explore every corner in a short amount of time! Got to make some great photos, but the real memories are in my mind. For me, Hallstatt means natural beauty, inner peace, silence, incredible history and fresh air. It may sound odd, but I didn’t cut it off my travel list just yet: I really have to see it in spring with all the flowers blooming and in autumn, for a true color splash.
So, dear travelers around the world, my sincere advice is that you should discover at least one hidden place during your trips, that will warm your wanderlust heart. And if you liked my story and the photos I’ve shared, don’t think about it anymore and book a trip to Austria ASAP.
Wishing you all a wonderful winter, full of tiny miracles and joy!