Best Things to Do in Hallstatt in One Day

WHAT TO DO IN HALLSTATT – ITINERARY FOR 1 DAY

If you plan your Hallstatt itinerary, you might wonder about the best things to do in Hallstatt in one day. If so, then this post is for you – find out what to do in Hallstatt as a first-time visitor.

Thanks to Instagram, I came across pictures of Hallstatt. 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 the most beautiful town in Europe and worth the hype.

After one day in Hallstatt, I have come to a conclusion. Find out what I think about the place, my recommendations for what to do in Hallstatt, and some important travel advice.

Also, find out about how to get from Salzburg to Hallstatt.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR ONE DAY IN HALLSTATT

Before discussing your one-day Hallstatt itinerary, here are some tips for your first trip to Hallstatt.

Hallstatt Information

  • Hallstatt is on Lake Hallstatt’s western shore in Austria’s mountainous Salzkammergut region.
  • Hallstatt 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.- making it probably the oldest salt mine in the world. Because of the salt industry, the town quickly became wealthy because salt was a valuable commodity. These days, salt is still playing a big role, but also tourism plays a major role for 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 Asians – Chinese – Hallstatt is extremely popular.

Where to Stay in Hallstatt For One Day

Hallstatt has very few hotels, which are quickly booked out. So if you plan to stay overnight, book early.

While I believe that ten hours in Hallstatt is definitely enough to see all the (special) places, I can understand if you would like to stay overnight. You will have one big advantage then, which I will mention in the next travel tip.

When 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 (Chinese people, especially, love it here), so anytime between 10 am and 5 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.
  • Imagine it in winter with the snow-capped roofs! In December, 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.
  • Drones: Drones are not allowed.
  • Water/Budget Tip: Bring your water bottle and refill it with fresh water from the water fountains you will see all over 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 (and you should definitely get up the mountains, more on that later).
  • (Austrian) German is the main and official language, but most people speak basic English in Hallstatt.

How to Arrive in Hallstatt From Salzburg

CAR

  • A very scenic and beautiful way to arrive in Hallstatt is via car. First, drive to Bad Ischgl and then to Hallstatt. It takes a little over 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 in your 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.

GUIDED TOURS

THINGS TO DO IN HALLSTATT IN 1 DAY

Okay, you have finally made it to the activities for your trip to Hallstatt, and here are 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.

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Hallstatt in 1 day
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This is the first view, where tons of 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 is charming. However, the little side streets and the market square have their own charm.

The market square in Hallstatt is a popular place for gatherings – for locals and visitors alike. 

Where to go in Hallstatt Market Square
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What to see in Hallstatt Market Square
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In the center of the market square is the statue of the mighty Holy Trinity. Around the statue, you will find many charming 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.

Stroll the town of Hallstatt Austria
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Most tourists, though, loved the shops, and 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.

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 beautiful place in Hallstatt! It  offers great views of the town, Lake Hallstatt, and the mountains. 

View from above and more points of interets in Hallstatt
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The skywalk isn’t long, but it’s good enough to see the place from an incredible perspective. When I hiked down, I got to have more impressive views. It was definitely one of the highlights of my Hallstatt trip.
Welterbeblick from the Hallstatt skywalk
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What to do in Hallstatt Austria. Hike with views like this
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Waterfall in Hallstatt town
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On your way down, you can head to Terrasse Mühlbachschlucht, where you have the waterfall of the city right in front of you, before heading back to the Salzwelten. This makes the hike even prettier. If you are short on time, you can skip it.

  • How to Get There: Head to the Salzwelten Hallstatt (towards the other end of town) and either buy a ticket to go up (20€ round trip, 11€ one-way) or hike up.
  •  Enjoying the view from the skywalk is free – if you hike. Getting You could also get up via the funicular
  • 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. But wear solid shoes.

Learn About the History @Salzwelten Hallstatt

When you enjoy the skywalk, you will also see the Salzwelten Museum. Hallstatt is very famous (and became rich) because of salt. 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.

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.

But it is probably an interesting way to learn about Hallstatt´s history.

  • How to Get There: Head to the Salzwelten Hallstatt (towards the other end of town) and either buy a ticket to go up via funicular or hike up (saving money if you hike up).
  • If you are fit, you can easily hike up and down (you could then use another path as well to get up), but if you prefer less sporty activities, I still recommend hiking down at least.
  • Prices: 25€ for adults (36€ including the funicular tickets).
  • Dates and Opening Hours Salzwelten: 19.5.2021 – 26.9.2021 – 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and 27.9.2021 – 9.1.2022 – 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. 
  • 24.12. and 31.12.2021 closed

Visit Catholic parish church Hallstatt and The Cemetary

In Hallstatt, the little catholic church is a popular attraction even if you are not religious. The church is 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. 

Hallstatt cemetery visit in one day
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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 the 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 do this activity – walking 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 the best views of the church and market square this way.

Hallstatt in 1 day itinerary
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What to see in Hallstatt itinerary 1 day
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Just keep an eye out for stairs that take you up or head to the cemetery, and start your walk from there.

Go on the 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€, or you can rent paddle boats, do stand-up paddling (starting from 8€ for 30 minutes). etc.

Stroll Hallstatt and more tourists points
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Hallstatt things to do
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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 Hallstatt, 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? I really enjoyed my time in Hallstatt, and while I couldn’t name the most beautiful place right now, I guess my pick wouldn’t be Hallstatt.

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, but I wouldn’t go as far as naming it one of the most beautiful places in Europe, and probably not even in Austria. 

While this might be an unpopular opinion, I still believe it is worth a visit. If you are in Salzburg or the surrounding areas, I would definitely add Hallstatt to your itinerary – for one day. I hope this post has inspired you and you know about the best things to do in Hallstatt (whether you stay one day in Hallstatt or even longer).

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Safe Travels, Arzo
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