Hallstatt is one of the most talked about Austrian destinations. And for a good cause!
This 7,000 year old village has a vast history and is built into a mountain surrounded by Lake Hallstatt. So as you can imagine, the scenery is like no other…
To say we were excited to explore this ancient village was an understatement!
We did a lot of research before our adventure to Hallstatt and, from what we read, it seemed like one full day would be more than enough time here, but boy were we wrong…
After just a few hours, we came to one conclusion:
To truly enjoy Hallstatt, you need to take your time. Slow down and live like the locals – without the packed itinerary.
Go for long walks, discover hidden streets, admire the scenery, sip spritzers while watching the swans float by.
For this reason (along with the 13 other reasons below) we are here to tell you that…Hallstatt is SO MUCH MORE than just a day trip.
13 Reasons Why Hallstatt is More than Just a Day Trip
1. Electric Boats with best views
From the lake, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the most amazing views of Hallstatt.
Sure, the ferry from Hallstatt station to Hallstatt shows off the same scenery, BUT with all the other tourists pushing through to snap their best photo too. There is nothing more relaxing than floating on the deep blue water, slowly taking in this incredible environment that seems simply too perfect to exist.
Do yourself a favor. Grab a fresh pastry and a latte, and rent an electric boat for at least an hour during your visit. It will be the most relaxing hour of your life. And you can snap as many photos as you’d like without fighting the crowds.
Time will stand still and you’ll be in complete awe of your surroundings.
For 13 euros/hour you can rent the 300 watt electric boat (good for 2 people) and for 18 euros/hour, you can rent the 500 watt boat (for 3+ people). You can drive as close as 50 meters from the shore, which allows you to fully appreciate every bit of the scenery.
From the lake, you’ll also be able to see Schloss Grub, which is a privately owned residence that looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale. Erin decided that it’s definitely fit for our future home (Hey, we are dreamers after all, so we’ll keep on dreaming…)
2. Unique Handmade crafts
Strolling down the ancient streets of Hallstatt, you’ll stumble upon endless handmade crafts and unique treasures. Why not stop in every store to appreciate it all?
From homemade schnapps to wooden treasures carved right before your eyes, there are so many perfect souvenir options. Shopping alone can take hours of your day, so give it the time it deserves! These are crafts you won’t find anywhere else…
One of the specialties at Hallstatt is the salt, of course, since the village was made rich from its salt mine. There are entire shops with just salt products. Bath salts, seasoned salts, soaps and even salt deodorant! Be sure to take at least one salt product home, since the village’s entire history was formed because of it.
3. The Oldest Salt Mine in the world
Take the funicular up to Salzwelton Hallstatt to explore the world’s oldest salt mine. This mine is how Hallstatt became famous 7,000 years ago, and why there is an entire era dedicated to Hallstatt – the Hallstatt era (400-800 BC). The tour itself takes about 70 minutes, and you’ll want to enjoy learning about its vast history.
There’s even a giant wooden slide included in your tour, which is what the miners used to get from one level to another. It is the longest wooden slide in Europe, and makes you feel like a little kid again!
4. Rudolfsturm for lunch
At the top of the funicular, you’ll also find the restaurant Rudolfsturm, where you can dine with the most incredible view of Hallstatt below. Order a traditional Austrian dish and enjoy the mountains, lake and the paragliders soaring through the sky.
There is no better scenery for your Austrian schnitzel than this!
We sat ride at the edge, and to be honest, we could have sat up there for hours. The views are out of this world amazing and the food was traditional and delicious.
5. Hallstatt Skywalk
Right under the Rudolfsturm restaurant is the Hallstatt Skywalk, a platform literally built off a cliff.
From the Skywalk, you can enjoy a birds-eye view of Hallstatt village, as well as Hallstatt lake and the layers of mountains surrounding you.
Depending on the time of year, it can get crowded and you’ll want to wait patiently for the perfect photo op right at the tip of Skywalk’s platform.
You will feel as if you’re soaring through the sky!
6. Museum Hallstatt
The Museum Hallstatt is another must see during your visit. With 7,000 years of history, there is so much to learn and appreciate about Hallstatt’s past.
The museum covers everything from prehistoric salt mining to geology, health and culture. It takes you on a journey through Hallstatt’s rich history and influences on Europe and on the world. This is a history museum you don’t want to miss!
7. “Bone House”
Though a tad cryptic, the Bone House is something very unique to Hallstatt, so a visit to this cemetery is required.
