WHAT TO DO IN HALLSTATT – ITINERARY FOR 1 DAY
If you plan your Hallstatt itinerary, you might be wondering about the best things to do in Hallstatt in one day. If so, then this post is for you – here you will find out what to do in Hallstatt.
Thanks to Instagram, I came across pictures of Hallstatt in Austria. Then, digging a bit deeper, I found blog posts about this tiny village located on Hallstatt Lake’s shores, close to Salzburg. This Austrian town seemed to be one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Everyone seemed to think so. Or at least that is how it felt when reading all the posts.
I wanted to find out whether Hallstatt is really THAT stunning and worth the hype. After my Hallstatt trip, I have come to a conclusion which I will share as well.
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR ONE DAY IN HALLSTATT
I will tell you later about my thoughts. First, here are the top Hallstatt attractions and some important travel advice.
- Hallstatt is located on Lake Hallstatt’s western shore in Austria’s mountainous Salzkammergut region.
- The village has a long and impressive history and is considered to be one of the oldest still inhabited settlements in Europe.
- Hallstatt’s UNESCO-recognized salt mines date to prehistoric times, possibly even to 5000 B.C. So, they are probably the oldest salt mine in the world. Because of the salt industry, the town quickly became wealthy since salt was a valuable commodity. These days, salt is still important, but also tourism plays a major role in the economy.
- The Alpine houses in Hallstatt mostly date back to the 16th century – making it picture-perfect with the mountain and the lake as a backdrop. Especially amongst the Chinese, Hallstatt is extremely popular.
Where to Stay in Hallstatt For One Day
Hallstatt has very few hotels, which quickly book out. So if you plan to stay overnight, book early. While I believe that six to eight hours in Hallstatt is enough to see all the (special) places, I can understand if you would like to stay overnight. Then you can experience Hallstatt in the morning or late afternoon when all the crowds are gone.
Heritage Hotel Hallstatt is a well-reviewed hotel just in the heart of Hallstatt. All rooms and suites at Heritage Hotel offer views of the town and Lake Hallstatt. All rooms are individually furnished and have cable TV, a minibar, and tea and coffee-making facilities. This 4-star property looks like a perfect choice for your overnight stay in Hallstatt. Check out rates and availabilities here.
If you prefer an apartment, with a fully equipped kitchen, Historic Lakeview Apartment has a terrace, city views, a seating area, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries. Find rates and availabilities here.
When is The Best Time to Visit Hallstatt
Hallstatt is extremely popular – and crowded at (almost) any time of the year. So, if you come here, plan an early arrival or come later, so you have the evening with fewer people. If you stay overnight in Hallstatt, you can experience this town without the crowds. Most tourists come by bus and just stay for a few hours – so anytime between 10 am and 5 or 6 pm is extremely crowded.
I guess that Hallstatt is a great place to visit year-round. Every time of year has its own charm. However, it might be even busier in June and August. I visited in late September, and it was still busy. December must also be a great time to visit it. Imagine it in winter with snow-capped roofs! Also, then there is a Christmas Market for some time.
Things to Keep in Mind For Your Hallstatt Itinerary
- Money: Credit cards are often not accepted, so bring cash. The currency in Austria is €.
- Drones: Drones are not allowed.
- Water/Budget Tip: Bring your water bottle and refill it with fresh water from the water fountains in Hallstatt.
- Clothes: If you plan to hike a bit, make sure to wear appropriate shoes and bring a jacket. Even on a sunny day, it can get quite chilly in the mountains
- (Austrian) German is the main and official language, but most people speak basic English in Hallstatt.
How to Arrive in Hallstatt From Salzburg
- A very scenic and beautiful way to arrive in Hallstatt is via car from Salzburg. First, drive to Bad Ischgl and then to Hallstatt. It takes a little more than an hour, and we took some breaks. The journey is the reward! This is definitely true for the drive from Salzburg to Hallstatt.
- Park your car in the car park. You cannot miss it. You will come across it if you are “in front” of Hallstatt. You are not allowed to drive into Hallstatt with a car. Then walk 10 minutes to the town center. There is also a shuttle bus, but I recommend just walking, as it is just a few minutes and the buses don’t run often.
BUS / TRAIN / FERRY
- There are buses/trains from Salzburg to Hallstatt. It takes a bit more than 2 hours by bus – or 2.5 hours by train plus a short ferry ride.
- If you prefer a guided tour from Salzburg to Hallstatt, click here to find out more about prices and information.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN HALLSTATT IN 1 DAY
Okay, you have finally made it to the best things to do in Hallstatt.
Stroll the Lake Promenade
One of the first things you will see – most likely – is the church. Located right on Lake Hallstatt’s shores, this is the most prominent building that dominates the skyline of the town.This is the first view, where many people take their pictures.
Keep walking this way until you get to the market square. As mentioned, the town is tiny, so it just takes a few minutes. You will find many cute buildings on your way, but the market square is probably the place with the most colorful buildings.
Stroll the Streets and Visit the Market Square
The promenade of Hallstatt is charming. However, the little side streets and the market square have their own charm. The market square is a popular place for gatherings – for locals and visitors alike.
In the center of the market square is the statue of the mighty Holy Trinity. Around the statue, you will find many cute buildings.
There are also restaurants and shops (including souvenir shops) made for tourists. I hardly shop these days and, thus, the shops weren’t appealing, but you can buy dirndls, souvenirs, and so on. Tourists seemed to love the shops. They probably spend tons of money on gifts for their loved ones at home (and also on presents for themselves).
The restaurants seemed to be tourist traps to me. I ended up in a restaurant with a nice lake view and okay food, but I am sure you don’t come to Hallstatt for the food. If you come here for the picture, consider doing a walking tour with a photographer.
