When to Visit
Hallstatt is charming all year-round, whether it is covered with a fresh blanket of snow, bursting with autumn colors or green and lush. But if you want to find the best time for you to visit, you should take into account factors other than the weather.
Arriving by Train (or having parked there): As you get out of the station, follow the road on your left and you will be at the Wolfsklamm’s entrance in less than 15min.
Arriving by Bus (or having parked there): Get off at the Stans Volksschule stop, on the Oberdorf street. Follow this slightly uphill road and in less than 500m you will be at the paid parking lot.
From the Sportsplatz free parking lot: From there, a small hiking trail takes you in 10min to the entrance of the Wolfsklamm Gorge.
From the Laurentius Church free parking lot: The gorge is an approx. 5-7min.walk from the large, free car park in the centre of Stans.
Summer is the peak season, and aside from battling the heat, you are sure to battle large crowds of people that flock to the village. Winter can also be busy, particularly around Christmas, but this is when you will find some of our favorite festivals. So this leaves us with autumn and spring, that offer pleasant weather, cheaper rates, and fewer crowds.
However, no matter the season, you can still avoid the crowds! Stay overnight, either in Hallstatt or in a nearby village, and visit Hallstatt early in the morning or late in the afternoon. And if you are looking to visit this charming village on a special occasion, here are some of its festivals:
With frequent bus and train connections with most Austrian cities, getting to Hallstatt is petty easy. And the cheapest way to get there is to travel by regional trains using the Einfach-Raus ticket (more below).
Once there, you can easily walk from the one end of the village to the other in less than 30min. Stroll around its car-free center and if you want to explore beyond it, take the funicular up to the Salt Mines or the local bus to the Ice Caves.
So here is everything you need to know about getting to Hallstatt!
Driving is the easiest and probably the cheapest way to reach Hallstatt. Its historic village center is closed to cars during the daytime, but you will find two parking lots. Follow the signposts leading to them, where electronic displays will show you how many spots are still available.
Traveling from other parts of Austria to Hallstatt by ÖBB train always requires a transfer at Attnang-Puchheim. From this point on, only (slightly) slower regional trains run to Hallstatt, calling at the Hallstatt Bahnhof, on the east bank of the Hallstätter See. Since the village lies on the west bank, you will have the unique experience of approaching Hallstatt across the water. A regular ferry service meets each arriving train and takes you to the Schiffstation, just north of the Marktplatz.
Once in Salzburg, you can reach Hallstatt by bus as well: First, take the Bus #150 that will get you to Bad Ischl (1h 25m, every 30min), and then hop on the Bus #542 to Hallstatt Gosaumühle (30min, every 20min). Finally, take Bus #543 to Hallstatt Lahn (10min, hourly), from where it’s just a short walk into the village.
Here goes the Intro …
A stroll along the waterfront is an attraction on its own! Rustic gabled houses casting shimmering reflections onto the glassy waters of the lake, elegant swans, and old wooden boats by the water’s edge. Do you need more?
Walking from one end of the village to the other should take you less than 20min. Still, you may find yourself stopping every few steps trying to take that postcard-perfect photo.
And just in case you can’t find that famous Hallstatt viewpoint, search for Postcard Angle on Google Maps!
After your stroll along the waterfront, it’s time to discover the car-free Old Town. Staircases lead up to higher parts of Hallstatt and take you to even more charming pastel-colored houses. The main landmark here is the little triangular Marktplatz (Market Square), once a bustling medieval center of trade and commerce. Today, Marktplatz is the main square of the village and a venue for concerts, cultural evenings, and the Christmas Market.
By the Marktplatz, the Hallstatt Welterbemuseum (World Heritage Museum) presents a comprehensive picture of the region’s history of Iron Age and salt mining. It includes sections on local geology, natural history, handicrafts, and the religious strife between Catholics and Protestants.
Raised above the lake on a terrace north of the Marktplatz stands the village’s 15th century Catholic Parish Church (Pfarrkirche). Inside, the most intriguing altar is a carved wooden one with the gilded statuettes of the Madonna and Child. It is flanked by St. Barbara, patron of miners, and St. Catherine, revered by woodcutters.
In the cemetery surrounding the church stands the Beinhaus, an ossuary serving as a storehouse for some 1.200 human skulls. Due to a shortage of space in the graveyard, they had to store somewhere the bones of the deceased. Hence, once sufficient time had elapsed for complete decomposition of the body, the bones were recovered and stored in the Beinhaus. Interestingly enough, the skulls were painted with decorative designs: the male ones with oak or ivy leaves, and the female ones with floral motifs. Moreover, they sometimes added the name of the deceased, the date, and a symbol of the cause of death.
High above the village is the wooded valley of Salzberg (Salt Mountain), also known as Hallstätter Hochtal (Hallstatt High Valley). There, you will find the breathtaking Skywalk viewing platform and one of the oldest known Salt Mines in the world.
Rudolfsturm, a medieval defense tower, guards the entrance to the Salzberg area. It once served as a residence for the respective manager of the salt mine, but now hosts a restaurant. Directly below the tower stands, 360m above the rooftops of Hallstatt, the Skywalk (Welterbeblick, World Heritage View). Step onto this lookout platform and walk the 12m out to its tapered point for majestic views.
