Nestled in the heart of Upper Austria’s Salzkammergut region is the picturesque village of Hallstatt. You may be wondering, of all the wonderful places in Austria you can go to, is Hallstatt worth visiting?
The entire town of Hallstatt, Austria is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding natural beauty.
This magical village is located on the shores of Lake Hallstatt, surrounded by soaring mountains and lush forests, and is home to plenty of activities and attractions that cater to all interests.
You’ll quickly realise that there are so many things to do in Hallstatt, from exploring the countryside to visiting the many fascinating museums the town has to offer.
To help you plan an unforgettable trip to this stunning European village, here are 16 of the best things to do in Hallstatt, Austria.
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Explore the Hallstatt Salt Mine
The Hallstatt Salt Mine is one of the oldest salt mines in the world, dating back over 7,000 years. It’s a unique and educational attraction that offers a glimpse into the ancient history and culture of the region.
Located in the heart of the Austrian Alps, the mine has been a major source of wealth and industry for Hallstatt and the surrounding region for centuries.
Visitors can take a guided tour deep underground to learn about the fascinating history of salt mining in the area and see the tools and techniques used by miners throughout the ages.
One of the highlights of the Hallstatt Salt Mine tour is the underground slide, which takes visitors from one level of the mine to another at high speed.
You can also explore the underground salt lake and take a ride on a small boat across its shimmering surface.
Other attractions include a sound and light show that simulates a salt explosion, as well as exhibits on the history and geology of the mine.
Visit the Hallstatt Museum
Housed in a charming historic building in the heart of the Old Town, the exhibits of the Hallstatt Museum cover a wide range of topics, from the early history of salt mining in the area to the traditional crafts and customs of the local people.
You can see artefacts that date back thousands of years, including tools, weapons and jewellery from the Iron Age.
The Hallstatt Culture exhibit is one of the most popular things to see at the museum. This exhibit showcases ceramics, textiles and metalwork from over 2,500 years ago, giving a glimpse into the lives of the people who lived during this fascinating period.
Other exhibits cover the natural history of the area, including the geology, flora and fauna of the nearby Dachstein Mountains. If you’re eager to learn about the history and culture of the region, you’ll find this is one of the places to visit in Hallstatt.
Take a boat ride on Lake Hallstatt
Taking a scenic boat ride on Lake Hallstatt is a must when visiting the area. Known for its crystal-clear water and stunning mountain views, the lake is one of the main attractions in the region.
Boat rides are available year-round, with different options depending on the season.
In the warmer months, you can take a leisurely tour of the lake on a traditional wooden boat, known as a Plätte.
These boats are operated by local fishermen and offer a relaxed way to explore the lake while taking in the scenery.
During the wintertime, however, boat tours of the lake are specifically designed to showcase the winter landscape, like the snow-capped mountains and frozen waterfalls.
Regardless of what time of year you visit, a boat ride on Lake Hallstatt is sure to be a highlight of your trip.
Hike Dachstein Mountain
Dachstein Mountain is a popular hiking destination for its breathtaking panoramic views and challenging terrain.
The mountain’s highest peak, Hoher Dachstein, stands at an impressive height of 2,995 metres and is the second-highest summit in the Northern Limestone Alps.
The mountain range is suitable for everyone, with well-marked trails that cater to both beginners and experienced hikers.
One of the most popular hikes on Dachstein Mountain is the Five Fingers trail. Located at an altitude of 2,100 metres, the trail features a series of five viewing platforms that are suspended over the edge of a sheer cliff face.
This hike is moderately challenging, with some steep inclines and rocky terrain, so it may be a little difficult for those who aren’t usually active or outdoorsy, but the amazing views are well worth the effort.
Visit the Hallstatt Lutheran Church
The Hallstatt Lutheran Church, also known as the Evangelical Church of Hallstatt, is a beautiful historic church located in the heart of the town’s Old Town.