Hike Hallstatt and See it From Above @Skywalk
Another top thing to do in Hallstatt is to see it from above. The Skywalk is a panoramic bridge 360 meters above the rooftops of Hallstatt. You have incredible views of the town, Lake Hallstatt, and the mountains.
12 meters of the bridge extending out into the void like the points of a star. The views are just amazing! The skywalk isn’t long, but it’s good enough to see the place from an incredible perspective.
- How to Get There: Head to the Salzwelten Hallstatt (towards the other end of town). There either buy a funicular ticket (20€ round trip, 11€ one-way) or hike up.
- You can combine a funicular ticket with a ticket to Salzwelten Hallstatt.
- Enjoying the view from the skywalk is free.
Then you can either hike down or visit a museum first and then hike down.
Learn About the History @Salzwelten Hallstatt
Close to the skywalk, you have the Salzwelten Museum. The mine is the largest active salt mine in Austria.
Once you are in the museum, you can slide down and arrive in the mountain of Altaussee, where you can find out more about salt mining via a sound and light presentation. It is probably an interesting way to learn about Hallstatt´s history.
However, I did not visit because I was there with my dog and could not have enjoyed it the way it was supposed to be enjoyed.
Also, the entrance fee seemed too high to me, so I wasn’t sure it was worth the money.
- How to Get There: Head to the Salzwelten Hallstatt funicular station (towards the other end of town). There you can buy funicular tickets to bring you to the museum.
- If you are fit, you can easily hike up and avoid the funicular.
- Prices: 25€ for adults (36€ including the funicular tickets).
- Dates and Opening Hours Salzwelten: 11. February 2023 – 31.March 2023 from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm, from 1. April 2023 – 1. November 2023 from 9:30 am to 4 pm, from 2.November 2023 – 7.January 2024 from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.
Hike Down From Skywalk
If you skip the museum, you can hike down from the Skywalk Viewing Platform. I loved my hike down because I got more impressive views along the way. This easy and downhill hike was definitely one of the highlights of my Hallstatt trip.
On your way down, you can head to Mühlbachschlucht and see the waterfall in front of you. This makes the hike even prettier. If you are short on time, you can skip it.
- I bought a one-way ticket for the funicular and hiked down. Hiking down took me about 30 minutes; hiking up should take about 60 minutes.
- If you are fit, you can easily hike up and down. However, if you prefer less sporty activities, I recommend getting up via funicular and then hiking down at least.
- Wear solid shoes.
Visit the Catholic Parish Church Hallstatt and the Cemetary
You will also find a little catholic church situated amidst the mountains (it is not the one at the promenade!). It is also famous for the Ossuary and its mountain cemetery. As in Salzburg, the cemetery in Hallstatt is a popular tourist attraction. It is a tiny cemetery, and it feels too weird to me to openly “explore“ a cemetery.However, I put my little dog into his bag and carried him around while quickly and quietly walking through the cemetery, looking at the graves and views.
The front is assigned to the Evangelist Christians, and following the rules of the cemetery, there are no family graves. Instead, above each grave is the sign of Christ – a cross that is made either of wood or wrought steel.
- How to Get There: The Catholic Church (which is not the main one on the lake) is visible from far but is nestled in the mountain. If you are in front of the church, you will see the cemetery as well.
Charnel House in St. Michael’s Chapel
One of the best places to visit in Hallstatt is something rather unique. Next to the church is St. Michael´s chapel dating back to the 12th century.
These days, the chapel attracts a high number of visitors because of the 600 artistically painted skulls. Yes, you read correctly. Those are real skulls that were decorated at the end of the 18th century, but a few are from even the 20th century.
Why do you find decorated skulls in the chapel? Well, skull painting belonged to a cultural area that mainly consisted of the eastern Alpine region.
- Entrance fee: 1,50 Euro, opening hours differ.
Walk the Upper Stairs
With one day in Hallstatt, you will have enough time to walk the upper stairs. While most people are busy discovering the town from the ground, I recommend climbing a few stairs and walking the area so that you can enjoy some of the best views of the church and market square this way.Just keep an eye out for stairs that take you up, or head to the cemetery, and start your walk from there.
Go on Lake Hallstatt
There are several options for going to the lake. A boat cruise (running several times a day, with the starting point near the beginning of the town) costs about 10€. You can rent paddle boats, do stand-up paddling (starting from 8€ for 30 minutes), and do more water sports activities.
On a sunny and warm day, you can also swim in the lake (you could do that on a cold day, too, actually).
Things to Do in Hallstatt in Winter
I visited Hallstatt in the fall, but I think that Hallstatt is beautiful at any time of the year. And especially in the winter months.
So, what to do in Hallstatt in the winter? If you visit Hallstatt in December, make sure to visit the Christmas Market. Given the size of Hallstatt, the Christmas Market is only open for a few days.
Other than that, a few special events take place – like the lantern walk at the beginning of December. However, even without all the Christmas atmosphere, Hallstatt looks gorgeous in December, January, and February with all the snow-capped roofs and mountains.
So, whenever you visit, you will easily find activities to have a wonderful day in Hallstatt.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS TO DO IN HALLSTATT
Is Hallstatt the most beautiful town or lake town in Europe? While Burano in Italy, for example, could totally live up to the hype, in my opinion, Hallstatt was not as amazing as I thought it would be.
Yes, it is beautiful and picturesque. Yes, it is lovely, and the church right on the lake and the nice houses make it pretty nice. However, I wouldn’t go as far as naming it one of the most beautiful places in Europe, and probably not even in Austria.
I still believe, Hallstatt is worth a visit and you should definitely add Hallstatt to your itinerary – for half a day or one day.
Hopefully, this post has inspired you and you learned about the best things to do in Hallstatt.
- Check out my Salzburg itinerary.