About 10min away, the Salt Mine (Salzwelten) can only be visited on a 90min tour, detailing the history of mining. You will get down into the depths on 60m miners’ slides, through mysterious tunnels, and to an underground salt lake.
Prices & Opening hours:
Access to the Skywalk platform is free, while the entrance to the Salt Mine costs €24. If you make your way up by funicular (Salzbergbahn), it will additionally cost you 18€ for the round trip. In this case, opt for the 34€ Combo ticket that includes the Salt Mine and the funicular round trip.
Attractions around Hallstatt
Here goes the Intro …
Dachstein Caves & 5 Fingers
From the low-key village of Obertraun, take the cable car (Dachsteinseilbahn) and alight at any of its three stations. You can visit the captivating Dachstein Caves, admire the view from the 5Fingers Viewing Platform or hike through alpine meadows.
1st Stop – Schönbergalm (1.350m): The Dachstein Caves
Getting off at Schönbergalm you’ll find yourself in a strange world of ice mountains, glaciers, and frozen waterfalls, created by underground waters after the last Ice Age. Starting from the Schönbergalm station, 15-20min paths, each in a different direction, take you to two networks of caves. eerie
The most interesting one is the Rieseneishöhle (Giant Ice Cave), with its formations being illuminated with colored light and taking eerie and surreal shapes. The other one is the Mammuthöhle (Mammoth Cave), so-called because of its size rather than after the prehistoric mammal. And indeed, it is among the deepest and longest karst caves in the world! It may lack the ice but offers a spectacular light show. Also worth seeing is the Koppenbrüllerhöhle, the third and youngest of the Dachstein caves. This one allows a deep insight into the underground waterways of the inside of the Dachstein.
2nd Stop – Krippenstein (2.100m): 5Fingers
The cable car climbs to the highest point of Krippenstein, where you can find three viewing platforms: the Welterbespiral, the Weltnaturerbeblick, and the most spectacular of all, the 5Fingers. The 5Fingers Viewing Platform protrudes over a sheer cliff face in five differently shaped platforms, offering magnificent views. Its glass floor allows you to peer directly down beyond your feet into a gaping void and test your vertigo.
Those looking for an easy hike can follow the Heilbronner Circuit, which ends at the 3rd stop of the cable car. The 2h hike takes you all along the top of the Krippenstein, past the Dachstein Shark and the Heilbronner Cross.
3d Stop – Gjaid Alm (1.750m):
Finally, the cable car descends to the Gjaid valley, an area where hiking trails wind across the rocky meadows or lead higher into the mountains, many of which begin at the Gjaid Alm Hut.
Operating hours & Prices:
All caves are open to the public only during the spring and summer seasons (May-October). Expect to pay €33-€50, depending on the attractions you want to visit.
Getting there: From Hallstatt Lahn take the Postbus #543 and get off at Obertraun Dachsteinseilbahn (15min, €2.60). Arriving by car, you can park free of charge at the valley station of the Dachstein Krippenstein Seilbahn. From here the cable car departs every 15min and has the three aforementioned stages, becoming more remote the further you go.
If you are visiting Hallstatt on a hot summer day and getting away from the crowds is what you are looking for, then the Waldbachstrub Wasserfall is your best option. The imposing waterfall in Echerntal Valley, known as “The Place for Romantics”, is Hallstatt’s hidden gem! You can easily get there from the center of the village, with the trail starting at the P2 parking lot. The hike takes about 1h 30min, while an extra 30min trail takes you to the marvelous Gletschergarten (Glacier Garden).
A side-trip worth taking is the one to the three small mountain lakes, known as Gosauseen. They lie one after the other, surrounded by forest and limestone rocks, and intercut with deep gorges.
The first one, Vorderer Gosausee, is only 5km up the valley from Gosau and lies at an altitude of 933m. An undemanding 4km walk around the lake, which generally takes a little over an hour, will reward you with superb views of the surrounding mountains. Likewise, opting for the Laserer Via Ferrata will be a unique and adventurous way to enjoy the spectacular setting.
Walk along the Vorderer Gosausee, pass through woods, walk past the second lake, the Gosaulacke (Lacke means puddle). After about 1h 30min you will get to the third one, Hinterer Gosausee, a smaller green-blue lake enclosed within a host of stunning grey peaks.
Himmelsleiter, for climbing enthusiasts
(or Stairway to Heaven, Ladder to Heaven, Jacob’s Ladder)
Part of the Klettersteig Donnerkogel, Sky Ladder is a 40m long Via Ferrata that bridges a gorge on the Donnerkogel. Firstly, take the Gosaukammbahn from the lake up into the Zwieselalm and then follow the path to the Gablonzer Hütte. Finally, follow the signs towards the official starting point of the Klettersteig Donnerkogel.
Where to Stay
Staying overnight in Hallstatt allows you to explore it without the crowds. Nevertheless, since the village is pretty small and the available rooms may be out of your budget, opting for a nearby village can be a great alternative. For example, Obertraun is really close and makes an excellent base for exploring the nearby caves and the 5fingers. Similarly, from the village of Gosau, you can explore the lovely Gosauseen.