Built in the Gothic style, the church has a long and fascinating history that dates back over 700 years. Stop by to admire the beautiful stained-glass windows, the ornate altarpiece, and the impressive organ, which was built in 1682.
The church is most notable for its iconic tower. If you climb up the tower’s 180 steps, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the town and the surrounding mountains.
Wander the Hallstatt Skywalk
A spectacular viewing platform you’ll want to check out is the Hallstatt Skywalk. Hovering at an elevation of 350 metres above the town, the glass-floor observation deck provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Hallstatt.
The platform is accessible via a funicular railway that runs from the centre of Hallstatt up the Salzburg mountain. It’s definitely not an easy activity for the faint of heart or those scared of heights, but it’s a thrilling experience if you dare!
In addition to the stunning views, the Hallstatt Skywalk also includes educational exhibits and displays to teach you about the natural and cultural history of the region.
There are also some dining and shopping options at the top, including a restaurant with a panoramic view, a souvenir shop and a wine bar.
Visit the Hallstatt Ossuary
Also known as the Bone House, the Hallstatt Ossuary is a small chapel famous for its unique and macabre decoration. It is one of the most well-known Hallstatt attractions, with over 1200 human skulls and bones arranged in intricate patterns and designs.
The Ossuary was created in the 18th century when the cemetery attached to the chapel became overcrowded. To make room for new burials, the bones of the deceased were exhumed and transferred to the Ossuary, where they were then arranged in a symbolic and artistic way.
Despite its eerie appearance, the Ossuary is considered to be a sacred space by many visitors. The bones are arranged in a way that reflects the Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead, and the chapel is used for religious ceremonies such as All Saints Day.
Guided tours are available if you want to learn more about the significance of the chapel and the cultural traditions that inspired its creation.
Explore the Echern Valley
The Echern Valley near Hallstatt is a beautiful and picturesque area that is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. The valley is surrounded by towering mountains, with a crystal-clear river flowing through it.
There are plenty of activities to do here, including hiking, biking, fishing, and wildlife watching. The valley’s hiking trails offer stunning views of the surrounding scenery, with options for both experienced hikers and those looking for a more leisurely stroll.
One of the most popular spots to visit in the Echern Valley is the Waldbachstrub Waterfall, a stunning cascade that drops more than 80 metres.
It’s an amazing place to hike to and enjoy a picnic. Another highlight of the valley is the Echernwand Via Ferrata, a climbing route that offers spectacular views of the valley and its mountains.
Visit Rudolf’s Tower
Rudolf’s Tower is a prominent landmark in Hallstatt and a must-visit attraction for lovers of history. The tower was built in the 13th century and served as a watchtower to defend the village from invaders.
It is named after Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor, who visited Hallstatt in 1570 and used the tower as his residence during his stay.
Today, the tower has been renovated and turned into a museum that showcases the history and culture of the region.
It’s well worth it to climb to the top for panoramic views of Hallstatt and its surroundings. The tower’s museum features exhibits on the region’s salt mining history, as well as displays on the tower’s construction and role in the village’s defence.
You can also learn about the life and customs of Hallstatt’s past inhabitants, including their burial rituals and the famous Hallstatt culture.
Take a cable car ride
It’s impossible to come to Hallstatt and not take a cable car ride. The cable car to the top of the nearby Krippenstein mountain will bring you to the Five Fingers viewing platform, where you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The platform features five separate “fingers” that extend out over the edge of the mountain, giving the feeling of walking on air.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking to go paragliding or skiing at the top or simply looking to take in the beauty of the Salzkammergut region, a cable car ride is a must-do activity.
Discover the Dachstein Giant Ice Cave
The Dachstein Giant Ice Cave is a stunning natural wonder located in the Dachstein Mountain range, known for its beauty and unique geology.
The cave is a popular tourist attraction and was formed over millions of years as water seeped into the cracks and crevices of the mountain and froze, creating intricate ice sculptures and formations.