Part of Hallstatt since the 12th century, the bone house displays 1200 skulls, 610 of which are painted to honor the deceased. They are decorated with the family name and date of death. It is truly fascinating and one of a kind. (The bone house opens in May 1st for the season.)
Here you can also enjoy another picture-perfect view of Hallstatt. And trust me, you won’t be able to get enough of Hallstatt’s views…
8. Lakeside dining with fresh local fish
Along Lake Hallstatt there are endless amounts cafes and restaurants.
Of course you’re in Austria, so enjoying a Stiegl or spritzer (white wine and mineral water) on the water is a must. But you can also taste some of the freshest freshwater fish you can find. It’s caught directly from the lake and served to you cooked to perfection. The lakes of Austria have drinking quality water, so the fish is out of this world delicious.
We chose to eat at Bräugasthof Inn, which has a history that dates back to 1472 when it was a salt manufacturing house. It sits directly on the water, which automatically makes everything awesome.
While you’re basking in the sun, watching the swans swim by, I have no doubt you’ll go for a second or third beer. You simply won’t want to leave!
9. Ice Caves
The Dachstein Ice cave is located just outside of Hallstatt. The tour takes about 50 minutes, but with the journey to and from, the entire excursion will take up 2 hours of your day.
To see entire walls made of ice is pretty fascinating, and OF COURSE worth it. But more than a day is required to add this into your itinerary (hence the entire subject of this post!). If you embark on this tour with just one day to see Hallstatt, you’ll miss out on the true magic of this little village that can only be fully appreciated with time.
10. The scenery
The scenery alone is something that deserves your undivided attention.
Standing in a 7,000 year old village where ancient homes are literally built up a mountain is not something you’ll find just anywhere. When we go (we’ve been 3 times now), we walk through the streets, imagining ourselves standing on the balcony of our future Hallstatt home.
What you see is almost too beautiful for words. It’s one of the most peaceful places in the world.
You can even hike up to the top and find new views to appreciate on your own. None of that can be accomplished with just a few hours here. This place is one of the most talked about European villages for a reason…
11. Rent a dirndl
Talk about the perfect Instagram post! At Hallstatt, you can rent a dirndl (traditional Austrian dress) for only $35/half day or $50/day. Enjoy running around the town in search of the perfect shot. Sure, it sounds a little cheesy, but if you’ve got the time, doesn’t it also sound like way too much fun?!
Nothing says Austria more than a dirndl and an ancient lake village surrounded by mountains. It will look as if you’ve stepped back in time, since this village hasn’t changed at all.
12. Bed & Breakfasts galore
Hallstatt is filled with adorable Bed and Breakfasts that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to enjoy if you only spent a day here.
The train from Salzburg to Hallstatt with the ferry takes about 2.5 hours. So unless you rent a car (about an 1.5 hours of driving), getting here is quite the journey. Spreading your sightseeing out over two days will not only allow you to see and do more, it will allow you to experience Hallstatt’s unique B&Bs. Plus, you get to wake up to views like this in the morning, and who wouldn’t want that?
13. Hallstatt Saline band
You do not want to miss the entertainment of the Hallstatt Saline band.
Throughout the summer, the market square turns into a daily celebration full of music. Where you can PROST (cheers in German) with some of the finest Austrian beer around. The Hallstatt Saline band was one of the biggest surprises for us and one of our most memorable moments in Hallstatt.
Wouldn’t you rather stop, grab and beer and appreciate the music rather than race to your next site before the last ferry leaves?
Quick Disclaimer: Hallstatt’s beauty is not unknown. People come from all over the world to experience the magic that exists here. That being said, it can get touristy during summer months. Just know that before you make the journey!
And if you’re looking for more of a tourist-free getaway, Austria’s other magnificent (and more hidden) lake villages might be worth checking out! Click here for details.
As proven with these thirteen unforgettable Hallstatt experiences, spending more than just a day here is vital for you to truly enjoy all that Hallstatt has to offer.
Besides, the last train from Hallstatt leaves at 6 pm. So no matter how early get there, you’ll find yourself checking your watch to be sure you leave on time… And that’s no way to see such a special and unique place.
Do yourself a favor, and when you plan your next Hallstatt adventure, take the time to purely appreciate every little thing this village has to offer. It is a place like no other, and a true example of a traditional Austrian village that you won’t find in bigger cities.
After all, the most relaxed excursions can be the most rewarding AND the most memorable…
For MORE of Austria’s one-of-a-kind Lake District destinations, check out our post: Salzburg Day Trips: 10 Austrian Lakes Worth a Visit
Have you ever visited Hallstatt? What was your favorite part?