The cave is also home to several unique plant and animal species that have adapted to the cold and dark environment.
Although this ice cave is one of the largest in the world with a total length of over 42 kilometres, visitors can only explore a small portion of the cave.
The part that is open to the public is filled with towering ice formations, frozen waterfalls and glittering ice crystals.
Take a guided tour of the cave to learn more about its geological and ecological significance, and to experience the natural beauty for yourself.
Visit the Hallstatt Waterfall
One of the top free things to do in Hallstatt is a visit to Hallstatt Waterfall, one of the most picturesque natural wonders in the Salzkammergut region.
Located just a short walk from the village, the waterfall cascades down from a height of over 200 metres, creating a tranquil atmosphere.
You can walk along the pathway that follows the waterfall, enjoying the cool mist and the sound of rushing water.
For those looking for a bit more adventure, there’s also the option of canyoning at the waterfall. Canyoning involves navigating through the river and waterfall using a combination of swimming, climbing and rappelling.
The experience is guided by experienced instructors and is suitable for both beginners and experienced adventurers. However, if you’re not up for it, it’s also worth coming to the waterfall for a peaceful and relaxing walk.
Enjoy dinner with a view
Not sure what to do in Hallstatt during the evenings? There are plenty of superb restaurants and cafes in Hallstatt that combine classic Austrian cuisine with gorgeous vistas of the nearby mountains.
One popular option is the Rudolfsturm Restaurant, located at the top of Rudolf’s Tower. There are panoramic views of the village from the restaurant, making it the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. Rudolfsturm also has an excellent beer and wine list.
Another restaurant with beautiful views is the Seehotel Gruner Baum’s Lakeside Terrace, located right on the shores of Lake Hallstatt.
The Lakeside Terrace serves traditional Austrian cuisine, including fish dishes made with locally caught fish. As you wait for your meal, you can relax and enjoy a glass of wine as you take in the breathtaking views before you.
Go on a walking tour
Going on a walking tour in Hallstatt is a perfect way to explore the village and learn about its history. There are several walking tours available, ranging from guided tours led by local experts to self-guided walks that allow you to explore at your own pace.
You’ll get a chance to wander through the historic Old Town and the charming Market Square, and also receive recommendations if you go with a guide. There are also special Christmas tours if you happen to be visiting in December.
Relax at a thermal spa
Although there aren’t any thermal spas in the Hallstatt village itself, there are several amazing options in the surrounding Salzkammergut region.
One of the most popular is the EurothermenResort Bad Ischl, which is located just a short drive from Hallstatt. This large spa complex offers a range of thermal pools, saunas and relaxation areas, plus numerous spa treatments and massages.
Another option for a relaxing thermal spa experience is the Narzissen Bad Aussee, which is about 40 minutes from Hallstatt by car.
This spa complex features thermal pools, saunas and steam baths, as well as a range of wellness treatments and programs if you’re looking to unwind for the day.
Go on a sleigh ride
Going on a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snowy landscape is one of the most unforgettable things to do in Hallstatt in winter.
Snuggle up under warm blankets and enjoy the sound of the horses’ hooves crunching through the snow as you ride through the picturesque winter scenery.
The sleigh rides often take passengers through the village and its surrounding forests, with stops for photos and to take in the stunning views.
Many of the horse-drawn sleigh rides in Hallstatt also offer additional experiences, such as visits to local farms or stops for hot chocolate and other treats.
Although this can be considered a special activity for a family-friendly outing or a romantic date with your partner, you can take part no matter who you’re travelling with (or not travelling with!) and see the village from a unique perspective.
Recommended tours in Hallstatt
- Guided e-bike tour of the alpine pastures in the Salzkammergut
- Hallstatt Ancient Treasures: Outdoor Escape Games
- Hallstatt Private Walk Tour With A Professional Guide
- Special Christmas Tour Around Hallstatt
- Self-Guided Private Tour of Hallstatt. Best photo-points, panoramic views, cafes
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